People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 22, 2007
Shiekh Hasina’s Arrest Exposes Hidden Agenda Of The Caretaker Govt
WITH the arrest of former prime minister and president of Awami League Party, Shiekh Hasina Wajed, the hidden agenda of the Army-backed so-called caretaker government of Bangladesh has been exposed. This US and western countries backed government is scheming for debarring Sheikh Hasina and other eminent political leaders from contesting the next elections.
On July 15, the caretaker government appointed Election Commissioners announced their ‘Roadmap’ for conducting national parliament elections in the month of December 2008. The following morning Shiekh Hasina has been arrested from her Sudhasadan home at Dhanmandi and lodged in a sub-jail inside the parliament complex.
The arrest and detention of Shiekh Hasina sparked off angry protests all over Bangladesh, including the capital city Dhaka. Hundreds of lawyers and Awami League workers, including a large number of women, put up a blockade in front of the prison van carrying Hasina towards the jail from the metropolitan magistrate court. Police had to fire rubber-bullets and resort to baton charge to disperse the angry crowd. Hundreds of people, mostly youth, held spontaneous protests in several districts and sub-divisional towns demanding her immediate release. In Gopalganj, Shiekh Hasina’s parliamentary constituency, people observed a spontaneous strike. After the imposition of Emergency and ban on political activities by the caretaker government, this is for the first time that such a widespread protest took place defying the ban.
ALL ROUND EFFORTS
The western powers and their loyal top-brass in Army are trying to install a government of their choice so that the prescriptions of IMF and World Bank could be implemented smoothly in the country. To achieve this goal they appointed a former top official of the World Bank, Fakruddin Ahmed, as the chief of the caretaker government and have been systematically trying to remove the two former prime ministers, Shiekh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, from the political scene. Only last week Shiekh Hasina had alleged that the caretaker government has engaged the intelligence wing of the Army, and officers of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) to break her Party by intimidating her Party colleagues and falsely implicating them in corruption cases. The caretaker government has also established many special courts like ‘summary military courts’ for speedy trial of those political leaders who are now behind the bars so that they could be prevented from contesting the elections next year. More than 200 political leaders had already been arrested by the caretaker government and already eight of those arrested have been awarded sentences ranging from 8 years to 15 years imprisonment so that they cannot contest elections. Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Hasan Mashud Chowdhury, himself a former Army chief, met the chief justice of Bangladesh Supreme Court last week and discussed with him the ways and means to prevent the political leaders from getting bail from the High Court. Eminent lawyers are being threatened against taking the brief of the political leaders now behind the bar.
The Caretaker government partially succeeded in creating groups inside the two main political parties i.e. Awami League and BNP. These loyal group leaders opposed to their respective Party chiefs, released to the press their so called ‘Reforms Proposals’. As both Shiekh Hasina and Khaleda Zia strongly opposed such a move, Hasina has been arrested. Arrest of Khaleda Zia also is in the offing. The jail authorities already prepared a sub-jail for her inside the parliament complex. Permission from the Speaker, Zamiruddin Sarkar, has already been taken for use of three quarters of parliament as sub-jail.
Acting president of Awami League Zillur Rahaman, Bangladesh Workers Party president, Rashed Khan Menon, and many leaders protested against the arrest of Shiekh Hasina. Menon said it would further complicate the situation. Another prominent Awami League leader, Matia Chowdhury, said, in the absence of democratic political parties, Islamic fundamentalists and other extremists will raise their heads. Surprisingly, the Caretaker government is completely silent about Islamic fundamentalist parties and none of their leaders have been arrested.
In the meantime, the Caretaker government implemented many anti-workers and anti-people proposals of IMF and World Bank. More than six thousand workers of four state-owned Jute mills at Khulna have been retrenched last week. The workers were not paid their wages for last five months. State owned airlines, ‘Bangladesh Biman’, has been denationalised and more than 2000 employees have been given VRS. In the garment sector, workers are very restive as in many factories workers were denied regular wages. In the last three months, several protests and demonstrations were held and in one case, a woman worker has been killed in police firing while several others have been injured. The peasants are facing severe crisis due to shortage of fertilisers. A fortnight ago more than 5000 peasants of kisan movement fame Nachol attacked the sub-district office demanding supply of fertilisers. Police filed cases against the farmers.
Inflation has already risen to 8.98 percent and all essential commodities are beyond the reach of the common people. The Caretaker government decided to further hike the price of diesel, petrol, Kerosene, gas and the rate of electricity charge. Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharjee, an eminent economist and executive director of Economic Research Organisation Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) alleged that the Caretaker government has taken the country into the IMF fold.