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বাংলাদেশের স্থপতি ও প্রতিষ্ঠাতা রাষ্ট্রপতি শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান। মাত্র ২০ বছর বয়সে সর্বভারতীয় মুসলিম ছাত্র ফেডারেশানে যোগদানের মধ্য দিয়ে তাঁর রাজনৈতিক জীবনে প্রবেশ ঘটেছিল। তারপর থেকে আমৃত্যু এই রাজনীতিতেই জড়িয়ে ছিলেন। ৩৫ বছরের রাজনৈতিক জীবনে যেখানেই তিনি অন্যায় ও বৈষম্য দেখেছেন, তিনি তার প্রতিবাদ করেছেন, পরিবর্তনের দাবী করেছেন। প্রতিবাদের প্রতিক্রিয়া কী হবে, রাষ্ট্র কী ধরণের নিষ্ঠুরতা প্রদর্শন করবে, এসব ভেবে কখনও পিছপা হননি। এই প্রতিবাদী চরিত্রের জন্য তৎকালীন অবিভক্ত পাকিস্তানের প্রায় প্রত্যেকটি সরকার শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে কোন না কোন রাজনৈতিক কারণে বন্দী করেছে। এবং প্রত্যেকবারই রাজনৈতিক সহকর্মীদের নেতৃত্বে মানুষের তীব্র আন্দোলন তাকে মুক্তি দিতে বাধ্য করেছে।
শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানের বন্দী হওয়ার প্রেক্ষাপটগুলো সংক্ষিপ্ত ব্যাখ্যাসহ নীচে উল্লেখ করা হয়েছে।
১৯৪৮: পুর্ব পাকিস্তানের মানুষ উর্দুকে রাষ্ট্রভাষা হিসেবে মেনে নিবে, মুখ্যমন্ত্রী খাজা নাজিমুদ্দীনের এমন বক্তব্যের প্রতিবাদে মানুষ বিক্ষুদ্ধ হয়ে উঠে। পুর্ব পাকিস্তান মুসলিম ছাত্র লীগের প্রতিষ্ঠাতা নেতা হিসেবে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান বাংলা ভাষার প্রতি রাষ্ট্রে ঐ নীতির প্রতিবাদে আন্দোলনের সূচনা করেন এবং একাধিক কর্মসূচীর ডাক দেন। ১১ মার্চ তারিখে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে সহ আরও আটক করা হয় শামসুল হক, অলি আহাদ, আব্দুল ওয়াহেদ, গোলাম আযম সহ মোট ১২ জন ছাত্রনেতাকে। এই আটকের তীব্র প্রতিবাদে আন্দোলন আরও বড় আকার ধারণ করতে শুরু করলে ১২ আটক নেতার সবাইকে মুক্তি দেয়া হয়।
এ বছরই শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ে আইন অধ্যয়নরত অবস্থায় বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের চতুর্থ শ্রেণীর কর্মচারীদের অধিকারের দাবীতে আন্দোলন শুরু করেন এবং ১৭ মার্চ দেশব্যাপী ছাত্র ধর্মঘটের ডাক দিয়ে গ্রেপ্তার হন। এই আন্দোলনের ফলস্বরূপ কর্মচারীদের উত্তেজিত করে অস্থিতিশীল পরিবেশ সৃষ্টির অভিযোগে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে বন্দী অবস্থাতেই ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় থেকে বহিষ্কার করা হয়, সম্প্রতি যে বহিষ্কারাদেশটি দীর্ঘ ৬১ বছর পর তুলে নেয়ার সিদ্ধান্ত হয়েছে।
এ বছরের শেষ ভাগে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান আওয়ামী মুসলিম লীগের একটি সভায় মুখ্যমন্ত্রী নুরুল আমিনের পদত্যাগ দাবী করেন। এই দাবীর প্রেক্ষিতে অক্টোবারে মাওলানা আব্দুল হামিদ খান ভাসানীসহ শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে আবারও গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়।
১৯৫০: প্রধানমন্ত্রী লিয়াকত আলী খানের পুর্ব পাকিস্তান সফরের পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান দেশে খাদ্যাভাবের প্রতিবাদের সভা-সমাবেশ করেন এবং আটক হন।
১৯৫২: ২৭ জানুরারি তারিখে গভর্নর জেনারেল খাজা নাজিমুদ্দীন ঘোষণা দেন যে উর্দুই হবে পাকিস্তানের রাষ্ট্রভাষা। এর প্রতিবাদে ৩১ জানুয়ারি তারিখে ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের বার লাইব্রেরি হলে সর্বদলীয় কেন্দ্রীয় রাষ্ট্রভাষা কর্মী পরিষদের সভায় বৃহত্তর আন্দোলনের সিদ্ধান্ত হয় ও ২১ ফেব্রুয়ারি তারিখের কর্মসূচী ঘোষিত হয়। ২১ ফেব্রুয়ারির বর্বোরচিত গণহত্যার প্রতিবাদে যখন পুরো পুর্ব পাকিস্তান ফুঁসে উঠেছিল, তখন বন্দী অবস্থাতেও শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান দলের আন্দোলন কর্মসূচী ও সভা-সমাবেশ সংগঠনের পেছনে ভূমিকা রাখছিলেন। ছাত্রহত্যার প্রতিবাদে তিনি অনশন শুরু করেন। ঢাকার আন্দোলনকারীদের সাথে তার যোগাযোগ বিচ্ছিন্ন করতে তাকে ঢাকা কেন্দ্রীয় কারাগার থেকে ফরিদপুর কারাগারে সরিয়ে নিয়ে যাওয়া হয়। পরে ২৬ ফেব্রুয়ারি তারিখে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান মুক্তিলাভ করেন।
১৯৫৪: ৫৪-র নির্বাচনে পুর্ব পাকিস্তানে যুক্তফ্রন্ট বিপুল সংখ্যা গরিষ্ঠতা অর্জন করে। শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান তার নিজের গোপালগঞ্জ আসনে মুসলিম লীগ নেতা ওয়াহিদুজ্জামানকে ১৩,০০০ ভোটে পরাজিত করেন। ১৫ মে তারিখে যুক্তফ্রন্ট সরকার গঠিত হয় এবং শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান কৃষি ও বন মন্ত্রনালয়ের দায়িত্ম পান। এ মাসেই ২৯ মে তারিখে কেন্দ্রীয় সরকার আকস্মিক ভাবে যুক্তফ্রন্ট সরকার বাতিল করে দেয়। এদিনই পাকিস্তান থেকে ফেরার পথে তেজগাঁও বিমানবন্দর থেকে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান গ্রেপ্তার হন। তিনি প্রায় ৭ মাস বন্দী ছিলেন।
১৯৫৮: ৭ অক্টোবার তারিখে পাকিস্তানের শেষ গভর্নর জেনারেল ইস্কান্দর মির্জা সামরিক শাসন জারি করে সমস্ত রাজনৈতিক কর্মকান্ড নিষিদ্ধ ঘোষণা করেন। এর ঠিক চারদিন পর ১১ অক্টবার তারিখে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয় এবং একের পর মিথ্যা মামলা দেয়া হয়। যেকোন ধরণের রাজনৈতিক কর্মকান্ড থেকে বিরত রাখার উদ্দেশ্যে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে এবার প্রায় চৌদ্দ মাস যাবৎ আটক রাখা হয়। এ বছরেরই ২৭ অক্টোবর তারিখে আইয়্যুব খান সেনা অভ্যুত্থান করে ক্ষমতা দখল করলেও রাজনৈতিক বন্দী হিসেবে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান মুক্তি পাননি। বরং চৌদ্দমাস পর তিনি যেদিন মুক্তি পান, সেদিনই জেলগেট থেকে পৃথক একটি মামলায় তাকে আবারও গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়।
১৯৬৩-৬৪: ১৯৬৪ সালের রাষ্ট্রপতি নির্বাচনে প্রয়াত মোহাম্মদ আলী জিন্নাহ্র বোন ফাতেমা জিন্নাহ অংশ নেয়ার সিদ্ধান্ত নেন। রাষ্ট্রক্ষমতা ইতমধ্যেই আইয়্যুব খানের হাতে থাকলেও প্রশ্নাতীত জনপ্রিয়তার অধিকারী কায়েদ-এ-আজমের বোন হিসেবে ফাতেমা জিন্নাহ্ আইয়্যুবের শক্ত প্রতিদ্বন্দ্বী হিসেবে আবির্ভুত হন। যেহেতু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান স্বৈরশাসক আইয়্যুবের মৌলিক গণতন্ত্র প্রস্তাবের বিরোধী ছিলেন, তিনি ২ জানুয়ারি, ১৯৬৪-তে অনুষ্ঠিতব্য নির্বাচনটিতে ফাতেমা জিন্নাহ্কে সমর্থনের সিদ্ধান্ত নেন। নির্বাচনের ঠিক দুই সপ্তাহ আগে, ১৯৬৩-র ১৮ ডিসেম্বার তারিখে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে পাবলিক সিকিউরিটি অ্যাক্ট-এর আওতায় রাষ্ট্রদ্রোহীতার অভিযোগে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়।
