12 people were arrested by the security forces in Moghbazar in the capital on the 28th of October. Among the arrested were two families of Jamaat e Islami thana level officials and Shibir activists. Police reported that they arrested the 12 people on the basis of ‘secret’ information that they were planning to carry out sabotage. Initially police arrested 9 people from a house beside Noyatola RAB-3 premises at 1 am late into the night. Based on their information, three Shibir activists were arrested by security forces from a mess nearby. Family sources say that all three were students, and two of them had come to Dhaka to gain admission this semester. It is mentionable that a total of five women, among them elderly and frail ladies, were among those arrested by the police in the unwarranted nocturnal drive.
The media spin:
The story got coverage in the media for all the wrong reasons. There was no way to independently verify whether the information that the police gave about the arrested was correct. Along with a couple of other media outlets, Banglanews24, well known for its strong prejudice against Shibir and Jamaat, bared this hatred when it published the news under the dubious headline of “12 members of Shibir arrested”. This is inspite of the common knowledge that shibir is not constituted with female members, let alone elder ladies with heart problems. Banglanews24 further quoted police as saying they had retrieved 15 cocktails (most likely from police reserves themselves) , 2.5 litres of petrol (a household commodity?), a receipt collection book, a list of the Hefazat rallies on the 5th of May (big deal) and a huge (unspecified and thus unaccounted for information). The spirit of hatred and amount of prejudice that media such as banglanews24 hold against Jamaat Shibir activists and their families is palpable, if not outright on the table. Forget the fact that justice calls to treat anyone as innocent until proven guilty. In Bangladesh, few people believe that the police have any integrity whatsoever, a legacy of a lack of any accountability on the part of police. This is in view of the excesses which are regularly committed outside the boundaries of the law by the men in uniform.
The incident was purposefully used by leftist Awami League online activists to spread false and spiteful propaganda on the internet through social media. The claims made by the marauding outlets included ridiculous claims ranging from how Shibir recruited female members to ludicrous stories involving sex jihad by Shibir and Jamaat activists, resulting in the advent of a smear campaign that was used intentionally in general question the Muslim character in the light of the hijab and its affiliation with the Islamic movement in Bangladesh. Ludicrous indeed.
This incident may seem small and insignificant in comparison to already widespread combination of state oppression, media terrorism and propaganda against the opposition in Bangladesh, but it is an indication of the multi-pronged attack strategy and the deep seated and all pervading nature of the prejudice in the ruler’s ranks. With an uncertain future in the coming months, we await for common sense and justice to prevail.