Our already bleeding heart got a further shock yesterday by seeing a news report that yet another petrol bomb victim died in the DMCH Burn Unit. This ended his weeks of struggle for survival after he had been attacked by a gang of killers in Narayanganj - and took the toll from firebombing to 65 and in overall to 120 in the ongoing killing mission by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led 20-party alliance since early January.
Over the period BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia let loose her militant cadres and barbaric followers against people in the name of enforcing a "non-stop" blockade and a series of hartal (general strike) that set off widespread violence and pushed the country towards anarchy.
Khaleda Zia made these her "political" agenda that has already been discarded by people through continuing non-response to the virulent programmes. In the past we had seen a hartal would be based on clear notion of a popular issue to push forward demand for democracy, non-violence and welfare of the people and the state. Such programmes gained much popularity and augured huge support during the rule of West Pakistani tyrants in what was then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
But opposition parties continued hartal, blockade and "siege" of government buildings and of the capital after independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. Occurance of such programmes became frequent and sometimes "lethal" as ruling parties wanted to suppress the opposition and their activities. Thus we were made to see more shutdowns, violence and disruption of economic activities.
But such protests were short lived - on and off again. Our politicians also used "hartal and siege" to thwart military rule and unpopular governance. They succeeded. the last time in the overthrow of last military dictator Hussain Mohammad Ershad at the end of 1990. Since 1991, politics turned fratricidal and somewhat feudal in nature with corrupt people ruling the roost. Spirits of independence and ethics of doing good just slipped through the back doors. Political rivalry was remodeled in vendetta, confrontation and no-compromise even when the country was in a dire situation.
That neo-culture has become the mainstay of politics in our country today with "democratic" pursuits and quest for peace leading to nowhere.
Political abuses got further boost in the hands of Khaleda Zia, as she made the anti-independence Jamaat-e-Islami her main ally in the battle against Awami League, the party that led Bangladesh in the independence struggle under iconic leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation and father of incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Khaleda and her exiled son Tarique Rahman are trying ceaselessly to erase Bangabandhu's name and fame from the history and instead replace him with her military dictator husband, former Chief Martial law Administrator and President Ziaur Rahman. But they must realize that history cannot be rewritten with blood and falsehood.
Now, Khaleda Zia is trying to "regain" power by counting the dead and pushing the innocent people face to face with death. She is presiding over the country's longest spell of blockade and hartal (in more than two and half months) showing no remorse for the loss of lives and property but vowing again and again that the actions will continue indefinitely.
Her only desire is to get Sheikh Hasina out and capture power - even if illegally and with help of undemocratic forces. In that, she is being closely aided by Jamaat and its extremist student front Islami Chhatra Shibir. If they succeed (which everyone believes they won't) will lead Bangladesh back to the pre-independence days - maybe in the fold of Pakistan again.
Hence, Khaleda Zia must desist from being a unrealistically chauvinist or fearsome perpetrator of a killing and burning . Rather she should rely on people's support, work to win their hearts and be bold enough to face the next election due in 2019. An early election under a caretaker supervisor is unconstitutional and an idea not endorsed by vast majority of Bangladeshi people - except for those who opposed the 1971 independence and collaborated with the Pakistani occupation army and lately trying to save the war criminals.
Khaleda Zia has many sycophants in the civil society, among rights activists, professionals and academics. They keep loading her ears with ill advice because they want to suck the honey with the BNP chief holding up the flowers for them. They are the most dangerous elements who mislead the former prime minister and key politician for self interest and keep maligning the history, independence and good name of Bangladesh. We should be aware of them and Khaleda Zia too please be aware.
Ever since the blockade and strike began at the beginning of the year, Khaleda Zia and BNP have won nothing but scores of deaths and people's growing despise over the killings and burning. The mirror view of the BNP-led horrors can be glimpsed by going round the Burn Unit and DMCH where groaning and screaming fill the air all the time. This should move Khaleda Zia if she genuinely claims to be a people's leader. Is she so?
Khaleda Zia - in remorse because her only living son cannot come home facing trial for corruption and abuse of power - and her other son recently have recently died in exile as well. She is a bereaved mother, needs time to console herself. But she probably is not getting that space as the selfish, psychic and blood suckers within and outside her party shield her from truth and realities. They teach her absurdities and dance around her in a bid to make her forget everything. As a result she parrots what they have taught.
The BNP stalwarts are mostly without "tooth and nail" by now due to long inactivity or in fear of being pushed to the sidelines of politics, something that is being masterminded by Khaleda's London- exiled son Tarique Rahman. In no time, we are afraid, Khaleda Zia will become the "lone crusader" close to the twilight of her political life.
As such, if she at all wants to continue the blockade and hartal - she better rename them as "non-stop hunt for blood and flesh." This will be better understood by the ordinary people who have been confused by the current branding of the BNP-led actions, as they see no blockade or hartal being observed anywhere around.
Even the BNP leaders and activists - except the militants and extremists - also fail to confirm that blockade and hartal are "literally" going on. Khalda Zia's core advisers should also advise her so. Madam, stay close to realities and come to your senses !