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The Horror of Hartal & The Forgotten Front

March 22, 2013

Bengalis have been living with political turbulence for many years. They know what is hartal, this Gujrati word means general strike but in this part of subcontinent the word lost its true meaning. It is no longer ‘general’ or observed by aam-admi, rather it has evolved into something that is imposed on people and to some extent anarchical. Over the years, people got themselves used to it, and carried out their daily activities on a given hartal day. Nowadays, even this definition of hartal seems passé. Now people have been forced to observe hartal. Subversive activities are the keys to make a hartal successful, not people’s participation.

Observance of hartal starts much before the declared day. In fact, the night before the hartal people are gripped by fear as miscreants indiscriminately vandalized property and set fire on vehicles. In such anarchy any loss of life is not unprecedented. Earlier, opposition top brass turned a blind eye on such incidents. But now, even party chief told people, ”such loss of life may happen to bring down this Awami government.” You force people to observe your political programs and you took people’s lives to make them successful. What do you call such political conducts? Please recheck or google the definition of fascism that you have been chewing for last one month.

There are speculations that Jamaat-shibir made a fund of TK 4000 million to finance its campaign against Shahbagh. Apart from spending the money on disinformation campaign launched on BNP-Jamaat print media and on social media, it is also using the fund to outsource its street subversive activities to parties like Hefajate Islami and its all weather ally BNP.

Violence took place after the Sayedee verdict has never been seen in Bangladesh since 1971. Removing slippers of rail tracks, barricading roads by chopping road-side trees, gutting down a whole power house, burning govt. and police records into ashes—-cannot be called political agitation, these are subversive activities.

Along with subversive activities, Hindus are frequently being attacked at measured intervals. At some parts of the country, they have been threatened to meet severe consequences if war criminals get capital punishment.

Every single day, there are reports of temple attack and destruction of Hindu properties from different parts of Bangladesh.

Most of the victims of recent violence are innocent people, ruling party activists and law-enforcement personnel.How can you justify such violence? Some fraction of BNP and Jamaat-Shibir are acting on behalf of ISI, which wants to regain its lost influence zone.

One of the worst-affected sectors of recent violence is the railway sector. Subversive activities in this sector were last reported in 2008 when top British and Indian envoys to Bangladesh made a trip to India by Maitree Express, an international train runs between Dhaka and Kolkata, to stress on rail-connectivity between two countries. Soon after that much publicized trip, subversive activities took place one after the other in the rail sector across the country. If one checks the data then he will see there is an unusual rise in rail accidents mostly due to subversive activities in that sector in 2008. Back then, the media was under the watchful eye of the army. So it did not investigate the incidents in detail, nor published any follow up. However, I have not heard of any official committee formed by subsequent government to probe on the matter.

The fresh attacks in rail sectors are taking place at a moment when modernization of the rail sector is underway with the aid of Indian credit line.

I have noticed another thing about recent hartals: factories and businesses owned by opposition leaders run in full swing on a strike day. Buses financed by Islami Bank and depend on CNG stations owned by right-wing leaders roll on roads on hartal day without meeting any assault from picketers.

We have talked a lot about punishing the war criminals and banning their political organizations. But one important demand, shutting down all financial institutions and revenue-making institutions of Jamaat-Shibir, has almost gone into oblivion.

One recent report shows last year this bank alone made a profit of TK 549 crore. Do not forget Saudi Arabia based Al Rajhi group has a major stake,about 37%, in this bank. This group is one of the major coffers of al Qaeda and termed as ‘conduit for extremist finance’ by US agencies. With this direct ownership in the bank, the group can easily repatriate its profit. Profit earned here may be used to finance terrorism in other parts of world.

According to a US senate permanent sub-committee report on HSBC’s links with money laundering, a Saudi based terror financing group called International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) also had accounts in Islami Bank Bangladesh.

In a recent drive against Shibir, Rajshahi Police found a control room of Shibir where they seized money receipts, used for extortion, and deposit books of Islami Bank Bangladesh among other things.

L’Affaire Destiny, a recent scam about a multi-level marketing company that laundered money abroad while running a Ponzy scheme in Bangladesh, is still fresh in our memory. Freezing of bank accounts and undertaking of its operation meted out by government in the face of widespread media criticism. The threat posed by Islami Bank is greater than that of Destiny. Despite the bank was fined thrice previously by Central Bank for having links with the terrorists, we have not seen or heard of yet any concrete step from Bangladesh Bank to close down Islami Bank Bangladesh. Please remember, Jamaat-shibir’s financial institutions are as harmful as the party itself.


From → Analysis

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