Jamaat claims denied by evidence
Jamaat-e-Islami, which on Tuesday once again denied to the Election Commission its anti-liberation role during the 1971 War of Independence, had many of its top leaders among the Razakar members surrendering along with the Pakistan occupation forces on December 16, 1971.
Present Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami was the chief of Al-Badr, one of the two wings of the Army of Razakars that worked for the Pakistan armed forces to eliminate freedom fighters.
The then Pakistan government formed the Army of Razakars as a civil armed force dominated by Jamaat men.
According to the historic document of surrender, the Razakars also conceded defeat in the country's Liberation War along with the Pakistan armed forces.
"...This surrender includes all Pakistan land, air, and naval forces as also all paramilitary forces and civil armed forces," says the instrument of surrender signed between the chiefs of the Pakistan occupation forces and the Indian and Bangladesh liberation forces.
Other civil armed forces that worked against the Liberation War include the Mujhids and the West and East Pakistan police, according to the account of events chronicled by Lt Gen AAK Niazi, who led the Pakistan occupation forces as the chief of Eastern Command of the Pakistan Army in 1971.
Due to their involvement in the anti-liberation activities, Jamaat was constitutionally banned after the country's independence and many Jamaat leaders had to face trial on charges of war crimes.
However, the trial was blocked and the anti-liberation forces were rehabilitated politically following the bloody changeover of power on August 15, 1975.
With the demands for the trial of war criminals and barring anti-Liberation War organisations from contesting elections getting momentum again over the last few months, Jamaat has started denying its role against the country's independence.
Most political parties that have sat with the Election Commission (EC) for electoral reform talks opined that Jamaat cannot be registered as a parliamentary party in independent Bangladesh.
The Jamaat delegation on Tuesday embarked on a tirade against the EC and accused it of stepping beyond its jurisdiction by responding to the demand for barring war criminals from polls.
Jamaat termed the demand for not registering it with the EC "disgusting" and claimed that the accusations against it are "completely imaginary".
Earlier on October 25 last year, after the first round of electoral reform talks with the EC, Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid said they did not work against the Liberation War in 1971 and that there is no war criminal in the country.
But accounts of Niazi, whom the Jamaat wholeheartedly supported in eliminating freedom fighters in 1971, render the Jamaat claim untrue.
Niazi in his book ''The Betrayal of East Pakistan" has categorically said the Army of Razakars was formed by the Pakistan government to fight against the liberation forces.
Niazi also describes the formation of the Razakars, training and procurement of weapons and other logistics for them and deployment of the paramilitary vigilante force.
In his book, he says Jamaat-e-Islami, Nizam-i-Islam Party and several factions of Muslim League were known as rightist political parties at the time and the Army of Razakars was formed with the men recruited from these parties.
Military schools were set up to train the Razakars and a separate Razakars Directorate was established. The Razakars were provided with machine guns, sten guns and intelligence against Bangalee freedom fighters, their supporters and sympathisers.
"Seventy percent of the target ceiling, of 50,000 Razakars spread over all the districts of the province, was achieved. Battle schools were established to train Razakar platoon and company commanders. To provide an effective command structure to this organisation, about sixty young officers were selected to be appointed as Razakar Group Commanders," Niazi says.
In fact, Jamaat's dominance in the paramilitary force annoyed other parties.
Maj Siddiq Salik, who was the public relations officer of the then Eastern Command of Pakistan Army and worked closely with Niazi in 1971, in his book "Witness to Surrender" says in September 1971 a political delegation from West Pakistan complained to Niazi that he had raised an army dominated by Jamaat men.
"The General called me to his office and said: From now on, you will call the Razakars--Al-Badr and Al-Shams--to give the impression that they do not belong to one single party," Salik writes.
Those who came forward to form the Army of Razakars were the rightists like Khwaza Khairuddin of Council Muslim League, Fazlul Qader Chaudhry of Convention Muslim League, Khan Sobur A Khan of Muslim League Qayyum, Prof Golam Azam of Jamaat-e-Islami and Maulvi Farid Ahmed of Nizam-i-Islam Party, Salik adds.
He observes that the Jamaat leaders collaborated with the Pakistan army "not only to advance their ideals of Pakistan as an Islamic state, but also to wreak vengeance on people they were at enmity with".
Jamaat leaders Golam Azam, Abbas Ali Khan, Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid launched a countrywide campaign urging youths to join the Razakars, Al-Badr, and the Al-Shams to resist the liberation forces of Bangladesh. The then home ministry also sent reports to West Pakistan about the activities of these forces in favour of the Pakistan occupation forces.
Pleased with their performance, Niazi dedicated his book to the Razakars and Mujahids of East Pakistan along with the members of the armed forces, civil armed forces, civilian officers and the West Pakistan police, saying they "strove hard, made supreme sacrifices and suffered humiliation to keep Pakistan united".
EXCERPTS FROM THE INSTRUMENT OF SURRENDER
The instrument of surrender signed in Dhaka on December 16, 1971 says, "The Pakistan Eastern Command agree to surrender all Pakistan Armed Forces in Bangladesh to Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora, General Officer Commanding in Chief of the Indian and Bangladesh forces in the Eastern Theatre. This surrender includes all Pakistan land, air, and naval forces as also all para-military forces and civil armed forces. The forces will lay down their arms and surrender at the places where they are currently located to the nearest regular troops under the Command of Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora."
Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, general officer commanding in chief of the Indian and Bangladesh forces, and Lt Gen AAK Niazi, chief martial law administrator Zone-B and commander of Eastern Command of Pakistan Army, signed the instrument of surrender.