Dr. Ahmed Hasan

Confusion about and Distortion of the Liberation War: Who are Liable

An unprecedented congregation of the bloggers and the online activists has been going on at Shahbagh of Dhaka since February 5. A large number of children, youths and adults are gathering there. This congregation started in the context of the life imprisonment accorded to Abdul Kader Molla. Hanging of all ‘war Criminals’ including Abdul Kader Molla, is being demanded from there. Some other demands that are coming are: ‘hang all Razaqars’, ‘catch Shibir and slaughter them’, ‘ban Jamaat-Shibir’, ‘nationalize all Jamaat-controlled establishments such as the Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited, Ibn Sina’, ‘reject the Diganta TV, the Daily Amardesh, the Daily Naya Diganta’ etc.
During the Liberation War, thousand of people war killed, countess women were violated, and large number of brutalities was committed. These facts can never be denied. But there is no complete data on the number of killings, tortures and brutalities committed during the nine month long war.
Since 1971, a kind of propaganda is being launched against the parties which were against the Liberation war. The leaders of Jamaat and the party itself are being victims of such propaganda. All liabilities of brutalities and oppressions committed during the war are unfairly being imposed on them. But reality is that the position of Jamaat among the political parties which opposed the Liberation War was third or fourth. Other parties which actively opposed the Liberation War were the Muslim League (Three groups), the PPP and the Nizam-e-Islam. On April 9, 1971, 140-member Dhaka Citizen Peace Committee was formed. The name of Professor Ghulam Azam was mentioned there after 30 names. This committee later came to be called the Peace Committee. What I want to imply is that the Jamaat was one of the parties which supported the territorial integrity of Pakistan. With the passage of time, other parties have become negligible, but the Jamaat has turned into a solidified and extended party. So, it will be totally unfair to impose all the liabilities only on Jamaat and it is not at all realistic.
The Razaqar was a salaried force which was formed on August 1971 as an auxiliary force of the Pakistani Army. Three kinds of people joined the Razaqar force.
1. Such impoverished youths as would live from hand to mouth.
2. Such youths as were in security risk. Youths of different ideologies including those of the Awami League were among them.
3. Many joined the Razaqar Force to satisfy their personal, familial and communal vendetta.
The Razaqar Force was one of those groups which opposed the Liberation War of Bangladesh. Political Parties which were against the Liberation War worked in favor of the integrity of Pakistan or against the Liberation War in the banner the Peace Committee. Urdu-speaking Biharies worked in another group. Many forces including the al-Badr, Al-Shams, the Pioneer Force, the Azad Bahini, and the Railway Voluntary Force were active all over the country or in different areas.
The Razaqar Force was one of such groups. It means that all those who took side with the integrity of Pakistan or opposed the Liberation War were not members of the Razaqar Force. So, it is logically and factually fallacious to term all who opposed the Liberation War as Razaqars. In 1972, the term collaborator or abettor was used by the government of Bangladesh to identify all those who were somehow against the Liberation War. On January 24, 1972, Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunal) Order was enforced. Since then, three amendments of the order have been made. Any persons could be tried by dint of the original collaborators act and its subsequent amendments. In this connection, Awami League Leader and former state minister for information Abu Sayed can be quoted: "There was no dearth of initiative from the side of the government.... From 1972 when the collaborators Act was enforced on November 1973, 37471 collaborators were arrested in Bangladesh. In spite of such provisions of law, concessions and power, only 2848 cases were settled up to 1973. Among them, 752 persons were convicted. The rest 2096 persons were acquitted of charge. It means that three fourths of the accused were exempted from charges. Though the government formed seventy three special tribunals to expedite the legal proceeding, only 2848 cases could be settled in 22 months: only 130 cases in a month and three to four in a day. The hot-headed Bengalis were turning cool-headed. The legal proceeding against those who were arrested under the collaborators act were creating social reactions and complexities. There were many collaborators would secretly shelter the freedom fighters, provide them with food and give them security as per necessity. These persons accused of abetting the Pakistani Army sought shelter of the freedom fighters. As a result, the freedom fighters were making recommendation on the release of the arrested and the accused collaborators, which even began to tease the office of the prime minister. (The Circumstances of the General Amnesty and Ghulam Azam; Dhaka, Mukti Prokashoni, 1972, p: 54-55)
If one wants to know more, one is recommended to read the book at least one time because there are many eager-inspiring elements in the book which I think the political and cultural activists of the present Bangladesh do not know. It is even true for the Islamists. Here it can be said that Ghulam Azam was not a member of the Razaqar Force. He was a central leader of the Peace Committee. The reality is that the members or leaders of the Peace Committee did not take arms or were not given training. That was done by the members of the Razaqar or other forces. The grand father or maternal uncles of Humayun Ahmed and Zafor Iqbal were also member of the Peace Committee. They saved many innocent persons from the torture of the military. But they were killed by the freedom fighters in the newly independent Bangladesh.
In independent Bangladesh, all groups and forces including the Razaqars, who opposed the Liberation War, were identified as collaborators. They were tried by strict law. But only a few persons were found guilty. We can get an idea of the trial process from the book of Abu Sayed and the news papers published in Dhaka during 1972-73. in this connection, a general observation is that those who are being tried now in Bangladesh, not a single cases was filed against them in 1972-73.
The question why no cases were filed against them during 1972-1973 should be answered by those who are now clamorous about their trial.
The youths of Shahbagh are demanding the hanging of all the war criminals. Has Abdul Kader Molla been convicted of war crimes? The answer is no. He has been convicted of the so called crime against humanity. From the consideration of the legal point of view, this is the procedure of the trial of those who committed crimes against humanity. Why then are the Shahbaghi youths showing the pictures of Ghulam Azam, Kader Molla and others as the war criminals?
There is no adequate data and information on the massacres and brutalities committed during the Liberation War of Bangladesh. One group preached that three million people have been killed; other group claimed it to be three lakh only. Those who are saying that only three million people have been killed, also, to the best of my knowledge, did not provide any document to support their view. It is also a fact that people of only one side did not get killed. Many razaqars, albadr members and Biharis were also killed. Then what is their total number? Now the liabilities of killing are being imposed on only one party. Probably, the youths of Bangladesh have also believed it. Do they have any other alternative to this? We have to think who was responsible for making complete document of the number of persons killed in 1971. It is true that those who are favored by the existing documents will not rack their brain about finding out the actual extent of massacre committed during the Liberation War of Bangladesh. One the other hand, those who are being victimized by the exaggerated data do not seem to think over it. The facts of the Liberation war have been mixed up with fiction. The so called pro-liberationists are exploiting the myth of the Liberation War against those whom they consider as their political opponents. But these have to be changed. The victims should not think that the onus will be taken by other. So, they should come forward with a historical mind to delineate the reality of our Liberation War and separate the facts from heap of fictions.