“Suranjit resigns”, the title compelled me to go through the details of the phenomenon I was barely updated of. The media holocaust has offered me the experience once again what I call ‘the paroxysmal outburst of emotion’ i.e. adequate lack of ethical and social judgment. Media in Bangladesh is blessed with very few extraordinary personalities and is endowed with an exponential number of adequately unqualified media workers. Most of the latter group is indeed hard working with an exceptional weakness in crafting a report with sufficient details. Nevertheless, they are invariably and overwhelmingly inclined to “adding” some extra fragrance of their “own” views. News with views is perpetually perilous; Op-Ed section would otherwise remain undiscovered.
So the story commenced with the April 11 incident — “Ministry car, Tk 70 lakh, some puzzles”. This event inherently demands advanced investigation by an independent (at least theoretically, or should I say hypothetically) team comprising of people with relevant expertise. Even much before the process begun, people started screaming blaming the respective Minister. First of all, such a mischievous activity by someone’s subordinates does not ‘automatically’ justify the allegation against the head; it might be indicative, but certainly not conclusive. Well, then the question is where is the place for what ‘they’ said? These ‘they’ include Mr/s APS, GM and CC. A lot of journalists reported that ‘they’ admitted their tour to the Minister’s residence. This is where social explanation is mandated. The usual phenomenon in Bangladesh, and possibly in the sub-continent as well, is to make sure you are ‘close’ to an influential person to take some advantage, especially when you are in trouble. The ‘trio’ understood pretty well that they were already in trouble, and the best way to get saluted instead is to direct their ‘involvement’ with the Hon’ble Minister’s order/assignment!
The next argument arises out of this is, is it under the assumption that the Minister is not involved with this? The unambiguous answer is, ‘No.’ This is well understood given the local context is well deciphered. This is true under both the assumptions that the Minister may or may not be involved with the ‘endeavour’! In either case, you would expect to get ‘extra’ care by the police or other members of law and order enforcement agencies instead of accusing or even suspecting you at all. In the given scenario, the BGB personnel should be appreciated for their exemplary action. However, this would add crucial value to the investigation to know in detail what happened after the trio was detained and what exactly led the BGB authority to free them thereafter. Knowing whether, and if yes to what extent, the Minister was involved with the event would be pivotal in exploring the scenario. Unfortunately, the Minister was accused before showing any solid ground of being so. This is not unfortunate because the Minister was accused of, but because it was premature!
Now, the Minister should have taken much bolder initiative in inviting ‘independent’ team to investigate the matter instead of what he has done. His statement was not even bold enough. His initiative in formulating ‘internal’ investigation team susceptible to unbiased investigation was too customary. All these do not still conclude his connection with the mischief. Yet, something exceptional was expected from him.
The initiative from the Hon’ble Prime Minister in talking to Mr Suranjit was praiseworthy indicating she has at least acknowledged and addressed the issue seriously. Not quite sufficiently addressing many other sophisticated issues including those ‘performed’ by some
other ministries (e.g. Communications, Commerce), Bangladesh Cricket Board, and Dhaka Stock Exchange among others does not indicate that she would not address (or address superficially) all the activities of her fellow colleagues. In cases where the issue is not addressed properly, people conventionally tend to suspect either the involvement (direct or indirect) of the leader with the incident, or conclude (sometimes even erroneously) that the alleged person must have done this (otherwise what is the reason why proper action was not taken). We want to see that our concerns are addressed in return to our explicit support to the authority. Mr Suranjit was not found to be unequivocally bold in his case as well which allowed people to believe that he himself was a part of it. As predictable, many other issues including the well known corruption in the ministry including those from ‘trio’ and from his son have well been detailed in the media. All these must be addressed carefully and fairly. Whether Mr Suranjit was involved or not is subject to investigation. No comment about that at this point. But, quite unconventional though, at last one of our Ministers resigned creating an example.
Congratulations Mr Suranjit on that!
Nazrul Islam is an academician and a researcher.