04 March, 2024
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Controversy centering BNP and ‘India Out’ movement

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On 1st February 2024, one of the English dailies in Dhaka, The Daily Star, published an opinion editorial about disinformation and regarding its fact-checking outcomes. As a regular contributor to various newspapers and news portals, I carefully reviewed the writer’s findings. Nowadays, disinformation is becoming very dangerous to quickly perceive and relate to in all aspects. Yes, there is a vibe on social media about ‘India out,’ and it is evident that the impacts are looming. The opposition party in Bangladesh, BNP, not organizationally but its individual leaders, is working on that movement. YouTube is flooded with BNP activists, and their local leaders are campaigning to boycott Indian products. Social media statuses and videos are burning examples in that regard.

Now, the question is, who initiated the ‘India out’ movement in Bangladesh? I am not a professional fact-checker, but by surfing on social media, I found that anti-Awami League social media influencers were the first initiators of the movement, and leaders and activists of BNP actively got involved just after it commenced. It is the BNP and its allies who make the campaign successful. In modern political science, there is a terminology called “crisis opportunity.” In history, we have experienced that a spark of an idea can turn into a huge explosion in a community, and credits are always snatched by political leaders.

According to The Daily Star’s editorial, it is the “Weekly Blitz” that first exposed the news on 11th January. Then, “The Eurasian Times” published another piece on 15th January, written by Jennifer Hicks. To my understanding, India has captured their interest and subsequently runs the lead on their media. Then why were BNP leaders tied their leaps? Why was there no rejoinder or protest to the ongoing “India Out” movement by pro-BNP activists? A country with 1.3 billion people noticed the news, and interestingly, the country with only 170 million populaces failed to do so.

Another point that drew my attention is whether BNP is an Islamist or ultra-Islamist party. A single question can nullify the doubt. In Bangladesh, which party has aligned with an Islamist party, and which government has facilitated the emergence of Islamist extremism in Bangladesh? Obviously, the answer will be ‘the BNP.’ Yes, there can be an argument that Awami League has also allied with Islamist parties. But we all know the strength and capability of Awami League-led Islamist parties. It is the Awami League that has shown ‘zero tolerance’ to extremism. Recently, the State Department of USA’s reports on transnational Counter-Terrorism highly praised Sheikh Hasina’s government for the drive against terrorism. On the other hand, Sheikh Hasina faced an attempted assassination plot on 21st August 2004 by ultra-Islamist groups with the BNP’s go-ahead signal (as per the judgment of the Bangladesh Court).

I found that Weekly Blitz is also unearthing the truth of false propaganda regarding Bangladesh. It also published fact-checking pieces on a number issues including a recent one pertaining to a ghostwriter’s opinion piece published in ‘Eurasia Review,’ which contains propaganda against Bangladesh.

Weekly Blitz in a September 2023 report has presented several pieces of evidence centering AFP fact-checker Qadaruddin Shishir regarding his connections with Jamaat-e-Islami and threatening Weekly Blitz editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury through email. Has Qadaruddin ever addressed this issue?

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