Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Hartals should have no place in our political system

Update : 22 Apr 2013, 06:40 PM

Is it possible to rid our politics of hartals? I put the question to readers when the country is ravaged by a series of hartals, a weapon used indiscriminately by politicians. The destructive power of hartal is immense. It damages both life and property.It hits the economy hard (economists have already downgraded the GDP projection from above 6% to less than that). It brings the normal flow of national activities to a grinding halt. If this practice is so detrimental, why is it allowed to continue?

Unfortunately, hartals in the country have been given a life of their own. It has become an entity with fangs, one that is liable to bite anyone that comes near. The small minority of people who use it to their advantage will not allow it to perish. They put all their efforts into assuring that the status quo is maintained. They will shout slogans in the name of the “jonogan,” terming any anti-hartal move tantamount to snatching away their democratic rights. They have venom on their tongues and fire in their eyes. Who would dare challenge them? 

The “hartalwalas” always claim hartals as a democratic right. Is there any iota of truth to it? In no civilised society of the world, are hartals practiced. It was used in the past during India’s colonial period to drive away foreign rulers. At that point it may have had a place in the political process. However, in an independent country it shouldn’t need to be used. A program which harms other people can never be a democratic right. Hartals are totally undemocratic.

These same “hartalwalas” also claim that calling hartals is their constitutional right. It is true that the constitution has ensured the right to express one’s opinions and hold meetings to propagate their ideologies. But the constitution has never given anybody the right to stop others’ movement and prevent them from going about their daily lives. During hartals, as we all know, picketers descend upon the streets and attack innocent passers-by. They set fire to vehicles or hurl bombs at them. They terrorise people, killing and wounding them at whim. Who has given them the right to perform such atrocities? the constitution? No. If the “hartalwalas” have the right to call hartals, others have also the right to reject them. I think we can safely say that the political parties’ activites during hartals are totally unconstitutional. 

Most people in the country are sick of hartals. They want peace and security. Politicians are apparently only concerned with their own selfish interests instead of keeping the peoples interests first and foremost, although they exercise politics in the people’s name. They make the illegal legal, cashing in on the “janogon’s”interests. Will the politicians stop their fraudulent practices? That applies to both the parties in power and in opposition. The opposition takes delight in calling a hartal and the government party always opposes it. But when the same party gains power, they do the exact same thing. 

Hartals are a political problem and only the integrity of politicians can solve it. Both parties must come forward to implement a ban. They should stand united to pass a bill in the Jatiya Sangsad to bid farewell to hartals forever. 

Otherwise, in time, the problem will be taken care of by a fed up “jonogon,” in whose name politics is apparently exercised. 

Hartals are never wanted, and never necessary. In an independent country it is only a weapon to hurt the nation and make a mockery of people’s expectations. We must abandon this evil if we want to claim that we are civilized and wish to progress. No evil is permanent and one day “hartal” will be a word of the past.

Dr Binoy Barman is assistant professor and head of the English department at Daffodil International University.  

Top Brokers


Popular Links