Friday, April 27, 2012

Suranjit drama: Victory of corruption?

In the case concerning the Minister for Railways, many miscalculated the outcome. Analysts of political events have spoken and written that Suranjit Sen Gupta would retain his post and the hue and cry over the Taka 7 million found in the car of his APS when he was coming to his residence close to midnight, would die down like similar incidents in the past. They based their prediction on the assumption that the Prime Minister would not sack the Minister, the allegations against him notwithstanding, because that would give political victory to the Opposition.

Unanswered mystery 
When the Minister resigned, everybody thought that he was not just out of the Ministry of Railways but out of the Cabinet as well. There was of course no reason to believe to the contrary. The fact that the Minister Sen Gupta was later retained in the Cabinet was a mystery yet to be answered. 
A section of the civil society members were the first to be fooled into believing that the Minister was out of the Cabinet and ended embarrassing themselves. What is more, they went ahead and congratulated the Prime Minister for forcing the Minister out and felicitated the Minister for his courage and his commitment for democracy for deciding to resign.
Even the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission also did not waste time to welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to encourage the Minister to resign and the Minister for listening to the Prime Minister as a victory for democracy. One just wonders what human rights issue was involved in the resignation to have encouraged him to come to the media and give the statement he gave. The Ministers of the Government warmly felicitated their leader for her courage, her wisdom and political vision in the service of democracy and called the Minister’s resignation a “historic” event!
The decision of the Prime Minister to keep the Minister in the Cabinet after raising the optimism that he was in fact sacked, showed in bad light those in the civil society who had hurriedly gone ahead to congratulate the Prime Minister and the Minister. In fact, the Prime Minister did nothing unpredictable for she was not prepared to let it appear that she had given in to the demand of the Opposition. She just removed the Minister from his post as she had done with the former Minister for Communications; only this time she reacted quickly to give the impression  that she was sacking the Minister.
Nevertheless, if it was just the fact that she was retaining Suranjit in the Cabinet so as not to give in to the demand of the Opposition, she ended giving the impression  that her claim of zero tolerance on corruption was a mere lip service to the issue. The tall claims made by her Ministers and members of the civil society that the resignation was a victory for democracy was made laughable when the Minister was retained in the cabinet as a Minister without portfolio. In particular, those Ministers who had hailed Suranjit’s resignation as “historical” should now know what historical stupidity they made by their hurried claim.
In retrospect, Suranjit (SSG) committed more blunders than other Ministers against whom charges of corruption were brought in the past.   He intervened with the Border Guards and the Police on behalf of his APS and senior officials of his Ministry after they were apprehended with Taka 7 million in their car. The fact that they were coming with it to his residence at close to midnight after picking the money from a suburb in the city made the case look more suspicious. If he knew that there was that amount of money in the car when he intervened with the authorities, he made a serious error of judgment. For a politician who took such immense pleasure to rub his self-acclaimed expertise in legal and constitutional issues on the opposition, that act, even unintentional, was unpardonable.
Unfortunately for SSG, other facts suggested that he was not really unaware of what he was doing. If indeed there was any need to intervene with the authorities on behalf of the Ministry’s officials on questions of identity, a Minister would normally leave such a matter to his Private Secretary or someone else in his Ministry. By intervening himself, the Minister showed a personal interest in the case. Further, in a Ministry’s staff, an APS of the Minister is one who is closest to the Minister. A Minister has the right and all Ministers use it to appoint someone who looks after his personal affairs to such a post. In fact, one appointed to the post of an APS need not even be a serving civil servant at the point of being named to the post.
Whistle blower 
The Minister’s first acts proved his knowledge of what those apprehended were up to. The driver of the car as the whistle blower gave the public the reason to doubt the Minister’s innocence. The presence of Yusuf Ali Mridha in the car was another very serious incriminating evidence of corruption. He has since been accused by the employees’ association of the Railway Ministry as being the leader of money for job  racket in the Ministry that has so far netted huge amounts of money from the 7,000 plus posts on offer in the Ministry. 
Additional facts emerged from family sources that did not help the Minister in fighting the quicksand into which he fell. Suranjit’s son, just couple of days before the incident [later named in the media as Railway Gate], had paid Taka 5 crore as  fee for a telecommunications license he was granted by the Bangladesh Telecommunications Board. The Minister’s son was working in an internet service provider Agni Systems for a monthly salary of Taka 50,000 till only recently. 
At the same time, the Minister was scheduled to open his own mall, the Sen Mall in Sunamganj town that was built at costs running into huge sums of money. The circumstantial evidence, both connected and unconnected to Railway Gate,  all piled up to leave the people convinced that the Minister was far from being the epitome of honesty and integrity that he tried to project about himself and his politics. 
The Minister’s 50 years of politics did not prepare him for dealing with the situation that confronted him. He made a series of other silly mistakes to complicate his predicament. He formed two committees, one under his Private Secretary and another under a Joint Secretary in his Ministry for clearing the allegations. He then suspended his APS and then sacked him not knowing what was correct or what would be acceptable to the public. He sent the Ministry’s officials on leave at first and then suspended them. Later he formed a committee to investigate into the whole incident at a senior level.
Judicial inquiry ridiculed
In the midst of these series of confused behaviour, he ridiculed a BNP lady MP who had asked for a judicial inquiry, calling her a novice who was unaware about the serious business of governance. In hindsight he ended being the novice himself for if he had accepted her demand and asked for a judicial inquiry instead of trying to clear himself by forming committees under officials controlled by him, he would have given an impression of honest intent to the public.
At the height of crisis, he once hinted that if the allegations against him were proven he would resign. He then somersaulted and declined to do so, loudly claiming that none of the charges were against him and therefore he was under no compulsions, under issues of democracy or ministerial responsibility or otherwise, to resign. 
During the crisis, the opposition made him nervous by loudly demanding his resignation and for probe in to the allegations of corruption. He could perhaps have faced those demands of the opposition if he had any support forthcoming from his own party. 
Senior members of his party led by former Home Minister Mohammad Nasim joined voice with the Opposition and asked him to take responsibility for his actions, in other words asked him to resign. In fact Mohammad Nasim’s comment that the ‘Railway Bhavan’ would not be allowed to become the ‘Hawa Bhavan’ hurled at the Minister much more serious accusation of corruption than what the opposition could articulate.
When the Prime Minister returned from Turkey and consulted her close aides on the incident, the Minister’s goose was cooked. The Minister was given the post only recently after he was by-passed three years ago because he had annoyed the Prime Minister as a reformist during the period of the last caretaker government. He was included eventually after he had become an embarrassment for the Prime Minister and the ruling party with his criticisms aimed at just not the government but also at the Prime Minister and her family. The Minister, by what he did or failed to do with Railway Gate, gave the Prime Minister the opportunity to snub a colleague for whom she had no reason for compassion.
Therefore there was no service done to democracy nor was it intended as the members of the ruling party projected initially.  The Minister, by his actions gave the Prime Minister the opportunity for which she was waiting and she did not miss that opportunity. She did not go to the full extent of humiliating the Minister because she did not want to give the opposition any opportunity to feel that she had acted under pressure from them.  
The whole nation heaved a sigh of relief that the Prime Minister had held a colleague responsible for corruption and moved him from his post quicker than she did with the former Minister of Communications. However, they welcomed it more because they felt that the Minister more than deserved it.  Their only pleasure was that the Prime Minister sealed the mouth of a politician who irked not just the opposition but many right thinking people by his self-righteousness and the manner in which he ridiculed his opponents on issues of corruption by placing himself on a pedestal of honesty and integrity.
The Prime Minister will richly deserve the nation’s congratulations only when she completed the process of allegations against the Minister, his Ministry, his wealth and his son Soumen Sengupta’s Taka 50 million, not forgetting from where the Taka 7 million came from and why were the culprits headed for the Minister’s house. Otherwise, her action to force the Minister to resign from his post would be a victory not for democracy but for corruption. Her decision to keep him in the Cabinet as a Minister without portfolio hinted that corruption still had a head start over democracy in winning the Railway Gate case.
SSG resurrected
The Railway Gate had pulled down the ruling party to a new low politically given the fact that it was its promise to fight corruption with zero tolerance that had helped it win a thumping majority in the last elections. When the Prime Minister had appeared to have sacked SSG on that zero tolerance, the ruling party managed to undo a lot of the potential damage that Railway gate had done to it. With SSG now resurrected as a Minister where there was no support for him even from his party and the Prime Minister not entirely unhappy with his predicament, India is being mentioned as the power that intervened on his behalf. 
The emergence of the India factor has created more serious liabilities for the ruling party Awami League. By keeping the Minister in the cabinet, it failed to convince the people of its zero tolerance on corruption. Now with the India factor to deal with; the ruling party has a very dangerous combination at hand looking ahead into the next general elections. India’s standing in Bangladesh’s politics because of its failure to deliver on many promises it made to it is now at an all time low.
BY :  M. Serajul Islam. 

Covert external interventions in Bangladesh polity

The political scenario of Bangladesh is in deep turmoil. More than the principal actors at home, Bangladesh watchers from abroad are being profusely quoted in the vernacular media of the country about their detection of a geo-strategic hand of foreign agents entering the game. The purpose is hinted to be a “destabilisation agenda” being pursued by the neighbourly regional power, which may be finding the very existence and development potential of independent Bangladesh a threat by example, in effect encouraging the separatists in Indian northeast.
A pen-picture of such foreign geo-strategic interests fanning up troubles in peaceable Bangladesh has been painted (and reproduced in Bangla papers) on diverse grounds by various international reporters. The Sydney Morning Herald of Australia, for instance, saw in the border management policy of India with regard to its boundaries with innocuous Bangladesh inexplicably “aggressive”. Its correspondent Ben Doherty reported on April 21 (abridged): 
“The Border Security Force soldiers are unfailingly polite and hospitable, but conspicuously armed and resolute. We go no further. ‘Why do you need to go to the border? There is nothing there,’ we are told over endless cups of chai (tea) with progressively more senior officers, all of whom refuse us permission to travel beyond their cantonment, or photograph ‘the fence’ a few hundred metres away.
‘Berlin wall of Asia’
The border these men patrol is not India’s antagonistic front with Pakistan, nor its contested line with China. This is India’s quiet boundary with Bangladesh, a frontier that doesn’t attract the attention of its querulous colleagues, but one that, in recent times, is proving equally fractious. The fence they are so reticent to reveal is a rampart known in these parts as the ‘Berlin Wall of Asia’.
Over 25 years, India has been building, and reinforcing, a massive fence along its 4053-kilometre border with Bangladesh, each renovation pushing the barrier higher, an ever-escalating posture of aggression. It is due to be finished this year. But more than the simple fact of building a border fence, at issue has been India’s manner of policing it. ‘India and Bangladesh are friendly countries, they are not enemies,’ Kirity Roy, the secretary of the Indian human rights group Mausam, tells the Herald. ‘But the Indian government’s paramilitary organisation, the Border Security Force, they are … trigger happy, they are killing Indians and Bangladeshis without discrimination. And they are killing with impunity because they are never charged or given any punishment.’
A Human Rights Watch investigation found killings on both sides of the fence, as well as beatings, torture, kidnappings and rampant corruption. ‘The abusive methods used by the BSF are disproportionate to the problems that the Indian government faces on its eastern border. Numerous ordinary Indian and Bangladeshi citizens resident in the border area end up as victims of abuses, which range from verbal abuse and intimidation to torture, beatings and killings.’
In January the BSF director, Utthan K. Bansal, said soldiers should exercise restraint, but warned they would shoot if they felt threatened. As if to belie the director’s emphasis on restraint, just days later a brutal video was posted on YouTube showing uniformed BSF soldiers stripping naked a suspected Bangladeshi cattle smuggler, tying his arms to a pole and beating him with bamboo sticks for more than 10 minutes as he writhed on the ground and screamed for his mother.
India sees this imposing barrier as a panacea against the evils it believes lurk across the border, from the very real problem of people smuggling, to the less-likely threat of Islamist terrorists. But the fence’s fundamental purpose is far simpler: to keep out Bangladeshis. The xenophobe card plays strongly in Indian politics, and senior officials, like the Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, have lost no support lecturing that Bangladeshis ‘have no business to come to India’.
Yet, for all the cost of building the fence - upwards of a billion dollars so far - and the violence along it, both sides of the border know it is no border at all. Dozens of villages act as unofficial, illegal transit posts. At each, a “lineman”, handsomely remunerated, pays off the guards from both notoriously corrupt countries, and directs the illegal traffic, which can run into scores of people at a time, across the border.
