Thursday, May 03, 2007

Take the news of who did the bombings with a salt of grain


THERE is no denial of the fact that three simultaneous bombings took place in three railway stations, namely Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet on May 1, 2007. The bombs were crudely made and lacked firepower to do extensive damage. One rickshawalla, however, was injured in Chittagong as per news report.

The press is trying to blame al-Qaeda right away. Some jihadi literature was found near the blast site. These are facts but how the press or law enforcement authorities came to their conclusion pronto that these bombings are the handiworks of religious zealots is not known. What is the basis for such early conclusion?

Ever since the leaders of the Islamist outfit of JMB were arrested, the incidence of bombings in Bangladesh stopped without further delay. There were no bombing incidents that took place after the caretaker government assumed power in late October 2006.

The military-backed interim government let the six JMB men walked the gallows not too long ago; however, the Islamists did not retaliate. The intelligence department expected some bombing in the aftermath of the hanging of JMB leaderships. But no such unpropitious incident took place. Consequently, our countrymen collectively heaved a sigh of relief. When the nation was going through a calm period, we heard the May Day bombing in three places.

Immediately, finger was pointed without spending any time towards Islamists having no hard evidence at hand. This is a fact that the culprit put some propaganda material adjacent to the bomb site. The crux of the matter is who planted the bomb? I am not convinced that Islamists struck this time. Could it be a copy cat bombing to divert attention from all the real problems that Bangladesh is facing now?

In English there is such a term call “red herring.” The term means - something that draws attention away from the central issue.

Anything is possible at this time in Bangladesh. The military-backed government is now passing through a tough time. Even though there is a ban on politics, but enough miasmas were created in the political landscape by government’s doltish policies to implement their “minus two” plan. Consequently, Sheikh Hasina received a worldwide publicity and the government buckled under world pressure. Khaleda’s luck also favored and she must have thanked Hasina from the bottom of her heart for all the help.

The caretaker government is now in disarray; therefore, the most vocal adviser, Mainul Hosein, said the day that the nation is going through a tough time. This spate of recent bombing will give the authorities a respite and breathing room they badly need.

I am inclined to think that we should not take any news coming out of Bangladesh at its face value. Superficially, it looks as if the bombings were done by the Islamists. But honestly, it could be staged by others rather facilely to draw the citizens’ attention away from the central problems such as inflation of common staples and foodstuffs, squishing of civil rights of citizens, uncertainty about the timing of the next parliamentary election, and lack of transparency in the governance by the interim government. The sooner the present oligarch (technocrats) holds the election and transfer the power to elected body, the better.

Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA