Bangladesh: A New Battleground

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 Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal

The Judicial Murder

The ruling Bangladesh Awami Leage (BAL) made another record of shameful failure. On only one day of 28th February, its police forces have killed more than 60 civilians (source: Daily Amar Desh, Dhaka 1/3/13).  Four people killed on 01.03.2013; and 3 more killed on 02. 03.13. Most of the deaths took place in the rural districts. As soon as the death sentence against the country’s most famous Islamic preacher Moulana Delwar Hussain Sayeedi was announced, thousands of protestors poured into the streets. To disperse these unarmed protestors, the police opened fire arms indiscriminately. Unlike the previous mass up-rise, this time the movement is no more confined within the big cities’ urban populations, rather has quickly grabbed the whole country.

Although Moulana Sayeedi is a Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader, his popularity goes beyond the party boundary. Thousands of non-partisan religious people used to flock to his religious sermons -delivered almost every nook and corner of the country. Shaikh Hasina’s government has now hammered on the very sensitive fibres of these religious people.  During the whole Pakistani period of 24 years -till 25th March 1971, even 24 people were not killed by the police. Hence, even many supporters of 1971’s cessation from Pakistan are now questioning the wisdom of creating such a blood-letting Bangladesh.”

Moulana Sayeedi’s death sentence was announced by Dhaka’s International Crime Tribunal (ICT). However, the court is neither international, nor does it adjudicate the country’s bursting crimes. All of its judges, the prosecutors, the investigating officers are the political appointees of BAL. Its mandate has been pre-fixed by the BAL government; and that too, is to expedite the judicial murder of its political opponents. They have started the trial of only 10, but their much declared target is to try every Razakar the Bengali Muslims who took part against the break-up of Pakistan in 1971. The minimum punishment demanded by BAL and its ally is the death sentence. Such political mandate of ICT is no more hidden; rather evident from the recent Skype conversation of ICT’s chairman Mr. Nizamul Haq with his Brussels based personal friend Dr. Ahmed Ziauddin.  Mr. Nizamul Haq has revealed that the government has turned mad to have quick death sentence against the arrested leaders.  After such revelation, Mr. Haq had to resign from the ICT. 

 The Pakistan Experience

It is impossible to understand Bangladesh’s present crisis without understanding her Pakistan experience. The Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) and its ally too, are also drawing its legitimacy of ICT and the pretext of hanging the razakars from Pakistan experience. In the early part of the twentieth century, the Bengali Muslims  -the largest Muslim population in the South Asia, realised that they have an important role to play for the Muslim ummah especially for those who live in South Asia.  For such a role, they thought it indispensable to remain in the central stage of Indian Muslims’ politics. The Khilafat movement of Ali brothers gave a heavy boost to such feeling. With such a pan-Islamic vision, the Bengali Muslims played a crucial role in the making of Pakistan. The originator of Pakistan movement was the All India Muslim League (ML); it was formed in Dhaka in 1906. And the pioneering role was played by the Nawab of Dhaka Sir Salimullah. Even in 1940, thee famous Pakistan proposal was raised by Bengal’s Prime Minister Moulavi Fazlul Haque in ML’s Lahore conference.

The creation of Pakistan the largest Muslim country in the world, gavee a golden opportunity to her majority Bengali Muslim citizens to influence not only the politics of Pakistan, but also the politics of the whole Islamic world. But such objective was foiled by Pakistan’s huge internal enemies. The imperialist occupiers left the subcontinent in 1947, but left behind many hard-core secular institutions. The British were very optimistic of their role to protect their economic interest and the cultural legacy in the Muslim land. The members of these institutions were the most obedient servants, as well as the most faithful ally of the British rule in India. Raising such obedient class in Islamic country was a key strategy of the British occupation. And it was made clear by Lord Cromer the representative of British Empire in Egypt. His famous saying that the British well never allow any Muslim land to have independence until a secular class grow up to take over their place, indeed illustrates the British objectives in its occupied lands. And Pakistan had those people in enough numbers. They are heavily embedded in the army, judiciary and bureaucracy. Indeed these institutions are the cultural and political islands of the colonialists in big Pakistani cities. They never reconciled with the ideological objective of Pakistan as was visualised by Allama Iqbal. Rather they tried in eevery possible way to undo the all Indian Muslims’ joint Pakistan project. Drinking wine in the army of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was banned only after the demise of 1947’s united Pakistan.

The first shot against Pakistan’s body polity did not come from her external enemies, but from the country’s own secular institutions. The country’s first constitution making body the constituent assembly was dismantled by her own burreaucratic Governor-General Mr. Ghulam Muhammad, while it had nearly finished its job. While the Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra left the country for an official tour to Washington, Mr. Ghulam Muhammad dissolved not only his government, but also the assembly and its final product  the constitution. Muhammaad Ali Bogra never lost the confidence of the parliament, but still had to go. Such a dictatorial act was ratified by another secularist institution -the judiciary. The politician of both the wings made another constitution in 1956, but that too, was dismantled by another faithful British product, and he was General Ayub Khan. His 11 years’ autocratic rule effectively blocked the Bengali Muslims’ political participation in Pakistan, hence instigated enormous frustration among the country’s majority East Pakistani people. He gave Shaikh Mujib the best opportunity to capitalise as well as politicise such frustration. The settled issue was unsettled again and again; and ultimately led the united Pakistan to die a death of its constitutional failure which could have been easily avoided like India, a, in the early fifties. Indeed in 1971, the West Pakistan’s secularist generals, media and the politicians again lined up behind another secularist brainchild of the west -Mr Bhutto, to put the final nail into the coffin. 1947’s Pakistan has died; but these secularist devils are still actively alive to dismantle the remaining half.

Mujib’s Crime

In 1971’s election, the key issue to be addressed was to make a new constitution. Shaikh Mujib, too, fought the election on constitutional provision of more provincial autonomy; he never raised the issue of division of Pakistan. But after his election victory he changed his position. He took a posture that whatever he says is mandated by the people in the 1970’s election. He used the election as a tool of dismembering Pakistan, and raised the flag of independent Bangladesh. It was a clear betrayal of Mujib’s own election promise. He signed Gen. Yahia Khan’s 8 point LFO to protect the integrity of Pakistan. No doubt, Pakistan has her worst enemies, great failures, and even grave political crisis. But it is the duty of the political leaders to contribute positively to face such enemies and to solve the crisis peacefully. But Shaikh Mujib and his party BAL did the opposite. He made coalition with Pakistan’s arch enemy India and manipulated the crisis to manufacture a full scale war. Every war brings deaths and devastation. 1971’s war not an exception either. After the 1971 war, Shaikh Mujib and the propaganda machine raised the accusation that Pakistan Army wanted to annihilate the Bengali people by genocide and rape. But they did not tell the truth that Pakistan Army’s non-Bengali soldiers and officers stayed in Dhaka, Chittagong, Comilla, Jessore, Bogra and other cantonments for 23 years till 25th of March 1971, but did not kill or rape a single East Pakistani. Therefore, how such heinous intention can be attributed to them?

As a ML worker in his early life, Shaikh Mujib was not unaware of the fact that India did not want the creation and continuation of Pakistan from day one. But he conveniently forgot the fact, and made an alliance with India. Mujib withdrew himself from united Pakistan’s national politics, and led the country back to the provincial politics. When he became the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, he has no foreign policy. He delegated it to India. Shaikh Hasina, too, does not have any foreign policy either. Hence, Hasina’s government does not have any say on Muslims’ plight in Kashmir, Myanmar, Palestine and India. Shaikh Mujib and his party thus foiled the Bengali Muslims’ participation in the south Asian politics. Mujib, thus betrayed not only against the people of Pakistan, but also against the people of Bangladesh.

 The enemy strategy

Bengal has been the target of the anti-Islamic forces for centuries. The reason lies in its large Muslim population.  Bangladesh has the highest concentration of Muslims in the world: 92% of its 160 million populations are Muslim. Moreover, unlike Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and many other Muslim countries, the country is not infested with ethnic divisions. Hence, even today, Bangladesh has huge potential to cause an Islamic resurgence, -that may influence the whole eastern part of the south Asia. During the Muslim rule in India, especially in Moghul period, Sube Bangla played a great role in the expansion and continuation of the Muslim rule by paying the largest amount of revenue to the coffers. The cessation of Bengal from Delhi not only weakened the empire, rather led to its extinction. The rulers of Delhi did not have even enough money to sustain an effective army.  However, Bengal’s cessation also brought its own curse: the country became the first prey in the hand of occupying British colonialists.

