Dhaka


Today a daylong general strike was called by the main opposition party in Bangladesh. This is first such event in 3 1/2 years. The opposition party BNP had laid out the strike plan last month in protest of certain issues they have pointed out as government failure.

The general strike ( Hartal) is not a very popular mode of protest in Bangladesh. Yet opposition parties resort to this tactic more often than other means as they don’t find the alternatives to hartal as biting. One reason the opposition resort to this sort of general strike is because hartals make the government feel insecure and vulnerable. For this same reason current ruling party Awami League resorted to 303 ( nearly a year) days of general strike since 1991. Otherwise a so called successful hartal is never a testament to opposition’s popularity.

Hartals are now more a test of the mindset of the government than anything else. Accordingly today’s hartal was an opportunity for the government to show how tolerant and democratic they are and at the same time it was a tool of the opposition to trap the government into exposing the government’s intolerant fascistic mindset ( if there is any).

Clearly the following photo assay shows heavy handed repressive acts of the government in a day which otherwise would have been a day of peaceful non-violent exercise of democratic right.

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The demolition of Rangs Bhaban was a symbolic equivalent of the 1/11 military government. Exactly as what was with Rangs Bhaban, i.e. spectacular demolition an imposing indestructible structure; this military government embarked on a similar larger scale project with whole of Bangladesh.

Rangs Bhaban demolition in 24 hours notice was termed as a symbolic victory over corruption. Look at this blog and read in the comment section how the early supporters of this military government drooled at this fiesta of destruction.

However, as warned by a few, the bulldozer revolution of 1/11 faltered all through its way. The military government came with promises of rooting out and cleansing the country of corruption. Well nearly one year later, corruption is as rampant as before and none of the so called corruption kings could be convicted in corruption charge. All the unbelievable number of jail years given to politicians are all income tax or firearms cases. Any of the members of the current government can easily be implicated in similar income tax or firearm crimes. Then the bulldozer revolution tried to beautify Dhaka by destroying slums, control the markets by sending soldiers to market places, and control politics by purchasing some collaborator politicians and editors. And fortunately for the people of Bangladesh, all these misadventures failed.

Rangs Bhaban ( although Governments’ collaborators initially tried to publicize that it was built on illegal land, court order confirms that it was not) was evacuated in 24 hours notice, hundreds of businesses got uprooted, and some RAJUK daily laborers broke the beautiful glass walls with big hammers.

Soon the bulldozer revolutionaries started grasping the magnitude of the job and their inability to finish the job they started. A company was allocated the demolition job ( Hint hint: Lt Geneal Hasan Masud). The nation was told that a demolition expert company would do that job with surgical precision.

Well several months later, we now hear that the job was taken by a company which had no idea of the enormity of the job. Only experience they had so far was demolition of two very old three story one unit flat building in Chittagong. And even that company did not keep the job to themselves. They charged the government 75 lac taka and subcontracted it to labor contractors for 25 lac taka, thus earning 50 lac taka by only being a collaborator.
And the result is very visible today.

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Look at the mess this government has put us into. This is what happens when the wrong people embark into a job which they do not know how to handle and which is not their job either.

Rangs Bhaban is precariously hanging in the air today. Partly collapsed, the rest of the huge structure may collapse any moment. Dead bodies are hanging from the rubbles. Per different newspaper reports, as many as 30 workers are still trapped under the towering rubbles. No rescue operation is being planned as the building is too difficult to approach.

In previous thread termed Rangs Rongo, many of the military government apologetics boasted that Rangs Bhaban was the symbol of this governments’ crusade against corruption. I agree with them. The current state of Rangs Bhaban is the symbol of this military government.

And most unfortunately, the victims of these misadventures are not us, nor our elite brethren in Bangladesh. The victims are the poor people in Bangladesh. The decision makers of Rangs demolition will roam around and chatter around happily, the conspirators, collaborators of 1/11 bulldozer revolution will keep enjoying the advisorial, editorial, ambassadorial perks, but the poor people of Bangladesh will keep hanging like that poor soul in the picture. Someone buried under Rangs rubbles, the rest of them buried under the soaring price of essential basic food items.

It’s a mess. A big big mess.

Public park space in Dhaka is almost non existent. Almost hidden within this concrete slum of 12 million people, few spots here and there still gives the Dhakaites much needed greenery and some fresh air to walk in the early morning. If you happen to be in Parliament building ground, or Suhrawardi Udyan (Ramna Green) before sunrise, you will see a carnival there. Muffler clad elderly man gossiping in gangs, Saree-salwar-kameez wearing middle aged women walking briskly, young men running and doing physical exercise and even young kids joined the grand festivities with their moms. Suhrawardi Udyan and Parliament building areas are one of the rare open space Dhakaites now have. If you happen to stop by crescent lake, or the road side shops along Ashulia-Uttara road, the jam-packed, inch to inch crowd, will give you an idea of the dire need some park space in Dhaka.

While the governments should consider this park space shortage as an issue of priority and do everything possible to make more greenery available to the public, this government has done exactly the opposite.

The took away almost half of Ramna Green (25 acre of 62 acres) and silently gave it to a club of 1500 elites of Dhaka, the Dhaka Club. The hitherto public park space will be the golf course for the 1500 elites of Dhaka. And this broad daylight robbery of public land occurred almost 5 months ago in June 2007.

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