IT IS indeed a matter of shame that when tens of thousands of people thronged the National Martyrs’ Memorial to pay their homage Monday morning, the activists of the ruling Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party clashed with each other leaving around 50 people injured and 50 vehicles vandalised. Further, as mentioned in a report of New Age on Tuesday, rival factions of the Jatiya Party — a key component of the ruling coalition — also engaged in clashes with each other there leaving at least 30 people injured. According to the report, there was an altercation between AL and BNP activists over queuing up outside the main entrance to the memorial when the prime minister was placing wreaths around 6:15am. The exchange of words led to exchange of blows after the prime minister, along with the president, had left the area. On the other hand, about one hour and a half after this clash, rival JP factions swooped on each other over ‘who should accompany [the party chief] HM Ershad to the memorial.’ Understandably, the clashes created panic among people and led many organisations to leave the memorial without placing wreaths. All this marks not only disregard for the martyrs of the liberation war but also lack of democratic practices amongst the major political parties.
There was a period, especially during early 1980s, when clashes between activists of different political parties, including the Awami League and theBNP, over who would place wreaths at the Central Shahid Minar first were a regular phenomenon. In the course of their collective democratic movement against the then military regime of Ershad, such clashes ceased to be after mid-80s. It appears, unfortunately, that the malaise is now back, thanks particularly to confrontational politics practised by two major political camps. Ever since the restoration of civilian rule in 1991, the AL and BNP leaders have engaged in relentless bickering over almost all issues. The way a number of leaders belonging to both parties hurled abusive words at each other in parliament just the other day could be a glaring example in this regard.
Be that as it may, both the parties need to realise such actions ultimately harm the political process and could result in erosion of public faith in the political leaders, and thus mend their ways.
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