This year’s Victory Day celebration has been marred by some events and facts that are unacceptable for many quarters; some of the events have been taking place recurrently though.
Controversial Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited this year has donated an undisclosed amount of money for the government-sponsored Victory Day celebrations along with a number of other firms.
Earlier it was widely criticised for taking part in the government’s several other major events – singing national anthem in chorus, the T20 World Cup and the ICC World Cup – by donating huge sum of money.
Its Chairman Abu Naser was the president of Islami Chhatra Sangha’s Chittagong district unit during the 1971 Liberation War while one of its founding directors Mir Quasem Ali, sentenced to death by an International Crimes Tribunal, was a top leader of the same unit. Mastermind of al-Badr torture camps in the port city, Quasem later became the general secretary of Chhatra Sangha central committee in erstwhile East Pakistan.
Regular patronisation of the Awami League, the party which led the war and till now speaks about upholding the spirit of Liberation War, especially the party chief-cum-prime minister’s taking cheques from Abu Naser for the PM’s welfare fund, her ministers’ defending the bank and silence of the party leaders and activists portray the corrupt political culture of the country.
The members of Chhatra Sangha and Jamaat-e-Islami in 1971 formed militia group al-Badr to assist the Pakistani Army in committing systematic killings, abduction and torture of pro-liberation people across the country, especially in Dhaka and Chittagong.
It seems that nothing can stop the ruling government from taking money and (bribes) from this giant Jamaat institution.
Another fact that came into light ahead of the celebrations is that Bangladesh doesn’t have the document of Pakistan’s surrendering to the combined forces – of Bangladesh and India – on December 16.
Forty-four years into the country’s independence, Bangladesh also doesn’t have a list of freedom fighters, Birangonas, female freedom fighters, and those who collaborated with the Pakistani occupation forces.
Moreover, for not having an official statistics on the 1971 martyrs, some quarters these days have been questioning the death figure in an apparent move to distract the ongoing trials of the identified war criminals, most of who come from criminal organisation Jamaat. Then government in 1973 called off the survey for mysterious reason and none resumed the work.
In Shibganj of Chapainawabganj, at least 10 people were injured as the Awami League supporters swooped on a Jamaat procession brought out marking the Victory Day. Witnesses said the clash erupted after the Jamaat men chanted slogans against the Awami League.
On December 16, Bangalee Muslim settlers torched at least 50 houses and seven shops of indigenous people while vandalised a temple and looted five Buddha idols in Bogachhari of Naniachar in Rangamati.
In a bitter development in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Umaching Marma, an eighth grader, was raped and killed in Kaptai Lake area of Rangamati on December 15. The persecution on indigenous people, especially the women have been a serious matter of concern in the CHT for long.
Like the previous years and every national celebrations, ruling party leaders and activists clashed among themselves centring who would place wreaths on this special day. On December 14, one activist of Bangladesh Chhatra League – ruling party’s student wing – was killed and several others injured in an infighting over paying tribute to the martyred intellectuals on Chittagong University campus.
On December 15 night, unidentified miscreants torched a stage on Pakuria Primary School ground in Sherpur erected to observe the Victory Day through cultural programmes.
On December 16, five staff and teachers of Begum Rokeya University were injured in an attack with sharp weapons during paying floral tribute to the 1971 martyrs on its campus. Administrative activities in this Rangpur university have been suspended since early this month as the teachers’ association is protesting appointment of teachers and demanding due benefits.
This is Bangladesh!