| by Jessica Fox
( April 23, 2012, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) Democracy in one of the South Asian nations visibly is at the most vulnerable state now, when the ruling party, Bangladesh Awami League is applying nefarious tactics of secret killings, abduction, forced disappearance and massive corruption at the blessings and patronization of the ruling elites. The case of enforced disappearance though started in Bangladesh for past three and half years since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formed the government, the issue has now drawn attention of the global community, when recently a former MP and prominent leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, M Ilias Ali disappeared along with his chauffer, while the Prime Minister were seen making jokes centering this issue of grave concern. Sheikh Hasina and her government has some how become comfortably confident of being assured by New Delhi on remaining in power at least up to 2019, which is again a substantial period for the ruling party and its elites in establishing much stronger grip over country’s civil and military administration, as well as the judiciary, thus bringing Bangladesh under one-party rule, which was the brain-child of Hasina’s father Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.
Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, who is the founding-father of Bangladesh, introduced the one-party rule system named BKSAL, which he conceived from former Soviet Union. A lot of Mujib followers and sycophants were seen worshipping the new-god in Bangladeshi political sky, thus attempting of portray an image of Mujibur Rehman as the political prophet of Bengal. Right after the independence of the country, Mujib though made numerous pledges of ensuring rights of the citizen and freedom of press and expression, on formation of his one-party rule, the first offensive came on country’s media, thus banning all the newspapers but two thus introducing repressive laws such as Special Powers Act, pushing opposition activists inside prison while encouraging forced disappearance and secret killings. At least ten to twelve thousand opposition activists were brutally murdered by the private militia of Mujib, just within two years. Country’s image was greatly tarnished internationally, while fellow-members of the Mujib cabinet as well as his family and friends got completely indulged into huge corruption, which made Bangladesh as “bottomless basket case”, with acute famine in 1974 and series of agonies and sufferings of the masses.
The era of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman came to a tragic end, when he was assassinated along with members of his family on 15th August 1975 in a military coup. At such tragic end of the founding father of the nation, no one – not even the members and activists of ruling Awami League felt sorry or left tears, while majority of the people were expressing joyful remarks. Such fates to Awami League were the result of its experiment of imposing Stalinist prototype dictatorial administration on the people, thus snatching their minimum rights. Following the assassination of Mujibur Rehman, the very existence of Awami League became totally uncertain, while many of the Mujib colleagues happily joined the successive government thus branding Mujib as the “Pharaoh” of Bengal. One of Mujibur Rehman’s closest aides and cabinet colleagues, Abdul Malek Ukil, when asked in London to comment on the assassination of the founding father of the country said, “The nation has got rid of the pharaoh! Mujib wanted to establish dynastic rule in Bangladesh to let him and his ancestors remain in power for ever. But such wrongdoings have been rightly punished by the divine forces.”
After 20 years of the tragic assassination of the founding father, the people of Bangladesh voted Mujib’s eldest daughter Sheikh Hasina into power in 1996 and her government had to finally face a huge defeat just after five years, simply because of its massive corruption, nepotism, state-patronized crime and bad governance. Prior to this election, Sheikh Hasina sought apology to the people for all wrong-doings of her father and promised good governance if voted into power. During the election campaign, she even put on Islamic hijab (veil) surely with the idea of getting sympathy from the majority of the Muslim voters in the country. Anyway her strategy clicked and her party won the election, though it faced a huge defeat just in five years, simply because of extreme misrule and bad governance.
In 2008 again, Sheikh Hasina made fresh pledges to the people with renewed apology for the “mistakes”during her during of 1996-2001, and promised “a better Bangladesh” with the implementation of her Vision 2021 and establishment of “Digital Bangladesh”. It was already known in the political and media circles in India that, the pre-election propaganda strategy and the election manifesto of Awami League were drafted by a team of seasoned politicians and media personnel from India, while Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. Pranab Mukherjee contributed in the election manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League by incorporating their important inputs. The economic plans of the manifesto were consulted with famous economists, which include Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Dr. Mohammed Yunus, while defense policies were drafted by New Delhi’s South-Block. The initial concept of Indian policymakers extreme involvement behind Awami League election manifesto as well as campaign strategy were aimed at getting series of issues and treaties signed and decided by the Bangladeshi government under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina in order to ensure India’s un-protested supremacy over Bangladesh forever. When New Delhi policymakers sensed the voters in Bangladesh were still in confusion in putting their mandate in favor of Awami League, Dr. Manmohan Singh and some key figures in Indian politics sought help from the Western governments in influencing the caretaker government in Bangladesh in extending total support towards Awami League and ensure its victory. Though the general election took place in December-2008, Sheikh Hasina’s special envoys secretly visited India in November-2008 to finalize the list of the next cabinet. New Delhi was already given assurance by the Bangladeshi caretaker government of letting Awami League win the election under “any circumstance”.
