ALL IN THE NAME OF DEMOCRACY

by F R Chowdhury

All his life, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman fought for the rights of his people. He spent many years in jail. So much so that after futile negotiation with General Yahiya Khan, he was arrested and sent to jail in West Pakistan. The people of Bangladesh initiated the war of liberation as soon as the Pakistan Army started with their operation “search light” to kill and terrorise the people into submission. Eventually truth prevailed and Bangladesh won its independence on 16th December, 1971 when about one hundred Pakistani troops surrendered.

On 10th January 1972 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to independent Bangladesh to become its first President. To play a more active role, he soon became the prime minister. Then he again became the president with all executive powers. He was never directly elected by the people as executive president. This was certainly not in conformity with democratic system and procedures. Soon people came to know other side of Sheikh Mujib that he could not tolerate any dissent. The man who fought all his life for democracy suddenly killed democracy by introducing one-party system. Anyone who opposed him or had different views was put behind bars. All news papers were banned except four controlled by the government. Those papers were full of praise for him and he was surrounded by cronies who also shielded him from the real world. By then Mr. Tajuddin, under whose leadership the nation fought the war of independence and Gen. Osmani, the Commander of Bangladesh Forces were both sidelined. When people were dying on the streets, he travelled to Canada for Commonwealth Conference with live “Koi” fish in water jars.

It all came to an abrupt end when he was killed with most of the family members on August 15, 1975. Two daughters Hasina and Rehana survived because they were abroad. Since then Bangladesh politics witnessed so many turns and twists. President Ziaur Rahman restored multi-party democracy. On his request Dr. Kamal Hussein and Abdur Razzak went to India to convince Hasina that it was safe for her to return Bangladesh. She returned and was immediately made the party chief. President Ziaur Rahman was mysteriously murdered by a group of army officers soon after Hasina and Ershad both returned from India. Sheikh Mujib’s daughter Hasina eventually again (second time) became prime minister in 2009 following a long period of emergency rule by military backed civilian care-taker government.

She started with her father’s unfinished job in a planned manner. First and foremost was to remove the provision of care-taker government so that all future elections would be under her control. In the mean time she concentrated all her energy to control and dominate the civil administration and judiciary so that she can use them to manipulate all future elections. The independent minded officials were made OSD (Officer on special duties) with no duties or functions and then retired. Officials loyal to the party were promoted. New recruitments were also confined to party loyal. All cases against BAL party officials and workers were withdrawn on the plea of being politically motivated. Most of those connected with the killing of Sheikh Mujib were hanged. Popular leaders of Jamat-e-Islami have been charged with war crimes and a few have already been hanged. Thousands of cases have been filed against BNP (Bangladesh Nationalists’ Party) leaders’ right up to Upozilla level. Hundreds of BNP leaders and workers have been taken into police custody. BNP offices have been locked and police posted outside. The judiciary is not far behind to claim their position as high court judges have been issued with show cause notice by Supreme Court because of their remarks on certain judgements and verdicts. There is no discipline in any quarter.

Prime Minister Hasina conducted 2014 general election under her own control which was boycotted by most of the political parties including BNP. 153 BAL candidates were elected unopposed. The BAL achieved their planned majority even before a single vote was cast. In the remaining seats, not even 10% votes were cast. This was the greatest mockery of democracy where an illegal government was installed in power in the name of democracy. The BAL government presented the biggest surprise by having a leader of the opposition from a party whose members are also serving the government as cabinet ministers. These are new definitions of parliamentary democracy.

On the first anniversary of the disgraced election when the opposition parties were planning public demonstration to demand fresh election under a care-taker government, the government clamped down on opposition activities in a very harsh manner. The government never gave permission to opposition parties for public meeting or rally when the government party BAL were openly on the streets with sticks and banners to show their strength. More BNP leaders were arrested and involved in imaginary cases. BAL thugs were involved in burning and looting including use of petrol bombs to blame BNP. They tried to create a situation as if Bangladesh was also under terrorists attack. The diplomats at Dhaka knew very well that the drama was orchestrated by BAL to foil the movement for democracy. The conveyed the real picture back to their countries.

