Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BANGLADESH: Mujib: Death of the Founder

When India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi decided to dispense with the irksome processes of democracy and arrogate all power to herself in June, she was able to take a few cues from her next-door neighbor. Last January Sheik Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh, impatient with the plodding progress and growing anarchy of his impoverished country, pushed legislation through Parliament changing the government to a presidential system giving him enlarged powers. The move surprised some and saddened others, since "Mujib" had long impressed observers as a man of reason and moderation as well as great courage. 

Last week, accusing Mujib of ineffectual leadership, the armed forces seized the Bangladesh government in a predawn coup. The man the Bengalis called Bangabandhu (father of Bengal), who led the country to independence from Pakistan only four years ago, was killed and replaced by a longtime associate. Although communications with Dacca were cut shortly after the takeover and reports were sketchy, it was clear that the coup was bloody. In addition to Mujib, 55, Prime Minister Mohammed Mansoor Ali and two of Mujib's nephews were also killed. So reportedly were at least 200 other supporters. At week's end the coup's leaders announced that the slain President was buried Saturday in his home village near Dacca with "full honors." There were no other details on how he died. 

Islamic Republic. The first signs of trouble came when gunfire was heard near Mujib's house in Dacca. At 5:15 a.m., a Major Dalim announced over Radio Bangladesh that the armed forces had taken over and changed the country's name from the People's Republic of Bangladesh to the Islamic Republic of Bangladesh. The new President, he declared, would be Khandakar Moshtaque Ahmed, 56, who had been Minister of Foreign Trade and Commerce in Mujib's Cabinet. Dalim further announced that martial law, as well as a 24-hour curfew, had been proclaimed throughout the country. "Anybody trying to resist the new revolutionary government or violating any instructions given so far will be dealt with severely," he added. By the time he had finished speaking, tanks were patrolling the streets of Dacca.

In a later broadcast, the new President claimed that the takeover had been prompted by "corruption, nepotism and attempts to concentrate power on one head." He charged that Mujib had failed to solve the country's economic problems. But when Khandakar announced a new 16-man civilian ministry, it turned out to be composed entirely of members of Mujib's Cabinet. 

Some observers pointed out that while Khandakar had served as Foreign Minister in the government-in-exile during the Pakistani civil war, he may not have been loyal to Mujib. There were allegations after independence that he had participated in U.S.-initiated attempts to prevent the breakaway of Bangladesh. Mujib piqued Khandakar by relieving him of the foreign ministry, appointing Dr. Kamal Hossain, who was in Belgrade when the coup occurred. 

A political conservative, Khandakar is said to favor closer ties with Pakistan. Late last week Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the first to recognize the new government. But the reaction in India was one of dismay and grief over Mujib's death. Said a government spokesman: "We held him in high esteem in India as one of the outstanding personalities of our time." 

The slain Mujib was a man of enormous magnetism and charm who frequently attracted million-strong throngs with his stirring and emotional oratory. "I have known the impact of Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru," said one observer, "but the depth of feeling Mujib evoked in so many people and so effortlessly was something no other leader had ever done." Jailed for the first time as a seventh-grader when he agitated in favor of India's independence from Britain, Mujib spent more than ten years behind bars, joking, "Prison is my other home."

In 1949 he founded the Awami League, and took it to a stunning victory in Pakistan's first national election in December 1970. He stood to become Prime Minister of all Pakistan. But he was an East Pakistani, and the West Pakistanis, who had long held absolute sway in the geographically divided country, were not about to yield power. Relations between the two regions deteriorated swiftly. 

"They have all the guns," he said of the West Pakistanis at the time. "They can kill me, but let them know that they cannot kill the spirit of the 75 million people of Bengal." Soon afterward, Pakistan's dictator, General Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan, packed Mujib off to a desert prison cell under sentence of death. In a brutal military pogrom, the West Pakistanis proceeded to massacre 3 million Bengalis; 10 million others fled to India for refuge. After India entered the war and crushed Pakistani forces nine months later, Yahya was himself placed under house arrest, and Mujib was released to become the leader of the independent nation of Bangladesh.

Mujib returned to the most tumultuous welcome Dacca had ever seen—and a staggering array of problems in probably the poorest (and most densely populated) country on earth. There were virtually no civil servants and little industry. Ports were clogged, railroads destroyed, the educated elite savaged. Worse, what had not been destroyed in war was soon destroyed by a devastating drought in 1973 and floods last year that inundated three-quarters of the country. 

Laudable Objectives. Facing spreading violence—there had been at least 6,000 political murders since independence—Mujib declared a state of emergency last December. He subsequently banned extremist parties on both the left and the right, brought the press under government control, and cracked down on corruption.

The moves met with general favor in Bangladesh, but there were those who were critical. "Do not forget I have had only three years as a free government," he reminded critics. "You cannot expect miracles." Yet even he seemed impatient for miracles in the end. No one ever doubted that his objectives were laudable. Mujib wanted nothing less than to build a "shonar Bangla," the golden Bengal of the poem by Rabindranath Tagore that serves as the country's national anthem.

Bangladesh: Manipulation Of BDR Massacre Probe?

Barrister Abdur Razzak, a leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami received written notice from Investigation Officer with Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Abdul Kahar Akhand asking Razzak to appear before the investigation officer for interrogation in connection to Bangladesh Riffles (BDR) massacre case.

It may be mentioned here that, Kahar Akhand is known in Bangladesh as he was the investigation officer of Bangabandhu murder case and Jail killing case. He was warned by the highest judiciary in the country for his lack of experience in investigating the cases.

Kahar, basically a loyalist of the ruling party was brought back to service on contract basis from retirement. He has ´high reputation´ of twisting various investigations to meet the taste of the ruling party. He is one of the very few officers in Bangladesh Police, who has direct access via cell phone to both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. For such ´high connection´, Kahar shows damn-care attitude towards his senior officers while continues to misbehave with all the junior officers in the police department as well in CID.

The present rulers in Dhaka especially assigned their own man like Kahar Akhand as the chief investigator of the BDR massacre case, as they knew, this officer will do everything in finally setting out all the names of Awami League men behind this notorious crime, thus putting several opposition leaders and figures as the accused. Since his appointment as the chief investigator of the case, Kahar Akhand is in constant contact with the Home Minister and several influential leaders in the ruling party.

Top level in the government has reportedly given repeated instructions to Kahar Akhand in entangling some leaders from Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Jamaat and some Islamist forces like Hizb Ut Tahrir etc. He also has been suggested to ´discover´ militant connection to this sensitive case.

When Awami League leader Torab Ali Akhand was arrested in connection to this case and was interrogated by several intelligence agencies, including CID, it was crystal clear to the investigators that the ruling party and some opposition leaders played dirty role in giving instigation and patronization to the bloody massacre. Such message was secretly communicated to the high-ups in the government. Hearing such information from Abdul Kahar Akhand, high-command in the ruling Grand Alliance has strongly instructed him to ´do something in turning the matter to another direction or face severe consequence´.

CID officer Abdul Kahar Akhand already knows the case of Muhidul Islam Muhit, who is the plaintiff of Bangabandhu murder case. Muhit was the Assistant Personal Secretary to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and was on duly at the residence of the founding father of Bangladesh during the black night of brutal assassination of him and other members of Bangabandhu´s family.

Muhit was found in a poor economic condition in Jessore after Awami League formed government in 1996. He was picked up by the government and was encouraged to lodge the case. Abdul Kahar Akhand was introduced to Muhit from the very first hour, for preparing the First Information Report (FIR) as well as statement for the investigation into this case.

Muhit received more than 3 residential plots and substantial amount of money from Awami League for agreeing to become the plaintiff of the case. This case changed the life of this poor man, who ultimately sold out all the plots, which were secretly allocated in his name to the owners of Akij Group of Companies in Bangladesh.

Abdul Kahar Akhand knows that, if he will be able to serve the purpose of the ruling party, his next few years in the contract-based job in police service will be extremely bright. He will be compensated in diversified ways. But, if he will ignore instructions from the high-command of the ruling party, he not only will lose the job, but his life will also be in extreme danger.

With such tendency in mind, Akhand has successfully saved Torab Ali from making confessional statement to the Metropolitan Magistrate under section 164. It is even claimed that, Torab Ali, instead of being interrogated, is enjoying comfortable time inside the CID headquarters in Dhaka. At the instruction of influential figures in the government, Abdul Kahar Akhand in ensuring all possible comfort to this confirmed collaborator of the BDR massacre.

And, according to latest news, the ´Walkie-Talkie´ minister in the present government in Dhaka, Lt. Col. (Retired) Faruk Khan told reporters that the probe report shall be made public "within a week". This is the fifth extension of the time limit set for the report.

According to various scoops, the investigators have so far identified a number of points and questions in identifying culprits behind the massacre. These points or questions are:

1. What was the intelligence report sent to the Prime Minister on February 25 in the early morning as acknowledged by the PM in the parliament,

2. What was the last conversation between Major General Shakil Ahmed and the Prime Minister on February 25,

3. Why the PM regretted her attendance to the dinner on February 26,

4. Who instructed announcement from the nearby mosques on February 25 and 26 asking local residents near BDR headquarters to move to a safe distance,

5. Why Lt. Col. Mukit sent fax messages from the BDR headquarters on February 25 evening against army and the BDR´s director general,

6. Why members of police and RAB were not deployed within gate number 5, through which the mutineers fled,

7. Why the PM assigned Nanak and Azam at 1:00 pm., after 4 hours of she heard about the mutiny,

8. Why names and identities of the delegation of mutineers, who met the PM were not registered at the entrance of the PM´s residence,

9. Mutiny leader DAD Towhid told the PM about the murder of director general of BDR and some other officers when he met her with his team. But, why this matter was kept secret by the government till February 26 evening,

10. Why Bangladesh TV was not showing anything about the mutiny or even news scroll, although the issue was being covered by all private channels,

11. Why the mutineers were terming the PM as "amader netri" (our leader),

12. Why some mutineers were chanting Awami League´s party slogan ´Joy Bangla´ while they were talking to the press,

13. There had been several overseas incoming calls inside the BDR headquarters during the massacre. Investigators are trying to find the callers,

14. Why Prime Minister´s son Sajib Wajed Joy came to Dubai on February 27 to meet some of the fleeing mutineers,

15. Why Joy handed over thick envelops to each of the fleeing mutineers at the Dubai airport,

16. Why Joy made critical remarks on Bangladesh Army and made army liable for the mutiny during interview with various international media,

