History speaks up | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 27, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 27, 2007

History speaks up


Pak forces and their collaborators killed top intellectuals at the fag end of Liberation War. This picture was taken from Rayer Bazar area on Dec 17, 1971.Photo: File Photo

After 36 years of independence Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh now denies its anti-liberation role when history speaks volumes about how its leaders and workers collaborated with the occupying Pakistan forces in mass killing, rape, looting and numerous other atrocities.
The remarks that Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed made after the talks with the Election Commission recently has left people across the country stunned.
Former chief justice and chairman of the Law Commission Mostafa Kamal yesterday told The Daily Star, “Now it is being said that no war criminal exists in the country. Maybe after some time it would be said that the Liberation War never took place. All this will mean we will be deprived of the real history.”
The war criminals have dared to make the audacious claim thanks to years of indifference to the demand for action against them, many observed.
Jamaat's active role against the independence has been documented in different publications including those by Jamaat itself during the war in 1971.
Thousands of people still bear the scars of war crimes by Jamaat-e-Islami and their student front Islami Chhatra Shangha (now known as Islami Chhatra Shibir), and some other groups such as Muslim League and Nizam-e Islami.
The incumbent Jamaat secretary general on Thursday told reporters, "In fact, anti-liberation forces never even existed."
At a rally in observance of ‘Badr Day’ on November 7, 1971, Mojaheed, who was president of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Shangha, came up with a four-point programme that included ‘wiping Hindustan off the face of the earth’.
He said, “Move forward with your head held high and with the Quran in heart to materialise the programme. If necessary we will march up to New Delhi and fly the flag of greater Pakistan.”
Many research works, academic studies, accounts of both victims and collaborators, and publications including newspapers reveal that Mojaheed, who headed the Al Badr Bahini in Dhaka then, led the killings of the intellectuals only two days ahead of the victory of Liberation War.
He used to collect funds, organise armed trainings for Razakars, and persuade students and youths to join the paramilitary force designed to eliminate the freedom fighters.
Addressing a function of the Chhatra Shangha in Faridpur on September 15, 1971, he said, “Razakars and Al Badr forces and all other voluntary organisations have been working to protect the nation from the collaborators and spies of India. But unfortunately we observe that a section of political leaders like ZA Bhutto, Kawsar Niazi, Mufti Mahmud and Asghar Khan have lately been making objectionable remarks about the patriots.”
Jamaat formed Razakar Bahini and Al-Badr Bahini to oppose the freedom fight. ‘Razakar’ was established by former secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami Moulana Abul Kalam Mohammad Yousuf while ‘Badr Bahini’ was comprised of the Islami Chhatra Shangha members.
Professor Dr Anisuzzaman, one of the nine-member committee formed by the government for making “Bangladesher Swadhinata Judhha Dalilpatra” (History of Bangladesh's War of Independence), told The Daily Star, “The documentary evidence that Jamaat had opposed the Liberation War is found in black and white in the then newspapers.”
The committee assigned by the information ministry on behalf of the Bangladesh government has compiled and published documentary evidence of the Liberation War in 15 parts.
Anisuzzaman said, “Al Badr and Al Shams (both the organisations collaborated with the occupation force) were formed following the initiative of Jamaat and Islami Chhatra Shangha. There is no room for doubt that they had killed many of our sons of soil including intellectuals.”
Ironically, the 1971 publications of The Daily Sangram, a newspaper known as the mouthpiece of Jamaat-e-Islami, carry evidence enough to expose Jamaat's anti-liberation role.
Study of history reveals that Razakars would organise drives against the freedom fighters and their families while the Badr Bahini would hunt down the people seeking freedom and kill them.
The Badr Bahini also organised seminars and distributed pamphlets in futile attempts to make Bangalis “believe in ideals of Pakistan and Islami philosophy of life from cultural and political view point.”
The September 8, 1971 issue of the Daily Sangram carried a news item headlined “Chhatra Shangha activists will protect each inch of Pakistan’s land”.