১৯৬৫: পাবলিক সিকিউরিটি অ্যাক্টের আওতায় শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানের বিচার হয় এবং সরকারবিরোধী বক্তব্য দেয়ার কারণে তাকে ১ বছরের সাজা দেয়ার নির্দেশ দেয়া হয়। পরে উচ্চ আদালতের নির্দেশে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে মুক্তি দেয়া হয়।
১৯৬৬: ঐতিহাসিক ছয় দফা উত্থাপনের বছর। এ বছরই ৫ ফেব্রুয়ারি তারিখে ঢাকার এক জনসভার মধ্য দিয়ে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান তার ঐতিহাসিক ছয় দফা দাবি উত্থাপন করেন। এ বছরের মার্চের শুরুর দিকে তিনি আওয়ামী লীগের সভাপতি নির্বাচিত হন। সভাপতি নির্বাচিত হওয়ার পরপরই তিনি ছয়দফা দাবীর প্রতি জনসমর্থন গড়ে তোলার উদ্দেশ্যে তিনি দেশব্যাপী ভ্রমণ করে জনসংযোগ করতে থাকেন। এই জনসংযোগ কর্মসূচীর বিভিন্ন পর্যায়ে ঢাকা, সিলেট ও ময়মনসিংহে তাকে একাধিক বার গ্রেপ্তার ও হয়রানি করা হয়। ১৯৬৬ সালের প্রথম ভাগেই ছয়দফার প্রচার করতে গিয়ে তিনি আটবার আটক হন। ৮ মে তারিখে নারায়ণগঞ্জের একটি পাট কলে শ্রমিকদের উদ্দেশ্যে দেয়া বক্তব্যের ফলে তিনি আবার আটক হন। এবার দেশের বিভিন্ন স্থানে মানুষের বিক্ষোভ প্রদর্শিত হল এবং টঙ্গি, নারায়ণগঞ্জ ও ঢাকায় বিক্ষোভকারীদের উদ্দেশ্যে গুলি ছোঁড়া হয়েছিল।
১৯৬৮: এ বছর শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানসহ মোট ৩৫ ব্যাক্তির বিরুদ্ধে আগরতলা ষড়যন্ত্র মামলা দায়ের করা হয়। বলা হয়, ইন্টার সার্ভিসেস ইন্টেলিজেন্স (আইএসআই)-এর কর্মকর্তা লেঃকর্নেল শামসুল আলমের দেয়া গোয়েন্দা রিপোর্টে ঐ ৩৫ জন, যাদের মধ্যে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানসহ ছিলেন রাজনীতিবিদ, বেসামরিক ও সামরিক প্রশাসনের বাংলাভাষী সদস্য, এদের বিরুদ্ধে রাষ্ট্রদ্রোহমূলক ষড়যন্ত্রে অংশ নেয়ার ব্যাপারে তথ্য-প্রমাণ পাওয়া গিয়েছে। এই মামলার অধীনে উল্লিখিত ৩৫ জনকে সেনাবাহিনী গ্রেপ্তার করে। ১৯ জুন তারিখে ঢাকা সেনানিবাসে এই মামলার বিচার কঠোর নিরাপত্তার মধ্য দিয়ে শুরু হয়।
১৯৬৯ সালে মামলাটির বিচারাধীন অবস্থায় এর ১৭নং আসামী সার্জেন্ট জহুরুল হক আটকাবস্থায় নিহত হন। তাকে গুলিবিদ্ধ অবস্থায় সম্মিলিত সামরিক হাসপাতালে নেয়ার পর তিনি সেখানে মারা যান। এই হত্যাকান্ডের প্রতিবাদে আগরতলা ষড়যন্ত্র মামলার বিরুদ্ধে দেশব্যাপী যে আন্দোলনের সূচনা হয়েছিল, তার পরিণতিতেই আইয়্যুব খানের সরকারের পতন ঘটে। এ বছরের ২২ ফেব্রুয়ারি তারিখে আগরতলা ষড়যন্ত্র মামলাটি তুলে নেয়া হয়।
১৯৭১: বলা হয়ে থাকে যে ১৯৭১ সালের ২১ ফেব্রুয়ারি শহীদ দিবসের বিশাল আয়োজন এবং পরে স্বাধীনতার দাবীর ফলেই পাকিস্তানের জঙ্গী শাসকগোষ্ঠী কুখ্যাত অপারেশান সার্চলাইটের পরিকল্পনা করেছিল, যার আওতায় যত বেশি সম্ভব বাংলাভাষাভাষী বিশেষ করে আওয়ামী লীগের নেতাকর্মীদের হত্যা করা হবে। ২৫ মার্চ ছিল অপারেশান সার্চলাইটের নির্ধারিত দিন। এ সময়ে পুর্ব পাকিস্তানে সামরিক কর্মকান্ডের দায়িত্ম মূলত টিক্কা খান থাকলেও গণহত্যাটির পরিকল্পনা ও বাস্তবায়নে মূল ভূমিকা পালন করেছিল জেনারেল রাও ফরমান আলী। ২৫ মার্চ তারিখে দিনের আলো নিভতেই ঢাকা ও চট্টগ্রামের রাস্তায় সামরিক বাহিনী অবস্থান নিতে শুরু করে। এক সময়ে শুরু হয় গণহত্যা। রাত যত গভীর হতে থাকে নিষ্ঠুরতার মাত্রাও তত চড়তে থাকে।
এ রাতেই শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানের ধানমন্ডি ৩২ নম্বর সড়কের বাসায় পাকিস্তান আর্মির বিশেষ বাহিনী স্পেশাল সার্ভিসেস গ্রুপ (এসএসজি)-র একটি দল হানা দেয়। বাসার বাইরে অপেক্ষমান কর্মী, পথচারী সহ বাসার ভেতরের কয়েকজনকে হত্যা করা হয় এবং সেখান থেকে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে আটক করা হয়। শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে আটক করার পর ঢাকা সেনানিবাসের কন্ট্রোল রুম, যেখানে বসে টিক্কা খান শহরের পরিস্থিতি ও সেনাবাহিনীর কর্মকান্ড নিয়ন্ত্রণ করছিলেন, তাকে মেসেজ দেয়া হয়- “দ্য বিগ বার্ড ইন কেজ!”।
শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানের এবারের আটক হওয়া ও মুক্ত হওয়ার মধ্যে রচিত আছে ধর্ম-বর্ণ-ভাষা নির্বিশেষে প্রত্যেকটি বাংলাদেশীর গর্বের ইতিহাস।
৮ জানুয়ারি, ১৯৭২ তারিখে শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান পাকিস্তানের কারাগার থেকে মুক্তি পান এবং সেদিনই একটি বিশেষ বিমানে লন্ডন পৌছান। লন্ডনের মেফেয়ারে অবস্থিত হোটেল ক্ল্যারিজেস-এ শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান সাংবাদিকদের উদ্দেশ্যে বক্তব্য রাখেন, এবং মানবিকতার খাতিরে নবজাতক বাংলাদেশের উদ্দেশ্যে সাহায্যের হাত বাড়িয়ে দেয়ার জন্য বিশ্বের সচ্ছল দেশগুলোর প্রতি আবেদন জানান। লন্ডনে তিনি বৃটিশ প্রধানমন্ত্রী ও কনজারভেটিভ পার্টির নেতা এডওয়ার্ড হিথের সাথে সাক্ষাৎ করেন। তিনি লন্ডনের একটি হাসপাতালে তার শারীরিক পরীক্ষা-নীরিক্ষাও করান। ১০ জানুয়ারি তারিখে তিনি বৃটিশ রয়েল এয়ার ফোর্স (আরএএফ)-এর একটি বিশেষ বিমানে করে দিল্লী হয়ে ঢাকার তেজগাঁও বিমানবন্দরে বহুপ্রতীক্ষিত প্রত্যাবর্তন করেন। দিল্লীতেও তাকে রাষ্ট্রপতি ভেঙ্কটগিরি ও প্রধানমন্ত্রী ইন্দিরা গান্ধী বিশেষ সংবর্ধনা দেন, এবং শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান মহান মুক্তিযুদ্ধে সাহায্য করার জন্য ভারতকে ধন্যবাদ দেন।
Talks took place about the imposed friendship. How a friendship can be imposed? Several events can make the ground. There can be a campaign carried out where significant part of the media will exasperatedly not let you forget about that friendship. Again, the same campaign can take care of the other task, that, all of not-so-friendly-acts of that ceremonial friend will be well covered and obstructed while reaching the people. The whole effort becomes even more illustrious if the regime is found to have the same exasperation.