17. Why Sajib Wajed Joy has been instructed by her mother not to come to Bangladesh before the investigation issue is over,

18. Why influential members of the government phoned certain foreign government asking help in case Bangladesh Army revolts against the ruling party,

19. Why Awami League leader Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir tried to flee the country on February 27,

20. Why minister Faruk Khan said, militants have penetrated in law enforcing and disciplined forces in Bangladesh,

21. Why the government is trying to keep the Inspector General of Police, whose son-in-law was murdered during the mutiny and daughter held hostage, is kept aloof from the investigation process,

22. Why the newly appointed commissioner of police warned the English medium and missionary schools and educational institutions of possible militant attack without any reason,

23. Why the PM did not allow the army to storm in to the BDR headquarters to rescue the officers and their family members,

24. What the CID team were removing from the BDR headquarters in the name of collecting ´evidence´,

25. What type of evidences were removed by the members of police when they were assigned to guard the BDR headquarters almost for more than 30 hours,

26. Why the Home Minister and other members of the ruling Alliance were visiting the BDR headquarters during dark hours of February 26, much after the surrender,

27. Why Awami League student wing leader Liakat Sikder is hiding since the massacre,

28. Why Awami League and its activists are continuing to demand trial of killers and their collaborators in civil courts instead of Court Martial,

29. Why a section of pro-Awami League journalists are continuing indirect campaign against army as well demanding trial in civil court,

30. Why the ruling party is echoing the voice of Indian media and especially the editorial commentary in The Statesman.

Reply to all these questions will surely help investigators in finding the truth and identifying the culprits. But, it is a big question as to whether the ruling party is willing to let a neutral investigation continue, which may go ultimately against many of the heavy-weights within their home.

Bangladeshi people are getting united with the demand of proper investigation and exemplary punishment to the perpetrators and collaborators of this extreme heinous crime. Anger within the armed forces is boiling like eruptive volcano. Members of the armed forces and those bereaved families can never forgive the killers and the collaborators.

People in power in Dhaka should understand this.

By - Sunita Paul.

Sheikh Hasina Please Note Sunita Paul Is Not For Sale!

Since I started writing on the February Massacre in Bangladesh inside the Bangladesh Riffles headquarters during February 25-26 this year, a large number of people started campaigning against me. Some of them even sent me 'bribe' offers as well as tried to stop my writings through threats. Lately being failed to let me pause writing, they started offering millions (those hard earned money of the people of Bangladesh, of course), to a number of newspapers, which were publishing my writings, with the only request of not entertaining anything from 'Sunita Paul'. Why rulers in Bangladesh are afraid of a “non existent” writer like me? As my readers are aware, there had been series of campaigns in Bangladesh stating there was no one named Sunita Paul, my picture was false etc. I would like to address these points, but before everything else, let me make a point clear. Some of my readers are questioning if I have stopped writing. For their information, NO! I went through a surgery which compelled me in stopping writing for few days. Now, I am getting back my vigor to back to writing and here I begin.

What the present rulers in Bangladesh are doing? Western nations always advocate “Good Governance” in all the countries, especially in those developing and under developed countries in the world. But, I am convinced by now that, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, instead of establishing “good governance” has been very successful in establishing rude governance. Her ministers are continuing to threat people of the country, with the ultimatum of dire consequence if Bangladeshis would ever raise their voice, when the entire country is left in load-shedding due to power crisis, 12-14 hours a day! Tanzim Ahmed Sohel, the junior minister for Home Affairs told reporters that, his government will take stern action against anyone uttering a single word against the government taking the power crisis issue. What a “courageous” statement by the junior minister in the elected autocracy in Bangladesh! How this man could ever dare to utter these words? Does he undermine the power and strength of 150 million people? If minister Sohel has two hands for taking “dire action” people of Bangladesh has at least 300 to counter such rudeness. This type of threats on the people of the country is continuing for quite sometime by most of the ministers in the cabinet of Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who will be remembered as the worst ever dictators in the history of the world.

Hasina and her men's red-eyes are bringing us back to the past days of Nazi forces in Germany under the command of notorious Hitler or even those dictators in Communist Soviet Union or even China.

Before we assess the reason behind such audacity by the ministers in Bangladesh on the people of this extremely peace-loving nation, we must remember that Awami League believes in Socialism as their party's manifesto. So, naturally they are rightly behaving like autocrats, and in socialism, there is no previous record of tolerance by any of the governments.

The country is also suffering from acute water crisis as well as number of unemployment in Bangladesh is continuing to increase although in her electoral manifesto, Hasina promised to provide job for minimum 15,000 people every day. Since the past 100 plus days of the government, instead of creation of job facilities, more than 400,000 people turned jobless. There had been above 100 murders in the past 100 plus days. Rapes of religious minorities and illegal grabbing of their properties by the thugs of the ruling party is reaching all time record. There is extortion at such an alarming level that many of the foreign investors in Bangladesh are planning to withdraw their investments fearing security lacking.

Price of essentials are once again flying rocket high leaving more sufferings for the people of Bangladesh. There is virtually no life in the civil administration as the present government is continuing to extremely polarize such administrations with their own cadres, while setting many of the efficient civil bureaucrats into side line for reason well assumed.

