Mr. Dilip Barua was the Industries Minister in Bangladesh in the last cabinet of Sheikh Hasina. He is from the Communist Party and a Buddhist by faith.
He was a technocrat minister who did not (and surely could not) win any seat in the parliament. In his own constituency - in Haitkandi village, near Nizampur Government College, in the Mirsaria thana - north of Sitakund - he is almost unknown except that his neighboring villagers knew that he came from the nearby Magh Para whose vast majority of the dwellers had been fishermen supplying fish into the local market.
So, when one of their very own, a Buddhist and communist, with a university degree in Physics from Dhaka University, was chosen as a powerful minister in the past cabinet there was lot of expectations within the locals that he would do something good for their region. One such major wish included repair of the road that goes in front of Dilip Barua's village from the nearby bazar. He did not do anything about it, and hardly visited the region. When inquired, he flatly said that since he was not an elected representative from the area he had no obligation for the area.
Barua was totally inept and incompetent for the ministerial job in the industries sector. His selection as a minister in the previous cabinet surprised many who could not find any rational ground as to why the prime minister had chosen him. His communist party had no support within the country either to mobilize public opinion in favor of the government led by Sheikh Hasina. Even if all such shortcomings are ignored, what is inexcusable is corruption of which he has been seriously accused in the media.
In Bangladesh, communists are traditionally perceived to be caring, socially conscious and honest. But facts are quite different. Here a personal story may help my readers to understand my point.
During the War of Liberation while my father, an Awami League leader from Chittagong city, was in hiding helping the freedom fighters, as a teenager and eldest son of the family, I was staying behind in our home - Prantik - which was near the Lion's Eye Clinic on Zakir Hossain Road. I had been an avid reader all my life and had befriended many folks from all walks of life, including some communists who were close to my parents' age. One such communist was a contractor named Abdul Quddus. He was a supporter of the Hoq-Toha Communist Party, a radical pro-Peking Marxist group, which was opposed to freedom of Bangladesh, and had been accused of ambushing freedom fighters. [It is worth noting here that many of these communist parties in the then East Pakistan had splintered off the Bhashani NAP, which was pro-Peking, and as such, opposed division of Pakistan. Siraj Sikdar was another such communist leader, later founder of the Sarbahara Party, who had allegedly killed many freedom fighters - during and after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. Amongst these pro-Peking groups, only Rashed Khan Menon's (now a minister in the latest cabinet of Sk. Hasina) group had pro-liberation stance. The pro-Moscow NAP and communist parties (e.g., the party led by Moni Singh) participated in the war of liberation.]
But Abdul Quddus, now deceased, was a saint of sort person, and hated violence. He was, instead, more interested in living a peaceful life by earning halal living through hard work. He would supply me with scores of books on communism, which I would read voraciously and return to him upon completion. An older cousin of mine, Sheikh Fariduddin was a leftist student leader at Dhaka University, Iqbal Hall, during the 1969 Student Movement that brought down Pakistani President Ayyub Khan. His parents' house in Mughaltooly used to be frequented by his communist-minded friends - particularly Ajoy-da, a sports journalist these days. He had collections of hard-core communism, including those from Rahul Sanskrittayan. In my spare time, I read all those books during the liberation war, some probably without even understanding fully the delicate philosophy. It would be no exaggeration to say that there was hardly a book (including those of the Naxalite Charu Majumdar) on socialism and communism outside Des Kapital that was written or translated into Bangla and available in print form inside the country that I had not read then. I became communist at heart, or so it felt!
Soon after the liberation war, I visited Dhaka and accompanied by a cadet college friend Mostaqul Hoq, grandson of legendary A.K.M. Fazlul Hoq, stopped by the Purana Paltan Head Office of Moni Singh's Communist Party with the intent of joining the party. As soon as we entered the front office, we saw that it was air-conditioned, a huge luxury in those days in a newly independent war-ravaged country. To the attending front-desk clerks and attendants, I almost screamed asking: what kind of communist party was that one which lived in luxury when millions go unfed? The party members were caught unprepared and perplexed, and before they could answer I stormed out of the office. That was my short honey-moon of sort with communism! Over the years, I found that there were not too many of Charu Majumdar's ideal cadre, and many were extremely greedy, if not outright extortionists.
From the recently published news reports, Dilip Barua obviously fits in that notorious category. Rumors about his corruption had surfaced for some years since he was a minister. He and his inner circle, which included his front-man for amassing wealth - Saimum Haque Abdar, had been accused of massive corruption. It is rumored that he had funneled away huge sums of money to his children who live overseas. From the reports of my classmates who held important positions within the chemical industry and the BCIC, I gather that Barua had misused government transportation and abused his authority, sometimes demanding that X number of best cars be sent at his disposal right away wherever he visited so that he and his entourage could make use of those for their personal and business interest. His inner circle men were accused of demanding a commission for any tender, licenses, permits, etc. which required his approval. Now the newspaper accounts show that he and his men continue to harass various industries demanding monthly allowances to keep up with the lifestyle he had maintained.
The Anti-corruption Commission surely need to investigate these charges against Barua, and take stern actions, if found genuine.
The readers can read the report in the Manab Zamin by clicking here.