Liberation War


It’s either 2005 or 2006. I am sitting at a family member’s home in Virginia, enjoying the new experience of watching Bangladeshi channels in the US. While surfing channels, the visage of a bearded man, holding forth on some lecture, flashes on the screen.

For the first and last time in my life, I hear the sound of teeth being gnashed.

I turn and ask my family member the reason for his extreme reaction. He tells me his story- of how, as a youth, he had run, futilely, after a Pakistani Army jeep which was driving away with his father. The place was Faridpur. The year 1971. And the man who had guided the Pakistani Army to his home was Bacchu Razakar, now Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the man with the orange beard.

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I never saw real Azam Khan in action. I listened to his songs hundreds to thousands of times, but never live in his trademark style performance. It was mid 80s when I started hitting concert venues in Dhaka and Chittagong and began following Bangla pop scene. Although his songs were the most demanded songs in all concerts, Azam Khan the person was a matter of past by that time.

Until Azam Khan was rediscovered by our content thirsty media and icon thirsty merchants a few years ago, he was a man in oblivion — lost from the music scenario. We all know of his performances in early 70s, but no one really tell us when and how Azam Khan went AWOL from Dhaka rock scene.

Thanks to corporate TV, the Azam Khan we saw was the skeleton of the Azam we knew of. This Azam Khan no longer could sing. His bohemian image with long beard and hair smoking hasish was not there anymore.

This Azam Khan was a middle aged man struggling to make ends meet in a low middle class neighborhood in Kamalapur area of Dhaka. It was a broken health lungi clad man going to local kacha bazaar with a gunny sack. It was the home his father built, single story. There was never any good furniture at home to give TV interview or pose for photojournalists . Every time any TV crew, photo journalist would go to see him, he would take them to his roof top.

Azam Khan was very unprepared to deal with sudden media attention on him. He did not have prepared fake answers to fake questions of journalists.

Journalist: ” How did you find the inspiration to compose the legendary song ” Ore Saleka Ore maleka? ”

Azam Khan: “পাড়ার বন্ধু রা ছাদের মধ্যে বইসা ফাইজলামি করতাছিলাম — এমনে এমনেই গানটা চইলা আইল আর কি…”

Journalist: ” How do you feel when people call you Guru”.

Azam Khan: “মেজাজ খারাপ হইত. এই গুরু গুরু এইটা আবার কি. আরে আজাম ভাই ক. এখন গা সইয়া গ্যাছে”

When he tried to answer the way journalists wanted, it was very clear he was out of words, he was very uncomfortable.

Journalist: “You fought our war of liberation. Now again you are also fighting another war. What and how is your new war?”

Azam Khan: ” হ যুদ্ধ — আমার এইটা হইতাছে নুতন একটা যুদ্ধ , এই যুদ্ধ টা হইতাছে গিয়ে আমার নুতন যুদ্ধ. হ এইটা আমার … এই যে বুজছেন না… এইটা আমার .. হইতাছে নুতন যুদ্ধ. এই যে সব কিছু … এইটাই নুতন যুদ্ধ”

His stage performances in recent years were more painful to watch. He lost his voice long ago. Corporate TV would make fun of him by forcing him to do dance moves those would at best be caricature of his old self of 70s. He unsuccessfully would try to go back to 1972 again. But that was never to happen.

To sell their products, big corporations needed Azam Khan craze that runs from generation to generation. They made the best merchant like use of Azam Khan’s ever green songs, ever green ever living popularity.

Our corporate culture could have support him financially. They did not have to abuse him for their commercials.

And why I blame the corporates. What the state did to him? While all the sycophants bite each other to grab swadhinota podok, Ekushey Podok, Bangla Academy podok— Azam Khan gets no national recognition in his lifetime.

Azam Khan’s songs will outlive all of our generations and next hundreds of generations to come. The legends of Azam Khan the father of Bangladesh rock scene will never die. The singer Azam Khan died many years ago, some times in late 70s. The man who was very uncomfortable carrying the body so long just gave away.

I am not too sad at the departure of the legend. I am sad at his sufferings of last decades. And I am happy that the new generations, even a 12 year old kid embraced Azam Khan song exactly the way his/ her dad- grand dad did.

Long Live Azam Khan.

“The greater number is generally composed of men of sluggish tempers, slow to act . . .  they are unwilling to take early and vigorous measures for their defense, and they are almost always caught unprepared. . . .A smaller number, more expedite, awakened, active, vigorous and courageous, make amends for what they want in weight by their superabundance of velocity.’” — Edmund Burke

May 30 will be the 30th anniversary of the death of Ziaur Rahman. In March 1971, he had been one of the many junior Bengali officers in the Pakistani Army, junior to individuals like Brigadier Majumdar and Lt. Col. M. R. Chowdhury. Four years later, in November 1975, he was the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bangladeshi Army, held in house-arrest as jets flew over Bangabhaban and Khaled Musharraf and Abu Taher played out their deadly game of thrones. In six more years, on the eve of his death, he was the President of Bangladesh.

In contrast to the lilliputs in uniform who followed him and aspired to be him, Zia never tried to overthrow a civilian government. The political party he founded, BNP, is alive and well, itself a minor miracle. Three times, BNP has formed a government by election; three times, it has had to face a coup by some parts of the military and civilian bureaucracy aimed at ejecting it from power. It is again winning elections, even after being subjected to the most intense program of repression that we have seen in post-1990 Bangladesh.

There is no need to rush and set down Zia’s legacy in stone; generations of future Bangladeshis (Zia’s term) will get to do so themselves. Suffice to say that history is unlikely to be unkind to him. Did he leave Bangladesh a more democratic state than he found it? Did he leave Bangladesh’s economy in better shape than he found it? Did he leave Bangladesh’s military force more organized and less rebellious than he found it? If the answers to these questions are yes, then his place is already assured.

Two hundred and twenty-four years before Zia’s death, the 50,000-strong army of the Nawab of Begal was defeated by 750 soldiers of the East India Company, and the world’s richest province disappeared into a morass of darkness. In March 1971, 100,000 Pakistanis tried to repeat history. That the Pakistanis failed, and Bangladesh emerged, was due to men and women like Ziaur Rahman, who acted in those fateful hours, as he lived his life, with a superabundance of velocity.

When the lionization of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the first priority of this government, one would expect that the stock of Kader Siddiqui, one of the few men who took up arms after the 1975 massacre, would be very high. Unfortunately, Siddiqui broke with Sheikh Hasins during the last Awami Lwague government. On 1 March, 2011, our Anti-Corruption Commission filed a case against him for amassing illegal wealth. About three weeks afterwards, Kader Siddiqui responded by saying that Ziaur Rahman was indeed the person who declared Bangladesh’s independence, while Sheikh Majib was the Father of the Nation and the indisputed leader of the Liberation War. As expected, this caused a lot of consternation in pro-government circles. On the eve of our Independence Day, he responded to his critics. Some excerpts are given below; the full article is here.

