By Arif Hussain, New Age Islam
May 18, 2013
Since the War Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh has started pronouncing judgments on the accused of the war crimes during the 9-month war in 1971, the black sheep hiding as patriots and moderates in West Bengal have taken off their masks and come out into the open, shamelessly supporting the rapists, conspirators and killers of Bangladeshis. They have unleashed a media war across the country and have even organized public meetings demonstrating their support for the so called ulema of Bangladesh who allegedly took part in war crimes against their own people. This group is most vocal and active in West Bengal where a sizeable population of Muslims is Bengali Muslims who live in the bordering areas of the state. A considerable part of such Muslims is immigrants from Bangladesh during the 1971 war after which they chose to settle in West Bengal. But their loyalties have remained with Bangladesh.
The setting up of War Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh was an election promise of Sheikh Hasina. That she got people’s mandate to rule the country is the testimony to the fact that the majority of the Muslims of Bangladesh had not forgotten the atrocities of the Pro-Pakistani Al Badr and Razakar activists during the 9-month war during which millions of pro-Bangladesh civilians were killed brutally. The Islamists try to downplay the atrocities and number of people killed during the war. The number hardly matters here. Even if the number of people killed was not five lakh and it was only 50 thousand and the number of women raped by the cadre of Razakar and Al Badr militia owing allegiance to the Pakistani army was 50 thousand instead of 5 lakh, the gravity of the crimes does not become less.
There are activists in Bangladesh who have been gathering statistics, documents and facts about the crimes. These activists are those who have directly been affected by the war crimes as they have lost their kin or have witnessed the mass murders, rapes and destruction of whole villages at the hands of the Pakistani army with the help of these perpetrators who have in the last forty years become aalims and exegetes of the Quran. They not only raped and killed the Muslim women but also Hindu and Christian women for supporting the creation of Bangladesh. To them committing these crimes was holy jihad which was permissible in Islam.
These activists have produced those facts and documents to the Tribunal and on the basis of such incriminating evidences they have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
But the supporters of such criminals who have gained popularity in Bangladesh as religious scholars and muftis have been supporting these marauders on the grounds that they are aalims and so by sentencing them to death the Hasina government is playing at the hands of anti-Islam forces.
In Bangladesh, the madrasa students have been mobilized by the supporters of these war criminals to prevent the Hasina government from carrying on the trials and save these religious lunatics who were part of the former BNP government led by Khaleda Zia.
All this was going on in Bangladesh and people have their democratic right to protest the decisions of the government. But the religious group there has been fighting pitched battle with the government forces and destroying public property and even killing the security forces and the party workers of Awami League, the ruling party.
Their demand is the implementation of harsher blasphemy laws in Bangladesh so that they can use the laws to victimize the Christians, Hindus and political, economic and social opponents in every sphere of life, exactly what is happening in the name of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. To press for their demands, they have been holding protest rallies and demonstrations, diverting people’s attention from the crimes of the war criminals, the so called religious scholars.
But the surprising aspect of this development in Bangladesh is that the supporters of these criminals and Pakistan in West Bengal have been daringly expressing their support for those war criminals who had fought against Indian forces and for those who had killed and raped Muslim and Hindu women of Bangladesh.
Last month these groups organized a huge rally in West Bengal in which almost 15 religious and social groups of Muslims participated and expressed their support to the war criminals. Not only that, one of the speakers threatened Mamata Banerjee’s supporters to beat them when they will come to ask for votes in next elections. He also threatened the supporters of Sheikh Hasina and the secular sections that they will not be spared. The speakers emphasized the fact that those who were sentenced by the tribunal were religious scholars and the ‘atheist’ government of Sheikh Hasina was putting them behind bars and conspiring to kill them.
This campaign has not ended. They have continued their campaign against Sheikh Hasina’s secular government branding it ‘la Deen’ (atheistic) as the former government led by Khaleda Zia to them was a truly Islamic government under which bomb blasts were being carried out regularly in the name of Islam and innocent Muslims were being killed. Hindus, Christians and Buddhists were regularly persecuted by the religious fanatics. Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb ul Mujahideen and other terrorist organizations had made their stronghold in the country and terrorists like Bangla Bhai had emerged. Even Sheikh Hasina was attacked during a public meeting in which many of her activists were killed. ULFA terrorists were given shelter by the anti-India Khaleda Zia government and they used Bangladesh’s soil to carry out terrorist and subversive activities in India.
All this changed with the coming to power by Sheikh Hasina. She banned all the religious organizations and cracked down on extremists outfits. She arrested and handed over the ULFA leaders hiding in Bangladesh. Peace returned and the country embarked on the path to development.
As an election promise, she set up war crimes tribunal to bring the perpetrators of the 1971 war to justice. The tribunal sentenced two leaders of an Islamist party to death and one to life imprisonment. This did not go down well with the Islamists in the country and they unleashed a media campaign to give the impression to the world that Sheikh Hasina was victimizing the religious leaders of Islam and so Islam was in danger in Bangladesh.
Yesterday too, Siddiqullah Chowdhary, a Muslim leader of West Bengal repeated the same view in a public meeting of 15 Muslims outfits that Islam was in danger in Hasina’s Bangladesh and asked Mamata Banerjee to support those anti-India fanatics who were involved in 1971 war against India. Other Muslim leaders of Bengal have also been fed with the same argument and they have also repeated the same ‘Islam in danger’ view.
Mamata Banerjee has fought for the rights of the Muslims of the state because of which the Muslims of Bengal are grateful to her. She has taken a number of steps for the development of Muslims of the state including the implementation of Urdu as the second official language. But according to Siddiqullah Choudhary all this is not enough if she does not stand up to save the rapists and murderers of Bangladeshi people. All of them had taken an anti-India position during the conflict and even fighting the Indian forces.
Those raising a hue and cry in support of those war criminals should remember that the Hasina government is not after all the religious scholars and muftis of Bangladesh. Her government is acting against only those who took part in the murder and rape of lakhs of Bangladeshis. The tribunal has sentenced only those against whom sufficient evidences had been found. The fight of the Jamat in Bangladesh is a political fight and not the fight of kufr and Islam.
One Islamist of Bangladesh who was in Bangladesh during the war and was also imprisoned there has since settled in West Bengal and has been most vociferously supporting his comrades in Bangladesh and criticizing the Mamata government and all those who have been supporting Sheikh Hasina in her efforts to reclaim Bangladesh from the Islamic fanatics and extremists that had taken Bangladesh on the path to terrorism, religious intolerance and extremism. The minorities of Bangladesh have been very comfortable under her secular government and have been praying for her long life. But the Islamic extremists have been baying for her blood as they have lost ground under her secular regime.
The BNP is behind these Islamists as it believes that Sheikh Hasina’s government can only be removed by mobilizing the madrasa and Islamist sections.
The government of India and West Bengal should keep an eye on these black sheep in Bengal and should not give importance to their anti-national demands. Mamata Banerjee is responsible for the well being of the Muslims of Bengal and not for the well being of the rapists and killers of Bangladesh. Mamata Banerjee should make it clear to them that she cannot support the anti-India fanatics and perpetrators of violence and bloodshed during the 1971 war.