Bangladesh

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Hasina’s Visit to Delhi: A Prelude

After almost three years, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to Delhi again on a state visit on September 5. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit is very significant in India-Bangladesh bilateral relations. The Modi government also wants to give

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Bangladesh: A Promise of Hope

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On January 8, 2023, Mohammad Salim, deputy leader of Block B, Rohingya Camp-8 West, in the Ukhiya Sub-District of Cox’s Bazar District, was killed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

On January 7, Mohammad Rashid, the leader of Block A, Rohingya Camp-15, in Teknaf Sub-District of Cox’s Bazar District, was killed by masked assailants.

On January 6, 2023, an insurgent, identified as Nurunnabi, was injured in a shootout that took place between two terrorist groups at Block B-39, Rohingya Camp-8 East, in Ukhiya. The members of the Armed Police Battalion (APBn) and law enforcement agencies recovered a grenade from the house of the injured insurgent.

Three terrorism-linked incidents of violence in quick succession, resulting in two fatalities, reported from Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar District. 

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), there were 18 fatal terrorism-linked incidents which had resulted in 22 fatalities in 2022. In 2021, there were five incidents which had resulted in 17 fatalities.

The prominent incidents in 2022 included: 

December 26: A group of 12 armed militants of ARSA shot dead a Rohingya leader in Block 16, Rohingya Camp-8 West in Ukhiya. The dead person was identified as Mohammad Hossain alias Shafique who was the leader of Block B.

November 29: Unidentified assailants shot at and stabbed to death a Rohingya community leader, Shahab Uddin. Uddin was a deputy leader in H-14 Block Rohingya Camp-12 in Ukhiya.

October 18: Unidentified men killed a Rohingya youth, Syed Hossain, at Rohingya Camp-19 in Ukhiya.

ARSA, a lethal insurgent group based in Myanmar, is escalating activities in Bangladesh. Investigations against ARSA ‘commander-in-chief’ Ataullah abu Ammar Jununi and 65 others were launched on November 23, 2022, in the case of the killing of a Directorate General of Forces Intelligence officer, Rizwan Rushdee, and the injuring of a Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) trooper, during an anti-smuggling operation in the Bandarban District on November 14, 2022.In October 2022, ARSA was responsible for multiple incidents of killing, attacks and threats in Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar. In 30 attacks just between August and October 2022, ARSA killed or injured Rohingyas by shooting, hacking and separating organs, to create a reign of terror among the refugees. According to partial data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM), in the year 2022, nine ARSA-linked incidents of violence have been reported in Bangladesh, in which five persons (three civilians and two militants) were killed and another six (all civilians) were injured.

Moreover, there has been a marked increase in unlawful activities in the Rohingya refugee camps, through 2022, due to the growing and active presence of organized gangs. According to an August 11, 2022, report, Rohingyas had formed at least 20 organised armed gangs, presently active in the refugee camps, prominently including the ‘Salman Shah Group’, ‘Putia Group’, ‘Munna Group’, ‘Hakim Group’, and ‘Jokir Group’. The gangs were involved in serious crimes such as arms, drugs and human trafficking, gold smuggling, kidnapping, extortion and killing. They were also involved in robberies, burglaries, cybercrime, sexual violence and harassment, as well as illegal SIM card and the hundi (money laundering) trade. They have also been involved in grabbing land from Bangladeshi citizens and also run juvenile gangs.

As reported on August 11, 2022, some 101 Rohingyas have been killed in the last five years in internal conflicts among these gangs. In October, 2021, a report indicated that shoot-outs and clashes between these gangs in the Rohingya camp areas were motivated by efforts to establish supremacy and taking control of the illegal Yaba (a cocktail of methamphetamine and caffeine) and gold smuggling, money laundering, and extortion rackets that have proliferated there. As reported on October 3, 2021, the Officer-in-charge (OC) of Teknaf model Police Station in Cox’s Bazar District, Hafizur Rahman disclosed that a total of 27 cases have been filed against just one such group – the Hakim Group.

Moreover, some 100 armed groups, prominently including ARSA, the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), the Arakan Rohingya Army (ARA), and Jamaat-e-Arakan, are engaged in a turf war to control the camps. The conflict is most violent between ARSA and RSO. ARSA and ARA, led by Nabi Hossain, who was part of ARSA, but left the groups in 2020, are also violently engaged in their efforts to dominate the region. Though no authoritative data is available about the losses faced by these groups, Fawz-ul-Kabir alias Moulavi Abu Anas, ARSA ‘second-in-command’, who reportedly resigned from the outfit in June 2022, has publicly criticized the ARSA leadership for recent casualties suffered by the group at the hands of RSO.

Meanwhile, ARSA has targeted members of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPHR), a group that represents parts of the refugee community. Chairman of the ARSPHR and a prominent Rohingya leader, Master Mohibullah, was shot dead by suspected ARSA militants at his office in Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar District, on September 29, 2021. Subsequently, several ARSPHR members have been killed by ARSA. In the most prominent incident, on October 22, 2021, at least six Rohingya refugees, who were followers of Master Mohibullah, were killed and eight were injured, inside a refugee camp in Ukhiya.

On September 19, 2022, reacting to the rising waves of crime and violence Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal declared that no more Rohingya would be allowed to enter the country. Those who had come earlier, fleeing persecution in Myanmar, have created many problems, he added.

On October 27, 2022, three battalions of APBn arrested at least 41 Rohingyas, including six murder accused, in a special operation, ‘Operation Root Out’, in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

In addition, the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region, consisting of three hilly, forested southeastern Districts of Bandarban, Rangamati, and Khagracchari, is experiencing increasing ethnic violence even after 25 years of the signing of the CHT Accord of 1997. According to partial data collated by SATP, in 2022 incidents of violence have risen, with 15 fatalities recorded in 2022, as compared to 10 through 2021. The reasons for the increase are, the emergence of ethnicity based armed group, the Kuki-Chin National Front (KCNF) and the Marma National Party in CHT, which has challenged existing groups such as the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF). The KCNF, an armed organization led by erstwhile PCJSS member Nathan Loncheu Bawm, appeared in 2021. Although it was first announced as the Kuki-Chin National Development Organization (KNDO), its latest incarnation as KCNF was declared after KNDO’s head, Nathan Loncheu Bawm, failed to contest the 2018 elections. KCNF’s main demand is the formation of an autonomous state for the ‘greater Kuki-Chin race’, within the CHT. 

Moreover, as reported on January 4, 2023, there are concerns in the CHT that a vested quarter has been providing backing and shelter to armed terrorist groups, while meting out suppressive measures and imposing the responsibility for terrorist activities upon the Jumma people engaged in the movement demanding implementation of the CHT Accord. One such terrorist group is the KCNF, which is reportedly providing shelter and military training to an Islamist militant group, the Jamatul Ansar Fil Hind al Sharqiya (JAFHS), in their hideouts in the remote Ruma township in the southern part of CHT. On January 12, 2023, RAB disclosed that 12 operatives of JAFHS and 14 operatives of KCNF had been arrested, to that date, in the ongoing anti-militancy drive that started on October 10, 2022. On October 20, 2022, RAB arrested seven JAFHS operatives. The arrestees confessed that they had an agreement with KCNF to provide them shelter and training in exchange for money.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh government continued to articulate and implement a zero-tolerance policy towards Islamist terrorism and the use of its territory as a terrorist safe haven. Through 2022, there was not a single case of a fatality related to proscribed Islamist terrorist groups reported in the country, continuing with the trend established in the previous year, 2021.

2022 witnessed a total of 263 arrests of Islamist terrorists/radicals belonging to various outfits, including 200 Jamaat-e-Islami-Islami Chhatra Shibir (JeI-ICS), 12 JAFHS, 10 Jamaatul Muslimeen, eight Ansar al-Islam, seven Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), among others. Also, as reported on June 30, 2022, the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) started a process of deradicalizing militants inside prisons under the “Construction of the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime Prevention Centre of Bangladesh Police”. Under this process, social, clinical, and educational psychologists; religious clerics, and counterterrorism experts were expected to start deradicalizing jailed militants and also those on bail from June 2022 onwards, CTTC chief Mohammad Asaduzzaman disclosed. While reiterating the zero tolerance policy on November 17, 2022, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stated,

Let us all hold peace, the message of Islam in our hearts and eradicate darkness, illiteracy, discord, violence, terrorism and militancy from the society; resist the evil forces which are making misinterpretation of Islam. We’ve adopted zero tolerance towards militancy to uphold the peaceful glory of holy Islam by keeping the country free from militancy.

