Dhaka Courier

Is this food terrorism?

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It’s odd how we get excited over even a single terrorist but ignore all other forms of spectacular crime.  When Jongis commit crimes, we all want their blood and are not happy till that happens. We consider Jihadist terror a threat to our life, liberty and way of life not to mention the state.

It’s on the top of our list but when other forms of terrorism strikes, we barely spare a glance. We even let them commit crimes day in and day out and these people do commit many forms of terrorism against out life, health and lifestyle. The difference could be that we don’t want to call them terrorists which we limit to only one kind, the political variety. Plus, many of these criminals are rich people. They are considered the embodiment of the state and so nothing they do is ever considered a crime.

Food terrorism

Food terrorism is a very good example of this kind because it does everything a JIhadist terrorist does which is destroy lives, society and its food system as well as health and wellbeing and corrodes a nation beyond repair.  Yet they are almost entirely safe.  Because food terrorism doesn’t want political power, the authorities are willing to overlook it and let people suffer. It has been going on for long but despite many calls to halt it, nothing has happened.

It’s no secret that the food giants are so powerful that not much can be done against them and many have bought off safety and law enforcers to become  virtually immune.  The public is held to a ransom but no one seems to care. Perhaps the helplessness of the situation is best expressed by the recent writ which has led to the Courts to appeal to the PM to call a war on “food terrorism” like the anti-drugs war.

Something is seriously wrong in the way the governance is managed when the High courts have to appeal to the PM to run a campaign against adulterated food. The Court has said that the campaign should be like the way the GOB has been running its zero tolerance programme against drugs. The statement makes two things clear. The administration has become focused on the PM and her will and little happens unless she takes a personal interest.  The people who are supposed to keep the citizens safe are not really bothered and the nexus between producers and the regulators somehow is deeply linked.

The decision to ban 52 food items by major producers includes all the big names of the food industry including Pran as well as lesser minions. Others have not yet been caught and these people have been plying their food terrorism for long.

Jihadaism vs. food terrorism

Jihadist terrorism is a violent problem that has caused loss of life and fear but is not a major threat to either the state or society. That is because the Jihadists have no social base as so many research shows an are basically sporadic elements, Most evidence shows that jihadist violence has only a sprinkling of supporters, very few in number, coming from various undefined groups. No dedicated Jihadist social group exists though individuals do.

But they have been neutralized significantly by the counter-terrorists who are one of the most successful such bodies anywhere.  Unlike the West where society continues to breed extremism, Bangladesh has not seen a burst of activism which many expected after 2015. Suffice to say that they have been contained through constant surveillance and neutralization.

Yet the food terrorists have not been touched at all and that is scary because their reach is far greater than any other. It’s true the that they don’t aspire for state power but that is because they already have all the power they need. Although food items have been banned, the legal system is such that the makers of the terrorist food sources are left untouched.

Low priority to public needs, higher to politics

The problem lies in our prioritization because while we think preserving and protecting state political power is important, we don’t think the same when it comes to the wellbeing of society.  People are to be honest quite exhausted by ministers constantly telling people how well they are when they don’t feel that excited. They would like some basic guarantees and that includes safe food and safe roads but none are here.

The call by the High court is one of expressing helplessness and despair.  In Bangladesh, the governance system has become so weak that nothing works unless the PM takes a personal interest.  The anti-drug campaign has been violent and bloody but we are still not sure if it has worked.

But taking on the words of the High court, we also appeal to the Government and the state to declare a war on food terrorism no matter how odd it sounds. Many will not mind if such people are shot in crossfire but that is not suggested. One just hopes it will be a bit better than what the situation is now. Let the PM lead if that is what it will take.

  • Is his food terrorism?
  • Afsan Chowdhury
  • Vol 35
  • Issue 45
  • DhakaCourier

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