Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
According to opinion polls, while over 91 percent of the people in India are satisfied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling the tremendous challenge posed by coronavirus pandemic. In Pakistan, the Philippines, Italy, Switzerland, and Britain, the percent of people being satisfied are 82, 80, 64, 72, and 49, while President Donald Trump has the lowest percentage of support from the people.
In Bangladesh, over 75 percent of people are satisfied with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her praiseworthy initiatives in fighting this crisis, which is equally threatening people’s lives as well as the country’s economy. Bangladesh’s government has already proved the forecast of the World Health Organization (WHO), which, in February this year had predicted the death of two million people in the country due to the pandemic. It was later learned that this fake report was actually manufactured by some anti-government elements with the ulterior agenda of creating extreme fear in the society.
Although, so far Sheikh Hasina and her government has been very successful in containing the spread of coronavirus in a densely-populated Bangladesh society and also have effectively checked the number of deaths by getting a significant portion of the coronavirus positive patients being cured, both in the public and private hospitals; some of the elements inclined towards the opposition parties as well as anti-Bangladesh blocs are playing an extremely dirty role in spreading fear and rumors against the government’s successes in combating the pandemic – clearly with the ulterior agenda of creating social anarchy. Unfortunately, the Bangladesh government is yet to put due emphasis on this crucial issue and take stern measures against those conspirators and enemies of the nation.
Most importantly, while the supporters and activists of the political opponents of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are very active on the social media with their notorious anti-government propaganda centering the pandemic, there is no initiative from the members and supporters of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League or its political allies in countering the cybercrimes. Under the Bangladesh law, spreading rumors or false propaganda is a punishable offense. But, surprisingly, those cyber culprits active on the social media are being either ignored or granted the opportunity of spreading disturbing and instigative propaganda against the government.
Bangladeshi physicians, nurses, volunteers, and the members of law enforcement agencies as well as the members of Bangladesh Armed Forces deserve heartfelt thanks for such brilliant performances.
Scenarios following lifting of lockdown
Bangladesh went under lockdown since March 25, which was lifted from May 31, 2020, giving the people a fresh breeze of hope and confidence. But, seeing the result of the first 24-hours, unfortunately, one can say — things aren’t going well, as the public transports, especially buses though has been asked to take half the capacity of passengers, they are doing just the opposite. People really aren’t behaving in a sensible manner. Instead, there is already the fear of massive deterioration in the coronavirus situation in Bangladesh, which may ultimately force the government in re-imposing the lockdown – at least for a couple of weeks, and this time, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina may go with a tougher action, including continuous curfew throughout the country.
But we definitely can avoid a re-imposition of the lockdown, if each of us takes up the responsibility of strictly following the health measures and encourage others in doing so. We also need to play the important role of panic diffusers, which is very much essential. Because, the risk of being infected with any virus gets substantially increased into those panicked individuals, as fear and worries kill the immunity power in human bodies.
Those who are trying to spread fear and panic within the people in Bangladesh should know – lockdown had already been eased in the country since the past many weeks and thousands of workers in the readymade garment sector had joined their working places. Life isn’t full of horror in Bangladesh really. Only some television channels, news portals, and some social media activists are on purpose of spreading fear and horror amongst the people on a regular basis. We even can say – they actually are competing in doing so.
Lockdown may not be the best solution. At least if we look into New Zealand, Austria, Vietnam, Myanmar, and a few other countries, we can understand, coronavirus actually can only be contained through massive social awareness. And of course, social awareness can never be created through spreading fear. As the lockdown has already been withdrawn, the government needs to ask the print and electronic media to immediately stop the wrong practice of getting people terrorized with too much of coronavirus related news and contents. At the same time, the government needs to take stern action against those social media activists, who are on purpose spreading anti-government propaganda during this crucial time.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-jihadist journalist, counter-terrorism specialist and editor of Blitz
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