Bangladesh under the grip of national and international rumors and propaganda for ages

Hiren Pandit: Bangladesh has been under the grip of rumors since before independence, still is, and maybe in the future. Bangladesh is always under the grip of local and foreign rumors and conspiracies. Rumors are being spread that it seems that the fall of the government is only a matter of time. Some rumors are written down about the date of the fall of the government. There have always been attempts to incite people against the government by spreading false information. At least 22 people were killed across the country on the basis of baseless rumors that people would be beheaded at the Padma Bridge. 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. Dhaka Metropolitan Detective Police brought four people under the law for this crime. They were self-confessed that such rumors were spread deliberately to embarrass the government. Earlier, a gang tried to create fear and destabilize people by spreading rumors in Cumilla, Ramu, Brahmanbaria and Dinajpur. With such rumors, the situation turns into sabotage. Rumors have been spread recently 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.
The journey of propaganda started in Bangladesh in 1974. Just when this newly independent country, led by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was successfully emerging from the war-torn ruins, hearing and speech-impaired Basanti Bala of Kurigram wearing a fish net was published 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 group is spreading these rumors systematically from the country and abroad. Most of the rumors are created against the current government and are provocative. The objective is to embarrass the government, mislead 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, starting from personal matters, starting from financial institutions of the state, business and commerce, politics, economy, and law enforcement agencies. A large section of the young generation is the target. So that these young people do not think of 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 outside the country, various propaganda against the government and the state is going on. Some pages and blocks from the United States, France, European countries and Britain are spreading false 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 at home 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 the vested quarter. 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. In this regard, all law enforcement agencies are alert.
In 2018, a vested interest capitalized on the peaceful movement of the students demanding safe roads and tried to confuse the situation. It is also being said from the police headquarters that those who have more followers on Facebook and YouTube, post something on those IDs or pages, and it spreads 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. Besides, there is a Cyber Unit Team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police at Police Headquarters. Every team is constantly prosecuting rumormongers.
No matter what the law enforcement officials say, they have to deal with rumors. Because the touch of technology has now reached the remote areas of the country. Everyone now has a smartphone and internet connection. So, people are now getting lost from one world to another by using online. It is not possible to deal with cybercrime separately while dealing with other crimes. Cybercrime is increasing. The Cyber Team of Police along with the Cyber Unit of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit, Cyber Unit of DB Cyber, and RAB are working on these. Those who are spreading rumors are being brought under the law. The cyber team constantly monitors social media. It will continue.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is working on these issues in coordination with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media by spreading rumors. Several sites have been shut down. Quarterly meetings are held internationally with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. There was no such meeting before. In February-March, a meeting was held with the relevant people working with TikTok, Twitter and Facebook and YouTube. The meeting requested to remove links posted with objectionable content, and fabricated information. Information is exchanged. Organizations are also replying to it. Not only during elections; BTRC always works in coordination with law enforcement agencies and other agencies. Assistance is provided when law enforcement agencies request cyber assistance.
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. Various groups are conspiring at home and abroad. As a group inside the country has always continued to try to create an anti-government attitude among the people, similarly a political group has continued the process of creating an anti-Bangladesh position among the heads of state of various countries abroad by employing lobbyists. Some ambassadors sometimes give all 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 acclaimed 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 global community has recognized Bangladesh’s ongoing efforts and commitment to the advancement and preservation of human rights at the national and international levels by being elected as a member of the Human Rights Council with the highest number of votes. Dhaka will contact the 6 US Congressmen who have written to US President Joe Biden to inform them about the current situation of human rights and elections in Bangladesh.
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. The initiatives of the Jubo League, Chhatra League and Volunteers’ (Swechchasebak) League have also warned the activists in this regard. An initiative has been taken to form a cyber brigade at the initiative of the 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. Awami League’s research institute Center for Research and Information (CRI) is conducting training in the use of information technology along with campaigning. Formation of Special Information Technology Cell. Exchanging information or information and development picture of the government to Center and Grassroots leaders through the cell. Grassroots leaders can respond to any misinformation or rumors. So that people are not misled by any misinformation.
Bangabandhu’s daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has countered these rumors. Bangladesh has turned around today under the leadership of the Prime Minister. Various cyber brigades have been responding to this propaganda all the time. Those who spread rumors against the state and the Awami League government in the upcoming elections will be given a stern reply. Awami League’s cyber brigade team is highlighting its correctness and authenticity whenever it sees false propaganda. This will be done constantly.
The epidemic of fake news is observed in every democratic country in the world. 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 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.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and a researcher

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