More than four thousand people have been killed during the first 180 days of the Awami League-led ‘Grand Alliance’ government, a unique combination of Islamists, Seculars and Leftists.
According to newspaper reports, official sources have confirmed that more than 1800 people were killed during this period, which means an average of 10 murders a day.
The number of robberies, extortions, rape and other forms of crime has reached the highest level ever since the independence of the country after its war with Pakistan in 1971.
Business communities have already started expressing anger at the massive extortion in various sectors, mostly by the members of the ruling party or its alliance members.
Campuses and educational institutions continue to witness a reign of terror from the musclemen of the ruling party, as well as its students’ wing. More than 300 clashes have so far taken place in various educational institutions and on campuses since installation of the present government. There has been no improvement in the situation despite repeated warnings by the Prime Minister, who chairs her party’s student wing.
Islamist militancy continues to gain strength under the present government; there is no further anti-Islamist or anti religious militancy drive in the country, except for a few sudden searches. According to reports in the local press, a number of religious militancy groups are gaining strength in their ambition to establish Sharia rule in the country. The notorious associate of Osama Bin Laden, Mufti Shahidul Islam, had a prolonged meeting with the Prime Minister at her official residence, which certainly prompted questions in the minds of anti-militancy groups in Bangladesh.
Repression of the press has also reached an alarming level. A number of journalists have been physically assaulted by influential MPs and even ministers of the ruling party. The government is also using various forms of intimidation against newspapers which are critical of the present government.
There is also bad news about the repression of minorities in other parts of Bangladesh. According to minority groups and various individuals, members of the ruling party are torturing religious minorities, as well as seizing their property on a regular basis. In some cases, members of the ruling party are seizing Hindu temples and constructing commercial complexes on them.
The government has yet to withdraw the ban on publications of the Ahmediya religious groups in Bangladesh after the BNP-led Islamist coalition government banned several religious holy books of the Ahmediya community under pressure from Muslim fanatics. Despite the international outcry, none of the governments in Bangladesh has lifted the bans.
The government has also failed to address the electrical-power crisis in the country. Although one of the main pledges of the Awami League government was to take immediate steps to resolve the ever increasing electricity crisis and load-shedding in the country, in the past 180 days load-shedding has steeply increased. Most of the rural parts of the country remain without electricity for 12-15 hours a day. The capital city witnesses on an average 5-6 hours load-shedding on a regular basis.
Politicalization of civil administration is in the worst state ever. To date, a large number of top and mid-ranking civil bureaucrats have been placed on forced retirement or made OSD [Officer on Special Duty]. Government offices, including ministries, are now under the tight influence of pro-government trade unions. There is also similar bad news from the military bureaucracy.
The government is planning to supersede about a dozen officials in appointing the next foreign secretary from a list of senior diplomats. The Foreign Secretary, Touhid Hossain, said Mohamed Mijarul Quayes, now Bangladesh’s ambassador to Russia, would take over as the acting secretary of the ministry.
The present government is once again set to allocate two large state-owned mansions in the country in the name of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana [sister of the Prime Minister] for life. Earlier in 2001, when the Awami League government came to power during the general election of 1996, it allotted Ganabhaban [official residence of the Prime Minister] in the name of Sheikh Hasina for life in accordance with the 2001 act. Later the matter was criticized by various quarters in the country, which was one of the reasons behind the defeat of the Awami League in the general election of 2001. However, this time, the Awami League government is set to step into the same shoes.
The present government may be over-confident in its actions; it has no visible political opposition in the country. Its major and arch rival, Bangladesh Nationalist Party [BNP], is suffering internal problems, which resulted in the severe weakening of its strength since the general election of 2008. Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is struggling to reorganize her party despite the fact that her expulsion of a number of key leaders, such as party’s secretary general, has caused massive setbacks as well as unrest within the party. The BNP may need another year to re-emerge as a potential political opponent to the ruling party.