It was like a ‘Déja vu’ last Thursday when in a span of few hours 9 buses were set on fire on the streets of our capital Dhaka city. As many as nine buses were set on fire in the four hours though no casualties were reported. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina questioned the motive behind the abrupt arson attack on public buses after a break with violence for several years. We, the citizens of Bangladesh, also want to know the real motive and demand the arrest of the miscreants at earliest as these incidents are really making us worried of a chaotic future especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Along with the whole world, Bangladesh is also going through the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic as it is leaving a deep mark over the whole economy as well as on the lives of the citizens. A large population is sitting idle as they have lost their income and savings during this pandemic. The overall scenario is highly challenging and with such acts of torching buses, a group must have been plotting to create chaos.
During the last few days, the largest opposition party of the country, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is declaring different committees of their wings. Though improving the economic condition of the fellow countrymen should have been the greatest priority of BNP during this challenging period, they have become active in resurrecting their almost dead wings, which is definitely creating two groups – overenthusiastic leaders and activists, who received places on different committees and depressed leaders and activists, who did not achieve any post and feel deprived. Both of these groups can be involved with these arson attacks, which is subject to proper investigations.
“BNP always try to claim benefits from the changes in global politics. Like; they were very hopeful when BJP came into power in India as both BNP and BJP upholds religion-based politics.”
This sudden uprising protest of BNP may be due to several factors. Firstly, BNP marks Dec 30 as ‘Democracy Killing Day’ denouncing the December 30, 2018 general election and this party may try to rejuvenate their protests this year taking advantage of the COVID-19 depression.
Secondly, BNP always try to claim benefits from the changes in global politics. Like; they were very hopeful when BJP came into power in India as both BNP and BJP upholds religion-based politics, when Hilary Clinton was in the US presidential race as they expected Hilary to disfavor the Hasina-led government and now with the new US President Joe Biden, who has promised to spread real democratic ideologies all around the world, motivating BNP to portray a poor democratic image of Bangladesh.
Moreover, the activists of Jamaat-e-Islami, who are the leachers over the shoulders of BNP for the last two decades, are well experienced in such heinous acts. In recent times, we have seen Islamic groups to be very active regarding the issue of France demeaning Islam and the Prophet (Sm). There was threat of violent attacks in protest. Though we believe, there arson attacks were not the acts of those Islamic groups, there is a slight possibility that the acts were interrelated as BNP and its allies do sourcing of chaos-creators from these Islamic groups. There are several parties among 20-party alliance of BNP who are directly linked to Islamic groups like; Hefajot-e-Islam and allegedly instigated fundamentalism for political purpose.
Additionally, BNP leaders and activists might have realized that gaining political power during this COVID-19 period is the safest business as they got inspired by many ruling party leaders and activists, who are often found with innumerable wealth. Without getting into power, BNP leadership will not have a hand on those illicit income sources, which is obviously a motivating factor for them as they never expressed their commitment to fight against drugs, money laundering, casino etc and also were never actively on the roads for people’s issues.
Whatever the case is, we cannot deny the fact that Bangladesh made remarkable progress during the last decade under the current government. While many economically strong countries are facing extreme hardship during this pandemic, we are still standing strong. During this severe crisis period, BNP and its allies should not do anything to increase the sufferings of the people and create obstacles for the country’s development while we are approaching the critical second wave of COVID-19. Most importantly, such heinous acts will not help BNP topple the government rather will destroy the country like; it was in Syria or Yemen.
It is unfortunate that, during any crisis, we start playing a blame game but do not take any concrete and transparent action. After the current incidents of torching public buses, the top leaders of the government have made no delay in terming it as ‘fire terrorism’ and blaming it on BNP.
This subcontinent is full of prospects and few forces do not want regional peace to be persistent here. Many groups from beyond the border want to destroy the peace and stability in our country as well as in this region. It will not be wrong to say that, few of our close neighbors also want to destabilize the political situation of Bangladesh for their own economic and political interest. Our government needs to stay alert of these conspiring foreign forces also.
We, along with our neighbors, must realize the fact that regional peace and stability is very important to ensure the growth of this subcontinent but unfortunately, severe conflict like; recent Indo-Pak conflict regarding the Kashmir issue is constantly imposing threats towards the regional peace.
The current economic situation is kind of depressing. Despite several stimulus package by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic, number of unemployed and curtailed-income population has significantly gone up. It is a huge threat for the political stability. Different groups can easily utilize the suffering people for there own interest in acts of vandalism. It is urgent to create employment and ensure social safety for them.
It is unfortunate that, during any crisis, we start playing a blame game but do not take any concrete and transparent action. After the current incidents of torching public buses, the top leaders of the government have made no delay in terming it as ‘fire terrorism’ and blaming it on BNP. The ruling party Awami League’s general secretary and minister of road transport and bridges Obaidul Quader and information minister Dr Hasan Mahmud issued their statements regarding the incidents blaming BNP. But those light remarks are not sufficient this time as we feel a deep conspiracy lies behind the recent ferocious acts. The law enforcers need to act strongly and rapidly to trace out the culprits to stop many more such future acts.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh, we are going through severe physical, psychological and economic hardship. Only recently we are trying to get back to our ‘new normal’ lives mostly due to keep our financial status stable so that our families remain free from hunger, our societal status can be maintained and the future of our children remain secured.
It is not easy to cope up with this new life while being under constant threat of becoming infected with coronavirus. Possibility of attacks on roads in the form of torching buses, the mostly used transportation of the working-class citizens, is an extreme mental pressure for the citizens. Along with COVID-19, we are really not in a position to take additional mental pressure.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has fought with numerous adversities during the last decade to ensure the progress and prosperity of Bangladesh. Different conspirators from home and abroad is dedicatedly working to destabilize the political and communal environment of Bangladesh. We must be alert of these people or group.
We hope, the government will successfully eliminate all threats as we do not want any further terrorism or vandalism on our soil. And if so, we believe, the development of Bangladesh and its people will remain undaunted.
Research Centre (DRC)