Once the historic task of the independence of Bangladesh was accomplished, Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman thought building up the new nation would be a comparatively easy task. But the post-independence scenario came as a shock realization that all was not well. The very patriots who fought for a separate homeland started changing their colors and those on whom he had chosen to rely upon were seemingly more interested in grabbing wealth. He was reduced to murmuring in distress that countries discover mines of gold or diamond, but alas, he had discovered a mine of thieves. He asked around: “We have seven crore blankets for the seven crore people of this new nation. So, where is mine?” Such embarrassing and politically honest questions made those around him very uncomfortable. The Father of the Nation gradually found himself lonelier by the day, allowing the conspirators a chance to kill him and liberate the thieves.
I should know better that Bengalis are traditionally a secular, peace-loving, hospitable and honest race. So how and when did it transmorph into a mine of thieves? Frantz Fanon studied Bengali villages and identified changes in the dynamics of the Asiatic mode of production: the introduction of modern-day irrigation system by the British Raj institutionalized power abuse when peasants had to bow before a handful of water godfathers to ensure food cultivation. That also opened an avenue for land-grabbing. This genesis of power abuse and exploitation led by the British masters and their sycophants mutated the peace-loving societies of Bengal. Licensed as British contractors, those native sycophants initiated the culture of bribes and favors. A sub-society of brokers emerged; neo-elitism was further catalyzed by the strategic British allure of cocktail parties, wine glasses, white women and their mysteries. Divide and rule dogma prepared the breeding ground for the criminalization of society.
On their way out, the British handed over power to the native brokers they had raised from ashes. By that time the inheritors of greed had already mastered the art of wearing suits, speaking fluent English and courting Hades, the god of the netherworld and dispenser of earthly riches in exchange for the souls of thieves. Time passed and the success of these under-world brokers established them as role models of our society. Learning English, stabbing in the back to become part of the powers structure, looting the powerless and exploiting the poor became a package deal for Bengali success. So was the case in other parts of British India. Father of the nation of India, Mohanlal Karamchand Gandhi, as patriotic, honest and lonely as Bangabandhu, was killed in the same fashion. The destiny of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was no different. In killing their fathers of the nation, Indian subcontinental thieves showed the same precise conformity that they learnt from the school of colonial politics. Positive aspects of colonial discourse, if any, didn’t carry any weight for them at all.
Bengali thieves started their business immediately after 1947 when Hindus were forced to abandon their homes and wealth in exchange for their lives, just so that Bengali Muslim looters could live lavish lives without hard work. Their counterparts in India and West Pakistan simultaneously followed suit. Hence, 1947 marked the year of opportunity for this community of thieves.
With visionary cold-heartedness unique to this brotherhood, Bengali sycophants were quick to butter their new Pakistani masters for the same materialistic ideology that saw them succeed the Raj. On the other scale were patriots who carried over their pre-1947 struggle to new frontiers: this time against the excesses of Pakistani rulers. The success of 1971 cost them their blood, their dreams and their lives. Those freedom fighters who survived the independence continue to die in poverty and hunger just like their brethren who fought against the Raj. As if by cosmic design the fate these freedom fighters is linked to the destiny of Bangabandhu, Gandhi ji and Quaid-e-Azam, whereas the community of thieves has genetically modified to the needs and demands of modern life, amassing riches from the ruins of 1857, 1947 and 1971. The number ‘7’ has indeed proven lucky for the great gamblers of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Bangabandhu was surprised to see that the brokers of wealth from the time of the Raj onwards had a commonness that helped them survive one ruler after the other: the soul of a thief. It is for this evil strength that despite hosting a majority of honest, hardworking and peace loving people, Bangladesh is fast losing itself in the labyrinth of corruption. Gandhi ji foresaw this tragedy: “The Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone’s needs but not everyone’s greed.”
Maskawaith Ahsan is a broadcaster, journalist, author, blogger and the editor of The-Editor.net.