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Jamaat must be uprooted from Bangladesh
Jamaat must be uprooted from Bangladesh
It was none other than the first military ruler and BNP’s founder late General Ziaur Rahman who, in his bid to capture and consolidate power, picked up from the dustbin of history Jamaat-e-Islami, which was banned as a political outfit soon after Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent nation in 1971. Ziaur Rahman also rehabilitated Jamaat and gave it enough political space to counter the Awami League, the dominant political force at that time.

Jamaat’s auxiliary forces, such as Peace Committee, Razakar, Al Badar and Al Shams organized a systematic reign of terror all over Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) to thwart the independence struggle. Pakistani Army provided them arms and training to achieve their object. During the 1971 war, Jamaat activists killed hundreds of thousands of freedom fighters, raped thousands of women and forcefully converted a large number of Hindus into Islam. 

 

Jamaat’s auxiliary forces, such as Peace Committee, Razakar, Al Badar and Al Shams organized a systematic reign of terror all over Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) to thwart the independence struggle. Pakistani Army provided them arms and training to achieve their object. During the 1971 war, Jamaat activists killed hundreds of thousands of freedom fighters, raped thousands of women and forcefully converted a large number of Hindus into Islam.
Many of the pro-Pak elements including the Jamaat who vehemently opposed the Liberation War in 1971 were made prime minister and cabinet ministers by General Ziaur Rahman who also changed the country’s constitution by supplanting ‘secularism’ as one of the four guiding principles of the constitution to strengthen religion based politics in the country. He allowed the then Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam, who had gone into hiding in Pakistan soon after liberation, to return to Bangladesh. Khaleda Zia, true to her late husband Ziaur Rahman's political doctrine, embraced the Jamaat as partners in governing Bangladesh.

 

Jamaat, like the Pakistan government, is yet to apologize to the nation. They deny their role in the crimes against humanity, describing the liberation war as civil war.

 

Jamaat had been banned after the independence and remained so till 1975 for its anti-Bangladesh role. After the assassination of founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, subsequent governments paved the way for Jamaat's revival. The Collaborators Act was annulled and over 23,000 war crimes accused were released by Ziaur Rahman. Even those whose conviction on war crimes charges had been secured were let off.

The dismemberment of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 continue to remain a dishonour in Jamaat’s mind and the party is prepared to do anything to avenge this defeat. People who respect the spirit of independence and recognize the sacrifices of the freedom fighters, women who were tortured and sexually assaulted and those who had to flee to India during the liberation war want to see Jamaat and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir banned in independent Bangladesh. All their establishments and financial resources need to be identified, choked and uprooted to ensure that Bangladesh is actually free from the defeated pro-Pak forces.

 

After being rehabilitated by Ziaur Rahman, Jamaat has been able to gain tremendous organizational and financial strength as it enjoyed direct and indirect support and indulgence from successive military rulers and BNP who ruled the country for more than two decades at a stretch from 1975 to 1996. Over this long period of time the party developed scores of business establishments starting from banks to insurance companies to media houses. 

 

The organization has, over the years, assiduously built up a huge corpus and created resources that generate substantial income for the party. Jamaat-controlled Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd, largest financial institution in the country, ranks among the top three banks of south Asia.

 

An estimate worked out by Bangladesh Economic Association President and Dhaka University Professor Abul Barkat shows Jamaat generating a net profit of $ 250 million in 2000 alone from its multifarious economic activities in different sectors including financial institutions, transport, health, education and NGOs. ‘While the country’s economy grows at the rate of 5-6 per cent, Jamaat’s growth rate was 6-8 per cent per annum’, he said.

 

The ongoing trial of crimes against humanity will make a large number of senior Jamaat leaders walk the gallows if fair trial and faster procedure is ensured. Taking advantage of this situation, many young generation leaders, particularly those born after the liberation war and not involved in war crimes, are planning to take over leadership of this Islamist party after the segments of war criminals in Jamaat are eliminated through trial of war crimes.

 

This must not be forgotten that even if Jamaat changes its name or its leadership by replacing the old with new ones, it will continue to remain an extremist Islamist organization which will play active role in repressing the religious minorities and pursue its mission of Islamizing Bangladesh. Progressive and secularist forces will remain its worst enemies as it has always been in the past. Moreover, Jamaat’s connections with Pak ISI signal one point that the party’s main agenda will remain the same - to sabotage Bangladesh’s independence and sovereignty, turning the country in to a subservient nation to Pakistan. Banning Jamaat is the only option left before the country.

 

The dismemberment of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 continue to remain a dishonour in Jamaat’s mind and the party is prepared to do anything to avenge this defeat. People who respect the spirit of independence and recognize the sacrifices of the freedom fighters, women who were tortured and sexually assaulted and those who had to flee to India during the liberation war want to see Jamaat and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir banned in independent Bangladesh. All their establishments and financial resources need to be identified, choked and uprooted to ensure that Bangladesh is actually free from the defeated pro-Pak forces.




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