The “agitation-time” spokesperson Salahuddin Ahmed’s arrest in Meghalaya has added a new dimension in our confrontational political practices that continues to erode democratic values.
The majority of the common people who do not have any political fascination for either the Bangladesh Nationalist Party or the ruling Awami League feel that Salahuddin Ahmed may have been pushed into Indian territory by security personnel to avoid the controversy that would follow in case he was found elsewhere, in any part of Bangladesh.
They are not ready to accept that Salahuddin may have gone into hiding in India for two months for political gains.
It is good news that the former minister did not meet the fate of his fellow politician Ilias Ali who has been missing for years. The media reported that Ilias Ali may not be alive.
I think it is hard to believe that Salahuddin sneaked into India, because he belongs to a brand of politics that harbours anti-Indian sentiments, and the government he was with was reportedly in favour of giving shelter to northeastern separatists in Bangladesh.
Given our excellent bilateral relations with Delhi, the people would point the finger at security agencies. Had he been found in Pakistan or any Middle Eastern country, or even a Western country, people would believe the government’s version of the story -- that he went into hiding willingly.
The Bangladesh law enforcers, since 2009, arrested many top northeastern separatist leaders enjoying safe haven in Bangladesh and pushed them into Indian territory in the absence of an extradition treaty, according to Indian media reports.
The fateful BNP leader, who issued statements announcing “violent” hartals and blockades from undisclosed locations in absence of the secretary general and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, must now face the troubles of the Indian legal system.
He may be jailed for illegal entry under the foreign act. His arrest in India has given the ruling AL a chance to shrug off its role in Salahuddin affairs for he has violated Indian law and faces charges there.
So, the government has nothing to do with it.
A reason for which Salahuddin may have been thrown across the border is to intimidate the opposition leaders who may dare, in the future, take leadership in support of Khaleda Zia’s anti-government movement that killed many people with petrol bombs.
The over-cautious BNP, which tried to establish good relations with the BJP government several times, is apparently mum over the issue due to the sensitivity associated with it.
The BNP now believes that they are unlikely to dislodge Sheikh Hasina’s government through hartals and other violent moves. Only friendly ties with the Indian political system would help them come to power in the future.
The AL has primarily gained, at the cost of people’s trust. In politics, the facts do not matter. What matters is the people’s perception.
The AL paid a huge price for the propaganda involving Sheikh Kamal’s alleged role in a bank robbery.
A huge number of people believed the false story involving him. The AL paid the price for a crime they never committed. In Salahuddin’s case, the ruling party must take responsibility from this perspective.
The most dangerous side of the Salahuddin story is: The BNP, if it comes to power, would follow a similar path of punishing the AL leaders. They may dump some opposition leaders in some parts of Pakistan, or other countries.
If such practices go on, we are sure to see a government, but no opposition -- without which a political system is non-existent. We need to save politics through the rule of law, not through witch-hunts.