In December last year, Suman says, he was walking just after dark near the Indian side of the border. ‘My family has a house there, and I go there often, it was not unusual. Suddenly, they flashed a torch on me and then they shot.’ Suman survived, dragged to hospital by family who heard the firing. He has lost all sight in his right eye.
Others do not survive, like 15-year-old Felani Khatun who was trying to cross into Bangladesh to be married. She was shot when her salwar kameez became caught in the wire. Her screams alerted the guards, who shot her as she struggled. Her body was left hanging on the fence for five hours before it was cut down.”
More pungent story
A more pungent story of interventionist operations by the Indian security establishment in Bangladesh was circulated by Jessica Fox, presumably from London, on April 22 in the on-line ‘Free Press Release’ news service. The press release (abridged) said: 
“Strictly scrutinized 100 armed cadres of the ruling Awami League in Bangladesh, who received 6-month long extensive commando training at Dehradun in India under the direct supervision of Indian espionage agency RAW are continuing various types of activities, including secret killing, abduction etcetera since June of 2010 with the mission of ‘clearing’ a large number of politicians, media personnel and members of the civil society in Bangladesh. The team codenamed ‘Crusader-100’ went to India during end September 2009 and stayed there till mid June 2010.
On return, the members of the ‘Crusader-100’ team from India were provided a hit list comprising names of opposition politicians, members of Bangladeshi media and some members of the civil society. According to information, the list contains names of more than 83 people, who are planned to be ‘cleared’ by the members of the ‘Crusader-100’ gang.”
A follow-up story was contributed by the same reporter in Sri Lanka Guardian, April 23 issue, as reproduced hereunder (abridged): 
“Enforced disappearance in Bangladesh went on for past three and half years since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formed the government. The issue has now drawn attention of the global community, when recently a former MP and prominent leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, M Ilias Ali disappeared along with his chauffer. The Prime Minister was cool, making jokes about the disappearance. Sheikh Hasina and her government has somehow become comfortably confident of being assured by New Delhi on remaining in power at least up to 2019. It is a substantial period for the ruling party in establishing much stronger grip over country’s civil and military administration, as well as the judiciary, thus bringing Bangladesh under one-party rule, which was the brain-child of Hasina’s father Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.
One party rule
Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, who is the founding-father of Bangladesh, introduced the one-party rule system named BKSAL, which he conceived from former Soviet Union. The era of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman came to a tragic end, when he was assassinated along with members of his family on 15th August 1975 in a military coup. 
After 20 years of the tragic assassination of the founding father, the people of Bangladesh voted Mujib’s eldest daughter Sheikh Hasina into power in 1996, but her government had to finally face a huge defeat just after five years, because of its massive corruption, nepotism, state-patronized crime and bad governance. Prior to this election, Sheikh Hasina sought apology to the people for all wrong-doings of her father. 
In 2008 again, Sheikh Hasina made fresh pledges to the people with renewed apology for the ‘mistakes’ during her tenure of 1996-2001, and promised ‘a better Bangladesh’ with the implementation of her Vision 2021 and establishment of ‘Digital Bangladesh’. It was already known in the political and media circles in India that, the pre-election propaganda strategy and the election manifesto of Awami League were drafted by a team of seasoned politicians and media personnel from India. Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. Pranab Mukherjee contributed in the election manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League by their inputs.
