2001 Election Campaigns Marred by BNP-Jamaat Subversion: Minority Women Persecuted, Villagers Threatened with Death for Supporting Awami League

1457

Published on February 10, 2023
  • Details Image

Before the 2001 national elections, the BNP-Jamaat alliance armed notorious criminals and extremists. Under the direction of Khaleda Zia, the alliance leaders made a deal with these terrorists, promising them acquittal in exchange for working on behalf of the BNP. From Hawa Bhaban in Dhaka, Tarique Rahman reassured the capital's top terrorists that they could carry out their operations with impunity. This led to a wave of attacks and violence against Awami League activists in various parts of the country, just weeks before the election.

On September 20, 2001, the Janakantha reported that the fugitive murderer of Khulna journalist Shamsur Rahman, Litu, and members of the Hirak cadre force attended a rally led by Khaleda Zia and participated in the election campaign. People who were expelled from the Jubo League due to terrorism also joined the effort to bring the BNP-Jamaat alliance to victory, with the condition that if the BNP wins the election, they will join the party and the BNP government will drop the murder case against them. As a result, Khaleda Zia's election campaign was taken over by these killers, who aimed to intimidate voters and secure an easy victory for the BNP-Jamaat alliance through vote rigging.

As the 2001 elections approached, the persecution of minority communities by the BNP-Jamaat alliance escalated. Two weeks prior to the October 2001 elections, these terrorists attacked the homes of hundreds of thousands of Hindu voters in eight upazilas of Jessore. They were threatened with death along with their families if they cast their votes. The BNP-Jamaat terrorists even demanded extortion from them to be allowed to stay in Bangladesh. To prevent minority women from going to polling stations, they committed abhorrent acts such as snatching babies from their laps and throwing them in the yard. These Jamaat-Shibir thugs even destroyed Hindu temples in several areas, including Manikganj and Kalimurti.

Two weeks prior to the 2001 national elections, BNP-Jamaat terrorists launched brutal attacks on eight villages in Kachua, Chandpur, forcing Hindu women to remove their traditional bindis and sindoor, and causing men to flee their homes. The attacks, which occurred on September 14 and 15, saw at least 60 houses, including election offices of the Awami League and local businesses, burned down. Women were also subjected to violence. The savagery was orchestrated by BNP-linked terrorists, following a rally by BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia in Kachua on September 14.