Life is Precious

Opposition leader Khaleda Zia had a rally in Sirajganj, Pabna. As local BNP leader and organizer of the event, Mr Iqbal Mahmud Chowdhury states, first he intended to hold the rally in a field of a local college. However, as local unit of ruling Awami League student wing called another meeting at the same time and same venue, opposition leader’s meeting was moved to a field next to a railway track. Day night public announcement were going on  3 days.

As people were gathering for the meeting and big crowd was sitting on the railway track while listening local leaders speak, a train, coming in full seed, rammed into the crowd. Seven people lost their lives. Five instantly, two later.  Like anywhere in the country, the angry mob burnt several train compartments for killing of their comrades. This is a commonplace event in 21st century Bangladesh. Every time a bus / truck kills some pedestrian/ student– local mob runs amok and resort to a orgy of destruction. In Sirajganj it was already a protest rally and public was already gathered. Naturally violence erupted very easily.   Several train compartments were vandalized and burnt.

Since this happened, government, totally ignoring seven deaths and the deadly failure in railway communication warning safety net, only focused on the post accident vandalism. Fof the government, five train compartments were much more important that seven BNP supporters lives. Very shockingly, the mainstream media had a similar attitude.


No investigation was even initiated to find the fault in railway communication network. After few hue and cry by opposition secretary general, one fine morning railway announced that it was “SIMPLY” an accident. None bothered to care why the accident happened. Seven lives lost. No one cared.

But hell broke lose on the activists and supporters of BNP. Cases of destruction of government property were filed against few thousand unnamed. And unprecedented crackdown on the opposition was launched. Score of people were hunted down and put behind bar everyday.

16 more held over Sirajganj train attack

32 more held over Sirajganj vandalism

4 more held over Sirajganj train attack

16 more held in Sirajganj

5,000 sued, 20 held, 1 more body identified

6 BNP leaders sued, 32 more held

20 held over Sirajganj violence

Nearly hundred were arrested by the end of the week.  Few hundred more are still hiding, being relentlessly pursued by police.  Every single day reports are being published about arrests made in Sirajganj train vandalism case.

There was clear failure in Railway communication system is pre-warning the running train that a public meeting was going, people are sitting on the track and the train must slow down. For God’s sake this could have been a public meeting of Awami League or a non political gathering or a passenger bus stuck over the railway tracks or it might have been a gorur haat on railway track. . There must be a safety net in Bangladesh railway system where trains are warned in advance about trouble in tracks ahead. As a train passenger, I have seen many times trains wait in remote places awaiting clearance from next station to be able to proceed. That day this warning system failed. Sirajganj station must know that a public meeting was going on.  How could they give a green signal for the train to proceed?


It seems, as long as the people killed were all BNP activists, Government as well as the media are not interested in finding any crime/ flaw in it. And it seems, if they could, government would have rewarded the persons responsible for ramming a speedy train on a public meeting of opposition party BNP.

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.


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.

I saw Elachi’r Ma several days ago. She was in TV news. She probably will be in late twenties or early thirties. She was wearing what all Bangladeshi poor women wear. A plain grey/green Sari with Black Par and a Nakful. She was looking exceedingly fresh, most likely she just had bath before talking to TV crew.

And the poor people of Bangladesh, My God, are very camera smart. They will talk clearly and in an articulate manner without any shyness, nervousness or hesitation.

The TV crew wanted to talk to Elachi’r Ma because only half an hour before arrival of the TV crew, Elachi’r Ma buried the decomposed body of her six year old daughter. Her daughter is one of those killed in Cyclone Sidr.

For those who say that there is no war criminal in Bangladesh, look at this video evidence. These are the bodies of intellectuals of Bangladesh who were brutally murdered by students belonging to Jamaat e Islami. There eyes were gauged out, Heart specialist Dr Fazle Rabbi’s heart was torn out. There is overwhelming evidence that these crimes were committed by AL-Badr, an armed special interest wing of Jamaat e Islami. This newly formed paramilitary wing was headed by the then All Pakistan Islami Chhatra Shangha president Motiur Rahman Nizami.

