Prantik is a collection of 18 poems by Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore. Two lines of the last poem are as follows:
‘Snakes are breathing out venom all around
Message to establish peace will gain no ground’
The country is encircled by conspirators. We cannot take breath due to the poisonous venom unleashed into air. In such a situation, any message for peace is meaningless.
Ahead of the 2008 parliamentary elections, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina vowed to make “Digital Bangladesh”. The party’s election manifesto focused on the issue.
Many politicians and intellectuals ridiculed such a dream terming it to be overambitious. However, the Awami League-led government has made the impossible thing possible. Bangladesh has seen digitisation which ranges from biKash to facebook and e-tender to youtube.
Although the ruling Awami League contributed to digitisation, anti-liberation party Jamaat and its war criminal leaders, their supporters and family members are taking advantage of it.
The country is infested with Goebbels! The anti-state elements and their sympathisers have preferred cyber war to street movement, spreading misinformation and rumours.
On September 6, Minister for Post and Telecommunication Mustafa Jabbar said the government is helpless to facebook and youtube.
Any request to remove standouts and controversial is not entertained by these social media which is the hotspot of all kinds of crimes.
The statement of the minister is confusing to me. His background is not pleasant. He was involved Jasod. He used to criticize Awami League through a weekly. He is lucky to have been minister in technocrat quota without contesting and winning polls. It is a great question as to whether he is helping the government or digging grave. He did an objectionable thing in the postage stamp released by the government marking birthday of Prime Minister’s ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy. Yet, he is untouched.
His surrender before facebook and youtube is shrouded in mystery. He might have encouraged and facilitated anti-liberation forces in continuing cybercrimes. He is showing “damn care” attitude. I comprehend why minister or government is so helpless to a multinational company. If they promote any anti-state and harmful content, they must face action.
Neighbouring India has taken a bold step against twitter and brought facebook and youtube under regulation.
The modern and developed states are fining these companies indiscriminately. What will facebook and youtube do if the government threatens to take action for not removing controversial content? They will surrender to the government. This is how, they are being controlled and regulated by other countries.
When the government was going to enact the Digital Security Act to control spread of malicious and scandalised content in the internet, the civil society protested the move.
Some ministers and advisers requested the prime minister to abandon or soften the law. Such ministers wanted to be popular to the civil society. But, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was adamant to make the law. Finally, the government enacted it.
At the outset, I thought that civil society members really want the law to be scrapped. The intellectuals controlled by the Daily Star and Prothom Alo made an impression in our mind that they would commit suicide had the government scrapped the law. Later, we have realised their strategy. They wanted repeal of the law in order to facilitate war criminals and anti-state conspirators.
The objective of the intellectuals controlled by the two newspapers was to internationally project Digital Security Act as a “black law.” They wanted to serve the purpose of the anti-liberation forces and war criminals. They also tried to convince rest of the world that freedom of expression in Bangladesh is at stake.
People cannot express their feelings and observations freely due to the above law although the anti-state elements are continuing their rumours from abroad. The scandals against individuals and government from the USA, the UK and Canada are enjoying some sort of validity.
A section of intellectuals are appreciating such a kind of scandals at the tea stalls and common people swallowing those. However, the government rejects such rumours terming it to be fake and laughingstocks.
Slowly, the rumours created by Goebbels are taking an inroads into the society and a section of people have started to believe. Some fugitive convicts, expelled army officials, underground journalists and below standard intellectuals are vomiting fabricated stories and rumours in youtube and facebook.
These anti-state elements have targeted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bangabandhu family. Sheikh Hasina is the last symbol of hope to the countrymen. She is steering the country’s unprecedented strides to socioeconomic development. The advancement of Bangladesh and name of Sheikh Hasina have met in a confluence. She is epitome of dream and development.
The opponents of Sheikh Hasina admit that the country will plunge into a deep crisis in absence of her leadership. The colours of the dreams will fade away. So, the group of fugitive convicts and family members of war criminals s in the UK have targeted her.
If Hasina can be resisted, Bangladesh will turn into a failed state. All patriotic citizens should take a bold stand against the anti-state contents in facebook and youtube which should be blocked soon after spread of malicious items.
