12:00 AM, December 20, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 20, 2012


Hartal culture back with vengeance

Lessons ring loud and clear

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Within less than three weeks in this solemn month of December, we have had a hartals galore. Already, we have endured, with great pain and hardship, one road blockade-turned-general strike and three hartals called by BNP and Jamaat, including one by left parties. Another full day's hartal has been called by a combine of Islamic parties for today.
The blockade programme enforced by opposition BNP alliance and reinforced by the government on December 9 claimed the life of Biswajit Das. The innocent unarmed tailor shop employee bleeding to his death by unrelenting stabbings, without any help at any stage, bore a highly exasperating testimony to leaving the streets to the wolves by deliberate choice.
Then followed a full day strike on 11; a half day one on 13; and then on 18 December, a hartal was called by two left parties.
Left parties' hartal has taken most people by surprise; for, it does not fit in with their culture of political dynamic. No meeting or rally was held by them to articulate their demand for a ban on religion-based parties prior to hartal to sway public opinion in favour of their agenda. Suddenly, they called a hartal patently out of grain with the Left ethos as they tried to strike a note of visibility. And, then the home minister comes out welcoming the peaceful hartal, reportedly aided by government, evidenced by the fact that BRTC buses were kept out of the road -- that always ply on hartal days.
On the one hand, the government is encouraging hartal by looking at the face of the organising party; on the other, it goes the whole hog obstructing opposition called hartals -- in a display of double standards. All this is indicative of a new dimension to the bankruptcy of our politics and political parties.
We, as a paper, have been staunchly opposed to hartal called by any party. We think it can only be resorted to against military or extra constitutional governments, and never against a democratically elected government. We would, therefore, urge all political parties to practice the alternatives to hartal because the latter is anti-people and a prescription for mutual self-destruction.

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