Hiren Pandit: Bangladesh attained independence through the proper leadership of the Bangladesh Awami League by countering rumors, propaganda, and conspiracies. It has made Bangladesh a developing country by bringing it to the path of prosperity. Rumors, propaganda and conspiracy that existed in Bangladesh even before independence, still exist, and may continue to exist in the future. All the time, a circle of domestic and foreign people wants to disrupt the progress of Bangladesh through rumors and conspiracies. Always trying to incite people against the government by spreading false information. At the time of independence, rumors were spread that the war of independence is a scandal in India, it is a conspiracy of Hindus, all the mosques in the country will be demolished and turned into temples, madrasas will be demolished, and what more! The responsible leaders in the Parliament said that if the Awami League comes to power, the hill tracts including Feni will be taken over by India, the Indian flag will be flown in all these areas, uludbhani (used in Hindu worship) will be heard in the mosques, we have heard many other things.
At the time of Padma Bridge, we heard that people’s heads would be beheaded, and at least 22 people suspected of being boys were beaten to death across the country on baseless rumors. An anarchic situation was created across the country. There is no reserve in the bank, and Bangladesh is going bankrupt like Sri Lanka, spreading fear in the public mind. Such rumors have been deliberately spread to embarrass the government. Earlier, a gang tried to create fear and destabilize people by systematically spreading rumors in Cumilla, Ramu, Brahmanbaria and Dinajpur. With such rumors, the situation turns into sabotage. Rumors have recently spread on various social media including Facebook, claiming that an attempt has been made to make the students of the country atheists. Still, almost every exam is preceded by baseless propaganda including question paper leaks.
Just when this newly independent country, led by the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was successfully emerging from the war-torn ruins, hearing and speech-impaired Basanti Bala of Kurigram was photographed wearing a fishnet in the newspaper. As a result, the image of Bangladesh, which was plagued by domestic and foreign conspiracies and unstable, dissatisfied political groups due to the inaction of the forces defeated in the liberation war, faced a more embarrassing situation in the outside world. Half a century has passed since 1974 but the presence of rumors and propaganda remains unbroken. Cruel arguments in favor of genocide and crimes against humanity against the liberation war started by Bangabandhu’s call for the country’s independence; 21 August Grenade Attack Victims Argument for Spreading Fake News of Self-Bag Grenades; Attempts have been made to argue in favor of passing the Indemnity Act to protect the murderers of Bangabandhu. Bangladesh was born as an independent nation in 1971 and since then, the developmental growth it has achieved. Bangladesh has not only been able to overcome all obstacles but has now reached a position in the global arena, where it has become a positive example for many other similar or comparable countries, many trying to emulate Bangladesh’s success.
Rumors and conspiracies are being systematically spread in the media and social media. Popular social media like Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp are being used. There is the activity of powerful lobbyist groups. Rumors have intensified after the US visa policy. A circle is spreading these rumors systematically from the country and abroad. Most of the rumors are created against the current government and are inflammatory. The objective is to embarrass the government, confuse the people of the country and break the morale of the administration. From the side of the government, however, it is being said that various initiatives have been taken to prevent these rumors.
Anti-government cyber activists who are skilled in technology have indulged in spreading rumors, ahead of elections. Fiction is propagated against the thinking people of the country, from personal issues to financial institutions of the state, business and commerce, politics, economy, law and order forces. A large section of the young generation is the target. In order to prevent these young people from thinking for a non-communal democratic Bangladesh in the upcoming elections, those issues are being selectively released on social media with false information. So that people are misled by propaganda.
Officials of the law enforcement agencies and the government agencies responsible for these matters say that there are always rumors about some or the other matter. They also take legal action against these. Those involved in the incident were identified and brought under the law. In the upcoming elections, preventing rumors will be a big challenge for the government and law enforcement agencies. Advance preparations are being made keeping this in mind. Not only in the country but also sitting outside the country, various anti-government and anti-state propaganda is going on. Some pages and blogs from Canada, the USA, France, European countries and Britain are spreading fake information. Bengali-speaking people outside the world are also confused by these rumors. The main target of this propaganda was to incite the people against the Awami League or the government and remove them from power. The government is trying to tackle the issues with caution.
A group is spreading misinformation in the country and abroad to increase views on Facebook with its own fabricated information. The morale of government officials will not be broken by this kind of misinformation from vested quarters. We need to disseminate accurate information. Rumor spreading is humanly bad, legally a crime. Police are always on alert against these criminals. Those who spread rumors will be brought under the law. There may be an attempt to confuse the situation by spreading rumors, but that cannot be allowed. All law enforcement agencies are alert in this regard.
In 2018, a vested interest group capitalized on the peaceful movement of innocent students demanding safe roads and tried to confuse the situation. It is being said from the police headquarters that even if Facebook and YouTube have more followers if something is posted on those IDs or pages, it will spread quickly in a short period of time. Hence false information is easily spread. These are monitored all the time. It will be monitored whether any false, baseless, or fabricated information is spread from these IDs during elections or in any situation in the country. Apart from this, there is a Cyber Unit Team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police Headquarters, Dhaka Metropolitan Police. Every team is constantly prosecuting rumormongers.
There are glimpses of various conspiracies in the politics of Bangladesh centered on the twelfth election of the National Parliament to be held in 2024. There are various groups in the country and abroad in the conspiracy. As a group inside the country always continues to try to create an anti-government sentiment among the people, similarly a political group continues the process of creating an anti-Bangladesh position among the heads of state of various countries abroad by employing lobbyists. Some ambassadors sometimes give advice and prescriptions about the democracy of Bangladesh.
Currently, 3 of the 5 largest economies in the world are China, Japan and India in Asia. The strong economic growth of Asian giants, especially China, is rapidly reshaping the global distribution of power. Bangladesh is an internationally much-admired country for democracy and human rights development. Bangladesh has been praised around the world, including the United Nations, for its commitment to human rights. The international community has recognized Bangladesh’s ongoing efforts and commitment to the advancement and preservation of human rights at the national and international levels by electing it as a member of the Human Rights Council with the highest number of votes.
Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the leaders and activists to respond to the propaganda and show the development of the government so that the people are not confused by the propaganda. Affiliate organizations of Awami League have also become active with anti-government propaganda. Jubo League, Chhatra League and Volunteers’ League have also warned the activists in this regard. An initiative has been taken to form a cyber brigade at the initiative of Chhatra League. Rumors will be countered with the government’s development campaign through the Cyber Brigade. Policymakers say the government is vigilant in responding to rumors and misinformation.
The spread of fake news is observed in every democratic state. Some people want to use the media to save personal interests. But criticizing the government is one thing and speaking against the country is another. You can criticize the government but you cannot speak against the country. There is no talk about the country, liberation war and independence. Awami League should be brought back to power to maintain the continuity of world development. It is proven that when Awami League comes to power, the country develops and people’s quality of life improves. The change that has been visible to date has been possible because Awami League has been in power consistently. Many do not want our country to move forward. That is why there are international conspiracies.
Regarding rumors and misinformation, technology experts said that if something like a rumor is reported to be going viral on an online platform, it can be blocked immediately and the perpetrators can be quickly identified and action taken. Rumors are disrupting public life in many ways due to distortion and exaggeration of information. Every time Awami League has come to power in this country, the country has progressed in the overall direction. Education, communication, information technology, agriculture, defense, trade and industry have made great progress in every sector of the country. Due to this Bangladesh is a role model all over the world. The benefits of Digital Bangladesh are in every home in Bengal. Earlier, we regretted that the development of the government did not reach the common people well. Another group indulged in propaganda against Awami League on this occasion. Over the past few years, Awami has been working hard to convey its development activities to the people and prevent misconceptions and misinformation. As a result, the people of remote areas of the country are getting to know about the overall development of the country. It is very important to inform the common people about the development, progress and activities of the Awami League government. Because common people will decide their leadership through voting. Therefore, the more misconceptions people have about Awami League, the more conspirators will gain. Therefore, Awami workers should be more active and aware to inform the development picture of the country and prevent misconceptions. Or opportunity seekers will not be wrong to take the opportunity. Awami League is not a suddenly created party. It has a glorious history and path and for this reason, to move the party forward, first of all, sacrifices and senior leaders should be evaluated. Be aware of opportunists within the team. Because there are more or less examples of underestimating senior leaders in their conspiracies and blueprints in every district. Awami League must pay attention to this. Not only the party but the whole nation has to pay for the mistake of the Awami League. No party conflict should be allowed. On the question of the country, on the question of development and on the question of the party, everyone should work hand in hand. Misunderstanding between ourselves, should forget pride and move forward. Awami League will take Bangladesh forward by dealing with these rumors, propaganda and conspiracies.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and a Researcher