It ain’t really our fault to get anxious when a minister of the current regime Ramesh Chandra Sen places his statement like Newton placed his laws of motion, saying, the Farakka Barrage in fact never had anything to do with floods and other related difficulties in Bangladesh; it was all about the problem we have been having in ourselves. So this is another way you can help impose a friendship, or at least can help abate the bitterness about that particular ‘friend’, unnoticed of the fact that the bitterness is getting to a hike.
But it becomes hard if the friend doesn’t cooperate. You know, you are teaching me that ‘Rahim is your friend! Rahim is your friend!’, and suddenly Rahim categorizes me that I will need this and that specific clearances from him to even seek permission to enter his home, this means Rahim is giving you a real hard time. It’s just like a physics tutor is teaching Newton’s 1st book while Newton is writing a 2nd book contradicting the 1st one.
India’s foreign policy toward Bangladesh for these years got the fame of harshness, and it doesn’t appear to get better even after Sheikh Hasina became the Prime Minister. Before 5 weeks passed after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home ending this January 2010 India trip, hailing immense success of her visit and hailing the reinstating of ‘strong’ Bangladesh-India ties, the Indian authority enlisted Bangladesh as one of the few countries whose citizens will need to have special security clearances from the Indian Home Ministry to join a seminar in India.
A press release by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of Indian government, published at 4:12pm Indian standard time on 18 February, 2010 describes an announcement from the Home Ministry of India that says, “As per the revised procedure, while the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) grants in-principle approval for holding the event, security clearance for grant of Conference Visa is required from this Ministry only in respect of participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka & Sudan and in respect of foreigners of Pak origin and Stateless persons.”
Well, it’s their land and it’s in fact their choice that who they will permit in what purpose and how. India as a sovereign state does have the right to design its own foreign policies, and even the minimum count of realism allows them to categorize the nationals and types of the entries they will like to approve or not.
Including Bangladesh in the list containing China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Iran etc. however came as a surprise. India’s relationship with other 7 nations have certain attributes which to some extent can justify such Indian sanctions to them for granting conference visas.
India has been having several military tensions turned to conflicts with China and Pakistan since 1960s, so sanctions for them are not bolts from the blue. Sri Lanka’s annihilating of RAW aided LTTE has stressed the India-Sri Lanka relationship. So sanctions for Sri Lanka too ain’t a surprise. Rather the Sri Lankan Army’s 2008 offensive was financially, diplomatically and militarily supported by China, so the China-India relationship was further stressed. Iran’s relation with presently India’s closest ally United States is sourest of all time, same applies to Sudan, so sanctions for Sudan and Iran are not bolts from the blue too.
But according to our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina including the entire of her cabinet, the tie between India and Bangladesh is unbreakable, right?
According to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whatever measure India takes in whatever consideration, it won’t show any aggression by any mean to any concern of Bangladesh, right?
According to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and many others inside or not inside her government, regimes of the past few years largely contributed in deterioration of Bangladesh-India ties, which Sheikh Hasina has been 100% successful to fix, 100% successful! Right?
And still the Bangladeshis are to be through the security filter to join conferences in India, rather accompanied by those who have longstanding or presently stressed ties with India.
After Sheikh Hasina returned Bangladesh from India last month, number of Bangladeshi political analysts came to the decision that any presentation of a stressed Bangladesh-India ties presently and any presentation showing India’s not-friendly-acts to Bangladesh are just insubstantial, old-fashioned and malicious propaganda to hamper the our ‘progressive tie’ with India. Now, if we ask them that why Bangladesh, having a ‘progressive’ and ‘mutually beneficiary’ tie with India as they have said, will have to be through the Indian filter of suppressing the public thoughts and freedom of expression, what the answers will be?
Indian political analysts and experts have already responded to the announcement and several pieces have been so far published criticizing such tendency of policing the free expression of opinions.
After the 2009 Awami League regime took office, tensions arose about the Tipaimukh barrage. With freshest memories about the damages Bangladesh conceded by the Farakka accord, the outcry emerged in Bangladesh against the Indian attempts at Tipaimukh. The unleashed group of intellectuals who wrote or spoke in support of the Tipaimukh barrage or kept mum shamelessly, were all turned down.
A certain manner that activism against India’s Tipaimukh efforts showed is, it associated activists both from Bangladesh and India where they worked with unity to an extent. Moreover their promotion with joint efforts and joint expressions were taking place both in Bangladesh and India. The recent decision of Indian Home Ministry hints at the Indian stance of policing public thoughts.
Special scrutiny for conference visa seekers hints at the effort by Indian analysts where the several attributes of a visa seeker like literary or activism contribution records, pattern of expression in previous seminars or conferences etc. will be scrutinized. This means, a conference about Tipaimukh Barrage in India will be participated by only those Bangladeshis who to the date haven’t even imagined about denouncing the aggressive Indian effort. Those who strongly protested the effort, in fact are the people for whom the filter in name of special security checkup has been set.
So, what about the friendship our honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was talking about?
25 February, 2010. USA
Exactly one year ago today, a group of violent soldiers belonging to Bangladesh border security force called BDR revolted, started murdering their officers, occupied a part of capital Dhaka and held hundreds of military officers, general soldiers and civilians hostage. During this time of occupation of nearly two days, the marauding soldiers committed one of the worst massacres in the history of Bangladesh. During these two days, they searched and killed 57 seven senior officers of Bangladesh Armed forces trapped inside the compound.
During this occupation, rather than a bold decisive response against the soldiers in killing spree, the one-month old government of Awami League opted to negotiate with the mutineers, thus indirectly giving those soldiers enough time to hunt and kill all the military officers trapped inside occupied Pilkhana campus and commit an array of other crimes including loot, arson, rape etc.
Immediately after the incident, considering the sensitivity of the issue or out of political indecisiveness, while the main opposition party refrained from being overtly critical of governments stand, the media gave the government a free ride by not critically discussing government handling of the mutiny.
The media spin that was most widely used during the immediate aftermath was that by sacrificing 57 senior army officers, government prevented an even bigger civlian casualty in the heart of Dhaka. This logic is based on a hypothetical scenerio that a group of paramilitary soldiers without heavy weapons will fight a fierce artillery gunfight and war with a combined force of the army and the air force and thus would endanger the safety of residents living in nearby areas.
Although government’s decision got a free ride at the time of the incidence, it is imperative that we discuss the decision in a critical point of view. This kind of discussion is very important in formulating a national strategy in any such problem in future.
