Written by Firoz Mahboob Kamal
Insurgency against judiciary
The government sponsored insurgency against judiciary has started in the heart of the capital Dhaka. Recently Bangladesh government’s International Crime Tribunal (ICT) has declared life-term imprisonment for one of the Jamaat –e-Islami’s (JI) central leader Mr. Abdul Qader Molla for alleged serial killings and rapes. Mr. Molla flatly refused any such crime. He also claimed that he was in the rural district of Faridpur in 1971 – far away from the alleged crime spot at Mirpur in Dhaka. The defence team also put the argument that Mr. Abdul Qader joined Dhaka University in 1972 as a residential student and after graduation joined Bangladesh Rifle School as a teacher. Later on, joined a daily newspaper as journalist and become vice president of Dhaka Journalist Union for 2 years. How could it happen that no case was filed against him during the last 40 years’ long period?
Abdul Qader Molla’s lawyers claim that their client did not receive any fair trial. It has been a travesty of judgement. Even the human rights organisations in Bangladesh have expressed their serious concerns about the whole judicial procedures. The Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) has put their own people as judge, prosecution lawyer and investigating police officers – which itself kills the neutrality of judicial procedure. But after all this stage-managed drama, the ruling BAL and its left leaning partners are not happy with the judgement. Their demand was nothing less than the plain judicial murder. Since the judges could not fulfil their demand, they have instigated their cadres to launch the current insurgency.
Elimination of razakars and neo-razakars
Now the judicial issue is no more confined within the premise of the court, the ruling party has brought it to the street. The workers of BAL and its ruling alliance have launched a non-stop protest rally nearly a week ago and still continuing day and night in one of the Dhaka’s busiest round-abouts called ‘Shahbag’. Their slogans are very ridiculous and unprecedented even in Bangladesh standard. They are not demanding a fair trial, rather quick execution of not only Abdul Qader Molla and but also all other razakars (volunteers) who were against the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. The leaders of the rally have given ICT an ultimatum and a much specified job: that’s not a fair trial of razakars, but hanging every one of them.
The exact number of razakars is not known. Bangladesh has 4,451 rural unions and 66 districts and 500 subdistricts (upazilla) (according to the current data). If 20 people were from each union working for a united Pakistan than their number will be more than 100, 000 only from the country’s rural unions. But the razakars were also in cities. In 1971, like every union, each urban district and sub-district town had their own peace committee and razakars. The NATO force couldn’t have control even over 30% area of Afghanistan; they could seldom go beyond the heavily guarded cities. In the eighties, the Soviet Russia’s huge army couldn’t have a better control over Afghanistan either. Even now, more than 60 % of the territory is controlled by the anti-occupation Taleban forces. But the case of the muktibahini was different; they could not take under control even a single sub-district (thana) prior to Indian occupation. The Pakistan Army had a force of only 45,000 (source: Gen. Niazi’s book). The razakars put a fierce and effective defence against the India-trained muktibahini till the arrival of India’s huge army in last weeks of Novembner and December. So BAL have real anger against these razakars, probably they cannot have a good sleep when they rememver them. But the question is: do they want to kill all these razakars? Is the country is ready for such a huge genocide?
Now the issue has been made much more complicated by BAL and its political partners. They have redefined razakar. According to the new definition, even those who are born after the creation of Bangladesh are also called razakar -if they do not show allegiance to Hasina’s de-Islamising pro-Indian politics, especially if take 1971’s razakars as their political ally. On that ground, they call former President Gen. Ziaur Rahman and his widow and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia as razakar too. Because, they formed political alliance with the razakars. They have threatened to put these neo-razakars on trial. This way, the list of razakarsis becoming unending. Even the columnists who write in anti-government newspapers, the academics who criticise the government on TV talk-shows, the students who show allegiance to sharia and other fundamentals of Islam, and the politicians who take anti-Indian stance are also labelled as razakars.
Hasina’s Interference in Judiciary
In any civilised country, the judiciary is an independent body. Neither the government nor any people on the street possess any right to dictate the judgement for the court, nor can deny any pronounced judgement. Such demand jeopardise independent functioning of the judiciary. But that norm does not function in Bangladesh. Few weeks ago, the ICT announced in its judgement that Moulana Abul Kalam Azad –an ex JI leader, and now out of Bangladesh, to be hanged for his alleged crime of killing and rape. AL people celebrated that ruling by distributing sweets in the street. But when the court gave life sentence in another case against JI leader Abdul Qader Molla, they burst into rebellion. Now the judiciary faces insurgency – organised by the cadres of the ruling coalition.
