Mostafa Kamal Majumder
The British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Gibson in a statement issued yesterday expressed his ‘sadness’ over the violence and the number of ‘senseless and unnecessary’ deaths of the past few days and called upon all parties to resolve their differences through constructive and peaceful dialogue so that Bangladesh’s democratic ‘credentials and stability’ do not get undermined.In a similar statement issued on the day before the Washington-based Human Rights Watch urged the government and the Jamaat-e-Islaami party to act urgently to ensure that security forces and party supporters do not engage in further acts of violence, which led to the death of dozens of people since February 28.
But the senseless clashes and with those death figures have continued to mount. At least 18 more people were reported killed on Sunday in firing and beating at different places. They included two who succumbed to their injuries received in earlier clashes.
While the Main opposition BNP has called hartal for Tuesday terming the death of about 50 people during hartal hours on last Thursday as genocide; the leaders of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League and its allies have accused it of trying to protect those accused of war crimes.
Apart from clashes of law enforcers with pro-hartal activists, vandalising of homes of political rivals as well members of the minority community was reported on Saturday prompting the High Court to direct the government to ensure full security for Hindu households and their temples which were attacked and vandalised on Thursday at Noakhali’s Begumganj.
Of the deaths reported yesterday six were from Bogra where four police outposts and the Shahjahanpur police station was attacked, the railway station and the Trade Fair stalls set on fire. The army was called out to guard the Shahjahanpur police station. Section 144 was clamped in the district town.
One policeman and an Islami Chhatra Shibir leader were Killed in Jhenidah. Constable Omar Faruque was killed in Harinakundu upazila when police intervened to check a Jamaat-Shibir attack on the Upazilla Health Complex.
Three hartal activists were killed and 22 others received bullet wounds in clash in Joypurhat while two others were killed in Rajshahi. In Sreepur upazila of Gazipur Shibir leader Abdur Razzak, 24, was run over by a truck while picketing on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway.
Meanwhile, twenty-seven business bodies including the apex body, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI), have asked the Jamaat-e-Islami and the BNP to withdraw their nationwide strikes to help keep wheels of production running. No respite however was in sight.
As the statements of one foreign diplomat, an international human rights organisation and 27 trade bodies of the country clearly indicate, safety of life and property and the issues of daily life have been relegated to the background because of the apparent struggles for clinging on to or returning to the bastions of power have come to the fore. Let good sense prevail on all parties.
Mostafa Kamal Majumder