Awami League got a huge victory in the election and since it formed government in January-2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her cabinet are seen totally committed in implementing all of its commitments and pledges, made to India, without considering their impacts on Bangladesh or its people. For the people of Bangladesh, this is possibly one of their worst-ever period of national catastrophe of letting Awami League still being in power for another one plus year. No doubt the ruling party and its elites are fully aware of people’s grievance and anger. Sensing this as well as foreseeing possible revolt of the people either before or during the election, the ruling party is carrying out its well-planned agenda of political secret killings as well as forced disappearances, with the goal of eliminating most of the potential political opponents as well as leaders of the opposition parties, especially BNP and Jamaat. The case of forced disappearance became prominent when BNP leader and ex Member of Parliament (from Sylhet) M Ilias Ali went missing along with his chauffer few days back. 
While Bangladeshi Sylheti community in London are very active and protesting the forced disappearance of M Ilias Ali, few pro-Awami League palls such as writer Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury and some of the business associates of Sheikh Rehana are trying to organize people to counter the protests of angered Sylhetis in London and the United Kingdom.”
The Guardian, London
The violence on the ground in Bangladesh ahead of the dawn-to-dusk general strike called by the main opposition in Bangladesh was portrayed by a despatch in The Guardian of U.K. (abridged as follows): 
“Police in Bangladesh used baton charges, live bullets and teargas on Sunday (22 April) in clashes with demonstrators protesting against the alleged abduction of a senior politician. The violence was the most acute for many months in the unstable state.
In Dhaka, the capital, dozens of small devices were reported to have exploded and 20 arrests were made. In the north-eastern city of Sylhet, 12 people were reported to have been injured and more than 50 detained in running battles. On Sunday night a tense calm had been established, although tens of thousands of security personnel remained deployed across the country in anticipation of further clashes on Monday.
The crisis was sparked by the disappearance last Tuesday of Ilias Ali, a key organiser with the Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP). Ali was the latest in a series of political activists who have apparently been abducted, raising fears of a concerted campaign of intimidation aimed at opposition politicians. At least 22 people have gone missing so far this year. In 2011, the number was 51. Many local and international campaigners have blamed security forces, accusing the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and local police of eliminating opposition figures to benefit the administration of Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister. Spokesmen from the Rab have denied the charge.
In its 2012 annual report Human Rights Watch said ministers have denied that such incidents occur, even when the government’s own investigations found evidence of wrongdoing.”
Wall Street Journal
The finale of this phase of hartals has been described in a report published by The Wall Street Journal of U.S.A. as follows: 
“At least five people have been killed and scores of protesters and security officials injured in Sylhet and Dhaka, the capital, over the past week as tens of thousands joined demonstrations. Dhaka ground to a halt as people stayed in their homes Tuesday. Shops remained closed and thousands of security personnel fanned out across the city of 12 million.
The clouded economic picture, coupled with the return of violence, shows that Bangladesh may be slipping back toward instability.
Bangladesh for decades has been unhinged by political vendettas, largely stemming from deep animosity between the supporters of Ms. Hasina’s Awami League and the Khaleda Zia-led BNP.
On a visit in February, Robert Blake, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, raised concerns, though, about media freedom and a draft law that would impose restrictions on nongovernmental organizations. More recently, the government has been hit by a number of corruption scandals. Earlier this month, railways minister Suranjit Sengupta resigned on allegations he took bribes from applicants seeking jobs. He denies wrongdoing. Ordinary people remain hit by high inflation and daily power outages that have dented the government’s popularity since its landslide victory in 2009.
Now, the BNP is threatening to call for strikes until the return of Mr. Ali.
‘The government has pushed us to the wall,’ said Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, a BNP spokesman.”
BY : Sadeq Khan. 