Meanwhile, the last quarter of 2022 recorded some violent incidents and clashes involving members of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Awami League (AL), including:

November 28: Multiple cocktail bomb explosions occurred in the AL office in the Chanda area of the Kaliakoir Sub-District in Gazipur District. Two cases have been filed against 27 leaders and activists of BNP and more than 200 others for their alleged involvement in the explosions. On the same day, two bombs exploded at a fish farm on the Trimoni intersection in Gangni city in Meherpur District. Police later recovered another three bombs from the site of the explosion. However, no casualty was reported. A case was registered against 11 leaders and activists of BNP and its allied organizations in connection with the blasts.

November 29: Two AL members were injured as a crude bomb exploded in the AL party office in the Dhangora Junction area in Raiganj Sub-District, Sirajganj District. Later, BNP activists and two party leaders were charged. Raiganj BNP municipality unit convener Ainul Haque, its secretary Khairul Islam, and 20 named and 150 unnamed BNP men were accused in the case. Apart from direct violence, BNP and its allies are also working at the international level with various lobbies, to target the AL Government.

Meanwhile, on December 7, 2022, Sheikh Hasina declared that Bangladesh’s next general elections will be held during the first week of January 2024.

With elections in the coming year, and the increased activities of BNP and its cohorts, the situation in Bangladesh is likely to become precarious. Security Forces’ successes against the Islamists are, certainly, a signal achievement, but Islamist radicalization remains widespread, and the disruptive efforts of terrorist formations – some old and some new – persist. Moreover, the troubles in the Rohingya refugee camps have created new and serious threats to the internal peace and security of Bangladesh in general, and the Cox’s Bazar District and Bhashan Char, in particular. The escalating violence in CHT, is another flashpoint of concern.  A relatively peaceful for Bangladesh could find itself abruptly destabilized as the General Elections approach.

Bangladesh’s role in the security of India’s Chicken Neck and Beyond

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India had always found Bangladesh by its side when needed. The bilateral security relation had always been reciprocal. Bangladesh has shown its commitment to the security issues of India. Especially the trend started when the prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Came into power. As well as, the credit for a reciprocal security relationship goes to the Prime Minister for addressing India’s security concerns.

The northeast region of India is one of the most vulnerable areas in terms of security. Security cooperation has been a major feature in Bangladesh–India bilateral ties. India sees Bangladesh as the closest partner in ensuring security in its geographically disadvantaged northeast states. The security issues like terrorism, insurgency, and separatist movements in the northeast region have been controlled and managed, partly because of the immense help provided by Bangladesh. Bangladesh has taken significant steps in dealing with major northeastern insurgent organizations and maintained close cooperation with India in terms of intelligence sharing and security matters.  In addition, Bangladesh has also entered an Extradition Treaty with India in January 2013 to address the security concerns of each other and strengthening mutual trust. With the treaty, India gained a way to clamp down on insurgency in the northeastern region of the country. Not only that, the militants of northeastern states failed to get any shelter in Bangladesh because of the land border agreement with Bangladesh signed in 2015. This stopped them from carrying out their operations for separatist movements and insurgencies in the North East. The incumbent Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar showed his gratitude towards Bangladesh by saying that, the terrorist activities in the country’s northeast region have declined because of India’s strategic land boundary pact with Bangladesh.

Terrorism is one of the pressing security issues in both Bangladesh and India. As mentioned before, Bangladesh has a significant role in fighting terrorism in northeastern states as they had been facing longstanding insurgency movements. In the past, the insurgents used to use the territory of Bangladesh as their base. But this situation was strong-handedly mitigated after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came into power. Her commendable actions against the terrorists have contributed to opening up a new era of cooperation between the two countries.

