WHEN MEMBERS OF THE ELITE CLASSES REMAIN SILENT IN THE FACE OF TERRORISM
ABDUL GAFFAR CHOUDHURY
Let me start by repeating the old saying-when Rome was burning Nero was playing his flute. We can draw an analogy between this saying and the behaviour of our elite class when the country is suffering from acute terrorism.
Everyday some ordinary people, even mothers with their child are being burned alive by miscreants. There is no response from our elite class against this barbarity. They are still busy uttering rhetoric about democracy and blaming both government and terrorist parties against these indiscriminate killings. The parties perpetuating these crimes are calling it a political movement.
But everyone is witnessing that there is no public support behind these ‘movements’ and few hooligans paid or hired are killing ordinary people by arsoning, throwing petrol bombs and immediately fleeing from the scene. These cowardly attacks cannot be called a political movement.
Unfortunately, a section of our elite class has failed to distinguish between political movement and terrorism. Of course there are two types of terrorism. One is patriotic and the other- destructive, anti-people. During British occupation of India two very powerful terrorist parties started violence in the eastern part of India and they used to call themselves Anushilan Party and Jugantar Party. Their aim was to liberate the country from British occupation, and they targeted the members of the British ruling class, their police and military establishment etc.
We know the heroism and patriotism of Khudiram and Pritilata Waddedar and others who were known as terrorists but sacrificed their lives for the independence of their motherland. They shot British governors, their police officers and attacked Chittagong armoury to capture it with its arms. There was direct fight between these patriots labelled as terrorists by British authority and the police and military. We do not find in the history of the so-called terrorist movement in undivided India that a single shot was fired on any common people. Those brave patriots are not called terrorists today, but people remember them with admiration and respect as freedom-fighters.
Now what we see happening in Bangladesh is a destructive and anti-people terrorism under a political cover. The only aim of these political parties instigating the terrorists is to overthrow a government which is not foreign and not military or autocrat in character. There is a constitutional way and means to oppose this government. But parties like BNP and Jamaat who are fundamentally against the basic principle of the country’s freedom are determined to overthrow the government by any means. Failing to get support of the people they took the path of terrorism and by killing ordinary people they want to terrorize them and achieve their goal.
For arguments sake if we accept the logic of BNP and Jamaat that they were forced to take the path of terrorism because the government has blocked all the constitutional path to oppose them then question arises why they did not follow the footstep of the terrorists of the last century who fought bravely with British military and police establishment.
They confronted foreign rulers and sacrificed their own lives, and here in Bangladesh these terrorists are not going after police or military establishments and have no courage to confront them. They kill ordinary people even women and child indiscriminately and flee from the scene immediately if there is any police presence. They have no moral courage and any respect for public life and property of their own country. Our elite class can support an anti-government movement if they wish. But how can they remain silent or inactive in the face of these barbaric atrocities?
During Independence movement in undivided India some prominent members of Indian elite class if not publicly, were secretly sympathetic towards the terrorist movements. Even Tagore was sympathetic towards Subhas Bose’s armed revolution against British Raj and he dedicated his famous book Taser Des to Subhas Bose. But these elites had also reservation about terrorism. They never supported killing ordinary people or destroying the property of common men. During August Movement of 42 when the quit India movement of Gandhi became violent and people started dislodging train tracks and destroying public properties then there was strong condemnation from the prominent leaders of the Indian elites and they did not support naked terrorism against public life even for the sake of independent movement.
Losing public support the so-called terrorists of the British period denounced terrorism themselves, and became believers in communism instead. Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed, once labelled as a notorious terrorist by British government who was arrested for his alleged involvement in Sandeep bomb conspiracy denounced terrorism and declared his belief in Marxism while in jail. He was one of the founder leaders of the Indian Communist Party.
The failure of terrorist movement in British India convinced main political parties including Congress that without mass movement and mass uprising they cannot force the British Government to quit India. Afterwards the mass uprising along with the armed struggle by the Azad-Hind force on the war front forced British Government to allow India its freedom, and that freedom was not achieved by terrorism.
When the IRA or Irish terrorists were engaged in terrorism against British forces in Ireland and England some Irish intellectuals opposed it publicly risking their lives. They said, ‘We support a mass movement or even an armed struggle against British rule but we cannot support the indiscriminate killing, looting and arsoning of public life and property in the name of freedom movement’.
They asked the entire elite class of Ireland to oppose terrorism. In their opinion it was crime against humanity. Even Bernard Shaw said that when an Elite class of any society remain silent without opposing terrorism or give them passive support for any reason then we can assume that elite class is morally bankrupted. My fear is that most of the members of the elite class of Bangladesh are suffering from both opportunism and moral bankruptcy. If they think Awami League government is not democratic and running an administration without public mandate they can also go for movement against the government.
They should urge the public to unite and to organise a powerful movement against the government. But sitting in the haven of safety and comfort they continually utter the democratic rhetoric and remain silent in the face of barbaric acts of terrorism which are not signs of their high morality and patriotism.
It happened in Germany in the 30s of last century. A section of German intellectuals were busy opposing communism to save democracy. They did not see the rise of Fascism which was creeping in every sphere of the German society at the time. Bangladesh is now facing the challenge of the rise of a more dangerous religious fascism in the country. At this critical moment our many prominent intellectuals are busy to discover constitutional faults of a democratic government. The storm is gathering in our sky, I do not know if our elite class can stop it by shutting their eyes on reality.
JANUARY 22, 2015