By Talukder Shaheb
The nation was rendered shocked at the incident by which a bus at Shahbag was firebombed, leaving 3 bus passengers dead till date and rendering more than 18 passengers with severe burn injuries on the evening of Thursday the 28th of November, 2013, the last day of the blockade program two weeks ago. The incident was blamed on the opposition by the government, and the smear campaign by government affiliated media (which sadly includes about 90% of the currently operational print and television media) that followed was intense to the point that people were force fed the fact that this was a work of the opposition. However, details have begun emerging, which not only question the prevalent assumptions of who were behind this attack, but point strong fingers at government involvement as well. Let us examine some of them:
- The bus service that was affected in the arson attack was the “Bihanga Paribahan” , which belongs to Pankaj Devnath, a leading Awamileague leader. Now one may ask, so what if Pankaj Devnath is a leading Awami League leader? There is strong evidence to suggest that Pankaj Devnath may have collaborated with Awami League cadres to have his own bus set on fire. Right after the arson attack, Pankaj Devnath, the General Secretary of Sweccha Shebok League, an affiliate organization of the Awami League, was declared the Awami League candidate for the Barisal-4 constituency, replacing the previous Awami League candidate Saidul Islam, the AL President of the Mehengonj in Barisal. Was this some kind of reward?
- The same Bihanga Paribahan has been accused in a previous incident where a bus of the service ran into Khaleda Zia’s vehicle. This is a link of that incident in Bangla.
- Despite the presence of heavy police patrol, no one was caught from the premises of the incident that day. It is mentionable that police were present at eight points around the incident area- in front of the Press Club, roundabout in front of National Eidgah, in front of the Foreign Ministry, Ramna Gate beside Motsho Bhaban, in front of the Engineers Institute, in front of the Shishu Park and at the Shahbag intersection. Police were of course, also present at Shahbag Police Station. They were positioned such that it would take less than a minute for the police force to reach the spot of the arson attack. Yet they were unable to do.
- Strong evidence points to the involvement of the Nanak-Azam outfit. One of the people who petrol bombed the bus was identified as Jubo League cadre Masud, a close associate of Jahangir Kabir Nanak. Rasheda, a passenger of that bus, was a witness to the above claim. A resident of 16 no. slum at Adabor, Rasheda is a cleaner at a pathological lab in Dhaka. Her mobile number is 01818069026. Rasheda informed that due to previous acquaintance, she had witnessed Masud throwing a petrol bomb at the bus and that she had informed the police. A reporter of a popular television channel had confirmed that Rasheda had narrated this incident to him in an interview. However police were found to back off from further investigation of the matter after getting wind of the involvement of AL leader Nanak. Instead, high level BNP leaders were accused and implicated, leaving no room to imagination on whether this was anything but a well planned government conspiracy.
Add to this mix up recent news of Ruling Awami League leaders Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Mirza Azam have been cleared of all charges over a 2004 arson case in which 11 were killed. Notice the timing. It is just at this moment as if the government wants everyone to know that these two are certified ‘good politicians’. All this despite videos leaked some time ago where veteran politician Obaidul Kader confesses to the guilt of the Awami League in the bus arson incident and the involvement of Sheikh Hasina herself along with the Juboleague top brass.