Polarised Conflicts In Bangladesh And The Idea Of Bengali Culture


By M Ahmedullah (PhD in Epistemology and Politics)


The causes of polarised politics:

Many people are baffled by the intense levels of hatred that exists between different factions in Bangladesh and fail to understand the possible underlying reasons behind the current conflict. Complex factors are no doubt at play, including attachments to certain historical events of importance and their interpretations. There is also the inability of players and decision makers in the country to help break out of the confines of the seemingly sequential and deterministic process of cause and effect, and the effect becomes the cause for the next effect, strangling and suffocating Bangladesh. Rival groups have been engaged in tit-for-tat actions, reactions and counter reactions against each other for a very long time, driven by a revenge instinct and zero sum politics. A lack of respect for fairness and justice, a winner takes for all attitude and an inability to have empathy for rivals’ perspectives have lead to a continuous cycle of hate, violence, justification, outrage, more hate, more violence, more justification, more outrage and so on.

It seems that the current political conflicts in Bangladesh can be directly traced back sequentially to a very distant past, where some groups forcefully pushed forward changes without rational justification and used unethical means, muscle power or state resources, which some other groups opposed or could not oppose effectively at the time due to their relative weaknesses. The opposing groups then tried to undo, reverse or change the course taken by the previous group when their power increased by the use of similar or more unethical means.  Although chronologically this has not been a uniform process, in terms of the nature, size, issues and the ideological orientations of people involved in each stage of the conflict, along the long timeline, this kind of disputes has been a part of our political and social life for generations. The current political conflicts, accompanied by violence and polarisation within society, seems to me to sequentially go back to at least since the violent politics unleashed during the aftermath of the first Bengal partition in 1905. Some of the same issues and emotions of this partition are still alive and at play in the current conflict, although the players and their configurations are different. Individuals and groups involved in this tit-for-tat politics seems to be driven by some kind of logic, impulse or invisible power, beyond their control.




The process of cause and effect instigated by political rivalry could have been positive and constructive if it was minus the use of unethical means, disregard for fairness and justice and the use of violent force. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in Bangladesh, and as a result, we have continually experienced, without an end or break, the domination of a dangerous and destructive political culture. One very important factor in generating and perpetuating the conflict, in my view, is the idea of ‘Bengali Culture’ – a powerful driving force behind motivations and destructive actions of many people in Bangladesh. The emotions, world views, anti-Muslim sentiments, desire for self sufficiency, pride in motherland, considering Islam and Muslim culture of Bengal to be outside the acceptable cultural and spiritual realms and heritage of mother Bengal, etc. of the movement against the 1905 Bengal partition directly links the Bangladesh Awami League’ s adoption of the idea of  Bengali Culture as one of the major underpinnings of their ideology of Bengali Nationalism.

The idea of Bengali Culture in Bangladesh, with associated emotions, intensity of feelings and hatred of the 1905-1911 and the Pakistan periods, which consider Islam and Muslim culture as foreign and originating from Muslim invasion of India, is a major factor in the country’s current divisive politics. This is really unfortunate and caused by a serious failure to understand how human dynamics, social evolution, world trade, power politics, artistic and dietary exchanges between peoples impact on the development and evolution of culture. The Bengali Nationalists have a serious misunderstanding of what constitutes human culture.


In Bangladesh when people talk about ‘Bengali Culture’ they are, in fact, not talking about ‘what is’ the actuality on the ground, rather, they are talking about ‘what ought to be’, which is actually an ideological aspiration, falsely dressed up as reality. This is because the cultural landscape of Bangladesh has so many components and diverse origins mixing and remixing for ever since time immemorial, a fact it shares with most other human societies. The dangerous consequences of this error, treating ‘ought’ of an ideology as the ‘is’ of our complex reality is that we have an unnecessary conflict in Bangladesh.  Many people are driven by this idea to engage in ethnic cleansing style cleansing activities against Islam and Muslim culture and their representatives in the country, wrongly feeling that this is completely justified.


Definition of culture

In 2009, I attempted to define culture for myself before embarking on an exhibition project called Powers of Festivals.  I visited a number of far distant places around the world  to see how minorities and native peoples use arts, culture and public celebratory events as a way of developing their confidence and survive in a world that is often hostile towards them, particularly bigger countries or communities who are either their neighbours or who dominate the country they share together.

The understanding that I arrived at is provided below.


Culture is about lifestyles and creativity of individuals and groups. It encompasses everyday living, special occasions and the beautiful and useful creations of poets, artists, musicians, writers, scientists, architects, businesses people, voluntary groups, etc. The social or isolated activities that people undertake are all forms of cultural expressions.

Interactions of people and their lifestyles do not happen in a vacuum. Individuals and groups do this or that because there are meanings associated with decisions and actions. Theories, myths, social values, religious rules, aesthetic feelings and tastes, etc. underpin all human activities. Over time actions and meanings mutually influence each other’s development and evolution.

Sometimes the process of change takes place predominantly through the interplay of a community’s own internal factors, if the group in question is relatively isolated. More dynamic and dramatic changes within a group are usually associated with greater levels of interactions with the outside world.

Whether internally caused or the result of external factors or a combination of both the changes in human activities and their underpinned meanings are primarily rooted within the original or earlier foundations of a community’s cultural base.

A better understanding of the dynamics and evolution of human cultures will enable people from diverse backgrounds to co-exist and benefit from increased interactions. (M Ahmedullah, 2009)


When I was in Bolivia in February 2013, visiting, taking video and still images of Oruro Festival and learning about I never heard anyone taking about Spanish culture or any other culture. They talked about their cultural diversity, made up of elements from Spanish, black African and various native ethnic groups and how they, over time, mixed and combined in different ways to create a Bolivian cultural repertoire. In Bangladesh its completely different where the proponents of Bengali Nationalists say that our culture is ‘Bengali culture’.


Superficial thinking

The strangulation faced by Bangladesh and the country’s inability to escape from years of vicious cycle politics, in my view, is partly caused by the idea of Bengali culture. People and leaders in Bangladesh lack the ability to understand how different factors are working in complex and mysterious ways to cause the country’s problems and then work through creative imagination to find solutions. This is because most Bangladeshis operate at a very superficial level and from a very poor knowledge base, including that of historical understanding.


As a result, not only is the country unable to find long term sustainable solutions of continuous improvements, various players are constantly blindly adding further complexities and barriers towards a better future. It also seems to me that very few Bangladeshis are interested in looking for the root causes of the country’s problems. Although it is never possible to fully get to the root causes of any complex problems and conflicts, attempts to understand root causes can help deepen one’s appreciation of the problem, and thereby, improve the chances of finding better quality solutions.


