Recently, Nazrul Islam Khan, a Standing Committee member of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has remarked that “there are some freedom fighters even inside Jamaat”. Mr. Khan sees no problem in nominating their leaders for the election. It is heard that at least 24 Jamaat leaders have submitted nomination papers in different districts to contest the polls with BNP’s election symbol ‘sheaf of paddy’. Jatiya Oikya Front, led by Dr. Kamal Hossain has also officially picked ‘paddy sheaf’ as its election symbol. What a shame!
But very recently, a bill has been placed in the US Congress, calling on the Bangladesh government to stop radical organisations including Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir, who pose an ongoing threat to the country’s stability and secular democracy. Jim Banks, a Congressman of Indiana State, introduced the bill titled ‘Expressing concern about the threat posed to democracy and the democratic process by theocratic groups operating in Bangladesh’ in the House of Representatives on November 20. The bill said religious minorities were targeted by the BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Islami Chhatra Shibir, during previous elections, as a result of which 495 Hindu homes were damaged, 585 shops were attacked or looted, and 169 temples were vandalised between November 2013 and January 2014. It also referred that Jamaat-e-Islami activists have been involved in recent attacks on religious minorities in Bangladesh.Mentioning that national elections are expected to take place in Bangladesh on December 30, 2018, the bill called on the Bangladesh government to heed the Bangladesh Election Commission’s request to ensure security for minorities and maintain communal harmony for a peaceful election. The bill acknowledged the victims of the 1971 War of Independence and the spirit of secular democracy on which Bangladesh was founded. The nation of Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971 and established a secular democratic state, the bill mentioned and also noted “this freedom was won at the cost of approximately 3,000,000 deaths, more than 10,000,000 displaced, and 200,000 women raped, many at the hands of Islamist militants led by Jamaat-e-Islami.” The bill said repeated attacks on religious minorities, expanding religious intolerance, and growing destabilisation caused by radical groups, including Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir, undermine United States economic and strategic interests in Bangladesh.
Jamaat-e-Islami is an influential and dangerous Islamist group with a long history of violence. This party had tried to strangle Bangladesh to death at its birth, and which being unsuccessful in its mission, views Bangladesh as the symbol of its defeat. Jamaat men had collaborated with the Pakistani army to butcher the Bengali freedom fighters and prevent the secession of East Pakistan from West Pakistan in 1971. Jamaat had formed various killer armies namely Al Badr, Razakars, Al-Shams which worked hand-in-hand with the Pakistani army to slaughter the Bengali freedom fighters. But all their efforts went in vain when Bangladesh ultimately emerged as an independent nation on 16th December 1971.
For some time, Jamaat had remained a political outcaste, but gradually since the regime of Ziaur Rahman till that of Begum Khaleda Zia, Jamaat has been well assimilated in the politics of Bangladesh so much so that during the second regime of Begum Khaleda Zia (2001-2006), Jamaat formed a part of the coalition government. Ziaur Rahman had allowed Ghulam Azam, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami to come to Bangladesh in 1979. After the 2001 elections, Jamaat-e-Islami leaders were made ministers and they roamed the country with the flag of Bangladesh, which they opposed in 1971. In 2001, during the BNP-Jamaat regime, thousands of Hindus left the country after constant prosecution. Reports indicate that the worst affected areas have been in Barishal, Bhola, parts of Pirojpur, Khulna, Satkhira, Gopalganj, Bagerhat, Jessore, Cumilla and Norsingdi. Attackers have reportedly entered Hindu homes, beaten members of the family, looted their property and in some cases, raped Hindu women. During this carnage, rape was used a principal means of violence and intimidation. Human rights organisations in Bangladesh believe over 100 women may have been subjected to rape. Jamaat-e-Islami, has been largely responsible for this violence. According to the investigation of a Judicial Commission in Bangladesh, formed at the behest of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, it was found that 26,352 leaders and supporters of the BNP and Jamaat were involved with the aforementioned crimes. This included 26 Ministers and lawmakers of the BNP-Jamaat alliance government.
However, on October 28 the Election Commission revoked the registration of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami after it received a copy of the full order of High Court that declared the registration of the party illegal. Election Commission issued a notification cancelling the registration of the party. The notification was issued as per article 90H of the Representation of the People Order 1972. Before the 10th parliamentary elections, the High Court on August 1, 2013 declared Jamaat’s registration by the Election Commission void and illegal. The High Court came up with the verdict after Bangladesh Tariqat Federation’s Secretary General Rezaul Haque Chandpuri and 24 others filed the writ petition on January 25, 2009. Jamaat-e-Islami is a religion-based political party and they do not believe in independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh.
So, what is the inference? Dr. Kamal Hossain claims to be an advocate of truthfulness and speaks loud against corruption, terrorism and militancy, but has joined hands with an alliance with two recognised militant and terror organisations – BNP and Jamaat. His son-in-law David Bergman tried to save the war criminals. Even the War Crimes Tribunal punished David Bergman for contempt of court. Now Bergman is continuously writing against Bangladesh.
Dr. Kamal Hossain created new political polarisation shunning his long progressive spirit out of the greed for power. This is Dr. Kamal Hossain who was one of the original conspirators that helped bring about 1/11 military dictatorship. No doubt, Dr. Kamal Hossain formed this new alliance with fundamentalists and communal forces only to use them as stairs to come to power. Dr. Kamal Hossain has betrayed with Bangladesh by forming Jatiya Oikya Front with two recognised militant and terror organizations – BNP and Jamaat. What youth can learn from him?(The writer acknowledges with gratitude the different sources of information.)
The writer is a Chinese Government PhD Fellow and Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration, Jagannath University, Dhaka