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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2702

Taslima Nasreen: The Daughter of Eternal Bangladesh on the run in India - 3

By Rajen Thakur for Asian Tribune

Dhaka , 28 November, ( We lay before the World the country report of the U S Department of State on Human Rights practices in Bangladesh in 1993: on Religious Minorities: "Religious minorities, principally Hindus, Christians and Buddhists make up an estimated 13% of the population. Although equal under the law, these minorities are, in practice, disadvantaged in such areas as access to government jobs and political office. Selection boards in the Government service are often without minority group representation. In the current parliament there are 02 members from minority groups out of a total of 330. Property ownership, particularly for Hindus, has been a contentious issue since independence when many Hindus lost land holdings due to unequal application of the law. Taslima NasreenTaslima Nasreen

Reported cases of violence directed against religious minority communities have resulted in loss of property, mostly in the aftermath of the destruction of the Babri mosque in India in December 1992. These actions are a symptom of the communal tension that has prompted some people belonging to minority groups to leave Bangladesh, causing a slow but steady decline in the relative size of the country's minority population, especially Hindus.”(U S State Department’s Country Report-1993)

The fate of the minorities remains under the same wheels. Here I like to reproduce a news item published on the aftermath of the destruction of the Babri mosque in India, in the Sangbad, (26th January 1993), a leading and oldest daily of Dhaka: “Bangladesh was not spared from the fallout of the destruction of the sixteenth century Babri mosque in Ayodhaya on 6 December,1992 which was announced by microphone in some places like Bhola where people were urged to set on fire Hindu homes and to loot them. The Hindu houses were set on fire and looted in Bhola in the presence of the magistrate and the police stationed in the house to protect the inmates. Unmarried girls were raped by servants in the house and not even married women spared from gang rape by the miscreants. The members of the opposition alleged that no one was arrested, no orders issued to the Deputy Commissioners and the Superintendents of police to open fire and not even a press note issued. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia stated in the parliament that nothing had happened in Bangladesh while the members of the treasury benches thumped the tables and relished the joke about the unfortunate housewife having conceived as a result of being subjected to rape while the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party Barrister Abdus Salam Talukder regretted not having married in that particular locality where women were so fertile. (Sangbad , a Bengali Daily in Dhaka on 26 January, 1993).

While discussing the situation arising out of the demolition of the Babri mosque with the Pakistan Prime Minister on a visit to Dhaka, Begum Khaleda Zia and Pakista counterpart Benazir Bhutto on December 12,1992 underlined that the Mosque should be rebuilt to uphold the sentiments of millions of Muslims across the world.

On the otherhand, Indian spokesman of External Affairs expressed concern over communal incidents in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Briefing the newsmen, the spokesman said: “The minorities enjoy constitutional guarantees in India and the government is committed to meet in full any effectively its constitutional obligations. In contrast, in Pakistan, according to reports, up to December 12,1992, 124 temples, 2 Gurdwararas and 1 Church were destroyed. Similarly,in Bangladesh 97 temples were destroyed and the Indian High Commission and the Indian Airlines office came under attack. 340 houses and 100 shops belonging to Indians were burnt. We could not raise our 500 hundread –year old Ramna Kali Temple.

It should be rebuilt to uphold the sentiment of war-tested minority Hindus of Bangladesh. Even our so called Hindu Leaders could not place the issue to the government of Bangladesh for its sectarian attitude. However, When Khaleda Zia dissolved the Standing Committee and the National Executive Committee; Barrister Abdus Salam Talukder became Secretary General of BNP by replacing K M Obaidur Rahman on July 3, 1988.

K M Obaidur Rahman suggested that the crisis in the BNP emanated from the lack of and demand for democracy within the party. He also wanted to curb the influence of the ex-military officers in the party and on the party Chairperson. Eventually Obaidur Rahman formed another BNP through a separate council in December 1988. After facing a deep crisis, In November 2005 Obaidur Rahman ,MP, demanded accountability of the Government in dealing with Islamist terrorist in the Government. Political Analyst remarked that Obaidur Rahman might have to pay for this sort of uttering in near future. Over the years we are listening the comments of BNP leaders, all these comments are defensive, notoriously deceptive and deliberately distorting facts.

If Talima returns Bangladesh will face unidentified assailants

Dr. Humayun Azad, Professor of Dhaka University and prominent author-researcher, has illustrated the sorrowful stories of Hindus in his novel 'Pak Sar Zamin Shadbad', the first line of Pakistani national anthem, which we, too, had to chant in the school after the coup in 1958. It (Pak Sar Zamin Shadbad) was first published in the Eid supplement of The Ittefaq in 2003 that followed a review by Rajen Thakur in Janakantha and Sangbad, two leading Bengali dailies of Dhaka.

Unidentified assailants critically injured Prof.Humayun Azad with bucher’s knives in front of Bangla Academy on February 27,2004. Dr Humayun Azad faced dastardly attack and he had to undergo prolong treatment in the country and abroad. After coming back, he resumed normal life. Prof.Azad went to Germany on a research job on romantic German writer Heinrich Heine where he was found dead at his apartment at Munich on August 12, 2004

It may be recalled that On December 12, 2003 members of Khatme Nabuwat addressed a big demonstration of anti-Ahmadiyya fundamentalists at Baitul Mukarram Mosque. In that gathering, fiery speakers demanded the arrest and trial of Professor Azad for his novel "Pak SAR Zamin Shadnad". A month later, on January 25, 2004 Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayeedi, a collaborator-turned MP( MPship was nullified by the Higher Court) demanded introduction of a Blasphemy Act in parliament to block the publication of such books. Now it is confessed by the JMB appeared in the media that the assassination of Humayun Azad was done by outlawed Jamaamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh’s (JMB) suicidal squad. (Janakantha, March 9, 2006). The government disclosed on March 9, 2006 that outlawed JMB carried out attacks on Prof.Humayun Azad of Dhaka University and Prof. Younus of Rajshahi University (RU) in 2004. Prof. Younus ,a professor of economics and former register of Rajshahi University and president of RU Bangabandhu Parishad ,knifed and hammered to death at Binodpur in Rajshahi city on December 24,2004. But, Why? Is it a finishing task of ’intellectual killing’-as an unfinished job of 1971? Who are the mentors behind these heinous crimes? It may be recalled that two most wanted criminals Shaekh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam Banglabhai were captured alive dramatically in March 2006.

It appeared in the print media that JMB emerged with its militant activities by sending trained Muslim Rohingya rebels to Afghanistan and Kashmir war fronts in the 1980s through covert chains of Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (AHAB)and Jamaat-e-Islami. Using the same financial resources,AHAB,its youth wing ,Jamaat and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir were always used for recruiting Rohingya,Harkatul Jihad and JMB militants. It appeared from the most arrested JMB militants have been found somehow linked either with Jamaat or AHAB, they explained. It is more interesting to note that JMB chief Abdur Rahman told newsmen in Rajshahi that JMB received foreign funds through Saudi Arabian NGO Rabita al Alam al Islam and Kuwait-based NGO Revival of Islamic Heritage Society. It may be mentioned here that immediately after 1971, Jamaat and its student wing’Islami Chhatra (Sanga) Shibir’ were banned in Bangladesh for their anti-Liberation role, and the Constitution of Bangladesh under Article 12 ‘Secularism and freedom of religion’ and as such formation of “religious political parties’ was banned.

President and CMLA Gen. Ziaur Rahman repealed the Article12 and rehabilitated Jamaat-e-Islami in politics of Bangladesh in 1977.( Article 12 was omitted by the Proclamations (Amendment) Order,1977(Proclamations Order No 1 of 1977). Tarique Rahman, son of late president Ziaur Rahman,senior joint secretary of BNP while addressing the Rokan conference of Jamaat-e-Islami at Paltan Maidan on June 3,2006, terming the four party alliance a family'. However,Awami League demanded immediate arrest and punishedment of those Ministers, MPs and financiers who harboured top militant leaders Shaekh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai”(DS,10 March 06)

