Spirited upsurge from freedom fighters marks`Victory Day under emergency rule in Bangladesh

December 19th, 2007 - 5:36 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, Dec.19 (ANI): For the first time Victory Day was commemorated under emergency rule by an army-backed caretaker government.
This time, there were no separate programmes by different political parties and freedom fighter organisations, as per the law.
But there were developments going back to 1971 and the War of Liberation that could, if sustained, bring about another turn in Bangladesh politics this time, perhaps, for the better.
In recent months, there has been a rising demand to bring war criminals of 1971 to trial.
The war criminals basically refer to the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), who formed their leaders and cadres into militia to supplement the war efforts of the Pakistan Army.
Close to the Victory Day celebrations every year, the issue of War Criminals comes up, mainly from freedom fighter groups and associations and some NGOs like the Ghatak Dalal Nirput Committee (GNOC or the Committee to Root out the Killers and Conspirators). They also formed the General Arora Foundation in Bangladesh.
This year, there was a spirited upsurge from the freedom fighters. Perhaps, they felt there was a freer atmosphere under the army-backed caretaker government, or important elements among them, who would like to see history corrected.
Among them are the Chief of Army Staff, General Moeen U Ahmed, and the Chief Advisor of the Government, Dr. Fakruddin Ahmed.
The Jei, in the meanwhile, vitiated the atmosphere with intemperate public statements.
Its Secretary-General, Ali Ahsan Mojaheed, and former Chairman of the Islamic Bank, Shah Abdul Hannan, have contested the claim that thre was ever a Liberation War. Rather, they have described it as a Civil War. They have also denied the existence of war criminals in the country.
Another JeI leader, Abdul Qadeer Mollah, said that many of the so-called freedom fighters, took part in the 1971 war for liberation to gain wealth and get beautiful women.
Such statements have created a major divide. All the freedom fighter lobbies have got together with the Awami League and its 14-party alliance, and boycotted a reception hosted by President Iajuddin Ahmed because war criminals and anti-liberation forces were invited.
This may be a trend, which can catch the imagination of the entire nation in due course.
The JeI and sections of the BNP, of course, attended the Presidents reception.
During the war, the JeI comprised of three major militia forces the Razakars, the Al Badr and the Al Shams.
The idea was to obfuscate the JeIs direct involvement against liberation. Of course, it was a weak effort at a cover-up. For example, the present Amir of the JeI, Mohur Rehman Nizami, is not recognised by this name among the people of Pabna, who survived his atrocities. He is known as Maitya Razakar.
A classified document of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Home Ministry in the possession of the last Bangladesh Nationalist Party-JeI Government, has recorded very clearly the involvement of the JeI with the Pakistani occupation army in a kind of cultural cleansing.
Names are mentioned in the document, including that of the JeI (East Pakistan) Amir, Professor Gulam Azam.
The document was leaked to the press in 2005.
Although Pakistani Army personnel were involved in the killing of intellectuals before they surrendered, many of them loathed such jobs.
A professional soldier is trained to fight an enemy soldier and insurgents, but not pull out old men, women and children from their homes, and kill them. Some of them did, though, which contributed to their demoralisation.
The JeI Brown Shirts took up the task of rape and pillage of civilians with alacrity and glee. There are records and witnesses still around.
Till now, the political parties did not make an effort to try the war criminals.
The first amendment of Bangladeshs 1972 Constitution, made in 1973, provided in detail for the trial of war criminals. Simultaneously, there was a political initiative from the government for reconciliation and forgiveness.
After that, Bangladesh suffered a series of convulsions, starting from the assassination of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman and his family on the morning of August 15, 1975 by a group of young army officers.
That let lose a torrent of assassinations and bloodletting, ending in the assassination of President Zia-ur-Rehman in 1981.
Bangladeshis may not like to raise the role of Zia-ur-Rehman from the Liberation War to his death. An open dissection may cause another explosive situation. But eventually, they will have to, for without that, history will never be told, and that missing piece will always remain a cause that prevents the closure of the liberation of the country.
Neither of the two major political parties, the BNP started by Zia-ur-Rehman in 1978, and the Awami League, the leader of the Liberation War, took up the war criminal issue when they were in power.
The BNPs reticence can be understood. Zia, after all, brought the Jei back into politics. But the Awami League?
The Awami League was in power from 1996 to 2001. Sheikh Hasina, Sheikh Mujibs older daughter, was the president of the party and Prime Minister. Instead of prosecuting the war criminals, she entered into an agreement with the JeI during 2006. She wanted to win over the right-wing Islamic votes.
The BNP, which stands divided today, appears to be on unsure ground insofar as the trail of the war criminals is concerned. The pro-Khaleda Zia faction, which is led by Khondakar Hossain opines that an elected government should look into the issue.
The pro-Liberation forces, including the freedom fighter associations believe that the caretaker government should take up the issue and bring the war criminals to trial.
It was perhaps, after a long time, if ever, that freedom fighters and the mainstream print media prominently mentioned the contribution of the Indian Army to Bangladeshs liberation war.
In a manner, the War of Liberation has not yet been concluded. Till the war criminals and Mujibs killers are not brought to trial, and Zia-ur-Rehmans role is not brought out and concluded, its closure will be difficult. (ANI)

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