Will BNP gain with its old terrorist outfit?
The people of Bangladesh hasn't forgotten the grisly past of arson attacks -- deaths, destruction and disfigurement of innocent civilians -- caused by torching fire on public buses between the years 2013 and 2015.
Just when the country was about to stop thinking about all those premeditated heinous arson attacks on public buses , five years later, citizens of the capital on last Thursday witnessed the return of arson attacks carried out in at least seven different locations. All of the arson attacks took place in a similar manner. Miscreants had set fire on nine buses forcing passengers to jump off the buses for safety. And all incidents took place between 12:35pm to 2:30pm. However, this time hospitals and fire service authorities have not reported any incident of death or injury so far. Meanwhile cases have been filed and police arrested few people including some leaders of BNP and its affiliated organisations.
Our message in this commentary is to recall the fact that BNP is yet far from shunning its politics of terrorism. Such arson incidents are blatant attempts of pre-planned sinister conspiracy by undemocratic forces.
In short, 12 buses were torched and several crude bombs were exploded on the same day coinciding with polling in the by-polls of Dhaka-18 (Uttara) parliamentary seat. Over a dozen cases have been filed in the last couple of days. Police in the cases mentioned that BNP men were attempting to foil the election. The charges brought against several hundred accused, mostly BNP men, includes attempted murder by torching buses, sabotage attempt, exploding bombs and possessing explosives.
BNP also responded by branding the cases as politically motivated and vengencefull. But can the party avoid its past and also the recent arson attacks by coming out clean? Can it avoid from not being responsible for hundreds of deaths and disfigurement of innocent people?
Answers to the above questions are a clear No. polling irregularities is not a new phenomenon in Bangladesh, and there are several rational methods of protest. We penned on the importance of protests shunning violence in our previous commentary. And torching public transports while risking lives of innocent passengers by avenging polls defeat is neither logical nor rational a protest.
Our nightmarish scarred memory still haunts us, as we are reminded of the horrific deaths of at least 95 people and injuries to 1,500 others as the transport sector came under attack from various types of crude bombs during the countrywide blockade called by the BNP-led 20-party alliance following the 2014 elections.
Reflecting back deeply on the latest series of arson attacks, the political opposition party has re - emerged in its old protest - through - terror philosophy. The party's activists have taken to the streets not staging peaceful demonstrations, but by unleashing violence and burning state property. As much as the perpetrators have caused an organised chaos on last Thursday, they have also shown extreme disrespect for state-owned public buses bought with ordinary tax payers' money. However, burning of the buses also proves the party cares little for public money and property.
On the flipside, the biggest damage the BNP cadres have done to the party is to have isolated itself farther from the people by carrying out the premeditated attacks. More to it, BNP's party-sponsored arsonists have severely damaged the party's political credibility. Given BNP's violent and reactionary activities, it won't be wrong to suggest, today's BNP continues to exist as a pro - terror party, not a pro - people party.
Had it been a pro - people party, BNP along with its political accomplices, would have shoulder responsibility of the heinous fire attacks throughout the years 2013, 14 and 15.
At the same time, we do not encourage blanket arrests of BNP men; the need of the hour is to launch a thorough, judicious and impartial investigation on last Thursday's attacks. Since our public buses have once again come under direct arson attacks, the need of the hour is to prepare a long-term strategy rather than taking an ad-hoc approach to thwart such subversive activities.
As for BNP, unless the party shuns terrorism and vandalism as means of protest, it would only pave the path to self- destruction. The party is fast turning into a leaderless, rudderless, violent and a distracted political entity in Bangladesh. Last Thursday endorsed this sad political truth.