Jackfruit and the jackals in Bangladesh

In the bubbling economy and extremely unstable prices of essentials Jackfruit possibly continued to remain as the cheapest available fruit in Bangladesh. Many dislike this fruit because of its offensive odor and unique taste. But this is the only fruit, which always attracts the jackals, as this fruit remains at the lowest height of the trees, where this jackals have easy access. Now this fruit has become the headline story in most of the newspapers in the country, when the case of millions of Taka bribery scandal was attempted to be buried under the funny story of the officer carrying jackfruit from Chittagong [eastern divisional headquarter in Bangladesh] to Dhaka. The driver of the general manager of Bangladesh Railway told Anti Corruption Commission that his boss carried a huge jute sack filled with jackfruit from Chittagong to Dhaka, though it [Chittagong] is not the place, where jackfruit is either available or produced in plenty. The fairytale of railway's official carrying a huge jute sack filled with jackfruit was created with the ulterior motive of hiding the fact of the corrupt officer carrying the jute sack filled with bundles of local currency destined to be delivered at the residence of the then railway minister Suranjit Sen Gupta. The Taka 7 million bribery scandal was busted in an incident on April 9, 2012, when the driver of minister's assistant personal secretary revolted and brought the vehicle inside the headquarters of Border Guards Bangladesh, where the members of the paramilitary forces unearthed the rocking case of the bribery.

The briber scandal:

Extremely corrupt minister in charge of the railway ministry in Bangladesh, brief-less lawyer Suranjit Sen Gupta was finally axed from the post of the railway minister following the huge bribery scandal, where his Assistant Personal Secretary [APS] Omar Faruk was caught with some corrupt senior officials of Bangladesh Railway with large sum of bribe money, during the late hours of April 9. The APS and the senior officials were en-route to the minister's residence to deliver the bribe money packed in a jute sack. Suranjit Sen Gupta, who enjoyed the status of a "veteran parliamentarian", had finally landed into the status of a corrupt political jackal in the eyes of the people at home and abroad. Many said, "At this age of the last tail of his life, greed for money and wealth had put Suranjit into trash, which had the habit of passing objectionable and bad-taste comments on his political rivals as well as his party insiders, including the current Prime Minister, in his own style of ape-like sarcastic body language. On April 15, 2012, Suranjit Sen Gupta was summoned at the official residence of the Prime Minister, where he was asked to give explanations of the incident of April 9, 2012 night, where his staffers were caught with stacks of money en-route to the his residence. Suranjit tried to defend himself with numerous stories, similar to those of what he told the media since the scandal broke, while the Prime Minister did not buy such lies of the railway minister and asked him to quit the post. Suranjit played all of his cards in not being axed from the railway ministry, while the Prime Minister reportedly told him that his [Suranjit] corruption as well as corruption of his son and inner-circle cadres of him was already within the radars of various intelligence agencies.

It was later reported in Bangladeshi and international media that Suranjit's only son Soumen Sengupta turned into a neo-millionaire within the span of three odd months, since his father became the railway minister. Soumen Sen Gupta paid TK. 50 million cash as license fees for obtaining a telecom gait wait license from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission [BTRC]. Neither Suranjit nor his son could give any satisfactory reply as to how Soumen suddenly turned into a multi-millionaire, months after his father became the railway minister. Though Suranjit Sen Gupta was forced to resign from the railway ministry, in an unprecedented manner, he was reinstalled in the cabinet within 24-hours as minister without portfolio, which many believe to have been done at the strong lobbying of some influential politicians of a neighboring nation. Some even say that the corrupt minister was reloaded in the cabinet to save him from any investigations of Anti Corruption Commission or intelligence agencies, as under the existing law of the land, no investigation can be conducted against a sitting minister without the approval of the President. In this case, there is no room or space of any doubt that the head of the government in Bangladesh, by playing the role of savior of a corrupt minister has surely put itself into the role of an abettor of crime and corruption, which in no definition can be either applauded or accepted either by sensible communities in Bangladesh or the world. With the busted corruption scandal of Minister Suranjit Sen Gupta, stories of similar high-profile corruptions by many other members of the current cabinet are becoming public, which definitely opens the scope for anyone to term the ruling elites in Bangladesh as nefariously corrupt.

Failures unlimited:

List of failures of the ruling party in Bangladesh in addressing key national issues such as resolving the existing power crisis as well as ensuring law and order situation etc are not only unlimited but unending as well. The government has evidently failed to ensure good governance in the country, while it has wrongly engaged into series of notorious crimes including state-sponsored terror, enforced disappearance, secret killings, political intimidations, repression of press, oppression of religious minorities and gross violation of the constitutional provisions with drastic ignorance of the democratic values. Such tendencies are only seen in countries under authoritarian regimes, which face undeterred criticism and even punishable actions by the international agencies and communities. The latest case of enforced disappearance of opposition politician and ex Member of the Parliament, M Ilias Ali has already generated huge wave of media criticism at home and abroad. Blood-chilling news and commentaries centering the ongoing enforced disappearances and secret killings as well as state-sponsored terror by the current ruling party in Bangladesh are now hitting the major segments of national and international media, thus placing the rulers in Bangladesh into the status of violators of civic rights and committers of crime against humanity. Since M Ilias Ali went missing more than a week back, there is no trace of his current status, though a vernacular daily reported quoting a police officer that he was forcibly "abducted" by a sensitive intelligence agency in the country. The case of M Ilias Ali is amongst hundreds of such enforced disappearances, which is reaching very alarming level. Reading between the lines of statements of responsible figures of the ruling party evidently show that the opposition leader is surely under the captivity of any of the agencies, though it is still foggy enough to assess the last episode of this extremely critical case of enforced disappearance. Many believe the chance of his returning alive along with his driver is slim enough, while some even are unsure if his trace will ever be known in near future. United States, United Kingdom and other governments have already expressed serious concern over the disappearance of M Ilias Ali, while Amnesty International and other rights group are pressing protests condemning such nefarious notoriety of the ruling party in Bangladesh.

Where is M Ilias Ali really:

This is truly a million dollar question in the minds of every citizen of Bangladesh, who are already traumatized at the density of extreme terror created by the ruling party especially after the recent case of disappearance of M Ilias Ali and his driver. Speculative reports, articles, commentaries and even editorials are filling Bangladesh media though the government has warned the members of Bangladeshi media to refrain from making "wild speculations" centering the disappearance of this popular politician. Currently there are numerous opinions circulating in Bangladeshi and even a segment of the international media, which say M Ilias Ali and his driver might have already been murdered in solitaire confinement and buried secretly in some unknown place. Others think the 'abductors' might have kept him along with his driver in any of the well-guarded places, wherefrom he might be dramatically released with the imaginary story of being abducted by his political or business rivals or "some unknown crime gang". Some even say the chance of his returning alive is really slim, as a released Ilias Ali will certainly start telling his party colleagues and members of the media about the entire story of his abduction and subsequent disappearance, which may put additional black spot on the ruling party.

