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November 2, 2015

I first encountered the word “entropy” in a work, whose name I could not recall now, of late popular novelist Humayun Ahmed. Entropy —which has its roots in thermodynamics where it indicates a measure of disorder—means a state of perennial disorder.

What we are going through in Bangladesh is worse than anarchy and could be aptly described as a state similar to entropy. Subversive acts were cropped up at measured intervals and seem to become chronic maladies.

The memories of three-month-long petrol bomb campaign are still afresh in people’s mind. In addition, we witness blogger-killing spree amid this anarchic campaign. PM and ruling party members put the blame squarely on opposition political activists, sometimes even before Police wraps up its investigation. More or less all senior party leaders of BNP were accused in the related cases filed by the Police. What is interesting in very few cases true hurlers were identified and detained. For mysterious reasons, one can hardly find any follow-up reports on these cases on local media, controlled by ruling coterie. Prisons are crammed with alleged subversive activists. Most of them are political prisoners and are a steady source of illegal revenues for corrupt law-enforcing agents.

Govt has little will to bring the true perpetrators to book and limits its role to rhetoric. Moreover, PM was seen to dole out checks to victim bus owners who incurred huge losses due to indiscriminate arson attack. Begum Zia,head of the main opposition, flew to London for a long-awaited family reunion. Two Eids passed. Neither the PM nor the BNP chief felt the urge to meet the victims of arson attack that claimed 122 lives and injured hundreds more. Once again ordinary people have been made objects of anarchic politics. They do not even know their sufferings and grievances were used to achieve political elites’ goals.

Irrational behavior, acts seem to be the rational norms in our politics right now. Greed is becoming a powerful manipulator. Exaggeration and lies—resources of an authoritarian regime that is cut off from people—abound in Awami parlance about the state of country’s economy. Bad debts are accumulating, banks have lower credit growth, business confidence, if there is any, is fast dwindling away as translated into World Bank’s recent “Doing Business Report 2016”, which ranked Bangladesh 2 points lower than its previous year’s position. In addition , WB in its latest economic update observes that rising import bills coupled with declining export earnings force Bangladesh to experience growing trade deficit. Furthermore, it also observes dismal condition in corporate governance.

Govt seems little concerned and more interested in big power and infrastructure projects which will only fill party men’s coffers. Business mingled with politics turned to a toxic cocktail that only hurts the ordinary citizens. Society stops asking question why the party leaders holding important positions in govt own profitable companies or their dear ones run lucrative businesses. Special projects are taken and funds are created to foster cronyism.

The new feature that has been added to our turbulent politics is killing of foreign nationals. One Italian and one Japanese were shot to death. IS claimed the responsibilities, which were rejected by government. While it keeps denying IS claims, SITE intelligence group, which monitors jihadi groups’ activities and verifies their claims,  reiterated that its authentication process is flawless. Number of terror attacks has gradually been increasing since February this year. Instead of going after the true perpetrators govt is more willing to imprison all BNP rank-and-file members.

Four persons, alleged to have killed Italian Cesare Tavella, were detained.All of them are BNP activists. Their families keep claiming their innocence and insisted that they are the victims of political vendetta. Police said that the assailants had acted under the instruction of ‘big brother’. Same explanations had been played out after the gruesome murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider in February 2013. This however does not seem convincing to a wider section of the people who are already questioning the investigation of the ongoing killings of foreign nationals. I simply do not understand why BNP would embark on a campaign of killing foreign citizens when such acts would endanger its relations with foreign countries which are right now its biggest saviors to escape ruling party’s torture. An investigative report disclosed that one of the alleged killers of Tavella confessed his crimes in face of Police brutality. In an interview with BBC Bangla, another alleged mastermind told that he had been made a scapegoat and feared for his life. He is also worried for his younger brother who along with others had also been detained. Police’s incompetence to thwart such attacks become evident when another bomb explosion at a Shia gathering at Hosseini Dalan on the occasion of holy Ashura killed two persons.

This progressive govt’s report card on curbing extremist activities is indeed bizarre. Under the tenure of this govt Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL), designated by American authorities as “conduit for extremism”, has become one of country’s top 5 banks. Unlike other private banks that have troubles to expand their credit, it has registered high credit growth.

While I was writing this post, unknown assailants carried out machete attacks against two publishers of slain US blogger Avijit’s books and two bloggers. One of the publishers, Faisal Arefin Dipon was died of fatal wounds on his neck. Having received life threatening messages from a London-based extremist group, another publisher Farid Ahmed lodged complaint at Police Station and sought security.

Mild reactions to the attack were seen from AL, but interestingly BNP chief Khaleda Zia in an official statement strongly condemned the attack , claiming Dipon as the head of Zia Smriti Pathagar, (Zia Memorial Library) named after her husband late president Lt Gen Ziaur Rahman. Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq, father of the murdered publisher and a professor at Dhaka University, out of grievances and considering the killing a political one, said, “I do not want justice.  I want all the forces—secular and religious—preserve their sanity. This is a political and ideological problem. And this political problem runs deep in our society. All the parties should sit together and need to talk about it. I’m a law-abiding citizen. So, I’ll file a case.But without a political solution, I don’t think there will be a legal solution to this kind of problem.”But AL leader Mahbubul Haq Hanif got him wrong and called him a follower of killers’ ideology, which drew strong criticism.  Awami hush-hush about blogger killing was pretty clear: it does not want to antagonize a section of the vote bank.

As a counterweight to ruling party, the need for an opposition has never been felt so dearly. The main opposition force BNP weakened over the years partly following wrong political courses of action in the past and partly from its internal feud , when it has genuine political issues that could put the government  in serious trouble. Ruling party now wants to reap the situation arising from the terror attacks, projecting itself as the only progressive political force to maintain the status-quo in a country that could slip into the hands of the extremists.

Bangladesh has now become an abattoir of freedom of expression. People get killed here for speaking their minds. Publishers came under attack for publishing books. Repressive laws are being introduced to prevent expressing views on social media or publishing reports that could be critical to government. We have a government, but we do not have any rule of law. We have political problems, but parties are not interested to resolve them. Their only goal is to win an election and to get a 5-year-long permit to plunder. Unresolved political problems breed social and economic problems. Ephemeral chaos shows no sign to cease.It is evolving into entropy.


From → Analysis, My Thoughts

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