A.H. Jaffor Ullah
The self-professed Islamic intellectual of Bangladesh, Mr. Shah A. Hannan, is busy these days making fib of unprecedented kind. I have read many of his prevarication-laden post in various cyber forums He even received some befitting answers from secularists for making outrageous claim vis-à-vis defending Maulana Maududi’s political doctrine and Jamaat-i-Islami’s political role in the ill-fated government of Khaleda Zia during 2001-2006. I decided not to reply to his inveracity-ridden posts. However, now I am compelled to write this protest note against his recent remark vis-à-vis Bangladesh’s Liberation War, the account of which was published in today’s (October 28, 2007) issue of Dhaka’s Daily Star.
Unbeknownst to many of us who does not know that Shah Hannan peddles prevarication and ‘snake oil’ all the time to promote Jamaati doctrine, this time around the Islamic think tank guru made a faux pas while hurting the sensibilities of millions of Bangalees residing in Bangladesh and worldwide. The issue is Bangladesh’s glorious War of Independence in 1971. With the exception of Pakistani literature peddled by Pakistani Army and the government most scholars admit that Bangalees were all united to fight against the occupation force throughout the 9 months in 1971. The fight for independence that was started in March 26, 1971, ended on December 16 in the same year. There was however the Fifth Columnist allover occupied Bangladesh. They were the supporters of Jamaat, Muslim League, and the Bihari brigands to backstab the freedom fighters.
The Daily Star article entitled “There was no genocide; it was a ‘civil war.” The point of reference is the nine-month grueling period in which our Mukti Bahini (freedom fighters) fought valiantly against the occupation army of Pakistan. Why is Shah Hannan so eager now to whitewash the sins of Jamaatis, Muslim Leaguers, and Bihari Razakars all with a broad brush? There is after all a valid reason. The Jamaat is in hot water now because if the party could be labeled as the Fifth Columnist who aided Tikka-Niazi-Yahya administration during our Liberation War, they could be barred from participation in the next parliamentary election. That is precisely why one of the leading Jamaati politicians, Maulana Mujahid, proclaimed the other day that there are no war criminals in Bangladesh at this time. By making this outrageous statement, the Jamaat leader opened the proverbial Pandora’s box.
Jamaat’s is trying to create confusion amongst public mind by saying that in 1971 the Bangalees never fought a Liberation War. They now assert falsely that it was a garden variety civil war. Therefore, it “logically” follows – there would not be single war criminal because it was not a war in the true sense of the word. Now, the Islamo Fifth Columnist and Islamic thinker par excellence, Shah A. Hannan is doing his best to lend support to Jamaati concoction.
The fib-maker par excellence, Shah A. Hannan, as per daily Star report denied that genocide ever taking place in the country in 1971; therefore, and no war criminals exist now in Bangladesh. The charlatan Islamic think-tank guru was speaking on a talk show, Ekushey Shomoy, on private satellite television channel Ekushey Television on Friday (October 26, 2007). The cozener, Mr. Hannan, also expressed doubts that three million people died in the war. He had the chutzpah of supporting a Pakistani report according to which only 26,000 people or less died during the Liberation War.
Mr. Hannan is in denial as far as our glorious Liberation War is concerned. The intellectual members of the Fifth Columnists were never sent to any education camp, which should have been done a long time ago, to make them worthy son of the soil. Thus, they still suffer from delusion; the proof is in the pudding. Mr. Shah Hannan is still making his phantasmagoric statement – this time in a television program.
How many lives were lost and how many women were violated by the rogue Pakistani soldiers in the nine-month period? The true number will never be known but the figure that was accepted by scholars, genocide-tracking organizations, and media is 3 million dead and a quarter million women raped. But in the eyes of Jamaati supporters and pro-Pakistani Bangladeshis this number is far less. Prof. R.J. Rummel, who is a genocide scholar, wrote in an article, which is posted in Gendercide website writes as follows:
“The mass killings in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1971 vie with the annihilation of the Soviet POWs, the holocaust against the Jews, and the genocide in Rwanda as the most concentrated act of genocide in the twentieth century. In an attempt to crush forces seeking independence for East Pakistan, the West Pakistani military regime unleashed a systematic campaign of mass murder which aimed at killing millions of Bengalis, and likely succeeded in doing so.”This scribe is more than confident that Mr. Shah Hannan or his ilk has never read a word that Prof. Rummel’s scholarly work on Bangladesh genocide, nor has he read the article published in National Geographic or Newsweek published in the aftermath of our victory on December 16, 1971.
Another reference will be sufficed to prove that the Pakistani army went overboard to annihilate the entire Bangalee population. This reference which comes handy was published by Rounaq Jahan [“Genocide in Bangladesh,” in Samuel Totten et al., eds., Century of Genocide.] On page 298 in this book, Ms. Jahan quoted the genocide expert Dr. R.J. Rummel as follows:
“By November , the rebel guerrillas ... had wrested from the army control over 25 percent of East Pakistan, a success that led the Pakistan army to seek out those especially likely to join the resistance -- young boys. Sweeps were conducted of young men who were never seen again. Bodies of youths would be found in fields, floating down rivers, or near army camps. As can be imagined, this terrorized all young men and their families within reach of the army. Most between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five began to flee from one village to another and toward India. Many of those reluctant to leave their homes were forced to flee by mothers and sisters concerned for their safety.” [Ref: Rummel, Death by Government (New Brunswick, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1994), p329.]The purpose of this short article is not to convince people like Shah Hannan or the leaderships of Jamaat-i-Islami to take into account the scholarly work done by Prof. Rummel when they make any public statement when the topic is our freedom fight. These folks are in denial vis-à-vis Bangladesh Liberation War for so long. They do not want to believe that their one-time master, the Pakistani military, could have undertaken a plan to annihilate the entire Bangalee population who believed in Sheikh Mujib’s proclamation for full independence after what happened in the wee hours of March 26, 1971.
Mr. Shah Hannan’s prevarication to give intellectual support to Jamaati politicians is obfuscating the truth about Bangladesh’s glorious freedom fight. There are people who think that if one makes a lie and say it ten times then some gullible folks would fall for that lie thinking that there may be a truth in it. But so many books have been written on Bangladesh’s Liberation War that all the propaganda that Mr. Hannan and Jamaati politicians are making these days will go in vain.
The truth is that Jamaatis and their ardent supporters such as Mr. Shah Hannan were the eager Fifth Columnist who was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with vile Pakistani soldier to finish off our Mukti Bahani soldiers. But that did not happen. The glorious events of our freedom fight were like the dark chapter in Shah Hannan’s life. These events torment him ad infinitum; therefore, it comes as no surprise that like a serpent he likes to strike back at our glorious history. His recent show of conceit in a private TV channel is symptomatic of a delusional mind. If he wants to live in a fool’s paradise, then it is his prerogative. However, for once he should come to terms with the truth in respect to Bangladesh’s Liberation War. This was the war in which the Pakistani army and their supporters had to face the ignominy of defeat. History books are replete with the number of casualties. Prof. Rummel and Ms. Rounaq Jahan are right after all when they wrote how many lives were lost in the hands of marauding Pakistani soldiers, al-Shams and al-Badars death squad. Mr. Shah Hannan is only trying to efface the misdeeds of his masters and fellow ideologues. I have a sentence for them - a thousand Shah Hannans and Mujahids won’t be able to dim the glory of our freedom fighters.
A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans