Intellectual martyrs’ families hold Zia responsible for Jamaat’s rise

Published : 28 Mar 2023 09:56 PM

A group of academics, families of victims of the genocide orchestrated by the Pakistan army, rights activists, researchers and students held Bangladesh Nationalist Party founder General Ziaur Rahman and his successor Begum Khaleda Zia responsible for the rise of Jamaat-e-Islami — which strongly opposed the independence of Bangladesh and with the Pakistan army committed crimes against humanity during the Liberation War — after the country’s independence.

Following the brutal assassination of Bangladesh’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, along with most of his family members, General Ziaur Rahman became the country’s first military ruler who, the speakers said, offered an olive branch to the then isolated war criminal led party Jamaat, creating a nexus with BNP. ‘It was Zia who embraced the killer of my father Alim Chowdhury, then an prominent ophthalmologist, who was dragged away from his home and gunned down by local collaborators aided by the Pakistan army during the Liberation War in 1971,’ said Nuzhat Chowdhury at a recent seminar.

‘We believe a known collaborator of the Pakistan army, Maulana Abdul Mannan, was the mastermind behind the killing of my father. Their justification was my father offered treatment to wounded freedom fighters. Such killers of freedom fighters were embraced by Zia,’ Nuzhat, a renowned ophthalmologist, said.

‘Mannan was even promoted to the rank of a deputy minister by Zia, a testimony of how war criminals were re-established and ideals and values of the Liberation War were wiped out,’ she added.

A mutilated, bullet ridden and decomposed body of Alim was identified in Rayer Bazar killing field on December 18, 1971 like hundreds of other brightest men and women of the nation — killed and dumped by the Pakistan army, aided by local collaborators days before their public surrender.

Tarana Halim, a prominent cultural personality and a member of AL’s central executive committee, said, ‘Under Khaleda Zia, that alliance between BNP and Jamaat grew further. Two self-confessed and most notorious war criminals — Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed — were even made ministers during the BNP rule between 2001 and 2006.

‘Even when voted out of power, Khaleda echoed the same tune with Jamaat on the war crimes trial. A brazen defence was put up by Khaleda and her top aides for Jamaat to stop the war crimes trial while the overwhelming majority even took to the street in support of the trial. That alliance is still very much intact,’ added Tarana.

A number of Rajshahi University professors also took part in the discussion arranged under the banner of One Bangladesh, a platform of professionals, at the Rajshahi university campus. The discussants urged global powers to ‘correct the decade old wrong through international recognitionof the genocide’.