A glance at Humayun Azad' book "Amra Ki Ey Bangladesh Cheyachhilam? (Is this the Bangladesh that we wanted?)" Gives clear clues about the author’s enemies. Discussing the insertion of Islam as State Religion in our constitution, Prof. Humayun Azad wrote: "[Constitution says] ‘Absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all state actions.’ This is a clever trick to deceive the common, God- fearing man. In this country, the Muslims have always followed their faith, and no one is going to stop them. But using religion as a tool is a trick, a ploy to give the people nothing. They will promise the people heaven, but will not give them economic self sufficiency. All our government functions have become competitions of religious sermons. If using religion {in government} was useful, Bangladesh should have become the world's most holy and developed nation. Instead, it has become the world's most corrupt nation. The corruption of religious politicians has destroyed the country."

Turning his attention to the Jamaat and its allies, Humayun blasted those who opposed Bangladesh's liberation and feel nostalgia for "United Pakistan". He said: “Our fathers committed a deadly mistake, a crime-- they made Bengal Pakistan. We did not want to stay sons of slaves, so we created Bangladesh. But we never became independent, we were still East Pakistan. What would we see around us? We would see the flag with moon and stars, we would hear 'Pak SAR Zamin Shadbad', the ministers would be all Punjabis, and the army would be filled with Pathan and Punjabi Generals.

Those who roar around in Pajeros today--- would be standing on the road side shaking in front of those same jeeps. The Adamjis, Dauds, Bawanis, and Kabuliwalas would run this country…."

The US State Department in a report released on March 8, 2006 said Bangladesh fares poorly in human rights record and the government continues to commit numerous serious abuses. The abuses include extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest, politically motivated violence and killings, impunity for security forces and violence against and restrictions on journalists, among other things. The State Department's Human Rights Report 2005 said security forces committed numerous extra judicial killings.

It described the country's political situation violent, adding that 'violence often resulting in deaths was a pervasive element and that vigilante killings were common. " The authorities frequently violated law prohibiting arbitrary arrest and detention.

Police were generally ineffective, reluctant to investigate persons affiliated with the ruling party, and were used frequently for political purposes by the government. Individuals were not always able to criticize the government publicly without fear of reprisal, and the government often attempted to impede criticism by prohibiting or dispersing political gatherings.

"Although the government is secular, religion exerted a powerful influence on politics," the report said. "Discrimination against members of religious minorities existed at both the governmental and societal level, and religious minorities were disadvantaged in practice in such areas as access to government jobs, political office, and access to justice." Discrimination against Ahmadiyas continued during the year. The government ban on the publishing of Ahmadiya literature continued to be stayed by the high court, and the government did not appeal the stay to the appellate court, effectively allowing Ahmadiyas, for the time being, to publish their materials. At times police allowed, and even assisted, demonstrators in removing signs referring to Ahmadiya mosques as mosques. (DS, 9 March 2006)

Former secretary and Ambassador Kazi Anwar Masud genuinely mentioned that "The violence perpetrated on the minority community immediately after the parliamentary elections explained as a result of power vacuum as that time has not helped Bangladesh's image abroad as a tolerant Muslim country. It is well known that intra-state and inter-state migration of people takes place mainly due to poverty. If lack of physical security is added to poverty then the possibility of inter-state migration increases manifold. India has been alleging illegal presence of Bangladeshis in India for quite sometime as "economic migrants". Recently West Bengal Chief Minister alleged that more than one million Bangladeshis who had entered India legally had not returned home. Bangladesh government has naturally denied the existence of illegal presence of Bangladeshis in India. But given the nature of Indo-Bangladesh border and its length this issue, if it is an issue at all, should not be allowed to fester and should be resolved once and for all."(Daily Star, 14-12-03).

- To Be Continued -

Rajen Thakur, an author , researcher and columnist.

- Asian Tribune –

Also Read:

1. Taslima Nasreen: The Daughter of Eternal Bangladesh on the run in India- But Why?

2. Taslima Nasreen: The Daughter of Eternal Bangladesh on the run in India -2

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