Barbarity of BSF
The recent circulation of an 11.56 minutes long video footage, which shows a Bangladeshi being stripped, kicked and beaten by the Border Security Force of India near the Bangladesh-India border in West Bengal's Murshidabad district, aired by Indian TV channels, has sparked bitter criticism across the country and abroad. At the same time, we have felt embarrassed at the speech delivered by the LGRD minister, Syed Ashraful Islam. His speech showed that the government is not worried about the recent incident of physical abuse on a Bangladeshi citizen by the BSF. Such an insensitive remark by a high ranking person of our country is totally unacceptable. Even the National Human Rights Commission of India has served a notice to the Indian Home Ministry asking for a report on the BSF jawans who assaulted the Bangladeshi youth.
Despite repeated assurance from Indian authorities that the BSF has been instructed to maintain the highest tolerance while dealing with smugglers active at the border, such heinous incidents are going on unabated. It should be remembered that the government acts like the guardian of a country. It cannot ignore what is happening at the border. According to the newspapers, a number of lawmakers of the parliament on January 24 have criticised the foreign ministry over its failure to address the issue of maintaining peace at the border. We hope that the government will seriously take into consideration the welfare of the country. And protect its citizens. Meanwhile, we express our gratitude to the Indian newspaper, “The Hindu”, which urges the Indian government to say sorry to Bangladesh.
Md Shafiuddin Sabuj
University of Dhaka
When History is Propaganda
The article “When Textbooks Lie” explored a very important issue about the “history” of Pakistan as it relates to the Liberation War of 1971. It is very sad that the Pakistani youth are growing up learning such a distorted version of what really happened. The anti-Hindu and anti-Indian sentiments in the chapter “The Fall of East Pakistan” is simply appalling; it's no wonder that generations of Pakistanis are growing up with such bitter hatred and prejudice towards Indians. It's no surprise, then, either, that many Pakistanis still do not know or feel outraged about the atrocities conducted by its government in the then East Pakistan. Yes, it's true that, to some extent, history is a constructed story told from the view-point of a given nation-state, but the gross manipulation by Pakistani textbooks about the birth of Bangladesh needs to be challenged.
It's comforting to know that Pakistani intellectuals and journalists are challenging this biased conception and urging ordinary Pakistani citizens to not believe the tales of hate, prejudice and intolerance that is being propagated by the school curricula. Again, I thank the writer for exploring such a critical issue.
The Stupid Blame Game
Your article titled, “The Dangerous Blame Game” analysed the dismal situation of our government (although that's nothing new). The fact that Khaleda and Hasina blame each other for the 'attempted coup' sets a horrible image of the nation to the outside world, in addition to being a poor strategy to win the hearts of the citizens. There was a time when both Hasina and Khaleda fought against the autocratic rule of Ershad together; yet today, both the parties look as desperate children in search of candy! The article appropriately points out that amidst this stupid blame game, which has been going on forever now, the focus on the real culprits has been lost. One hopes for a miracle to change the painstaking situation in Bangladeshi politics.
Khan Mohammad Sharif
Why this kolaveri di?
I really enjoyed this week's Postscript, in which the writer very aptly comments on the “wisdom” of the youth. I must admit that I've always been rather jealous of the youngsters, who seem all-too equipped to deal with the technological advancements of this millennium. I can't help but feel that they inhabit a radically different world than the ones we did at their age. The children of today, with their smart phones and constant cyber access, envisage human relationships in a different way. The phones, the iPads or the laptops have ceased to be just gadgets; they have become integral to who they are – they have become part and parcel of their identity. Sometimes I wish I could be a part of their world, but it's not so easy to rid oneself of one's old habits! But perhaps we are in the best positions after all. Situated in between two worlds, we can enjoy the benefits of both – of long letters in the mail and short messages on our facebook accounts.
The White Fever
'Bideshi in B'desh' was an interesting opportunity to find out how foreigners feel about their stay in Bangladesh. I was surprised but glad that a few of them acknowledged the exclusion and separation that is caused by these exclusive clubs. Also, I will think twice about staring at and judging bideshis because they can't help sticking out and it's not fair to look at them like we would stare at an animal at the zoo. Until now, I have not really considered how I would feel if I were in their shoes. However, I think if I were living abroad, I would have a completely different experience to the 'expats' we see roaming around in Gulshan. For a start, I don't think anyone would assume I had any wealth or power. Also, it struck me that I would be more likely labelled an 'immigrant' than an 'expat'. The former is almost a dirty word compared to the respected latter. Is one reserved for brown people and the other for white? Why are we still in awe of 'the white man'? Is colonialism still alive?
Elephant Road, Dhaka
Response to 'When Religion is a Burden’
Photo: Star File
I was sad to read the Star Diary, 'When religion is a Burden' in the last issue of SWM. I don’t think the writer was perceptive enough in tracking the actual problem. Moreover, it is inappropriate to raise a question like, 'the pilgrimage that takes place is not really mentioned in our holy books, so why it is so overzealously performed?' Any such congregation promoting observance of Islamic rituals and Muslim brotherhood is undoubtedly encouraged in Islam, and doesn't need to be specifically mentioned in the holy Quran. I am well aware of the acute transportation nightmare we face around Tongi during this congregation. It is the responsibility of the concerned organising committee to make sure that the mobility of the participants and local residents is not affected. However, inadequate transport planning results into such suffering every year. Not criticising the government for its incapability to organise the event successfully, and discouraging the zealous participation of the Muslim brothers from all over the world, is definitely not the right way to address the problem.
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