First basic flaw in the civilian casualty spin is the hypothetical nature of the consequences. It is very difficult to believe that a group of BDR soldiers will be able to fight such a fierce war with armed forces. This sort of situation is not unprecedented in Bangladesh. Since independence there are instances where similar occupation/ hostage situation in the heart of Dhaka or other parts of the country were dealt with decisive military counter offensives. Examples can be cited are 1977 occupation of Dhaka Airport at Tejgaon, 1994 occupation of Ansar HQ in Khilgaon, 1977 revolt in Bogra cantonment.
Second logic was that it was a hostage situation and government had no option but to give in to the demands of the killers. Examples of Pakistan Lal Mosque, Aircraft hijacking, and lately Taj hotel etc were shown. But one has to understand that Pilkhana is not an aircraft or a mosque or a hotel. It is a part of BD, double the size of Vatican city. It has two graduate level colleges, three schools, several mosques, botanical garden with rose/ orchid garden, paddy fields, markets, shops, zoo with the walled boundary. In addition there are residential quarter, lush green fields and sports complex. It was not a hostage situation, it was occupation of a part of Bangladesh. A war was declared. A soldier was shot and killed on 25th morning and another soldier was wounded who later died. Civilians were also shot at indiscriminately and killed.
Although heavily armed military units were deployed within 30 minutes of the first shot at Pilkhana, the forces were kept idle and later was withdrawn. While supreme commander and the army chief is expected to be in secure war room in Army HQ, our army chief was seen sitting all day at the unsecured civilian residence of the PM that was also withing firing distance from Pilkhana.
The rest of the story is more pathetic. Mysteriously, after two days of permissive killing, all the mutineers fled the campus under cover of darkness. Frantic SOS calls from the brightest officers stopped one after one.
Two days later when mas graves, charred bodies were being discovered, most of the killers were out of reach with an unknown amount of weapons and ammunition.
In the coming years, there will be more discussion on handling of Pilkhana massacre. This would look like a big failure of PM and will keep haunting her.
When PM Hasina’s father was being surrounded by the killers, his frantic phone calls did not bring any help from the Army high command or paramilitary Rakhkhi bahini. This has always been an issue of pain for Sheikh Hasina. But when a similar SOS came to her, although her initial gut feeling supported sending in army, she later failed. A 15th August style massacre was replicated under her watch. Children of Major General Shakil or Colonel Mujib lost both of their parents and hundreds of others lost either their parents, husbands, brothers, sister, sons or daughters. Even teen age maid/ helping boys were also killed.
The reason of this command failure from civilian and military leadership was not PM Hasina’s Hasina sole failure. There was inherent problem in her advisers. In Pilkhana type situation, it was the job of the military chief to set up command center, device a strategy, design specific plans and present the PM with the defence/military perspective in dealing with such scenario. In this regard, the person who failed most miserably is Army Chief. Post 1/11 role of this Army Chief created an uneasy relationship between civilian leadership and army chief. PM could not trust army chief. Plus govt was new. It was the job of Chief of Army Staff to advise and convince PM for prompt action and present her the strategy and the plans. But this chief’s post 1/11 activities handicapped his ability to perform his job with authority. This COS had no moral or legal right to remain as Army chief after his failed coup of 1/11. In ideal world, there must not be any lack of trust between the head of the government and the Army chief. If that develops, any patriotic army chief, who cares more for his forces and the country than his own job, should resign. COS Moeen U Ahmed was so eager to keep his own job, he totally failed in his job to defend the country as well as protect his officers. He failed his army as well as the nation.
We must learn from our experience of 25th February. As a nation we must know what we will do if Myanmar send 500 mercenary to occupy Cox’sbazaar, or JMB takes over Bholarhat Upazilla and impose strict Islamic law or Maldives send troops to capture Mongla port? Would we send the local MP with white flag?
We always talk about the spirit of 1971. On 25th March night of 1971, EPR jawans/officers were attacked in a similar way in the same garrison in Pilkhana. Those soldiers did not raise white flag citing neighborhood civilian. As a war was declared, EPR jawans of Pilkhana fought back.This is the spirit of 1971. A war was imposed on us on 25th Feb 2009. We raised white flag without fighting. This was not in line with spirit of 1971. May be our Supreme court Justice Mr ABM Khairul Haq, citing ‘71 er chetona’ as the principle of of constitution, would write another 400 page verdict someday declaring governments BDR handling was illegal.
Jokes aside, seriously speaking, if we have to send local MPs with white flags to deal with occupation and mutiny and make army retreat with their dead soldiers, Why we build and keep the army then?
A battle was fought on 25th February 2009. We failed to respond appropriately, thus losing 57 of our brightest military officers.
It is a shame. And it was a command failure of the civilian and military leadership.
* * * * *
Rumi Ahmed is a Bangladeshi blogger from United Sates.
The Day We
Learnt We will be
M. Tawsif Salam
A school goer in Bangladesh won’t end up without knowing the name of Jabbar, Salam, Rafiq and Barkat. Thanks to the education system we have, which according to the experts has a bunch of flaws, but explains the 21 February of 1952 in a way that we take this as a something we have to respect as part of our lives, as part of our being the Bangladeshis.
The language movement was a series of events that started immediately after Pakistan’s independence from the British Raj. Here is a very short description of the events starting from 1947 which eventually resulted at the martyrdom of 8 people in February 1952 and the triumphant conclusions for the Bangladeshis both in 1952 and 1971.
On 14 August of 1947, 69 million people got the new entity as ‘the Pakistanis’ and among them 44 million were living in the east who solely spoke in Bangla. An education summit held in Karachi in 1947 for the first time called for exclusive use of Urdu in education, media and offices.
The organization or outfit to make an immediate protest of the initiative was Tamaddun Majlish, an Islamic cultural organization based in the then East Pakistan. Abul Kashem, better known as Principal Abul Kashem, a Dhaka University physics professor, was founder and the key person behind this organization, which in fact advocated the movement to establish Bangla instead of Urdu as the state language of Pakistan.
East Pakistan, especially the capital Dhaka didn’t stop staying vibrant on the issue. Dhaka University, the heart of the language movement, in 1948 started being accompanied by some major politicians of East Pakistan. Nurul Haque Bhuiyan, another professor of Dhaka University, convened a movement of Tamaddun Majlish and simultaneously Shamsul Haque, a Bengali lawmaker, formed a committee with some other politicians to strengthen the voice.
As Bangla was not allowed to use in the assembly, Dhirendranath Datta, a senior lawmaker from Comilla and the veteran Indian National Congress leader who refused migration to India after 1947 partition, proposed a legislation to allow Bangla as an usable language in the assembly. The proposition was firmly turned down.
A mass movement mostly by the students in Dhaka took place on 11 March, 1948 where the regime became the most aggressive to the date. This protest was basically due to the dramatic removal of Bangla from coins, federal stamps, some other key official uses and especially from the recruitment exam of Pakistan Navy which was taking place during the timeline. That day a number of political and student leaders were arrested including Shamsul Haque, Ali Ahad, Abdul Wahed, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Golam Azam and 12 others. Other key persons of the procession were Abdul Malek Ukil, Mohammad Toaha and Abdul Matin. As a response to the assaulting law enforcers, Mohammad Toaha snatched a riffle from a police. Later Toaha was detained and tortured by the police, which resulted at his few weeks of stay in hospital.
Another part of this same rally on 11 March, 1952 marched toward the secretariat building where police was waiting to open attack on the students. Several students, leaders including Sher-e-Bangla A.K. Fazlul Haque was injured.
On 27 November, 1948, Golam Azam, General Secretary of DUCSU and later the Amir of Jama’at-e-Islam, presented a memorandum to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Liakat Ali Khan at Gymnasium Ground, Dhaka University, demanding Bangla to be the state language of Pakistan. But it got nothing but the denouncement of the Prime Minister representing the central administration.
It’s actually for those of the learners who at the schools have been largely taught that the movement started after Jinnah’s 1948 speech at Dhaka University convocation. Yes, the near final stage of the movement was triggered to start after Jinnah presentation of his Urdu-only policy at Dhaka University on 19 March, 1948. But the structure was very well formed before the Jinnah speech. This same structure was the spirit for our gallant freedom fighters to liberate Bangladesh.
