'Freedom', as a word, has mostly positive connotation. It sums up to be all good and essential.The quest of freedom has been everywhere across the globe. All want freedom. Once achieved, all will breathe fresh air; freedom promises. But freedom can be a squeezed lemon, too. In some cases, it can taste extremely bitter. Freedom of one nation or religion may be the imprisonment of another.
Pakistan was separated from India, but started to oppress the Bangalees, so the latter resisted and achieved their long sought freedom. Post freedom, nationalism became intensified among the Bangalees in the Bangladesh geography. From the center to the periphery, Bangaleenization traveled every corner. As a result, the other nations that live within the Bangladesh border suffered and still suffer,from mildly to severely. The argument of the Bangalees is that they are the "majority." Thus, in the question of equal rights or freedom of the indigenous people of the Bangladesh geography, the mainstream Bangalees and their state (politicians) so far remained silent. The mainstreamers look hesitated and disturbed, if asked questions on the indigenous issues, for example, constitutional rights. Even the news of the other nationalities inside Bangladesh are not much heard, as the media, owned mostly by the Bangalees, serve the mainstream Bangalee interests. Also, the establishment of the Bangalee army in the areas where mostly the indigenous people live disturbs the latter's harmony.Because of the cold war between Bangalees and the indigenous, the distrust towards the presence of the Bangalee army in those areas amplified highly. In other words, the Bangaleenization imprisons and colonizes the other nations, for example, Chakma, Santal etc. Freedom for one nation, thus, may mean confinement of another or others.
Also not to forget, in any nation across the globe, there will always be more than one race or nation, not only one. For one race in one nation is not what history has taught humanity. The history of humanity is the history of heterogeneity, people or cultures with different backgrounds. People keep developing beliefs in new nations or cultures. The belief in Bangaleeness is not eternally and forever true. Bangaleeness developed slowly over time. In other words, nation should be better understood in relativity and mobility, not in stagnancy.
Next, with the help of the freedom of Bangalees, the religion of the most Bangalees is also imposed on all the other religious groups. Without prioritizing one, the state could appreciate all on an equal ground. The declaration of the state religion goes even against the spirit of freedom fighting. The state meant for everyone, irrespective of religious differences. In fact the first constitution based its principles on secularism. On 06 February 1972 in Kolkata Brigade Parade Ground the great leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stated that 'Bangladesh will run on four pillars: nationalism, socialism, democracy, and secularism." Rahman also stated that 'Here is no "but," "however," or whatsoever.' But the subsequent political parties, including Rahman's party, favored one religion over all the others. Thus, the freedom of most Bangalees means the imposition of the state religion on the minorities. Some may point at the nationalism of Rahman here, but any nationalism that favors only one nation/nationality/ethnicity deserves to be critiqued, whereas secularism is not about prioritizing one over the other religions. In other words, any 'ism' that stands on equality deserves appreciation. To add, the regular attacks on the minorities across the country show that freedom, before or after victory, actually did not make much difference. The only difference freedom made so far is the change of the hands of the rulers. Before victory, it was Pakistani educated and ruling class, who ruled and reaped the benefits. After victory, it is the Bangalee educated class, who are dominating its own mass people, indigenous people, and also the other minorities.
Thus, freedom for whom is also a vital question. The freedom reaped benefits for the educated class only. For a Modhu Miah or Tara Bibi in any village, freedom meant nothing, and it still means nothing. The villagers got no benefit, not yet, so they neednot bother about freedom. They aremore concerned about their livelihood, and they are the ones who pay taxes for the educated class. The villagers or mass people get nothing, but give everything. The educated class, on the other hand, gets everything at the cost of the tax payers' money, starting from education to monthly salary. All the state machines run at the cost of the poor. With the money of the poor, the educated ones maintain the class system. Now in order to materialize freedom, all people should get its benefits, not only the educated class. Once the masses get benefits, they will be able to associate themselves with freedom. Otherwise, the freedom of the educated class becomes the freedom of the poor, too, because the educated class's freedom is imposed on the poor through theirpublications and media, tools for manufacturing the consent of the masses. As a result of the hammering, the poor at point starts to believe that the freedom of the educated class is also the freedom of them. In other words, when freedom of the educated class becomes the freedom of the poor, this should mean the poor people are betrayed by the educated. Freedom should be for all in the real sense, not for only one class and not at the cost of another.
Lest some mistake, it must be acknowledged here that fighting against the Pakistanis by Bangalees was just and the greatestmovement. When one is attacked, one has a right to resist and fight back. Also, the formation of the Bangalee identity was and is unquestionably justified. Through the quest of freedom, Bangalees fought injustice and oppression. Now that freedom should not be the means of oppressing the indigenous or the minorities of the country. Freedom means the intermingling of people, nations, cultures, or religions. Because of free intermingling, if nations or cultures merge,this merging may create something new, diverse, and meaningful. Freedom, in this case, means moving on.Also, few may now wonder about if freedom is prized in this write-up. Surely, there is nothing wrong in wanting freedom, for freedom can change the ways of the world. Today's freedom may be tomorrow's convention, yet freedom is indispensable.
To sum up, a nation may impose neither its nationality nor its religion on all the different kinds of people, for the imposition disturbs freedom and its exercise.Instead, all can mingle together and move forward. That movement can actualize freedom for all.Freedom should be a hope, not an end in itself.
The writer is a lecturer of English literature and language at North South University. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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