After 5 days in the Syhlet Division of Bangladesh on a field trip with twenty -five students, I’ve returned to an uncertain Dhaka. On the long bus ride back this morning I kidded with my students that we should have spent our field trip training for hostile resistance situations rather than traipsing around Lawacharra Rainforest observing its ecosystems. Once we got into Dhaka I warned them to cover their heads with urnas so we wouldn't be targeted as foreigners. Superficially I was yanking their chains, but a little part of me was serious.
Here's the juicy story: The Bangladesh Rifles (India border patrol) were negotiating contracts yesterday and mutinied after the meeting didn't result in their getting higher pay benefits. Shooting broke out in Dhanmondi, which scarily enough, is only 5 or 6 miles from where I teach. The BBC reckons 50 were shot, while a parent of one of my students- who filled me in on the situation as she gave me a lift back home- alleged newer reports estimate closer to a hundred were killed, among them two higher up officials.
Consequently us Dhaka residents are facing possible curfews, cell phone connection cutting, and who knows what else as the government struggles to control the situation. Apparently Sheikh Hasina offered amnesty to the BDR and was refused, so she is threatening to bring in the army.
We shall see what happens.
What I was planning on blogging about today was my spectacular field trip out in the scenic tea garden and paddy covered hills on Srimongol, complete with rainforest trekking (we saw Gibbon monkeys!) and wadding in a waterfall with my middle schoolers. Instead I’m relating sensational news from a developing Bengali drama-unfortunately it’s reality; not an afternoon soap opera.
Stay tuned for further updates from the Never Dull Country of Bangladesh.