A rare opportunity to rid the society of crime bosses lands in Bangladesh  

 A.H. Jaffor Ullah

Published on February 13, 2007

We all thought that finally the days of political criminals are numbered when the army in Bangladesh started to arrest a few crime bosses, criminals with political affiliation, etc.  A year ago a list circulated in the Internet that showed how much money was siphoned off from public fund in Bangladesh in the last 5 years and by whom.  Needless to say, the bulk of the money stolen from public fund was connected to Khaleda Zia�s party and a sizable amount was stolen by her own family members including her good-for-nothing son, Tarek Rahman.  The newspapers in Bangladesh also ran stories about how the friends and inner circle of Khaleda Zia�s son became multimillionaire overnight.  One name that was mentioned is that of Mr. Giasuddin Mamun, who is the sidekick of Khaleda Zia�s eldest son.  Therefore, when the news came just in the aftermath of emergency declaration in Dhaka that Mr. Mamun was arrested by the army, we all thought it was the right beginning.  However, today (January 15, 2007) I read that the High Court of Bangladesh has asked the army and police not to trouble Mr. Mamun any further.

I urge Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, the newly appointed Chief Advisor of the caretaker government, to give orders to law and order department to apprehend all the criminals who are connected with the major political parties.  The police should not go after petit criminals who steal only nickel and dime.  Instead, the army and police should round up all the criminals with political patronage.  I read that most ministers who served Khaleda Zia from October 2001 through October 2006 have become filthy rich.  Should not the government ask them to provide evidence how they amassed such phenomenal wealth in just 5 years sans Aladdin�s magic lamp.

Let us hope that the CG in Dhaka will not go slow to apprehend all these criminals.  Secondly, the corrupt ex-MPs and godfathers should not be allowed to run for parliamentary election.  I have no sympathy for H.M. Ershad.  If the EC barred him from competing in the next election, then other politicians who were identified having links to crime and whose net worth had become astronomical should also be barred.  If required these corrupt individuals should be railroaded to receive a speedy trial.  The bigger question is � will this happen now during the emergency?  The experts are indicating that the new CG will be in office for at least 90 days.  Therefore, if they have the resolve, all the criminals could be rounded up in a cinch.  The police precisely know who they are.  Therefore, apprehending them won�t be a monumental task.

I am a bit surprised knowing that not many cyber forums are vocal about this endemic problem that afflicts Bangladesh.  If the nation cannot rid of the mega-criminals with high political patronage, these thugs will re-enter the politics and the cycle of crime will start in pronto immediately after the parliamentary election. 

The emergency declaration in Bangladesh was not greeted with an open arm by people who prefer democracy over oligarchy (a government by a few influential people) but these select few people who are at the helm may do something which will not be possible by any democratically elected government in Bangladesh.  Thus a fantastic opportunity is literally knocking at the door.  What are we waiting for?

Maybe, I am expecting way too much from the caretaker government whose mandate is only to prepare the nation for an honest, fair, and unbiased election.  Thus, I am disheartened but not appalled to hear the news today that the HC in Bangladesh is asking the law and order department not to harass Giasuddin Mamun who made billions in the last 5 years.  All of this could change if the President makes a decree that the nation is now under an emergency rule; therefore, civil rights protected by the constitution may not apply now.

The people of Bangladesh will remember for a long time and they would go out of their way to thank Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed and his council of advisors if his caretaker administration could rid the society of crime bosses with political connection.  It is doable and must be done.  This temporary government could write a history and set an example of good governance, which will go down in the annals of Bangladesh history as a turning point.  Why not go for it?


Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans