Quader Mollah: fact versus fiction
Quader Mollah, the most infamous classmate of mine in my student days in Rajendra College (1964-66,) has become a part of history and probably, nationally and internationally, the most known individual of our class of 1966 superseding even the former cabinet minister of Khaleda Zia's government, Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mujaheed who, incidentally, also is facing the gallows if the Supreme Court (SC) does not overturn the verdict. In addition to studying in the class, Quader was my home mate in a student home where dozens of us used to live, eat and pray (it was made mandatory by the Superintendent) together for two years until I left for the Engineering University after passing the H.S.C. Exam. in 1966 . I wrote a piece on him for DS (February 9, 2013) after the shocking verdict when he was spared on February 5 from the much-expected capital punishment by the honourable judges of the International Crimes Tribunal.
I would not write this piece had I not come across a piece published in the online version of the now defunct much-controversial news daily the Amardesh whose editor's second-in-command from London wrote a piece and that was republished in amadershomoybd.com on Quader Mollah, illustrating his 'glorious' past. He has written an absolute cock and bull story about him. In fact, nothing could be further than the truth. Of course, this is what the Amardesh all about and this is the forte of this so-called news daily. The newspaper of this sort would never exist in a democratic and civilized society. I would be failing to my own conscience and to the posterity if I do not put the fact about my former classmate in true perspective. It is more so for the fact that it was his verdict that gave rise to the renaissance of patriotism among the younger generation of Bengalis all around the globe and the emergence of the much acclaimed Gonojagoron Mancha.
The cock and bull story of the second-in-command of the Amardesh about Quader Mollah could be condensed as follows:
He stood first class first in M. Sc. at Dhaka University (DU) in 1972.
He was a freedom fighter.
Sheikh Mujib appointed him in Islamic foundation in 1972.
He was associated with leftist students union and Rashed Khan Menon and Matia Chowdhury was his leaders.
Before I rebut the fallacy of the Amardesh's second-in-command, let me summarize what Quader's own family has disclosed today (September 19, 2013) about his past, published in the same amadershomoybd.com.
After finishing his S.S.C. and H.S.C. he came to DU in 1969.
After 7th March speech of Sheikh Mujib, he went to his village and remained there for the whole duration of the war (liberation was not mentioned).
He came back to DU in 1972 and studied there until 1977.
He joined the Jamaat-e-Islami in 1979.
The information given by his family is to a certain extent is true except for very well crafted fact-hidings to fit the time line, that include his activities during the war . His family did neither claim that he was freedom fighter, that he stood first class first in M. Sc. at DU in 1972 nor that he was involved with leftist politics.
In my recollection of Quader Mollah, he was a below average student and his H.S.C performance in 1966 was not good enough to come to DU to study Honours, just like our other classmate, Ali Ahsan Mujahid. So he continued with his B. Sc. at Rajendra College, the fact his family chose to hide. After passing B. Sc., he came to DU in 1969, as claimed by his family, for M. Sc. This makes sense. But his family's claim that he stayed in DU from 1969 to 1971 and then from 1972 to 1977, 8 years for a two-year M. Sc. degree does not add up.
The actual chronology goes like this. To start with his political affiliation, it would be pertinent to describe the landscape of the student politics of Rajendra College of that time. Aside from the NSF, there were two other student organizations at the College at that time (1964-66), the Progressive Student Front, PSF (EPSU in disguise) and the Student League (SL). The PSF was the strongest and was considered communist and the SL was anti-communist. Kader Mollah was a supporter of SL as a staunch anticommunist. In 1967 (I was then at the Engineering University) the Islami Chattra Sangha (ICS) was formed in the College at the behest of Ali Ahsan Mujaheed (his father was the President of Faridpur district Jamaat-e-Islami, Moulana Abdul Ali) and Kader Mollah joined the ICS. That was the beginning of his association with the ICS and later the Jamaat-e-Islami. Naturally, he continued with his ICS politics at DU as well.
He joined the Badar bahini during the liberation war along with Ali Ahsan Mujaheed. After 16th December he went into hiding and surfaced when Ziur Rahman became the CMLA in 1976. So his continuation at DU until 1977 adds up.
As I recollected in my earlier piece, when I left Bangladesh in early 1973, I had a no knowledge Quader's whereabouts. In 1979, when I was visiting Bangladesh, I was walking in a Dhaka street when he suddenly came from behind, grabbed me and said: “Are you not Mozammel? I am Quader.” My immediate response was: “Quader, are you alive?” His response was: “Yes, I am very much alive and am currently executive editor of the Sangram. This is our country now. Your Joy Bangla is dead; our zindabad has come back and is very much alive.” Since what Quader said was right, I had no response. A few months later, when I returned to the US, I read that Quader was a special guest in a Victory Day seminar in Dhaka's Press Club, what an irony!
However, no matter what Quader and Mujaheed had been rewarded with in independent Bangladesh, their classmates did not forget or forgive their felonious past and barred them from joining the reunion of the class of '66 of that college happened when Mujaheed was a cabinet minister during the last BNP-led alliance government and flew the hard-earned green-red flag of my country whose creation he opposed tooth and nail.
The writer is the Convenor of the Canadian Committee for Human Rights and Democracy in Bangladesh.