And of course, there is no real news about the ongoing probe reports on the BDR massacre. It was already reported that the government has reshuffled the probe committees many a times, with the aim of putting their own people, who would come up with a report made on order. Trial of the killers, patrons and instigators of this brutal massacre is even a far reality. Government is virtually on into direct confrontation with the Armed Forces, and possibly, it is a question of existence of the Bangladesh Army for the first time, after the era of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Shall Sheikh Hasina Wajed ever let a neutral probe report be published on the BDR massacre? My personal opinion is NO! She will even do anything in stopping the trial process, as she knows many of the big fishes within her own party and even family are active involved in this heinous crime.

Finally, the ruling government being failed to buy my pen are continuing to buy those newspapers, which are publishing my write ups. They even are successful in stopping a few from publishing anything from me. I know the mystery behind such secret deals.

But, to remind the rulers in Dhaka, it is really difficult for anyone to stop a pen in today's world. I will continue to fight all evils with my pen, no matter how many newspapers carry it. This is a fight for bringing justice for the people of Bangladesh and the members of those martyred army officers and violated female members of those army men. Before I see justice, it won't be possible for me to rest. Let Awami League government do anything in suffocating my pen. If they know, truth shall prevail; they will stop such dirty actions now. Otherwise, ti me will tell them the deserved consequence! 

By -  Sunita Paul.

Wrapping Up The War

In a mood of restrained jubilation and cautious hope, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladesh officials settled down last week to tackle the immense logistical problems posed by a new peace settlement that affects the whole subcontinent. After 19 days of hard bargaining in Islamabad and New Delhi, India and Pakistan agreed—with Bangladesh concurrence—that 1) 90,000 Pakistani military and civilian prisoners of war who have been held captive in India since the end of the December 1971 Indo-Pakistani war will be sent home; 2) an estimated 200,000 Bengalis stranded in Pakistan at war's end will be allowed to return to Bangladesh; 3) "a substantial number" of Biharis (non-Bengali Moslems) in Bangladesh will be repatriated to Pakistan. 

Although the agreement resolves the most important problems left over from the war, certain key details remain to be ironed out. Under the terms of the agreement, Islamabad and Dacca—after the simultaneous repatriation of detainees is completed—will enter into direct negotiations on the fate of 195 ranking Pakistani P.O.W.s that Bangladesh wants to try for war crimes. The prisoners will remain in Indian custody until the question is settled. 

It is also uncertain how many Biharis, many of whom were partisans of the Pakistani forces during the war and as a result face a bleak future in Bangladesh, will be allowed to go to Pakistan. The initial exchange is estimated to involve about 80,000, although Bangladesh has said that as many as 250,000 Biharis have indicated a desire to be repatriated. 

Even under the best of circumstances, the mass migration would be no easy task for the three countries to arrange. Indian transport officials estimate that nearly 100 trains will be required to empty the 50 P.O.W. camps. 

Complicating the return of the prisoners is the fact that both India and Pakistan in recent weeks have been ravaged by the worst floods in decades. Rail traffic has been disrupted, bridges have been washed away and highways made impassable. Because of the distances involved, the Bengalis and Biharis will have to be transported by sea and airlifts. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, whose office spearheaded the international aid effort for the 10,000,000 Bengali refugees who fled to India during the war, will very likely oversee the exchange. Substantial funds will be required, however, and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim is expected to make a world appeal for aid. 

Some diplomatic critics have pointed out that the agreement contained nothing that could not have been worked out a year ago. But Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who held the weakest cards, felt it necessary to shore up his own political foundations at home before risking domestic disfavor by dealing with his country's enemies. In the end, he acquiesced almost totally to a joint proposal offered last April by India and Bangladesh. 

In addition to ending the suffering of countless people, the agreement will have far-reaching political consequences. Pakistan has pledged to recognize the independence of its former eastern wing, thereby clearing the way for Bangladesh to become a member of the U.N. some time this fall. Hopes are high that disputes over national debts incurred before the breakup can now be quickly resolved and that a mutually beneficial economic relationship between the countries can be reestablished. For its part, India is relieved of the $1,000,000-a-month burden of maintaining the prisoners. 

The agreement should also go a long way toward balancing the relations of the subcontinent nations with their big-power neighbors. New Delhi, which has a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union, is anxious to upgrade its diplomatic relations with Peking as a counterweight to Russian influence. 

As Pakistan's closest ally, China has withheld recognition of Bangladesh, and last year used its veto in the Security Council to deny it U.N. membership. Some sources in Dacca now believe that Peking will recognize Bangladesh even before Pakistan does. That would allow the Chinese to recover a profitable market for their manufactured goods—and offset the favorable impression that Moscow made in Bangladesh by its postwar relief efforts.

Arab Spring Fever, India And Bangladesh

The contagion of Arab Spring fever that brought down longstanding authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt is airborne or more appropriately chips-borne in worldwide web. Bahrain suppressed it with Gulf Cooperation Council's muscle. In Yemen, Libya and Syria it gave rise to bloody civil war (military suppression campaign in the last case), with foreign meddling by heavy air-strike and/or sanctions to obtain regime change.

