Is curfew the answer to the crisis!
March 30th, 2020 at 8:42 pm
Is curfew the answer to the crisis!

Nadeem Qadir;

It is indeed sad to see that a large number of people have failed to realise the dangers linked to the coronavirus even after the deployment of the armed forces who have been putting their best efforts to convince all that stay indoors, stay safe and live longer.

Braving the scorching summer, the troops along with policemen have fanned out across Bangladesh with medics fighting to save lives risking their own, but some insane people still taking the bug attack as just yet another influenza or dengue.

After such massive government and non-governmental campaigns along with the efforts of the media, how can such elements be convinced that first, it was for their own good they need to stay indoors, and secondly for the greater interest of the nation.

Troops deployed across Bangladesh to ensure social distancing in a bid to slow the spread of novel coronavirus infection – photo by Jibon Ahmed

Is it because the post-independence generation got a ready independent Bangladesh and did not have to fight the repressive Pakistanis or is it a “fashion” to defy all kinds of laws or rules?

Until independence in 1971, the Bengalis had to fight for every right, including the right to speak in their mother tongue Bangla. Post-independence Bangladesh could not even start its journey as an independent country when the country’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated in 1975.

This South Asian country plunged into a chaos and grabbed by the pro-Pakistani conspirators. Thus it became independent only in name but in fact returned to a state of where lawlessness and corruption became the order of the day with all fundamental rights like democratic practices were sent to prison.

Thus the period between 1975 and 1990 was a long rule of pro-Pakistani military and or pseudo-military rule that also taught the generation of that time make money at any cost to enjoy life, nothing else mattered.

Thus they plunged into the high seas with “Hizbul Bahar,” the ship that has remained as the model of corrupting young people under General Ziaur Rahman, killed in a 1981 coup, where only self interest was taught.

Dhaka on the first day of transport strike – photo by Jibon AHmed

Teachings of humanity, learning to be responsible and selfless were forgotten during that long time because military rulers were ready to serve their foreign master and cling to power at any cost.

That, to this author, is the reason behind the current situation affecting every sector of the society including the post-independence age-group and their generations.

Let me remind the readers as well as the decision-makers that most of them are cowards and bow to tough rules enforced with full muscle.

The armed forces working in aide to the civil administration are usually instructed not to act in any way that can upset the target groups in times of crisis, which is the job of the police.

In this recent crisis times when police went into action with batons, it triggered criticism. But to deal with crowds who fail to understand and comply with emergency orders to save lives deserve the batons.

Give the troops “little guided teeth” and police “guided fangs” to make them go back indoors ans stay put.

But when a democratic government is in power with a person like Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who hates any rough or rude acts against the people, one can wonder how far the proposals for “teeth” or “fangs” will be accepted.

Thus the government is left with one choice — extend the 10-day holiday until mid-April and impose curfew immediately which carries the power to “warn and shoot” to save the nation from the scourge of coronavirus as our health minister has said Bangladesh has so far fared better in containing the bug compared to most other countries.

Just ensure food chain supplies remain operational and area-based elected city corporation will ensure delivery at door steps. Let the councillors do some work instead of napping over like in the case of last year’s dengue attack.  

We want to be even better every day and save lives, save Bangladesh. The economic consequences are already grim and unless tough steps are not taken than the price will be too high for Bangladesh to handle.

Act now. Impose curfew and extend the 10-day holiday. Yes, we will overcome not only if we are united, but be sensible and act tough now, not later.

Nadeem Qadir is a senior Bangladeshi journalist and a Dag Hammarskjöld fellow,-