It feels like we are in 1947 or 1971 when we see the abuse of home-made hand bombs. Many of us didn't see '47, but the freedom fighters of ’71 told us the stories about making bombs and using them against enemies. Sometimes, they also gave us demonstrations. We always held them in high esteem when we heard about their bomb-making skills. At that small age, we could understand how the amateur bomb-makers benefitted the country, making us free.
Many years passed after that, and we almost forgot about bombs and explosions. It never occurred to us that Bangladesh could become a bomb-manufacturing hub once again. We lost two heads of state, but we never experienced any bomb-related incidents.
Hand bombs became widespread in this country during the Ershad regime. The use of hand bombs, popularly known as cocktails, began during the protests against his dictatorial rule. The situation at the time, somewhat compelled, many to start manufacturing and using cocktails. The learning was easy and it didn’t take much time.
It takes only a few raw materials and five to ten minutes to manufacture a bomb.
So, almost all of those people who were politically active, acquired bomb-making skills. The use and abuse of bombs started from then on – in any conflict, in any dispute, in any general strike, in any protest. That abuse has now become an “explode-as-you-like” phenomenon. Anyone now can manufacture a bomb and use it as s/he likes. There are thousands of examples of the horrors of hand bomb explosions. These have killed hundreds and maimed thousands through their unbridled use.
A recent media report said that in two months (February-March 2013) more than 1,000 hand bombs were exploded in Dhaka city. Even two children were killed. There was a time when these hand bombs were used to create panic. But now the strategy of the bomb-hurlers has changed and they are throwing bombs at citizens. The abuse of bombs has become rampant during political programmes and general strikes, representing a very real threat to public safety. The hand bombs used by political workers are not only killing common people and students, but also members of law enforcing forces.
The picture across the whole country is quite dangerous. Despite so many deaths and injuries, law enforcers are failing to identify the sources of raw materials for making bombs. As a result, bomb-making has continued relentlessly. Sometimes, news about a few police raids make headlines, but the suppliers of raw materials and manufacturers remain untouched and safe. The criminals always remain unidentified.
The police department says they will soon start an inventory procedure regarding the raw materials in the market. It’s not true that the police don’t have any information. They are the ones saying that the number of illegal agencies who sell these "raw materials" outnumber the legal ones.
They say these sellers are located in Dhaka’s Keraniganj, Mirpur, Mohammadpur and Jatrabari areas and in many places outside Dhaka. Apart from these, a huge amount of cocktail-making substances are coming from cosmetic, fertiliser and match-stick factories. Raw materials are also being smuggled through the border from India, Pakistan and Myanmar.
With these raw materials, the makers are manufacturing several types of bombs in Bangladesh. There are even many varieties of these bombs. But the demand for "cocktails" in small tobacco containers is the highest. Police say one kilogram of explosives cost Tk30,000-35,000, and can produce 20 medium-sized bombs and 40 small-sized bombs. It takes Tk1,800 for a medium size one and Tk900 for a smaller one.
The reason for saying all this is to prove that bomb-making has already become an industry in the nation, and the political parties are benefitting most. No wonder the industry has expanded, production will continue when there’s a demand. The parties must be allowing their workers to use bombs, and that’s why the law enforcers are facing such a tough time. The leaders of the political parties are being monstrous by allowing their workers to use bombs. Nothing will change if they don’t change their methods. They need to understand terror always breeds terror.
If we analyse our police activities as far as these bombs are concerned, they seem helpless. They are not even trained to deal with bombs. This is one of the reasons they often lose their lives when trying to defuse bombs. However, what the police are not doing is utilising the information they have. They know some of these bomb-makers, they have a list of 24 raw material suppliers. Mysteriously, they aren’t making any moves.
Well, if the police fail, what happened to the Rab bomb-squad formed during the last caretaker government? We haven’t seen any impacts of the work done by this squad.
But the time has come to activate this bomb squad in a big way. Both with regard to defusing bombs and so there is a law-enforcement unit that focuses solely on preventing the proliferation of these deadly devices in the country. A big project may be required to improve the bomb squad and expand on it, but without a truly active bomb squad, this procession of deaths won’t stop.