On 27 January, 1952, Khwaja Nazimuddin, the Urdu-speaking Bengali from Dhaka’s Nawab family and the Governor-General of Pakistan, defended Jinnah’s policy of using Urdu exclusively in entire Pakistan. This in fact was not taken as an act of betrayal by a Bangali because Khwaja Nazimuddin with some other East Pakistanis holding higher positions in the central administration didn’t stood by us to protect Bangla as the major language.
As a response to Nazimuddin, a meeting at the banner of Shorbodolio Kendriyo Rashtrobhasha Kormi Porishod took place at the Bar Library Hall of Dhaka University on 31 January, 1952, chaired by Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani. The meeting decided 21 February as the date to go for a greater action. As a preparation of 21 February, students and people gathered at Dhaka University campus on 4 February and issued a final warning to the regime to come by their proposal.
As planned, students started gathering at Dhaka University premises at 21 February morning at 9am. The entire compound was cordoned by the police and amid the cordon students with the Vice Chancellor and other teachers were preparing to disobey the section 144 that police enforced earlier. At around 11am, a rally of students marched toward the Dhaka University gate.
Police waiting at the cordon shot tear shell fires to the students. This resulted the expected disarray in the rally and a group of students ran toward the Medical College. The Vice-chancellor requested the Police to stop firing. At this point police arrested a number of students due to violation of section 144.
Enraged by the arrests, a group of students gathered around the East Bengal Legislative Assembly to show anger and to present their demand to the assembly. As the students blocked the legislator’s way toward the building, Police opened fire. Rafiquddin Ahmed, a Dhaka resident who took part in the procession, was shot in the head and died instantly, being the first martyr of Bangla language movement. Others who succumbed the bullet injuries were Abdus Salam, Abul Barkat and Abdul Jabbar.
Killings took place on 22 February too, particularly on two locations. One was in front of High Court, where a military truck was deliberately driven over a procession mourning the killings of 21 February. It took the lives of Abdul Awal, a rickshawpuller, and an unidentified teenager. Dead body of the teenager was snatched by the police and his death later was never acknowledged.
Another condolence procession was in progress near Rathkhola of Nawabpur, Dhaka. Without any provocation and at all of a sudden, police opened fire on a rally. Shafiur Rahman, a Dhaka University law student and also a High Court Accounts section employee, who was in a rally beside the Khoshmahal Restaurant near Rathkhola, was martyred. The shootings also took life of a teenager named Ohi Ullah. But his body was taken by the police and later never found. Death of Ohi Ullah was later never acknowledged by the authority.
Probably the first martyr of Bangla language movement, Rafiquddin Ahmed was born to Abdul Latif Miah and Rafiza Khatun on 30 October, 1926 in the Paril village at Singair Upazila, Manikganj. Rafiq’s father has been employee of Manikganj Commercial College. Rafiq completed his matriculation from Baira School in 1949 and kept his intermediate incomplete being a student at Devendra College.
Discontinuing studies, Rafiquddin was sent to Dhaka to work in his father’s printing business. After the date 21 February was fixed for a greater action by Shorbodolio Kendriyo Rashtrobhasha Kormi Porishod, Rafiq responded and joined the movement. He was shot exactly in the position the present Shaheed Minar is situated in, in front of the then Dhaka Medical College.
Barkat’s family migrated to East Pakistan when he was 21-year old. He was born on 16 January, 1927 in the village Babla at Bharatpur, Murshidabad, West Bengal. He completed his matriculation in Talibpur High School in 1945. Completion of intermediate was in 1947 from Behrampore College, later known as the Krishnath College. His family migrated to East Pakistan in 1948.
In 1948 Barkat admitted in Dhaka University for his undergrad. His concentration was Political Science and he completed his honours in 1951 standing 4th in second class. Following the honours, he started masters in the same subject in Dhaka University.
Though there was no involvement in any student or political organization, Abul Barkat was a student with political consciousness and he couldn’t evade the call of greater gathering by Shorbodolio Kendriyo Rashtrobhasha Kormi Porishod. On 21 February, 1952, Barkat joined the fateful rally at Dhaka University and became shot at the very initial stage of police aggression. Rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital with other injured, he fought for the whole day. Abul Barkat was pronounced dead at 8pm on that day at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. He was buried at Azimpur Graveyard.
Abdul Jabbar was born to Hasan Ali and Safatun Nesa on 11 October, 1919 in the village Panchua at Gaffargaon Upazila, Mymensingh. He discontinued his education being a student of Dhopaghat Krishibazar Primary School, mostly due to poverty and the fact that he had to help his father in farming.
In order to seek better fortune, Jabbar travelled by train to Narayanganj, then an important place with commerce, naval communication etc. In Narayanganj Jabbar got in touch with a British national who found a job for him in Myanmar, the then Burma. Jabbar returned home after working for 12 years in Burma. Upon his return, Jabbar organized few youngsters of his village and formed a village defense group under his command.
In 1949 Jabbar married Amina Khatun, his friend’s sister. In one and half year, they were blessed with a boy, who was named Nurul Islam Badal.
The night before the decisive 21 February, Jabbar came to Dhaka to take his mother-in-law home. Jabbar’s mother-in-law, suffering from cancer, was being treated in Dhaka Medical College Hospital. The following day, seeing a procession onward beside the hospital, Jabbar went ahead and joined a rally. Jabbar’s rally was one of the those on which police opened fire. Jabbar was shot and was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where he fought for a day. Jabbar succumbed his wounds on 22 February, 1952.
Abdus Salam was an employee of Directorate of Industries Dhaka. He was born to Mohammed Fajil Miah in 1925 in the village Lakshmipur of Feni. Being a peon of the Directorate of Industries, he lived at 36B Nilkhet Barrack, the place that was allotted to him for his being a government employee.
Salam attended the pre-planned procession at Dhaka University premises on 21 February, 1952, and later became part of the action to violate section 144. As the police responded with tear shell shots, a group of protesters including Abdus Salam ran toward the assembly building where they tried to make the legislators convey their insistence to the house. As the group tried to bar the way of the legislators, police opened fire and Salam got injured with several other protesters. In the same wave of fire, Rafiquddin received a lethal head shot and died on the spot.
Abdus Salam was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where doctors started fighting with his blood loss. Salam’s injuries were severe and appeared to take time to recover. After nearly a two weeks fight, 27-year old Abdus Salam succumbed his wounds on 7 April, 1952 under treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Shafiur Rahman was born in 1918 in the village Konnagar at Hooghly, West Bengal, where in fact his family lived before the 1947 partition. His father Maulvi Mujibur Rahman migrated to East Pakistan in 1948 and got employed as a superintendent at the Post and Telegraph Office. Shafiur was employed at the Accounts section of High Court in Dhaka and simultaneously studied law in Dhaka University as an evening student. He was married.
The entire region turned stunned after police opened fire on the protesters on 21 February, 1952 and instantly killed at least 4 of them. A large crowd gathered for further protests and mourning in Dhaka on 22 February. In such a demonstration taking place at Rathkhola, Nawabpur, Dhaka, police again opened fire. Shafiur Rahman, who joined the mourning of the deaths of 21 February, was shot beside the Khoshmahal Restaurant near Rathkhola and died on the spot. He was 34-year old.
Abdul Awal died after a military truck was driven over a condolence procession on 22 February, 1952 taking place in front of today’s High Court. Awal was a rickshawpuller and was 26-year old.
Ohi Ullah was a teenager who died on 22 February shootings at Rathkhola, Nawabpur, Dhaka condolence rally and his death was never officially acknowledged by the government. His father Habibur Rahman was a construction worker.
Abdul Awal was not the only victim of the 22 February killings in front of the High Court. As a condolence rally was deliberately ran over by a military truck, a teenager too died who was later never identified because police snatched his corpses and later never acknowledged the killing.
- Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
- South Asia Analysis Group
- Encyclopaedia of World’s Languages
- Richard D. Lambert (Far Eastern Survey at April 1959)
- Bangla Academy
- Amar Ekushe (http://www.21stfebruary.org)
- The Azad
- Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies
31 January, 2010, Dhaka
When BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia criticises Sheikh Hasina or her government on any matter, (or vice versa), it can be in most cases assumed that the latter must have done something good. The more severe the criticism, the higher is the chance of such assumption turning out to be true.
