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Maligning A Hero

June 21, 2015

Imagine this : all your student life you were outspoken about the irregularities and injustices that had been going on around you; you took up arms and fought the invading army to liberate the country; you set up a 480-bed field hospital to treat the wounded using your professional skill; you trained an army of rural women so that they could provide health care at the doorstep of villagers; you started an NGO which would provide medicine and health care at the lowest possible cost; you devised and formulated a drug policy that would ensure domestic production of drugs and its export.

Yet, one fine morning you find out that you have been dubbed as a traitor, a close ally of anti-liberation force because you stood by a journalist and expressed your frank opinion. How do you feel?

Well, this is the case for Zafrullah Chowdhury.

International Tribunal on war crimes, felt offended by his remarks, sentenced him one-hour-long jail and fined him Tk 5,000. Zafrullah declined to pay the fine, which led the tribunal to issue an arrest warrant against him. The moment I’m writing the post the tribunal withdrew the warrant.

It is not the contempt of court charge that is ruining the image of  Zafrullah, rather the way the news of this spat is being disseminated in the media and his subsequent portrayal in social media as comrades of the war collaborators are deliberate moves to taint his image.

Since the time he started to speak openly about the need for a qualitative change in politics, since he appealed Professor Yunus to rejoin politics, since he extended his support to the disappeared BNP activists, he has become an enemy of the ruling coterie.

His vilification is another malicious campaign to minus a hero from civil society who rose to prominence through his deeds. He is not a privileged member of a powerful dynastic family. Nor is he affiliated with any political party that aided him in his works.

A quarter is relentlessly trying to discover a tie between Jamaat and Zafrullah.

This is the problem with dogmatic politics, the current trend in Bangladesh, which has predilections for viewing its critics and dissent voices through gun sight. This rigid belief made them so blind, they can hardly distinguish between opponents and enemy.

I hope his pioneering initiatives have not faded yet from our memory.

Gonoshasthaya Kendra Hospital took the lead to offer medical services at lower cost and introduced the legendary slogan “20% discount on all medical expenses”. Later In a counter move, anti-liberation force Jamaat-i-Islami’s hospital Ibn Sina launched a similar campaign to make Zafrullah’s initiative a futile attempt.

Long before our country got women at the driving seat of country’s highest post, Zafrullah had conceived the idea of women at the driving seat. He encouraged his employees to drive vehicles. Other NGOs followed suit.

Even if all these things do not sound convincing, one drug policy is enough to prove Zafrullah’s commitment to this country.

Now see how we are paying him back.

When I look at Zafrullah, I do not see a traitor. I see a true warrior, a real freedom fighter, who is fighting to uphold his freedom of speech and who is fighting for his right to disagree.

He did not make any U-turn. Nor did he make any mistake. The mistake, if there is any, lies with them who were faulty in reading his conduct.

A country is not built overnight out of scratch. People like Zafrullah’s brain and deeds actually build a successful country. Every time we go after Zafrullah, we ruin the possibility of building a proud country.

Those who are finding fault in Zafrullah’s conduct could at least save their precious time and effort for more important issues demanding urgent attention of the nation.


From → My Thoughts

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