Matiur Rahman Nizami, the incumbent Aamir of Jamaat and the then president of Islami Chhatra Shangha, said that the Shangha activists were pledged-bound to protect every inch of Pakistan. They were even ready to attack the mainland Hindustan [India] to protect united Pakistan, the report read.
Another issue of the Sangram published on September 15 quoted Nizami, who was also the commander-in-chief of Al Badr then, as saying, "Every one of us should assume the role of a soldier of an Islami country. With assistance of the poor and the oppressed, we must kill those who are engaged in war against Pakistan and Islam."
The same newspaper on the third page of its September 16 issue ran another item headlined “No force on earth will be able to destroy Pakistan.” In the news report Nizami called on the people to face conspiracy of the so-called Banga Daradi (Lover of Bengal).
Nizami's predecessor former Jamaat-e-Islami Aamir Golam Azam was the brains behind Jamaat's anti-liberation efforts.
Statements that Golam Azam had made in different publications show how instrumental he was in Jamaat's mission to thwart the independence movement and in helping the Pakistan army to commit massacres and other war crimes.
Golam Azam had held several meetings with the then Pakistani military ruler Yahia Khan, other policymakers including governors and politicians to streamline the campaign to resist the liberation forces.
A photograph of the meeting held to form ‘Peace Committee’, which helped the occupying forces in committing genocides, shows Golam Azam with Pakistani leaders and military personnel.
Immediately after independence he fled to Pakistan and returned after the brutal killings of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family in 1975.
In 1981, people hurled shoes at him when he went to attend a namaz-e-janaza at Baitul Mukarram.
A total of three million people were killed and at least a quarter million women were violated during the nine months of war. Despite public demand for punishment to the war criminals and collaborators, successive governments did nothing to that end.
Only the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took some initiatives to try them.
In January 1972, the then government had passed a law to try the collaborators and war criminals. Named the Collaborators Act, the law applied to those individuals or organisations, who helped the Pakistani army in mass killings, conducted crimes against humanity, unleashed torture on men, women and children, destroyed property, or fought against the People’s Republic of Bangladesh siding with the occupying forces. It explained how 11 tribunals would be set up to punish them.
There is a view prevalent among a section of people that asking for trial of war criminals is irrelevant as the Awami League government had granted a general amnesty for all.
The Collaborators Act, which was unveiled in a gazette notification on November 30, 1973, however says none of the war criminals had been pardoned. The same was true for Golam Azam.
Section two of the Act said, "Those who were punished for or accused of rape, murder, attempt to murder or arson will not come under general amnesty under the section one."
Out of 37,000 sent to jail on charges of collaboration, some 26,000 were freed after announcement of the general amnesty.
Around 11,000 were still in prison when the government of Justice Sayem and General Zia repealed the Collaborators Act on December 31, 1975. After the scrapping, those behind bars for war atrocities appealed and eventually got released.
In the early 90s, a mother of martyrs, Jahanara Imam, launched a movement for trial of war criminals. Though it won overwhelming public support none of the governments had bothered to take notice of it.
At that time, the People’s Inquiry Commission was formed to investigate the activities of the war criminals and the collaborators.
Led by eminent poet Sufia Kamal, the commission comprised renowned academics, litterateurs and other professionals. On March 26, 1994, it published accounts of the war crimes committed by 16 persons.
The war criminals are former acting aamir of Jamaat Abbas Ali Khan, Matiur Rahman Nizami, senior assistance secretary general of Jamaat Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, former BNP lawmaker Abdul Alim, Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, Maulana Abdul Mannan, Anwar Zahid, Abdul Kader Molla, ASM Solaiman, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, Maulana Abdus Sobhan, Maulana AKM Yousuf, Mohammad Ayen Ud Din, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, ABM Khaleq Majumder and Dr Sayed Sajjad Hossain.

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