The judiciary does not possess any policing manpower; hence it cannot protect its own judges and the premises. Such responsibility lies on the government’s shoulder. It must protect the unarmed judges from insurgents on the street. Otherwise, how can they survive and function freely? That too is failing in Bangladesh. They are no superhuman or saint, hence susceptible to bullying and life threats – especially if such pressure comes from the government. Now the judges are facing two-prong bullying: one from the street and other from the government. On 10th of February, in her speech in the parliament, the Prime Minister Hasina not only highly appreciated these rebels, but also advised the ICT judges to listen to their demands. But if the judges incorporate the demands of the insurgents in their verdict, then why do they need such a costly and lengthy judicial proceeding? The protestors and a few hangmen are not enough to do the job? Is it different from the racist lynch courts of the USA that hanged thousands of black Africans on trivial issues? The MPs of the ruling coalition demanded that a delegation should be sent to the rally at Shahbag roundabout to announce their full support and solidarity.
Tahrir Square and Shahbag Roundabout
The BAL dominated media is labelling Shahbag roundabout as Dhaka’s Tahrir square. It is a huge joke. They failed to find any distinctiveness of Tahrir square. In Tahrir square, the anti-regime students assemled to dismantle President Mubarak’s autocratic rule. To crash these protesting youths, President Mubarak sent his army, tanks, and also armed thugs on the back of horse and camels to kill them. Hundreds of students were killed by the regime. But what is happening in Dhaka’s Shahbag is totally opposite. The Hasina government is sending not only verbal blessing but also mobile toilets, food and drinks, and moreover full police protection from any attack from the opponents.
The youth in Tahrir squre, brought the down fall of about more than 3 decades old Mubarak regime. But in Dhaka’s Shabag square, the youths are demanding the prolongation of the fascist rule of the pro-Indian BAL. Few days ago Inida’s foreign seceretary Ranjan Mathai was in Dhaka. On 10/02/12 he announced that the Indian government appreciate the Bangladesh government’s trial of the war criminals. The Kolkata’s music composers are now composing new songs for their cultural foot soldiers at the rally. So the India connection is quite strong as was in 1971. But the youths in Tahrir square did not have such foreign connection.
In fascism, the ruling party claims the exclusive ownership of the whole country: including its whole state infrastructure, police, media and judiciary. In Bangladesh, fascism is ruling with its ugliest form. The BAL is not ready to give any political space for peaceful protest to the opponents. While fully patronising the gathering of their own youths in Shahbag squre, it is denying such rights to others. They are not allowing the opponents to hold any meeting in any part of Dhaka. Only few weeks ago, thousands of teachers from the non-government primary schools were holding a huge rally in Dhaka for better salary and job security. To disperse them, the police sprayed hot chilli powder and poisonous gases in the crowd. Several teachers died of the toxic effects.
Eliminating JI and Shibir (Jamaat’s student wing) activists have become their much proclaimed policy. Whenever and wherever the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing initiate any rally, the police and its ally the RAB (Rapid Action Battilion) start charging them with bullets, batons and tear gas. They not only put them behind the bar, but also do brutal torture. Hasina has made her own Abu Garebs. More than 150 of JI’s women workers are in police custody for many months. Recently, Mohammad Nasim -BAL’s central leader and ex-cabinet minister, has asked the government to launch a combing operation to eliminate JI and Shibir members.
Hasina is exactly following the footsteps of her dead father Shaikh Mujibur Rahman. To establish a soviet-type one-party autocracy of BAKSAL (Bangladesh Krishok Sramik Awami League), Mujib not only killed democracy, but also killed more than thirty thousand people to sustain his rule. Mujib dismantled all opposition newspapers. Hasina is following the same path. On 13/02/13, Hasins’s militant followers burnt the printing press of the opposition daily Naya Diganta. They have also threatened to burn their TV installation. Ironically, whenever an opposition newspaper or office get burnt by its hooligans, BAL plays a different game. Instead of arresting the miscreants, they lay the blame on the opposition. They go on telling that the opposition has invited the wrath of people by going ant-people.
Recently the daily Jugantar, Dhaka’s vernacular newspaper, published a horrendous report. The sub-urban peripheral part of Dhaka city has turned into a free killing ground. The unknown killers dump the dead bodies of the unknown by the riversides of the surrounding rivers like Buriganga, Turag, Meghna and Dhaleswari, People are also being killed in the midst of forest in the nearby Ghazipur district. These killers are not Hasina’s political enemy; hence Hasina, her police and the prosecution team have little interest or time to spend on such issue. Their time and energy are almost exclusively spent on hunting down the opposition leaders and their activists. Apart from enforcing their brute ownership over the country and its institutions, it now seems that the ruling BAL has no other priority.
Source: Blog of Dr. Firoz Mahbub Kamal