Of late it has led to the relapse of a Gandhian-style resistance to government acquiescence of corrupt practices in all walks of life in shining India. The entire political establishment has been caught off-balance. The ruling party, with its fake modesty hiding its 'arrogance of power' and coercive tactics, made a mess of the syndrome by the arrest on August 16 of the leading anti-corruption campaigner, Anna Hazare when he was proceeding to the designated site for his declared "fast unto death" in a Delhi park. The purpose of his Satyagraha is to morally win government commitment for placing in the parliament a draft People's Lokpal (Ombudsman) bill for constitutional empowerment of independent anti-corruption proceedings against graft committed at any level by government functionaries.

The ruling cabinet prepared its own draft Lokpal bill and placed it in the parliament. Both the parliamentary opposition and the anti-corruption campaigners led by Anna Hazare consider that draft inadequate, particularly, amongst other things, for keeping the Prime Minister exempt from the jurisdiction of the proposed Ombudsman. To discourage Anna Hazare's Satyagraha, the ruling party tried many tricks including a smear campaign and refusal to grant him police permission to stage fasting with his followers in any prominent public place in or around Delhi on the ground that it would disrupt traffic and might even lend a cover to anti-social acts of terror and sabotage. Delhi police also sought to limit his days of fasting, arguing that at Anna's age prolonged fasting might lead to his death, and as such his attempt to go for "fast unto death" would amount to attempt at suicide, which is a cognizable offence under Crpc. (Probably Delhi authorities were conscious of the self-immolation of a Tunisian educated youth whose underemployment as a street vendor was denied by arbitrary action of the corrupt police and whose "burning himself to death" aroused the intefada ushering the Arab Spring).

The news of arrest and 7 days' remand in prison of Anna Hazare by Delhi police and magistracy respectively sent a shockwave in the public mind throughout India, with activists and young people coming out in support of Anna in trickles in the beginning and snowballing day by day. The high-handed manner termed unconstitutional by some legal experts and ridiculed as knee-jerk action by political opposition of Anna's detention followed by his banishment, so to say, away from Delhi to a high-security prison in the Bihar State aggravated public indignation. Old Gandhians wondered about strange arguments put forward by the Mahatma's own party in post-modern India to undermine Gandhian methods and morality.

When the Manmohan Singh Government, taken aback by public reaction, sent instructions for Anna's immediate release from the high-security prison in Bihar, it made another mess by informing the media that this was being done at the behest of the ruling party Secretary General Rahul Gandhi who had just returned from United States from the bedside of ailing Sonia Gandhi, convalescent there after a major operation.

The public took this propaganda of "magnanimity" of the future boss of the ruling party as adding salt to injury, and Anna Hazare himself refused to come out of prison unless he was given official permission to undertake his programme to go on fast for an indefinite period to bring the government to terms. Fierce debate is going on inside and outside the parliament in political and civil society organs over the polemics of the Lokpal bill and the relevance of the Gandhian path in the sovereign parliamentary order of Indian power. Crowds on the street are simply expressing their loss of faith in the political establishment, and putting their faith on Anna Hazare.

It is noteworthy that a superpower dictate by way of commentary came from US President Obama in the wake of Arab Spring. He openly suggested that election by itself and control over the administration may not be sufficient to sustain legitimacy of any government. The ruling coterie in any nation-state in the global village must retain the confidence of the people. That message has been ringing all round the countries affected by the Arab Spring. Incidentally, a message from the US government was also passed on to the Government of India mildly suggesting that India should not be heavy-handed in containing peaceful protests.

Here in Bangladesh, all the causes are there for public disaffection, on account of total failure of proper governance by a government endowed with overwhelming majority, to burst into a flame. Sporadic protests are indeed taking place notwithstanding the restraints of Ramazan. Civic life and public administration have both been rendered defunct. Communication between the capital and the districts has been disrupted all over by disrepair of roads water-logging from blocked drainage system, and incessant rains, accompanied by severe flooding in some places. Price rise spiral is going on pauperising a bulk of our population. Continuing strains of frequent load-shedding is making urban life miserable, coupling with intolerable suffering of shortages in water-supply for fasting people in particular.

In all government and semi-government offices, bribery is the order of the day, and even with bribes files move at snail's pace. In markets and mahallas, ruling party extortionists and criminal gangs of muggers carry on a pincer drive to fleece the pedestrian, the commuter and the consumer. Armed robbers chase private cars and auto rickshaws for loot with impunity. Plain clothes policemen pick up people at random on feigned suspicion and grill the detainees for ransom. Kidnappings and killings by criminal gangs for ransom are reported to be going on with the collusion of security personnel. Raids and dacoities are rampant alike in private homes and apartments and in malls, shops and establishments. There is no security of life and property for the public, and infrastructural disruption has immobilised the entire population. The macro-economic management of the nation's productivity has also been subverted by share market scams and other policy failures.

There is of course some hue and cry in the national media. But typically passing the buck to her critics, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has, on the Day of National Mourning as enacted by her government, warned about the conspiracy a group of mischief-makers out to undermine people's trust in her government. She is completely blind to the evidences of total failure of her own governance, and has targeted foreign correspondents too who happen to report about the extent of public disillusion with her administration. Apart from the socio-economic debacles she created, one such targeted international weekly The Economist has noted in two articles in the August 13 issue how she is provoking a political crisis that might compound the explosive syndrome of public discontent. Excerpts as under from the two articles together paint a dismal picture.