I discussed some relevant issues with ICT expert Reza Selim a few days back after the High Court expressed dismay at objectionable contents in facebook and youtube. In reply to the HC query, the BTRC under the ministry of Jabbar said they have no authority to block the contents. Reza Selim has a fantastic social development organization named “Amader Gram’ (our village). He has made a silent revolution in cancer treatment in Khulna region. However, he informed me that the statement of BTRC is evasive. It plays silent role in a bid to protect business of some people.
According to Reza Selim, the government authorities concerned should prepare guidelines for facebook, youtube and other social media and ask them to follow those. The government sent a message them that the sites will be blocked for non-compliance of the guidelines. If social media sites are blocked for 24 hours, facebook and youtube authorities will come to Bangladesh to convince the government.
As Reza Selim knows the consequence of blocking social media sites, it is not unknown to Mustafa Jabbar. After the gruesome killing of Bangabandhu and his family members on August 15, 1975 by a section disgruntled army officials, the then army chief KM Shafiullah made a lame excuse that he was helpless. In 2021, Minister Mustafa Jabbar made repetition of such kind of excuse. He expressed utter helplessness. Does his statement manifest helplessness or something else?
The government is wrongly projected globally by Digital Security Act for allegedly curtailing freedom of expression and creating panic arresting journalists and innocent people in various parts of the country. Besides this, romours of David Bergman, Tasnim Khalil, Shahid Uddin, Taj Hashmi, Kanak Sarwar, Elias Hossain, Nazmul Sakib and garbage emitted by Nagorik TV are bellowed to be dominated.
People are not delighted to know stories of development, finishing of the Padma Bridge project and headway in the work of the Metrorail scheme.
However, some people are afraid of garbage statements. They talk to each other asking about authenticity of a particular content. They know Bangladesh has a strict law to thwart face social media statements and content. They get confused. Many people tell me that the statements are true. Had the social media been false, the perpetrators would have faced case. So, the fake statements are gaining grounds to some extent. The mainstream media outlets are losing credibility.
On the other hand, the conspirators abroad are thinking themselves to the heroes. They are terming local mainstream newspapers and journalists to be timid and sycophant. Who are making the conspirators heroes? I talked to some government policymakers who rejected the issue. They said people do not believe the gossips and rumours. It reminds me of the incident of 1975. Awami League leaders and even Bangabandhu were alerted about the assassination plot but they did not believe it.
Awami League leaders are always busy with BNP. They are concerned about a grave. One Awami League leader is scolding another leader of the same party due to personal misunderstanding on facebook live. Some of them come to facebook wearing various dresses and behave like a model. But they are least bothered about anti-liberation and anti-state elements. Like Awami League, other pro-liberation forces are inactive in the social media. In irony of the fact, anti-liberation forces Jamaat-Shibir and war criminals and their family member are very active in facebook and youtube.
An example can clarify the situation. A knife can save a life if it is used by a physician in the operation theatre. The same knife takes away life if it used by mugger or dacoit. The ICT is in the hand of defeated force of 1971. Bangladesh is bleeding everyday due their attack. The war criminals, their sympathizers and BNP have no performance in the street but they are very much vocal in the social media. Whether Awami League leaders see as to what their opponents are doing in the digital platform.
It is not known to the government that fake and concocted items are being viral on the social media. Elias Hossain released a video concerning actress Pori Moni and a police high-up from the USA. It means Elias has contact with the high officials of the government.
I saw pro-BNP Kanak Sarwar showing some documents on August 21 grenade attack on Awami League rally. He collected the documents from the USA. The general people are not supposed to get permission letter of the 2004 rally. A question has been raised who supplied him the documents? The government has sent two police officials on forced retirement. One of them was CID officer. He was entrusted with the cases against actress Pori Moni, model Piasa and Mou. Soon after getting responsibility of the cases, he said the persons visited Piasa and Mou are being listed. He sparked a panic among some businessmen and politicians. Later, the police commissioner at a press conference said many people asked him whether they should stay at home or not. The government controlled the situation but some damage was already caused to the government. The police official knew that he would be sent on forced retirement and he made such comment to put the government in an awkward situation and supply spices to the recipe of Elias and his gang.
We do know how many undercover agents of anti-state forces are in the administrative and other wings of the government. They are supplying important documents to the cyber criminals who have waged a war against Bangladesh and the Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The anti-state network is widespread at home and abroad. The common people can feel the poisonous breath of the snakes. Is the government skeptical about it? Does it think that everything is under control?
The writer is executive director of Poriprekhhit
Email: [email protected]
(Translated by Firoz Al Mamun)