On Khandakar Delwar Hossain and the Change in Our Political Climate:
দুইদিন আগেও যারা তার কত নাহক সমালোচনা করেছেন, কত অপমান অপদস্ত করেছেন তারাই যখন তার মরদেহে ফুলমালা দিলেন, শতকণ্ঠে প্রশংসা করলেন, তখন আমার অন্তর আত্মা কেঁপে কেঁপে উঠছিল। ভাবছিলাম নেতৃবৃন্দের কোন কথা সত্য? ফুলমালা দেওয়ার পর শতমুখে প্রশংসা, না মৃত্যুর আগের দিনগুলোতে হাজার কণ্ঠে নিন্দা-অযৌক্তিক সমালোচনা? তবে আমার খুবই ভালো লেগেছে মরদেহের পাশে আওয়ামী লীগ সাধারণ সম্পাদক সৈয়দ আশরাফুল ইসলামের সভ্য ভাষণ। তার বাবা সৈয়দ নজরুল ইসলামের সঙ্গে খোন্দকার দেলোয়ার রাজনীতি করেছেন। তারপরও কেন যেন দুঃখ হয়, তার জীবিতকালে চিফ হুইপ থাকতে সংসদের টাকা নিয়ে বাড়িতে বাজার করেছেন, চিকিৎসার জন্য তহবিল তছরুপ করেছেন। এসব অভিযোগ না আনলে কি হতো না? কেন জানি না আমরা রাজনীতিবিদরাই রাজনীতিবিদদের প্রধান শত্রু। তাদের বড় বেশি অপমান-অপদস্ত করি। এক আমলা আরেক আমলাকে রক্ষা করতে কত চেষ্টাই না করে। কিন্তু এক রাজনীতিবিদ আরেক রাজনীতিবিদকে সব সময় খতম করতে চায়। অনেক মিথ্যা অভিযোগে বিরোধী রাজনীতিকদের জেলে পাঠিয়ে কি হেনস্থাই না করা হয়। অথচ স্বাধীনতার পর খান এ সবুর খান যখন বঙ্গবন্ধুকে চিঠি দিয়েছিলেন ‘ভাই মজিবর, তুমি দেশ স্বাধীন করেছ, আজ তুমি প্রধানমন্ত্রী। আমরা না হয় ভুলই করেছি। তাই বুড়ো বয়সে জেলে থাকবো?’ চিঠি পাওয়ার তিন-চার দিনের মধ্যে খান এ সবুর খানকে নিঃশর্ত মুক্তি দিয়েছিলেন। শাহ আজিজুর রহমান, তিনি যখন জেলে ওবায়দুর রহমান ও আমাকে দিয়ে শাহ আজিজের বাড়ির ভাড়া পাঠাতেন। সালাউদ্দিন কাদের চৌধুরীর বাবা ফজলুল কাদের চৌধুরী যখন জেলে ছিলেন তখন তার বাড়ি থেকে খাবার পাঠাতে কোনো দিন কোনো বাধা হয়নি। আলাউদ্দিন মতিন, হক-তোয়াহা সাহেবরা যখন পালিয়ে থাকতেন তাদেরও গোপনে টাকা পাঠাতেন। ধীরে ধীরে আজ কোথায় গেল সেসব রাজনৈতিক সহমর্মিতা। খোন্দকার দেলোয়ার হোসেনের মৃত্যুর পর এত প্রশংসা যারা করলেন, তারা তার জীবিতকালে অমন সীমাহীন জঘন্য সমালোচনা না করলেই কি পারতেন না? আজ যারা গলা ফাটিয়ে কথা বলেন তারা কিন্তু ওয়ান-ইলেভেনের জরুরি অবস্থার সময় ইঁদুরের গর্তে লুকিয়ে ছিলেন। সেদিন এই খোন্দকার দেলোয়ারই একজন নির্ভীক রাজনীতিবিদের মতো সিংহের তেজে মাঠে ময়দানে ছিলেন। তার নিজের দল বিএনপিতেও তিনি কম অপমানিত-লাঞ্ছিত হননি।

On Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman:
আমি মনে করি, বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিব মানে বাংলাদেশ, বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিব মানে স্বাধীনতা। তিনি স্বাধীনতার ঘোষক নন, স্বাধীনতার জনক। এখানে দোষের কি হলো? সেদিন বঙ্গবন্ধুর পক্ষে অনেকেই স্বাধীনতার ঘোষণা দিয়েছেন। জিয়াউর রহমানও দিয়েছেন। সামরিক ব্যক্তি ছিলেন বলে জিয়াউর রহমানের কণ্ঠে স্বাধীনতার আহ্বান মানুষকে অনেক বেশি উজ্জীবিত করেছে। এটাই সত্য। আমি তো জিয়াউর রহমানকে চিনতামও না, তার ঘোষণায় যুদ্ধেও যাইনি। অনেক আগে থেকেই যুদ্ধ প্রক্রিয়ায় জড়িত ছিলাম। কিন্তু সেদিন জিয়াউর রহমানের ঘোষণায় কমবেশি আমিও উজ্জীবিত হয়েছিলাম। শুধু আমি কেন, আমাদের অনেক বড় নেতাও সে সময় খুশি হয়েছিলেন। তানাহলে কলকাতার বালিগঞ্জের স্বাধীন বাংলা বেতার কেন্দ্র থেকে কেন জিয়াউর রহমানের ঘোষণা পুরো মুক্তিযুদ্ধের সময় নিয়মিতভাবে প্রচার করা হতো। এমআর আখতার মুকুলের কণ্ঠে চরমপত্রে কাদেরিয়া বাহিনীর গাবুর মাইর আর জিয়াউর রহমানের কণ্ঠে ‘I Major Zia do hear by declare independence of Bangladesh on behalf of our great national leader Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman প্রতিদিন কেন বাজানো হতো। জিয়াউর রহমানের সেই ঘোষণা ‘our great national leader’ না বলে শুধু বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান বা বঙ্গবন্ধু বললে কিংবা শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান বললে কোনো ক্ষতি হতো না। অশুদ্ধ হতো না। কিন্তু সেদিন বঙ্গবন্ধুর উচ্চতা কতখানি ছিল তার সেদিনের সেই হাইট বুঝা যায় জিয়াউর রহমানের কণ্ঠে Our great national leader বলায়। এখানে গ্রেট না বলে শুধু ন্যাশনাল বললে বাক্যের কোনো ক্ষতি হতো না। কিন্তু সত্যিকার অর্থে সে সময় বঙ্গবন্ধু যা ছিলেন জিয়াউর রহমান তাই বলেছেন। কোনো কমবেশি করেননি। করার উপায়ও ছিল না। যারা এখনো স্বাধীনতাকে স্বীকার করতে চান না তাদের কাউকেও যদি ওই সময় বেতার কেন্দ্রে নিয়ে যাওয়া হতো তাহলে তিনিও জিয়াউর রহমানের মতো একই কথা বলতেন। একসময় নবাব সিরাজ উদদৌলা তার ভাঁড় গোলাম হোসেনকে বলেছিলেন, ‘তুমি মনে করো নবাবের বান্দা যা বুঝে আমি নবাব হয়ে তাও বুঝি না? কিন্তু কি করবো গোলাম হোসেন? কোনো উপায় নেই, উপায় নেই গোলাম হোসেন।’ সত্যিকার অর্থে আজ যে যাই বলুক, ‘৭১-এ বঙ্গবন্ধুকে ছাড়া আমাদের কারোরই কিছু বলার বা করার উপায় ছিল না।জিয়াউর রহমানের ঘোষণা কেন স্বাধীন বাংলা বেতার কেন্দ্র থেকে মুক্তিযুদ্ধের সময় প্রচার করা হতো? জিয়াউর রহমানের তো স্বাধীন বাংলা বেতার কেন্দ্রের উপর কোনো প্রভাব বা নিয়ন্ত্রণ ছিল না। বেতার কেন্দ্রটি ছিল সরকারের নিয়ন্ত্রণে। আর সেটা পরিচালনা করতেন আমাদের টাঙ্গাইলের জননেতা আব্দুল মান্নান এমএনএ। স্বাধীনতার ঘোষক নিয়ে আমি তো এত মাতামাতির কোনো কারণ দেখি না। জিয়াউর রহমানের ঘোষণার রেকর্ড সবতো আর মুছে ফেলা যায়নি, এখনো তা রয়েছে। বাজিয়ে শুনুন না। তাতেই প্রমাণ হয়ে যাবে। আমি তাকে ঘোষক বললেই জিয়াউর রহমান ঘোষক হবেন, আমি না বললে হবেন না_ তা কি করে হয়? দেশের জনকের পক্ষে বা বঙ্গবন্ধুর পক্ষে জিয়াউর রহমানের কণ্ঠে একটা ঘোষণা যে উচ্চারিত হয়েছিল যা বারবার প্রচার হয়েছে তা কালের সাক্ষী হয়ে আমিও শুনেছি। সেটা চোখ কান বন্ধ করে অস্বীকার করি কি করে? আজ কোনো স্বার্থের কারণে অস্বীকার করলে পরম প্রভু দয়ালু আল্লাহ তো আমাকে ক্ষমা করবে না

On the current government:


কেন ক্ষমা চাইতে হবে? মুক্তিযুদ্ধ করে বড় বেশি অন্যায় করে ফেলেছি? স্বাধীনতার সঙ্গে সঙ্গে জনকের পায়ের কাছে সব অস্ত্র জমা দিয়ে ভুল করেছি? বঙ্গবন্ধুর লাশ যখন ধানমন্ডি ৩২-এর বাড়ির সিঁড়িতে পড়েছিল, তখন জীবন-যৌবন বিসর্জন দিয়ে মা-বাবা, ভাই-বোনের কথা চিন্তা না করে তাদের বন্দুকের নলের মুখে ফেলে সেই হত্যার প্রতিবাদ করে ১৬ বছর নির্বাসনে থেকে এখনো বেঁচে থেকে কি খুব অপরাধ করেছি? মাফ চাইতে বলছেন। আমার নামে অভিযোগটা কি? জাতির সামনে অভিযোগ আনেন। জাতি বিচার করুক তখন দেখা যাবে কাদের মাফ চাইতে হয়। বঙ্গবন্ধুর চামড়া দিয়ে যারা ডুগডুগি বাজাতে চেয়েছে, জুতা বানাতে চেয়েছে, বঙ্গবন্ধুকে যারা ফেরাউন বলেছে, যারা খুনি মোস্তাকের মুখ্য সচিব ছিল তাদের বগলতলে নিয়ে অত বড় বড় কথা শোভা পায় না। আমি অবশ্যই বলেছি বঙ্গবন্ধু কখনো স্বাধীনতার ঘোষক নন। তার স্বাধীনতা ঘোষণা দেওয়ার কোনো প্রয়োজনই ছিল না। তার অনেক ঘোষক ছিল। আমরা থাকতে তার কি দরকার ছিল? আজ রাষ্ট্রের কর্তৃত্ব কার দ্বারা নিয়ন্ত্রিত হয়? সরকার প্রধান মাননীয় প্রধানমন্ত্রীর কর্তৃত্ব ও নেতৃত্বে রাষ্ট্রপতির নামে পরিচালিত হয়। মাননীয় প্রধানমন্ত্রীর প্রায় সব কয়টি কেবিনেট মিটিংয়ের সিদ্ধান্ত ঘোষণা দেন তার বর্তমান প্রেস সেক্রেটারি আবুল কালাম আজাদ। এটাই নিয়ম, এটাই পদ্ধতি। সেদিনও এমন নিয়ম, পদ্ধতি ছিল।

This was written for Uttorshuri in two installments on Taher Day during  July 2006. I am re-posting this on the eve of November 7. This post is not intended to demonize veteran Freedom fighter and ambitious patriotic leader Colonel Abu Taher. No one argues that Col Taher was a patriot and he wanted to prosper Bangladesh in a way he believed to be right way.

 

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Every year late freedom fighter Colonel Taher’s death anniversary is observed with discussions about his life, his dreams, visions, achievements and his valor. Newspapers publish memoirs, detail articles and columns demanding justice for Taher Killing.

The events of this year included an additional element; speeches and interviews by American journalist Lawrence Lifschultz leading a campaign for Taher’s retrial.

Lawrence Lifschultz, in his speeches, urges the concerned authorities for ensuring a fair re-trial of

1. Jail killing of four national leaders
2. Taher death sentence
3. The freedom fighters killed during coups against Zia rule
4. General Manzur’s Killing
5. Death sentence and execution of freedom fighter officers convicted of murdering Zia.

Some of these demands are quite logical and to set the records straight, all these killings definitely need a neutral and fair reevaluation. However it is also interesting to see some deliberate omission from Lifschultz’s list.

The significant omissions are the killing of two sector commanders of our liberation war. They are major general Khaled Mosharraf and Colonel A T M Haider.

Khaled Mosharraf was arguably the most valiant of the military leaders duringmour war of independence in 1971. He almost died in the war with a bullet hittingmhis forehead. After his injury, then Captain ATM Haider took over the command ofmthe sector. He was also another valiant freedom fighter who representedmBangladesh during Pak surrender on 16th December.

More than thirty years later, our nation still doesn’t know much about their killing. It is not exactly clear how they were killed, exactly who killed these brave souls, who ordered the killing, in what situation they died, whether they were executed or they died in gunfight.

It also another big mystery why these two sector Commanders deaths are not mourned every year as it happens in case of Colonel Taher. And there is rarely a call demanding justice of these killings. Also a curiosity arises, why Lawrence Lifschultz does not mention Khaled Mosharraf and ATM Haider in his list.

We read newspaper daily. Sometimes some news makes us sad, some news makes us angry, some ews make us optimistic, some news makes us skeptical and some news makes us curious.

Here are some news from today and how my mind reacted to those news.