"The election of December 2008 seemed to mark a watershed for Bangladesh. In the fairest poll in the country's four-decade history, the Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina (pictured), swept to power in a landslide, on a wave of national optimism. The hope was that she would use her party's popularity to strengthen democratic institutions and pursue national reconciliation, putting an end to a vicious cycle of winner-takes-all politics between the League and its rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The fear was that she would use its huge mandate for partisan advantage. The hope has been largely dashed, the fear almost fully borne out.

"Facing a general election in a couple of years, Sheikh Hasina might hope to embed democracy and persuade voters to re-elect her-a first for the country. Sadly, judging by her recent behaviour, she seems to seek instead to crush the opposition and provoke an election boycott, silencing pesky critics as she goes.

"The most scandalous is its railroading through in June of a constitutional amendment. Like Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, did last year, Sheikh Hasina has used the forms of parliamentary democracy to undermine the substance. Among other changes, the amendment does away with the caretaker administrations that oversaw elections in the hope of ensuring a modicum of fairness. It is hard to imagine the BNP taking part in elections under the new arrangements-the lack of trust between the parties that inspired the caretaker system persists.

"Public debate is also constrained by the growing personality cult that Sheikh Hasina is building around Sheikh Mujib, 'the greatest Bengali of the millennium'. His portrait is ubiquitous, including on new banknotes issued this week.

"One consequence of the cult surrounding their dynasty is that few institutions are trusted as independent. The courts, for example, have seen corruption cases against Awami League figures quashed. Those against BNP types proceed apace. Opposition leaders report violent ill-treatment. Mahmudur Rahman, a newspaper editor who served in the BNP government, describes being 'tortured, handcuffed, blindfolded, stripped naked, starved'. Harping on such matters is seen by Sheikh Hasina's defenders as a 'smear campaign'. Human-rights groups who point to dreadful practices, such as routine killings of criminals by police, are told how much worse things were before. Outspoken critics, such as Odhikar, a human-rights and election-monitoring group, say new government controls on the way they spend money may be a step towards being 'strangled'. Trade unions fret that their leaders are threatened and harassed. The government pooh-poohs them all. The kindest view of the government is that it is clumsy to the point of self-harm.

"Nor do Orwellian touches inspire confidence. The constitution, or at least most of it, shall not be amended in future. Anyone who dares criticise it may be prosecuted for sedition. Mrs Zia has already been warned for having complained about it. Merely to back such a complaint is now illegal. Thought-crime may be next. All this suggests Sheikh Hasina's dream for Bangladesh differs profoundly from that cherished by her countrymen.

Mild warnings about misfeasance has meanwhile been forthcoming from the sole superpower watch to the Government of Bangladesh also.

BANGLADESH: Not Yet Shonar Bangla

THE "Voice of Thunder," as it became known in the pre-independence days of Free Bangladesh Radio, rolled across the multitude squatting on the dry yellow grass of the Dacca race course. "If the people of Bangladesh don't want me to contest the elections, then I don't want to sit in the National Assembly. Any one of you can go and sit there instead of me. Shall I contest the election? Should I? If you want me to contest, then raise your hand. Raise both hands to show you want me." Nearly half a million pairs of skinny brown arms shot into the air. "Yes, yes, yes!" shouted the crowd, which had gathered before Sheik Mujibur ("Mujib") Rahman to celebrate the first anniversary of Bangladesh's liberation from Pakistan. "We want you, Bangabandhu."

As Bangabandhu ("Father of the Nation"), Mujib clearly still possesses the image and oratory to move the emotions of his people. Largely because of his personal mystique, his Awami League seems certain to win the first national elections, slated for March 7. Opposition parties, in fact, will probably win only about 50 of the Assembly's 300 seats. But in his reign so far as Prime Minister by acclamation, Mujib has had much less success in moving his country toward internal peace and prosperity. Born in bloodshed, Bangladesh continues to bleed, both literally and metaphorically. Political murders among warring nationalist factions number in the hundreds, and the new nation, with a population of 75 million—it is the eighth largest in the world—suffers from severe problems in food, housing, transportation and industry.

Many of the problems are, of course, legacies of the nine-month civil war, in which West Pakistan tried to smother the independence movement of Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan). Apart from costing the lives of an estimated 3,000,000 Bengalis, the repression ravaged the countryside. According to a United Nations agency report, more than 4,617,000 houses were completely or partially destroyed in an area roughly the size of Wisconsin. In addition, the country's primitive river and rail transportation systems were mangled, and the jute industry, which had accounted for 90% of East Pakistan's exports, was battered by damage to crops and sabotage to mills.

The depredations of the war are not the only reasons for Bangladesh's slow progress. Jute manufacturing, now running at 25% to 30% of capacity, has been hampered by labor squabbles and by a shortage of professional managers necessary to run the nationalized industry efficiently. Tea production, the nation's second most important industry, is also in trouble because most of the low-grade Bangladesh tea used to be sold in West Pakistan, and alternative markets have not been found. Lack of trade with West Pakistan,* which formerly supplied Bangladesh with many of its manufactured goods, has contributed, along with a shortage of foreign exchange, to acute inflation. Consumer items, from detergents to refrigerators to cigarettes, have trebled in price.