What is your identity: Bengali first or Muslims first?

I will briefly look at identity issues faced by Bangladesh and show, with examples and arguments, why the idea of Bengali culture is a major problem in Bangladesh. It is often asserted that many Muslims in Bengal, particularly between late 19th – mid 20th century, could not make up their minds regarding their cultural identity – whether they were Bengalis or Muslims. Further, it is also claimed that some Bengali Muslims even refused to identify themselves as Bengalis, or at least, tried to define themselves in terms of Moghul / Middle Eastern cultural forms. The Bengali language movement narratives have been combined with the above assertions and utilised to make many unfounded claims, which are found especially in public meetings, community interactions, magazine articles, etc. For example, Bengali Muslims who are very proud of their Muslim identity are often described as traitors who want to sell the motherland, Bengali culture and language to foreigners, such as to Pakistanis or Arabs, and instead adopt their cultures and customs.  Even though this is not true for the vast majority of the cases, this rather deeply entrenched view, within the minds of a sizable many, generates unnecessary misunderstanding and conflicts.


I have been asked many times by a wide range of people whether I was a Muslim first or a Bengali first. Naturally, I found the question strange, because I never thought of these two elements being separate and mutually contradictory as far as my life was concerned. At the beginning I used to answer without thinking properly, but still tried to be logical. The usual answer I gave was: I am a Bengali by birth and a Muslim by choice, currently living in London, and that my culture was a mixture of these three elements of my experience. I have heard other people responding to this question in different ways. Some people say that they are Bengalis first, and others say that they are Muslims first. There are some others who say that they are British Muslims, or British Bengalis, or British Bengali Muslims. There are still others who say that they are Muslims in Britain, or Bengalis in Britain, or Bengali Muslims in Britain.


Later, during my personal evolution and life’s journey, when I started to think more deeply about the question I came to the conclusion that this was not a simple question to answer. I also wanted to understand why people are interested in this question in the first place. I began to realise that essentially there can only be two possible meanings to the question. Depending on the perspectives and ideological orientations of individuals people adopt the meaning most appropriate for their circumstances. On the one hand, the question may be concerned about whether it was regarding ‘first’ in a chronological sense, in terms of the time dimension, either the history of one’s community or the development of one’s own consciousness. On the other hand, the question may be interested in finding out the ‘first’ in the order of importance – that is, which one is more important to a Bengali Muslim, being a Muslims or a Bengali. I thought about these two possible meanings and found that they are often related and can also be complementary, rather than necessarily separate and mutually contradictory.

In many cases when one decides on one’s own ‘firstness’ from the two possible options one relies on the other for support. For example, when some people assert that they are Bengalis ‘first’, in the order of importance, they try to show that they are also Bengalis ‘first’, chronologically. For example, according to Abdul Huq, a Bengali writer and activist during the Pakistan period, religion seems to be ‘second’ both in the order of importance and in chronological terms.


After the birth, a child is known only as a tiny man. Then he is known as a Bengali, a Punjabi, an Arab or an English and that according to his mother tongue and or his home land. At last he is known as a Muslim or a Christian according to his religious beliefs.

(Islam in Bangladesh, page143)


I wonder how Abdul Huq came to such a bizarre conclusion. Did he undertake any long periods of study involving a large number of people or did he just feel that this was the case? Second, as far as my own consciousness was concerned, I tried to identify when I thought I was a Bengali and when I thought I was a Muslim. I found it infinitely difficult to answer this except to say that my earliest recollections were a dream consisting of an aeroplane flying over our mud house in Bangladesh and a discussion I had with some boys about the day of judgement (what it was, what it meant and when it would come). Other people with different upbringings will have different recollections.


It is really a ridiculous claim to make that you are known as a tiny man first, then a Bengali and so on. The term ‘known’ implies a prior categorising and defining process involving history and society.  Therefore, even if Abdul Huq was right in some cases he was wrong to generalise with regard to how the natural development of the life of a child takes place over time as he or she grows up and becomes an adult. This means that there are pre-existing structures and contexts that a child is born into, linked to and partly defined by politics, society, culture and history. In addition, a tiny man, a Bengali, a Muslim seem to be mutually contradictory qualities, according to Abdul Huq. It seems that one quality cannot exist with the other quality in the same person at the same time. Therefore, a tiny man cannot be a Bengali and vice versa. However, when he says that at last he is known as a Muslim or a Christian, does it mean that when the child grows to become an adult and becomes known as a Muslim all the other earlier identities, such as Bengali or Pakistani, are no longer part of the identity or superseded by or contained as a sub identity under the Muslim identity, or just vanishes in thin air.

Based on the above view expressed Abdul Huq tried to demonstrate how chronologically a Bengali Muslim was a ‘Bengali first’ in order to show why in the order of importance a Bengali Muslims was also a ‘Bengali first’.  According to Ghulam Murshid, a Bengali academician, Abdul Huq

 can be identified as a Bengali first, then a Pakistani, and at last as a Muslim. It seems that he had no confusion whatever regarding his identity (Islam in Bangladesh, page 143).

Although Mr Huq may have thought that he was not confused, but from the above, I have no doubt that his thinking was quite muddle up. Also just because this is how he thought and felt about himself it does not mean that this was also true of other Bengali Muslims. There has been similar and too many generalisations from various sides during the history of our land.


Relative backwardness and identity issues faced by Bengali Muslims in late 19th and early 20th century Bengal

Regarding the question why some people who lived in Bengal during the late 19th and early 20th century, who can be classified as ethnically Bengalis, refused to identify themselves as Bengalis, according to Ghulam Murshid, Abdul Huq thought the communal attitudes of some Bengali Muslims were the determining factor in this regard. Many people who share a similar standpoint as Abdul Huq also blame Muslim communalism for encouraging Muslims to distance themselves from the Bengali linguistic and cultural identity. Although this is no doubt partly true, what they fail to consider is the period earlier and the cause that created this effect. This is an example of the superficial thinking of too many Bangladeshis. They do not seem to know and understand who first defined and categorised Bengali Muslims as Muslims and contrasted them with Hindu Bengalis, who were categorised as Bengalis. Bengali Muslims at that time were not able to respond effectively by assessing and redefining their identity generated by outsiders, due to their relative backwardness.


