Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The two death row inmates should be heard before execution

A.H. JAFFOR ULLAH

We have been reading about the possible execution of the two Islamic terrorists in the news media wherefrom we learned that both of the condemn men will walk the gallows sometime in February 2007. The police framed them in a case involving the murder of two judges in Jhalokati in Southern part of Bangladesh.

The Islamists who killed the judges were disciples of Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam aka Bangla Bhai. They were the leaders of banned political organization, Jamatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB). The two leaders did not kill the judges with their hand but their followers did the killing. In the trial, government lawyer said that the judges were murdered based on the call made by the two leaders of JMB.

Both Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam were evading their arrest. In March 2006 the police finally caught up with him one in Sylhet town and the other in Muktagacha near Mymensingh town. Khaleda Zia Administration, who was at the helms then, took the heat from press for setting the stage for their dramatic arrests that were televised. Immediately after their arrests the two Islamists were railroaded to gallows by the judiciary. According to news published in Dhaka's newspapers, the Islamists are not housed in a jail cell but they live in a house in Dhaka's northern suburb.

The condemn men expressed their interest to talk to news media immediately after their arrests. However, Khaleda Zia Administration made sure that the men remain far away from newspaper men and reticent.

Now that Khaleda Zia Administration is all but history, the Caretaker government (CG) who are at the helm should grant the death row inmates to talk to the news media. What the government is going to lose?

It was reported in news media in 2004 that the JMB leadership was involved with a handful of BNP MPs from northwestern district of Bangladesh. We also saw photos taken in the hey days of Islamists in 2004 when they were trotting the streets of Rajshahi, Noagaon, Atrai, and few other rural towns under police protection. In those days, the BNP leadership said publicly that JMB terrorists were nowhere to be found and they were the wildest imagination of the press. Buckled under pressure when JMB goons blasted nearly 400 homemade crude bombs in all the districts in August 11, 2004, did the government admit the existence of JMB?

Now that the two condemn men are about to walk the gallows, it is the government's last chance to unearth the nexus between the virulent Islamists belonging to JMB and the ex-MPs from Rajshahi, Bogra, and nearby places.

What is the pressing reason for interviewing the two Islamists? In my opinion, there are plenty of reasons. For one, who funded the operations of JMB terrorists? Did they receive any protection from any political party? The two men who are about to walk the gallows may give more secret out than one could envisioned. How many different operation they ran? Did they try to kill liberal secularist? Mind you, Prof. Humayun Azad was brutally attacked in February 2003 when the nation was under the grip of Islamic violence. In April 2001 terrorists attacked innocent and peaceful civilians as they participate in Pohela Baishakh (Bangla New Year) celebration. Also, people would like to know whether the Islamist goons attacked multiple movie theaters on Eid Day in Mymensingh in 2002.

The two death row inmates are very eager to talk now. Therefore, the government should allow the men to talk. For the sake of posterity the tell all session should be both audio and video recorded. A group of newspaper reporters may field questions before them. It will be helpful if the government do not allow any police or officials to be present in the session. My take on this is if a genial environment is produced, the two Islamists may spill the beans. Therefore, for the greater good of the society, the two Islamists awaiting execution should be allowed to talk freely before the press. If the Caretaker government is sincere about abolishing criminal activities and terrorism from the land, then, they should be dead serious about recording the tell all session of the two Islamists.

What are we waiting for? Let the Islamists not take any secrets to their grave. The government of Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed which is bent on wiping out crime from the society may inaugurate our Bangla version of glasnost (emphasizing candor with regard to discussion of social problems and shortcomings) with the taping of two Islamists who are gallows-bound. Let us hear what they have to say.
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Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA