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Let There Be Sanity

December 22, 2013

Bangladesh celebrated this year’s victory day in a festive mood with great enthusiasm. Opposition called blockade made the Bangladeshis feel stranded at home. On victorty day, they came out in the street in huge numbers and took part in the victory day celebration. On the eve of victory day, the implementation of notorious war criminal Quader Mollah’s verdict came as a victory day gift. Shahbag movement, started its journey for the cause of trying the war criminals on the backdrop of countrywide jamaat-shibir violence, finally set another example of power of non-violent movement.  In the fight between people who ‘live for politics’ and people who ‘live off politics’ , the first group has the upper hand and day by day is gaining popularity. There is ample evidence in the history that in the end those who ‘live for politics’ had the last smile.

Our symbols come into play again. School children assembled world’s largest national flag at national parade ground. At suhrawardy uddan, where Pak army surrendered to the Joint forces, hundreds of thousands people sang the national anthem at 4:31 pm, commemorating the surrender moment. At crisis, we embrace our symbols, which keep us united and make us strong.

Since the opposition triggered last spell of violent protest started in October, few districts where jamaat-shibir holds sway over have become death valleys. Religious minority and ruling party activists are the main victims. The situation in Sathkhira is beyond anyone’s worst nightmare. Gruesome murders of Awami League activists are being reported every single day. In Chittagong, vital economic highways have come under repeated attacks. In its 42 years of existence, Bangladesh has never seen such violence. It seems like someone has just opened the gates of hell.

In this violent protest, civilians have been deliberately targeted. It seems the opposition is following a ‘scorched earth policy’, the term was first used by opposition leader against the govt. Jamaat leaders already threatened “to start a civil war” and “ to raze down 56000 square miles if govt. moves a bit with the war criminal trial”.

 BNP has to understand after the Shahbag movement and the violence unleashed by Jamaat-shibir, its ongoing movement will not bring any support for its alliance. A large section of the society did not support its stand for a neutral caretaker system. If there had been any public support for BNP’s cause then it would have been translated into peaceful street movement. But that did not happen. Subversion and violent political activities, mostly run by patron-perpetrator relationship, are not mass movement. Unlike the tone of their political statements, BNP leaders are showing a risk-averse attitude in implementing its own policy. Only two classes of people through two different courses of political action are exhibiting risk loving attitudes in this turbulent time: extremist jamaat-shibir cadres and non-violent Shabag protesters.

The opposition’s violent course of action is simply helping the cause of depoliticization. People are fade up, traumatized and more politicianphobic than ever before. Two party chiefs, who are not soul mates, could found themselves cell mates if this suffocating situation continues. That will certainly not be a good thing for Bangladesh’s democracy and will only empower the extremist forces.

Should govt. have any role to play in curbing this violence? Indeed, it should deploy army in violence-prone areas. It will help the aid workers to reach those areas. The govt. has already started deploying troops. Apart from that, it has to understand that this election is not only  boycotted by BNP but also by CPB, Jatiyo Party (Ershad) and other small but significant parties. An election without the participation of so many parties will only call up the memory of 1975 election, which discredited AL as a democratic party. It should call off the scheduled election and engage with all the parties—-particularly CPB, JP(Ershad) and others—-on how to chalk out a long-term power transfer procedure. For short-run, the govt. can declare emergency for at least six months or one year, which will help to restore law and order and to bring fresh life to blockade-torn economy.

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From → Analysis

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