Sunday, July 10, 2011

Police Violence Unfolds Ugly Side Of AL's Rule

The extreme viciousness with which two police officers and the men under their command repeatedly beat up Zainul Abedin Faruk, Chief Whip of the Opposition in the Jatiya Sangsad ( parliament) on Wednesday has revealed afresh the ugly and terrifying side of Awami League's rule. On the same day Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament, Home Minister Sahara Khatun, Minister of State for Home Shamsul Huq Tuku elsewhere and by Awam League Joint Secretary Mahbub Alam Hanif at an office of his party made statements endorsing the police atrocity. While Sheikh Hasina and some MPs of the ruling alliance virulently spewed vituperative against the main opposition party BNP, its chief former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia and the severely tortured Zainul Abedin Faruk, on their part the Home Minister, her deputy and the influential Mr. Hanif attempted not only to lay the blame for the wounding of the Opposition Chief Whip on himself but they suggested that his injuries are only a few and quite light. On the other hand, they accused Faruk of provoking the police officers and of being violent. The Home Minister and the Minister of State for Home both sympathised with the police.    On the other hand, Zainul Abedin Faruk has received severe injuries in the head and back. To stop the bleeding from his head doctors at the United Hospital had to apply eleven stitches. BNP's acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has said that eight more stitches were needed to close the wounds on his back. Eye witnesses saw as did viewers of TV news on private channels that Faruk was bleeding a great deal even while he ran for his life towards the MP's dormitory. The policemen dragged him out from a lift there and mercilessly beat him.    Earlier they had kicked him with their riot boots on and also trampled his body. A physician at the United Hospital told journalists that there were marks of beating all over Zainul's body. A report in the Amar Desh daily newspaper said that Zainul's tongue came out of his mouth after he was thrown on the street from a police vehicle. Zainul himself said that when he was losing his sense at this stage he thought he was going to die. In spite of these atrocities government leaders are justifying the actions of two police officers who led the attacks on Zainul.    Meanwhile, it has come to light that both these officers were leaders of Awami League's student wing before they joined the police force and that the present government has kept them in their jobs despite there being records of serious breach of discipline in their service career. One of them was in the police hospital yesterday for on injury sustained on Wednesday. The Home Minister went to see him and other policemen injured in scuffles during the first day of the two-day countrywide general strike (hartal) called by BNP. Jamaat-e- Islami has also simultaneously called a strike. Several groups have supported it. BNP has claimed that on the Wednesday about 300 of its supporters were injured by mainly police action and 400 others arrested at different places in the country. A number of vehicles have been burnt in Dhaka and elsewhere allegedly by hartal supporters.    The merciless beating up of Zainul Abedin Faruk took place when he was picketing, along with other opposition MPs, on the roads adjacent to the parliament building. Such activities were temporarily banned in the area because the parliament was in session. A newspaper photograph shows that at one stage Faruk was threatening to throw a stone towards a passing vehicle. (The vehicle is not seen in the photo which perhaps is because it sped away). It seems the police took this action of Faruk as the pretext to torture him. This police atrocity seems to be deliberate because they could have easily arrested him and removed him from the scene. There were many times more policemen than the few MPs picketing there.    Begum Khaleda Zia and other BNP leaders have charged that police attacked Faruk with an intention of killing him. However, they did not instantly declare any hard line protest action beyond continuing the strike into the second day. Perhaps they will in the next phase of their agitation.    What seems to be clear from the angry and negative reaction of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her party men to the BNP-led strike and Faruk's falling victim to police atrocity the ruling party is in no mood to restore the non-party care-taker government system during general elections. This has strengthened the suspicion of most of the other political parties that Awami League wants to remain in charge of government during elections so that it can manipulate the election results in its favour. The opposition seems certain that Awami Leaguers are hell-bent on retaining power so that (a) they do not have to face punishment for their corruption and other crimes and (b) so that they can loot more in future.    Meanwhile, Awami League has lost much ground in the Union Parishad elections just held in the country. They have secured a little more than half the positions of the local council chairman with BNP closely behind them. This means BNP has improved its support significantly since the parliament elections two and a half years ago. Out of 3790 posts of UP chairman Awami League and allies have won 1844 while BNP and allies 1627. These elections were marred by violence and by rigging by ruling party's candidates.    Violence during the union parishad elections was widespread in which 65 persons, including children, were killed. More than 8000 persons have been wounded in clashes and attacks. Police fired more than 1000 rounds of bullet during these disturbances. The Election Commission remained a mere spectator during these election violence. This high level of violence has shown that there cannot be peaceful and fair elections yet in Bangladesh under a party rule.