Hanging By A Thread 16 Jan 2014
Bangladesh’s legacy of blood endangers its future prospects
Bangladesh was conceived of as a political community of human beings drawn together by shared experience and held together by their own language, customs and beliefs-which Pakistan had worked hard to destroy. But when Bangladesh was actually born on December 16, 1971, it was in the aftermath of a horrific man-made disaster, which ironically also exemplified one of the greatest triumphs of human will. Following the assassination of Bangladesh’s founder-President Shekh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975, Mollah, the ‘butcher of Mirpur’, and some of the other Jammat, Al Badr and Al Shams collaborators were pardoned by Major General Ziaur Rahman who allowed them to return to Bangladesh from exile in 1978.
Mollah’s hanging, which took place against a backdrop of international condemnation, coincides with the anniversary of brutal killings of intellectuals across Bangladesh in the dark days before liberation. In many ways, the infliction of death on a razakar, a collaborator, symbolizes Bangladesh’s continuing legacy of blood. Forty-two-years after the most appalling butchery, the justice being meted out to its collaborators isn’t just being seen as a fulfillment of an old promise. It has also resurrected wounds which reflect irreconcilable social and political differences in a country that’s seen plenty of violent convulsions but not enough reconciliation.
That the past continues to haunt present-day Bangladesh is best exemplified by the current political imbroglio there. With national elections barely a month away, the ruling Awami League alliance and BNP-led opposition are yet to see eye to eye on modalities of conducting free and fair polls. Given historical, political and cultural linkages, neighbouring India can hardly be a mute spectator to developments in Bangladesh. The latter’s geographical linkages to India’s northeast makes Dhaka an important player in our Look East policy architecture. Besides, turmoil in Bangladesh provides fertile ground for anti-India forces to fish in troubled waters. With US withdrawal looming over Afghanistan, Indian leadership can hardly afford a turbulent eastern front.
At this crucial juncture, New Delhi must reach out and support all democratic stakeholders in Dhaka to mitigate distrust and break and cycle of violence plaguing Bangladeshi polity. It must realize that a peaceful, democratic Bangladesh can galvanise the region by serving as an important conduit between South and East Asia. On the other hand, instability will increase regional security challenges and further propagate the legacy of blood in Bangladesh.
Extract of an article 17 Dec 2013
India created & established a “New Nations on 16 Dec 1971 against all possible odds. A true display of political, diplomatic and decisive military victory. A salute to the leaders of that time and those who perished in the WAR.