Considering the Bengal’s potentials, India wants to keep a tight grip. The attacks against the Islamists and the de-Islamisation project have been intensified in this fertile land after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. India withdrew its armed forced in 1972 but did not withdrew its un-armed huge enforcements. Now the country’s media, army, academic institutions, bureaucracy and the political parties are embedded with large number of Indian RAW agents. Shaikh Mujib Indiia’s trusted ally, banned all Islamic political parties. Shaikh Hasina the currrent Prime Minister is following her father’s footstep more aggressively. Pronab Mukharjee the India’s Bengali president is visiting Bangladesh on 3//03/2013. The purpose of the visit is not known, but surely he will not miss the opportunity to reconfirm his country’s full support for Hasina’s policy.

Why JI is the target?

Muslim League (ML) established a deep rooted base in Bangladesh. Before the creation of Pakistan, ML had government only in two provinces: in Bengal and Sindh. In 1970’s election, ML and other pro-Pakistani parties were badly divided, hence got defeated. But that does not mean that its support base and the workers disappeared after the election. Millions of them supported and worked for united Pakistan in 1971’s war. The numbers of ML workers were much more than that of JI. But 8 of 10 people picked up by the government for prosecution belong to JI. Only 2 of them are from the Muslim League, now integrated with Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The reason is clear. Since Muslim League no longer survives as the political rivals of BAL, they are not the potential target of elimination.

Like any brutal dictator, the current dictator of Bangladesh PM Shaikh Hasina, too, wants to use the judiciary as a tool of annihilating the political opponents. In the nineties, while Shaikh Hasina was in the opposition, instigated her followers to form lynch court in Dhaka’s Suhrowardi uddayan to try JI leaders. In that open court, death sentences were announced against the top JI and ML leaders and many others, but could not execute such verdict. Now they have the state power. The same motive, the same politics, and the same prosecution of the lynch court are now functioning under the judicial cover in Dhaka high court premise.  They named it Bangladesh’ International Crime Tribunal (ICT). On 28th February, 2013, the ICT has announced its judgement against Moulana Delwar Hussain Sayeedi  -one of the country’s most famous religious preachers and the central leader of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). The verdict has been for his execution by hanging. Moulana Sayeedi is yet to face the execution, but already more than 70 people have been executed in the street only on the same day. The police opened fire on unarmed protesters in different parts of the country. To show its anger, Jamaat has called for two days’ hartal in the whole country - which will lead to dawn to dusk closure of all shops and academic institutions. This will put all vehicles and other means of communication out of the roads.

Entering into a civil war

Bangladesh is speedily entering into a civil war. The BAL is bent upon taking revenge from its political opponents in a brutal way. Its cadres are holding protest rally in Dhaka’s Shahbag roundabout for more than 20 days. The government has had deployed thousands of its police force to give all possible protection, even started screenings all entrants to Shahbag by metal detectors. They are openly raising slogan and instigating people to kill razakars - people who took part for united Pakistan in 1971. They demanded that ICT should announce death sentence for every razakar. The court has succumbed to their demand. What they have pronounced in the street has got full expression in the verdict. So there was a huge celebration among Shahbag youths for their victory. JI is left with no option, either to announce its own death by keeping full silence or fight back. It seems, JI has taken the second option. The presence of its huge number of militant supporters on the streets in every nook and corners of the country proves such assumption.

On the other hand, the fear of Shibir’s attack the JI’s sstudent outfit is profound among the Shahabag’s pro-BAL youths. Dhaka’s daily the Manab Jamin reported in its 3/3/2013 issue, that a rumour of Shibir attack spread among the Shahbag’ youths on 2/3/13. In response, a huge rush erupted in the venue to flee, and many people were injured. JI has been successful to observe hartal (strike) on 28/02013 all over the country and has called for 2 days’ hartal on 4th and 5th of March. BNP leader Khaleda Zia has asked for an additional day of hartal on 6th of March. Each hartal has the potential to cause deaths and destruction and may lead to further hartals. It seems that the country is now moving fast to a turning point.

