Imagine, the anxiety of those farmers’ families whose sole earners were sued and taken to custody even after repaying their loans.
Imagine, the mental state of the father who waited 39 hours with the body of his 14-year-old child, who died by electrocution, at the morgue of Habiganj medical college hospital as the physicians went to attend the council of Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad (Swachip), a syndicate of ruling Awami League backed physicians.
So, there is mourning everywhere, and is permanent in contrast to the 100th-minute overjoy of a thrilling soccer match. But, why such mourning when the country is on the ‘highway of development?’
Let’s take a closer look.
The body of a 24-year-old BUET student, Fardin Nur Parash, was found drifting in the Shitalakhya river days after he went missing en route to BUET from home. The physicians found some scars on his body while conducting autopsy. That meant that he was brutally murdered and tossed into the river afterwards.
While his father, Kazi Nur Uddin, is mourning his death and demanding justice, a question has been arisen in all of our minds that who, for what reason, murdered this brilliant guy. In this regard, we have no alternative except to count on the law enforcement agencies -- who are responsible for unearthing the truth.
But instead of cracking the mystery of the killing mission, the law enforcement agencies rather have created some serious confusion that have added insult to the injury of Fardin’s family.
Detective Branch (DB) said the drug peddlers at Chanpara in Narayanganj might have killed Fardin, suspecting him a police source at around 2:30 pm on 3 November -- a disclosure that labeled him a ‘drug addict’, though his family and friends utterly denied the findings.
Days later, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) came up with a fresh disclosure that they traced Fardin’s whereabouts at Jatrabari intersection in Dhaka around 2:15 pm on 3 November.
They said it takes at least one hour to reach Chanpara from Jatrabari intersection. So, the disclosure about his presence at Chanpara around 2:30 pm is not correct. They are yet to ascertain who had killed him and where.
A month has already elapsed, but both agencies are yet to clarify anything over his murder, except some sporadic and contradictory information that have created doubt in the public mind.
Couldn’t they organise a joint press conference after reaching an acceptable development in the investigation? Couldn’t they share their findings to resolve the mystery of the killing mission? We don’t know, but what we know is: they released the information to the media just for credit. That was not fair as several media ran story quoting them that labeled Fardin a ‘drug addict’.
Isn’t it the failure of the law enforcement agencies? Isn’t it held responsible for our mourning?
Let's look at two different incidents
The first one:
Bangladesh Samabaya Bank filed a lawsuit against 37 farmers in Pabna on allegation that they did not repay loans, ranging from Tk 25,000 to 40,000. Of them, 12 farmers were arrested though they claimed to have paid the loans in time and it was the field officer of the bank who embezzled the money.
A team of police chased a group of fishermen away while they were playing cards during free time. Escaping detention, a youth named Noman, 28, jumped into the Meghna river. Three days later, his body was recovered and handed over to the family. The incident took place recently at Pather Khal ghat area at Daulatdia in Bhola.
What do you think reading the above mentioned stories? Whatever you think about ‘free and fair justice,’ your thoughts would be changed about justice in Bangladesh after going through these stories.
Recently, the journalists questioned the finance minister, AKM Mustafa Kamal, over the state of the banking sector -- a time when the numbers of loan defaulters are on the rise in the country with lifting hundreds of thousands of taka from the country’s well-established Islami Bank in the name of some fake organisations.
Instead of replying to the question, he asked the journalists to show specifically where the banking sector is facing the crisis, forgetting that it is not the duty of the journalists to submit a complaint to the finance ministry over the irregularities of the banks.
The meaning of the counter-query of this minister is: everything is going well and it is the reason behind his silent mood for months -- a time when the whole world is struggling to deal with the economic crisis induced by the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
But the media statistics said the amount of default bank loans surged to a record Tk 1.34 lac crore in 2022 which was only Tk 4,646 crore in 1990 and Tk 22, 481 crore in 2009. Of the periods, the last 14 years saw the highest amount of loans being defaulted.
When asked about the same issue of Islami Bank, the cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said, after hearing the irregularities about several banks, he watched some speeches delivered on YouTube over the state of several banks and asked the financial institutions division and finance division to inform them of the real scenario.
The cabinet secretary talked as if there was no newspaper in the country. That is why he had to go through the online and check the veracity of the journalists’ query that there has been massive irregularity taking place in the banks.
Alas! How shamefully our politicians and the bureaucrats are ignoring the fact to save the loan defaulters. The government often changes laws and makes new policies to save the defaulters, not to arrest and chase them down. Isn’t it the instance of unfair 'justice'?
In a hearing recently, the High Court (HC) slammed the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for not taking effective action against the major loan defaulters.
The HC observed the big loan defaulters are remaining untouched while the small ones are caught though the former are misappropriating millions of taka.
Doesn't the HC observation trigger our mourning? Can the government ignore the responsibility?
It's our instinct that to utterly forget the grim picture of reality when we indulge in celebrations.
That is the reason why, despite having a myriad of reasons to be shocked and saddened, thousands of people are crowding at the Mohsin Hall ground of Dhaka University (DU) to enjoy the World Cup matches every night.
Then late at night hundreds in groups are bringing out the bikes in a showdown with unbearable noise all around, celebrating their respective teams' victory. Right now, all denizens of the country are feeling proud as the Argentine coach Scaloni thanked Bangladeshi fans for their unwavering support to Argentina.
All of these pleasures centering the mesmerizing world cup act as solace as the event is soon-to-be-ended, but the panacea is to stage protest on the street against all of the anomalies in a bid to make a better nation.
Otherwise, the agony, grief and mourning will last long.
NH Sajjad is a sub-editor of Prothom Alo. He can be reached via [email protected]