Prothom Alo and Daily Star have an unparallelled ability in Bangladesh to focus, day after day, on a single issue, and force some action on that issue. In the recent past, they did it about Limon, the unfortunate victim of RAB crossfire. They did it about the untimely deaths of Mishuq Munir and Tareque Masud. And lately, they had started focusing on the issue of individuals being abducted and being murdered, allegedly by law-enforcement officials in disguise.
Thus, Daily Star has run the following news-reports:
December 14: Rights violation still rampant
December 15: Seven bodies seen floating in the bay
Prothom Alo has run these:
December 18: গুপ্তহত্যার তদন্ত করবে মানবাধিকার কমিশন
গুম ও গুপ্তহত্যার রহস্যভেদে গণতদন্ত কমিশন হোক
The response from the government about these claims, as it is about most criticism levelled their way by the opposition, was that BNP was behind all these murders and disappearances to foil the International Crimes Tribunal. Yesterday, BNP held a grand rally to honor freedom-fighters and decisively refute the charges that BNP was out to save war-criminals and foil their trials. However, this development became the second-most important story of the day after the bursts of violence that broke out all over Dhaka on the early morning of the same day.
The government claims, and both Daily Star and Prothom Alocarried this version, that BNP carried out these attacks. Daily Star went even further, and dragged out the two biggest scapegoats of recent years, Hawa Bhaban and Jamaat, as the groups allegedly behind this violence.
What is more likely, that BNP would sabotage the organizational meeting it had been concentrating on all month, or that Awami League was desparate to deny Khaleda Zia a stage surrounded by decorated war veterans? Daily Star claims that BNP Acting Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir was in the dark about all these acts of violence. Meanwhile, Prothom Alo details show district-level leaders from all around Bangladesh were mobilizing to come to Dhaka. So this criminal master-plot was known to district-level BNP leaders all around Bangladesh, but somehow, BNP’s Acting Secretary-General did not know about it? Ridiculous.
Just like the government is running out of money to carry out its everyday duties, it is also running out of legitimate ways to stifle the entirely legitimate dissent that is bubbling up due to its numerous ill-conceived steps. One hopes that it will soon see sense, and shun the path of violence.