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29th-Aug-2016

People must be empowered to know who is killing whom

By MAINUL HOSEIN

It is a welcome development that the governments of the United States of America and India are keen to be actively engaged in our problem concerning terrorism.The influence of India alone proved not enough to put things right notwithstanding the fact that its relationship with present government is the closest ever. It should not be unknown to India that the present crisis is part of a bigger crisis. The true motive behind terrorism remains shrouded.We do not fight terrorism to make life unsafe for others. The best solution is to trust and empower the people to do their best to own their country for overcoming the crisis. As against aggressive policing to fight terrorism the people have to be assured greater access to information to know who is killing whom.The US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit is considered significant depending on the nature of cooperation that can be established between the two countries. One thing should be clear during his short visit that knowing the truth is not easy. There are too many elements to misguide the government. It is also not clear as to who does what.While fighting terrorism we do not want to see the people denied of the rule of law under the protection of human rights. To live without protection of life and liberty in the midst of gross human rights violations does not make fighting terrorism worth the effort. Life has no value to terrorists, but we cannot say the same thing about ourselves. We value life. The issues of liberty and security under the rule of law has to be an important consideration. We have to remind all that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.There is no one-sided answer to the circumstances contributing to the current trend of terrorist kind of attacks. Terrorism for what, is deceptively unclear.After the attack in a Gulshan Cafe House in the capital with the killing of all the 6 involved university students it became clear that the cause of terrorism is complicated. Another set of young students, numbering 9, were killed as terrorists at Kallyanpur near Dhaka. Last Saturday three suspected terrorists including one whom the police sources described as mastermind was killed in Narayanganj.The bureaucracy dominated internal politics of the country relying on aggressive policing has added to the conspiratorially nature of terrorism. Contradictions about the explanations of who is how involved in terrorism are abound. The anger of younger generation as main victims of aggressive police power cannot be ruled out. The young ones as terrorist suspects have either been killed, detained or found missing. Certainly, this is a terrible situation for many parents. If open trials were taking place the general public would have known what is what and how best to meet the insanity of terrorism.Our belief is that terrorism of our country is not that grave as it looks from outside because our people are peace-loving and democratic. Our people are also religiously tolerant. There is an easy solution but solution must be sought openly and without delay.In our view the decision of the government to seek international cooperation is the right decision because even home-grown terrorism may not be all internal. Besides, we do not want our terrorism, perceived or real, to be exploited as international terrorism.The question most pertinent and needs to be considered seriously is: if lawlessness and heavy-handed use of police power are not at the root of home-grown terrorism.The Supreme Court in a recent judgement issued directions not to arrest anybody without court's warrant or in plain clothes. It also restricted the power of police remand. But that is going mostly unnoticed.But the police seem also under heavy pressure resulting inĀ  arrests without warrant go on, disappearances are frequent and hundreds of detainees suffer imprisonment without trial and without bail for months and years together. All in the name of suspicion for terrorism.Nevertheless, it is not doubted that however hard the police may be trying to fight terrorism they cannot alone be successful. The political leadership and popular support have to join together.Extra-judicial killing denies protection of life and negation of the justice system. The killing of an alleged terrorist is no proof that he was the true terrorist in the eye of law. That is why even those killed in crossfire there has to be court proceedings to prove that wrong persons have not been killed for wrong or presumed allegation. The police also know that truth about one's guilt needs to be established in a court of law. The public faith in police is to be fostered by making them accountable under the rule of law for every loss of life.Our national identity as a moderate Muslim democratic people is under threat. Our Liberation War for democracy is being given a different name. Now democracy itself is facing crisis in Bangladesh and efforts are afoot to prepare the country for authoritarianism of socialist kind. Such an attempt was made once before though failed tragically.The people cannot be helpless spectators when their children are suspected as terrorists and killed. The government needs people's support and cooperation to fight terrorism.Our Constitution guarantees that nobody's life can be taken without due process of law. The people must be assured of life free from fear.The best way to empower the people is to ensure freedom of the press and the government to be open and bound by democratic accountability.