Most recently in Bagha upazila of Rajshahi, haircut salon owners were actually called into the UNO’s office and warned
Haircuts ceased to be a matter of style in the country for a while. 'Stylish' haircuts, which is seemingly normal, has all of a sudden become a matter of concern for the authorities.
In a bid to control hooliganism of local unruly youths, the authorities, mostly law enforcers, decided that it was not what unruly youths do, but how they look that is more important. So, going far beyond their legal jurisdiction, they began meddling with certain hairstyles that they, rather strangely, associated with the criminal mindset.
It all started in March this year when local police and authorities in Bhuwapur, Tangail, imposed a 40,000-taka fine on barbers who would style the hair and beard of youngsters in particular fashions.
After receiving a major backlash from the public and the media, the penalty for this bizarre rule was ultimately withdrawn.
But it didn't end there.
From July onwards, this debate resurfaced as warnings were again imposed on youths in Sylhet, Magura, and Rajshahi.
Most recently in Bagha upazila of Rajshahi, haircut salon owners were actually called into the UNO's office and warned.
When there are burning social, political and economic issues in the country, haircuts are barely something that the police should be worried about. Moreover, authorities cannot decide how one should style one's hair.
According to media reports, Assistant Inspector General of police Sohel Rana said that there were no direct instructions given by the higher authorities, but they were told to keep juvenile delinquency under control.
On 20 August, three people involved in harassing a RUET teacher were arrested and their pictures were published in the media. If one looked closely, these three harassers had neatly trimmed hair.
Nevertheless, whether having 'stylish hair' is really a criterion for calling young people 'spoiled brats' or criminals, and penalizing barbers for creating it, is something to ponder.
Moreover, the wisdom of going after hair styles in order to reduce juvenile crime is beyond anybody's conception. Many in the social media said that they found a resonance of the practices that were used during autocratic regimes of the past.
The public was also not in favor of the vigilante attitude of police when they raided and picked on young men and women who were hanging out together at parks and riverbanks.
Many were critical of the fact that instead of going after real criminals, it was inefficient of the police to waste time trying to 'straighten out' young boys and girls.
Also, with no concrete evidence to support whether these people had actually bunked classes, such drives look unproductive.
When children reach puberty, their physical as well as mental state goes through immense changes. During such sensitive times, when they require nurturing and guidance, telling them how to cut their hair or reprimanding them for hanging out with friends will perhaps do them more harm than good.