That credible allegations of both ruling and opposition party activist involvement in the attack on Buddhist temples and homes in Ramu eight months ago have been tabled raises serious questions of the government.
Only recently has the judicial probe report on the Ramu atrocities been submitted to the High Court. It has not yet been made public, but from what the media has uncovered thus far, and rights activities have made the same claims, there are credible allegations of activists of the BNP-Jamaat and ruling AL party involvement. The first question therefore is whether the probe report will be made public so that these matters can be brought to light.
Further, that very little was done for such a large-scale attack in these eight months – excepting the home ministry’s report last November which was then challenged in court, hence the formation of the probe committee – is a legitimate issue.
The government has not yet clearly identified and charged the culprits involved. Why is there a delay? We have certainly seen the government act swiftly in smaller cases, and justice has been served as well through the speedy trial tribunals, but not in this case.
For the government to claim to support minority communities and then seemingly delay justice for the Ramu attack raises legitimate concerns as to its actual commitment.
The judicial probe committee has laid blame on local administrators, intelligence officers and law enforcement for failing to act, as well as the lack of control over social media, but this last is a red herring.
It makes it appear as if the government is merely looking for an excuse to control social media. Blaming social media – a Facebook page in this instance – makes as much sense as blaming printing presses in general for an inflammatory flyer. Trying to focus on the medium makes it seem like the government is trying to minimise its own shortcomings and deflect culpability from those who were guilty of the arson and other crimes.
Attacks on minorities have happened before the existence of social media, and they will continue, unless the root of the problem is addressed, and unless the government takes responsibility for any role its party people might have played in Ramu to say nothing of its responsibility to maintain law and order – and takes serious steps to bring those guilty to justice, whoever they might be.