Why are cases of missing youths piling up in every police station of Dhaka in recent years?
A trend of radicalisation of youths by extremist groups has accelerated recently.
This time, it is not the madrasa students who are being trapped in the vicious circle, rather, students of private schools and universities.
Every year, public universities fail to accommodate all the high school graduates in the country. That gap between the students who are accepted into public universities and those students who aren’t, is filled by private universities.
The mounting success of private universities gave rise to the establishment of numerous private universities in the capital within a few years, however, with great prosperity comes its drawbacks.
The reputation of many private universities has been tarnished since July 1, 2016, after a deadly attack that included the involvement of a few students from different private universities.
Since then, the cases of missing students became more apparent; except now, there’s a possibility looming around the youths getting involved with extremist groups.
Private universities had become the foremost scouting grounds of many extremist groups.
In order to fight back the virus of brainwashing, we need to find the cause of it, and provide effective antidote to eliminate it completely from our society.
There are four bonds that promote socialisation and conformity: Attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. The stronger the bond, the less likelihood of delinquency.
Young people of Dhaka spend most of their time in the visual swamp of online portals. Attachment to family has deteriorated due to the lack of intimacy in communication, and insufficient time spent with the family.
Private universities are less involved with social activities that tie individuals to the society’s moral and ethical codes. As a result, no commitment bonds form.
Private universities do not organise enough extra-curricular activities besides the academic curriculum, with which students can keep themselves busy. A student who is busy doing recreational tasks has little time for deviant activities. As a result of the lack of extra-curricular activities, no involvement bond is established.
Lastly, the case of belief depends on one’s own ideology and opinions.
If we can make those bonds stronger, then no matter how the radicalisation process might go, it would be proven ineffective in the face of strong social bonds.
Private universities had become the foremost scouting grounds of many extremist groups. In order to fight back the virus of brainwashing, we need to find the cause of it, and provide effective antidote to eliminate it completely from our society
Beside the four social bonds, human beings have four basic wishes which include: The desire for new experiences, the desire for security, the desire for response, and lastly, the desire for recognition.
Private university students suffer from monotony due to regular day-to-day activities and not having enough sources of entertainment in the educational institution.
When someone preaches to them about something very fascinating and adventurous, they may give it a try even if it is something related to terrorism.
Recruiters may give them some incentive to go towards the path of extremism. Involvement with extremist groups would fulfill at least two of the basic wishes -- they will be able to experience something very new and adventurous, and they will be recognised for being martyrs. These kinds of incentives are often very influential.
If educational institutions can cover the basic wishes, then youths will no longer divert towards other sources to meet these desires.
In Bangladesh, most private universities are guided by absolute profit seeking motivations.
They provide limited disciplines which are mostly in-demand and do not provide the disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, political science, philosophy, history, and so on, and as a consequence it renders a lack of diversity and pluralism in the society.
It is high time for private institutes to overhaul its functions and structure.
Many youths today have little to no proper religious knowledge. When someone is devoid enough of knowledge in a particular field, it becomes easy to shape their mind by words of motivation and determination.
Extremist groups usually target youths with shaky religious knowledge.
Youths should not only gain knowledge of their own religions, but it would be wise to gain knowledge of other religions as well.
It will be one of the real obstacles in the path of radicalisation.
If the assortment of aforementioned causes can be addressed with appropriate solutions, then it would help to solve the problem of radicalisation, at least to some degree.
Tamanna Sultana is a freelance contributor.