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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A New Year joke?

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As we have stepped into 2018, it has been all about the next parliamentary elections, and what awaits the nation in the coming months as the ruling Awami League and opposition BNP are locked in fighting a war-of-words over the polls. Until now!

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia and her convict son Tarique Rahman have made comments over the past years, some of which have been at times hilarious or travesty of truth.Insulting Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has been a passion of both mother and son, forgetting what this great leader had done for them soon after the country's independence.

Eminent writer and journalist Gaffar Chouwdury was present at the launching of my book "Muktijuddha: Ajana Oddhya" (Independence War: The Untold Story) in London last May. He said at the ceremony that General Ziaur Rahman wanted to divorce Khaleda Zia and it did not happen only because of the intervention of Bangabandhu and Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib. These comments by the BNP leaders were not appreciated even by some of their party comrades and drew widespread criticism.

Now, Khaleda Zia has uttered the most dangerous words by accusing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of staying in power with the help of bullets!She said in a Twitter message that "it is not ballot, but the bullet is the source of Sheikh Hasina's power."

The question is where these bullets of Sheikh Hasina she is referring to are! Oh My God! How can she forget what her assassinated husband did to go to power and how many defence personnel were killed to cling to power?  Some of them simply disappeared from their offices.In 1994, a retired air force officer rented the ground floor of my mother's residence. I often saw some women coming to him and weeping.

I asked the officer who were these women and why were they weeping? He told me they were wives of those air force personnel either killed or went missing during Zia's bloody rule which ended with his own death in 1981.General Zia is accused of having a major role in the assassination of Bangabandhu and almost his entire family, including two minors' children. One of them is Bangabandhu's youngest 10-yedar-old son Sheikh Russel. Was that democracy or bullets that ignored Russel's appeal not to shoot him. Such ruthlessness is possibly known to have taken place during the Nazi elimination of Jews.

It is very simple why the charges against the late general have a lot of truth.He ratified the most inhuman Indemnity Ordinance to protect the killers of the country's founder and as if that was not enough, the general gave them diplomatic assignments abroad. Rehabilitation of Pakistani cohorts included the collaborators of the Pakistani army. One does not need to say more.

The illegal execution of Col. Taher in jail is another episode of the general's lust for power. He executed the war-injured colonel who saved his life during the 1975 trying times of the country faced with coups and counter coups.His pro-Pakistan stand is clear when he told my father days ahead of the 1971 military crackdown that "I am not with you." My father, a colonel at the time and martyred in 1971, made a request to him to join other Bangalee officers for resisting Pakistani army if they were attacked. It had become clear by that time that the Pakistani military will be used after talks between Bangabandhu and Pakistani leaders made no headway.

My mother quoted my father as telling her that Zia had turned down request reasoning that "there is no guarantee of Bangladesh becoming an independent country and he did want to be hanged for treason. (Muktijuddha: Ojana Oddhya, second edition, pages 55-56, Jagriti Prokashoni, February 2017).

During her rule, Khaleda Zia killed many farmers demanding fertiliser for their fields and the August 21, 2004 grenade attack on Sheikh Hasina. She miraculously survived, but over 100 were killed.Once again, may I ask her where are the bullets she referred and where were they used by Sheikh Hasina?After what she said on the Padma Bridge, Khaleda Zia's advisors may caution her not to make such laughable comments as her BNP fought to survive with elections around the corner. We are not ready for such jokes, please!


The writer is the Roving Editor, The Asian Age

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