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বিপুল ভট্টাচার্যের পাশে সতীর্থরা

It is a news of mixed emotion. The lively presence and powerful voice of young Bipul Bhattacharya as shown in our war documentary ” Muktir Gaan” is unforgettable. His illness is sad. But efforts by his fellow artists to stand beside him is a positive news. It gives us hope.

At the same time this news raises a question in my mind. What happened to Azam Khan. A legend in our pop culture. Father of band music in Bangladesh. An active freedom fighter. He is also sick with cancer. He also needs more money to continue his treatment. News report suggests artists donated personally. But what about a concert for Azam Khan. Where is BAMBA? A concert was orgnized in New York by BAMBA’s US counterpart. But Azam Khan denied his knowledge about that event. What is the problem? Is it Azam Khan who does not want a concert for him?

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সুজনের গোলটেবিল বৈঠকে বক্তারা

দিনবদলের সূচনাই হয়নি

Why Shujan always calls the pro 1/11 reformists as political party representatives in it’s meetings?  AL was represented by Manna while BNP was represented by Lt Gen Mahbub and Inam Ahmed Chowdhury. Does not it benefit Shujan ( and the country) if mainstream piolicy makers of each of The two party are called rather than those sidelined?

 

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Why Anwar Hossain Manju’s Ittefaq headlines yesterdays Sirajganj incidence this way? Should a newspaper headline be wrong or such one sided or provocative?

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মন্ত্রিসভা বৈঠকে প্রধানমন্ত্রীখালেদার বক্তব্য ও বিএনপির গতিবিধি নজরে রাখুন

 

Our Prime Minister has to be more charitable in her public remarks to maintain the halo around her. We know all the media men, ( Special attention to Golajm Murtaza and Sohrab Hossain of Prothom Alo in today’s Channel I tritio Matra) are trying their best to make the halo around the PM  as white and shinning as possible. But this sort of uncharitable remark by PM does not help Messers Bulbul, Khalidi, Mortaza, Anam, Motiur Rahman et el in their relentless effort to promote the PM. .

Sanaullah Babu's Murder

 

This did not end here. Tonight, PM went further. She specifically mentioned that Mr. Sanaullah was killed out of BNP’s own internal conflict. There is clear footage and photo of Nator murder  that shows Awami League activists chopping Mr Sanaullah. Mr Zakir, local Awami League leader was clearly seen walking around with a menacing looking stick ( In fade blue jeans and full sleev shirt at the center of the photo). And yet PM Hasina was trying to justify Zakir as innocent. What message she is giving to her activists?

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This news should remind BNP that from media’s and Police’s perspective, small misstep by BNP will be much high profile compared to big missteps by AL. The same day, a few other things happened.Ruling Party student wing supporters fought, injured each other in Rajshahi university, Jahangir Nagar University.  But this was a headline news in Prothom ALo followed by an editorial by no other than Motiur Rahman. Mr Rahman apparently is trying his best to please Mrs Hasina.

Although 15 people have been arrested and all those masked men were identified in this case, nothing happened so far in Natore case. The killers did not bother wearing any mask and yet no arrest was made except one eye wash arrest. PM is singing song for the main accused.

One thing I can say, PM Hasina is quickly reverting to her  original undiluted ‘kill ten for one”  self.

Update I: Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury granted bail and then again arrested as he was leaving the jail premises.

Awami League’s reaction to BNP’s June 27th hartal was an important event in our recent political history. Coming in the government’s eighteenth month of power, this hartal was not aimed at forcing the Awami League Government to resign or to call new elections; it was simply to protest the increase in public suffering caused by lack of gas, electricity, water, and some other issues. So far, BNP has been the most benign of oppositions. Had Awami League not resorted to violence and let this hartal go without incident, we would have seen an extended period of calm and stability in our politics. Unfortunately, Awami League chose to use the Police, Rapid Action Battalion and its own student wing, Bangladesh Chatra League, to suppress the peaceful pro-hartal protests. The results were as horrifying as they were decisive.

All around Dhaka, law enforcement officials and Awami League party-men swooped upon BNP supporters and assaulted them. This attack on Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie, MP is extremely illustrative of what happened all over Dhaka that day. At the beginning, Annie is clearly leading a procession BNP supporters, all of whom are trying to protect Annie. Successive attacks peel away everyone around him, until Annie himself is left naked in front of Chatra League brutality. Such episodes were repeated all throughout the day; the only difference was that since Annie is a Member of Parliament, this news made it to the national media.

The attack on Mirza Abbas’s house, when his wife, teenage daughter, and octogenarian mother were all attacked by the police and RAB, and assaulted violently, was another low point for democracy in Bangladesh. All of us know that Bangladesh is the mirror-image of Clauswitz’s famous dictum: in our country, it is politics that is continuation of war by other means. Even accounting for that, and remembering that this is the same party in power who gave us BKSAL and Rakkhi Bahini the first time around and Joynal Hazari and Shamim Osman the second time around, this behavior will come back to haunt Awami League in the years to come.

(more…)

Updated I: Amar Desh report on the plot.

Updated II: Case filed against Mahmudur Rahman, validating his prediction.

Updated III: Government shuts down Amar Desh and cancels its publication declaration.

Updated IV: Police surround Amar Desh building; Mahmudur Rahman’s arrest likely.

Updated V: Mahmudur Rahman arrested.

Updated VI: Mahmudur Rahman produced in Court.

Updated VII: Another case filed against Mahmudur Rahman, Amar Desh Deputy Editor and Chief Correspondent Syed Abdal Ahmed, four other staff and another one hundred unnamed individuals.

Updated VIII: A discerning reader, M. Amin, has commented below that the common thread running between the banning of Facebook and the closure of Amar Desh at this critical point may be the Government inquiry reports about the BDR massacre. These reports initially became available on Facebook, and Amar Desh has been publishing them on a daily basis.

Media reports are claiming that the government has picked up Hasmat Ali, the Publisher of Daily Amar Desh. Amar Desh Editor Mahmudur Rahman has claimed that the government has picked up Ali to pressurize him to file cases against Mahmudur Rahman. In true Bangladeshi fashion, the authorities are denying that they even have him in custody, and the family members are too terrified to speak out.

Why, so soon after the disastrous ban on Facebook, this crackdown on another media outlet? Mahmudur Rahman has long been a thorn on the side of this government; his paper broke the alleged corruption story between the Prime Minister’s son, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, and Chevron. Amar Desh also earned the ire of the First Family by detailing their internal squabbling about which of their relatives by marriage played the most anti-Bangladeshi role during the Liberation War of 1971.

Some of Amar Desh’s greatest hits from just the last two months:

Indian sky marshals to serve in Bangladesh.

Pro-Pakistan role of State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam’s family during 1971.

Marrying grandson of Rajakar is fine: Sajeda Chowdhury.

Details of the previously unpublish government report of the BDR massacre.

Sheikh Helal given unique treatment by the Court.

High Court Judge Iman Ali a British citizen; constitutionally barred from holding post.

Quamrul Islam sensitive about being removed as Public Prosecutor by the High Court during past Awami League government.

Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir blasts ACC, questions Latifur Rahman and Dr. Mozaffar Ahmed.

Corruption allegations against Rashed Khan Menon.

Battle of the in-laws: Nuru Mian v. Naila Musa (“Prince” Musa Bin Shamsher) (part 1) (part 2).

I hear… of your recent saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Only those generals who gain success can set up military dictatorships. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.”

– Abraham Lincoln, message to General Joseph Hooker, Army of the Potomac

May 30 is the 28th anniversary of President Ziaur Rahman’s death. It came approximately 10 years and 2 months after he gave a radio announcement, from Chittagong, declaring the Independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, then in the custody of the Pakistani Army.

During our Independence War, he was Sector Commander over much of today’s Chittagong Division, and commander of Bangladesh Army’s ‘Z” brigade. At the end of the war, with Pakistani forces crumbling before the assault of joint Indo-Bangladeshi forces and surrendering on 16 December 1971, he was awarded the Bir Uttom.

At the onset of independence, Zia became one of the senior-most officers of the Bangladesh Army. His performance during the nine-month war and his radio announcement at the onset of the war marked him as different from his fellow officers. He was made Brigade Commander of Comilla, close to where his force had done most of the fighting during the war.

The Government brought him to Dhaka in June 1972 and made him Deputy Chief of Staff, under Major General Shafiullah, who commanded the “S” Brigade during the Independence War. It is as Deputy CoS that he moved into the 6 Shahid Moinul Road residence, where he would live the rest of his life. It is from this post that he observed the imposition of one-party dictatorship in Bangladesh when Sheikh Mujib, by a constitutional amendment, made Bangladesh a one-party state, banned all other political parties, all but four newspapers, and named himself President.

After the brutal assassination of Sheikh Mujib and most of the members of his family by a group of army officers, Zia was elevated to Chief of Staff but placed under Major General Khalilur Rahman, who was made Chief of Defense Staff. The regime, after killing Mujib’s four most-trusted political lieutenants, heroes in their own right, planned to send Zia abroad, as it sent Shafiullah. However, before that could transpire, the murderers were toppled by a counter-coup led by Brig. Khaled Musharraf, Chief of General Staff, one the most valiant leaders in our Independence War. Zia was placed under house-arrest. He was then freed by a counter-counter-coup by Col. (rt) Abu Taher, fellow Sector Commander, and leader of the banned Jatiyo Samajtrantik Dal (National Socialist Party). The counter-coup also tragically resulted in Brig. Mosharraf’s death.

Shafiullah, Zia, Mosharrah, and Taher were all awarded the Bir Uttom, the highest gallantry decoration awarded to living participants. Under normal circumstances, they should, by all right, have been able to look forward to long careers in our defense forces, promotions to command rank, and eventual retirement with the whole-hearted blessings of a grateful nation. Instead, Shafiullah was abroad, Mosharraf was dead, and Taher advoced a left-leaning revolutionary state. With the adoption of one-party statehood by the Parliament, the Awami League, until then Bangladesh’s pre-eminent political party, had also been disbanded. Zia found himself with no credible political establishment to hand over power to, a faction-ridden armed forces that was more dangerous to Bangladeshis than to foreign enemies, and an economy on the brink of collapse.

His subsequent actions, becoming Chief Martial Law Administrator, founding BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party), introducing multi-party democracy, allowing the publication of newspapers, holding parliamentary elections (in which Awami League became the largest opposition party in parliament), trying to revitalize the country’s industrial sector, and adopting a muscular foreign policy, were the attempts of an imperfect man to try and make the best of an imperfect situation. He survived eighteen coup attempts, before being killed by the nineteenth one, in his beloved Chittagong, the scene of his life’s greatest hour, where he had come to resolve inter-party factions in his young BNP. Bangladehis from all walks of life poured into his funeral prayer service, making it the single largest such gathering in Bangladesh’s history.

I can not know, but I imagine he must have been a little tired by the end of his life. If the last thought that flashed through his mind was his young widow and the two little boys he left behind; maybe, after death, he found the peace he had been denied in life. The generation which should have together led Bangladesh, together turn old and hale and watched their children grow up in a free country as free men and women, and in the twilight of their lives accepted our accolades as Bangladesh’s greatest generation, had together torn each other apart. His would be the last life to be lost in that decade-long bloodbath, but by the sacrifice of his own life, he would bring the killing to an end; all subsequent transfers of power in our country would be bloodless, if not voluntary.

Testimony is paid to Zia, throughout the year, by Awami League leaders who slander and villify him every chance they get. They try to tear down the man who allowed them to re-form, and graciously accepted their leader’s return from exile in India. His statues are broken down, and bridges leading to his memorial in Dhaka, beside the National Parliament, are mysteriously removed under the cover of night. All debates about the fate of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his great predecessor, inevitably contain someone viciously belittling him.

Yet, the idea of Zia remains. Our only head of state to have actively fought the Pakistanis in a field of battle, today he sleeps the well-deserved sleep of those who have fought the good fight. It remains to us to do our best in the imperfect world he left for us.

On the eve of withdrawal of state of emergency, the foreign diplomats stationed in Bangladesh have asked the government for special protection. On December 17, the people of Bangladesh has finally regained their fundamental rights nearly two years after it was postponed by a covert military coup. No doubt, the diplomats were happy, enjoying their life while the people of their host country were tied down and gagged. No doubt they liked the people to remain that way as they immediately asked for special protection because of withdrawal of state of emergency.
And the army chief recently claimed that despite requests being made to him by diplomats, he did not declare martial law. Wow! What a dangerous statement! For Gods sake Bangladesh is an independent sovereign democratic nation. And the diplomats, breaking all international code of conduct, meeting the Army general and persuading him to overthrow a constitutional government!!! Do they know the meaning of the word ‘conspiracy’? What the army chief did that time? Did he report it to his Supreme Commander? Should not he? Must not he? If he had not, what that act tantamount to?
Its about the time we understand the real meaning of spirit of our independence, the spirit of 1971, the spirit of 3 million lives and the value of 3 million lives. The spirit of 1971 does not only mean hanging leaders of Jamaat e islami (In selected years). The spirit of 1971 means upholding the sovereignty of the nation. The value of 1971 means to stand up, heads high, against being poodle of arrogant foreign diplomats and have the country run by the people and for the people.

Hero of 1971 war, General Jacob just visited Bangladesh. He was leading an entourage of several Indian senior military leaders of 1971. They attended our Independence Day parade and visited liberation war museum and other points of interest.

General Jacob’s played one of the most crucial roles in the six day india Pakistan war of 1971 that ensued at the climax of our independence struggle.  For that reason he always held a very high place in my heart. But the very considerate and careful remarks this 90 year old gentleman made during his conversations with some journalists in Dhaka has elevated his stature 100 fold in my mind. His statement that ‘it was mostly the freedom fighters and the East Bengal regiment soldiers who made Bangladesh independent’; is very generous, considerate and important.

In my opinion; the branding India enjoys these days, that India is a tolerant, secular, pluralistic society; is the contribution of General Jacobs generation. General Jacob, himself a minority Jew, was an embodiment of the religious harmony and inclusiveness of Indian society. His heart was in right place when in 1971 he fought his way to Dhaka to help a nation gain freedom from repression.

But unfortunately the spirit of the nonagenarian or octogenarian generation is rapidly fading from the horizon of Indian society. India is now more of a self centered generation which relishes nationalistic pride in Virendra Shehwag’s triple century cricket batting, a generation of Hironmoy Karlekar who makes a career out of Bangladesh bashing, or a generation of trigger happy BSF soldiers shooting Bangladeshis on a daily basis. This is the generation where more youngsters hate Mahatma Gandhi than revere him. This is a generation to whom it is must to hate pakistan, it is a norm to ignore Bangladesh or Sri Lanka and Bhutan, Sikim, Nepal are the countries to make fun of.

It is extremely important that not only Bangladesh, but also India herself honor General Jacob and his generation by embracing the spirit of a tolerant, inclusive and pluralistic society again.

Long live General Jacob. Your war is not over yet.

স্বাধীনতার ঘোষক নিয়ে তো ঝগড়া ঝাটি কম হয় নি। আবার আর একটা ঝগড়া শুরু করার সামান্যতম আগ্রহ আমার নেই। তা সত্বেও সাহস করে কিছু বলতে চাই এই  স্বাধীনতা দিবসের প্রাক্কালে।

  

  

প্রথমত  স্বাধীনতার ঘোষনা নিয়ে বি এন পি র কর্মকান্ড আমার কাছে সবসময়ই অপরিপক্ক ও রাজনৈতিক প্রজ্ঞা বিবর্জিত মনে হয়েছে। বি এন পি র ভাষ্যে মনে হয়, বলা নেই কওয়া নেই জিয়াউর রহমান সাহেব হঠাত করে স্বাধীনতার ঘোষনা দিয়ে দিলেন আর বাংলাদেশ স্বাধীন হয়ে গেল। বি এন পি যেভাবে ৭১ পুর্ববর্তি ইতিহাস এবং বঙ্গবন্ধু র নেতৃত্ব কে ইতিহাস থেকে বাদ দিয়ে দিতে চেয়েছে, সেভাবেই তারা আমাদের সশস্ত্র স্বাধীনতা সংগ্রামে মুক্তিযুদ্ধের এক নেতৃস্থানীয় সেনানী হিসাবে জিয়াউর রহমানের অবদান এবং তাঁর ২৭ শে মার্চের ঘোষনার যথার্থ  মুল্যায়ন করতে সম্পুর্ন ব্যর্থ হয়েছে।

  

  তবে প্রথমেই বলে নেই যে আমাদের স্বাধীকার আন্দোলনের প্রধান নেতা বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান। এদেশের স্রষ্টা হিশেবে একজনের নাম বলতে হলে বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান এর নাম ই বলতে হবে। 

  

    

 তারপর বলি, আমাদের স্বাধীনতা অর্জনের পিছনে এক টা গুরুত্বপূর্ন গোষ্ঠীর অবদান আমরা কখনই যথার্থ ভাবে মূল্যায়ন করতে পারি নি। তা হল আমাদের নিয়মিত সশস্ত্র বাহিনীর অবদান।

  

    

 পৃথিবীর ইতিহাসে মাত্র নয় মাসে সশস্ত্র স্বাধীনতা সংগ্রাম সফল হবার আর কোন নজির নেই। ন মাস কেন ন বছরেও সশস্ত্র সংগ্রাম করে স্বাধীন হতে পেরেছে, এমন জাতিও সহজে খুজে পাওয়া যাবে না।  

  

    

কিভাবে আমরা স্বাধীন হলাম ন মাসে? ভৌগলিক অবস্থান একটা factor ছিল সন্দেহ নেই। ভারতের প্রকাশ্য মুক্তহস্ত সহযোগীতা ও আরেক টা প্রধান কারন। তবে এ সবগুলোর জন্যেই পাকিস্তান সেনাবাহিনী প্রস্তুত ছিল। পাকিস্তান সেনাবাহিনী তৈরী ছিল দীর্ঘ একটা গেরিলা যুদ্ধ পরিচালনা করার জন্য, in the worst case scenerio ওরা আর একটা কাশ্মীরের জন্য  মনে মনে প্রস্তুত হচ্ছিল। পাকিস্তান সেনাবাহিনীর নিরপেহ্ম বিশ্লেষন গুলো পরে দেখুন। একটা ঘটনার জন্য ওরা একেবারে প্রস্তুত ছিল না তা হল নিয়মিত সেনা বাহিনীর বাঙ্গালী ইউনিট গুলোর গন বিদ্রোহ। ওরা এটা ভাবতেই পারে নি যে সামরিক বাহিনীর ইউনিট গুলো এতটা সুশৃংখল  ভাবে বেসামরিক নেতৃত্বের অধীনে একতাবদ্ধ হতে পারবে। এটা সত্যি যে , সেনাবাহিনীর জাতি ভিত্তিক ট্রুপ গুলোর শতভাগেরই বিদ্রোহীদের সাথে যোগ দেয়া একটা অভূতপূর্ব ঘটনা। মানব জাতির  বিচ্ছিন্নতাবাদের ইতিহাসে এধরনের ঘটনা তেমন আর ঘটে নি।

  

    

আর এই বিশাল ঘটনা জন্য বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান এর পরে যার অবদান অনস্বীকার্য তিনি হচ্ছেন জিয়াউর রহমান। সক্রিয় দায়িত্বে থাকা একজন সিনিয়র অফিসারের বিভিন্ন ইষ্ট বেঙ্গল রেজিমেন্টএর সৈন্য নিয়ে বিদ্রোহ, পশ্চিম পাকিস্তানি অফিসার কে বন্দী করা এক্ টা প্রচন্ড উদ্দীপনামূলক ঘটনা ছিল বাংগালী সকল সেনা সদস্যের জন্য। জিয়াউর রহমানের রেডিও ঘোষনা বারুদে স্ফূলিঙ্গের মত কাজ করে সারা দেশের সশস্ত্র বাহিনীর সদস্যদের মধ্যে। একে একে বিদ্রোহ করতে থাকে বাংগালী সব গুলো ইউনিট। ভারতের আতিথেয়তায় শুরু হয়ে নিয়মিত এক সশস্ত্র যুদ্ধ ও মুক্তিযোদ্ধা প্রশিক্ষন। উলটা পালটা হয়ে যায় পশ্চিমাদের সব হিসেব নিকেশ।

  

  

আর একটা কথা। এটা সত্যি স্বাধীনতার  ঘোষনা বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান দিয়ে গিয়েছেন দফায় দফায়। সাত ই মার্চ ছিল একটি পদক্ষেপ। বঙ্গবন্ধুর সাত ই মার্চ ভাষন যেমন বাংগালীর মনে আবেগ জুগিয়েছে মুক্তিযুদ্ধের নয় মাস, তেমন ই সামরিক বাহিনীর একজন সিনিয়র বাংগালী অফিসার জিয়াউর রহমান এর আনুষ্ঠানিক যুদ্ধের ঘোষনা অবরুদ্ধ বাংগালীকে সাহস জুগিয়েছে সেই নয় টি মাস। সব বাঙ্গালীর কাছেই, মুক্তাঞ্চল বলুন আর অবরুদ্ধ বাংলাদেশ বলুন,  সর্বত্রই জিয়াউর রহমান সাহেবের এই ঘোষনাটার মূল্য ছিল অপরিসীম। একজন সেক্টর কমান্ডার এবং জেড ফোর্সের অধিনায়ক ছাড়াও এই একটি ঘোষনার  কারনেও জিয়াউর রহমানের নাম আমাদের মুক্তিযুদ্ধের ইতিহাসের সাথে অবিচ্ছেদ্য ভাবে জড়িয়ে থাকবে।

  

      

বাংলাদেশ এমন মানুষের সখ্যা কম নয় যারা মুক্তিযুদ্ধের চেতনা বিকাশ এবং এর সঠিক ইতিহাস প্রকাশের বিরামহীন সৈনিক। অধ্যাপক মুহাম্মাদ জাফর ইকবাল এদের একজন। গত ষোলই ডিসেম্বার দৈনিক প্রথম আলোতে এক টি কলামে তিনি তৃপ্তির ঢেকুর তুলেছেন অবশেষে স্কুলের পাঠ্য বই এ স্বাধীনতার সঠিক ইতিহাস প্রকাশিত হতে যাচ্ছে ভেবে। ১/১১ এর পট পরিবর্তনের পর নুতন সরকার এসে অনেক কিছুই করে নি, আবার অনেক কিছুই করেছেও। এক টা হচ্ছে স্কুলের পাঠ্য বই এ বাংলাদেশের ইতিহাস পরিবর্তন করা। এই পরিবর্তনের পর জিয়াউর রহমান সাহেব হয়ে গিয়েছেন স্বাধীনতার ঘোষনার পাঠক।

  

    

 আর যে কারনেই হোক জিয়াউর রহমান সাহেব অনুষ্ঠান ঘোষকের চাকুরীর জন্য চট্টগ্রাম কালুরঘাট বেতার কেন্দ্র  দখল করেন নি। জিয়াউর রহমান সাহেব যা বলেছিলেন, তা উনি না বলে একজন অনুষ্ঠান ঘোষক বললে এর কোন মূল্য থাকতো না।  

রেডিও টিভি তে কোন কিছু পাঠ করেন একজন অনুষ্ঠান ঘোষক। প্রধান মন্ত্রী, রাষ্ট্রপতি অথবা চীফ এডভাইজার যখন রেডিও টিভি তে কোন কিছু পড়েন, তা হচ্ছে তাদের ঘোষনা অথবা বক্তৃতা। এটাকে কেউ ভাষন পাঠ অথবা অর্থমন্ত্রীর বাজেট পাঠ বলে না। তবে যে তরুন অথবা তরুনী এই অনুষ্ঠানের ঘোষনা দেন তিনি হচ্ছেন অনুষ্ঠান ঘোষক অথবা ঘোষনা পাঠক। মূল বিষয় হচ্ছে যে জিয়াউর রহমান সাহেব তো কারো দারা আদিষ্ট হয়ে অথবা কোন উর্ধতনের নির্দেশে অন্য কারো লিখা বিবৃতি পাঠ করেন নি।    

    

 ওইদিন জিয়াউর রহমান সাহেব স্বতপ্রনোদিত হয়ে একটি গুরুত্বপূর্ন ঘোষনা দিয়েছিলেন। ওটা স্বাধীনতার ঘোষনা আমি এটা বলব না। কিন্তু এটা আমাদের স্বাধীনতার ইতিহাসে একটি অত্যন্ত গুরুত্বপূর্ন ঘোষনা, হয়তো এটা আমাদের মুক্তিযুদ্ধের আনুষ্ঠানিক সামরিক ঘোষনা।

  

  জাফর ঈকবাল স্যার রা মুক্তিযুদ্ধের সঠিক ইতিহাসের কথা বলেন। কিন্তু জিয়াউর রহমানকে একজন সাধারন রেডিও ঘোষকের পর্যায়ে নামিয়ে এনে ইতিহাস লিখার চেষ্টা দেখে ওনাদের আসল উদ্দেশ্য সম্বন্ধে আমরা বিভ্রান্ত হই।

Youtube Video Courtesy Mash.

The above is a proof of the massacre committed on the night of 25th March, 1971. These are war crimes.

An overwhelming majority of the war crimes committed in Bangladesh between 25th March and 16th December was committed by the members of Pakistan armed forces. Later in the war, in some cases, especially in the killing of the intellectuals, locals were intricately involved in the planning and execution along with the Pakistan army.

The locals involved in those gruesome crimes were members of Shanti Committee ( Peace Committee), Razakars, Al Badr, Al Shams.

Any war crime trial should include, at least a symbolic indictment of the following military leadership of then East Pakistan along with their local collaborators belonging to those above mentioned groups.

Lt. General Yahya Khan

Lt General Tikka Khan

Lt. General A.A.K Niazi

Major General Rao Farman Ali

Major General Khadim Hossain Raja

Major General Miththa

Major General Hamid

Major General Qamar ali Mirza

Major general Harrison

Maj. Gen. Shaukat Riza

Maj. Gen. Nazar Hussain Shah

Maj. Gen. Rahim Khan

Maj. Gen. Jamshed

Brig. Jahanzab Arbab

Brig. Iqbal Shafi

Brig. Abdullah Khan Malik

Brig. S.M. Durrani

Col Saadullah

Lt. Col Fatami

Lt Col Abdul Aziz Sheikh

And all other officers working with or under them in eastern command of Pakistan armed forces.

Let the process start. Begin by gathering data on which military unit committed what crime and which one of the officers were in charge of that unit.

Then try to identify individual officers with documented evidence of ordering those massacres.

At least a symbolic trial would put the world focus on these crimes.

Victory day greetings for all my readers.  Today is the 37th anniversary of our historic 1971 victory against oppression and colonialism of Pakistan.  In 1971, the fight was for emancipation from the oppression of the west.  Victory day of this year comes at a time when we are back to the days of oppression, class divide, fear, torture, arrest and intellectual persecution. Our victory was meant to be for everybody in Bangladesh, whether you live inside or outside of the beautifully landscaped wall in the picture.

landscapegardening.jpg
[Photo Courtesy: Shafiur Rahman. Click here for full size better resolution image.]

Unfortunately Bangladesh celebrates the 37th victory anniversary when she is ruled by a government which is by the people, for the people and of the people who live inside that landscaped wall. The festivities of 37th victory do not reach the people outside the wall as it also does not reach the decomposing bodies under the rubbles of Rangs Bhaban or the shelter less orphans in cyclone Sidr ravaged coasts. And this victory day is also meaningless for the half a million people who have been arrested since 11 January 2007.

