Alleged drug suspects are being killed at a time when questions have been raised over fairness of the impending parliamentary elections and the future of democracy in Bangladesh.
Observing this, India’s The Telegraph newspaper referred to Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation’s ranking of Bangladesh, along with Lebanon, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Uganda, as a new autocracy.
Even a commentator in India's Observer Research Foundation has described Bangladesh's upcoming election as a challenge to regional stability. The newspaper said in an article by Subir Bhaumik on Thursday that ‘Bangladesh is under a cloud.’
“When rampant human rights abuses surface alongside the prospect of a less-than-fair election, questions are inevitably raised over the future of democracy in Bangladesh,” Telegraph noted.
It wrote that more than 50 people were gunned down by security forces in May during a crackdown against drug traffickers in the country, raising the spectre of Rodrigo Duterte's Philippines.
“Many of those killed may have been genuine drug peddlers. But there are reports that quite a few of these killings were 'set-up',” the newspaper pointed out.
It said that the elections had been held every five years under a neutral caretaker government since the fall of the Ershad regime in 1990. Then the system was abolished in 2011. Telegraph, however, expressed its views that there were good reasons to do away with the caretaker system which, it pointed out, had exceeded its brief to conduct free and fair polls and tried to rule Bangladesh without an electoral mandate for a good two years.
The article mentioned that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies wanted the caretaker system restored and hit the streets in violent agitation before the parliamentary elections in 2014.
“When the Sheikh Hasina Wazed government went ahead without going back to the caretaker system, the BNP-led alliance boycotted the polls,” it added.
The newspaper called the boycott “a tactical mistake” because, he felt, the BNP-led alliance could have well won the polls.
The Telegraph article said the West remained critical of Sheikh Hasina’s government, and as the countdown begins to the next election, the US envoy has called upon the government to ensure free and fair elections.
“The West and the self-declared custodians of democracy are making a critical mistake over Bangladesh. They overlook the campaign of violence that was unleashed against the Awami League when the BNP-led alliance was in power,” wrote the Indian newspaper.