Some anti-government elements are allegedly circulating baseless propaganda against the Padma Multipurpose Bridge to disrupt the ongoing massive development work undertaken by the government. Government high-ups instructed the law enforcers to arrest the persons who are spreading such an unscientific and unrealistic ideas.
Despite law enforcers' continuous raids to nab the masterminds, the vested quarters have already become successful in spreading the rumours across the country within a very short time. Intelligence sources said, some BNP-Jamaat activists first started the propaganda using some fake accounts of different social networking sites, mainly Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Then a section of Jamaat e Islami-backed Islami Chhatra Shibir and BNP- backed Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal leaders and activists in a well-coordinated way, started spreading the rumours from the past months. As the rumors are spreading from one district to another, government has taken it seriously. As a result, Police Headquarters and other government organizations started building awareness against the rumors. But nothing so far has been able to stop BNP-Jamaat activists from spreading the false rumour against the much needed Padma Bridge.
On Saturday, Cumilla police arrested one Khokon, son of Hafiz Uddin, hailing from Machompur village under Titas Upazila of the district. Khokon was spreading rumour saying that human heads were badly needed for Padma Bridge while misquoting the prime minister. He was using his own Facebook account in circulating the propaganda. Superintendent of Police (SP) of Cumilla, Syed Nurul Islam, confirmed the arrest.
Talking to Bangladesh Post on Monday, he said, “We also seized Khokon’s mobile phone.” When asked about the political affiliation of arrested Khokon. But the district police boss said, “We are working on it.” Tanveer Salehin Emon, Additional SP of the same district said, “We are investigating whether there any other persons who instigated the arrested person to circulate the completely false rumour against Padma Bridge.”
Maj Roysul Azam, deputy director of RAB's legal and media wing told Bangladesh Post that till Monday they arrested seven to eight persons in connection with circulating baseless propaganda against Padma Bridge. RAB arrested them from Cumilla, Rajbari, Narail, Chattogram and Moulvibazar, said RAB officials. They were identified as Shahidul Islam of Narail, Arman Hossain of Chattogram, Md Faruq of Moulvibazar, Hayatun Nabi of Cumilla and a teenaged boy of Rajbarhi.
Criminals cases were filed against the arestees under the Digital Security Act.
Police said, anti-government quarters were uploading photos of Padma Bridge, cut-off heads and blood on Facebook for circulating the false rumors. The drives against the rumors came a day after Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had ordered officials to track down the people who spread the rumour that “human heads and blood are required” for the piling work of Padma Bridge. The perpetrators behind the “unscientific, unrealistic, ridiculous idea” will face exemplary punishment, Quader said.
The Bridges Division, in a notice on Tuesday, urged the people not to be confused by the rumour. Obaidul Quader on Thursday told the media that the he Bridges Division consulted with the intelligence agencies and RAB to arrest the persons behind the rumors. Conspiracy against the Padma Bridge is not new. It was reported that a Nobel Laureate along with the editor of a newspaper of the country convinced former US Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton through sending several emails to withdraw the World Bank funding for the Padma Bridge.
Without taking permission from the Board, the then World Bank President on the last day of his office, signed the fund withdrawal paper of the Padma Bridge citing corruption in the construction work. But when the government asked for the proof of the corruption, they failed to show the documents. After evaluating all the materials and documents, the Canadian Federal court gave its verdict trashing the World Bank’s corruption allegation in the Padma Bridge construction as baseless, untrue and gaseous.
There was a conspiracy from home and abroad behind withdrawal of the WB fund. Despite withdrawal of WB funds, Prime Minister in her courageous style started construction of the Padma Bridge with own fund. According to Road Transport and Bridges ministry, so far around 81 percent construction work of the Padma Bridge is complete. Around 71 percent work of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge project is also complete. The construction of the bridge would be completed within a year.