If we go by this theory, the way BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia has reacted to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to India is a clear indication that Sheikh Hasina’s trip has been a tremendous success.
Sheikh Hasina has during her visit signed three treaties, one memorandum of understanding (MoU), one protocol, and a joint communiqué. While the treaties related mostly to ensure security of the region through united action against terrorism, religious jingoism, political insurgency and women and drug trafficking, the other agreements including the joint declaration aimed at resolving all other bilateral and multi-lateral issues through mutual discussion based on good friendly relations between the two countries.
Sheikh Hasina thinks that her visit has been a complete success. She thinks that the visit has opened a new horizon of bilateral and regional cooperation between the two countries. Why should she not?
As reported by an Indian journalist, when Sheikh Hasina, during her summit meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, took out her list of demands, Manmohan Singh told her that she did not have to ask anything. Whatever was the need of Bangladesh, India would go to the furthest extent to meet those demands.
Regarding Tipaimukh Dam, the most sensitive issue for Bangladesh, Manmohan Singh has categorically told Hasina that India will not do anything that will harm Bangladesh. About sharing water of Teesta and other common rivers, both the countries have agreed to a ministerial level JRC meeting on urgent basis.
India is our big neighbour, bordering us on three sides — east, west and north. It is a vast country, seven times bigger than our country by population alone. It is the largest democracy and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, poised to be the third biggest economic superpower in a decade or so.
When the prime minister of such a country, and if the prime minister is Manmohan Singh, one of the finest men at the helm of affairs anywhere, gives such assurance, why should not Sheikh Hasina, as prime minister of Bangladesh, feel confident of her success in the mission?
Given the nature of the politics BNP has been pursuing ever since it came into existence, it is not surprising that the chairperson of the party will oppose every move Sheikh Hasina makes, and if it is anything related to India, she will use her anti-Indian trump card and go to any extent to spoil the broth.
Begum Zia has tried to do exactly that. She has, through a hurried press conference, termed the visit not only a total failure but also harmful to the nation. She has accused Sheikh Hasina of giving everything to India and getting nothing for Bangladesh in return. She did not stop there. She has, as she did when the AL government signed the historic peace treaty of Chittagong Hill Tracts in 1997, accused Sheikh Hasina of selling the country to India.
In 1997, it was up to Feni that Khaleda Zia accused Shekh Hasina of selling to India. This time it is the whole country. No wonder, Sheikh Hasina was quick enough to ask Begum Zia if she needed an Indian visa to visit her hometown in Feni.
Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India and the agreements or understandings arrived at during the visit have, as many a political analysts, academics and economists across the region agree, turned over a new leaf of relation between the two countries, and if the treaties and the agreements see the light of the day, both the countries, indeed the whole South Asian region will be immensely benefited. The whole region will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. Why not wait and see?
Bangladesh has allowed India, along with Nepal and Bhutan, to facilitate transit of their cargo to their hinterlands through Chittagong, Mongla and Ashuganj port and, in return, Bangladesh will also be able to transit its cargo to and from Nepal and Bhutan using Indian territory. This will not only bolster economic activities of our ports and earn huge revenue but also help develop trade and business activities between the countries. This is a practice not uncommon elsewhere. Singapore and Rotterdam are glaring examples in front of us.
It is unfortunate that Begum Zia or for that matter her think tanks and advisers do not realise that their anti-Indian card has gone all blunt. The present generation is not prepared to buy it any longer. They want to go ahead with the others. They know very well that in the face of imminent threat of climate change and terrorist activities across the region there is no alternative to active cooperation and friendly relation among all the neighbouring countries of the region.
* * * * *
Hussain Imam, a former merchant navy officer, is a regular contributor to The New Age, the Daily Star and Daily Sangbad.
14 January, 2010, New York
India has become desperate to capture the Bangladesh’s telecommunication system and to build up a fibre optic network by using the Cox’s Bazar submarine cable to connect India’s seven sisters in the Northeast India. In this connection the Indian Telecom companies Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications have already submitted a joint proposal to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Thaindia news, a web based news media reported about the development centring the Bangladesh’s communication system.
Bangladesh’s defence network
Experts opined that if India has to depend on Bangladesh regarding maintaining communication with its north eastern provinces, why it had turned down the proposal of sub-regional cooperation as was mooted by the Awami League government in the year 1996. Experts now opine that if it happens so, India will be able to control Bangladesh’s communication system, including the defence network fully. Even the military establishments of Bangladesh will be nothing but an extension of the Indian eastern command.
Apart from the proposal of fibre optic network, Bharti Airtel is about to complete a deal to buy 70 per cent share of Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom for a reported $900 million from Abu Dhabi Group. While Bharti and Reliance are rivals to each other in the Indian domestic market they have joined hands while bidding for fibre optics network in Bangladesh.
Before getting Transit – Corridor through Bangladesh for easier communication with the isolated North-Eastern Provinces (Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Monipur, Mizoram, Arunachal and Nagaland), India wants to build up the fibre-optic network, by using the existing submarine lending cable of Bangladesh, the backbone of the Bangladesh’s international communication. The cable again is frequently disrupted, sometimes due to theft of cable and sometime for technical reasons. However Bharti and Reliance have offered Bangladesh access to the alternative submarine cable in exchange of the permission to build up fibre optic network.
The seven north eastern states now get telecom services through VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) at a high price.
Cox’s Bazar: Disruption likely
A BTRC official confirmed the report and said that as per the proposal Bangladesh could use the companies’ undersea cable network as an alternative to lone submarine cable SEA-ME-WE-4. The existing optical fibre line connects Dhaka to the south-eastern Cox’s Bazar’s submarine cable landing station. It serves as the backbone of international communication, while satellite services act as backup with limited bandwidth.
Experts opined that if India is allowed to build up fibre optic network in Bangladesh that will surely disrupt the Bangladesh’s communication with outside world. It is not feasible before launching its own satellite by Bangladesh.
Meanwhile Bangladesh plans to join 50 other countries, including South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan, to ramp up its communications network by launching a satellite.
The cost of the programme will be between $150 million and $200 million according to Post and Telecommunications Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Raju. Bangladesh has started talking to different countries including the US, Japan and China, to help launch own satellite by Bangladesh.
Bharti Airtel has almost finalized a deal with the Abu Dhabi group to buy 70m percent of Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom. The total deal will cost $900 million while the initial investment will be $300 million. Reuters reported from India that Bharti declined to make any comment, but its share has gone up by 2.8 per cent while Abu Dhabi Group Chief Commercial Officer Ali Tahir said that they expect to seal the deal by mid-January 2010. But he did not disclose the sale price.
Bharti targeted this small deal with Abu Dhabi Group to buy Bangladesh’s share when the company failed to materialise its $24 billion merger with South Africa’s MTN. South Africa showed its reluctance to allow a flagship corporate to lose its national character.
Warid is the Bangladesh’s fourth-biggest telecom company. As per the contemplated deal, Abu Dhabi Group will retain 30 per cent share, said the report quoting the source of the selling firm. The sale proceed is likely to help Dubai, which has been crunched recently.
Reuters report said: UAE-based Abu Dhabi Group, a consortium of investors that includes members of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, sought approval from Bangladesh’s telecoms regulator for the sale on December 13, according to the regulator’s chairman, Zia Ahmed.
The deal is set against a backdrop of this week’s announcement that oil-rich Abu Dhabi will provide $10 billion to Dubai in order to help its neighbour meet its debt obligations.
Bharti’s expansion would give the Indian phone leader access to Bangladesh’s rapidly growing mobile sector at a time when it is locked in an intense price war in India with rivals Reliance Communications. For the Abu Dhabi Group, the deal will enable it to focus on other telecoms markets where it can have a bigger market share, Tahir said.
No comment from Bharti
Bharti said on Wednesday it was evaluating international opportunities, but declined to comment on plans to buy Warid. Bharti initially plans an investment of $300 million. He said a written proposal by Abu Dhabi Group did not pin a full value on the deal. A section of newspapers in Bangladesh had reported the final deal could be worth $900 million, citing Warid officials.
