Sadeq Khan

Explosive Bangladesh and the Geopolitics of India

Civil War Erupts in Bangladesh, Four Killed’ was the headline of a news item published in the Hindustan Times on February 23. This was a simple description of the condemnation and resistance of the common mass against the depravity and vengeance of the so called impartial Shahbaghi youths. The report is praiseworthy in the sense that it did not mention the Shahbaghi gathering as ‘spontaneous rising’ as the majority media of Bangladesh did though the narration of the news was biased and evidently influenced by the coordinators of the Shahbagh craze. The reporter of the Hindustan Times Indrajit Hazra has written: “The main target of the planned protest marches by 12 Islamic organizations who have accused the government and the media of targeting the Jamaat, were media persons. In Dhaka, police and television camera personnel were attacked with bricks and stones by people inside the capital’s main Baitul Mukarram mosque, a mob proceeding to torch vehicles outside.”
He did not write or probably did not know that the salah performers drove away the photographers for smooth performing of salah as the photographers entered the mosque wearing shoes and were competing to take photographs of the made up doa mehfil for Shahbagh by which creating disturbance of salah performance.
Indrajit Hazra also wrote about the salah performers: “Members of the Jamaat Shibir vandalised Dhaka University and various Martyrs’ Day memorial structures in cities across Bangladesh. Martyrs’ Day was celebrated on February 21 commemorating the start of the independence movement from Pakistan in 1952.
A Dhaka Police spokesperson stated that 166 people were arrested across the city. At the Shahbagh Police station just across the square where anti-Jamaat demonstrations had been raging from February 5 till it was called off on February 21, Mahbul Kurram had come to plead the innocence of his brother who had been shot in the leg by the police today and was now in hospital under arrest. “Rezaul has nothing to do with the Jamaat. He just came out of the mosque after Friday prayers,” said Kurram.”
The report did not tell anything about the excessive use of force by the police to suppress the demonstration of the musallis who took to street in protest of the contempt and humiliation of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), rather it has been implied that the musallis got engaged with violence just after coming of the mosque. In spite of such one sided description, the report gave an account of the cruel behavior of the police and showed how an innocent and shot-at-leg musalli was tortured and robbed after he was arrested from hospital. Besides, the report concealed that Rajib was anti-Islamist and terming him as just ‘anti-Jamaat’, the report said in a defending tone: “Members of the Jamaat Shibir accused of the murder of anti-Jamaat blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider in Dhaka on February 15 were identified by the police as setting off Friday’s outbreaks of violence.
Shahbagh Square, the venue of the rallies which had borne a normal look in the morning since the demonstrations had been called off the evening before, saw large crowds return. One of the main organizers of the Shahbagh rally, Imran Sarkar, said, “People should not get perturbed by the violence by the Islamist parties.”
In the aftermath of Friday’s violence, anti-Jamaat protestors at Shahbagh called for demonstration rallies and gave the government an ‘ultimatum’ to arrest the acting editor of the daily Amar Desh, Mahmudur Rehman, within 24 hours. Rehman had published the transcript of a Skype conversation between Nizamul Haq, the former chairman of the International Crimes Tribunal judging accused 1971 war criminals most of whom are Jamaat members, and Ahmed Ziauddin a Brussels-based war crimes law expert. In the transcript, Haq had stated that a fellow tribunal judge was “corrupt”, leading anti-Jamaat protestors to dub him as being biased in favor of war criminals.”
In fact, because of the leaking out of the Skype scandal by the world famous Economist, the chairman of ICT-1 has been bound to resign. The editor of the Economist also provided logical explanation for the reasons to publish the unethical skype conversation of Justice Nizamul Haque Nasim and Dr. Ahmed Ziauddin, a Belgium based lawyer. The tribunal failed to take any action against him in spite of serving legal notice against him. The government of Bangladesh also did not stir the matter anymore. The daily Amardesh just published the conversations collecting them from the internet. For this, the government has filed sedition case against the editor of the Amardesh. He has already been arrested.
Though it is well-evident that recently published blog writings that blasphemed our beloved prophet (PBUH) were of Razib, a blogger who has been murdered recently, the government is trying to say that the write ups were not of Razib, they have been inserted later to create religious craze.
The home minister has said that the government is looking for way of arresting the Daily Amardesh editor for provoking religious craze. The Prime minister has also said: those who have written the blogs defaming the prophet (PBUH) and those who have republished them in news papers are equally guilty. Measures will be taken against all of them.
On February 23, the editor of the Amardesh Mahmudur Rahman in counter press briefing responded: “Indian cultural aggression is going on through the movement of shahbagh. Mangal Prodip is lit there. But the Amardesh is upholding our distinct identity. The culture of Bangladesh and that of other country cannot be the same. Because of upholding these, the Amardesh has now become the mouthpiece of the common mass of our country. There is no corporate interest of the Amardesh as that of the other media. The police may come to the office of the Amardesh at any time to arrest me. But the final victory is ours.
We have published the writes up of blog for publish interest. For this, the Shahbaghis have stopped lighting up mangal prodip and started performing salah. The government through SMS is preaching for taking action against the blasphemers. The guardians have become aware of the activities of the youth bloggers. So, what has been done has been done for public interest. The Inqilab first published the obscene writes up of blogs. The participants of the Shahbagh movement are not demanding the arrest of the editor of the Inqilab, but they are demanding the arrest of only the editor of the Amardesh. By this they have proved that they are launching the movement with a special motive.”
In fact, the encouragement of the ministers and other representatives of the Indian Government has become a nuisance for the government of Bangladesh. On February 17, it has been said in a special report of the daily Anandabazaar that India bowed down to the mass gathering of Dhaka.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rushed to the resident of rajib. She stated unambiguously that the Jamaat-e-Islami does not believe in democracy. Terrorism is their path. They have no right to do politics in Bangladesh. She further said: her government would do whatever is needed against these terrorists. Such comment of the Prime Minister has raised the question whether the government is going to ban Jamaat.
The main opposition party has alleged that the congregation of Shahbagh is nothing but a conspiracy of the government. The congregation is not against the government, but it is aimed at achieving some ulterior motives which is proved by the extension of the all out support for the congregation from the side of the government. The leaders of the ruling party, even the Prime Minister herself are expressing their full support for the Shahbaghis. Hasanul Haque Inu, the minister for the portfolio of Information has spoken on the stage of Shahbagh. Standing on the parliament, the Prime Minister said: I am here, but my mind is in Shahbagh. Recently Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the migrant son of our Prime Minister came to Shahbagh to express solidarity with the protesters. In such an explosive situation, Salman Khurshid, the Indian foreign minister in his recent visit stated in a hotel that: there is no alternative to secularism in modern world. What steps India may take against the sit-in program of Anna Hazare, Khurshid did nit tremble while expressing his solidarity for the Shahbaghis.
On February 26, the Times of India of Delhi in a news commentary has said: The protesters at Shahbagh, a busy intersection in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, have probably their strongest support from neighbor India.
On Friday, National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon said the protests were a sign of the "open-mindedness" of the Bangladeshi youth, who were battling extremism and upholding fundamental values of democracy. Setting up the Ram Sathe chair in Pune, Menon said, "The ongoing spontaneous gathering against extremist elements and war criminals by thousands of youth at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka shows the strength of feeling, capacity for political mobilization and open-mindedness of Bangladeshi youth."

