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The moment of resistance
Publication Date : 19-02-2013
The murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar is once more a sign of the darkness that is yet to lift in its totality in Bangladesh.
It sends out a message, loud and clear and necessary, of what needs to be done to overpower the descendants of the local collaborators and quislings who once killed and helped to kill three million Bangalees in 1971.
To suggest that the war criminals of 42 years ago, ageing and perhaps physically weakening, have acknowledged the reality of the existence of this people's republic, would be a mistaken assumption.
Quader Mollah's notorious flash of that victory sign on the day the judgement was pronounced was just one of the brazen ways in which the stooges of the Pakistan occupation army have continued to demonstrate their contempt for this land they so happily molested all those years ago.
It is a sinister thought these old Pakistani collaborators have passed on to the generation of fanatics that came after them. In the 1980s and 1990s, activists of the Islami Chhatra Shibir went around displaying the new methods they had come to learn as a way of advancing their macabre politics. And then they informed a horrified country that they were ready to apply that learning in all its ferocity. A long process of cutting off veins and slicing away tendons - of those they considered their enemies - followed.
The law was powerless to haul them to the citadels of justice, for they were protected by men and women too keen on holding on to power and too indifferent to the damage that was being done to the nation. Their mentors in the party, both those who helped Pakistan's soldiers in their mission of killing Bangalees and those who came of age in the darkness following the tragedy of August-November 1975, saw little reason to discourage such outrage committed in the name of faith.
In time, these friends of the Pakistan army came to share the political dais with men and women in a political party whose founder had caused something of a turning back of the clock in his five-year dictatorial moment. He helped these collaborators in their rehabilitation. His spouse took them right into her government. No one in that family-led dispensation cared to remember the three million dead of 1971, the scores of Bangalee intellectuals murdered on the eve of Liberation.
The Nazis never came back after the fall of Hitler. The men of the Vichy regime went to the gallows after the liberation of France in 1944. Japanese prime ministers have been excoriated over their visits to Yasukuni, where Tokyo's war criminals lie buried. Ironically for Bangladesh, all the collaborators of Pakistan not only survived but came back to deliver the ultimate insult to Bangalees - by becoming ministers and members of parliament, through refusing to admit their crimes.
And today, it is their political descendants who pounce on the police, set vehicles afire and brazenly demand that the men now on trial for war crimes be freed and the trials abandoned altogether. That they can kill, in the manner of the generation of criminals preceding theirs, is a warning they have now sounded through the murder of Ahmed Rajib Haidar.
Rajib's death only reinforces the national feeling that these war criminals and their followers must be steadily and forcefully marginalised if this country means to keep its self-esteem intact. This murder is a call to everyone who remembers the War of Liberation, who believes in Bangladesh, to come together in a decisive struggle against the enemies of the state.
The exigencies are simple to understand: not partisan politics, not the sophistry over Joy Bangla (and that is our eternal slogan), not the narrow interests of the present but the broad future of this nation which is at peril. It is that future we need to save, across our differences on the political plane. And we can save the future through repudiating, once and for all, the dark forces which did everything they could to prevent our rise as a free people and which have been doing all they can to turn us away from our glorious past and back into the medievalism where fanaticism scars the beauty of faith, where killing men and women in the name of God is sport.
The moment for resistance is upon us. Remember the three million dead, remember the bodies of our illustrious fellow citizens in the brickfields of Rayerbazar, remember the steady manner in which all our liberation heroes, from our founding fathers to our brave freedom fighters, were pushed to their deaths in the horrible mid-1970s to early 1980s.
And when you remember, you will know what needs to be done.