‘Bengali Muslims are a Religious Lot; AL Move to Malign BJI has Backfired’

dr waquar anwar

MOHAMMAD NOORUDDIN, President Jamaat-e-Islami Hind West Bengal, hails from Dhaulaghat in South 24 Parganas District of West Bengal. He did MA in History and B.Ed. from the University of Calcutta and PG Diploma in Journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan. He worked as a journalist for about 10 years in the Bengali weekly Meezan. At present he is rendering his services as a teacher in a school. In an interview with DR. WAQUAR ANWAR, he dwells on the situation prevailing in Bangladesh.

How do you look at the recent events in Bangladesh?

Let us first understand what is happening in Bangladesh. There are three major political parties: Awami League (AL), Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Jamaat Islami (BJI). BNP and BJI were ruling in the last term, whereas now AL along with other groups including the party of Hussain Muhammad Ershad is the ruling party. The main issue is that the Leftist group is bent upon making Bangladesh a secular country by throwing Islam out. Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, who has been awarded death sentence by the so-called International Crimes Tribunal, is a man of Islamic politics. He wants to establish an Islamic government in Bangladesh. The public support in favour of Sayeedi, BJI and Islamic state in the country is increasing day by day. The present government is striving hard to face this challenge. They tried democratically but failed. Now they are using violence and other undemocratic methods to achieve their goals.

What case the AL government has brought in against BJI?

The government says that BJI was against the freedom movement of the country. The correct position is that the Jamaat was never against the freedom movement per se. The Jamaat simply wanted that the country should not break. It was not in favour of partition in order to serve the mere menace of nationalism. Had there been any ideological stand, it would have been another matter. BJI’s stand in 1971 war was that it was not proper to break the country merely on the basis of linguistic nationalism. Whatever happened later is a known history.

Post-1971 BJI became active in politics in Bangladesh and participated in elections. It is worth noting that once AL and BJI also had an electoral understanding. Sheikh Hasina had requested Ghulam Azam for support and offered some ministerial seats. BJI did not go for ministerial seats in the government but supported the Hasina government from outside. These are routine electoral politics followed in democratic setups. However, later the Jamaat joined BNP-led government. At a time BJI had 17 members in Parliament. Another time it had nine members and it got three ministerial berths; those of Irrigation, Industries and Religious Affairs. These were successful ministries as reported by BBC, Voice of America and other agencies.

BJI leaders like Sayeedi and Nizami proved that they are capable of running government departments and responsibilities entrusted to them. This too added to the popularity of BJI. The anti-Islamist groups were antagonised and they became active in overt and covert planning to defame and defuse the BJI and finish it off for good. Prof. Ghulam Azam had proposed a system of care taker government during the election period. AL feared that a free and fair election under a caretaker government will result in an upsurge of BJI. AL started its politics of creating chaos before the last election and vitiated the atmosphere to the worst through a series of strikes and disturbances. The election that resulted was rigged and that gave AL an overwhelming majority.  It was a case of power grabbing. Now that the next election is due and AL fears that its dismal performance in government will take the toll and they will not be able to repeat their electoral performance. This bogie against BJI has been raised to counter that eventuality raking up old issues. They arrested the first and second line of leadership thinking that it would finish BJI off. But it has not happened so. Public support for BJI is on the rise.

What is the game-plan of Awami League against BJI?

Now the Bangladesh government is playing a dangerous game. The so-called International Crimes Tribunal has been formed and cases against top ranking leaders of BJI like Ghulam Azam, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, Abdul Qadir, Qamruzzaman and Mujahid that they were Razakars of Al Badr. Razakar there means Pro-Pakistan and anti-independence persons. They have been charged with crimes like murder, rape and other forms of violence. Such charges are baseless and that is why the judge who was to give judgment in the case of Delwar Hossain Sayeedi was removed before he could pronounce the judgment, fearing that he will not tow the government line. The other judge pronounced death sentence to Sayeedi.

It may be noted that the case had not started against Sayeedi because he was madrasa student in 1971 and had joined BJI in 1975. A person who joined BJI and active politics after the war could not be involved in any crime related to a crime allegedly committed before that period. The case was filed and processed against a person named Dillu alias Dilawar.  Now the prosecutor says that this is the same person and the alleged criminal changed his name to Delwar Hossain Sayeedi. These are two distinct persons. Delwar Hossain Sayeedi is son of Mohd. Yusuf of village Saeed Khalil in Firozpur district and his date of birth is 1.2.1940. The full name of Dillu, the other person, is Dilwar Sikdar son of Rasool Sikdar of village Cheela of Firozpur district whose date of birth is not known.

After Sayeedi it is now the turn of Ghulam Azam in the war crime tribunal?

The AL government thought that Sayeedi is a local person and a small fry as compared to Ghulam Azam, a person with international repute. Their calculations failed. Sayeedi is immensely popular with Bangla speaking Muslims everywhere, be it Bangladesh or anywhere else. Ghulam Azam is a towering personality. He has his roots in Bangla speaking world. In his biography Jeevaner kee dekhlam (What I saw in Life) he has written that the Bhasha Andolan (language movement) of Bengali in East Pakistan was initiated by him. He says that his stand was that the state language of East Pakistan should be Bangla, the nation remaining united under two language regime, Urdu for West Pakistan and Bangla for the East. This proposal was moved by Dhaka University Students’ Union under the leadership of Ghulam Azam. This claim is not accepted by AL. Ghulam Azam was not in East Pakistan at the time of creation of Bangladesh, as he had gone to the then West Pakistan to attend a meeting. He retuned afterwards and his citizenship was refused. The Supreme Court later ruled that he was a citizen of the nation.

What is the truth about the crowd in Shahbagh?

The Leftist group in Bangladesh sought to replicate the Tahrir Square movement of Egypt in Shahbagh. Their movement, in their words, is against the Maudoodi version of Islam which they say is not acceptable in the country. And so BJI has no place in Bangladesh. It should be banished and finished. They are pro-government and so provisions like food, water and facilities like toilets were made available at Shahbagh by the state. They kept singing and dancing and enjoyed dramas and other recreational activities.

Afterwards when it became obvious that the crowd of students and youth were being utilised by the government for its ulterior motives, the intellectuals silently disappeared. The remaining crowd comprised either pro-Awami League or ultra-secular elements. At that time the content of a blog became public and the blogger Rajiv Haider was murdered, nobody knows by whom. The contents of the blog were anti-Islam and anti-Prophet of Islam and this part of its content was made public which eventually hurt the Muslims of Bangladesh.

Hasina Wajed declared that Rajiv Haider was the first martyr of the second freedom movement. AL made the deceased person as their hero. This whole matter culminated into the wrath of the people against Hasina Wajed. The crowd in Shahbagh disappeared and the nation rose against the anti-Islam bloggers and their supporters in that government. The government tried to pacify the people by arresting some of the bloggers but the ploy has not succeeded.

Further, for a common Bangla-speaking Muslim death sentence against Sayeedi means death of an Islamic scholar, a Mufassir (exponent) of the meaning of the Qur’an. Coupled with the blogger event the masses came in the open against these anti-Islam moves. The leaders of the mass movement who are in favour of Sayeedi and against the bloggers may not have anything to do with BJI. It is a movement to restore Islam. It is not acceptable to the masses that politics in the name of socialism and secularism has a place in Bangladesh and that in the name of Islam is not possible. The Bengali Muslims are a religious lot. That is why the move of the AL government to malign BJI has backfired.

Source: Radiance Viewsweekly

Image Source: Radiance Viewsweekly