We only can hope that by next victory day, we will have a government which will have the courage to let people enjoy the fundamental right of freedom until they are convicted of any crime. And unlike the quarter million who are in jail today under suspicion only, nobody will be behind the bar only with suspicion. And let’s also hope that by the next victory day, we will get back a government where the people living outside the wall have a voice too.

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This photo was taken on February 2007 when I was in Dhaka. Every time I visit the national monuments in Bangladesh I come home with mixed feelings. Although I have visited numerous other national historic national monuments all over the globe, very few of them emotionally jolt me so much.

It was almost 25 years since I last visited the Savar Shaheed Smriti Soudha (The mausoleum of the martyred in Savar). Like before, the enormous campus, the greenery and water body surrounding the mausoleum impressed me. Compared to Bangladesh standard and definitely compared to other national mausoleums like Shaheed Minar or Rayer Bazar intellectual mausoleum, the Savar mausoleum was much better maintained.  However, despite all the beautiful landscaping work, well maintained water bodies, the sanctity of the mausoleum itself was in a relatively sad state. People are sitting, sleeping on the pillars, badam/ ice cream/fruit vendors are selling their products, young couples are busy with themselves, gangs of young men are  loitering–all on the alter of the mausoleum. Then at the base of the mausoleum, the floors are covered with excreta of the birds sitting on those seven pillars.

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 Shahid Minar’s condition is much worse.  Once February is past, until next February, It kind of turns into a loitering garbage disposal site of a rundown block.  Once I recommended a tourist to go visit Shaheed Minar and on returning he avoided talking to me about his Shaheed Minar experience although he was ecstatic about everything else he saw in Bangladesh.  Rayer bazar Badhdhya Bhumi (Rayer bazar Killing Ground intellectuals Mausoleum) is another beautiful monument with poor access and shabby maintenance.  And soon after December 14, it gets one degree worse. It becomes unsafe to be there even in daylight, forget visiting the mausoleum after dusk.  

Having explained the current state of our national monuments, on the eve of 37th victory day, let me share my dream about the monuments with you all. Let’s talk about Shaheed Minar. No other monument could be as wonderfully located as the Shaheed Minar. It is at the watershed of New and old Dhaka and it is at the center of the academic hub of Dhaka, Conveniently located between Dhaka University, Dhaka Medical College and BUET. This monument could be our museum of Language movement and language Bangla. The museum has to be underground below Shaheed Minar as any additional structure will ruin the landscape. There may be a nominal fee to enter the site except for the month of February. There will be guided tour throughout the day covering the museum and the monument. Round the year school kids will have their field day at this museum learning about the origin of Bangla language, about the history of language movement etc. 

 Similarly Rayer bazar mausoleum could be the museum of genocide 1971. Still there is enough land surrounding the mausoleum to build a 71 Bangladesh genocide museum. 

These monuments are our assets. These are of equal if not more importance than any of the artifacts those are being sent to Musee Guimet. Protecting those artifacts or hanging the war criminal Jamaatis must not be the ONLY mean of protecting our history and pride. We need passion to protect, present and promote our national treasures. These are our  monuments for 365 days of the years 24 hours a day. Not for several hours of a single day of the year. These should be the places where all our school children will come and learn our history from. These will have to be the showcases of Bangladesh and her history for visiting foreigners.  

For those who say that there is no war criminal in Bangladesh, look at this video evidence. These are the bodies of intellectuals of Bangladesh who were brutally murdered by students belonging to Jamaat e Islami. There eyes were gauged out, Heart specialist Dr Fazle Rabbi’s heart was torn out. There is overwhelming evidence that these crimes were committed by AL-Badr, an armed special interest wing of Jamaat e Islami. This newly formed paramilitary wing was headed by the then All Pakistan Islami Chhatra Shangha president Motiur Rahman Nizami.

An overwhelming majority of Bangladesh do believe that top Jamaat leaders including the Emir, Seretary general, and other senior leaders like kader Mollah, Saidee etc have actively opposed liberation war of 1971, supported Pak army in 1971 and took part in the mass killing of the intellectuals during late 1971.

Similarly a large portion of Bangladesh do also feel disgust when different political parties demand ban on Jamaat e islami when they meet general Moeen or they get a chance to visit the EC. What kind of shameless demand is it? Now a government is power whose legitimacy is questionable and the generals are trying to rob the nation of all the freedom it enjoyed over the last 15 years. On what righteousness of mind one would go and humbly request him to ban jamaat? Who is the general or the EC to ban a party? If you do believe in banning, please come out elected and then ban whoever you want to with people’s mandate.

What a shame. Its sounds like, ‘ I can’t touch jammat with my own power. So respected General Sir, you are very powerful man Sir, Please Ban jamaat for us Sir. You came to power Sir. This is a chance for us to ban jamaat Sir. Please help us use the chance Sir….etc”.

Politicians should not think the people as a bunch of fools. People understand it clearly that demands for banning jamaat has nothing to do with the spirit of 1971. It has more to do with the political calculations of winning an election. These headless politicians also forget that if jamaat is vanished from the scene, the ultimate gainer will be other radical Islamist parties like Hijbut Tahrir. Is hijbut tahrir better because it leaders are not collaborators of 1971?

We tend to forget that the strongest response to what Mujahid or S. A. Hannan said is not by spitting or yelling at them. There are better ways. This, this or this are the examples. The more you inform the nation, the more passionately or positively you describe your war of freedom, the weaker Mujahid or Saidee will be.

The Concert for Bangladesh is one of the greatest moments of our war of independence. We all know of Mr George Harrison as the organizer of the concert. Sadly, we started talking of him after his death. And still today, we don’t have any significant permanent display of respect for him. Do we have any road, theater, gallery, concert hall named after him? Is he in our children’s history books?

And more importantly, while celebrating George Harrison and the concert for Bangladesh, we tend to forget the main person behind the concert for Bangladesh. It was Pundit Ravi Shankar who first thought of this concert. He convinced George Harrison enough to step on this never heard before concept of arranging a concert for a political cause.

Here is how George Harrison himself testifies Ravi Shankar as the architect of the idea.

(more…)

35 years ago today, Bangladesh was born. And this is how Time magazine witnessed the bloody birth of Bangladesh.

Our struggle of independence concluded with the decisive victory of the joint Indian and Bangladeshi forces against Pakistani forces. Here is the historic moment of surrender of Pakistani army.

(more…)

35 year ago today many of our national intellectual icons were brutally murdered in an attempt to intellectually cripple the new country Bangladesh.

Our victory celebrations after 16th December were being overshadowed by grim discoveries of one after another killing field. Most destabilizing discovery was that of Rayer Bazaar. All of our national top doctors, professors, linguists, scientists were among the eviscerated dead bodies found here.

This is footage of the discovery of Rayer Bazar killing field. This is very graphic. But I ask viewers to watch it. We must see these. (My brothers and sisters whose family members were among those killed need not see the pictures. You already suffered enough and are still suffering).
(more…)

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