The grenade attack of 21st August

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Category : Nurul Islam Anu

AnuAn analysis
Nurul Islam Anu
THE bomb blast in the Awami League meeting on the 21st August has shocked the sensibilities of the nation on an unprecedented scale. Ironically it occurred within seven days of the anniversary of the worst tragedy in the nation’s history — the assassination of the father of the nation the Bangabandhu. Cynics might find a pattern of history repeating with some of the debased characteristics of August 15th attempted to be repeated.

Condemnation poured from all around — teachers, artists, civic leaders, political parties of all persuasions. Even the Jamaat did not spare their political partners — castigating them for failure to maintain law and order. (A classical reaction from an opportunistic ally indicative of strategy they might follow to smear an expedient alliance).

International reaction was sharp and pointed. Collin Powel called to express President Bush’s “deep shock” to appear consistent with America’s anti-terror and anti-fundamentalist stance. Jack Straw preceded Powel with words of sympathy about repetition of a bomb attack — the previous one nearly costing his envoy’s life. UN Secretary General Koffe Anan, in his reaction symbolised the agony and sensitivity of the world body and the international community. A dejected European Union scornfully turned down the request of the Foreign Office to attend a meeting, apparently signifying its low credibility because of sad record of unfulfilled promises.

Is this ghastly spectacle of repeated bomb blast indicative of just the failure of an inalert and incompetent law enforcement machinery, or a deliberate indifference to the growth of a fascist and fanatic process to be used to annihilate a political enemy, or a deep rooted structural deficiency in the political establishment where politics is conducted in deliberate disregard of the core values of nationhood as a short sighted and expedient strategy? These are serious questions to be answered and the happenings of 21st August makes it a compelling necessity, not to be shelved or bypassed.

Apprehensions have been expressed by different sections of the civil society about the danger of progressive erosion of the core values of the nationhood under expedient political patronage for years. These warnings have been perilously ignored branding them as partisan slogans by the propaganda machinery of the vested interests.

The bomb blast on the 21st August was indicative of the following:

* It signified the pronounced presence of violence as a tool of political behaviour.

* It was a fascist manifestation of terror and intimidation as means to impose a fanatic minority’s will on a society committed and dedicated to democratic values.

* It formally signalled the ominous announcement of the emergence of a fundamentalist militant political culture.

* It was a defiant announcement by a group of counter-revolu-tionaries challenging the fundamental goal of the War of Liberation to establish a political order where peaceful expression of dissent, and practice of each citizen’s faith will be guaranteed by the Constitution.

* It represented a militant rejection of the faith where consensus and dissent will form the twin component of a rich democratic culture.

In short it amounted to an affront to the very basis of our nationhood.

Why did it happen?

Revolutions get derailed from their goals because post revolutionary evolutions are managed poorly. We had our sad experience of such derailment and abandonment of ideals. Post revolution management becomes appreciably complicated and challenging by the reemergence of the enemies of the revolution who did not want the revolution to be successful in the first place. They oppose the consolidation of the revolution because its consolidation poses a threat to their political survival. This dynamic has characterised the history of all revolutions and we have been no exception to it. The counter-revolutionaries manipulate the smallest of mistakes by post-revolution political managers to strengthen their position. In that context maintenance of the fundamental balance of the nation against allurement of power becomes the biggest challenge.

The post 1975 political managers (mostly usurpers), in their obsessive search for allies to monopolise power, failed to command a critical insight and started the dangerous process of accommodating elements in their political platform who did not believe in the ideological basis of Bangladesh as a nation. An unprincipled and opportunistic assembly of political elements within this process, apparently secular and pro-liberation, only complicated the fixture and provided additional space for the counter-revolutionaries to manipulate the environment to advance their political agenda.

The International patrons and benefactors of the counter-Revolutionaries start injecting funds to patronise the consolidating network of the counter-revolutionaries because of geo-political and other ideological considerations. Counter-revolutionaries are traditionally very accommodating as tools, because their survival instincts drives them to be so. A vicious and dangerous cycle of political accommodation between the counter-revolutionaries and their opportunistic partners unleashes a process which destabilises the foundation of the republic. Exchange of expedient interests and a guarantee for survival of counter-revolution becomes vicious basis of a political arrangement. All precious ingredients of nationhood are sacrificed at the altar of this expedient arrangement.

Patronisation of such a process, historically, has nowhere been cheap. It is gained and sustained at an enormous cost hardly realised by the conniving partners whose concern to maintain the fundamental balance of the State consistent with goals of the revolution becomes secondary to this obsessive pursuit of political power.

21st August 2004 is a regrettable and yet inevitable manifestation of this process. The result is the emergence of a formidable monster committed to destroy Bangladesh as a Nation.

And who have been the target of this barbarous process? The monster has been consistent in identifying its enemy with amazing clarity; it

is the progressive, secular elements — politicians, writers, poets, cultural groups etc. Awami League has been the most organised voice against the emergence of this communal and fundamentalist trend and Sheikh Hasina, as its leader the most conspicuous symbol of this resistance. She has been, even her worst critics would admit, the relentless, and fearless fighter of this twin enemy of communalism and fundamentalism with a tireless vigour and committed determination reminiscent of her late father’s character as a fighter. So, eliminate Sheikh Hasina and the top echelon of her principal political support, and the caravan of fanaticism, communalism and militant fundamentalism is assured of its free and unhindered passage to its destination.

Ideal is like a baby — to be held tight, endeared, nursed and protected against predatory raids. Held loose, it gets lost; and we are threatened with that loss.

Those to whom the wonderful ideals of our nationhood are endearing treasures, loved and respected, it is a historic call for them to combine and put up resistance. Safeguarding and protecting Bangladesh as a Nation is not a partisan issue and this must be clearly understood. There will be attempts to confuse, to divide and to divert. Eternal vigilance is what is called for.

Why can’t members of all political persuasions, believing in the basic ideals of the nationhood, take a solemn vow to politically marginalise the communal and the fundamentalist forces? Pursuit of power does not have to be unprincipled to be gained — it is achievable otherwise as a political goal.

There were enemies in 1952, there were armed and oppressive adversaries in 1969 — we wrote a golden chapter of our history with blood and defeated them. We will do it again. Oh, God, help us.

Nurul Islam Anu is a former CSP and columnist

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