Millennium Post

Bangla youth thwart communalism

Such are the times or to put it differently, times are changing. The youth-bulge in the sub-continent is refusing to be considered akin to a physical affliction, but as a prod to bring in philosophical changes in the way youngsters are allowed to commandeer their lives.

For the moment, this appears to be the case here in India (in a smaller scale) and in a much larger scale, in Bangladesh. At the root, lies the desire to redefine the way they have seen the previous generations run the affairs. This intent, this driving need knows no divisions of caste, creed or religion. But then the unstinted youth power that unleashed itself, be it at the India Gate in New Delhi or Shahbag Square in Dhaka knew their
targets to assail without necessarily knowing the way how.

A demand had arisen in Shahbag Square, as the young and some older, Bangladeshis sought to compel the executive and judiciary to exterminate the homegrown traitors who had tried to stymie the voice of ethnicity as one nation, arising from under the jackboots of domination in the name of religion. Although inspired by Pakistan’s military state, the state institutions of Bangladesh, now over 40 years old, had to show the suppleness to concur on some occasions and demur, in some others. Though these institutions have undergone their own tribulations, about a decade of democratic rule, have allowed them to grow the desire to foster freedoms that are mandated by law. In recent times, ascribed freedoms have certainly tested their strengths. The demands from Shahbag Square often seemed justified in light of history but the obverse were the risk of flooding the nation spilling more blood.

The International Criminal Tribunal (ICT) that sat at Dhaka also did not seem to wilt at the street anger that sought to see real blood of Bangladesh’s treacherous Jamaat-e-Islami leaders – who as servitors of the Pakistan’s military rulers – led armed militias and killed all those prominent intellectuals, academics and professionals like doctors, who could have helped build the new nation of Bangladesh.We also witnessed the reaction to the blood curdling cries of the Shahbag Square on the streets of the city, when in their turn Jamaat’s goon squads decided to show their own muscles. The resulting unrest could only be contained by the Awami League’s (AL) Hasina Wajed-government because it had earlier seemed only present to bring fruition to the ICT’s directives.
If it had chosen to take a side on the streets or had sought to pack the ICT with fellow travelers – the desire would seldom have been found remiss because many of Wajed’s father, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s associates were killed by the Jamaat vigilante militias – it would not have had the credibility to politically or administratively tackle the insurrectionary streets.

So, this Thursday’s recent Dhaka High Court’s verdict came on the issue of registration of the Jamaat with the Election Commission as a valid political party, able to take part in the impending general elections in the country – deregistering it effectively for not having fulfilled conditions laid by the Constitution of the country, while upholding its sovereignty over all others – Wajed’s government immediately scotched rumours arising that it would move to outlaw the outfit.

A senior government minister clarified on Saturday that there would be no move to ban Jamaat as long as it fulfills the criterion set in the Constitution, upheld by the judiciary. This sent an extremely positive signal to all that it had the courage to take on the Jamaat and its coalition partner, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition, electorally in October this year. If the AL were to ban the Jamaat it would not only have earned a lot of common sympathy, normally reserved for the persecuted, especially amongst the highly emotional Bangladeshis, but it would have created a major security problem for the nation by driving the Jamaat goon squad underground, which could have turned itself into a force of those sub-continental agent provocateurs, who were ready with arms, ideology and resources precisely to fuel such violent intentions.

The Bangladeshis could not have forgotten that only about a decade ago, the world would see them through the same prism as Pakistan, fast moving down the greasy pole to being a terrorist nation that had homegrown Jihadist outfits like Jagrata Mujslim Janata Bangladesh, Harkat-ul-Jihadi-al-Islami (Bangaldesh), Jamaat Ul-Mujaheedin etc. These Bangladeshi outfits were funded by Islamist funds funneling into the country through Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates etc and were fanning out through the country, challenging security of not just the nation but the South Asian region.
The author is a senior journalist

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