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Rescue Act


RANJIT BHUSHAN | New Delhi, March 2, 2013 14:05
Tags : Pranab Mukerjee | Indian President | Dhaka | Sheikh Hasina Wajed | Awami League government | Jamaat-e-Islami vice- president Delawar Hussain |

As President Pranab Mukerjee prepares to visit Dhaka, New Delhi has to keep in mind the troubles of her old and trusted friend Sheikh Hasina Wajed and her Awami League government, currently under seige by a chain of events which are well rooted in the country’s traumatic history. It is important right now that India offers all the support it can to strengthen her hands and help heal deep fissures that exist in the society.

 Things have spiraled out of control since the three-member International Crimes Tribunal sentenced convicted 1971 war criminal and , Sayedee to death. In a deadly spate of violence which has claimed more than 50 lives since then, the government has been pushed onto the back foot. Sayedee is mentioned as one of the Bangladeshis who welcomed the Pakistani army in 1971 before the genocide was unleashed against Bengalis.

 The Tribunal found Sayedee guilty of torture, loot and rape of Bengali Hindu women in capital Dhaka and elsewhere in conjunction with the Pakistani Army. The tribunal verdict was a signal for Jamaat elements to get into the act and that is what happened.

 Earlier a huge crowd of pro-Awami League workers and supporters had descended upon Dhaka’s Shah Bagh square demanding that Jamaat leader, Abdul Kader Mollah, who was awarded a life sentence by the same tribunal, be given capital punishment instead.

 The Jamaat is well backed by the Bangadesh National party, whose leader Khaleda Zia has called for a civil disobedience movement against what she called government atrocities on innocents. Historically, the Jamaat-e-Islami opposed independence for the country from Pakistan and stands charged with murder, torture and rapine when the crackdown began in 1971.

 Bangladesh has its own multi-ethnic cultural and political identity in which former Razakars or traitors who allied with the Pakistani army in 1971, share the political space with the more liberal and progressive elements of society, which from India’s point of view, is best represented by Hasina.

One of Hasina's first decisions on assuming power was the promise of trying people accused of war crimes in 1971, a move which had led to a lot of scepticism both at home and abroad.

 Her Awami League government has provided all the support that New Delhi has asked for, including the coordinated shutdown of terror camps across the border, reducing the tension on India’s eastern front quite considerably. The onus in on India now to seal the Teesta water-sharing and the land boundary agreements between the two countries. They would go a long way to ameliorate Sheikh Hasina’s position, as well as that of the millions of democratic and secular people in India’s immediate neighbourhood.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017