Although at the moment, the language controversy and the question whether we are Bengalis first, or Muslims first have been solved to an extent, because a large section of the people in Bangladesh or Bangladeshis abroad, if asked, will say that their Islamic and Bengali identities are one and the same and that their language is Bengali, it is still the case that a section of the people in Bangladesh derive enormous propaganda values from the controversies which took place many years ago. The Pakistan period was a golden opportunity for them to take full advantage of the relative weaknesses of arguments brought to the fore in favour of the identity of ‘Muslims first’. This is because ideas and world views developed during 19th century Bengal excluded Bengali Muslims, because of their relative poverty and the British divide and rule policies. This inability was perhaps inevitable given the context of the period.  I will not explore this issue further in this paper but will write in greater details about this the future.


The Bengali Muslims found themselves in a position of relative intellectual weakness and poor material base. Their social and economic position meant that they were not in a position to respond in appropriate, creative and sophisticated ways to the exclusion they suffered from and the outsiders’ attempt to categorise and define them during the late 19th and early 20th century. They responded in various ways, mostly in my views, many of which were inadequate and some were quite  silly and inconsistent. This gave fuel to those who wanted to further ridicule Bengali Muslims and their culture and way of life.


The Idea of Bengali Culture

The controversy with regard to Urdu as a state language policy of Pakistan triggered a backlash in East Bengal, the name of the eastern wing of Pakistan at that time. The revolt and opposition to the policy created the language movement, which most Bengali Muslims supported. The overwhelming support base of the language movement was later hijacked by a group in Bangladesh espousing Bengali nationalism. The process of language movement in Bangladesh during the 1950s and 1960s resulted in the creation of the idea of Bengali Culture in the Bangladesh context.  According to this idea, some aspects of our life and culture are seen as legitimately ours, while anything originating with Islam framed as something alien coming from the outside as a result of the Muslim invasion of India. Thus excluding 800 years of the deep Islamic cultural roots that not only Bengali Muslims but also others in Bengal developed as a result of centuries of multi dimensional links and relationships with the worldwide Muslim communities.


The exclusion of Islam from Bengali identity and Bengali culture is one of the main causes of our current problems. On the one hand, Bengali nationalists see Muslim culture in Bangladesh as alien, the result of Muslim invasion of India, even though it has been our adopted way of life for more than 800 years. On the other hand, how can Bengali Muslims see Bengali culture as theirs when the idea of Bengali culture represent an attempt to annihilate who they are as cultural and moral human beings with aims, values, customs, life’s goals and dreams linked to Islam. Considering Bengali Muslim culture as alien, originating from the Muslim invasion of India and therefore illegitimate, is an assumption of Bengali nationalism and underpins many of the other their beliefs or practical undertakings. This assumption drives many Bengali Nationalists, who have not thought through the implications of their views, to consider Bengali Muslims as people who do not want to be Bengalis but prefer to be like the Pakistanis or Arabs. The Bengali nationalists very often and quite offensively suggest that they leave Bangladesh for good and go to Pakistan or the Middle East.


Another end result is that a political party like the Bangladesh Awami League often ends up becoming unintentionally fascist.  Among the Awami Leagures some are either unaware of the fascistic implications of one of the main underpinnings of their ideology, which is Bengali nationalism, or in self denial. According to Bengali nationalism the culture of West Bengal and Bangladesh is Bengali culture, practiced by the Bengali ethnic group, derived from local history and traditions going back to thousands of years – rich traditions of arts, music, dance, folk stories, etc., including the contributions of poets like Tagore in the development of Bengali culture.  This kind of definition and representations of Bengali culture generate a deep feeling in many Bengalis of a love for their motherland and a desire to carryon, enjoy and build on that cultural tradition. This is something quite positive. However, this definition also has dark and negative implications. The problem with this idea of Bengali culture is that it does not include the experiences and traditions of 800 years of Islam in Bengal, which is treated as alien, directly and openly by more fanatical individuals, and in indirectly, by the more tolerant and liberal supporters of Bengali nationalism.


All shades of Bengali nationalism, with the exception of a tiny minority as there must always be exceptions, see Islam and Muslim influence in Bangladesh as alien, originating from Muslim invasion of India and Bengal. This creates a variety of nationalistic feelings and responses against Muslim culture and practices in Bengal. Initially this attitude was developed, adopted and articulate by some Bengali Hindus, particularly based in Kolkata, but subsequently and especially after the creation of Pakistan many Bengalis from a Muslim background also adopted this nationalism for themselves. The end result is the creation of a culture clash where a large number of people feel a significant element of their life does not belong to them as Islam is not a part of Bengali culture.  Very strong nationalist feelings are often generated against Bengali Muslim way of life and culture. Off course the idea of Bengali culture is nonsense but it is this nonsense, which is the root causes of Bengali nationalist fascism in Bangladesh.


According to my definition of culture above Islam and Muslim norms, manners, values, traditions, belief systems are a very much part of the Bengali culture. If this was not the case then the logical deduction would be as follows: the majority of the people in Bangladesh do not practice Bengali culture. Therefore, in order to better understand the nature of the cultures of Bangladesh it is necessary to undertake new researches, generate fresh explanations and develop new terminologies to map and explain the cultural realm of Bangladesh..



In this short paper my purpose was to introduce a number of issues concerning what I call the sequentially deterministic cause and effect politics of Bangladesh and suggest that one of the major factors causing the problem was the false idea of ‘Bengali Culture’. Bengali culture as an aspiration or a major element of the lifestyles of a very tiny percentage of the people of Bangladesh is not false. However, with regard to the life of the 160 million people in Bangladesh there is no basis for thinking that the actual culture practiced in Bangladesh is Bengali culture as defined by the Bengali Nationalists, which excludes the vast influences of Islam and worldwide Muslim communities in our culture – way of life, values, aspirations, celebrations, dresses, social interactions, our names, greetings, prayers, get buried after death, etc.


There is a very poor understanding of the nature and evolution of human culture in Bangladesh and it is this misunderstanding that is responsible for many of our seemingly unsolvable problems. There is an urgent need to have a serious, civilised, ongoing and wide ranging debate and discussion about culture within Bangladesh and Bangladeshi Diaspora. A better understanding and appreciation of human culture, cultural evolution / development, cultural diversity will help us collectively to redefine the cultures of Bangladesh. This will help us better understand who we are actually, rather than be driven by an aspiration to destroy a large element of who we are, which is an impossibility to achieve.