During his recent visit to Bangladesh, foreign minister Salman Khurshid, too, had voiced his solidarity with the protesters. While talking to journalists in Dhaka, Khurshid had said, "It's always wonderful to see young people engage in any democratic process. They show their concern, their involvement, their aspiration, I applaud and I admire"It revives your strongest feelings and faith in democracy," he said.
The Shahbagh protests started on February 5 after Bangladesh's international war crimes tribunal sentenced Abdul Kader Molla to life imprisonment. The protesters have taken to streets since then, demanding gallows for all those found guilty in war crimes. The protesters have also demanded a ban on the Islamic party Jamaat, whose members are believed to be collaborators with the Pakistani Army during the 1971 war.”
The analysts are regarding this congregation as an electoral strategy of the government. They think that the government is conspiring to hold an election under the party government by keeping alive such so called public arising. On the other hand, Mahmudur Rahman, the editor of the Daily Amardesh deems this congregation as a part of imprudent steps of the far reaching policies of the geopolitics of India. In a press conference on February 23, he said: within the state, there is another state named Shahbagh. The protesters are contemning the court by announcing when the national flag I to be hoisted, when the national anthem is to be recited. They are declaring programs of school shut down. The shahbaghi demonstrators can give threat of killing, can give instigation of slaughtering. The existing law is not applicable for them. Can a group of citizens decide when the national flag is to be hoisted or when the national anthem is to be sung? Now the question is whether Shahbagh is a separate state within Bangladesh. The Daily Amardesh is our identity. It has proved that we have our own culture and religion. As a result, a cultural movement has been initiated, which will go on irresistibly even if I am arrested. Nobody will be able to stop this revolution.”
Bangladesh is now on burning cauldron. The government is creating issues after issues to hide the gross failures in different sectors. The Shahbaghi Congregation is just a small example. It is working as an electoral campaign of the ruling Awami League. The government has extended all out support and patronization for the Shahbaghis. With immense public suffering as the consequence of gathering in one of the busiest intersections of the capital, the Shahbaghis are enjoying palatable foods and tight securities provided by the government. But the congregation of Shahbagh seems to at halt. Recent reports of some national dailies have exposed that some atheists are behind the congregation. Not only is that, these atheists extreme hater of Islam and the Muslims. They have insulted our beloved prophet (PBUH) by countless nasty and obscene blog-postings. They have used such unutterable language for our Prophet, which no civilized and cultured persons can use. Even the non-Muslims will hesitate hundred times to make such comments about the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah. The rise of the Muslims against the Shahbaghi atheists is signaling that the situation of Bangladesh is taking an explosive turn with a wider gap between the pro-Islamist and anti-Islamist force.

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