BNP in the whirlpool of arson terrorism

Akram Hossain, Staff Correspondent,, Dhaka
Photo: Barta24

Photo: Barta24

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By-elections to some parliamentary seats were recently held after a long period of political shutdown due to the pandemic coronavirus. Although by-elections have been held, life has not yet returned to field politics. The main opposition party BNP is trying to get out of the drawing room and virtual politics and gradually becoming active in field politics. In that continuity, the party was able to show the presence of a large number of leaders and activists in the by-election of Dhaka-5 constituency and by-election of Dhaka-18 constituency. However, the party could not put up any resistance without the allegation of expelling the agents of the paddy sheaf on the day of the polls. They also failed to bring voters to the polls. As a result, the Awami League candidates got an absolute victory.

Meanwhile, the Dhaka-18 by-election came to the fore in the wake of the bus fire. During the by-elections in Dhaka-18 and Sirajganj-1 parliamentary constituencies, buses were set on fire at several places in the capital. The sudden fire on the bus rekindled the heat in politics. The incident has caused concern among the political parties as well as panic among the common people. Various analyzes are going on.

Arrests of opposition leaders and activists have started immediately after the arson. On the same day, a total of 10 leaders and activists including BNP and its organizing secretary Khandaker Mashukur Rahman Mashuk were arrested. Law enforcers cordoned off the BNP's central office in Naya Paltan. About 400 BNP leaders and activists have so far been accused in 14 cases of arson in the bus. 32 people have been arrested. The court has granted remand to 26 of them for different terms.

The two main political parties are blaming each other for the bus fire. The ruling Awami League has termed the BNP's conspiracy behind the arson on the bus. Political analysts think that the BNP does not have the strength to fight on the streets at the moment. This is a strategy to put pressure on the BNP. Again, some people think that it is an attempt to attract the attention of the outside world.

Bus arson is not a new phenomenon in the history of movement and struggle in Bangladesh. Earlier, it was involved with Jamaat, ruling Awami League and BNP. The incident of arson on the bus before and after the January 5 election reached its climax. At that time BNP and BNP-backed alliance were agitating for fair and neutral elections under the caretaker government. Strikes and blockades are going on day after day. One bus after another was set on fire, vandalism, petrol bombs and cocktail explosions all around. At that time the responsibility fell on the BNP.

The party has denied the allegations. They claimed that the arson was carried out from other quarters to thwart the BNP's democratic movement. BNP-Jamaat activists as well as Awami League leaders and activists were caught by law enforcers trying to set fire to a bus during the BNP movement at different times. Apart from BNP-Shibir activists, Awami League activists were also caught with petrol bombs. The BNP demanded an impartial investigation into the incident. That demand never saw the light of day.

Later these incidents were covered up. For several years, petrol bombs, cocktail explosions and bus fires have not been seen in the politics of the country. On November 12, 10 buses caught fire in different areas of the capital. As a result, the old calculations come to the fore anew. This time too the finger of blame is on the BNP. The party is once again drowning in the whirlpool of fire and terror.

Recently, the founder and trustee of the Gono Shasthya Kendra in the context of the bus fire in the capital Zafrullah Chowdhury told that it is called attention diversion technique. As I said before, there have been attempts to attract American attention through arson. Trying to convince them that there are terrorists in the country, we (Awami League) have no choice. The government has halved the fire that broke out in the bus during the 2014 elections, just as the BNP did.

BNP joint secretary general Moazzem Hossain Alal thinks that imposing political responsibility is a long-standing habit of the Awami League. He told that the Awami League has started imposing its responsibilities since independence. It is going on till now. As the main opponent of Awami League is BNP, this responsibility is being imposed on BNP.

He said the Home Minister had said he would take action after watching the video footage of the recent bus fire. Again the general secretary of Awami League said it is the work of BNP. Here it became two parts within the government. When there was a movement before the 2014 elections, we saw cars burning. There is an interesting chapter left out of the discussion. We remember that the cars used to come on patrol by the Police-BGB RAB. They used to patrol and bring 30-35 vehicles from different parts of the country to Dhaka. There is a fire and then how did the BNP give that fire?

Dr. Zafrullah said, it is very easy to impose responsibility. If the responsibility was imposed before the investigation, it became a media trial. That was not the real trial. Let them see the video footage. That is what we also want.

"The responsibility of fire and terrorism is always on the BNP," he said, adding that the BNP has no responsibility to get out of here. Whether the Awami League believes in whether the BNP is able to get out of the responsibility of arson and whether the media believes in it, we have no problem. The only way to test this is to have a neutral government, elections under a neutral election commission. If there is an opportunity to express an opinion, then it will be proved whether the people reject the BNP as a fire terrorist or the BNP is being unnecessarily blamed. Besides, there is no other place for proof.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the BNP does not believe in any terrorism. The BNP believes in democracy. The BNP wants to say in clear language that the BNP has never been involved in such heinous incidents. The BNP is not involved in the politics of conspiracy and terrorism, but in the power of the people. The government planned to destroy the BNP and put the blame on the party.