Alal O Dulal seems to have a certain kind of verve that I haven’t seen in the Deshi blogosphere since the heydays of 2006-07 — just before and after 1/11. Do visit, and participate in debates there. This particular one caught my eyes.
To quickly summarise: one of the bloggers note that while talking about the corruption of Syed Abul Hossain or Nazmul Huda (both communication ministers, AL and BNP respectively), no one uses the salutations Janab / Sahib, but Suranjit Sengupta is frequently addressed as Sri / Babu, which has the effect of reminding people of the minister’s religion; and one of the commenters argued that Sri / Babu salutations aren’t necessarily communal, but reflect the general social manners.
Suppose the commenter is right. What does that tell us about our society?
There has been two very disturbing incidences in Bangladesh recently, suggesting that my fear of a return of overt communalism may be materialising. Equally worrying is the lack of concern about these worrying trends. If not for the students of Dhaka University, most people wouldn’t have even heard that something happened in Satkhira. Meanwhile, the incidence at Hathazari is forgotten except for some outposts of the blogosphere such as this, this and this.
The silence in both cases is puzzling and distressing. Puzzling because in both cases, the government appears to have done the right thing. These weren’t communal riots. Riots require two sides. These were brazen attacks on Hindus. And in both cases, the government moved as quickly and decisively as might be expected in Bangladesh. One would have thought the government’s PR wing to be in full swing to trumpet the prime minister’s leadership. Why the silence then?
And why is there a silence from the progressive activists, both within and outside the Awami League? Never mind the mainstream media outlets like Prothom Alo. Where is the progressive blogosphere that got into a frenzy over Meherjaan?
It would appear that just like protesting BSF killings is something that only happens when Awami League is in power, concern for the minorities is something for only when BNP is in power. Needless to say, these selective outrages are both disgraceful.
Now, the regular reader would know, I don’t really do outrage. Of course, bigotry in every form is to be condemned unequivocally. But beyond that, is there anything more to say?
I think there are a few things about the incidence in Hathazari that should have been followed up. I am not in a position to answer any of these questions, but let me ask them.
Last year, I posted Rumi bhai’s video of Amar Shonar Bangla sung during the opening match of the Cricket World Cup. I thought the tone-deaf singing perfectly captured the instinctive attachment with the song that most Bangladeshis feel. But quite a few thought the beautiful song was ‘mis-represented’. Thankfully, no one has taken me to the courts over this.
Just to be on the safe side, let me begin this year’s Independence Day post with a more harmonic rendition.
It is a beautiful song. Nothing I say over the fold will remotely match what you’ve just heard. So feel free to ignore the rest of the post — honestly, I won’t mind.