Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Bangladesh post-poll violence hits minorities // Syed Badrul Ahsan - When a party loses its marbles

Attacks remind people of the horror unleashed by Pakistani forces 43 years ago

NB: The Jamaat-i-Islami Hind is the sister organisation of the Bangladesh Jamaat. In March 2013, a mass demonstration by an Islamist coalition demonstrated in Kolkata against the trials & convictions of war crime perpetrators in Bangladesh. Supporters of the Shahbag movement in Bangladesh were threatened, & calls made to prevent Sheikh Hasina from visiting Kolkata. In light of the systematic & relentless violent attacks on Hindus & Buddhists in Bangladesh, & the strange logic by which the Bangladeshi Jamaat blames non-Muslims for each & every political setback, it is time for the Jamaat-i-Islami Hind to make clear its position on the vicious deeds of Bangladeshi Islamists & distance itself from them. It cannot logically (& in light of its own universalist claims on behalf of Islam) denounce the evictions of riot-victims in Muzzafarnagar while remaining silent about atrocities on Hindus & Buddhists in Bangladesh. Especially as they are vociferous about justice proceedings in that country.  

Partition notwithstanding, ideas & stereotypes about communities flow easily across international borders. (Those interested in the history of East Pakistan may find it valuable to read the 1950 resignation letter of Jogendra Nath Mandal, Pakistan's first Law Minister, who predicted that it would be 'an accursed place' for Hindus.) There were attacks on Bangladeshi Hindus in 1992 also, (after the destruction of the Babri Masjid by the Sangh Parivar). These incidents of communal retaliation on innocent people were denounced by the writer Taslima Nasreen. She was subsequently hounded out of her country & is under threat in India as well.  If the Jamaat wishes to work for communal harmony in India it must take a stand on democratic rights, justice & non-violence in Bangladesh as well. Such a stance will help defuse communal bitterness in both countries & help forestall another catastrophe in West Bengal - DS

The January 5 elections in Bangladesh have again reminded the vulnerable minority community of the brutal treatment it received 43 years ago at the hands of marauding Pakistani forces and their local cohorts. Bangladesh media reports suggest that Hindus in particular have become easy targets of anti-election activists who attacked their houses and other properties, thinking that they voted for the ruling Awami League and did not heed their directive to refrain from voting .
The attacks, most of which took place in the post-election period, have forced hundreds of minority members to flee their houses, according to newspapers published from Dhaka. Systematic attacks were carried out by activists of the Opposition BNP and the Jamaat-e-Islami, the party which had violently opposed the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. Most of the attacks took place in the minority dominated villages in the northern districts of Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Bogra, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Rajshahi, the southern district of Chittagong and western Jessore.
Leading daily Ittefaq reported: “The Jamaat-Shibir cadres launched despicable attacks on Hindu communities in four districts the day after the 10th parliamentary elections. Hundreds of houses of the minority community were torched and looted since Sunday night in Dinjapur, Jessore, Satkhira and Thakurgaon. A large number of Hindus took shelter in the temples, while others have fled to other villages. They are too scared to return even after assurances from local administration.” The daily reported, along with pictures, that residents of at least eight unions in different upazillas of Dinajpur district were the worst sufferers.
In Jessore, the miscreants vandalised at least 46 Hindu houses and establishments and torched six others on Sunday night, alleging that the minority people had voted for the Awami League. In Thakurgaon, the Jamaat-led terrorists unleashed violence on the religious minorities. Jamaat-Shibir and BNP activists went on the rampage, damaging and looting 65 houses and 30 shops and setting afire paddies stored on courtyards in several homes.
In western Satkhira, a traditional Jamaat stronghold, Jamaat-BNP men resorted to attacks with sharp weapons, sticks and iron rods. Several hundred Hindus and Awami League leaders have fled their homes in the past few days. Giving on-the-spot coverage of the incidents, condemned by civil society and newspapers, The Daily Star reported that Hindus were still vulnerable to attacks by “anti-liberation forces” like in 1971 when they were targeted by the Pakistan army and their local cohorts.
The rampage reminds Doyamoy Sarkar, a villager, of the atrocities committed by Pakistani occupation forces and their collaborators in 1971, reported the daily. “We left our house in 1971 as Pakistan army and razakars set our village on fire. And we are passing through the same ordeal in 2014,” he said. About 700 elderly and young women, men and children of Malopara took shelter at Deyapara village across the Bhairab river. About 100 houses of Hindus were vandalised and torched.
Activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, in their hundreds carried out the massive destruction for two hours in the Hindu village for “violating” their order not to go to the polling booth. Correspondents of national newspapers, during a visit on Tuesday, found that about 1,200 people from Hindu families of Gopalpur village were sheltered at a temple. In Dinajpur, at least 350 houses and 50 shops in five villages were damaged, set ablaze and looted. According to the locals, around 2,000 Jamaat-Shibir men, armed with sharp weapons and sticks, launched the attack on Kornai village on Sunday. Several hundred men, women and children fled their homes.
In Chittagong, Hindus are under threat following attacks on poll night in Satkania, Loahagara and Banshkhali upazillas, considered a stronghold of the Jamaat-Shibir. In Loahagara, Jamaat-Shibir men vandalised and looted several shops owned by Hindus at Hindur Haat.
Syed Badrul Ahsan - When a party loses its marbles
(The BNP) must free itself of the Jamaat and distance itself from the war criminals it has so long given shelter to. It must sit back and ask itself why Bangladesh's Hindus live in ceaseless fear, why schools are burnt down even as happy children go home with their new books in hand, why poor bus drivers are reduced to cinders through petrol bombs being flung at them. Parties become irrelevant when they run out of ideas. They become a menace when they fall foul of reality... when Khaleda Zia's heir-apparent tells you that the 1972 constitution went against the sentiments of the Bengali nation, you know that mischief is at work again. And, indeed, mischief has been peddled around aplenty in these past many months. When you hear a former diplomat who today is a front-ranking politician in the BNP informing Tarique Rahman of the use the party is making of certain journalists in propagating its politics, you realise what we are all up against. Here's an image of how mischief can cause real tragedy: citizens have been burned to death by opposition arsonists, trees have been cut down by elements determined to bring down a legally constituted government, railway tracks have been uprooted in demonstrations of unabashed terrorism and roads have been dug by fanatical brigands whose earlier generation happily helped the Pakistan army in the genocide of Bengalis. Not a word of regret has been heard from those whose politics has caused all this mayhem. .. 
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See also:
Mahmoud Mohammed Taha (Author of Second Message of Islam); also known as Ustaz Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, was a Sudanese religious thinker, leader, and trained engineer. He was executed for apostasy at the age of 76 by the regime of Gaafar Nimeiry(See his Court statement)