Jack Of All Trades
The nation must subdue C-19 infection and violence
Published : Wednesday, 14 April, 2021 at 12:00 AM Count : 238
Reinvigorated virus infection and violence re-erupting almost simultaneously have put the nation on heightened worries as a major section of the people continue to disregard government health guidelines while a Islamic pressure group after resorting to violence recently, threatened to keep religious institutions open during the extended lockdown from today (Wednesday).
Both the elements have re-appeared with increased destructive capabilities and have apparently shaken confidence of the government, which failed to protect public properties during series of violence between March 26 to 28 last, when more than a dozen of people were killed in the mayhem.
Meanwhile the infection of Covid-19 jumped up taking bigger tolls every day and the government imposed a relaxed lockdown for a week from April 5 last. But the lockdown came after a lapse of a month as the Covid infection was increasing since early March. Amid the lockdown industries, offices, banks and stock trading were allowed to operate for limited hours. However, intercity, and city public transports were suspended and shopping malls were closed. However, the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela (book fair) was exempted from the lockdown.
But following protests by transport owners and traders, the government has allowed public transport to run in 11 cities including Dhaka and Chattogram from April 7 from 6 am to 6 pm. The shopping malls have also been allowed to keep open from 9am to 5pm for five days from April 8.
This announcement of closing and opening after the protests by relevant people make the lockdown a farce and exposed the indecisiveness of the administration. It also proved its severe administrative weakness and lack of coordination among its different departments. The farcical activities have made the people believe that the government will never be able to impose a full lockdown without applying force.
However, government officials initially said the government did not want a total lockdown for the sake of the daily wage earners mainly the day labourers, who were hard hit last year despite the government dispatched cash and kind for the hundreds and thousands of such people. To support the manufacturers, exporters and traders, the government announced separate stimulus packages worth nearly Tk 1.5 trillion as those were totally close for nearly two months in March and April last year.
This year, neither the government, nor the businesses want to stop industrial production and the process for exports if the global transportation systems remain open. The government also wanted that strict health guidelines will be maintained in public transports, factories, markets and other places. It is irony that most people in Bangladesh pay no heed to the government directives to make social distancing, wear mask and hand sanitising repeatedly. Despite fines imposed by few mobile courts, most people were still moving carelessly.
Meanwhile the government has extended the week-long relaxed lockdown till April 13 (Tuesday) and announced fresh and tighter lockdown for another week from today, April 14, that coincides with the Bangladesh New Year's Day and the first day of Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
During the relaxed lockdown last week it was believed that probably the administration does not want to coerce people to abide by the health rules fearing backlash from vested quarter backed by Islamic pressure groups like violent Hefazat-e-Islam, who on April 11 declared that it would not accept closure of Madrasas, and other Islamic religious institutions in the name of lockdown.
Devout Muslims wonder how so called Alems or Islamic religious scholars utter such words against the health guidelines. According to religious records Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advised his disciples not to enter a pandemic-hit locality or come out of such areas in order to stop spread of infection. By opposing lockdown, Hefazat leaders are just violating the principle of Islam and the teaching of the prophet.
To curb the infection the annual Haj was greatly restricted and no foreign pilgrims were allowed in Saudi Arabia last year. This year the Kaaba authorities have shortened Tarawi (night) prayer in Saudi Arabia, the birth place of Islam to 10 rakat from usual 20 and cancelled Ramadan Ihtekaf, the voluntary religious sojourn to mosques in the last 10 days of Ramadan. When such unprecedented measure has been taken by Saudi religious authorities to curb the pandemic infection how Hefazat leaders say they won't abide by government health guidelines during the government imposed lockdown in Bangladesh. By this stance they have proved the allegations that the Islamic political parties and Islamic groups use Islam according to their whim in order to make political and financial gains.
Many people think that these Islamic religious leaders with their medieval outlook, keep Muslims lagging behind other religious communities in the world in all sectors including science and technology.
Meanwhile the daily death toll and number of infection from the pandemic jumped up alarmingly creating shortage of beds in hospitals, most of which has no intensive care units in the country. Of the deaths, many succumbed due to shortage of ICU facilities in hospitals. On Monday till 8 am last 83 people died of Covid-19 in 24 hours, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). This is the highest number of deaths due to Covid-19 recorded in a day. The total number of deaths has now reached 9,822 in Bangladesh.
But many are skeptic about the success of the lockdown as factories will run and ports will remain operative with immense movement of workers and export items. However, many industrialists believe Bangladesh will have to live with the pandemic and sporadic easier lockdowns. Most of the people pay no heed to the government directives on health guidelines. Despite fines imposed by few mobile courts, most people were still moving carelessly as if there is none to enforce the directives.
Probably the administration does not want to coerce people on this issue fearing violence. The government has developed a violence phobia from recent mayhem resorted by Hefazat on March 26 last. The mayhem erupted after Hefazat-e-Islam, staged protest against the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who attended the golden jubilee of Bangladesh independence and the birth centenary celebrations of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the special guest.
The violence lingered for three days killing over a dozen of people and wounding more than 50 people including law enforcers. Police stations, government offices and properties including vehicles were attacked, vandalised and even tired in Chattogram, Brahmanbara, Narayanganj and some other places. Reprisal from the law enforcers against the violence was too weak and not mastermind of the violence has so far been arrested when Hefazat leaders denied involvement of their activists in the violence. They also blamed ruling party activists for the deadly violence and arson occurred at different spots.
Though several cases were filed, no noted Hefazat leader was yet arrested accept few including one Moulana Rafiqul Islam, a young Islamic orator known as Child Speaker as he looks so. Hefazat emerged a notorious group after thousands of activists backed by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led 20- party alliance had laid siege of Shapla Chatter in Dhaka on May 5, 2013 to realise 13-point demand. Police evicted them early May 6 with dozen casualties.
However, it is high time to coerce people to compel them to abide by government health guidelines and suppress the Islamic groups who want to use religion for self aggrandisement.
The writer is Business Editor,
The Daily Observer