Bangladesh politics sliding down to violent course

Burning vehicle on the street

Dhaka–The killers are unleashed on street amidst political confrontations leading to large scale violence, arson, firing and killing.

The political situation suddenly turned violent last week with the opposition enforcing a country-wide road blockade followed by a full-day and a subsequent half-day shutdown throughout the country.

Things could have been largely peaceful if the ruling Awami League did not took it as a challenge for their existence in the government that they are running with absolute majority.

In addition to its use of police as a means of political suppression, Awami League also engaged all its political forces to face a straight confrontation with the opposition forces on the street.

After Awami League’s return to power in 2009, ruling party students belonging to Chhatra League were allowed to capture the university campuses by ousting opposition Chhatra Dal and Chhatra Shibir. They also overpowered the administration by deploying political cadres at the helm of power in every academic campus of higher education.

The ruling party students groups and factions then locked in intra-fighting which often turned violent leaving dozens of students killed and major universities and colleges closed. The reasons behind such violence had been the issue of sharing undue benefits out of admission business, tender business and simply the extortion business.

The situation deteriorated to such an extent that police were being harassed, attacked and injured by ruling party hoodlums even inside the police stations.

But the political leadership patronised all these private armed goons to grow bigger and fight against each other over the similar issue of grabbing tender, business, land, property or cash. Now these destructive forces are being mobiliised under political slogan to attack the opposition in a very autocratic fanaticism.

Police have been used to suppress brutally any opposition programme, any peaceful procession, agitation or demonstration even inside or in front of their party offices. In the name of maintaining law and order and public safety police were encouraged to arrest and charge anyone for terrorism or any suspicious, imaginary, arbitrary or wishful causes.

The campaign to fight against anti-liberation forces has also been used as a tool to chase any one having some involvement with Jamaat-e-Islami or its student wing Chhatra Shibir. The opposition party offices were also kept under virtual siege over the months generating more determination among the party workers,

Finding no other way for holding a peaceful political programme, the opposition workers, mostly the youngsters, gathered the militant tactic to hit police making them scare as they came to confront any street agitation in recent weeks.

Under such a situation, hundreds of opposition workers and leaders were arrested and sued. In the latest round of political suppression, the government arrested several hundred political workers and leaders including Mirza Fakhrul Islam, Acting Secretary General of major opposition party BNP and Dr. Shafiqur Rahman, Acting Secretary General Jamaat-e-Islami.

Meanwhile, BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia on Wednesday censured the incumbent Awami League-led government for putting blame on the opposition after killing innocent citizens.

Addressing a views-exchange programme at her Gulshan office with freedom fighters on Wednesday evening, former Prime Minister Begum Zia said “You have witnessed the way Biswajit [Das] has been murdered in public but the killers are still at large. The Awami League is conducting the killings and filing [false] cases against opposition activists.”

Police is yet to detain any suspect over the murder of Biswajit Das, a tailoring shop owner of in the old part of capital city was hacked to death during opposition’s road blockade programme on December 9. Television footage and media reports identified some of those involved in the murderous assault as members of the Chatra League, the ruling Awami League’s student front.

At least four persons died and more than hundred were injured in the violence involving the opposition, the police and ruling party members during December 9 blockade enforced throughout the country to press opposition demand for an interim caretaker government to hold next general elections.

Nazimuddin Alam

The opposition chief demanded release of her party’s Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir who the law enforcers arrested on Monday evening on charges of vandalism and arson during Sunday’s blockade. Khaleda alleged the government had filed false cases against her party’s spokesperson.

The three-time former Prime Minister also criticised the statements of the ruling party leaders that censured agitation programmes during the month of victory. She said the Awami League had enforced general strikes for a total 174 days during the 2001-6 tenure of the previous BNP-led government.

“The Prime Minster had forgotten that her party had enforced a 72-hour strike on Dec 9, 10 and 11 when she was in the opposition. Remarks against shutdown do not suit them (AL leaders),” Khaleda retorted.

Urging the freedom fighters to join in the anti-government movement that her party was leading, Begum Zia said Bangladesh was passing a tough time and alleged that the ruling party was destroying the country. “The country will be ruined if they (the ruling quarter) were not removed [from power],” the BNP chief said and urged everyone to wage tough demonstrations against the ‘injustice and torture’ of the government.

However, the political situation is poised towards an escalating violence with the ruling alliance deciding to stick to the street till the trial of Jamaat top leaders are completed under war crime charges.

A section of the ruling party leaders are also demanding a total ban on Jamaat but others opposing as it would be worse to push the religious force to an extreme course.

Leaders of the Awami League-led 14-party alliance on Wednesday called upon all the forces of the liberation war to remain on the streets till the completion of the war crimes trial to face the conspiracies and evil design of the anti-independence cronies.

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