Cutting Through the Paper Tiger of Rising ‘Islamic’ Militancy in Bangladesh


By Surma of the Khichuri for nuraldeen.com

On her recent visit to Bangladesh the Indian foreign secretary Sujatha Singh argued that Bangladesh has an Islamic militancy problem, and that was the main reason for the Indian government’s unstinting support to the increasingly autocratic Awami League government. Right on cue, the pro-government Daily Star issued an op-ed by its executive editor, Syed Badrul Ahsan, which framed the current crisis using the imagery of the 1971 as war against Islamic militancy. On the other side of the subtlety spectrum we have David Lewis at the LSE, continuing the Manichaean narrative of secular versus religious struggle in Bangladesh. Ignoring the above misrepresentation of facts and bearing in mind that the current opposition movement being led by the Bangladeshi nationalist BNP is calling for a neutral caretaker government, the multi-billion dollar question is, does Bangladesh have an Islamic militancy problem?

Historical (Dis)continuity

The above question is linked to the powerful and persistent question of whether Bangladesh is a secular country or religious one, answers to both are interlinked with the approach one takes to Bangladesh and South Asia in general.

One approach could be  termed as a DWEM approach to history, that is history through the eyes of Dead White European Males (DWEM), which is subsequently seconded by local Macaulay Minutemen and minutewomen. That is the history of chronologies and maps, empires and nations, wars and revolutions. According to the DWEM approach Bangladesh is a secular society, and has been since the abolition of the titular Mughal Empire following the 1857 Uprising against British subjugation. The 1971 Bangladesh War and subsequently imposed and alienating constitution is an affirmation of that secular reality.

Another reading of history is to see it as a living entity, embodied, decolonial and subaltern. This reading can be summarised by the Persian saying that, “The greatness of a city lies not in its monuments or buildings, nor in its market or gardens but in the men buried inside its walls”. The demonstrative reality of this history is seen in the cities and towns throughout South Asia, amongst the daily throngs that visit the shrines of these great men.

It is a sacred reading of history that starts with Data Ganj Bakhsh Hujwiri in Lahore, through Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer, then from Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi to Shahjalal in Sylhet. After all, it was Nizamuddin who gave Shahjalal the famous flock of doves whose descendants we see at the shrine (dargah) today. To understand the subaltern Muslim civilisation in South Asia we can focus on Moinuddin Chishti (1141-1236), who settled in the city of Ajmer, when the Delhi kings conquered their. His dwelling soon became a fountainhead of Muslim civilisation in the Indian subcontinent.

Rembrandt’s picture of the founders of the four Sufi schools in Indian subcontinent c.1656 [Source: British Museum, Schimmel]

Rembrandt’s picture of the founders of the four Sufi schools in Indian
subcontinent c.1656 [Source: British Museum, Schimmel]

As the Chishtis journeyed through the land spreading the dual message of spiritual equality and social justice, their straightforward preaching and practice of the love of God and one’s neighbours impressed many, particularly those from the lower castes and even members of the scheduled castes.The fact that these khanqahs (mystic lodges) avoided any discrimination between their guests and practiced a classless society attracted many people into their fold. One taster of the teachings of Moinuddin Chishti and company is that a human being should possess “a generosity like that of the ocean, a mildness like that of the sun and a modesty like that of earth.”

This sacred tradition and history has survived and continues to this day and is an integral part of the ordinary citizens of Bangladesh, if you look. In the cities, mufassil towns and villages, anecdotes from Hujwiri’s Kashf al Mahjub (Revelation of Mystery), still resonate in Friday sermons today. Aspects of the curriculum that Nizamuddin Aulia designed and taught can be found in the country’s madrassas. The classless generosity of Moinuddin Chisti is emulated in the weekly communal feasts of the Tablighi Jamaat. This group claim links to the Chishtis through their founder Maulana Ilyas, and their annual Bishwa Ijtema, in Tongi, Dhaka is renowned as  a global mega event and the largest gathering of Muslims outside the Hajj.

Politics and Religion: an explanation of the paradox that is Maulana Bhashani

The interconnections between religious and political spheres in South Asia have been uneasy and tumultuous at times to say the least.  This tradition of connection goes all the way back to the Emperor Ashoka and his incorporation of Buddhist principles into state policy. More recently we can see this relation exemplified by the changing fortunes of the Naqshbandi Tariqa (brotherhood) who arrived in South Asia with the Mughal conquest.

The Naqshbandi’s had a continuous influence on regional politics, from Ahmed Sirhindi on the Mughal Emperors, through to Shah Waliullah on the Afghan King, Ahmad Shah Abdali. Their footprints can be discerned in the modern day politics of the subcontinent; from the Composite Nationalism concept of Congress-aligned Hussain Ahmed Madani (teacher of Hefazat leader Allama Shafi), to Muslim League aligned figures such as Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani, the first grand mufti of Pakistan.

There is an argument that one hears that modern Bangladesh is an exception to the rule, that there is no place for religion in politics. However, if one goes beyond the rhetoric and delves into the historical experience, one finds the paradoxical figure of Maulana Bhashani, and a continuation of the Naqshbandi tradition.

A disciple of the Baghdadi Pir Sahib of Lakhimpur in Assam, Bhashani was advised to journey to Deoband in Uttar Pradesh to study under the Naqshbandi anti-imperialist, Maulana Mahmudul Hassan. Upon returning from his trip, he joined and led the struggle against the exploitation that tenant farmers face from of the xenophonic Line System. This spurred the Moulana on his long political journey to emancipate his people; to economic liberation from the feudal system, to political liberation from the British Raj in 1947, political freedoms from the Sandhurst educated Rawalpindi generals of United Pakistan, and hunger from the ravages of the 1974 Bangladesh famine. Spanning three nationhoods, his last great public act was against India’s hydro hegemonic erection, The Long March of the Farakka Dam in 1976, which is arguably the last time a Bangladeshi politician was taken seriously in the Lok Sabha.

Like a Prophet Moses, he died before he could take his people to the promised land of true independence. Jami, a Naqshbandi Persian wrote a couplet that speaks to this journey.

The Naqshbandiyya are strange caravan leaders

Who bring the caravan through hidden paths into the sacred sanctuary

6th of May 2013 – A War Against Whom?

In London in recent weeks, Kamal Ahmed, former BBC Bengali Service Editor and regular Prothom Alo contributor, made an interesting statement at a presentation with Frances Harrison at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), ‘Political Islam and the issues at stake in the Bangladeshi elections’. He said that a ‘choice will need to be made soon, whether democracy is good or Islamist forces should be tackled’. Such a proposition presupposes that the state is being threatened by a rising tide of Islamism. But, is society being radicalised, or are state institutions and elites are becoming more radically alienated from the citizenry?

