Saturday, September 22, 2007

Conspiracy theory vs a plausible hypothesis

Conspiracy theory has never been a plausible hypothesis
Mozammel H. Khan

Source: Mukto-Mona
Published on September 21, 2007

The term "conspiracy theory" may be a neutral descriptor for any conspiracy claim. To conspire means, as defined by Webster dictionary, "to join in a secret agreement to do an unlawful or wrongful act or to use such means to accomplish a lawful end." However, conspiracy theory is also used to indicate a narrative genre that includes a broad selection of arguments for the existence of grand conspiracies, any of which might have far-reaching social and political implications if true. In a political sense, conspiracy refers to a group of persons united in the goal of usurping or overthrowing an established political power.

During the Pakistani era the conspiracy theories were frequently put forward against the politicians who were not ready to dance in tune with the wishes of the vested rulers. The most famous (on infamous) conspiracy case in our land was the so-called Agartala conspiracy case brought against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 34 others Bengali civil and military officers, which in total contrast with the design of the then rulers, turned out to refuel the flame of our quest for independence. The successive regimes of the independent Bangladesh have used the conspiracy theories, at various extents, against their political opponents to malign the intentions even of their genuine political agenda. The allegations of conspiracy theories reached its peak during the past era of the BNP-Jamat government. The government would see the hands of conspiracy behind all the big bomb blasts and political actions of the opposition in the country and implicate reputed persons and politicians with charges that were to eventually prove false and fabricated.

Bangladesh is currently under the reign of a unique government whose members or its visible backers are presumed to have no political ambitions. It is more or less a national consensus that the January 11 takeover was the best course of action given any other possible options. The prime destiny of this government is to transfer power to a government elected through a free and fair election and the EC is believed to be working relentlessly towards meeting the goal of their widely publicized roadmap. Any political party that relies on people’s support to step into the helm of the government or any individual desires or demands the country’s early return to democratic rule will be only helping in its effort to accelerate its march through the roadmap rather than destabilizing the government that could only create hindrance to achieving its principal goal. Even a street urchin of Bangladesh knows what awaits next if this government fails. In that unfortunate likelihood, history tells us that the parties with no strong mass footings or individuals possessing volatile and flimsy political belief get the opportunity to flourish their fortune.

The most serious challenge of the government came during and in the aftermath of unfortunate Dhaka University incident. As promised by CA in his address to the nation, a single member judicial commission was formed to investigate the incident. It was believed that, departing from the ill-practices of the past political government, the CTG would act according to the findings and recommendations of the commission. However, to our utter disappointment, we heard, even before the commission started its work, from no other than the army chief that a ‘conspiracy’ was offing by “the evil forces to destabilize the situation by creating anarchy and undermining the image of the government.” Such a disclosure from the army chief before completion of the judicial investigation greatly undermines the process, reflects its redundancy and creates apprehension if the commission’s report would really see the light of the day, if its findings contradict his assertions. The government in an unprecedented move has already sued and arrested a number of highly respected teachers of the universities, which no other government ever endeavoured to do since the British left the subcontinent in 1947. All the arrested teachers possess some sort of association or sympathy for some major political parties, (my Canadian professor colleague is running for MPP in the ensuing election) and it is obvious that their favoured party’s interest will be best served with the early and proper implementation of EC’s roadmap, not by any means creating any roadblock or destabilizing the government. A simple hindsight would negate their involvement in any alleged conspiracy.

Another conspiracy theory has been popped up by the law adviser Mainul Hosein while reacting to publishing a cartoon in ‘Alpin’ of Prothom Alo. The adviser asserted, “there is a conspiracy to create a dangerous and unwanted situation; everyone has to remain united against the conspiracy to destabilize the country.” His contention should have been cautious to extinguish the flame of ignorance rather igniting it. After living in the heartland of the Arab world, the birth place of our great religion, for eleven years I have identified many of our ignorance vis-à-vis the true doctrines and practices of Islam. Eluding any debate on the issue, albeit the cartoon reflected a satire on ignorance rather than any ignominy of religious spirit, it is beyond any comprehension why the country’s most widely circulated Bengali Daily will indulge itself into a conspiracy against the government that enjoys its most vociferous support. What benefit the young cartoonist and the in-charge editor of the ‘Alpin’ would have reaped from destabilizing the country, if at all that would be possible? The editor of Prothom Alo, confessing the responsibility as the editor, has publicly and personally apologized through various media and the matter should be settled there. By the same token, the young cartoonist should be freed since the lion share of the burden, if any, lies with the editor, not the contributor of any published media. Reportedly a very similar cartoon appeared in a monthly magazine published by Jamati Islami’s student wing in November 1998. Neither did the then government initiate any legal action against any one nor did any one make any hue and cry out of it.

Conspiracy theory is the reclusion of the morally weak and dejected rulers and has never been a plausible hypothesis. Any government that boasts to enjoy the support of the masses never has to resort to propagating an implausible proposition.

Dr. Mozammel H. Khan is the Convenor of the Canadian Committee for Human Rights and Democracy in Bangladesh. He writes from Toronto, Canada.

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