After October 28, the politics of fear has started in the country. People’s life has almost been disrupted due to strike-blockade. In the first week of the movement, the condition of public life is feared to become progressively more difficult. The BNP-Jamaat sitting at home with the announcement of hartal-blockade is watching the success of these programs from afar. People are not going out in fear. This fear among the people is realizing the objective of the political programs of the anti-government political parties. Although it is not helpful to achieve the ultimate goal at that stage, the government is facing a lot of embarrassment in these programs.
It is not inconceivable that BNP-Jamaat is not in the field announcing the programme. It happened before. In 2013-14, the movement of arson and petrol bombs followed the same pattern. Their participation was jhatika or sneak attack. And here is the fear. It is from here that the fear of wasting lives and resources. Visible miscreants are as easy to deal with as invisible ones. The atmosphere of fear of poaching attacks has started to return now. This week’s movement image is proof of that.
In this one-day strike and three-day blockade, BNP-Jamaat has carried out scattered picketing and jhtika marches in various places across the country. Could not enter the field in an organized manner, could not stay in the field. Due to the role of the police and the presence of the government party Awami League affiliates, they are not able to survive in the field, and it can also be said that they are not even trying to survive in the field. There have been poaching attacks in many places. Vehicles, police box were burnt. Clashes in some places, three people died on the first day; Among them, a collision in Kishoreganj and a motorcycle accident in a police chase in Sylhet.
Even though the BNP was cornered in the politics of the field due to the over-discussion that occurred on October 28, they seem to have been able to understand the foreigners in their own way. Especially the statement of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner (OHCHR), where the organization’s comments on the events of that day are embarrassing for the government. They did not find the involvement of BNP workers in the attack on the Chief Justice’s residence. In addition to the police, the organization has seen the excesses of Awami League workers! The statement gave details of 11 deaths till October 31 morning. The organization also blames the government for the injury of around 30 journalists while covering the mass rally called by BNP in Nayapaltan.
The OHCHR statement said, ‘At least 11 people have died in various parts of Bangladesh in connection with the protests till October 31. The dead included two policemen, six opposition activists and two pedestrians. On October 28, anti-government protesters allegedly attacked the residence of the Chief Justice and other judges. In addition, approximately 30 journalists were attacked that day. Apart from the protesters, the attacks also involved a group of masked men on motorcycles, believed to be supporters of the ruling party. Police reportedly attacked protesters with rods, batons, rubber bullets and sound grenades. Apart from this, they searched the houses of opposition political leaders and activists across the country, arbitrarily detained and arrested hundreds of people including the family members of the leaders and activists.
Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen. He said, “The government will protest this through a statement”. In response to this statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, ‘The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner is mandated by member states to protect human rights worldwide. The activities of this organization must reflect the principles of objectivity, impartiality and equality for all. In this context, our advice is to collect, verify and review the information properly before publication. The Government of Bangladesh hopes that the OHCHR will revise the statement based on the actual facts. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, ‘Numerous photographs and videos show that on that day dozens of members of the law enforcement agencies were attacked, wounded, a policeman was brutally beaten to death on a public road, a bus helper was burnt alive. Apart from this, buses, fire service vehicles and other vehicles were set on fire, residences of the Chief Justice and other judges of the highest court of the country were vandalized, police hospital premises and ambulances were set on fire and several police stations were vandalized, journalists and cameramen were attacked. is Even in the face of such continued atrocities by the BNP, the Government of Bangladesh and its law and order forces have shown great restraint and patience and have used minimum and maximum force to ensure public order.’
In addition to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner, the United States-based international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has already made a statement. The organization said in a statement published on its website, ‘On October 28, the police used unnecessary force on political protests in the capital Dhaka. Even though all parties have participated in the violence, political opponents are being attacked.’ The organization has drawn the development partners of Bangladesh here and says, ‘International partners must make it clear that if the election harassment continues, they will no longer carry out normal business activities with Bangladesh. They should condemn mass arrests and repression of opposition. If the Bangladesh government fails to stop the torture, what will be the impact on the commercial and diplomatic relations, it is also necessary to make an outline.
Apart from this, there is the regular press briefing of the US State Department, where the situation in Bangladesh has already come up. From 2001 to 2006, the then Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia’s Assistant Press Secretary Mushfiqul Fazal Ansari regularly participated in the United Nations, State Department, White House briefings as a journalist. And of course he presents the situation of Bangladesh in the language of BNP. In his regular one-on-one questions, the spokespersons of the United Nations and the US State Department have to comment on Bangladesh. Such a strong voice to speak for BNP abroad and get words from foreigners has paved the way for the party to gain international sympathy.
Meanwhile, BNP is getting sympathy from various individuals and organizations abroad, on the other hand, the government has to be busy in determining how much truth there is in the statements. Even though it has failed here, BNP has been successful there. BNP knows very well, what is their capacity in field politics. The Awami League government, which has been in power for more than three consecutive terms, is strictly suppressing the movement of the opposition – BNP has been able to convey this message well to foreigners. The arrest of the party’s general secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and other central leaders at this time of the movement has made foreigners sympathetic to the BNP. Which is embarrassing the government.
Although BNP was not successful in the field in the three-day blockade program, it was not unsuccessful abroad. They have managed to mislead foreigners or prove their own statements to be true. So far the government has not been able to grasp the real situation. It may also be that the government did not give importance to this matter in the beginning. After the comments and statements of others including the United Nations, the government is realizing its importance.
Although the history of BNP’s movement says, this blockade this time is another chapter of their blockade and hartal eight years ago. In January 2015, the BNP announced a series of strikes and blockades. The BNP called for a continuous blockade and hartal from January 6 of that year to demand the fall of the Awami League government and the election of the National Assembly under the caretaker government. After that a lot of water flowed in Surma, a bridge was built in Padma, the next election was held under a party government, BNPO also participated, but the official end of that strike and blockade was not drawn. After one election, before another election, the program came again.
How long this program of BNP-Jamaat will last, what is the future – none of us know. But it is true that earlier such activity of foreigners was not like this. This time they have managed to mobilize the foreigners. Without being on the field with the program, one program after another is being given. How much public participation in the movement, who keeps the account? The government says that the people of the country, not foreigners, will decide their fate. The people or the foreigner who is more powerful – has the country fallen into this maze?