In Dhaka, in the early hours of Monday 6th of May, a journalist reported the commanding officer of about two thousand, armed police and paramilitary troops pumping up his subordinates with the words ‘Are you all prepared to go to war?’ The massacre that followed, against unarmed and mainly sleeping protesters tired from a long day’s demonstration, was covered up, and remains shrouded in both public denial and fear. Two outspoken TV stations and a popular newspaper were shut down by the government at the time and it is alleged that between scores and hundreds of unarmed protesters were killed. Subsequent investigations have been hampered by the arrests of human rights investigators, not to mention fundamental elite disinterest. Reading the pages of the corporate media, as well as the selective pronouncements from civil society and their ‘development partners’, we could be forgiven if we were to conclude that such a brutal crackdown was universally sanctioned and supported.

The immediate municipal electoral defeats of the Awami League in municipal elections and their general unpopularity express a wide-scale revulsion amongst the population with regards to the massacre. Preliminary investigations have shown that the protests attracted the presence and support of more than the community madrassa sector. People from very different walks of society were killed, injured and terrorised, from labour activists and journalists to a student at an elite engineering university. In one unverified report, a leading Awami League party member from the greater Noakhali region lost three of his nephews. It is as if the institutions that were supposed to protect the citizenry suddenly turned upon them.

Overnight, the native became the alien in the eyes of state institutions. Investigations have revealed that contrary to the official narrative of a clean crowd control operation, protestors were misdirected by security forces to cordoned off ambush zones, and were subsequently set upon. This is a familiar terror tactic commonly used by security forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir and reported by survivors of the 2002 Gujarat Massacre.

The above inversion, of government turning on its citizens was replicated by wider civil society leaders, who instead of championing the violated rights of their citizenry, either remained in complicit silence or cheered on the security forces. In a scene pulled out of Macbeth, we had the human rights Lady, Sultana Kamal, head of the donor financed human rights organisation Ain o Salish Kendra, egging on the security forces to ‘eradicate’ the Islamists. This outburst was followed a few days by protest leader Junaid Babnugari being shifted from police custody to a critical care unit and having a leg amputated due to mistreatment at the hands of the security forces. With civil society in Bangladesh emerging as a simple extension of state terror, questions need to be asked about how such an arrangement has come about and what sustains it.

The Parable of the Boy and the Tiger: From Ahsan to Lewis

Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ was inspired by the Moacyr Scliar’s earlier novel, ‘Max and the Cats’, a story that worked with the allegory of the rise of European fascism. After several conflicts between the Big Cat and the Boy, a fight to the death and rescue, it appears that the Big Cat was a projection of the Boy’s imagination, an inner demon.

The Boy and the Tiger: Life of Pi

The Boy and the Tiger: Life of Pi

This also appears to be the case for a lot of the parochial war on terror industry spokespeople such as Syed Badrul Ahsan, and their international harmonisers in the guise of David Lewis, the myth of an Islamic Militancy plays the similar role of the Tiger.  This phantom of a rising militancy, gives them a get out jail card for analysing the dysfunctionality of politics in Bangladesh and their own personal intellectual failings. This paper Tiger is also reflected in the Indian government’s diplomatic stance, as the New Age newspaper recently pointed out, they know that in reality there is no real threat of an Islamic Militancy, but the myth serves as fig leaf for its own diplomatic incompetence of hoisting it colours so publicly to the increasingly unpopular Awami League.

Yes there is violence against minorities, yes there are hindrances to speech and discourse. But it is the followers of secular political parties that have attacked minorities, not seminary students or followers of a sufi pir. It is the secular courts and security forces that lock up and tortured newspaper editors and online activists, not some obscure religious court.

The evident and underlying tensions in Bangladeshi society are not due to a rising Islamic militancy, but due to the alienation of the ruling elite from the population and a breakdown in state institutions. This breakdown is exemplified by the controversy over the International  Crimes Tribunal and the recent ‘judicial murder’ of Abdul Quader Mollah. The myth of an Islamic militancy is being used as band aid to cover these ever widening cracks in society, between self-appointed leaders and the people. As an old saying goes, “beware who you point the finger at, for when you point the figure at someone or something, there are three fingers pointing back at you.”

Religion is not an anathema but a defining factor in the modern story of Bangladesh. This journey began with the Composite Nationalism of Hussain Ahmed Madani, and was sustained by the selfless activism of Maulana Bhashani as well as the conciliatory Bangladeshi Nationalism of Zia ur Rahman. The recognition of Islam in the constitution by the BNP and its allies is a view shared by the majority of grassroot activist in the AL, and so the journey still continues.

To conclude, Shahbag and its antecedent of high and exclusive West Bengal orientated nationalism is not the logical outcome nor endpoint of the Bangladesh story, but it is a reaction against its natural course.

Or as the sufis say,

The dogs start barking, when the caravan starts moving….

বাংলাদেশে কলকাতার আনন্দবাজারের দাদাগিরি

নব্বইয়ের দশকের শুরুর দিকে কলকাতায় বাংলাদেশ হাইকমিশনের কার্যালয়ে বাংলাদেশের সাহিত্যের গতি-প্রকৃতির ওপর একটি সেমিনারের আয়োজন করা হয়েছিল। হাইকমিশনের উদ্যোগেই ছিল এ আয়োজন। বাংলাদেশের সুপরিচিত লেখকদের অনেকেই সেমিনারে অংশ নিয়েছিলেন। সেমিনারে আলোচ্যসূচীর মধ্যে অন্যতম ছিল বাংলাদেশের উপন্যাসের ভাষা কী রকম হবে।সেমিনারে সভাপতি ছিলেন সুনীল গঙ্গেপাধ্যায়। বাংলাদেশের লেখকরা একে একে তাদের বক্তব্য পেশ করার পর আখতারুজ্জামান ইলিয়াসের পালা এল। তিনি ডায়াসে দাড়িয়ে কাটা কাটা কথায় বলেছিলেন, বাংলাদেশের সাহিত্যের ভাষা হবে বাংলাদেশের জনগণের মুখের ভাষার কাছাকাছি, তাতে করে যদি পশ্চিম বাংলার ভাষার চাইতে বাংলাদেশের সাহিত্যের ভাষা, বিশেষ করে উপন্যাসের ভাষা যদি সম্পূর্ণ আলাদা খাতে প্রবাহিত হয়ে যায়, সেটা সকলের স্বাভাবিক বলেই ধরে নেওয়া উচিত।

