Tuesday, March 17, 2009

BDR Massacre, aftermath and historical facts

Photo AFP: The army's commander has said that all who died in the violence will be buried with state honours

ON FEBRUARY 26, 2009 hundred and thirty six Army officers has been gun downed by the soldiers at Pilkhana, BDR headquarters, Dhaka, Bangladesh. List of the victim includes one Major General, One Brigadier General, Seven Full Colonel, Two dozen Lt. Colonel, Majors and Captains. In the recent memory of modern warfare, there has been no such huge casualty of officers in a day in any war. Pakistan and India fiercely fought each other in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 2003 but did not lose a single general. But Bangladesh Army lost its first senior officer, General Khaled Musharaf in 1975, General Ziaur Rahman in 1981, General MA Manzoor in 1981, and General Shakil Ahmed in 2009, by their own soldiers and officers. Bangladesh Army never engaged a foreign Army for its sovereignty, but lost so many officers and generals while fighting for political powers. Bangladesh proudly follows the legacy of Pakistan Army where the military is seen as a symbol of martial race.

During Mughal and British rule, Bengal was one administrative province of India. But in 1905, Bengal was divided on sectarian basis. The Muslim majority Eastern part became East Bengal, and the Hindu Majority Western part became West Bengal. Partition of Bengal was the seed for partition of India, which finally took place in 1947. In 1906, the first ever communal political party of India, Muslim League, was founded at Dhaka by the Muslims of East Bengal in the fore front. The referendum for partition of India was held in 1946; in that historic referendum 100% Muslims of Bengal voted for Islamic Republic of Pakistan and rejected the concept of a secular state. This is the mind set of Bengal/Bangladesh to-day.

In 1948 Member of Parliament Sri Dhirendra Nath Dutta introduced a language bill in the East Pakistan assembly, demanding inclusion of Bengali as an official language of Pakistan alongside with English and Urdu. But the language bill of Dutta was rejected in the East Pakistan parliament by its Bengali speaking members, saying it was a Hindu bill. Due to the mindset of 1905 and 1946 majority people including leading poets Farruk Ahmed, Gulam Mustafa and Jashimuddin spoke in favour of Urdu language. After such strong opposition, yet the language issue did not die down, because 80% teachers and 70% students of East Pakistan were Hindus at that time. The reasons for success in language movement came due to the student’s involvement. Presently Bangladesh has about 80,000 Madras in compare to only couple of hundred in 1947. Only the timing of Mohammad Ali Jinnah was wrong; he could have succeeded to-day after present declining minority population.

There are people who consider 1970 election results as a referendum for independence of Bangladesh, but in reality that was a mandate against disparity only. In 1971 India with the help of USSR, seceded Eastern part from Pakistan and Bangladesh was born. In the proclamation of independence, secularism and equality for all was the basic principles of Bangladesh. But in reality there was never been a secular practice in Bangladesh. The government and political parties never took serious attempts to change the mind set of 1905 and 1946. Some be leafs India has created two Pakistan instead of one in 1971 and Bangladesh is considers as the by product of India Pakistan cold war. In 1948 Pakistan fiercely fought India in Kashmir and Lahore in 1965, but there was no war between Pakistan and India in eastern theatre. East Pakistan people were made to be leaf that, Pakistani’s are a superior race and have an invincible army in the world. The might of Indian army was first seen in East Pakistan during 1971 war and that has created a sense of insecurity in Bangladesh. Right from independence the politics of Bangladesh is rotating around India with anti Indian views. Islamists be leafs Bangladesh can defend itself from mighty India with strong Islamic values. Shiekh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father and the first president of Bangladesh also moved around the Islamic views by creating Islamic Foundation, Joining OIC meeting at Lahore, Pakistan and by reinforcing enemy property act against the non Muslims.

A secular democratic Bangladesh can only assure security in the troubled eastern states of India, but an Islamist government will drag India into Bangladesh conflict for a low cost war like Kashmir and Afghanistan. Many be leafs Arabs with the help of west will one day bring down Federation of India like USSR in their common interest. The strategic advantage India gained in 1971 by seceding East Pakistan was reversed in 1975 with the assassination of Mujibur Rahman. By the incretion of “Bismillah” in the constitution, Bangladesh began its transformation to an Islamic state from 1975. Military dictator General Ershad with a decree incorporated Islam as state religion of the country in 1988 against the principals of its independence. Bangladesh is in the last leg of its journey towards a complete Taliban state.

In the past decade, two major political parties, Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) fiercely fought themselves for power, while Islamic parties like Jamaat-e-Islami has penetrated to the security forces with their radical Madrassa cadres during that time. It does now be leafed that, 15-20% members of Army, BDR and intelligence services are from Jamaat Islamic Madrassa educated cadre. It may apparently look so simple that, 80% of forces are yet not been radicalized, but that’s wrong. Because 20% religiously motivated can die for their cause while 80% don’t, that’s the biggest concern for the progressive forces. What we have seen in February 25, 2009 is just the beginning of a highly planned terrorist attack and may see more in future. After the tyranny of BNP/Jamaat rule, people overwhelm voted for more moderate political party Awami League in power for a change. In this election AL alone received 75% majorities in the parliament, which enabled them to make constitutional changes. Majority people of Bangladesh are now in favour of 1971 war criminals trail. This has been made possible due to the sectors commanders’ forum (veterans of 1971) nationwide campaign. Eleven out of fourteen members of Majlish-E-Sura (Jamaat-e-Islami high command) are accused of war crime.

Bangladesh Parliament anonymously passed a bill in the parliament for the trail of war criminals, which was a direct threat for Jamaat-e-Islami and other Islamic party. It’s now believed that, hidden radical Islamists inside BDR has carried out this deadly attack. There were strong possibilities that, radicals hidden in the army could have also reacted in support of BDR. Bangladesh needs long term international assistance to fight back radicalism from the country. At this hour Bangladesh neighbours must extent their full support in favour of present elected government to abort being a Taliban state. #

Sachin Karmakar, is a Mukti Bahini officer during 1971 Bangladesh war of independence, a defence analyst and is living in exile in New York since 2001