“The dynamics of the Bangladesh market are similar to those in India, where Bharti has proven itself,” said Phani Sekhar, fund manager at Angel Broking, which holds Bharti shares, in Mumbai Stock market.
Warid Telecom also operates in Pakistan, Uganda and the Congo. Singapore Telecommunications bought a 30 percent stake in Warid’s Pakistan business for $758 million in 2007 from the Abu Dhabi Group. Warid’s operations in Pakistan, India’s neighbour and political rival, are not part of the Bharti deal. At the end of October, Warid had 2.79 million subscribers – far fewer than Grameenphone whose majority share is owned by Norway’s Telenor.
Bharti, which has more than 100 million subscribers in India, is looking to replicate its staggering growth at home in other emerging markets, where scale is vital, many customers are poor and rural, and penetration rates are low but rising fast. Indian mobile operators are locked in an intense tariff war that has raised concerns about profitability. The price war is aimed at grabbing new users as new firms enter the market.
Bangladesh’s mobile sector has grown rapidly, with subscriber numbers reaching more than 51 million at the end of October from 200,000 in 2001, helped by low penetration levels, competitive tariffs and steady economic growth. Analysts predict the number of subscribers could top 70 million by 2011, nearly half the country’s population of 150 million.
The news came two-and-a-half months after talks between Bharti and MTN Group to create the world’s third-largest mobile operator collapsed for the second time in just over a year on South Africa’s reluctance to allow a flagship corporate to lose its national character.
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Moinuddin Naser is a Bangladeshi writer, contributes in the Weekly Holiday from New York.
Senior Journalist Beaten
in response of reporting graft allegation
against Prime Minister’s son and adviser
M. Abdullah, a journalist of Daily Amar Desh who reported a graft allegation against the son of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina along with one of her advisors, has received severe injuries after a group of miscreants launched an assault of him. The attack took place within less than 36 hours of Syeda Shajeda Chowdhury, Jahangir Kabir Nanak and some other senior ruling party Awami League leaders threatened M. Abdullah and declared of ‘serious measures’ to be taken against him for the report he wrote.
It appears that the attackers were waiting at multiple points. The first wave came near the Army Stadium where stones were pelted toward his car and resulted at smashed glasses. Speeding up from the site, the car came at the Kakoli intersect toward Banani and the attackers again halted him. This time M. Abdullah himself received pelted stones and became injured. Immediately after knowing that the car can’t move without running over any of his halters, Abdullah jumped out and ran to escape the what appears to be a lynching attempt on him. He hustled in a running bus but before he could get on it, the attackers made it to hit him for several times and pelted stones and other objects to him on pursuit. At this, Abdullah received severe skull injuries.
In the meantime the car he escaped from was still left on the street with his chauffer Akkas Ali. The attackers attended the car and ended up with smashed glasses and the critically injured Ali. Police took a safe side by occupying the spot after the triumphant Awami League activists left an injured Abdullah, even more seriously injured Akkas Ali and the nearly destroyed vehicle standing like a fool. Apart from any of the attackers, all were rescued to Gulshan Thana.
Until all of us turn to be stupidly reticent, none of the newspapers existing in Bangladesh can satisfy us all in all. Readers can find a pile of articles in this website vehemently criticizing the Daily Star and Prothom Alo. Here the entity is not criticized. The entity Prothom Alo and Daily Star are not criticized. What receive vehement criticism are somewhat appear to be politically motivated or any ill-motivated contribution by those particular medias. But that’s just criticism, expression of disapproval to an unacceptably partisan or ill-motivated presentation, and that is the best possible way.
But now it looks like the best way now to express disapproval against a journalist and letting the people know about this is to halt his car, smash his skull with melee weapons, bleed him in back by frequent stoning and show rest of the wrath on his chauffer and vehicle when he escapes from the scene.
Beside those who actively took part in the carnage and those who provoked them openly in public speeches (Syeda Shajeda Chowdhury, Jahangir Kabir Nanak etc.), each and every person will have to take responsibility who have been vocal against attacks against journalists years ago but has decided to keep mum this time.
- Journalist survives attempted murder at International Freedom of Expression eXchange
- Bomb attack on Amar Desh journo at The Daily Star
- সাংবাদিক এম আব্দুল্লাহ্র প্রাণনাশের চেষ্টা at Daily Amar Desh
The recent attack on the young ruling party lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh MP was not the first among deadly forays over politicians of Bangladesh. A common phrase in our country goes like, “where the murderers of Bangabandhu & Ziaur Rahman are never held, there will be no surprise if other high profile murders are let getaway.” Even after the unparallel massacre inside Bangladesh Riffles HQ at Pilkhana, Dhaka, many told that “the murderers here too will getaway and we won’t mind because we’ve seen trials on murders of Sheikh Mujib and Ziaur Rahman unsolved and it doesn’t matter whether we do mind or else”.
Nobody has anything to deny the fact that most of the legal fights for assassinations or attempts on high profile statesperson have not been properly conclusive just because the government at office has tried to politically utilize the issues, has ignored unhealthy diversion of investigation for sake of discomforting domestic political rivals. This is a tragic fact that’s applicable for almost all trials of the kind.
General population often gets annoyed at the common obsession that our politicians have of debating past sour issues. Here some sentences about past have been written just to amplify the fact that, may be a powerful bomb flew toward a member of the house all of a sudden shook the nation, but it won’t be a surprise if his legal fight too is found to have the same fate of being on pursuit of a zero.
Fazle Noor Taposh MP, although a very young lawmaker and is in quite an early stage of his expectedly brighter political future, has been put on the top of the current political focus by the attempt and it has rang to the minds of us that indeed Fazle Noor Taposh is stringed fervently to various high profile political concerns. He is,
- a notable panel lawyer in the trial on Bangabandhu’s assassination,
- a figure related to the controversy of government’s unpopular dialogue attempt with BDR mutineers at the late night of 25 February, 2009,
- an anticipated select by Sheikh Hasina to fight the upcoming mayoral elections in Dhaka for Awami League,
- and again a very close aide to Sheikh Hasina, almost the most trusted one having a political future brighter than almost anyone of his stage.
These are few positions we consider when we think about how Fazle Noor Taposh MP has been politically being since his appearance to acclaim.
Now let also have a serial of what the senior figures in the ruling party or the government have been saying over the matter.
Syed Ashraful Islam, General Secretary of Awami League and Minister of LGRD & Cooperatives, told “the nation believes the killers of Bangabandhu, the extreme communal and anti-liberation forces were involved with the attack” .
Barrister Mahbubey Alam, the Attorney General and leader of a pro-AL lawyers’ group, told “The attack on Taposh proves that those who do not want the trial of the murder of Bangabandhu are trying to become active.”
I don’t understand that why these senior AL leaders and others are pushing the matter to be a concern of Bangabandhu assassination trial. I mean it can be a fact that those who don’t want the trial being conclusive orchestrated the attack. But this is just a possibility, a speculation; so are the others that attack on Taposh could be a knock-off attempt by his domestic political rivals.
There has been a complaint made to police and they will investigate it, they will have to do it to dig for the truth. At this stage of investigation where nobody knows more than it was a bomb, the series of statements from AL leaders is just looking like a planned media manipulation where the immense influences are being made to manipulate public opinions. Questions may arise that how the ministers and the Attorney General are so confident that the attackers are linked to Bangabandhu’s assassins. Did the attackers tell them before bombing? Or did Bangabandhu’s assassins confirm that the new generation carnage will take place on Taposh?
This is highly concerning that why respective AL leaders and also the party’s Central Working Committee in absence of Sheikh Hasina is pressurizing the people to believe the attack having a link to Bangabandhu’s trial. What’s their source of confidence, what’s their source of information and finally what’s the motive of such premature statements? There are other grounds those have to be considered, why we have not heard a single person anywhere to talk about that?
Bangladeshi people have already learnt that they have a legal system that is not blind. This system can smell one’s political identity, can see the height of one’s political influence and finally can realize one’s power. The system drives itself in accordance with those feelings that a legal system is immensely malicious to have. Forgoing the attackers of a Member of Parliament won’t be a surprise because murderers of the Presidents and Prime Ministers in this country are let getaway.Facebook users click here.
