The Bangladesh flag is a symbol of what Bangladeshis treasure; it represents the values we cherish beyond measure. Our flag flies high for freedom, bravery, the courage to fight, and sacrifice of one’s life for a just cause. The Bangladesh flag is an icon representing the Bangladeshi way. Our hearts swell with emotion when we see it ripple and sway.
We should honour our freedom fighters, our millions killed intentionally and with premeditation. and remember the sacrifices they made in duty towards Bangladesh. The Greek philosopher Thucydides once said, “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”
This holds true to their cause of deep love and patriotism for creating our motherland.
In writing this piece, I bear the year 1971 clearly in my mind with distinct mental discernment. My heart aches and tears well up in my eyes. During our Independence War of 1971, I was a college student and witnessed many barbaric incidents committed by the Pakistani Army, Jamaat-e-Islami, its student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS), and their death squads Al-Badr and Al-Shams (auxiliary forces of the barbarous Pakistani Army).
The most dangerous of them are those criminals belonging to Jamaat, Islami Chhatra Sangha, and Shibir. Was 1971 not enough, to show us just how far they’ll go? Will we acquiesce to terrorists, these devils, and the lowest of the low?
We have to fight these culprits. While our pundits chatter and discuss, we must use our might to eradicate these aggressive and violent criminals. Loving hearts do not understand that those belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami want it all. No talk nor love will change their minds. Only defeat will be their downfall.
The top concern for Al-Badr and Al-Shams forces was annihilating anything and everyone that was considered a threat to the Jamaat-e-Islamis during our glorious Liberation War. These evil forces carried out mass killings, genocide, and arrests simply to send a message and keep Bangladesh-loving people stifled. Many were sent to nearby extermination camps where all of them were brutally killed.
Our countrymen suffered horrific crimes at their bloodstained hands, more so than any people or nation ever has in all of history. It cannot be understated. This is a fact of which most of the young generation of our country are ignorant.
The supreme sacrifices of our patriots brought Bangladesh into being and happiness in our hearts. I can remember here what French Novelist Marcel Proust once said :“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
As we know, “In Islam, creating social discord or disorder, breach of peace, rioting, bloodshed, pillage or plunder, and killing of innocent persons anywhere in the world are all considered most inhuman crimes.”
The great lie propagated by Jamaat-e-Islamis is not difficult to notice. The violence, degradation and denigration, mass murder, genocide, assault, intimidation and other disgraceful acts perpetrated by them, ordered and encouraged by their leaders, proves that it is the most dangerous cult on the planet and by far the biggest menace to “civilised society”.
During those most difficult times Al-Badr concentration camps were not very far from our residence, Kishoreganj Town (now Kishoreganj District), where I was situated during my college days. Duk-bunglow (now the District Council Building), the Pakistan army’s local headquarters, was also the same distance from our house. As an eye-witness, I set forth a brief record of a few past incidents of certain atrocious cruelty.
Professor Mahtabuddin, who taught Political Science at Gurudayal College, Kishoreganj at the time, was the Jamaat-e-Islami Chief of the then Kishoreganj Sub-Division (now district). I observed him countless times encouraging Al-Badr to kill innocents. Daily, he used to visit the Al-Badr concentration camp situated at the Bunglow of the then Kishoreganj Railway Station Master (after forcibly driving away the station-master and his family from their allotted quarter), to boost them up and kill more in the name of religion. Innumerable people were thus slaughtered. Al-Badr and Al-Shams outfits throughout Kishoreganj District were under his direct operational command.
One afternoon, sometime in August 1971, an innocent boy was caught by Al-Badr. He was inhumanely tortured on the main road in broad daylight near the Kishoreganj Railway station. He was bayoneted as he groaned and bled profusely. He was then tied with strong ropes behind a Rickshaw with his legs pointing skyward.
They committed all these atrocities while pronouncing “Naraye takbir, Allahuakbar.”
He was forced to say “ Pakistan Zindabad,” but he never did so. Rather, he repeatedly said “Joy Bangla” and “Joy Bangabandhu.” A microphone was installed to the Rickshaw and then campaigns were made parading the poor dying boy throughout the town, signaling the same dire consequences would befall the Mukti Bahini and their supporters.
It created a tremendous panic throughout the town. Professor Mahtab came, saw him, and with a great smile, applauded his accomplices asking them to make all-out efforts to catch similar people and encouraged them to eliminate the so-called enemies of their beloved Pakistan with equal brutality. The boy then died a martyr’s death for the cause of this motherland. His body was refused for burial and allowed to be eaten by vultures, jackals, and dogs.
I shall now narrate another ghastly incident. One afternoon in 1971 (possibly in September), I was passing through the main road from Kishoreganj Railway Station to Newtown area. Upon reaching the front of the house of Advocate Emdad Mia, I found that some members of Al-Badr were pronouncing “Naraye takbir, Allahuakbar” over a boy who they had beaten and had then made to forcibly lie down on the grass. They slaughtered that boy with a big knife as one usually does to sacrifice cows on Eid-ul-Azha. The two pieces of his body were then thrown into the marshland beside the road for the vultures, jackals, and dogs.
