The politician became famous overnight in December 2020 after making several controversial remarks on politics, elections and corruption
Abdul Quader Mirza was a nobody in the country’s political landscape just a couple of months ago. He is the mayor of Basurhat, a small municipality in the south-eastern district of Noakhali.
However, the little known politician became a household name overnight in December 2020 after making several controversial remarks on politics, elections and corruption. Many of his statements went against his party, the Awami League, as well.
The defiant politician is now in the limelight once again.
His contentious politics led to a bloody situation when some of his supporters and several followers of his rival group became embroiled in a skirmish in his neighbourhood on Friday, leading to the death of a journalist and injuries to many others.
The backlash from the party for his controversial statements, or lack thereof, may seem confusing.
One may be inclined to think that it is perhaps due to his familial ties. His brother, Obaidul Quader, is the party general secretary on top of being the road transport and bridges minister of Bangladesh.
Comments from party high command
This correspondent talked to several senior leaders of the ruling party and most of them wanted immediate disciplinary action to be taken against Quader Mirza. Some of them were also critical of Obaidul Qauder for not taking actions in this regard.
“He has received much attention as he is the brother of our party’s general secretary,” said Dr Abdur Razzaque, a senior cabinet member.
The Awami League presidium member added: “All party members are of the opinion that action needs to be taken against Quader Mirza. A final decision has yet to be taken, but I think it will come very soon.”
Meanwhile, Mahbubul Alam Hanif, joint general secretary of the party, said: “He is the younger brother of our party’s general secretary, so it seems indecent to comment on his activities.”
However, AFM Bahauddin Nasim, another joint general secretary of the Awami League, said: “Why does Quader Mirza think that he is above party rules? Who assured him that he will not be disciplined like other party members?”
Nasim also described Quader Mirza’s activities as a “circus.”
“We are trying to figure out why this man is becoming involved in these types of circus at a time when we are fighting multiple international conspiracies. The Awami League is a big political party which is run by its own constitution. The party will not bother with any familial crises,” he added.
Opting to remain anonymous, some top Awami League leaders said Quader Mirza is nothing but a municipal leader but his brother Obaidul Quader is backing him and trying to make him famous, which is why Quader Mirza is becoming involved in controversy after controversy.
Death of a journalist
Followers of Quader Mirza became embroiled in a clash with the police on Saturday, just a day after another bloody skirmish with some supporters of former upazila chairman Mizanur Rahman Badal in a bid to establish dominance. The clash on Friday left one dead and 45 others injured.
Local journalist Borhan Uddin Muzakkir, who sustained bullet wounds during the clash, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) on Saturday night.
Muzakkir, 25, was the Companiganj correspondent for The Daily Bangladesh Samachar.
After completing his master’s degree from Noakhali Government College very recently, he was also working for news portal Barta Bazar, according to media reports.
Locals held a demonstration at Chaprashirhat Bazar in the area demanding exemplary punishment for everyone responsible for the killing, soon after the news of his death became known.
They said Muzakkir was filming the clash that broke out on Friday.
He sustained gunshot wounds on his neck, head and other parts of the body, and was taken to Noakhali General Hospital in a critical condition before being transferred to DMCH.
Some followers of Mizanur Rahman Badal, former upazila chairman, marched towards Chaprashirhat Bazar on Friday to protest Quader Mirza’s “false and offensive” comments on his brother Obaidul Quader.
A clash ensued and shots were soon fired when Quader Mirza’s supporters tried to stop Badal’s followers.
Badal filed a case in connection with the incident, accusing Char Fakira union parishad Chairman Jamal Uddin Liton, 44 others and 500-600 unidentified men.
Quader Mirza also lodged a complaint with Companiganj police station.
Meanwhile, Sub-Inspector Shafiqul Islam filed another case against 500-600 unnamed men on charges of attacking the police and obstructing government duty.
Police were investigating the incident and trying to catch the accused, media reports quoted Noakhali Superintendent of Police Alamgir Hossain as saying.
What does fate have in store for Quader Mirza?
The Noakhali unit of the Awami League had suspended Quader Mirza from the party, but a couple of hours after the fact, the district party president claimed it to be untrue. Meanwhile, the unit’s general secretary stated that the suspension order would remain in effect.
It is now up to the central committee of the Awami League to decide Quader Mirza’s fate.
No committee holds the authority to suspend a party member other than the central one, according to the constitution of the ruling party. District and other local units can only recommend a suspension, not enforce it.
A decision may be made in this regard very soon as the issue is supposed to be placed during the next meeting of the central working committee, said a party insider.
It might be recalled that on January 30, Quader Mirza withdrew his previously declared strike in Noakhali in deference to the party high command, following a meeting with Obaidul Quader at the central office of the party.
After the meeting, Quader Mirza said: “We will wait for a month. We will declare the next course of action if political malpractices and tender manipulations do not stop.”
He held another press conference at the National Press Club and levelled allegations against his elder brother within 15 days since the previous one.
After the briefing, he returned to Noakhali and once again became involved in controversies, including the latest clash.