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21 bottles and A war against corruption

 

Bangla regime's intentions are no different from old ones
TSI | Issue Dated: July 15, 2007
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21 bottles and A war against corruption The military-backed caretaker government in Bangladesh has pledged to rid the country of corruption before it holds elections, presumably by the end of 2008. With this mantra in mind, a Dhaka court last week sentenced former MP and Minister for Communications Anwar Hossain Manju to five year imprisonment for keeping 21 bottles of wine in his house without a permit. The alcohol was recovered during a midnight raid at the ex-MPís residence. Manju is one of the corrupt suspects named on an unofficial list published by the media earlier this year.

The Interim government in Bangladesh has released over 100 names of individuals they are targeting in the name of fighting corruption. However, with charges as absurd as this, one cannot help but ask if it is corruption that is being eliminated or political opposition? So far the corruption drive has targeted mainly political leaders from the BNP and the Awami League and businessmen who are loyal to them.

The possession of liquor without a license for a Bangladesh citizen is an illegal act in Bangladesh and therefore the government can bring a case against Manju. However, it is disappointing that the possession of wine is the only allegation the government can bring against a senior politician who has been a sitting MP for 19 years and a Minister for 11 years in both Ershadís and Sheikh Hasinaís cabinet.

Manjuís is not the only politician who is a victim of such lame cases. Former Minister of Law Moudud Ahmed is being detained for possessing a few bottles of whiskey and some cans of beer. Other frivolous cases include money laundering against those who had small amounts of foreign currencies in their homes at the time of the raid to having unregistered cars in their homes.

Such silly charges against these senior politicians are being brought in the name of a war against corruption. However, detaining a handful of alleged corrupt politicians on such meaningless charges will hardly bring an end to corruption in the country.

Ironically, other senior politicians who also have allegations of corruption against them remain free. While there is a total ban on politics, these few favourites have been handpicked by the present administration to organise a new party as well as bring about reforms in the AL and the BNP, minus the two Madams.

Thus, all actions so far lead to the conclusion that this regimeís intentions are no different than prior military regimes: to eliminate all political opposition, handpick puppet politicians and then manipulate the electoral process to bring them to power. This strategy of using a populist agenda to build up credibility with the masses and then targeting popular politicians who stand in their way is a tactic that has been used by many military regimes including Ayyub Khan. This alcohol case is reminiscent of those days when absurd charges were filed against politicians in order to harass them and destroy their public image and credibility.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017