Saudi diplomat murder mystery untraced:

More than one month has already passed since the brutal murder of the Saudi diplomat Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem-al Ali [45], who was found dead following gun shoots in his chest in Dhaka's upmarket diplomatic district of Gulshan. The murder took place at a time, when the Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia have had a strained relationship recently, though Saudi Arabia is a major donor in Bangladesh. At the same time, Saudi Arabia currently employs more than two million Bangladeshis in that country. It may be mentioned here that, the tragic murder of Khalaf Al Ali took place just on the next day of an officer of the intelligence wing of India's Border Security Forces [BSF] were arrested by Bangladeshi border forces with arms. It was immediately learnt that the captured BSF secret agent confessed to the Bangladeshi interrogators that a number of his colleagues have earlier entered Bangladesh, most of whom possess weapons. Though the government did not utter any further information on the captured BSF secret agent, it is learnt from various sources that he might be silently handed over to Indian authorities within a couple of days, while the government is reluctant in investigating the case of those BSF men, who already entered Bangladeshi territory. Since independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Khalaf Al Ali is the first diplomat who has been murdered in the capital city's posh diplomatic enclave, which was already believed to be the most protected areas in the country. This murder has not only tarnished the image of the nation, but has also left wrong signals with the foreign nations, especially the Arab world. It may be mentioned here that, Saudi Arabia is considered to be one of the nations in the Arab world, where terrorism and Jihadism never got any minimum chance to grow. Saudi authorities are always extremely vigilant in combating any type of religious extremism and wrong interpretation of Islam. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of the Muslim nations, which has always been extremely generous towards the developing and under-developed Muslim nations in the world. Khalaf Al Ali's murder on the street took place weeks after the Bangladeshi Prime Minister told in a public meeting that her government cannot give security and protection to its citizen at their homes. This murder has surely put the home minister and her junior minister as well as members of Bangladeshi police administration at stake. This clearly and very unfortunately shows the failure of the ministry and the police administration. Observers feel that the police administration in Bangladesh, which enjoyed high esteem for its skill and efficiency has been made some how crippled, as the ruling party has been continuously trying to use them as mere political cadres.

Valley of death and fear:

Starting from the brutal murder of journo-couple Sagor Sarwar and Meherun Runi to the murder of the Saudi diplomat Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem-al Ali to latest episode of enforced disappearance of Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader M Ilias Ali along with his driver has put the entire nation into extreme fear and insecurity of life. Some even say that the Nazi-styled fascism of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League is gradually pushing Bangladesh towards a valley of death and fear, which surely is no good news for democracy or democratic institutions.

Hillary Clinton's visit:

The secretary of state of the United States of America, Hillary Rodham Clinton is scheduled to visit China, India and Bangladesh during the first week of May, where she has excluded Pakistan from her itinerary due to understandable reason. Hillary's visit to China, which has already turned into the major economic partner of United States, has valid reasons, and such trip will further strengthen the existing bilateral relations between Washington and Beijing. On the other hand, the US secretary of states' visit to India is taking place at a crucial timing when the ruling party and its political elites are facing numerous charges of high-profile corruption, where even the name of the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has been indicted. But the first-ever visit by the United States' secretary of state to Bangladesh is taking place at the time of extreme political turmoil, where the ruling party is accused of documented corruption, violation of human rights and constitutional provisions as well as liable of state-sponsored terror. Political critics believe Hillary's visit to Bangladesh may be translated as Washington's fresh vow to the ruling Bangladesh Awami League, which would even leave negative impact in the upcoming US Presidential election, where Barack Obama will fight for reassuming in the White House. Rejecting such forecasts some critics say, Hillary's visit will not give any legitimacy to the ongoing wrongdoings of the ruling party in Bangladesh, though they also doubt the US secretary of state may ultimately call off her trip to Dhaka if the ruling party will fail proving its any involvement in enforced disappearance and secret killings in particular. In case the trip is called-off, the odor of "jackfruit governance" and mischievous politics of the ruling party may become much prominent both at home and abroad.