s Jyoti Rahman pointed out, Naya Diganta was one of the few papers to carry the news about the torture report issued by HRW. I have already discussed certain aspects of the interrogations transcripts. Yet another that obviously caught my attention was the almost exclusive focus on India throughout. I don’t know if this was a solely a scare-tactic or whether the intelligence agencies really believe that one, and ONLY one country out there mean us any harm and everyone else is a সাধু. I sincerely hope it’s the former.
But even if it was a scare tactic, what enables this sort of tactic in the first place? A disproportionately large fear of India within our populace, stroked by the communally-charged elders, certain political forces, a parochial and outdated foreign policy (if one can call it that) community, and the media. Naya Diganta, while focusing on certain very worthwhile India-related stories, does run others that make it seem like a card-carrying member of this sort of baseless India-bashing group. Which ironically enables the very torture on suspicion that it has run a story about! Are these guys so dumb that they don’t see the irony?
At the risk of repetition: there is nothing wrong with a focus on India. My beef is with an exclusive, wrong-headed focus, not cool-headed analysis. I have previously described the latter attitude as that of a foreign-policy hawk, and the former as that of dodos. It seems that in Bangladeshi foreign policy circles, we have don’t have hawks and doves, but instead are blessed with do-nothings or dodos.
I’m not quite sure where to put Naya Diganta in that category. When I see ND reporting on how the civil aviation delegation might have sold us out during negotiations in Delhi – the civil aviation secretary was made OSD on return – my heart warms up. (New Age had a similar report). That is an instance of keeping people informed about the relevant points and people, thus adopting a tough stance vis a vis India.
However, a few days previously, I had seen this absolutely incredible report on how apparently there was a vast আন্তরজাতিক চক্র (International Conspiracy with a capital I and C) led by none other than that Ancient and All-Powerful Secret Cabal, the Indian Thread Makers! This Secret Cabal is apparently in control of some NGO in UK which has managed to convince major retailers like Marks and Spencer’s not to buy from Bangladeshi suppliers if they use Uzbeki cotton. Of course, I am tempted to ask why the Indian government is so stupid as to let a bunch of thread-makers disturb their diplomatic ties with a country that is increasingly becoming a major regional supplier of gas even as India is becoming ever more energy-hungry, but such questions are more likely to fall on deaf ears. Worse, they can get me in trouble with the (lack of) intelligence services for harbouring “pro-Indian” sentiments!
I understand that ND does not like the current government. Nor do they like India or Daily Star journalists who talk openly about Jamaat’s connections to religiously-inspired violence in Bangladesh. (It is said that ND is backed by Jamaat-leaning individuals; I’m also told that it gives space in its monthly magazine to some staunch left-leaning “secularists”, and not just Farhad Mazhar!). So the irony of these two reports within the span of a week is simply laughable. Or is it simply the cynicism of using a more helpless adversary like a tortured journalist to get a bigger fish, like the current government?
Lastly, at the risk of repeating myself ad nauseum, let me say once more: if crying “wolf” becomes the national pastime, you will have a desensitized, disbelieving population that really doesn’t care about TRUE stories of being pushed around by its bigger neighbor to the east. And if that happens, there is clearly only one winner: India.
Tip to Naya Diganta: stick to facts. Leave the conspiracy theories for the fools who fall for them.