Relief. Things could be worse. After all, the people of Bangladesh have suffered three consecutive years of natural or man-made disasters—a calamitous cyclone in 1970, the civil war in 1971, and a crop-crippling drought this year. That they have not experienced mass starvation is largely due to a massive inpouring of foreign relief, totaling $1.2 billion. The largest contribution, $328 million, comes from the U.S., which has given considerably more than Bangladesh's staunch political allies, India ($258 million) and the Soviet Union ($101 million). Much of the relief has been in the form of food supplies, designed to provide each person with a daily ration of at least 15 ounces. But food remains a major problem, and aid will have to continue next year or millions could indeed starve to death. One factor currently worrying relief officials in Dacca: if and when peace comes to Viet Nam, they told TIME's James Shepherd last week, it could divert aid away from Bangladesh.

In sum, Bangladesh had little reason to enjoy a happy first birthday. If it is not the "basket case" that Henry Kissinger once called it, neither has it become the Shonar Bangla (Golden Bengal) envisioned by Mujib. How much this is the fault of Mujib is a moot question. It is true that he has had little time in which to combat some of Bangladesh's immense problems. Nevertheless, some critics contend that he has wasted some of the time playing the role of popular revolutionary figure (such as personally receiving virtually any of his people who call on him) when he should have been concentrating more on serious matters of state. If, as expected, he is elected in March, Mujib will face a clear test of whether he is not only the father of Bangladesh but also its savior.

* Though Bangladesh and Pakistan do not officially recognize each other yet, some clandestine trade is being conducted in both directions via Singapore.

Trade And Transit Between Nepal And Bangladesh

Nepal and Bangladesh are two sovereign and friendly countries. Mutual respects, trust, economy size and cultural heritage are common factors binding their close relationship. On the background above, it can be convincing that we can be mutually benefited by entering into various socio- economic activities. Trade, joint-industrial projects, science and technology exchange programs, cultural exchange visits could be some the ventures we could enter into, of course, within the frame work of the existing bilateral/regional and international treaties. Additionally, Nepal in view of its land-locked mess geographic situation could always ask for facilitation and generosity from its friendly neighbor, India, which believes, practices and follows the highest order of democracy. India harbors common neighborhood between Nepal and Bangladesh.

Some of the socio-economic activities relating to Nepal and Bangladesh are already in existence but this is not enough. Further initiations at high level institutions both in Nepal and Bangladesh while insuring the support from India are needed.

Nepal maintained a neutral stance on the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the then-Kingdom of Nepal became one of the first nations to recognize Bangladesh. With Bangladesh, Nepal saw an opportunity to obtain access to port facilities in the Bay of Bengal to bolster foreign trade - something it had sought when Bangladesh was still a part of Pakistan, but only to a limited success. In April 1976, Nepal and Bangladesh signed bilateral agreements to develop trade, transit and civil aviation. The transit agreement exempted all traffic-in-transit from duties and other charges. Six points of entry and exit for Nepalese traffic were set up. However, the Nepalese goods had to be unloaded at the border, due to the absence of an agreement allowing Nepalese trucks direct access to the ports.

Recent scenario, Bangladesh's export to Nepal was worth only US$6.7 million; its major exports include pharmaceuticals, garments, plastics, handicrafts and other goods. Nepal on the other hand, exported only US$53 million worth of goods, which are largely agricultural produce such as pulses, lentils, rice and wheat. In 1998, the Phulbari treaty between India and Bangladesh allowed Nepalese goods access to Bangladesh through a transit route in India. In 2010, a joint communiqué issued by India and Bangladesh the assured giving Nepal and Bhutan access to the Bangladeshi ports.

The bilateral relations between Nepal and Bangladesh are progressing. Recently, the numbers of air-flight have been substantially increased to 18 flights a week from only 6 or 7. However, the commercial trade route is through Kakarbhitta/Nepal, Siliguri/India to the Bangabandhu/Bangladesh as the border points. All these three nations are the members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMTEC). At present, SAARC region is confronted with anarchist activities and terrorism. Now our focus should entirely in minimizing the affects of this these threats in the true sprit of harmony, brotherhood, neighborhood among the nations. Obviously, without this no effort can be materialized.

In the context of trade and transit between Nepal and Bangladesh, the intention of Indian Govt. should be participated. Because, cordial people to people level relations between Nepal and India has existed since ancient times. Nepal and Bangladesh have to keep friendly relations with India due to our similar cultural religious traditions and geographical attachment. But sadly, India is not clear on its intention. The reality is that suspiciousness never finds the solution among the nations. Since 1950, there are many evidences of misunderstandings between Nepal and India. Then 2005, Indian Govt. and leaders supported and convinced the culprit and anarchist leaders of Nepali Congress, UML and Maoist party with the 12-point agreement to create agitation against Nepal. And Indian intelligence wing 'RAW' has played an active role in the uprising, providing the economic and other material support to disturb the Nepalese unity and existence. The 12-point agreement was the cause of crisis for Nepal. Indian congress-(I) through its intelligence agency- RAW, has been found continuously involved in destabilizing our national identities- royal institution, Hindu Kingdom and national language, which were developed along with the ideology of national unity, security and national identity.

