Note what she said

Although her expressions were of disappointment and anger, she raised issues that deserve thoughtful attention

  • Photo- Nashirul Islam/Dhaka Tribune

Predictably, the “March for Democracy” program of the opposition did not materialise, thanks to the effective government-blocking of all communications to and from the capital. The entry and exit points of the city were tightly logged up by the law enforcement agencies, and stick-wielding ruling party supporters.

Unsurprisingly, the opposition leaders were aggressively hounded by the joint forces. One by one, they were taken into custody, thus making life hard for the “democracy march” organisers to hold its planned rally in front of the BNP head office. The hunt began well in advance of the day.

The country was waiting for a fierce showdown after the ruling party members declared their own strategy that alongside the police, their party activists would be on the streets with sticks in hand to take on the democracy marchers.

The winter morning was indeed cool. People waited with apprehension. Assumptions ran galore. To me, the nation was actually focused on the reaction of the BNP chairperson, who was virtually confined to her house not being allowed to see any party member.

She was not even permitted to visit her party office in Gulshan. In sum, she was asked, unofficially, to remain indoors and forget about her intended march for democracy.

Later events that unfolded in the day were nothing new to the people of this land. We have been witness to such senseless violence many times in the past.

Things were more or less average as people were in a reconciled mood and prepared to see the day off with relative peace, due mainly to low or no turn-out of the opposition activists in any corner of the city.

As the day wore on and the news of Begum Zia striding out of her house to head for the rally point started filtering out in the air, it was a hyped up atmosphere. Bangladesh was suddenly glued to the TV screens to see and hear whatever the BNP chairperson had to say.

And she said lots. To many observers, Begum Zia had her purpose served. She spoke her mind to the nation via the media.

I think we should take her remarks and comments seriously and study those in earnest. Although her expressions were of disappointment and anger, she raised issues that deserve thoughtful attention of all.

She strongly expressed her concern about the ruling party’s role with regards to our neighbouring country. To this, she referred to the fate of Sikkim. She called upon those who were present there not to be pawns of the government, and asked all to be alongside the people and safeguard the sovereignty of the country.

She emphatically said that the present government of Sheikh Hasina was involved in the BDR killings in 2009, and also claimed that the members of Hefazat-e-Islam were also brutally dealt with by the government forces.

She questioned why the prime minister did not send her force to save the BDR officers when they were being killed by the unruly jawans.

She termed the present election process a preposterous exercise. It was “sharing and selection” that took place in the name of elections, she remarked. She asked the PM to allow her to walk out so that she could prove if the people were with her. She finally confirmed that the BNP would go ahead with its chart the next day (December 30).

When someone like Begum Zia, who is the present leader of the opposition and three-time former prime minister, takes up issues in public, these should be measured with due concentration and magnitude.

Her unease about dangers of Bangladesh’s sovereignty, about the ruling party’s alleged allegiance to our big neighbour, her suspicions about the presence of foreigners in sensitive areas in the country, her claims of the present governments connection with the BDR massacre, and ruthless oppression of religious leaders and orphans by government forces – all need to be looked into with highest priority by the ruling party and its allies.

The government cannot ignore the remarks and claims, and ought to come out with satisfactory answers, if it cares to counter those.

In a quick retort to Begum Zia’s unrehearsed address, AL secretary general Syed Ashraful Islam, while talking to the press, brushed off her speech. We expected a somewhat mature and pragmatic approach by this senior member of the ruling party.

His claims that Begum Zia actually did not wish to attend the planned rally and requested the government to beef up her security were not taken in good grace by many. His remarks about her attire were rather repulsive.

Syed Ashraf asserted that the government did not prevent the holding of the rally, and it was the failure of the BNP to garner support for its rallies. He also said that BNP had never been triumphant in gathering people for its meetings any time in the past.

The day witnessed street skirmish, nabbing of more opposition leaders, and the shocking mayhem carried out by the conflicting parties inside the highest seat of justice.

We are certainly at war against ourselves. And war brings only destruction.

Source: Dhaka Tribune


  1. Three points that the opposition leader raised namely – (i) with Hasina in government India is trying to turn Bangladesh into ‘Sikkim’ meaning a vassal state; (ii) that Hasina had hand in BDR killing; and (iii) that Hasina is organizing a stage-managed election to continue in power – are valid concerns that the people of Bangladesh must take note of and resist especially (i) and (iii) above, if necessary with last blood.


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