ইলিয়াসের এই বলিষ্ঠ উচ্চারণ যে পশ্চিমবাংলার সাহিত্যের মোড়লদের অনেকেরই ভালো লাগেনি সেদিন সন্ধ্যাতেই তার প্রমাণ পাওয়া গিয়েছিল। কলকাতার সর্বাধিক প্রচারিত দৈনিক আনন্দবাজার গ্রান্ড হোটেলে বাংলাদেশের লেখকদের সম্মানে একটি ডিনারের আয়োজন করেছিল। বাংলাদেশ থেকে যাওয়া সব লেখককে সেখানে নিমন্ত্রণ করা হলেও ইলিয়াসকে ডাকা হয়নি। আনন্দবজারের এই অভদ্র আচরণে ইলিয়াস খুব ব্যাথিত হয়েছিলেন, অপমানিত বোধ করেছিলেন। দেশে ফিরে সমসাময়কি লেখকদের কাছে সে ক্ষোভের কথা গোপন করেননি তিনি। পরে তার জবাবটাও দিয়েছিলেন খাসা। বাংলাদেশের উপন্যাসের ভাষা কিভাবে বাংলাদেশের মানুষের মুখের ভাষার অনুবর্তী হয় খোয়াবনামা লিখে তার একটা দৃষ্টান্ত স্থাপন করে দেখিয়েছিলেন তিনি।

হিন্দুত্ববাদী রাষ্ট্রগঠনের গোপন বাসনা থেকে বঙ্কিম তার আনন্দমঠ উপন্যাসে যে সোশাল ডিসকোর্স তৈরি করেছিলেন ইলিয়াস তার খোয়াবনামায় সেটাকে ভেঙ্গে খান খান করে দেন। তবে ইলিয়াস আনন্দমঠের ডিসকোর্স ভাঙতে পারলেও আনন্দবাজার গোষ্ঠীর তাতে খুব সমস্যা হয়নি। কারণ এক ইলিয়াস প্রতিবাদ জানালেও বাংলাদেশের নামকরা অনেক জিনিয়াসই ততদিনে দাদাদের পকেটে ঢুকে গেছেন। আনন্দবাজার ভেতরে ভেতরে তার হিন্দুত্ববাদী আদর্শকে লালন করলেও উপরে উপরে অসাম্প্রদায়িকতার মিথ্যা বুলি আউড়ে যাচ্ছে। আসলে আনন্দবাজারের চোখে বাংলাদেশ কখনই স্বাধীন, সার্বভৌম রাষ্ট্রের মর্যাদা পায়নি। বরং তারা বাংলাদেশকে বরাবর ‘ছোটভাই’ হিসেবে দেখতেই অভ্যস্ত। প্রযোজনে একে ব্যবহার করে সর্বোচ্চ ব্যবসায়িক ফায়দা নেওয়ার চেষ্টায় ব্যস্ত থাকে তারা।


হুমায়ূন আহমেদ বাংলা সাহিত্যের জনপ্রিয়তম লেখক। তার লেখার ধরন, মান নিয়ে প্রশ্ন থাকতে পারে, কিন্তু জনপ্রিয়তা নিয়ে প্রশ্ন কারোরই নেই। এপার-ওপার মিলিয়ে সমসাময়িক লেখকদের তুলনায় জনপ্রিয়তায় তার অবস্থান ছিল শীর্ষে, এ নিয়ে দ্বিমত করলে বাজিতে হারতে হবে। ২০১২ সালের ১৯ জুলাই হুমায়ূন আহমেদের মৃত্যুর পর বাংলাদেশের পত্র-পত্রিকাগুলো বিশেষ সংখ্যা বের করেছে। আর আনন্দবাজার হুমায়ূনের মৃত্যু সংবাদ ছেপেছে টুকরো খবরে। শিরোনাম ছিল ‘প্রয়াত কথাকার হুমায়ূন আহমেদ’। আনন্দবাজার গোষ্ঠী তাদের দেশ পত্রিকার শারদীয় সংখ্যায় হুমায়ূনের লেখা ছাপতে আগ্রহ প্রকাশ করলেও হুমায়ূনের মৃত্যু সংবাদ তাদের মনে শোকের ভাব জাগায়নি। কারণ জীবীত হুমায়ূনকে নিয়ে ব্যবসায় সুযোগ থাকলেও মৃত হুমায়ূনে তাদের কোনো আগ্রহ ছিল না।

অথচ একই বছরের ২৩ অক্টোবর সুনীল গঙ্গোপাধ্যায়ের মৃত্যুর পর আনন্দবাজার আট কলামে ব্যানার শিরোনামে সংবাদ ছেপেছিল। স্বাভাবিকভাবেই প্রশ্ন ওঠতে পারে, একই অঙ্গনের জনপ্রিয় দুই ব্যক্তিত্বকে নিয়ে পত্রিকায় কাভারেজ দেওয়ার ক্ষেত্রে এ বৈষম্য কেন? এক কথায় এর উত্তর হলো, ব্যবসায়িক স্বার্থ। সঙ্গে সাম্প্রদায়িক চেতনা। সাহিত্যের ক্ষেত্রে আনন্দবাজার এমন একটি ভাব দেখায় যেন তারা বাংলা সাহিত্যের একমাত্র ধারক ও বাহক। অভিভাবকও। তাই বাংলাদেশের সাহিত্যের বাজারটাও তাদের দখলে থাকাটাই বাংলা সাহিত্যের জন্যই মঙ্গলজনক। এ বাজারটি নিজেদের নিয়ন্ত্রণে রাখার জন্য তারা নানারকম কূটকৌশল নিয়ে থাকে। সেগুলোর প্রকাশও নানারকম। কখনো বাংলাদেশের কোনো লেখক-লেখিকার বই ছেপে বিতর্ক সৃষ্টি করে পয়সা রোজগারের নতুন নতুন সুযোগ সৃষ্টি করে, কখনো এ দেশের লেখকদের একাংশকে সম্মাননা দিয়ে নিজেদের স্বার্থরক্ষার খুঁটি হিসেবে ব্যবহার করে আনন্দবাজার গোষ্ঠী। আর কোনো ব্যক্তিকে নিজেদের বাণিজ্যিক স্বার্থ সিদ্ধির অন্তরায় মনে করলে তাকে সমূলে ধ্বংস করতেও কখনো কুণ্ঠিত হয় না তারা। আন্দবাজারের ষড়যন্ত্রের কারণে বিশ্বে বাংলাদেশের ভাবমূর্তি লাঞ্ছিত হয়েছে।