Nepal could remain an independent and sovereign country only because of monarchy and China. The permanent institution- 'monarchy' can put unite the national instigation as it remained since thousands years ago. Monarchy is still a popular institution. In between the two big neighbors-China & India, the monarchy has been playing a balanced role. From the very beginning of history Nepal and China have been regarding their sovereignty each other. China's leader Mao Ze Dong used to say even when communism was at its height in China that 'China was in favor of monarchy in Nepal as its sovereignty is safe only because of monarchy'. So, Nepal is supporting- 'One China policy'- Tibet as an integral part of China. If monarchy is not Nepal, China comes with many agendas and projects for its security.

Due to the unnecessary Indian intervention, since 2006, the leadership in Nepal is very irresponsible. The Indian Govt. itself invited the terrorism in Nepal and India. The leaders of Maoist, Congress, UML and Madhesi are not for the sake of democratic senses. They are catering the disintegrate agendas of the country. In Nepal, republic, secularism and federalism will be most difficult task. Actually, federalism means is to establish the feudalism, the secular state means is to establish the Religious terrorism and republic is disintegration. So, the constituent assembly will be the missile to destroy Nepal. The Maoist model of federalism based on ethnicity will be the cause of civil war.

After all, the Indian intelligence Wing-RAW's activities are increasing. The American 'CIA' and Christian missions had been involved with the Maoist since a long time. To save the dignity and sovereignty of the nation, we should not hesitate to attack the evil elements. First of all, India should convince to establish peaceful situation in this region especially-Nepal. For this the Constituent Assembly, which has become allegorical to a poisonous agendas, must be removed. And then, to develop the mutual relation and to create peaceful environment with Nepal, Bangladesh and India, we should finalize the safe landing position, reciprocally. So, to minimize the anarchist and terrorist activities, there should restore the 1990 Constitution; and in presence of the monarch make a collective effort.

Largest Democracy In Doldrums

THE ruling Congress-led government has committed a blunder, one which might further complicate things for it. The government would have done better if it showed signs of maturity in dealing with Anna Hazare. 

The government is plagued by shady conduct of its members. Corruption on part of the government ministers is nothing new. Scam news is flashed out every other day, eroding the government's image. All these the ruling leaders should have known better.

And then there are people who would not like to take the corrupt practices as a run of the mill affair. Anna Hazare is one of them. In the fag end of his political career, the septuagenarian leader stood up to speak against corruption. He chose to go on a hunger strike to protest the government's watered-down anti-corruption law recently introduced in parliament. 

The government reacted insensibly. He was taken in by the cops even before he could start his action. Events after that unfolded very fast. So speedily things have been happening from his arrest to his landing in Tihar jail (famous for housing the notorious criminals) to his release. Anna is now observing his 15-day hunger strike in the Ramilila ground in Delhi with thousands of his following. 

Terms like "people's movement" and "second freedom struggle" are making rounds. Indirectly (or directly?) the government has helped create the situation by doing what it did to Anna. It made Anna the leader of the moment and gave birth to anti-incumbent protests. All these are likely to lead to greater events and will certainly make things difficult for Manmohan, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul.

Many believe Anna has caught the imagination of the nation. His call for rally has been well received across the country. Estimated crowd marching from the India Gate monument in central Delhi was between 60,000 and 70,000. Although Anna's precincts are filled with religious hymns and communal beats, it has given the common man to work on something that might help contain socio-political ills. Recent Arab uprisings should be a stimulus for the young Indians. 

"For once we have brought the issue of corruption to every street of India," said K.C. Malhotra,a former history professor from Delhi University. "I am happy that Indians are united for a cause that will change our lives forever," he said. He was one among the thousands of Indians who converged at the India Gate to be a part of spontaneous mass rally that supported the hunger-strike by anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare.
Whether this showing of masses will really change the lives of the Indians is much too early to say. But it is obvious that Anna Hazare has managed to raise hopes in the minds of million Indians who crave for cleaner and tolerant social arrangements. 

For the first time India's educated English-speaking middle class, a little less than one- third of the population, has taken to the streets. If the youths are drawn to Anna's cause and his programmes, it might make a difference. The poor and illiterate may find their hopes reflected in the urban educated youths.
In India, if you have corruption running in the veins of the rotting politicians and their cohorts, you also have people and institutions to stand up and protest. 

However, Anna and his team are not expected to solve the problems of corruption and poverty overnight. But he has become a symbol of national discontent for now.

On the political front, Anna has unnerved the ruling alliance. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the activist's hunger-strike as "totally misconceived" and a dangerous challenge to India's parliamentary democracy. He also hinted at outside interference behind the protest. 

The lackluster opposition parties grabbed the opportunity to pounce on the government. The BJP, the Left, Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (which incidentally is an ally of Congress-led UPA) and Telugu Desam Party have strongly expressed their position. 

Although there are differences among opposition parties on the nitty-gritty of a new anti-corruption legislation, the parties focused on the consensus point, which was that the right to peaceful protest by Hazare cannot be violated.

From here on, the opposition parties might rally behind this leader and make best use of the situation against the government. Politics will wear a new dimension. 

What Anna Hazare will opt to do from here is now a matter of wild imagination. He might allow himself to become the "compromise leader" of a greater opposition alliance to fight for next elections. Or, if he is encouraged by the response of the new generation of educated middle class to his "second struggle for freedom," India might have a new political party of a national character or as a regional institution. 

Congress and partners have busy days ahead.