The class dynamics of Goom

Afsan Chowdhury
Thursday, November 16th, 2017


The disappearance or Goom in common parlance of Dr. Mubashar Hasan has sent shock waves among the middle class. He is well known, part of media, linked to research a well as a University teacher. So in effect, he has all the identities which many would think that would make them/him ‘safe’. Other disappearances have usually been of political activists and Jongi sympathizers variety but this was different.  That is why there is such a lot of unease.


There are several other recent cases of recent disappearances which include one Aniruddha Sarker, a businessman and Honorary Consul General of Belarus . A permanent resident holder of Canada , it is rumored he was close to Justice Sinha and his disappearance may have something to do with that though no one knows what.


But then there are others.  Two leaders of a newly formed party BJP are missing and so is a student from Canada. The GS of  Kalyan Party is missing too, all picked up and never heard from again.  The list is long and it carries a wide range of IDs. Which is why it’s not possible to say that all of them are linked to Jongis.


The opinion-forming class


It would seem that the enemies of these people picked up were on the wrong side for reasons unknown to us and the pickers thought that in Bangladesh, one could make another disappear and get away with it. Since the number and variety are high so is anxiety.


What Dr. Mubashar’s disappearance has done is hit the opinion forming class.  And this is something that will trouble the powers that be.  It is a fact that many think that he was picked up by security agencies and two reports have already appeared which hint that his research topic which was linked to Jongis. Others say that he may have posted items about the armed forces that had political implications. No matter what cause for his disappearance, it is unacceptable.


Daily Ittefaq did a report and then deleted it which says that Jongi sympathizers have infiltrated the A2I project supported by the UNDP and birthed by the PMO. Dr. Mubashar was linked to this project as well and the hint is that he was also linked to Jongis.


But this report faced so much flak that it had to be withdrawn which must have caused several red faces and served as a reminder that our media , spoon-fed by sources , have some way to go to maturity.


But the nature of our politics is middle class, media is middle class and the value structure of the urban classes is the same. Why then is the Government taking a risk by not being energetic enough to rescue the disappeared?


The upper needs the middle


We understand that Aniruddha and the two members of the BJP are Hindus so they can be discarded as not being part of the elite. The Kalyan party GS could be a pro-BNP sympathizer hence forgettable. But that is not the case with Prof. Mubashar who belongs to the solid strata of the middle class and opinion makers of Bangladesh. By ignoring his case, bigger rumblings are risked.


His case can’t be ignored as every media outlet has written on him and he is still a e top news. It can’t be offset by the IGP’s claim that Goom was always there. That has made the law enforcers look a bit unable, a tag which for a police is a bad news but also a bad signal.


If the feeling is that the middle class itself is not significant, there is more merit in it so it would effectively be saying that the middle class is not worth the noise they are making over him. But that is not the case yet as its linkage with the upper class and their need for the middle is still there. Without the middle much of the work of the upper won’t be done including run media, academic institutions and business joints which they own. The upper owns but the middle runs it. It is making the rich feel a bit unsettled.


But then the identity of the ruling class elite –straddling the professional and the wealthy- is not very different either which is why it is a touch self risky. It can’t rule happily by ignoring cases of disappearance simply by citing historical traditions. The urban middle is the declining class but the upper and the rural middle is not. At this point they need each other. It’s in the best interest of all that all the classes that the disappeared should return home.

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