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M. Tawsif Salam
11 September, 2009, Dhaka
Immediately after the horrible 9/11 attacks, the perception about Bangladeshi fatalities was that at least 50 of our countrymen have been missing in the rubles, dead or else. Watching the twin towers of the World Trade Center emitting smokes almost like two sky-scrapping chimneys, initially very few people overseas were concerned about knowing how much people of what nationalities have been victims, apart from those who knowingly had family members, coworkers or friends working in New York’s Lower Manhattan that day.
People of approximately 60 nationalities were among the victims. The initial perception of around 50 Bangladeshis killed was later corrected as there were 12 Bangladeshi victims documented. Now this information too ain’t assuring as there were talks that there could be some Bangladeshis working around but ‘not documented’, might have been in terms of legal measures. This means disappointment, that the actual number of how many Bangladeshis were killed in 11 September 2001 attacks won’t be known ever.
For someone looking for stuffs about the Bangladeshi victims of 9/11, the initial disgust will be offered by the authority of Bangladesh, that’s our government. Throughout a staggering hunt for information about brothers & sisters we lost that day, one will completely fail to get something that can be thought is given or provided by any agencies or departments of Bangladesh government. It’s understandable that during the attack the administration at home was to execute a general election of nearly 70 million voters, so it couldn’t respond at once. But not only years passed rather it’s being almost a decade after a number of Bangladeshi deaths overseas, we rarely found any of our government people to pronounce a word about it or to provide at least some statistics. It can be that we ain’t keen enough to get them so they ain’t keen enough to provide.
Among 12 confirmed Bangladeshis who were killed on September 11, 2001 there are Mohammad Sadeque Ali, Shabbir Ahmed, Nurul Haque Miah, Nurul’s wife Shakila Yasmin, Mohammad Shahjahan, Mohammed Salahuddin Chowdhury, Abul Kashem Chowdhury, Navid Hossain, Osman Ghani and Ashfaq Ahmed. As the Bangladesh High Commission at United States has a confirmation of 12 victims, definitely there are two more names those I’ve failed to mention here. However all the mentioned 10 were the citizens of United States of America and except Ashfaq Ahmed, Navid Hossain & Osman Ghani, I can provide at least something about seven others.
Mohammad Sadeque Ali
Mohammad Sadeque Ali, 62, according to a former Bangladeshi diplomat Syed Muazzem Ali, was a newspaper vendor. He lived in New York’s Jackson Heights with his wife Mumtaz. During the attack Ali was at Lower Manhattan presumably somewhere too-close-to or inside the World Trade Center and was later never found.
Shabbir Ahmed, 47, worked in the famous ‘Windows on The World’ restaurant on the 106th floor of the WTC North Tower. Migrated to US from Bangladesh in 1981, he loved the job he had in ‘Windows on The World’ and he stayed there for 11 years. Ahmed was married to Jeba and the couple had three children. Ahmed became able to meet his dream of sending all of them for college education. At the time of Ahmed’s death, a son named Tanvir was 16-year old and a daughter that went to Brooklyn College were 19-year old. The family’s home is at Marine Park, Brooklyn, New York. At the time a plane penetrated the tower, Ahmed was at work in his beloved workplace with 89 other coworkers including Mohammed Salahuddin Chowdhury, another Bangladeshi employee in there, reportedly were serving 76 guests; none of the people survived.
Mohammad Shahjahan, 41, lived with his wife Mansura at Spring Valley, a neighborhood at the border of towns Ramapo and Clarkstown at Rockland County, New York. He was a Computer Administrator in the professional service provider & insurance brokerage farm Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (MMC)., which held offices between floors 93 & 100, the ultimate impact zone of the attack. 295 employees including Shahjahan and two other Bangladeshis, Nurul Haque Miah & Shakila Yasmin, were working at MMC at the time of attack; among them nobody survived.
Abul Kashem Chowdhury
Abul Kashem Chowdhury, 30, was 2nd generation Bangladeshi-American, child of a former Bangladeshi diplomat. He resided in New York with his family of his wife, parents, a brother and two sisters. A College of Staten Island graduate, Chowdhury was about to pursue a career on computer expertise, which even he had one at financial services farm Cantor Fitzgerald L.P. as a Senior Assistant Analyst. His brother Abul Qaiser Chowdhury said that he and his brother worked to support their family; have been like two arms to their loved ones. During the attack Chowdhury was on the 103rd floor, who even called his brother after the plane made the hit and he was approaching to come down, but the communication was tragically brief and everything was finished in hours. Months before the attack Chowdhury got married to Young Kim, a 2nd generation Korean-American. Kim, remarking his husband as a ‘devoted moviegoer’, was about to go to movies with him after work on the fateful day.
Mohammed Salahuddin Chowdhury
Mohammed Salahuddin Chowdhury, 38, was a Queens, New York resident where he lived with his wife Baraheen Ashrafi. Salahuddin, a Dhaka University physics graduate, migrated to US in 1987. In US he studied real-estate and also obtained a diploma in Computer Science. Initially he worked in Baltimore but later came to New York for something better would come up. He decided to stay in New York in anyways so he started working in the famous ‘Windows on The World’ restaurant as a waiter. Salahuddin & Baraheen had a 6-year old boy. In the time of attacks Baraheen was pregnant and was due to operate at late hours of the fateful date. In fact Salahuddin usually attended the work in evening hours but that day chose to serve in the morning so that he could stay with his wife to the operation. Farqad Chowdhury, born 48-hours after deadly attack took away his father with 88 other coworkers, has been perhaps one of the first 9/11 orphans to be born. HBO’s 9/11 documentary “In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01” has covered the tragic fate of Salahuddin’s family.
Nurul Haque Miah
Nurul Haque Miah, 35, was born in Bangladesh to an immensely pious family in 1966. A mid-80s immigrant to US, Nurul started working for Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., (MMC) in 1986. In 1999 he married Shakila Yasmin; an early-90s immigrant whom he met in a friend’s wedding in 1995 & dated for 5 years. Nurul had a very good reputation at work & was awarded as recognition of merit in MMC. Nurul studied and had a degree in audiovisual technology, as the final position he had in MMC was an Audiovisual Technologist where he worked for 15 years. Nurul’s workplace was on the 93rd floor. But during the attack he was in a meeting on the 99th floor, while his wife Shakila, also an MMC employee, was on the 97th floor; MMC was a tenant holding 8 floors from 93rd to 100th. To mention, all these floors got the worst impact after the plane made hit especially the floors 93th-99th through where the plane actually penetrated, let as assume Nurul and his wife to be two of the very initial victims of the deadly attack.
Shakila Yasmin, 26, wife of Nurul Haque Miah, went to US with her parents Sharif A. Chowdhury and Shawkat Ara Sharif when she was 16. She did her S.S.C in Bangladesh and in US got admitted in Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. Obtaining US citizenship in the sixth year of stay, she graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999 with a degree of Management Information Systems. As told before, she was married to Nurul Haque Miah in 1999, joined her husband’s workplace MMC as a Computer Assistant one year prior to the deadly attack. She was on the 93rd floor when the first plane penetrated the building.
Renaming Brooklyn Streets after Shakila and Nurul
Nurul and Shakila lived in Brooklyn, New York and they had a very good relationship with the neighbors. One of their neighbors Diane Hunt, touched by her neighbors’ tragic deaths, took an initiative to propose renaming of the street in Brooklyn in names of Shakila and Nurul, took the matter to the city council. At her proposition and consent from the fellow councilors, the Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg (world’s 8th richest man, the Republican politician who owns Bloomberg L.P) passed a bill 746-A on 29 December, 2005 that renamed a total 67 streets of New York, including the Evington Avenue and the Third Avenue in Brooklyn those got the new name “Shakila Yasmin & Nurul Haque Miah 9-11 Memorial Way”. Mayor Bloomberg, fellow New Yorker Hunt and others who consented in paying respect to our fallen countrymen are yet to receive gratitude officially from Bangladesh. You know we have a lot of real works to do than just go thanking people like recently dead Senator Ted Kennedy who was singled out in US Senate just for talking for Bangladesh in 1971, or the Jewish NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg who honored Bangladesh by naming streets whereas he could choose from people of 59 other nationalities.