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This is not helping

  • Published at 02:16 am July 13th, 2016
  • Last updated at 02:20 am July 15th, 2016

The statements made by the health minister and the industries minister in the wake of the recent terrorist strikes on Bangladesh are profoundly regrettable, and we hope very much that they do not represent official government thinking or policy. For the health minister to forthrightly point the finger at a specific educational institution is the worst kind of scape-goating at a time like this. Even though two of the terrorists involved in the recent horrific acts in Gulshan and Sholakia may have been students at one university, to tar the entire institution and hurl blanket accusations, as the good minister did, is unfair and unacceptable. There is no evidence that the university itself was involved or complicit in the radicalisation of these two young men, and to suggest otherwise even before any kind of inquiry has been conducted is the height of irresponsibility. We expect better from a sitting cabinet minister. Nor is the statement made by the industries minister, that the government intends to shut down all unauthorised restaurants, hospitals, and educational institutions, at all helpful in the current crisis. This has been a long-standing (and misguided) priority of the government, and we are shocked and saddened that anyone would try to use the recent tragedies to shoehorn in questionable policy that would do nothing to make us safer. The problem is not that various institutions are operating in residential areas. This has absolutely zero bearing on their safety, and shutting them down will do nothing to make the city safer. The good minister is, in effect, using the tragedy in order to advance a completely different policy agenda that has nothing whatsoever to do with fighting terrorism. The PM got it right yesterday when she spoke of the enormity of the terror threat facing the country and the need for us all to treat the matter with utmost seriousness. Sadly, it seems that these two ministers didn’t get the memo. Playing the blame game with divisive rhetoric and using the tragedy to push for policies that are neither here nor there in the fight against terror are unhelpful in the extreme.