The two nations

Bangladesh is already deeply divided into two nations: the nation of Islam and the nation of anti-Islam. They follow two conflicting visions and roadmaps for the country. Their mind-set, culture, heroes and political objectives are also different. Day by day, they are becoming mutually incompatible, hence moving towards confrontation.  In Bangladesh constitution, there was a proclamation of trust on Allah -the Almighty. But such a constitutional announcement was not acceptable to Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) leaders. Since BAL has the majority in the parliament, hence didn’t hesitate to remove such an articulation of faith of the Muslim majority. They quickly deleted it. The USA prints “We Trust in God” on their currency notes. But BAL is not ready to write it in the constitution. BAL thus showed its own colour: its alienation from Islam is huge. Its political agenda is not limited to deletion of trust in Allah from the constitution, rather the Islamic influence from the country.

The country’s anti-Islamic forces are the coalition of the extremist fascists, secularists and the Bengali racists. Their hatred is not merely against JI, their blasphemous and abusive comments against Allah -the Almighty and His great prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have come to the public notice through their writings in the blogs. Several popular newspapers have published catalogues of their blasphemous wright-ups. The staffs written by Salman Rushdi or Tasleema Nasreen are peanuts in comparison to those written by these Bangladesh atheists. The common people are angered up to the explosion level. Now the non-JI religious leaders and their followers have come to the streets in millions. The government has deployed its police, RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) and armed border guards forces of former BDR to control the situation.

India’s Islam-Phobia and the interference

The proof of India’s firm support and assistance for the Shahbag’s anti-Islamic elements comes from its own media. The Time of India, New Delhi on 26.02.13 reported that India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon has said, “The protests were a sign of “the open-mindedness of the Bangladeshi youth, who were battling extremism and upholding values of democracy.” He also told, “The on-going spontaneous gathering against elements and war criminals by thousands of youth at Shahbag intersection at Dhaka shows the strengths of feeling, capacity of political mobilisation and open-mindedness of Bangladeshi youths.”  The Time of India also reported that during his recent visit in Bangladesh, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told at Dhaka, “It is always wonderful to see young people engaged in any democratic process. They show their concern, their involvement, and their aspiration. I applaud and admire. It revives your strongest feelings and faith in democracy” he said. Now the question arises, is it a democratic norm to dictate the verdict for the judges? The Shahbag’s youths are doing the same. There, the pro-BAL youths have gathered to pass a mob judgement. Can a civilised society accept that? How Mr. Shivshankar Menon and Salman Khurshid can appreciate that? What about democratic aspirations of Kashmiri youths’? Does Indian government allow them to demonstrate in any of Srinagar’s roundabout? Why did they deploy more than 6,00,000 army in Kashir? Is it to promote democratic aspiration of Kashmiri people? 

The Islamic resurgence all over the Muslim world has intensified India’s Islam-phobia. The ruling elite in New Delhi clearly understand that if the wave of resurgence hits Bangladesh, the country’s 160 million people with her about 10 million overseas residents will cause earthquake in South Asia’s politics. It may change even the current political map. Bengali Muslims have already shown their power by pioneering such change in 1947. The tide of Bengal will not be confined within Bangladesh’s own boundary. So India’s investment in stopping such Islamic tide is enormous. So the country has turned into a fierce battle ground of Islam and anti-Islam.

India has seen the strength of Bengali nationalism in 1971. So the Indians and their agents in Bangladesh want to play the same card now. So they have returned back to “Joy Bangla”. So the pro-BAL protestors who raise “Joy Bangla” slogans in Shahbag roundabout get free packet lunch, free packet dinner and cold drinks. Along with full police protection and the toilet facility, they also get continuous entertainment by free dance show, songs show and other amusements day and night. But they forget the fact that Joy Bangla cards my play well against the non-Bengali West Pakistanis, but not against the Bengali compatriots.  3/3/2013


 Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal

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Comments (1)Add Comment
written by M, March 07, 2013
I am deeply saddened to see the continuous ignorance and blindness of the mass. The division is deeply rooted within our society and it is the history that is repeating again. History becomes our future and still we think and work to make our future better, never learning from history. How long will we be so blind and inconsiderate?

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