Major General (rt) Tarique Ahmed Siddique is an Advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, with rank of cabinet minister. (For those interested, he is the brother of Dr. Shafiq Siddique, who is married to Sheikh Rehana, Sheikh Hasina’s sister.) He held an extraordinary press conference in the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday, where he said:

1. There is currently an ongoing international conspiracy to disband RAB.

2. The United States has a similar force to RAB, called Homeland Security.

3. Limon was involved with criminals.

4. All those writing about Limon are involved in the conspiracy to disband RAB.

5. A certain newspaper editor is at the forefront of the campaign to ban RAB.

6. This newspaper editor was involved with the 21st August grenade attack on Sheikh Hasina.

7. This editor is probably a supporter of terrorists and militants.

8. The government has enough evidence linking him to these attacks so that they could arrest him right now if they so wished.

9. However, the government shall refrain because it does not want to harass journalists.

So, where to start? In case there is any confusion, the editor in question is Prothom Alo’s Matiur Rahman. Allegations that he was involved in the 21 August grenade attacks against Sheikh Hasina had so far been limited to the realms of nutty conspiracy theories. They were propagated primarily by Kaler Kontho, a rival vernacular, and mouthpiece of the Bashundhara corporate group (Prothom Alo and Daily Star are owned by Transcom). In fact, merely a month ago, Matiur Rahman had won a decision in the Press Council that found such allegation to be without any supporting facts and issued a warning to Kaler Kontho.

Major General (rt) Siddique ran the military intelligence outfit, DGFI, and the force that guards the PM, SSF, during the last Hasina government. This term, he functions as Bangladesh’s de facto Defense Minister. Given that he has confirmed what Kaler Kontho has been saying all along, will the Press Council now apologize to Abed Khan and Kaler Kontho? Interestingly, both Prothom Alo and Daily Star have completely blacked out the story so far. I assume lots of emergency meetings are being held at CA Bhaban right now.

As a sidenote, Homeland Security is not a military or para-military force, it’s government department in the United States government, somewhat akin to our Home Ministry. Although in a country where the chief justice goes around saying safety of the state is the supreme law, nothing really shocks any more, but it would still be nice if blatant ignorance was the exception rather than the rule.

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