Saudi Arabia executes 3 Bangladeshis
Agence France-Presse . Riyadh
Three Bangladeshis were beheaded in Saudi Arabia on Friday after being convicted of robbery and sexual assault, the interior ministry said. Thakeer Abdul Rahman, Tafeel Abdul Rasheed and Nayoon Jowley were executed in the kingdom’s capital city Riyadh for breaking into the home of a fellow Bangladeshi, robbing him at knifepoint and sexually assaulting his wife, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Many questions come to my mind,

1. Did they really do the crime? There have been many allegation that local Saudi’s crimes are usually covered by scapegoating poor illiterate foreign workers.

2. Did they get a lawyer to represent them? Was there any appeal process?

3. Did Saudi Government bother to notify the family of those convicted or at least Bangladesh government? Isn’t it a diplomatic norm to notify the country whose citizen are being executed?

4. Where was Bangladesh embassy? Did they know of the case? What did they do to legally represent them?

5. Howcome no Bangladeshi media knew of it until after they were beheaded?

6. The three names sound too strange to be Bangladeshi names. Waht is going on?

7. How these three poor souls felt while waiting death in a solitary chamber in a Saudi jail? Could they communicate as Saudi criminal system runs in arabic only? Did they long for their long left green village, the little river while awaiting death? Did they get some rice and daal during the weeks awaiting death?

8 Did any Saudi cheer in joy when these three were lined up in a public square in Riyadh and being slaughtered?

[Stop the Barbarism. Say No To death penalty]

I see a mass of humanity, surging forward on Elephant Road. It is ten
minutes to iftaar, and musollis are distributing small snack packages.

This close to the city capital, the rush of poverty overtakes any
semblance of traffic police-created order. Hundreds lunge forward,
moving from their sitting position to get to the front of the line.
The mothers rush with their children in arms, it gets them to the
front of the begging line. Those with older children, leave them in a
safe space. One mother pushes her son, she is hobbling, she wants him
to take her place. “Ja na” she pleads.

[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. The leader of madrassa movement, Mr Azizul Haq, whom I blamed, later became friend of Awami League. So was Mufti shahidul Haq, who has recently been incriminated as a co-planner by a main suspect, Mufti Hannan, another Madrassa product.]


Ivy Rahman

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.

Pizza Hut

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.

Two-room flat. Father, mother, 4 siblings and the uncle; all live together in the 500 sq feet residential quarter. Father, mother and the youngest of the kids live in one bedroom. Other room is shared by the two sisters, one college and one high school going. The other brother, also in high school and the uncle, who is struggling with his small business after graduation, shares the bed which occupies a part of the living room. There is a small balcony, which is occupied with household items like an extra chair, a broken table, a shelf. If you somehow manage to stand in the balcony and try to look out through the clothes hanged for drying, your vision will be obstructed at 2 feet distance, where another multistory building houses another 24 families. The windows at one side of the house are almost of no use, thanks to the neighbors’ flat which is built keeping almost no gap between the buildings.

Dhaka has an estimated weeknight population of 8 million. My guess, the majority of this 8 million will probably live in a condition I just described.



I tried very hard not to watch the TV footage of Saddam Hossain being hanged. I failed. Apparently my sorrounding world is so eager to see and show that killing, I had no way but watching Saddam Hossain in Hangman’s noose. I do not like to watch taking a life. This disliking started with the shocking NY Times first page picture of Col. Nazibullah, the ex Afhgan ruler being hanged in a lamp-post by the Taliban.

And then, just these days, the media forced me to watch the faces of five of the six hanged militants.

Bangla vai’s body was not shown. It was reported that was done at Bangla vai’s request. But I don’t believe that authorities will not let a vital accused like Bangla Vai not photographed and publicized.
An interesting news came out in Ajker Kagoj newspaper on the day after hanging. According to Ajker Kagoj, one of the six hanged militants, Bangla Vai, got decapitated while being hanged.
I do not recall seeing any denial of this story.

Decapitation is not so rare complication of hanging. A similar decapitation of Saddam Hossain’s half brother has just reminded us of this potential gruesome complication.

Before I go ito whether Bangla vai had the same fate or not let me first talk some scientific stuff about hanging