Members of the Bangladesh Armed Forces prepare to return to the barracks as the Caretaker Government decides to withdraw the army from across the country. Dhaka, November 05 2008. Photo:Munir uz Zaman, DrikNEWS.
The festive mood has returned to the country. The two battling begums have exchanged pleasantries breaking all the ice. Finally the all-inclusive national election is nearing. The Candidates have already started their campaign. The people are busy permuting and combining their assumptions as who is going to rule them next. Overall they are satisfied because the Caretaker Government has kept their promise and are expected to hand over the power to the elected government. The military is going back to the barracks.
The script is perfect so far. If it is followed, Bangladesh is going to be a wonderful example of an implied democracy in the world. But there are some incidents happening alongside which are so disturbing that one fears it could turn the whole progress upside down. These are happening simultaneously, in regular intervals. A part of the media alleged to be the spokesman of the military backed caretaker government (CTG) is fueling these controversies.
Lets look back a few weeks ago. A bunch of hoodlums ran havoc in the premises of the Zia International Airport. In the banner of a religious joint they demolished the sculpture of Lalon Shah- an Icon of Bangladeshi culture. Showdowns like these are totally forbidden in the emergency rule, which is true for most political parties, but it happened there and escalated further. Mufti Fazlul Haq Amini, who actually leads the Qaumi madrashas with the dream of an Islamic revolution in Bangladesh held a press conference and threatened that if elected, they are going to destroy each and every sculptures in the country along with the monuments of our liberation war. He even dared to abuse the Shikha Anirban- the flame of eternity burning as the symbol of our independence. Not to mention he has used unpleasantly words against the incumbent advisors of the CTG. curiously, he simply got away with it with even no questions asked!
In a separate incident the students of Alia Madras has, most of whom are members of Jamaat-e-Islamis’s student wing Islami Chatra Shibir made a chaos in Dhaka university area. They picketed and injured general students to press a demand regarding their admission quota in the university. Many thought that it was staged to put a pressure on the CTG to drop down the arrest warrant of the Jamaat leader war criminal Ali Ahsan Mujahid as it coincided with the time. People were alarmed that these were the threats that could disturb the peaceful living and stability of the country again which was absent during the emergency rule.
Amidst the election vibe, another dramatic story is unfolding. A few days back we were informed that the banned extremist group Jamaatul Mujahedin of Bangladesh (JMB) had re-united and are planning a mass violence. Tipped by intelligence authorities security forces arrested some militants and have discovered their dangerous blue print. A couple of days back the CID concluded that the Harkat ul Jihad al Islami (Huji) were indeed involved in the 2001 bomb blasting at Ramna Batmul and the final report is going to be submitted along within a few days accusing 14 of the militant leaders. On June 11, 2008 charges were finally made against 22 persons including top Harkat-ul-Jihad (Huji) leader Mufti Abdul Hannan and BNP leader and former deputy minister Abdus Salam Pintu for the grenade attacks on Sheikh Hasina on 21st august 2004. Though Mufti Hannan is behind the bar, it is widely known that he still rules the militants and operates them from there.
The latest news is the Government has warned Awami league leader Sheikh Hasina about her vulnerable security system. Even Khaleda Zia and other VIP candidates are equally informed to tighten their security. There are posters all across Bangladesh from extremist groups condemning Awami League and BNP. A recent poster by Hizbut Tahrir says “stop the politics of Awami League and BNP who are pawns of USA and India. Engage in the politics to establish Khilafat in the country.”
We really don’t know whether all of these are really a part of the puzzle. But we can predict what such an assassination threat can mean to the nation from the example of Pakistan. During the fag end of military rule when Pakistan was nearing the elections, the militants assassinated the popular politician Benazir Bhutto, who returned from exile to take part in the elections and was tipped to be the winner. Although the incident didn’t bring any positive result to general Musharraf and he could not stop quitting the office. But it was alleged that the militants were used by the military and possibly with the help of some foreign intelligence agency to prolong their rule.
In Bangladesh, a likely occurrence can easily happen if those extremist forces are not strongly dealt with. The failure of the government to take actions against those who use religion to force their political agenda and thereby giving them impunity can have drastic results. Let us not take back the country in the dark ages for the sake of power play and averting controversial issues to remain popular. It will bring disastrous consequences to the country.
Sushanta Das Gupta is the Editor, E-Bangladesh.