JI woes in Bangladesh

BANGLADESH police has arrested top leaders of the country’s largest pro-Islamic party, an official said, as the government appeared to have launched a crackdown on the main opposition parties. Nine people were arrested after a raid on a house in Dhaka’s northern neighbourhood of Uttara, including the top leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami party, Maqbul Ahmed, deputy leader Shafiqur Rahman and former Member of Parliament Golam Parwar.
The government claims that JI leaders have been arrested as they were holding a ‘secret’ meeting but this appears to be a lame excuse and is a continuation of political vengeance and vendetta against Jamaat-i-Islami whose leaders have been hanged in questionable judicial process. Bangladesh claims to be a democracy but its incumbent government cannot tolerate meeting of several leaders to discuss their own political plans, which is their fundamental right. There are also reports that the action against opposition parties is aimed at diverting attention from the criticism that the government is receiving on account of mishandling of Rohingya refugee crisis. Apart from JI leaders, who are being penalised for their pro-Pakistan thinking during 1971 war, main opposition leader Khaleda Zia too is being entangled in engineered cases as part of the strategy to scuttle voice of the opposition. Such is the situation that the country’s chief justice, who is widely seen as a major critic of the government, has also gone on a month-long leave, amid concerns that he was forcibly sent to vacation and might not return to duty. This would be a serious setback to human rights situation in Bangladesh as affected people would be finding no forum to agitate or seek justice. There is already extreme political suffocation in Bangladesh where JI stands barred from taking part in elections on the pretext that its charter contravened the country’s secular constitution. One fails to understand why champions of democracy and human rights organisations are not playing their due role in the face of repressive tactics by Hassina Wajid government.

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