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Shared Borders, Shared Oppressions: India And Bangladesh

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By Abhirup Bhunia:

India and its Eastern neighbor, Bangladesh, share a lot in common, the most obvious being its borders. West Bengal shares a linguistic similitude with that country. There are several other recognized and well-known connections but recently there have been fresh additions to the catalog of Indo-Bangla similarities… Read on…

Circumstances in both nations and government means of handling them thereafter have made possible the issuance of another similarity — state backed coercion and intolerance of dissent.

Since Youth Ki Awaaz takes an evenhanded view of things, let us for a moment’s time pack away our political patronages and pay particular attention to what has transpired in the region recently.

What followed in the form of police brutality when noted yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s fast in the national capital was brought to a gory end has led to the country’s electorate taking strong offense and casting solemn doubts over the regime’s level-headedness.

The UPA II government’s overall reaction to popular protests against corruption has been criticized for its hypocrisy and high-handedness. The protestors that night of state cruelty were in the midst of a peaceful sit-in, many of them sleeping.

“Use of force on peaceful protestors in the middle of the night is outright autocracy,” people have been crying out even as the Congress led government shamelessly scouted for justifications on prime time television.

With that piece of reaction, what the government essentially put out was that objecting to widespread sleaze and administrative apathy could land somebody in trouble (in police custody primarily).

So, was it India’s Tiananmen, or was Ram Lila India’s Tahrir Square? Well lets for a moment’s time forget China and Egypt. Instead, let’s look eastward. And that’s where the headline assumes significance.

In Bangladesh, over the last few days police atrocities have emerged as the new reality, in what could be an ugly throwback to the post-1971 period. The chief opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party had apparently gone about protesting the government’s move to scrap a decades old rule which ensures pre-polls neutrality. However, this would require a constitutional amendment that the principal opposition had a serious objection to.

It is alleged that protesters were assaulted by policemen and activists and dissenters jailed indiscriminately. Apparently the big human rights issue here is that those locked up weren’t given a chance to defend themselves. That in fact beings back memories of the Indira Gandhi led Emergency epoch.

Truly now we know, India and Bangladesh share more in common that just language and borders.

They share a newfound tendency to crush dissent and mute popular anti-establishment voices. A propensity to deploy policemen at the slightest provocation also seems to be a shared attribute these days. Here’s wishing both the nations’ ruling parties a safe run till the next elections.

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  1. Anshul Tewari

    A very nicely articulated article. However, I do differ on a few points here.

    1) There is still no proof available that there was a lathi-charge on the scene. However, there is video footage proof that the protesters started throwing pots on the police men trying to remove them from the sight.

    2) The protesters had to be removed post 12am since they did not have a license to protest and instead were using the premises booked for a yoga camp.

    3) Had Baba Ramdev not jumped in the crowd and asked women to surround him to protect him this would not have happened. As a leader, he should have gracefully handed himself over to the police. That would have made him more of a leader/hero. Also, we all know that the police would not have beaten him up, or killed him, as alleged by him. He had a mass following and killing him would have led to riots.

    4) I am not sure if we can compare the scenario with Tahrir Square or Bangladesh since the condition in those countries was much worse. Such protests are actually challenging democracy at a time when there are better, more effective measures that can be taken up.

    1. Abhirup

      Your first two points are technicalities – the broader issue here is whether the govt in a democracy is morally/legally/constitutionally right in bringing in a huge squad of policemen to disperse a crowd of peaceful gatherers.

      With no proof of lathicharge the PM wouldnt have termed the action: “regretful but necessary”

      There’s also the arrogance factor. While one apology could have appeased the people at large the govt thought it was silly to apologize to the aam aadmi they swear by six months b4 elections.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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