I wrote this piece for different yahoogroups on the day Ivy Rahman died, several days after 21st august attack on Sheikh Hasina. Although this reflects my immediate rage and shock and may be faulted to contain premature conclusions, most of the concerns still remained valid today.
I grew up hearing of Ivy Rahman as a political leader. She had quite an unusual name for a politician of her generation. Ivy Rahman died early this morning. She was grievously injured on the bomb attack on Awami league meeting this week. That’s what always happen. The better ones always go early. In our nasty/corrupted political culture, and unlike many of her political colleague, Ivy Rahman or her husband or any member of their family have never been implicated in any sort of corruption or terrorism allegation. She spent her life in one ideological politics, and just ended it with the same idealogy.
Not this Time
With the injury and later death of Ivy Rahman, at least one stereotype could not repeat itself this time. BNP couldn’t blame the bombing on AL; no one would believe AL will kill a senior leader like Ivy Rahman for political gains.
Why BNP is to Blame
There would be a lot of finger pointing now of who did it. I, like Sheikh Hasina, don’t want to say that BNP did it, but I believe all responsibility goes to BNP. If BNP can spend highest national resources to pave smooth fun by Tareq Zia and gong in haowa vaban, I believe Sheikh Hasina deserves at least part of the security. It is quite plausible that if a portion of security measures was taken for the meeting as it is usually taken for Tareq Zia and his friends, this incident could have been prevented.
There are more. BNP is creating examples for others to follow. Only several months ago, whole nation watched how BNP openly harassed it political opponent Dr B Chowdhury and Mr Abdul Mannan. Wasn’t it a green signal for the groups who carry a little more extreme opinions?
Madrassa grown extremist groups of Moulana Amini kind has been issuing death threats to many intellectuals, journalists. Moulana Amini is a partner of this government and he became an MP with BNPs election symbol, sheaf of paddy (Dhaner sheesh). As BNP bears responsibility for the activities of any of it’s party members and MPs, BNP also bears responsibility for any activity/speech by Moulana Amini.
And again. What BNP did in the history to restrain these zealots? The BNP government went against calls from UN, USA, EU, Amnesty international etc. to comply with the demand of Amini and madrassa movements to ban Ahamadiya books. Will it be grossly wrong if I connect the dots in the following way. We all know these madrassa movements don’t like mazaar–they bombed Shah Jalal mazaar, they don’t like pohela boiushakh — they bombed Romna botomool, they don’t like Bengali culture– they bombed Udichi, they don’t like Communist party– they bombed CP meeting. I know I should not blame someone without proof, but I am allowed to suspect, isn’t it?
What BNP did? They arrested NGO workers(Proshika), Journalists( Selim Samad), Opposition Political leaders, intellectuals. In the meantime they keep on patronizing these Madrassa movement led by Amini, Azizul Huq etc.
So why BNP will not be held responsible?
Nature of Protest
We can rally, protest, blockade to express our anger. Why do we have to burn innocent peoples cars, or public buses or public property? Why can’t we leave behind the culture of sixties when protest used to mean anarchy? Can’t AL or Sheikh Hasina come up with a statement urging people to protest without burning property? How many more years we have to wait to become civilized?
The dead and the injured
As you will noticed, there has been a fundamental difference in Bangladesh media and international media on the media coverage of the events . BBC, CNN etc. website gave very high priority to this news. But none of these media outlets showed any picture of any dead or injured. Instead, e.g. BBC showed a much powerful picture of a wailing man in a barren Dhaka street. See what Dhaka media are doing. They are showing picture women-men lying on the streets and mingled bodies in the morgue. Even they are publishing the picture of some leader and asking in the caption is she alive or dead. Bangladesh newspapers are independent and maintain a high standard of journalistic excellence. But when they will understand that privacy is a part of journalistic etiquette also?
Ambulance and the the rickshaw van
A big part of international coverage mentioned that injured or the dead were being carried to the hospital with tricycle carts. It was a big niche in the story to show how savage we still are. After such an incident in the heart of Dhaka, police car or ambulance don’t show up. In this 21st century we still carry the injured with a manual cart, untrained passers by pull and hold badly injured bodies. And journalists take pictures of them.
We now have pizza huts in Bangladesh, people are proud to show that off. “Fast Food” courts are mushrooming everywhere, people are spending a fortune in those places playing pools and bowlings. We, the chattering Bengali, are talking relentlessly with our fancy camera cell phones. And those mingles bodies head towards the emergency room on a rickshaw cart.