Nothing will happen
It was a winter evening when I received an sms from Dhaka. My friend Syeed Ahamed: Dhaka hot again, attack on Hasina. Within a few minutes, my father called: Hasina was shot at by assassins, Dhaka is tense, but don’t worry we are fine.
That was August 2004. In the following two years, there were a number of such messages from Dhaka: bomb attacks, assassinations, but don’t worry, we’re fine. Things got to such a stage that when one autumn evening in 2006 that when my wife begun a phone conversation with Dr Yunus, my instant fear was that the sentence would end with has been killed.
I’ve always felt that of all the manyfold mistakes and wrongs done under the second Khaleda Zia government, the assassinations/militant attacks/political violence by ruling party thugs were the worst. Yes, our politics has always had an unfortunate violent edge. But things became markedly worse under that government.
The violence started within days of the 2001 election, and never ended. It never ended partly because the then governments were at best uninterested in ending the violence. And here I am giving BNP the benefit of the doubt — one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But accusations can be made on the basis of reasonable suspicion, and senior BNP leaders are definitely susceptible to grave accusations when it comes to political violence under them.
Nonetheless, even in those dark days, there was always a hope that things could get better with a change in government. And the grounds for optimism strengthened when Awami League shunned Joynal Hazari types during the 2008 election.
I was wrong to be hopeful. Nothing has changed. Nothing will happen.
To use the immortal words of The Smiths: when you say it’s gonna happen now, when exactly do you mean, you see I have already waited too long, and all my hope is gone.
I should have, but I didn’t. I held on to the hope of change. I thought that with time things would get better. I thought that there would be proper investigations of political violence under the last governments, while the thugs of the current ruling party will be reigned in. That hope is partly why, about a year ago, I naively believed the story that fugitive murderers from 1975 were out to create more mayhem.
But at some point we have to accept the reality. Even the most hopeless romantic must face up to the loneliness of death. What’s the reality of today’s Bangladesh?
It will be four years of post-BNP era and two years under AL in January. Have we made any progress in the 21 August case? In the Ahsanullah Master of SAMS Kibria assassinations? Has anyone been convicted of anything for the post-election violence in 2001?
Not anonymous media reports that give dark hints of the involvement of Tarique Rahman or Motiur Rahman Nizami, but concrete legal actions? Not remand and torture of Lutfuzzaman Babur, but trial, conviction and sentencing?
No. Nothing has happened.
It has been year since the attack on Barrister Taposh. What happened to all those relatives of 1975’s killers? What happened to the army officers arrested?
We get noted for doing better than Pakistan in rounding up jihadis. What happens to them after arrest?
Nothing, it seems.
And the victims of these violence is AL. When the victim is not AL, why does anyone believe anything will happen?
I know they are not reading this post. But if they were, this would be my message for the family of the murdered Natore BNP leader: don’t wait for justice in Bangladesh.
It took decades to get justice for the founder of the country. We haven’t even begun the process for 1971. Our bravest freedom fighters were killed in 1975 and no one even asks for justice. No one asks for justice for Nur Hossain and Dr Millon and others who were killed by an army dictator who now sits in the treasury bench in parliament. There is no justice for even the wife of the president.
So if I could tell the wife and daughter of the murdered man: your husband and father’s life means nothing in Bangladesh.
I’d tell them: your local MP was right — nothing will happen.
I’d give that MP credit for his honesty. In fact, I urge everyone to vote for him.
What does it matter?
Nothing will happen.