এখানে প্রসঙ্গক্রমেই এসে যাবে তসলিমা নাসরিনের কথাও। ভারতে মৌলবাদীরা যখন বাবরি মসজিদ ভাঙলো এবং তার জেরে ধরে সৃষ্ট সাম্প্রদায়িক দাঙ্গায় সপ্তাহখানেক সময়ের মধ্যে প্রায় এক হাজার মানুষ খুন হয়ে গেল তখন পৃথিবীজুড়ে মানুষ ভারতের দিকে সমালোচনার আঙ্গুল তুলেছিল। তারা বলেছিল ভারত একটি নিপীড়নকারী রাষ্ট্র, সেখানে সংখ্যালঘুদের জানমালের নিরাপত্তা নেই। এ নিয়ে ভারতীয় বুদ্ধিজীবীমহল যখন চরম দুশ্চিন্তাগ্রস্ত ছিল, ঠিক তখনই তাদের সামনে ‘আলোর রেখা’ হয়ে হাজির হয়েছিল তসলিমা নাসরিনের ‘লজ্জা’। ‘লজ্জা’ দিয়ে নিজেদের অপরাধবোধ চাপা দেওয়ার মস্ত সুযোগ পেয়েছিলেন তারা। আনন্দবাজার তসলিমার একটি ভাবমূর্তি তৈরি করতে টানা তিন বছর ধরে ক্রমাগত চেষ্টা করে গেছে। এপার-ওপার বাংলায় তাদের পোষা বুদ্ধিজীবীরা তসলিমাকে নিয়ে অব্যাহতভাবে কলম চালিয়ে গেছেন। লজ্জাকে কেন্দ্র করে বাংলাদেশে যে সাম্প্রদায়িক উত্তেজনা সৃষ্টি হয়েছিল সেদিকে বিশ্বের নজর ঘুরিয়ে দেওয়াই ছিল তাদের মূল কাজ। যাতে ভারতের সংঘটিত দাঙ্গার ওপর থেকে বিশ্ববাসীর নজর ঘুরে যায়। বাস্তবে তা হয়েছিলও বৈকি! বাংলাদেশে বৈদেশিক সাহায্য বন্ধ করে দেওয়ার দাবি উঠেছিল।লক্ষণীয় বিষয় হলো প্রয়োজন শেষে আনন্দবাজার কিন্তু তসলিমাকে ঠিকই ছুড়ে ফেলেছে।

সাহিত্য ছেড়ে খেলার মাঠের দিকে এগুলেও একই চিত্র পাওয়া যাবে। ক্রিকেটে আজ বাংলাদেশকে প্রতিষ্ঠিত শক্তিই বলা যায়। আজ এ খেলায় বাংলাদেশকে বলে-কয়ে হারানোর দিন শেষ। কিন্তু ক্রিকেটে বাংলাদেশের কোনো সাফল্যই আনন্দবাজার গোষ্ঠীর বাহবা পায় না। গত ৪ নভেম্বরে এক-দিবসী ক্রিকেটে নিউজিল্যান্ডকে হোয়াইট ওয়াশ করেছিল বাংলাদেশ। পরদিন বাংলাদেশের পত্রিকাগুলো এ নিয়ে প্রধান বা দ্বিতীয় শিরোনামে খবর ছাপলেও আন্দবাজারে একটি লাইনও লেখা হয়নি। ২০১১ সালে বিশ্বকাপ ক্রিকেটের উদ্বোধনী অনুষ্ঠান হয়েছিল ঢাকায়। টেলিগ্রাফ, বিবিসি, ক্রিকইনফো, সিডনি মর্নিং হেরাল্ডের রিপোর্টে বলা হল, ঢাকায় দুর্দান্ত অনুষ্ঠান হয়েছে। অথচ একই অনুষ্ঠান কাভার করে আনন্দবাজারের গৌতম ভট্টচার্য্য যে লেখা লিখলেন তাতে মূল বিষয় বাদ দিয়ে সাংবাদিকদের একটু হেটে প্রেসবক্সে ঢোকার কষ্টটাকে ফুটিয়ে তোলাতেই নজর ছিল বেশি। অথচ গৌতমরা ভুলে যান, ১৯৯৬ সালে কলকাতা বিশ্বকাপ ক্রিকেটের ওপেনিং করতে গিয়ে লেজার শোর নামে কেলেঙ্কারি করে ফেলেছিল। সেদিন সারা পৃথিবীতে ‘ছি ছি’ পড়ে গিয়েছিল। টেস্ট ক্রিকেটে বাংলাদেশ একযুগ পার করলেও আজ পর্যন্ত ভারত বাংলাদেশকে তাদের দেশে খেলার আমন্ত্রণ জানায়নি। এ নিয়ে কিন্তু আনন্দবাজারের কোনো রা নেই।

সাহিত্য, খেলা ছাপিয়ে যদি রাজনীতির কথা ওঠে তো দেখা যাবে সেখানে আরেক কাঠি এগিয়ে আছে আনন্দবাজার গোষ্ঠী। যে পত্রিকায় হুমায়ূনের মৃত্যু সংবাদ ছাপা হয় টুকরো খবরে, নিউজিল্যান্ডকে হোয়াইট ওয়াশের খবরই ছাপা হয় না, সেই একই পত্রিকায় বাংলাদেশের রাজনীতি নিয়ে খবর ছাপা হয় হর-হামেশা। যেন বাংলাদেশের রাজনীতি নিয়ে তাদের আগ্রহ অসীম। যদিও সংবাদ প্রচারের ক্ষেত্রে তারা বেশিরভাগ খবরেই বস্তুনিষ্ঠতার ধার ধারে না। বরং নিজেদের মতো করে একপাক্ষিকভাবে খবর প্রকাশের দিকেই মনোযোগ বেশি। সম্প্রতি প্রায় প্রতিদিনই আনন্দবাজারে বাংলাদেশ নিয়ে খবর থাকছে। খালেদা, হাসিনা, এরশাদ, জামায়াত কবে কখন কী করল, কী বলল তার সবই নিজেদের মতো ছাপছে তারা।কিছুদিন আগে যথাযথ তথ্য-প্রমাণ ছাড়াই তারেক রহমানকে আইএসআইয়ের সহযোগী বানিয়ে সংবাদ ছাপিয়ে ব্যাপক বিতর্কের সৃষ্টি করেছিল তারা। জামায়াত বাংলাদেশের অভ্যন্তরে গোপনে নাশকতার চেষ্টা করছে, জঙ্গি দল গঠন করছে বলে খবর ছড়াচ্ছে তারা। অথচ আগামী লোকসভা নির্বাচন ঘিরে বিজেপির মতো কট্টর হিন্দুত্ববাদী দল যে কংগ্রেসকে চোখ রাঙাচ্ছে সেদিকে যেন চোখ নেই আনন্দবাজার গোষ্ঠীর। বাংলাদেশে সংখ্যালঘুরা নির্যাতিত হচ্ছে বলে আনন্দবাজারের যে উদ্বেগ সেই একই উদ্বেগ ভারতের বেলায় দেখাচ্ছে না তারা। মূল কথা হলো বাজার দখলে রাখা। সেটা সাহিত্য-সংস্কৃতি থেকে শুরু করে, রাজনীতি, অর্থনীতি সবখানেই। আওয়ামী লীগ ক্ষমতায় থাকলে তাদের বাজার দখলে রাখতে সুবিধা হয়, তাই বিএনপির উত্থান ঠেকাতে তারা মরিয়া।

