Crime has been a vital challenge for human evolution throughout the time as we have heard about different types of crimes at different corners of the world through ages. Bangladesh has also shared the same experience. But in recent times the scenario has turned bizarre. Number of crimes has increased unimaginably in our beloved country mostly in the form of rape, murder, drug abuse, eve-teasing, harassment, torture, fraud, corruption, money laundering etc.
It is not about the type of crimes but the way of execution, which is very alarming. The attributes of the victims are appearing as a great concern and most importantly the characteristics of the criminals are also unthinkable. It is because the victims are largely children and the criminals are mostly teenagers. Hence, our future looks very unpromising and dark. We are moving forward as a nation but this social headache of uprising crimes by the teenagers will certainly pull us behind in the near future.
Not only in the urban areas but also in the rural areas and the suburbs, the teenagers have turned into the most aggressive group of people. They are now involved with all sorts of crimes. It is boys of 14 to 20 years of age who are committing most of the crimes. Many teen gangs have been formed at different corners of the country who are actively involved in heinous acts. They are seriously into smoking, drugs and pornography or sexual activities which lead into decay of their moral. Even their parents and teachers are not safe from their rage.
These teenage groups have become a serious concern as the members of a group move in folks and easily get into brutality. In Dhaka, groups like Disco Boyz, 9MM, X, Power Boys, Dark Shadow, Kakra group came into news for their crimes at different times. In Chittagong also several such groups exist. Eagle group and RGS group of Cumilla came into news for their crimes also. Such teenage groups are now a feature of every city and even suburbs of Bangladesh. Recently hyped brutal murder of Rifat Sharif at Barguna was committed by ‘007’ group, which is another teen gang led by ‘Noyon Bond’ who was later killed by the law enforcers in encounter. Thousands of crimes are being conducted every day by these teenage groups.
Other than these teenage gangs, teenagers are involved in most of the major crimes today. In Feni’s Nusrat murder case also, the criminals that set Nusrat ablaze were all teenagers. We must now take this issue very seriously if we need to secure the future of our country. With a destructive and brutal next generation, there is no way we will be able to sustain our development of our country and to progress further.
Many experts have identified several reasons behind the destruction of our youths during the last decade. But still the main reason is not mentioned. Use of the teenagers for political purpose is the greatest reason behind the rotting of our next generation. Today we see millions of teenagers are present in the political rallies, meeting, movements and other activities. They appear in large groups to support the agenda of their dear leaders.
Moreover, along with all the universities including the private ones, student committee of political parties have been formed in most of the colleges and it is not very far that we will have school committees too in the upcoming years. It is a reflection of the intent of political leaders to use the teenagers for their political agenda. For that, the leaders are also ready to safeguard these teenagers if they commit crimes. But before turning 18, a person as per the constitution of Bangladesh has no political rights.
It is disgraceful that our leaders are using teens of 14 or 15 years of age in their political programs exposing them to drugs and other illegal facilities. They are frequently committing crimes as they are sheltered by their leaders and if the law enforcers catch them, they are immediately released on the orders of the leaders. This is a general picture of Bangladesh today which draws a dirty picture of the youths of our country. Receiving political shelter is the greatest cause behind rising teenage crimes today as it was in the case of Noyon Bond, who was raised and grown under horrific political shelter.
To have a cellphone or a SIM card, a person must be of 18 years of age as per the law. But there is hardly any teen over 14 who do not have a mobile phone today. We can understand parents giving cellphones to their children for security purpose though unlawful but it is not understandable why that mobile phone has to be a smartphone. We often see parents keeping their toddlers silent by exposing them to different social media platforms and the parents often take pride of their children’s smooth use of those features. But they do not realize, premature use of smartphones and social media platforms is causing huge damage to our youths. Almost all the crimes today are somewhat related or intrigued or supported by smartphones and social media platforms like youtube, facebook, instagram, whatsapp, twitter etc.
Drugs especially yaba has spread throughout the country in extreme manner. It is very hard to find any family today of which at least a member is not exposed to drugs. Most of the crimes are being planned and committed under the influence of drugs. Adding to that exposure to pornographic contents is driving higher crime rate. Pornographic contents are easily accessible through smartphones and social media platforms.
Moreover, on different television channels operated by the cable TV businessmen show pornographic movies at night. In the name of modernism, products like condoms, sanitary pads and birth control pills are being advertised in pornographic manners. When a child is watching those ads along with his parents, not only he is exposed to an improper content but also he is getting apart from the family. Today when we look around us, we find it highly necessary to embed the family, social and moral values among the youth though it might sound backdated.
Teenagers are emotionally vulnerable by nature and they are easy to be controlled. Politically they are being utilized for this nature. With little gifts like a yaba pill to bigger gifts like a motorbike, the teens can be won and used. To reduce crime rates in Bangladesh, the political leaders must take an oath to not use the teenagers for their political purpose. They must not allow any youth below 18 to participate in any of their programs or activities. Only if the teenagers can be kept free from political influence, then it will be possible to restrict them from crimes.
Similarly, none before the age of 18 should be allowed to use smartphones and social media platforms. Implementing ICT laws are not going to restrict the youth to commit crimes due to technology rather its use must be restricted. We have to divert the children and teenagers from their mobile phones to books or the playing fields. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently instructed the district commissioners to build mini stadiums apart from fields of educational institutions at every district and upazila. She also directed to promote healthy cultural practices among the youths and to strongly uproot use of drugs. This is a wise direction considering the situation of the youths today. The youth must return to the fields for better physical and mental upbringing.
The government has already declared their fights against drugs as well as to some extent against corruption. The drive should strengthen especially to eliminate drugs from the reach of the youths. There is no way to reduce crime if drugs are in reach of the teens or children. Even selling cigarettes to people below 18 should be banned. Most importantly none should be corrupted in implementing these policies. The law enforcers must act sharp as they should not forget the incident with ‘Oishee’–child of a police officer who killed her parents under the influence of drugs. Drive against pornographic content and illicit sexual acts should also be introduced though with reduction of drugs, those will automatically reduce.
The government should also create training and employment opportunity for the youths especially in the field of IT as developed countries are eager to recruit employees from IT background from countries like ours. Like; Japan is going to recruit many IT employees in the upcoming years for which Bangladesh is a preference. If this sort of competency can be built among the youths, then it will be very hard to divert them to ill works. We should also add moral education in the curriculum from early childhood.
Crimes are changing in process of execution. Different crime related television shows are greatly pushing this change. The law enforcers must have a strong research team incorporating law enforcers, legal experts, psychologists and other experts. Our law enforcers must update themselves to fight new ways of crimes.
Bangladesh is a fast developing country and the whole world is very hopeful about our prospect. Our government under the leadership of PM Sheikh Hasina has taken many large development projects. But if our youth, majority of our population, is destroyed, there will be none to utilize those projects. With increasing crimes like South Africa, despite being developed, we will not be able to gain respect from the world citizens and the foreign investors will restrain from investing in our country. This will be a devastating future for our country and we definitely do not want that.
During the last decade Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has attained many goals like; Padma Bridge project, punishment to war criminals and Bangabandhu’s killers etc. due to her strong commitment. Now, she must attain commitment of all political leaders to spare the youth from their influence realizing the fierce scenario of our society. Only with that commitment, we will be able to sustain our developments. If that happens, it is assured that teen crimes will mostly vanish as no more Noyon Bond will be created and Bangladesh will prosper.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC)