1978Published on March 22, 2021
Bangladesh is celebrating its Golden Jubilee of Independence in 2021. The government and non-government organizations, institutions and political parties have chalked out different programmes over the year. But why has BNP been the talking point by observing the 50 years of historic 7th March speech?
BNP drew appreciation from people when it announced to observe the day several days before March 7. But on this occasion, BNP leaders claimed Dictator Ziaur Rahman as the hero of the Independence, and Khaleda Zia-Tarique Rahman as the best persons in the country! They distorted the history of Independence while observing March 7 and the Liberation War. However, this is not new for the party. Ziaur Rahman, on one side, used the Liberation War to establish extremism in the country, Khaleda Zia, on another side, used her identity of freedom fighter’s wife to make the country champion in corruption among the world and handed over the country to Jamaat men, the infamous and notorious killers and rapists of 1971.
Since its birth, BNP has been playing with the sentiment of ordinary people. Now Mirza Fakhrul and gong are doing the same, provoked by Tarique Rahman, BNP’s de facto chief and son of Ziaur Rahman. They have been cheating people and leading the anti-liberation activities from the very beginning. Though they were silent about celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Independence, the party that survives on cheating suddenly announced their programmes. If their hide-and-seek games are exposed, they will find no headway. That is why they are using the Liberation War as their trump card and continue with distorting the glorious history of Independence.
Those who are involved in such heinous activities with Independence, earned through the sacrifices of 30 lakh lives and nearly four lakh rape victims, are criminal in moral custody. Such crime is unforgivable. They deserve penalties for anti-state activities and demeaning the ideology of the Liberation War. They cannot hide their crimes by any means. Let’s have a look at their ill-motivated politics.
Indemnity to collaborators, killers and rapists of 1971
We achieved our Independence with the sacrifices of the lives of 30lakh people, but despotic Ziaur Rahman rehabilitated the anti-liberation forces in the soil of this independent land. To do so, he put a bar on the trial of collaborators who masterminded genocide and rape in 1971. Bangabandhu introduced the Collaborators Act in 1972, formed 73 tribunals to try the inhuman collaborators. But the anti-liberation gang led by Ziaur Rahman abolished the act through an executive order on December 31, 1975. At least 11,000 collaborators were released from the prison then. Later, on January 18, 1976, persons who opposed the Independence of Bangladesh and fled to Pakistan appealed to the ministry for getting their citizenship back and the collaborators started entering the country with pride!
It should be mentioned here that there are rumours in the air by a group of conspirators regarding the general amnesty by the founder of Bangladesh and the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But the fact is Bangabandhu ensured justice by sentencing the perpetrators who were involved in heinous crimes in rape, murder, arson as per their level of crimes. The others were given a general amnesty. Bangabandhu also wanted to try 195 Pakistani army personnel over their crimes against humanity. The trials of local collaborators and accomplices of Pakistan forces were going on. But BNP released and began nurturing the perpetrators till now. This is the biggest achievement of BNP in the 50 years of Independence.
Patronizing the killers of Bangabandhu
Another achievement of BNP was too patronizing the killers of Bangabandhu. On September 26, 1975, the self-proclaimed president Khondaker Mushtaq Ahmed issued an indemnity ordinance to protect the killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members. Later, automatic Ziaur Rahman approved the ordinance in the parliament and made the act through the 5th amendment in the Constitution on July 9, 1979.
This military junta was not only silent just after ensuring the safety of the Bangabandhu killers, but he also rewarded them by giving them business opportunities at home and abroad, including in Libya. Ziaur Rahman also recruited some of the killers staying abroad in different embassies of Bangladesh and promoted them. They also formed the Freedom Party and even tried to assassinate Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina openly.
Empowering anti-liberation forces and collaborators
In a bid to restore the anti-liberation and communal forces in politics, General Zia includes pro-Pakistani military and civilian bureaucrats, extremist Muslim League and other pro-Chinese and insurgent personals in BNP. Ziaur Rahman also held a so-called election in 1979 to establish the collaborator gangs in the national parliament. Even infamous collaborator Shah Azizur Rahman, who was sentenced by Bangabandhu in the Collaborators’ Act, was made the prime minister of Bangladesh. After realizing the defeat of Pakistan in the November 1971 Liberation War, Azizur Rahman led a diplomatic team in the United Nations and denied the genocide by Pakistani forces. He also asked other Muslim nations to recognize Bangladesh as a sovereign state. And Ziaur Rahman made such a person as the prime minister of Bangladesh and carried out crackdowns on the freedom fighters.
It was widely known that 250 of 300 candidates in the so-called 1979 election were identified as anti-liberation persons and some of them were accused of and handed down penalties for collaborating Pakistani military. Ziaur Rahman gave these people the chance to sit with the freedom fighters in the cabinet. Even notorious collaborator Mashiur Rahman Jadu Mia was given the same power as the prime minister. Jadu Mia faced trial as he collaborated with the Pakistani army and amassed a huge amount of wealth during the Liberation War. But later, the killers of Bangabandhu released him too on August 24, 1975.
Among other cabinet members of Ziaur Rahman, Khondaker Abdul Hamid was a key suspect in killing the intellectuals on December 14, 1971. This guy later used to criticise Bangabandhu and his development initiatives in an op-ed titled ‘More Mumin’ in the daily Ittefaq. Shamsul Huda Chowdhury broadcast programmes from Pakistan Betar where he directly opposed the Liberation War. Abdul Alim was a monster in northern Joypurhat for massacring minority Hindu localities in 1971. During Liberation WarMirza Gholam Hafiz said in a statement, “The so-called Liberation War in Bangladesh was an Indian conspiracy.” Abdur Rahman Biswas directly stood for Pakistan and opposed the Liberation War. But Ziaur Rahman patronized these anti-Bangladeshi people to help the extremist and communal force rise in the soil of Bangladesh.
Rising extremism, communal forces
In 1976, Ziaur Rahman denied the existence of a thousand-year-long idea of Bangali nationalism, which was the base of harmony between people of different races and religions. Issuing an ordinance to annul 38 Article of the Constitution, Zia opened the path of communal politics in Bangladesh. Thus, politics based on religions started and extremism starts to grow.
Ziaur Rahman paved the way for voting rights for the collaborators on April 22, 1977, by abolishing 122 Article and brining the ninth amendment in the Constitution. He even gave them the chance to participate in the elections. This is how the anti-liberation Muslim League, Jamaat, PDP among other religion-based political parties started their political operation in the country. Members of razakars, Al Badr and Al Shams who were involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity were dignified and rehabilitated in the society.
Zia Rahman also made it possible for the razakar leader Ghulam Azam to return to Bangladesh in 1978 with a Pakistani passport and settle in Bangladesh politics as the chief of Jamaat. Since then, Jamaat, patronized by Zia and led by Ghulam Azam, showed its real nature by carrying out extremist views across the country. Supported by BNP, the brainchild of Ghulam Azam Shibir men started politics of severing tendons of the opponents.
Assault on Bengali culture and tradition
Ziaur Rahman banned the seed of Bangali nationalism and the key spirit - ‘Joy Bangla’ slogan. Rather he adopted the ‘Bangladesh Jindabad’ slogan in line with Pakistan style ‘Pakistan Jindabad’ as a part of his conspiracy to tarnish the basic sentiment of the Liberation War. In 1979, Zia’s nominated Prime Minister Shah Azizur Rahman renamed the Bangla language as ‘Bangladeshi language’. But the idea of creating Bangladesh was based on the Bangla language since the language movement and ‘Joy Bangla’ slogan that united people from all religions and races. But the anti-liberation forces tried to change the whole ideologies of Bangali nationalism. Zia also renamed Bangladesh Betar to Radio Bangladesh and tied to remove the Bangali nationalism as ‘Bangladeshi nationalism.
In 1978, Zia even tried to change the national flag, which was achieved with the drops of blood of 30 lakh people. He even hoisted the resigned flag with the orange circle in the green background on December 16 of that year. But following huge criticism, he was backtracked from his decision.
Giving nationalized property to Pakistan
Bangabandhu demanded more than 20 billion dollars as dues from Pakistan after the Liberation War. As Pakistan denied, Bangabandhu nationalized the properties abandoned by Pakistanis and continued his negotiations to get back the dues of the Bangali people.
But after capturing power, Zia walked in the opposite direction. Even he returned the properties and wealth that were nationalized, to Pakistan, and sometimes, he gave them compensation too. His ties with Pakistan were so visible that Pakistan started to dream of bringing Bangladesh into their united form of government structure. During Zia’s visit to Pakistan in December 1977, Pakistani newspapers reported that President Ziaur Rahman was interested in forming a ‘confederation’ with Pakistan.
Hoisting national flag at the vehicles of collaborators
Khaleda Zia, the wife of Ziaur Rahman, left no stone unturned to establish the entities of killers, rapists and razakars of 1971 more strongly. She became the prime minister in 1991 after BNP formed the government. She followed the footsteps of her husband by promoting the collaborators. She appointed enlisted razakar and war criminal Abdur Ramna Biswas who also served as Member of the Parliament (MP) and ministry during Zia’s regime.
The then prime minister Khaleda Zia also ensured a comfortable lifestyle and special security measures for razakar key leader Ghulam Azam. She even gave him special honour with Bangladeshi citizenship formally and paved his way to join in Bangladesh politics. But Bangabandhu stopped the scope of voting and operating political activities of the collaborators of Pakistani forces.
But Ziaur Rahman brought her back to the country, and he was staying in the country since then without Bangladeshi citizenship. Surprisingly he was the chief of Jamaat in Bangladesh as a Pakistani citizen. However, in such context, Jahanara Imam, popularly known as the mother of martyrs, waged movement across the country. But Khaleda Zia government accused Jahanara Imam and other freedom fighters of anti-state activities and sued them. The mother of the martyrs Jahanara Imam breathed her last as a traitor due to the demanding trial of top razakar leader Ghulam Azam.
Infamous collaborator Shah Azizur Rahman, also prime minister during Zia’s tenure, was deeply involved in BNP politics under Khaleda Zia’s leadership.
BNP formed the government again in 2001. This time Khaleda Zia gave charge of her two ministries to top Al Badr and Al Shams leaders – Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mujaheed. Carrying out the national flag in his car, Mujaheed was seen telling the media: “There are no war criminals in Bangladesh”. During this period, the attacks and repression of minorities people and operations of extremist groups increased to such a level that Bangladesh was branded as a land of extremism in the international arena.
However, assuming power, Awami League started the trial of Jamaat ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami and secretary general Ali Ahasan Mujaheed for masterminding genocide and crimes against humanity in 1971. But Khaleda Zia, on different occasions and public functions, demanded these criminals as innocent. She also threatened protests if the trial was not stopped.
Meanwhile, Khaleda Zia was ahead of her husband Ziaur Rahman in terms of bonding with Pakistan. She formally expressed her deep shock at the death of Pakistani colonel Janjua, who carried out a massacre on Bangladeshi people during the Liberation War. It should not be forgotten that she even formed a tribunal to sue the people involved in killings, rapes and anarchy after the Liberation War. Some of them faced penalties and then were declared a general amnesty. But Ziaur Rahman formed his BNP with persons who were among 10,000 collaborators, involved in killings and murders and later was released from prison. Even Janjua was one of the 195 Pakistani military personnel who was involved in serious crimes against humanity in 1971.
The spread of militancy across the country
After Khaleda Zia became the prime minister in 2001, her son and BNP leader Tarique Rahman established an alternative system of governing the country. From Hawa Bhaban, he started hatching conspiracies with international links and lobbies, even to assassinate Bangabandhu’s daughter and the then leader of the opposition Sheikh Hasina by the grenade attack. Different militant outfits took part in the heinous grenade attacks on Sheikh Hasina at Bangabandhu Avenue on Augst 21 in 2004. BNP leader and minister Abdus Salam Pintu, minister Lutfozzaman Babor, the then DGFI and NSI director-general Maulana Tajuddin, and Mufti Hannan held a meeting with Tarique before the attack. They admitted their crimes during their trial in court.
Even Tarique influenced DGFI for a fake passport for Maulana Tajuddin to send him outside the country after Mufti Hannan was detained.
Ziaur Rahman’s son Tarique Rahman has done everything he can to make Bangladesh a communal and extremist state. One of his gang members, Majed Bhatt said that Tarique was trained up from Pakistani intelligence ISI people. He had a connection with militant outfits like Laskar-e-Taiba, Tehrik-e-Jihad Islami, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Badr, Harkatul Jihad and Taliban.
Tarique Rahman operated the whole mechanism of the militant network in the country. After these were proved, the then top intelligence officials were served penalties and Tarique Rahman is staying in London as a fugitive. But he is still trying his best to hide his criminal activities in name of politics.
BNP runs anarchy in 15 out 50 years of Independence
Bangladesh enjoyed democracy for only three years and a half in the first 20 years. After the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu, the country went under the hostages of Ziaur Rahman and Ershad for 15 years at a stretch. Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina restored democracy after uprooting the autocratic ruler with mass movement along with the countrymen and other political parties. Though autocracy was uprooted, Khaleda Zia swore in power. Hence people of the country did not enjoy the fruits of democracy, and it damaged the nation heavily. The extremist forces made their existence and presence in the country deeply under during the two terms of Khaleda Zia for 10 years. So, of 50 years of Independence, the Zia-Ershad-Khaleda cycle ruled and damaged the country for 25 years. And they were allied by the masterminds of genocide, rapes and crimes against humanity of 1971.
However, Sheikh Hasina saved the nation from the fierce claws of BNP in the last decade. Sheikh Hasina is building the Sonar Bangla in line with the dreams and initiatives of Bangabandhu. She is simultaneously ensuring the economic welfare of the people and restoring the lost spirit of the Liberation War.
But it is a matter of sorrow that BNP is doing dirty politics with the sentiment and ideology of our Independence and Liberation War. Zia family along with anti-liberation forces turned the dreams of a non-communal and equal state into a nightmare. Their hands were tainted with the blood of hundreds of freedom fighters. They made Bangladesh champion in corruption and a militant state in the world.
Ziaur Rahman was none but the person who became the most powerful overnight after the gruesome killings of the founder of Bangladesh and Father of Bangali nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Zia gong tried their best to remove the name of Bangabandhu from Bangladesh after August 15, 1975. He grabbed the state power in 1975 as the chief of army staff and deputy chief of martial law administrator. Since then, Zia began ruling the state with gun powder. In 1977, he captured the post of president and chief martial law administrator. To keep his power for long, he founded Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) from cantonment in 1978. Though he claimed himself as a freedom fighter, he always tightened his relations with infamous razakar, collaborators and anti-Bangladesh quarters. And his death, he continued activities that go against the national tradition and values of the Bangladesh state.
Even his wife Begum Khaleda Zia followed him and provided Jamaat and extremist groups opportunities to carry out violence across the country. And their son Tarique Rahman was surpassing his parents by destabilizing the country with the international militant network. He is even continuing his ill-attempt to hatch a conspiracy against the country from abroad. After being humiliated nationally for distorting the history of Bangladesh, he is staying in London as a fugitive. He is using his political identity to hide his patronage of militant outfits and killing missions. The party was founded to shelter the anti-liberation forces, and it continues doing so.