জামাতের জঙ্গি আচরণেকে ইঙ্গিত করে আসলে তারা বিএনপিকে দমিয়ে রাখতে চায়। তাই আওয়ামী লীগ আমলে ফেলানি হত্যা, তিস্তার পানি বন্টন চুক্তি না হওয়া কিংবা স্থল সীমান্ত চুক্তি নিয়ে মমতার অনাগ্রহ নিয়ে তারা উদ্দেশ্যপ্রণোদিত হয়ে নীরব ভূমিকা পালন করে।তবে বাজার দখলে রাখার ক্ষেত্রে বিএনপি বেশি সুবিধা দিলে আওয়ামী লীগকে ছুড়ে ফেলতে এক মুহূর্তও ভাববে না তারা। যে বাঙালী জাতিয়তাবাদের কথা আনন্দবাজার বলে বেড়ায় সেটা আসলে সাম্প্রদায়িক চেতনায় ধারণ করা জাতীয়তাবাদ। বস্তুত আমাদের অসাম্প্রদায়িক ভাবনার সঙ্গে তাদের জাতিয়তাবাদের ধরন মেলে না। ব্রিটিশ আমলে দ্রুত ইংরেজী শিখে ইংরেজের দালালি করে কাচা পয়সা রোজগার করে যে মধ্যবিত্ত বাঙালী হিন্দু শ্রেণী বিকাশ লাভ করেছিল সেই শ্রেণীর বানানো হিন্দুত্ববাদী জাতিয়তাবাদেকই ধারণ করছে আনন্দবাজার।

এখনো মুসলমানদের পিছিয়ে পড়া আতরাফ জনগোষ্ঠীর অংশ ভাবতেই পছন্দ করে তারা। আর নিজেদের ভাবে আশরাফ। নিজের অঞ্চলে নিজেদের ভাবনা প্রতিষ্ঠা করলে সমস্যা ছিল না, সমস্যা তখনই বাধে যখন তাদের ভাবনা তারা জোর করে আমাদের উপর চাপিয়ে দিয়ে বাণিজ্য করে যায়।

Classical Music Festival 2013, India and our vulgar civility


By Nur Hossain


From 28th of November 2013, Bangladesh’s Bengal Foundation and Calcutta based ITC-SRA are organizing a four-day classical music festival. Indians are heavily dominating the lineups of the artists. It is perceptible that, like last year’s occasion of same kind, Indian High Commission in Dhaka played a key role in bringing Indian artists here in Dhaka. It is expected that similar to the previous occasion, we’ll hear a lot of praise about Indian high commission for making this festival a successful one.

It is also expected that a good number of young middle and upper class urban families would spend nights in the festival appreciating a genre of music, which was arguably originated here and whose authority is now claimed by India. Social media networks are supposed to be full of appreciation of this festival. Last year, a big number of our reputed civil society members were seen to gather in the Army Stadium to celebrate ‘ Indian classical music’.

In an ideal world there is nothing wrong in celebrating music of our biggest neighbor. However, the timing of organizing and celebrating this music festival raises several questions and requires public attention. A series of questions should be raised about this festival: is Bangladesh in a festive mood now? what are we celebrating? why are we celebrating? who organized this celebration and why? Was there a public demand for this event?
The festival is taking place at a time when the state of Bangladesh is in severe crisis. Properties are being burnt, lives are being lost, crude hand bombs are being hurled indiscriminately in exchange of indiscriminate police shooting, businesses are on halt, and public lives are in high tension and anxiety because the ruling party does not want to delegate the power to the people of Bangladesh to practice their true democratic right of voting for a day in five year in a free and fair manner.

The ruling party supported opposition’s alibi of violent protest by not entering into dialogue for a peaceful solution to the present political crisis. For the last two years, the Opposition organized non-violent protest activities such as road-march, human chain to raise their demand to amend the constitutional coup, which plunged the country in present crisis. But no one gave a proper heed.

At present many pockets outside of Dhaka such as Rajshahi, Comilla, Chittagong, Bogra, Patukhali, Sitakunda have turned into battlefield. The pattern of conflict underpins that it would be a mater of time when Dhaka would turn into a battlefield. A major sponsor of this crisis is India.

Our neighbor India, instead of pushing for democracy in Bangladesh is stubbornly sponsoring the actors who are causing unnecessarily loss of lives of Bangladeshis. It is true that India helped us achieving independence and it is also true that independence of Bangladesh was never been a priority for Indians, rather they were interested in supporting the split of Pakistan for its own geo-political interest. Which is fine to us- the lucky and proud generation who were born in an independent Bangladesh which however became sub-servant state of India in many ways in recent years.

The evidence of Indians’ disregard to our independence and sovereignty was brutally portrayed recently when the BSF, the border security force of Indian government, not only shot a Bangladeshi unarmed teenage civilian girl Felani dead, but also they hanged the dead body of that poor little girl on the barbwire of Bangladesh-India border fence with arrogance. Bangladesh died on that day and it still is dead. An independent country has a dignity but that is lost with Felani.

It is widely reported that Delhi now controls Bangladesh. For this extra ordinary service of India, our ruling party had to offer almost free transit, cheap Internet bandwidth, power plant near mangrove forest, and many more to Pranabda. Ironically, this ruling party claims to uphold the spirit of independence but in reality it sold our independence to India for narrow family interest.

Therefore, it is true that Indians have lot to celebrate and the classical music festival is the perfect platform for that. However one might wonder what are we celebrating? Are we celebrating our loss of brothers? Are we celebrating our loss of democracy? Are we celebrating our loss of national dignity? Are we celebrating our loss of peace and stability? Are we celebrating the loss of Felani? There should be a limit to our vulgar civility.