People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 18

May 05, 2013





Secular Forces of Bangladesh Are in the Midst of Unfinished Battle


Gautam Das


PEOPLE of Bangladesh, particularly secular, democratic, patriotic and peace-loving people of that country have engaged themselves in a decisive battle against the anti-liberation war forces and their allies, mainly against the brutal fundamentalist religious fanatics who were responsible in killing more than 30 lakh Bangladeshis and also responsible for inhuman atrocities meted upon more than two lakh women during the liberation struggle of Bangladesh in 1971. In the ongoing battle, the students, youths and the intelligentsia are in the leading role. Apart from different students organisations, teachers organisations, cultural organisations, lawyers, journalists, women organisations, Left and secular political parties are extending their support to the movement. During last three months, umbrella organisation of the movement, Gana Jagaran Manch  (Mass Awareness Platform) could mobilise lakhs and lakhs of people against the anti-liberation forces.


The religious fundamentalists once again revealed their real character by resorting to barbaric killings and vandalising temples and houses of religious minorities. They are inciting majority community communalists to attack on the minorities and also targeted government properties including railway, motor transport, police stations and jeopardising normal life by calling frequent hartals. During last two months, more than 150 people got killed due to their violent activities. They are mobilising madrassa students and using mosques to counter the pro-liberation forces. Anti-liberation forces, mainly Jamayete Islam and its students wing Islami Chhatra Shibir are getting all types of active support and help from main opposition political party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). As a result, Jamayet-Shibir combine is getting courage to resort to fascist type of attacks upon secular forces, workers, innocent citizens and minorities. Gana Jagaran Manch and their allies are spearheading their movement against the anti-liberation forces braving heinous attack perpetuated by Jamayet and BNP.




It may be mentioned here that during liberation movement of the people of Bangladesh in 1971, the Islami fundamentalist party Jamayete Islam and its student wing helped the Pakistani army in killing and mass killing of people who were supporters of liberation movement and they also helped the Pakistani army in rape and gang-rape of women. For committing their inhuman atrocities, Jamayete Islami formed some killer groups named Rajakar, Albadar, Alshams etc. These gangs also actively participated in killings and mass killings, rape and gang-rape and other criminal offenses.


But after the liberation of Bangladesh, many of the Islami fundamentalist leaders fled to Pakistan, other Arab countries, USA and Canada. After establishment of new government led by Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman, new Bangladesh parliament passed an Act for trial of killers and rapists. Many of the offenders got arrested and put on trial.


But a section of the middle ranking military officers with the help of anti-liberation forces and CIA, staged a short-lived coup on August 15, 1975 and killed founder president of Bangladesh Shiekh Mujibar Rahaman and his family members. Only his two daughters Sheikh Hasina (present prime minister) and Sheikh Rehana escaped from death as they were in Germany. 


In the later part of 1975, General Zia-ur Rahaman, one of the sector commander of liberation forces assumed power of the president and promulgated martial law in the country. He was dissatisfied with Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman on the issue of his promotion in the army. Power hungry General Zia stopped trial of war criminals and set them free from jail and to legalise his Army rule, floated a political party named BNP from the Military cantonment. Later on, he conducted a so-called parliamentary election and became “Elected President” of Bangladesh. General Zia not only stopped trial of war criminals, but also made some of them parliament members and ministers. Those army officers who killed Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman, they were rewarded with ambassadorial post.


In the meanwhile, Jamayete Islam party leaders engaged themselves in spreading their organisational network all over Bangladesh and used mosques and madrassas for this purpose. They were used to get huge regular fund from pan-Islamic forces across the world for spreading their organisation and for other activities. Jamayete Islami Party floated several hundred schools, banks, hospitals, medicine manufacturing factories, newspapers, TV channels, even sweet shops and thus established a strong financial empire which is earning several thousand crores of rupees every year. Jamayete Islami party was using their huge financial resources to strengthen their organisation and also in rearing armed extremist militant organisations.


It is also to be mentioned here that after assumption of State power by General Zia-ur Rahaman and rehabilitation of Jamayete Islami, secessionist extremist outfits of North-Eastern India including Tripura could establish their base camp and arms and explosive training centers inside Bangladesh territory. Not only that, several Islami terrorist organisations of Pakistan also established their unit in Bangladesh and started terrorist acts in several parts of India using Bangladesh soil as their safe haven.


In 1990s, secular and progressive intellectuals of Bangladesh started movement demanding trial of 1971 war criminals. They floated a platform called Ekattarer Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee, led by Jahanara Imam who lost one of her sons in 1971.


After ouster of General H.M. Ershad’s regime, through tremendous mass movement in 1990, BNP-led by Khaleda Zia secured electoral victory in subsequent parliamentary elections in 1991. Jamayete Islam lent tacit support to BNP in the election. During Khaleda Zia’s first tenure in the government, Jamayete Islam strengthened their organisational activities further and captured several students’ council including Chittagong University and consolidated their organisation. Anti-India activities also stepped up.


In 1996 parliamentary election, Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina came out victorious and formed government. Hasina government opened trial of killing of Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman and also took some steps in curbing activities of the Islami fundamentalists.


In 2001, BNP openly made electoral alliance with Jamayete Islam and their unprincipled alliance was elected to government. Jamayete Islami party leaders who were directly involved in murder, rape, gang-rape in 1971, got berth in the 2nd Khaleda Zia ministry. After the 2001 parliamentary election, Jamayete Islami gangsters committed planned attack upon the minorities and raped and gang-raped thousands of minority community women, killed several people, vandalised several thousand temples, arsoned houses with the sole intension to drive out minorities from Bangladesh.


With the connivance of top leadership of the government and intelligence officials, secessionist extremist of North East India imported huge quantity of sophisticated arms, ammunitions and explosives through Chittagong port. They used government jetty in smuggling arms. On April 1, 2004, some patriotic police officers seized 10 truck loads of arms and explosives from a fertilizer jetty of Chittagong port owned by industry department of the government. At that time industry minister was chief of Jamayete Islam party, Matiur Rahaman Nizami. But Khaleda Zia government tried to hush up the episode and suspended two young police officers who seized those huge quantity of arms. It was later revealed that these huge quantity of arms were smuggled for ULFA of Assam and were to be sent through Bangladesh-Tripura border.


During 2001-2006 BNP-Jamayete alliance government, many fundamentalist extremist groups were given birth. One such fundamentalist extremist outfit Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) organised bomb attacks in 63 district headquarters in a single day and mainly targeted the Judiciary. Several people including judges, lawyers and innocent people got killed and injured. These fundamentalist extremist outfits also organised bomb attack on CPB rally at Dhaka and also in the cultural function organised by progressive groups in several places and killed several people.




After two year long Internal Emergency (2007-08), in the ninth parliamentary election, Awami League and its 14 party alliance in their election manifesto promised to set up International Crime Tribunal for trial of 1971 war criminals. In the December 2008 parliamentary election, Awami League led alliance got massive mandate from the people and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government set up two International Tribunals. As per direction of the tribunals, seven Jamayete Islami party leaders were arrested and put on trial before the tribunals. Two BNP leaders were also arrested and put on trial.


To stop the trials of war criminals, BNP and Jamayete Islami party resorted to widespread violent attack on the secular sections of the people, religious minorities, working people, police and government properties and calling frequent hartals to create a situation of complete lawlessness to oust the present government. Even they tried to instigate the Army to stage coup. Khaleda Zia herself requested the Army top brass to intervene. But the three services chiefs in a meeting called by the parliamentary committee on defense affairs assured that they will not do anything to subvert the democratic process.


The international crime tribunals started giving verdict against the war criminal Jamayete Islami party leaders. On February 5 last in the second verdict of the international tribunal, though the three judges bench convicted Abdul Kader Mullah, assistant general secretary of Jamayete Islami, for participating in several killings and mass killings and rape in 1971, but the tribunal awarded him life-term.


Secular and democratic forces including students and youths, who were expecting capital punishment of Kidder Mullah for killing near about 300 people, they got very angry and started instant mass squatting at Shahbag, a square near Dhaka University. Thousands and thousands of students, youth, women and different sections of the people gathered at Shahbag and raised demand for capital punishment to the war criminals and also raised demand that Jamayete Islami party and its students wing be banned. Day and night squatting continued for more than four weeks which forced the government to amend International Tribunal Act by calling a special session of the parliament. As per amendment, any side can go for appeal in the Supreme Court against the judgment of international tribunal. Students, youth, different professional organisations floated Gana Jagaran Manch, a common platform of secular democratic forces to achieve their demands. They started countrywide movement with six-point demands which includes capital punishment to the war criminals, speedy trial of the accused persons, banning of Jamayete Islami and its students wing, confiscation of assets of Jamayete Islami party and of its business organisations etc. Gana Jagaran Manch set up its branches all over the country. The ongoing movement succeeded in imbibing patriotism among the younger generation which is very important.


Jamayete Islami and BNP combine are desperately trying to divide the masses on communal lines and spreading falsehood that the members of the Gana Jagaran Manch directed their movement against Islam. They have also floated a new organisation named Hepajate Islam and under its banner they mobilised about five lakhs people, mostly madrassa students on April 6 last at Dhaka who demanded banning of Gana Jagaran Manch. Their plan was to blockade Dhaka and force the government to quit office. But their plan failed.  Again they called for blockade of Dhaka on May 5 next. It is reported in the media that Jamayete Islami party has given huge fund to Hepajate Islam leaders to organise such movements.


Pro-liberation forces of Bangladesh is waging decisive battle against the anti-liberation war forces which appears to be a long drawn battle. The ongoing struggle is in fact the unfinished battle against the religious fundamentalist forces which started in 1947 due to division of India by the British Imperialists.


Secular democratic forces of Bangladesh have got the glorious tradition of one after another victory in their struggle in the last six decades. In 1952, the secular democratic force of the then East Pakistan fought against the dictatorial Pakistani government to establish the right of Bengalis to their mother language, which they succeeded. Students were in the leading role in the historic language movement. It was again the students who led the mass upsurge in 1969 and forced the military ruler of Pakistan General Ayub Khan to step down and also forced the military government to hold general election in 1970. It is the secular democratic forces that led the liberation struggle in 1971 and won the battle. With this legacy, the pro-liberation patriotic forces led by the present younger generation will ultimately be the winner against the anti-liberation war forces and its allies of Bangladesh.


Like 1971, secular democratic forces of Bangladesh expect all-out moral support of Indian secular democratic forces in their present struggle.