The river Narasunda is nearby our house in Kishoreganj. During the months of August right up to early December 1971, I saw how many youths were inhumanely tortured and taken blind-folded near the banks of the river. They were brutally bayoneted and shot with the pronunciation of “Naraye takbir, Allahuakbar.” Afterwards, they kicked them into the Narasunda River. They permitted no dead bodies for burial.
These ‘sub-humans’ were also directly involved in rape, arson, and looting and burning of houses of innumerable people. I saw how they helped supply our honourable women-folk to the local army headquarters at Kishoreganj for their sexual enjoyment.
On the morning of December 17, 1971 (Kishoreganj Town was liberated that morning), I entered the concentration camp of Al-Badr along with my friends and found ourselves ankle-deep in thick human blood. One can easily imagine the extent of torture enacted upon unarmed innocent human-beings. These unfortunate souls could never return to their parents.
The ICT-2 in its verdict on Jamaat leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman’s case, observed that Al-Badr was an “action section” and “armed wing” of Jamaat, and was formed mainly with the workers of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the student wing of ill-famed Jamaat-e-Islami.
A tribunal verdict had earlier also termed Al-Badr a fascist armed wing that carried out dreadful criminal activities in violation of customary international laws during the Liberation War in 1971.
Shamoli Nasrin Chowdhury in her testimony in the International Crimes Tribunal has aptly said : “Those who killed my innocent husband for his love for the country, made my children bereaved of their father, and killed the intellectuals, my prayer to the tribunal is that I want capital punishment for them: the Al-Badr high command.”
We shall attain success when we are able to give the highest punishment to the war criminals and their kingpins. We saw the daredevil criminality of Jamaat-e-Islami in 2013 and early 2015, which left our citizens’ lives frightfully insecure. We should keep in our minds that all Jamaat and Shibir followers are recidivists. Compared to other rotten political leaders, each and every Jamaati and Shibir kingpins are hawks and criminals. Ghulam Azam was the pivot of many crimes, and all the atrocities revolved round him during our War of Liberation.
The killing of a large number of people indiscriminately by the Jamaati and ICS gangsters in 1971 still haunt us like a spectre. Their act of inflicting a great wound has not freed us from illness or injury even after 44 years because of the high degree of their offences.
Firm and ruthless action is needed against these war criminals. Indeed these men of terror have struck. The government must strike back harder. There are times when democracy needs to be saved through pitiless action against those who perpetrate violence and killing in the name of democracy/religion. Just think of the precedent these culprits set and the terrible consequences that might follow unless and until these criminals acts are nipped in the bud.
The need for cutting-off the flow of money to terrorist organisations like Jamaat and Shibir is now very imperative. Money is the facilitator of their terrorism. Parliament must enact robust laws targeting to stop inflow of this money. These criminals are moneyed-people. Poor people will be lured into terrorist groups with funding under the cloak of religion.
Jamaat and their accomplices and counsels, both at home and abroad, always make faulty arguments and conceal the truth of their role in 1971 and after. When the German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said “The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments,” I am in total agreement in the context of JI and their various wings.
There are no words to describe our outrage at the tales of horror and genocide of our people in 1971. These tales are a testament to the harrowing experiences of the family members of victims.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We can’t remain silent on this for it matters most to us. We must say, “We have not come here to cry but to demand death by hanging.”
The government should take a hard look at this. But it has to be swift, it has to be real. The government should not depress us. During their heydays, these inhuman beings ruled the roost.
Ancient Greek playwright Sophocles said, “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil.” These griffins never expressed any remorse nor repaired the evil deeds they committed.
All their activities, even in today’s time, are a serious threat to security. There is a pressing demand for outlawing the criminal organisations Jamaat-e-Islami and Shibir. But we strongly believe that only banning them would not suffice to stop militancy and their killing-sprees. Law-enforcement agencies must descend on them with brutal force. Arrest them immediately. As the saying goes:”Actions speak louder than words.” They should not be spared from the hangman’s noose.
Jamaat-e-Islami and its people do not like the truth told about them. Whenever the truth is told, they riot, kill, burn, destroy, threaten, and intimidate people without mercy. They look like Muslims but in fact, they are anti-Islamic, anti-Muslim, and the bitter enemies of humanity. They are thieves, liars, mass killers, looters, and rapists. They committed these heinous crimes during our liberation war under the name of Islam.
I firmly believe that everything I have written here about them is sheer truth. It is more than obvious that they are not a religious party. It seems that they don’t mind using any methods to achieve their aims. They are human-beings only in appearance. These griffins wish to make Bangladesh a place of public execution once more. They must be brought to justice wherever and whenever found. We must repeatedly expose their masked faces in the hardest language so that the people in general, especially the young, understand their guileful characters. Enough is enough. Their poisonous claws must be severed before they grow further.
Only two war criminals were hanged for their cold-blooded savagery unleashed upon the Bengalis during the Liberation War. We want capital punishment for all the war criminals.
Joy Bangla. Joy Bangabandhu. Long live Bangladesh. Down with the war criminals.
In closing, I state emphatically certain inspired words: “Friends, Bangladeshis, countrymen, lend us your ears; We come to bury the war criminals, not to praise them.”
Anwar A. Khan is the Executive Director of M.J. Group.