Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Tuesday, April 7, 2015, Chaitra 24, 1421 BS, Jamadius Sani 16, 1436 Hijr

What has Khaleda gained by her violent movement?
Anis Ahmed
Published : Tuesday, 7 April, 2015,  Time : 11:47 AM,  View Count : 175
Begum Khaleda Zia, the "uncompromising" leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has finally come off her ego and appears to give up on her mission to force the government out through violence.
On Sunday she went back to her residence in Gulshan leaving her temporary home and 'command post' in a party office nearby, where she holed herself up for three months overseeing a countrywide mayhem she had stoked up in the name of democratic movement.
It claimed the lives of over 130 innocent people as BNP and its militant allies were trying to enforce the violent but widely discarded "non-stop" blockade and hartal as part of an anti-government movement Khaleda  thought would usher her to power bypassing all constitutional and traditional norms.
But Khaleda Zia has failed in her heinous mission though her supporters succeeded in burning and killing people with firebombs lobbed at passenger buses and goods trucks. The victims, including hundreds injured, had in no way been linked to politics or any party but they were made to pay dearly for no fault of their own. They became the "collateral damage" (once claimed by a BNP-minded 'intellectual' in a TV talk show) in her lust for power.
This earned Khaleda a bigger infamy and a new title as "vulture" which watch deep down from the sky for corpses to satiate their hunger and they zoom down on the earth whenever they sight a dead human or animal on the ground. Khaleda Zia is no different as she was the one who "chaired" the mission of deaths since January till the end of March.
Later Khaleda probably realized that she could earn nothing but people's hatred and things will be same even if she spent her entire life in the Gulshan office. On Sunday afternoon she returned to her residence.
But she did it only after surrendering to a Dhaka court - ending her long defiance to do so - which is trying Khaleda and her London-exiled elder son Tarique Rahman, for corruption cases involving Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust which were named after her late husband former military dictator General Ziaur Rahman, founder of BNP.
Khaleda and her insolent son squandered the funds of both Trusts. The trial court granted bail to the BNP chief when she surrendered on Sunday. This may be recalled that that the two graft cases were filed by not Sheikh Hasina's government by by the army-backed caretaker government in 2008.
Since Khaleda Zia launched the blockade, accompanied by frequent hartals, in early January, her mission had been mired in vengeful perpetration of killing and attacking innocent people across the country. She wanted to make windfall political gains out of people's blood and flesh. But most of the Bangladeshi people rejected her evil designs and ignored her party's programmes. However, political unrest at the behest of Khaleda Zia has cost the country's economy badly and hit the poor below their belt.
Yet, Khaleda Zia is not satisfied. She surrendered with an ulterior motive in mind - to find an excuse to come out of her shell and assist her party contenders in the April 28 City Corporation elections in Dhaka and Chittagong. But the elections will likely reflect her party's anti-people activities.
The Election Commission has pledged to make the city polls free and fair - and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also assured her political rivals that government would make no interference or influence on the vote as it was done in the five Mayor elections in 2013 where the ruling party lost in all the polls.
. The EC is an independent constitutional body with sweeping powers to hold elections and it should use its full authority while discharging duties. This polls on April 28 is going to be another test  for the EC and the government to demonstrate that elections can be fair even without a caretaker government.
With Khaleda Zia back home, BNP senior leaders, policymakers and advisers are putting their heads together to list BNP's "achievements" during the lengthy blockade and hartal. They privately agree that they had no achievement at all except claiming lives and denting the economy in their attempt to destabilize the country. The violence unleashed by BNP-Jamaat movement also tarnished the country's image abroad.
However, many would not say it publicly for fear of revenge by Khaleda Zia and her crooked and militant disciples. During the blockade and hartal, Bangladesh has seen a rise in extremism and terrorism that severely penetrated into the country. Taking advantage of the political turmoil, radical Islamists and jihadists from abroad also spread their net in Bangladesh, initially targeting and killing bloggers for their freedom of ideas and free thinking.  BNP and its staunch ally Jamaat-e-Islami, a party studded with 1971 war criminals, must take responsibility for all those unwanted horrendous deaths. The people must put them on dock for their crimes against the nation and the country
On January 24 Khaleda's younger son Arafat Rahman Koko died in exile in Malaysia. He was convicted by a court in corruption case. His body was brought to Dhaka and Khaleda saw him off from her 'self-confinement' in Gulshan party office and she did not come out of her office to visit the grave of her son Koko.
Later Khaleda also skipped visiting the Shaheed Minar in the capital on February 21 and the National Memorial for Independence War heroes  at Savar on March 26, something that have earned her widespread condemnation from all walks of people including the rank and file of her own party. She even didn't show the courtesy to receive Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina when she went to the Gulshan office to convey her condolence as a mother at the sudden death of Koko.
The BNP Chairperson yesterday visited her son Koko's grave after 72 days of his burial. Will she also visit the graves of the people killed by her party activists and allied militants during the three months of violence, arson and petrol bomb incidents?
 BNP-Jamaat have stripped many families of their only earning member, left scores maimed and still they have no remorse or repentance. Will  Khaleda Zia apologise to the nation and pay compensation to the affected families.
Unless she does it she will have no right to claim herself as a people's leader. She has already blackened her face by persistently trying to save war criminals from gallows and latey by presiding over deaths and destructions in the name of politics.
Her dream to force the government out by violence will never be realized as people have rejected her movement that killed people, destroyed economy and caused immense sufferings to citizens.  The government also holds enough power under its sleeves to counter vandalism and terrorism.
In any democratic country, power changes through people's mandate and therefore Khaleda Zia should go back to the people seeking their mandate in the future election.
Meanwhile, she must stop calling anymore programmes like blockade and hartal to give the country a respite from violence and leave the economy to grow normally and recover the colossal damage caused by her violent movement.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected].