Focus back on, 8yrs after | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 12, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 12, 2009

Focus back on, 8yrs after

Ghulam Azam

Former Jamaat ameer Ghulam Azam stayed out of focus since he disappeared from open politics of Jamaat-e-Islami eight years ago. One of the front men of 1971 who actively helped Pakistani occupation forces' attempts to foil the birth of Bangladesh, he was brought to spotlight once again after yesterday's court order.
Ghulam Azam, who was hyperactive against the Liberation War and became a symbol of alleged war criminals, said in 1971, "Pakistan is the house of Islam for the world Muslims. Therefore, Jamaat activists don't justify living if Pakistan disintegrated." (Source: Jamaat's mouthpiece the daily Sangram, 1971).
Ghulam Azam met Pakistani General Tikka Khan, who was known as "butcher of Beluchistan" 10 days after the war started and earned the same title "butcher" as an architect of the genocide launched at the night of March 25, 1971 in Dhaka.
During the nine-month bloody War of Independence Ghulam Azam and his party Jamaat actively played a key role alone and along with their other political partners in attempts to foil Bangladesh's independence struggle.
Immediately after independence Ghulam Azam and many others like him fled to Pakistan and returned only after the brutal killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family in 1975.
After victory on December 16, 1971 the first issue of newspapers of the new nation carried the government's decision to ban five communal parties including Jamaat-e-Islami on December 18 with immediate effect.
The banned parties including Jamaat were given the green light to do politics during the regime of late president Ziaur Rahman after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.
As Ghulam Azam returned to Bangladesh after 1975 he became Jamaat's undeclared ameer, while another alleged war criminal late Abbas Ali Khan served for many years as the acting ameer.
In early 90s Ghulam Azam was officially declared ameer of Jamaat and Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam launched a unique mass movement demanding trial of war criminals.
She held an unprecedented Peoples' Court as a symbolic trial of Ghulam Azam where thousands of people gathered and the court gave verdict that Azam's offences committed during the Liberation War deserve capital punishment.
After long movement against war criminals launched by Jahanara Imam, Jamaat decided to change its chief in 2001 though Azam obtained Bangladeshi citizenship from the higher court in mid-90s.
Motiur Rahman Nizami, the incumbent ameer of Jamaat, in 2001 succeeded Azam, who disappeared from open politics since then.
Though Azam was the brain behind Jamaat's anti-liberation efforts, the present ameer, also the then president of Islami Chhatra Sangha, played a vital role in collaborating Pakistani junta in committing genocide.
The Pakistani forces and their Bangladeshi collaborators committed genocide and war crimes that left three million people killed and around quarter million women violated besides the planned elimination of the best Bangali brains on December 14, 1971.
The Sangram quoted Nizami on September 15, 1971 as saying: "Everyone of us should assume the role of a Muslim soldier of an Islamic state and through cooperation to the oppressed and by winning their confidence we must kill those; who are hatching conspiracy against Pakistan and Islam."
Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid, head of Al-Badr in Dhaka in 1971, led the killings of the intellectuals a couple of days before independence, according to numerous research works, academic papers, accounts of both victims and collaborators, publications including newspapers and secret documents of the Pakistani home department.
Mojahid directed party workers to build Al-Badr force to resist freedom fighters, according to a "Fortnightly Secret Report on the Situation in East Pakistan". In line with an official procedure, the report was regularly being dispatched by the then East Pakistan home ministry to General Yahya Khan, the head of the government.
Mojahid came to spotlight and drew huge flak making an audacious comment in October 2007 that "in fact, anti-liberation forces never even existed".
Jamaat leader Mir Kasem Ali was general secretary of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1971.
On December 10 the same year, Al-Badr force organised a rally at Baitul Mukarram Mosque to orchestrate public opinion against 'Hindustani attacks'. Kasem also addressed the rally, according to a news report published in the Daily Azad on December 11, 1971.
"We are fighting for truth and fairness. Victory must be on our side with the blessings of Khoda," Kasem was quoted in the report as saying.
Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, senior assistant secretary general of Jamaat, has a tainted past with Islami Chhatra Sangha and is blamed for his close links to Al-Badr.
"The Chhatra Sangha of Mymensingh was converted to Al-Badr and provided with military training. The man responsible for organising the Chhatra Sangha into Al-Badr was the chief of the Mymensingh district Islami Chhatra Sangha Kamaruzzaman," says a book titled Genocide '71.
In the early 1990s, a People's Inquiry Commission was formed to investigate the activities of war criminals and collaborators.
According to a report by the commission, the dreaded year, 1971, calls to mind the active role of Delwar Hossain Saydee, now a member of Jamaat's central executive committee.
Saydee played an active part in organising Razakar, Al-Badr and Al Shams forces in the southern district of Pirojpur, his stronghold, to assist the Pakistan army in the crackdown on Bangladeshis.
"Saydee was not associated with any political party in 1971 but conducted his activities in his individual capacity as a 'maulana' or Islamic scholar. There are allegations that he actively helped the Pakistani forces in their campaign of killings, looting, rape and arson by forming local para-military forces," says the report.
"During the war, he along with four associates formed an organisation called "Fund of the Five". The principal aim of the organisation was to loot and take over property of freedom fighters and Bangalee Hindus. He used to sell looted property and run a profitable business from the sale proceedings."
The report adds Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury opposed Bangladesh's independence and took a number of measures against the freedom fighters. He used to provide all-out support to the Pakistani occupation forces in his area grater Chittagong district.
These are the few examples of the anti-liberation political elements, which stood against independence of Bangladesh and a Dhaka court yesterday summoned them along with more than two dozens defendants in a case.

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