Eventually the government was forced to declare city elections in Dhaka and Chittagong. They had to lift the blockade on Khaleda and BNP offices. However, when Khaleda went to campaign in support of their candidate, she came under attack by BAL criminals. She narrowly escaped death or injury though several vehicles were badly damaged. She was advised by the Election Commission not to go for election campaign with motorcade but very next day the BAL supported candidate had a bigger rally of motors. It was double standards in every sense.

The present government has been using police, civil administration and judiciary to achieve their political goals. Loyal servicemen are suitably rewarded. They got a students’ wing whose main function is to convert the students to their line of thinking that is to sing and praise the Awami League and Sheikh family. They also got a labour wing whose function it is to ensure that proper trade union for the cause of working people can never flourish in Bangladesh. The Chatra League and Sramik League work together to terrorise the peaceful people of Bangladesh with the full support of police and other law enforcement agencies.

Recently during the Bengali New Year celebrations, a number of young ladies were molested near to the Dhaka University campus by hooligans. Video clips were shown on TV screens. Pictures were published in newspapers. People in Bangladesh and even those abroad have seen evidence of those disgraceful crimes. Yet, one Mr. Monirul, Deputy Commissioner of Metropolitan Police said he was not aware of any such incident. He had to say so because the criminals were members of the Chatra League, the pride product of BAL. When the pressmen asked the Deputy Home Minister about the brutal attack on Khaleda’s motorcade, he said that he was waiting for a report. The prime minister gave a better justification by saying that people were taking revenge as if it was not government’s responsibility to control mob violence and provide security. She is caught in her own words. It was about the same time that robbers killed eight persons while looting a bank. So is the law and order situation. Police are now busy establishing the link between the robbers and terrorists. We shall not be surprised to see another case against Khaleda. An alleged injured robber was lying in hospital bed and was being questioned by journalists – what a mockery of justice! And our Chief Justice had nothing to say.

Apart from BNP, Hasina is also busy on another front. The Nobel Committee did not recognise her good work and instead awarded the peace prize to Dr. Yunus. His theory of micro-credit and self-reliance has gained huge popularity all over the world. He is now a better known Bangladeshi than anyone else. This is not acceptable to Hasina. She has engaged all agencies at her disposal to find some irregularity to disgrace Professor Yunus. All officials eager to find her favour are now busy to find something against him. Finally they may succeed in creating something in their laboratory. Whatever they do, Dr. Yunus and Sir Fazle Hassan Abed will remain the pride of Bangladesh.

Dhaka and Chittagong city polls proved once for all that no free and fair election can be held under the present BAL government headed by Hasina. The Chief Election Commissioner whom people used to consider as a silent supporter of BAL also got disgusted with BAL hooliganism and told the pressmen to write the truth. The US Ambassador at Dhaka deplored the way voting stations were occupied by BAL activists. Now everybody realises how justified Khaleda was to boycott the 2014 election. Human right, justice, good governance and democracy can be restored in Bangladesh only through a free and fair election participated by all parties under a non-party care-taker government.

The present BAL government can claim many achievements – BDR massacre, Corruption and WB withdrawal from Padma Bridge Project, Kalo Biral’s car full of money, disappearance of Ilyas Ali, Salahuddin and a few others, death of journalists Sagar-Runi, killing of seven persons in Narayanganj, killing of innocent Biswajit by Chatra League, election without voters and finally taking control of voting stations by party workers. Every road, bridge and building has been named after members of one family. Enough is enough. Please go and give the country back to its people.

London, 28-April-2015                                                       <fazlu.chowdhury@btinternet.com>

2 COMMENTS

  1. Mujib was a fascist and so is his daughter; history may repeat itself. And if it does, where do you go? The other party is no different. Poor, unfortunate Bangladesh! She is distained to suffer.

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