For the first time official sources of the Rapid Action Battalion [RAB], an anti-crime and anti-terrorism elite force in Bangladesh, under the jurisdiction of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Home Affairs, officially confirmed that since its formation on March 26, 2004, 577 people have been killed through encounters in different parts of the country.
Although the present ruling party in Bangladesh always spoke out against extra-judicial murders, senior officials of the RAB said that for the month of July alone, 29 people were killed in ‘cross-fire’.
RAB Director General, Hasan Mahmud Khandekar, told reporters that a list of leftist extremists in the South-Western part of Bangladesh has already been prepared by various intelligence agencies. It may be mentioned here that, several front ranking political leaders, including many in the current government in Bangladesh as directly or indirectly involved with such leftist terror outfits.
According to DG of the elite force, on the basis of the newly prepared list, massive offensives will begin soon. It is anticipated that, in most cases, arrested suspects will be killed in ‘cross-fire’ instead of putting them under legal procedures.
The endorsement of by RAB on 29 extra-judicial murders just within the month of July is surely a matter of grave concern. It clearly shows that, none of the political parties in Bangladesh are ever interested in showing respective to human rights. Otherwise, murdering the arrested suspects with the very known drama of ‘cross fire’ should have stopped much earlier.
Meanwhile, eminent social activist and educationist Professor Anu Hammud was mercilessly beaten by the members of law enforcing agencies on broad day light in Dhaka on Wednesday, when he was leading a procession which was heading towards state owned natural resource exploration company named Petrobangla, over recent exploration deals granted to two international companies. At least 50 other protesters were also injured after police charged them with batons. Meanwhile, a front ranking leader of the ruling party has put the blame on their arch political rival, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, for such brutality on the peaceful demonstration.
Surely, such remarks by the front ranking leader of the ruling party will create a very negative impression about the government, as those demonstrators were injured by members of law enforcing agencies, and naturally law enforcing agencies are not commanded by the party in opposition.
Bangladesh Awami League has a bad habit of putting blames of its own mistakes and misdeeds on others. For example, since it came in power in January 2009, the government has completely failed to control the exorbitant rise in the prices of essentials. Moreover, law and order situation in Bangladesh is at the ever worst state. But, ministers responsible of ministries concerned are continuing to blame opposition political parties for their ‘hands’ behind such situation.
The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports announced program protested the government’s decision to award three blocks to two IOCs with a provision allowing them to export up to 80 per cent of gas. The committee feared such a move would threaten the country’s energy security.
The committee convener, Sheikh Mohammad Shaheedullahk, said at a press conference that the police had assaulted their peaceful demonstration because the government was desperate to protect the interest of international oil companies instead of national interest. “We strongly condemn the unprovoked attack. This has exposed the fascist attitude of the government,” he said demanding immediate action against the police officers involved in the attack.
Shaheedullah warned that the government would not be able to foil their movement by resorting to repression. He vowed to continue the movement until the decision to allow gas export was scrapped.
The speakers said that the prime minister’s approval of offshore oil and gas exploration deals in the Bay of Bengal with two international companies, ConocoPhillips and Tullow Oil plc, ran counter to her poll campaign pledges.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs, headed by the finance minister, on August 24 approved offshore oil and gas exploration deals with the two companies in three sea blocks in the resource-rich Bay, on condition that they would not operate in the disputed areas in the blocks.
Anu Muhammad said the present government was not working as the true representatives of the people. ‘The energy ministry and Petrobangla are working for multinational companies,’ he said. ‘Till now three of 28 blocks have been allocated to international companies and gradually the rest will be given to them,’ he said.
The government has awarded Ireland-based company Tullow Bangladesh shallow water block SS-08-05 and US oil company Conoco Phillips South Asia New Ventures Limited deep sea blocks DS-08-10 and 11 in the Bay of Bengal for oil and gas exploration.
Juicy rumors of billion dollar kickbacks are circulating in the air in Dhaka centering such over-enthusiasm of the government in signing agreements with foreign companies, ignoring national interest. As usual, none of such rumors are backed by evidences, except expert’s comments to justify that these agreements were not concluded looking into national interest as priority.
Anyway, this is one of the several police offensives on peaceful protestors in Bangladesh. The present government in Dhaka is highly intollerable and they will possibly not allow any anti government protests or demonstrations in the country at least during the entire tenure. Some people are even anticipating that the ruling government in Bangladesh may adopt all forms of intimidation tactics in suppressing political opponents and even criticism in the media.