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Is autocracy creeping up under democracy in BD?

Published : Sunday, 3 June, 2018 at 12:00 AM  Count : 537

Anis Ahmed

Anis Ahmed

The question strikes everybody's mind in this country today as a bizarre debate rocks the country after the mysterious killing of Ekramul Haque in Cox's Bazaar, a ruling party leader and lately alleged to be a drug dealer or patron of yaba trade. We are not sure about his second identity as no one except for the guessing syndicate could prove it so far.

The RAB who performed the heinous murder of the popular local leader - and a staunch rival of much talked out drug load legislator Abdur Rahman Bodi - has created a posthumous sensation not only in Cox's Bzara or Teknaf but all over the country, especially as Ekram's widow and family released an audio of the conversation related to his "murder" to the media and triggered a storm of protests by all sections of people except the killers, their mentors, prominent godfathers of the illegal drug trade and of course, the concerned people in the government.

However, amid growing public anger and media bash, RAB has said they are looking into the matter (khutie dekhsen). Well if they probe it honestly - but what to prove? RAB is allegedly the killer. If so, the question is why they did this, under whose directive and to appease whom? Secret killings in "crossfire" "gunfight" and clashes between law enforcers and criminals happened rampantly in the recent years as the ruling Awami League - to which both Bodi and Ekram belonged - was "leaving no stones unturned" to retain power for a third consecutive term for the party of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Those who knew Ekram said he was never known as a drug peddler or involved with drug business in any way. So this has to be probed first, then the most intriguing question - who masterminded his murder - needs to be answered. We hope Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would personally ask the concerned authorities, officials and law enforcing bosses to clear the mystery through proper investigation, find out and take the culprits to trial and for appropriate punishment.

But these are too much of expectation at present time when the incumbent government is behaving like an autocratic one, it is widely alleged, and the few good people in the party, especially the PM and her close lieutenants, are also being shadowed from truth by the friends and mentors of the criminals and corrupt, including the drug lords who are out to destroy the future of Bangladesh by destroying the young generation through turning them drug addicts.

The PM has earned another ton of praises from the public for ordering and pursuing a countrywide anti-drug crackdown in which around 130 suspects have already been killed by RAB and police and thousands have been detained. However, they are, except one or two, all small fishes in the vast sea of illegal drugs flooding Bangladesh recently  while the "Rui-Katlas" are still roaming free, one even reportedly left the country to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia. Whether he would come back and report to the law enforcers (who are investigating complaints against him) will be known in due course of time.

Banking solely on Sheikh Hasina's good image, accolades for leadership, winner of many decorations and awards including "Mother of Humanity", many ruling party stalwarts are doing all bad things with impunity from law and by keeping the law enforcers on "political" terms. People have started to realize, painfully though, that Awami League is not entirely like Sheikh Hasina or her late father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh and the Father of the Nation. Hasina stresses welfare of the people and the country, she is trying hard to push Bangladeh's future to a brighter zone while other leaders of her party and the activists are busy counting illegal money, broadening their influence in and outside the party.

They have little or no concern for death of Ekarm, plight of his wife and children who appeared before the media with tears rolling from their eyes. They want justice for their dead father and for themselves, punishment of his killers, no matter who or how powerful they are. If someone had considered Ekram as a stone blocking their way to power or protecting it should also be brought to the book and tasked under the purview of law. 

We, however, cannot issue a certificate or clean chit for Ekram, Bodi or anyone on the list of drug traders and their godfathers. But going by what the people say we can assume Ekram was probably not related to the drugs. Some media outlets predicted, maybe his murder was a prelude to his plan to run for legislator in the next parliamentary polls to be held around end of this year. In that case he was likely to become challenger to Bodi!  However, media still could not hook Bodi for his comment on this.

In this country, investigation in major crimes including murder take long time, sometimes years, and unfortunately law enforcers are also involved in committing killings. We have not forgotten the seven murders in Narayanganj a couple of years ago in which investigation found a local ruling party lawmakers and his associates had hired some law enforcers including an army Major to kill these people. The killers have been punished -- but who would relieve the pain of the victims' families?

Now with the anti-drug crackdown going on in full force, we would only expect it would not take the form of an autocratic operation. And that Ekrams murder probe would not be manipulated but completed honestly and credibly before the tears of his daughters dry out in the extreme summer heat!
The people of Bangladesh usually support any good decisions be it political, concerning law and order or busting crime and corruption.

But unfortunately, we had seen in the past that the decisions and actions falter in the middle of the game and even take the reverse route. We can mention the great army intervention in politics in 2007, branded as 1/11 operation. This led to formation of a military-backed interim government, arrest of hundreds to "corrupt" businessmen and politicians, leaders Sheikh Hasina and her rival Khaleda Zia of BNP (both who have ruled the country or acted as opposition party heads by turn) were put under house arrest and even put under pressure to leave the country.

The people hailed the actions as the country was then almost sunk in violence, shutdowns, political mayhem and widespread corruption. But in a matter of few months the image of the operation changed and people prayed for the military to pull out and go back to the barracks giving power to the politicians again.

An election that ended two years of military rule in civilian costume ended was held in December 2008 which Sheikh Hasina's party had massively won. People felt relieved from the army's torture, excesses by police and other law enforcing agencies who virtually took the whole country hostage to their whims and subjected people to deceitful acts.

Sheikh Hasina's name and fame have now spread far beyond Bangladesh, across the world and she is still gaining popularity through sincere and honest gestures for the welfare of the people of Bangladesh and nearly a million Myanmar refugees being sheltered in our country. Therefore, we hope all Bangladeshis including law enforcers, bureaucrats, ministers and their subordinates will act according to their mandate, justice be guaranteed for all and criminals and killers be punished ruthlessly. No one is above the law, our constitution says and we should give due respect to the words.

The writer is Executive Editor,
The daily Observer

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