On 17thNovember 2008, RAW’s deputy assistant director Manoj Pillai in a “Top Secret” message (Ref No: Makr.sabd.poll08.4716) addressed to the its Chief wrote, “A senior officer of DGFI-Bangladesh has informed over phone at 02:40pm that Bangladesh Nationalist Party is still undecided on joining in the election run, though some of the mid-level policymakers of that party are pursuing Mrs. Khaleda Zia in getting her consent in joining the poll. The officer also informed that it has successfully convinced the top-policymakers of Jamat-e-Islami in putting pressure on Bangladesh Nationalist Party in joining the election run. He emphasized on putting our contacts within Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamat-e-Islami fully activated in continuing strong persuasion and pressure on Mrs. Zia, as it is feared that she might have been adversely influenced by the Chinese block and Saudi block from in refraining from joining the election. Without participation of BNP, the election will not get international acceptance. For the sake of our national interest, necessary steps should be initiated urgently on this matter.”
From the content of the above letter, it is clear that Indian government and its agencies were desperately working in favor of holding the election in 2009, as it was confident about Awami League’s victory.
As expected, Awami League got a huge victory in the election and since it formed government in January-2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her cabinet are seen totally committed in implementing all of its commitments and pledges, made to India, without arguing or questioning its impacts on Bangladesh or its people. This is for the first time; New Delhi has been very successful in putting a party in power, which never betrayed with Indian policymakers, even after facing substantial protests domestically for its expressive and exposed inclination towards New Delhi. On the other hand, for the people of Bangladesh, this is possibly one of their worst-ever period of national catastrophe of letting Awami League still being in power for another one plus year. No doubt the ruling party and its elites are fully aware of people’s grievance and anger at it due to its pro-India policy, which directly goes against the interest of Bangladesh. Sensing this as well the possible revolt of the people either before the election or during the election, thus throwing Awami League once again into trash, the ruling party is carrying out its well-planned agenda of political secret killings as well as forced disappearances, with the goal of eliminating most of the potential political opponents as well as leaders of the opposition parties, especially BNP and Jamaat. The case of forced disappearance became prominent when BNP leader and ex Member of Parliament M Ilias Ali went into missing along with his chauffer few days back. As he hails from Bangladesh’s eastern province named Sylhet, hundreds and thousands of Sylhetis in London have started protesting this particular incident, while they also are putting pressure on the British government in asking Bangladesh in releasing M Ilias Ali, while the British media may also start writing on this issue soon. This particular case of forced disappearance of M Ilias Ali will surely cause maximum damage to the remaining image of the ruling party in Bangladesh and it may even erect the road to mass revolt or even freezing of the democracy.
While Bangladeshi Sylheti community in London are very active and protesting the forced disappearance of M Ilias Ali, few pro-Awami League palls such as write Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury or some of the business associates of Sheikh Rehana, including retired Maj. Gen. Tarique Ahmed Siddique, Lt. Gen. Harun Ar Rashid and Mohd. Rafiqul Amin is trying to organize people to counter the protests of angered Sylhetis in London and the United Kingdom. Lt. Gen. Harun Ar Rashid and Mohd. Rafiqul Amin run multi-million GBP businesses in United Kingdom while he also has forcefully occupied a number of businesses in Bangladesh, with the direct assistance of Maj. Gen. Tarique Ahmed Siddique and his sister-in-law Sheikh Rehana (the younger sister of Bangladeshi PM). According to Times of Assam, this racket has smuggled millions of GBP to United Kingdom and turned into multi-millionaires from being a small fries in Bangladeshi society, just within months of Awami League’s forming the government. Sheikh Rehana and Maj. Gen. Tarique Ahmed Siddique are having direct hands behind Lt. Gen. Harun Ar Rashid and Mohd. Rafiqul Amin in series of illegal activities including land grabbing, extortion, blackmailing and looting of public wealth. It is rumored in Dhaka that Maj. Gen. Tarique Ahmed Siddique is controlling the forces intelligence as well as National Security Intelligence, while he also uses Rapid Action Battalion for the sake of his personal interests.
It said the man behind secret killings and forced disappearances is Maj. Gen. Tarique Ahmed Siddique, who is directly commanding DGFI and RAB in executing the murder and abduction plans of Awami League. Many term Maj. Gen. Tarique Ahmed Siddique as the “General of the fascists in Bangladesh”.