E-Paper বাংলা
2024-04-01 11:23:42

Corruption, Aladdin’s Lamp and Pandora’s Box

Amin Al Rasheed

Corruption, Aladdin’s Lamp and Pandora’s Box

The modern version of Aladdin’s Lamp, the mythical element from ‘The Arabian Nights,’ is the power, by which one can amass innumerable amount of money and assets. And the technique behind this becoming enormous rich within a short time is applying corruption. That means power, corruption and assets are now complimentary to each other.

In the fairy tale, we see whenever Aladdin calls the giant emerging from the magic lamp, it came to Aladdin and said, “Give me order, my Lord!” However, the real face of the Aladdin’s giant was different than that what we see in present times. The giant or monster we see sometimes exploit administrative power, sometimes haunt people with arms or give threats to file ‘unjustified cases or ‘putting into cross fire,’ Sometimes, it gives promise to provide huge illegal benefits.

The latest story of ‘Aladdin’s Lamp’ that shakes the country involved the Ex-IGP and ex-DG of RAB Benazir Ahmed, who even got award for showing clean activities in state affairs.

It would not be wrong to call him the 'most influential police officer' in the history of Bangladesh who was highlighted in various incidents including the removal of Hefazat-e Islam leaders and activists from Shapla Chattar in Motijheel in 2013. The question is, what is the message behind the ‘Pandora's Box’ that ‘The Kaler Kantho’ opened on March 31, titled 'Aladdin's lamp in the house of Benazir', which revealed the secrets of such a powerful man?

Two questions are swirling in people's minds.

1. Bangladesh has an 'independent' anti-corruption commission and they have held many big and mediocre corrupt people according to the law. Many have been investigated.

Many are under investigation. An influential person like Benazir Ahmed served as the head of the state's largest law enforcement force during many major incidents.  Did the ACC not inquire about his assets?

2. ‘The Kaler Kantho’s report showed details of his wealth, which is huge in sum of money. For example: Savannah Eco Resort in Gopalganj is a luxury resort; Investments of more than Tk 500 crore in at least six companies in different areas of the country in the name of his wife and two daughters; Expensive flats, houses in elite areas of the capital and many bighas of land in expensive areas near Dhaka; Two lakh shares in Best Holdings and five-star hotel La Meridien in the name of two daughters; In Purbachal, a duplex house on a vast area of 40 kathas of land and another 10 bighas of land worth Tk 22 crore etc. The question is, in what process did Benazir Ahmed acquire such enormous wealth?

The question here is it is impossible to buy a small house in Dhaka city with the salary, bonus and other financial benefits he got throughout his life as a government employee and the money he got after retirement. However, the details of his assets that are available in the news published in the media are hundreds or thousands of times more than his lifetime income.

Where did he get these money/assets or in what process did he get it?

There are three ways to get rich in general:

1. Vast wealth inherited from parents.

2. Big businesses

3. Corruption.

In the reality of Bangladesh, no matter how big and how high paying the government job is, it is difficult for anyone to own a flat in Dhaka city for Tk two to three crore, unless there is a hefty bank loan. A government employee has no chance to save much money after living on salary alone. However, many third and fourth class employees have become owners of multiple luxury flats in Dhaka city, cars, resorts near Dhaka, picturesque buildings in village houses, bigha after bigha of crop land— many such news have made media headlines. Many have been arrested and are in prison among them. Many others have also disappeared from the news pages. Apart from this, many more people are still becoming the owners of huge wealth and luxuries by abusing and corrupting the power as they think themselves as the owner of ‘Magic Lamp’ like Aladdin.

Hence, this incident of Benazir Ahmed cannot be considered as a very new or an isolated incident. This is just a small case study of a corrupt economy. However, its fundamental difference with the other 10 incidents is that Benazir Ahmed is an influential person and in today's journalism where corruption and crimes of people associated with power are tried to be avoided as much as possible, the opening of such a Pandora's is undoubtedly laudable.

For those who are upset about the media world and say there is no journalism in the country or there is no investigative journalism, this kind of report gives them light of hope. In this age of social media, when there are door-to-door journalists, when YouTube content creators claim to be journalists, and when mainstream media seems to be losing ground to social media, this type of journalism doesn’t only erase existing negative perceptions about just about one or two newspapers or television channels, but about the entire media.  The stakes in this type of journalism are high. But we need more this kind of journalism.

The weak point of ‘The Kaler Kantho’s report is that there is no statement of the accused. However, according to this report, several calls were made to Benazir Ahmed's mobile phone to inquire about the complaint, but he did not receive it. He didn’t even respond to SMS. Two things usually happen in these cases. Number 1, the accused person does not answer the call of the journalist. Number 2, in case of some news reports, when questioned about the allegations, the accused denies the allegations or he claims that the allegations raised against him are false and fake. Therefore, even if this kind of disparaging speech is ultimately not very effective, the ethics and structure of journalism require the statement of the accused.

Reports on such corruption bring two issues to the fore.

1. Where is the implementation of government's zero tolerance policy against corruption? Can the government name a single state service institution, including the police force that has been completely free of corruption or where corruption has been reduced? Even after making the activities of many government service organizations internet-based and digital, has corruption decreased in all those organizations?

2. When a crime is alleged or proven against a member of any force, the force immediately says that neither the force nor the government will be held responsible for the person's crime. The question is, if there is a structural problem in any force or institution, If the system is such that one can amass huge wealth by intimidating others or by making complete others’ works by using administrative power or giving illegal favors to someone and then they can go on easily without any accountability, then why the responsibility of the crime of any person associated with any force or Institutions of governments wouldn’t be taken by that force, institution or government?

(The writer is a Journalist and an author, current affairs editor and presenter at Nexus Television)


Latest News