The UNO, a blinded boy and social media

Afsan Chowdhury
Thursday, July 27th, 2017
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The boy who lies in bed and may lose his vision probably has no idea that he has become an unwitting symbol of the deep conflict that rages between ordinary people and the state. Siddiqur’s case has become such an image of helplessness because it comes within days after the PM and the rest of the bureaucracy intervened to help out the UNO of Barguna accused of insulting Sk. Mujib and arrested and spent a few hours inside. Social media howled unhappily and the wheels that matter moved. Not only has the UNO been let out, the charges dropped and the guilty party chastised. The case filer, a local AL top gun has been suspended from the party and some sundry even recalled. It’s very wonderful.  What is not is what Siddiqur was going through till social and other media made so much noise that it had to be recognized. Now the GOB is taking him to India, investigation is on to find out what happened. And it took a million people to scream before it was heard.


The powerful GOB cadre officers association issued a statement in favour of the UNO and this was followed by a loud ripple of the amla network. And given the status of the amlas, it’s only natural that that the political part of the government would respond quickly and effectively. The situation the UNO faces today couldn’t be farther away than a week back.  But in Bangladesh justice is like a miracle. One never knows when and how it will strike. Thankfully, it struck at the right time for the UNO.


The police is not clear yet about what happened but the video which has gone viral shows clearly the missile hitting the boy. He may lose sight in both eyes and for lower middle class boy, it is almost a death sentence. The economics of disability has far greater logic than the elusive access to justice.


But what also shocked was the ho-hum attitude of the GOB who seem to think it’s a trifling matter. The law enforcers have also filed murder cases against the arrested students which is not just a clear message to all who challenge the might of the state but also to activists that they will not be dealt with soft hands.  Meanwhile, the latest news is that Siddiqur will be flown to India which is great. The pressure that was built by social media again shows why it has become the knight to come to rescue of the powerless.


Class, power and justice


The three major consumers of justice are clearly marked out in the two cases. The formal and the informal part of the state is of course the most privileged and they constitute the cream of this group. On their own they are the most powerful and as the political part of the government also leans on them for support, they are the personification of the state and its main body. The Executive has become the most important part of the state.


The argument that the politicians have become less powerful than the Executive can’t be dismissed away readily since the officer of the GOB and a functionary of the AL clashed and in this clash, the cadre service won and the politician is on the run. He has effectively been demonized by the highest power in a reminder that to the supreme authority cluster, the minion level politician is not as worthy as a civil servant, particularly when wronged.


It’s not just an action to prevent any bad blood before election time comes where the civil service if hostile can matter but a confident government which is looking at another term is taking the longer view.  It can have a happy innings now and in the next term if the amlas are happy. So the decision is very easy to take.


The alliance there is between the elite at the top and the massive bureaucratic structure below. It is far more disciplined and organized than party cadres fighting each other and creating chaos.


Which is why social media has become so important in our lives. It’s the only space which we can access with much less anxiety than elsewhere. Best wishes for Siddiqur.

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