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Photo: bdnews24.com
Photo: bdnews24.com

So BNP is going to continue hartals till Ilias Ali is produced. What kind of cynicism is this that forces people to suffer on party to party issues that has nothing to do with them? We didn’t abduct Ilias Ali, so why should we pay the price? BNP should do it to the AL and its supporters and not to everyone who are guilty only of living in Bangladesh. How can a BNP rule is better if all they care about is their party leader and not the rest of the millions who suffer not just hartals but politics in general?

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If a group of people have made selfishness an art form for personal gain, it’s the politicians. Our sadness began when we trusted them with building our future when that was not their objective at all.

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It’s amazing how these political parties can ignore the plight of the poor not to speak of the rest. I remember back in the mid 90s when the AL was trying to oust BNP from power, they also called for a long stretch of hartal. It was abominably painful for the urban poor particularly the rickshaw-pullers who after a week of this could no longer keep going and tried to make it to the street. The AL activists jumped on the rickshaws on the road and totally destroyed them as the pullers begged for mercy.

Although as a journalist I am supposed to be neutral, I lost my cool and protested. “This is for democracy” they shouted.

“You can have your democracy but what about his democracy, his right to feed his family?”

“Who are you?  You are a BNP agent.  A razakar.”

I walked away as the activists shouted slogans against me.

I learnt a big lesson. Political parties and their supporters have democracy but ordinary people don’t.

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What does the BNP mean when they say that the hartals will go on till Ilias Ali is returned by the Government? Suppose Ilias Ali is dead and can’t ever be returned by whoever took him? Will hartals go on forever? The BNP is accusing the government for his abduction but suppose someone else is involved? How does the BNP know for sure? And if it does, why doesn’t it present evidence of this knowledge? Or does the BNP think that the people have a right to know only when the party approves that choice? Can they now back down from endless hartal programmes if Ilias doesn’t return?

More to the point, is Ilias Ali greater than the existing suffering of millions? Does the BNP think that no one in this country has anything to do other than ponder on the missing politician? Don’t they have to go out and make a living?

The BNP had some popularity towards the beginning of last week as people were exhausted with the AL government’s ineptitude and inability to control the law and order situation. The abduction of Ilias Ali certainly scared many but the BNP response, completely devoid of any political intelligence is also scary. With the several hartals under the belt, the BNP is not looking better at all and the tolerance for its tactics is rapidly shrinking.  Nobody wants hartal but the BNP and the AL doesn’t seem to know that.

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Who could have abducted Ilias Ali and why? Taking the names being mentioned let’s quickly swim through the list.

It’s the Government/ AL

There is no gain in this abduction for the government because it has obviously been the trigger to cause so many problems for everyone in power. To abduct means to murder because Ilias can’t be returned now but who is Ilias Ali anyway that he deserves such a lot of attention? And would the government want to gift a ‘body’ to the Opposition which is what has happened and strengthen the movement?

It’s the BNP

The AL supporters say that it’s the BNP which has hidden him to create an issue. They say that the party had been saying that the movement would escalate in May/June and this is the proof of that. Apart from the absurdity of the suggestion, his return would automatically raise too many questions. He has to return to get his reward if the BNP has done it so how is that going to be without more political pitfalls? Is the BNP that cynical?

It’s the “Khaki boys’

Unless there is a definite plan to take over, this abduction doesn’t make sense though such a scenario is possible. Media has reported of reports of ‘close cropped people’ involved and speculation is growing but isn’t there smarter ways to capture power? Or is it part of a longer plan to cause such political exhaustion that people won’t care who takes over?

It’s India

This is a favourite with a section of the BNP-Jamaat activists. Ilias Ali, it’s claimed, was taken because of his Tipaimukh agitation activism. But why should India bother to take him when nothing Bangladesh does will really bother India? Why should India bother with Ilias when it can swoop on literally anyone?

It’s the Aliens

This has gained credibility after Rumi Ahmed made the suggestion last week in this Opinion page. It has gained the highest number of shares in this section proving that many believe this is certainly a possibility.

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No matter what or who, there is no reason to make people suffer. Public frustration is high and can go higher. If the situation goes on, it will be difficult to say how much instability may follow.

As a not so wise man said, “Things can never be so bad that it can’t get worse.” Unfortunately for us, this aphorism comes true again and again.

Afsan Chowdhury is the Executive Editor of bdnews24.com.