Monday, February 07, 2005

Proposing a "Durwanization" of Bangladesh

Is a citizen's revolt looming in the horizon? On can never say, but the facts on the ground indicate that this time around, the obvious are more than obvious. With one bomb attack, assassinations, gun and drug smuggling and organised mayhem after the other going undetected, unresolved and importantly unchallenged, the question in everybody's mind is - who is doing this? The purpose of this article is in no way to subscribe or lend credence to the many conspiracy theories making its predictably delectable rounds, but to focus specifically on what may be done, assuming that enough is enough, and citizen's will indeed revolt sooner than not.

Proposing a "Durwanization" of Bangladesh

The typical knee jerk reaction to recent bomb-attacks is to call for 'foreign investigators', however post Habiganj long before the smell of cordite had evaporated or the Opposition demanded of any such thing, the Government surprised everybody by its preemption - suggesting tongue-in-cheek that its inherent 'weakness' led to such repeated carnage's going unresolved. If 'damage management' was its avowed intention, it may be given marks for going public in admission of its failure but they are certainly failures one too many - and will remain millstones in the days ahead of public jousting - the advantage being 'public memory is always too short', but one can never tell.

The Opposition Awami League and its well orchestrated media brigade joined in the chorus, taking advantage of the fact that they had much more than a bland, unintelligent and 'failed prophet' spokesperson in General Secretary Abdul Jalil this time around. It was the suave, dapper and eloquent yet distraught Dr. Reza Kibria (son of the assassinated Dr. S.A.M.S Kibria) leading the charge. The media outpouring of grief notwithstanding, what was obvious and appropriate under the circumstances is Dr. Reza Kibria preferred to speak at the outset, in English, and clearly his carefully drafted message of grief, condemnation and anguish was addressed, not so much to a domestic - but more an international audience.

Emboldened by the support, his family moved on to pass on their message across to various Internet Yahoo forums and a few website. BNP being a party that is largely suspicious of Bengalee expatriate English speakers (specially a professor of Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance in a US University) nor has any clue as to the importance of how things work in cyberspace, went public with denunciations of Dr. Kibria and his mother, terming them characteristically 'conspiratorial' (whatever that means).

Little does the BNP realise that such petitions are available in hundreds at www.petitions.org and it is customary to send a draft letter to heads of Governments - a practice and exercise, indeed a fundamental human right of Netizens. If one visits any of the Bengalee expatriates run Yahoo forums there are probably thousands of such petitions available in their archives- which compare insignificantly to the mild, polite and non-abrasive tone of the Kibria family message.
.
The Kibria's being the aggrieved party - it is a sad commentary that such an innocuous move at seeking justice, should have received the kind of hell hath no fury Governmental hostility it did, and it is not therefore surprising that portions of Dr. Reza Kibria's statement by now have even been termed 'a threat' to the Law Minister.

Post the Internet statement, it was a shock to see Asma Kibria widowed only a few days back, exhaustively defending her position, not even permitted the respite to overcome her grief and sorrow at her great loss. The silent protest organised the next day by the Kibria family, while very positive, gave a rare fillip but ostentatious 'eyeball-to-eyeball' view to the citizenry at large, the absence of the mainstream Opposition and many of its front line leaders? Obviously this was a citizen's initiative, which percolated down to one distinct observation - a rejection of the Government, which many of us fail to accept in our blinding partisanship; the Opposition is very much a part of.

Is a citizen's revolt looming in the horizon? On can never say, but the facts on the ground indicate that this time around, the obvious are more than obvious. With one bomb attack, assassinations, gun and drug smuggling and organised mayhem after the other going undetected, unresolved and importantly unchallenged, the question in everybody's mind is - who is doing this? The purpose of this article is in no way to subscribe or lend credence to the many conspiracy theories making its predictably delectable rounds, but to focus specifically on what may be done, assuming that enough is enough, and citizen's will indeed revolt sooner than not.

Which brings us squarely to the point of demanding that 'FBI, Interpol and Scotland Yard' investigators jump in to bail us out, 'finding the culprits' - but what empirical justification do we have that such moves will ever succeed?

The first time the FBI sent in a team to Bangladesh was after 2 bombs were found (although they never exploded) in an Awami League meeting in Kotalipara on the 20th July 2000 when the party was in the hot seat of power. Paradoxically the team left Dhaka without 'making any comments' - so the FBI knows one thing too many about that plot that we the ordinary citizens of Bangladesh do not?

Last year the Scotland Yard walked in, in full regalia to investigate the attack on the UK High Commissioner in Sylhet. It was a fair thing to do i.e. a British subject and no less than its 'man' in Dhaka attacked; we have heard nothing about their findings - neither has any well meaning Opposition party demanded that they be made public, either from the Government of the day or that of Her Majesties.

Last years brouhaha over the attack on the Opposition rally in Dhaka had a whole profusion of investigators from the Interpol and the FBI in town. Can anybody give us inkling as to what happened since? Specifically are we any more 'informed and aware' then we were prior to that incident?

Which brings us to the fundamental question - is there any constitutional or legal provisions for foreign investigators to be invited in at the drop of a hat? Have we all forgotten the word 'sovereignty' and do we really expect foreigner's to come in and clear the backyard garbage of our accumulated domestic intolerance, while we indulge in downright and shameless un-patriotism each time we demand or accede to 'external intervention', in matters that are completely internal and DO NOT interest, or ones that foreigners have NO time for?

It sets dangerous precedents that none of us are willing to take that extra step before we appropriate blame on each other whenever we face a calamity. We are reminded of the US Ambassador in New Delhi, writing directly to the Assam Chief Minister last year about sending in the FBI to investigate bomb attacks in the state, and one cannot help overlook the patriotism of the Indian media and public at large to denounce the move, almost making mincemeat of His Excellency!

Compare that to Bangladesh - and what we have is a sordid situation where it has become the 'grounded norm' even when a heavily 'inebriated' writer dies under 'mysterious circumstances' of all places in the world - Germany - to listen to demands for an 'international investigation' by the family, as long as the 'forensic results' are not revealed to the public? How much more infantile, idiosyncratic and callous can we be?

End of the day, it is no longer a debate of whether it is a 'failed state' or 'failed government'. It whittles down to where we want to position Bangladesh in the days ahead, and the responsibility is really up to the citizens, not any 'Government' - who are indeed an organized Mafia in predictable shades of Position and the Opposition, bent on squandering the TRUST of the citizen's in the routine roulette game called Governance.

More than expecting foreigners to come and bail us out, it is time that we took steps to mobilize the concept of Citizen's Intelligence and permit private detectives to operate. More that have uniformed and unarmed 'durwans' masquerading as private security forces to guard our palatial buildings, flats and condominiums - who do not have a clue to the word 'S' in security, and in character and practice no different than the ones sanctioned by the State to look after our welfare, the time is ripe to propose a complete 'durwanization' of Bangladesh.

For Dr.Reza Kibria a question - assuming that the FBI comes in and we hear nothing about its findings, where do you go from here?

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home