The rise of Bengali Muslims, a comparatively less developed community of the country, is a splendid event in the first part of the twentieth century. In 1940, on the grounds of religious self-determination, they demanded a separate independent homeland, and achieved their goal within less than a decade.
A still more splendid event was waiting for them in the second half of the same century. They demanded the status of a state-language for their mother tongue, and a fuller autonym on the basis of six points, and within less than 25 years they established a sovereign independent country: the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
In the meantime, the country experienced great unrest and upheavals. Since 1947, every time the country faced a political transition, a severe depression devastated the country. Bangladesh is suffering from the consequences of a legacy of blood. The peaceloving people have been experiencing a horrendous time periodically.
In this land of alluvium and diluvium, weird reformations are rising up. We are witnessing that the principal political parties are often changing their trousers.
The party that prides on being the champion of the liberation spirit is parleying and trying to build an entente with the party that was routed in 1971. The party that came to power in 1990 after defeating the military interlopers is trying to build a coalition with those who were routed in that year.
Yesterday, the political party that refused the demand for a non-party care-taker government is now asking for it, and calling for sieges and strikes. Today, the party that had struggled for a non-party caretaker government to supervise the election is refusing any dialogue on the issue.
Terrorism and violence have graduated from the stage of hurling bombs to that of petrol bomb throwing. The present day sans culottes are engaged in various acts of outrageous sabotage. The railways, cars, river vessels and other vehicles are all targets of violence.
People are suffering from immense miseries. In the last two months, about 200 lives have been lost in the most tragic circumstances. And wonder of wonders, the leaders are congratulating the strikers and demonstrators who have brought down darkness at noon.
What an aberration of democracy and the culture of elections!
Can we dispense with these political thugs? We cannot possibly dispense with our politicians. They represent us in the legislative body. They are our leaders and friends in time of woe and happiness.
Politicians are asking for dialogue. Our foreign well-wishers are also goading them to further parleys. Alas, there is no precedence for successful dialogue in this part of the world.
Seventeen years back, on June 22,1996, on the eve of the transfer of power to the then elected government, I expressed a high hope that the new parliament would be a centre of national dialogue, and that all kinds of sundry political solutions would not be made through strikes and demonstrations on the streets.
Street violence will never bring peace, and is sure to exacerbate an otherwise very normal and peaceful situation. My high hopes were dashed to the ground. Today, on Victory Day, I am hoping against hope that the country will settle down after the unction with a peaceful general election. Joy Bangla!