Sheikh Hesina, Bangladesi prime minister is on a revenge spree against country’s eminent Muslim leaders who opposed his father Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s war against the central government to turn East wing of Pakistan into Bangladesh based on Bangla language and ethnicity.
Last month, Dhakka-based ‘International Crime Tribunal’, a kangroo court established by Sheikh Hesina, sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayedee, one of top leaders of pro-united Pakistan Jama’at-e-Islami, to death, for allegedly supporting Pakistan army against Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League’s so-called “liberation war” against Islamabad. The sentence has been criticized by several local Islamic and secular opposition parties, United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and International Bar Association. All of them have claimed that the war crime trial was politically motivated.
Lst week, Jama’at-e-Islami and other religios groups called mass protests against the verdict which have resulted death of 61 peoples including a teenage boy, over thousand people injuried and 300 arrested at the hands of Dhakka police.
Originally, the tribunal was set-up to try top 11 political leaders, nine from Jama’at-e-Islami and two from main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), lead by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, widow of Gen. Zia who was blamed to be involved in the assassination of Sheik Mujibur Rehman on January 25, 1975 during a military coup. Jama’at-e-Islami was established by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, welknown Indo-Pak’s Islamic reformer and author of 108 books on Islamic faith in British India. It’s still the lagest Islamist party in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
The 11 Bengali leaders on trail include Prof. Ghulam Azam, Maulana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Moulana Abul Kalam Azad, who are prominent figures and enjoy high standing, respect and popularity among members of the Bangladesh community.
In 1970, when Mujibur Rehman was not allowed to form government in Islamabad by the military dictator Gen. Yahya Khan and opposition leader Zulifqar Ali Bhutto (father-in-law of current president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari), even though Mujib’s Awami League won majority of seats in the National Assembly – Mujib sought help from India’s prime minister Indra Gandhi through his daughter Hesina, who lived in India with her husband. As result, Indian army not only trained Awami League rebels but RAW-Mossad-CIA provided logistic and propaganda support. Later in December 1971, India army invaded East Pakistan without declaring war. This is how Pakistan’s break-up was achieved by Awami League with the help of anti-Muslim foreign powers.
“The revival of ‘political Islam’ primarily, spearheaded by the puritanical Jama’at-e-lslam and a widely felt rejuvenation of Muslim sensibilities in Bangladesh were not identical. Nor did it come as a storm of zealotry. Rather it expressed itself slowly through the arena of religion and culture before it became a force to be reckoned with. Those Bangladeshi Islamic fundamentalists and more moderate Muslim nationalists were not yet viewed as a global threat. Their intractable political foes were within the secularists, radicals and the Bangalee nationalists, mostly Muslims in Bangladesh. Their new-found fortitude was appalling for the radical secularists and those intellectuals who wanted the state to remain neutral about religions. Additionally, they firmly held that Bangladesh nationalism was essentially derived from the common Bangla language and culture,” wrote professor Rashiduzzaman (Rowan College of New Jersey) in the Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, in 1994.
Islam was introduced among Bangla-speaking communities in the 12th century by Arab traders. The first Islamic Bangla Sultanate was established by Shamsuddin Iliyas Shah in 1342 which lasted for over 230 years. Much of what Bangladeshis have inherited as their cultural and political legacy comes from the Sultanate era: the name of the country, the currency, religious leanings, language and literature, many folk and spiritual traditions, and roughly the current territorial borders. Indeed, the political identity of Bengal through the ages – first as an independent sultanate, then as a Mughal, British and Pakistani province, and finally as a republic – has its genesis in this period.