For example, Bangladesh handed over top Ulfa leader Anup Chetia, a founding member of one of India’s top insurgent groups United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa), to India 18 years after his arrest in Dhaka for trespassing. This person had been in prison since his arrest in Mohammadpur on December 21, 1997. It was a major boost to bilateral security cooperation between India and Bangladesh. Not only that, Bangladesh sent back some other top Ulfa leaders, including ArabindaRajkhowa, in 2009 through the border with the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Both extraditions expedited the process of peace talks between the separatists and New Delhi.

Moreover, the government of Sheikh Hasina strengthened oversight mechanisms in border areas to arrest any kind of smuggling of illegal consignments for the insurgents operating in the northeastern states of India. Bangladesh has handed over to India a list of several factories operating inside their country including some close to the border of northeastern states of India which produced phensidyl only targeting Bangladesh as its market. The phensidyl produced in those factories, set up by the Indian businessmen, were being smuggled into Bangladesh by organized cross-border syndicates.

The northeastern states are almost detached from the Indian mainland. The terrorists and separatists take the advantage of the “Chicken’s Neck” and carried out their insurgent movements in these states. Bangladesh, in turn, has been always by India’s side in combating the situation though some views of India and Bangladesh are completely different. Therefore, the divergent views of India and Bangladesh to understand security issues need to be synchronized for mutual benefit. Only active security engagement between the two countries would help in transforming relations from the present state of mutual suspicion to one of mutual benefit and mutual trust.  Both of the countries should consider the bilateral issues from a pragmatic view to reach a consensus on contentious bilateral issues as well as to further strengthen this relationship to a new horizon of development. A long-standing durable relationship between the two countries is necessary to maintain stability in the northeastern states of India.

Views expressed are personal

Bangladesh in 1971: Genocide of Whom and by Whom?

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Two US Congressmen, Mr. Chabot from Ohio (Republican) and Mr. Khanna from California (Democrat), have moved a resolution entitled “Recognizing the Bangladesh Genocide of 1971” in the House of Representative on October 14, 2022 calling that the House “recognizes that such atrocities against ethnic Bengalis and Hindus constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.” Genocide is a serious crime and genocide was definitely committed during this fateful year but the question that one needs to ask is genocide of whom and by whom. There existed at least three communities at the time, but the resolution mentions only two – Bengalis (Muslims) and Hindus. It ignores Urdu-speaking non-Bengali Muslims known as Biharis because most of them migrated there in 1947 from the neighboring Indian state Bihar. More than fifty years later, one needs to analyze conditions of all three communities to find the truth behind this genocide claim.

An Extraordinary Year

The year 1971 was an extraordinary year, but explanation for events of this year demands some reference to the history of the whole region. The area (Bengal, Bihar and Orissa), rich both agriculturally and industrially, attracted immigrants and colonizers throughout the medieval period. In 1757, the English East India Company (EIC) occupied the territory and introduced a discriminatory policy to eliminate Muslims from socio-economic power by promoting Hindus, although in pre-British Bengal Hindus enjoyed equal opportunities. The British white supremacist Islamophobic approach well matched with the Hindu upper caste outlook. The Hindu rise in economic and political superiority soon resulted into Hindu cultural domination – a phenomenon that came to be known as the Bengal Renaissance. During the century long EIC rule, Muslims and Hindu lower caste suffered heavily. William Hunter, an EIC civil servant, described the condition of Muslims as “‘the Musalmans’ as ‘in all respects…a race ruined under British rule’.” The colonizers, however, seemed to have learned a lesson through this experience: after 1857, they did not destroy a whole community; they only created loyal native aristocrats. Muslims of Bengal, on their part, secured the separate electorate system – a system that safeguarded Muslim voting Muslim members of legislative assemblies in an environment where the Hindu majoritarian approach had threatened Muslim interests. This system eventually helped establishing Pakistan as a separate nation in 1947. However, due to the British discriminatory policy, Bengali Muslims hardly had any representation in top civil and military bureaucratic cadre in the newly established government in Pakistan. The 1971 catastrophe must be understood in this context.

United Pakistan Years

The twenty-four years history of Pakistan (1947-1971) is a tragic history for Muslims of the sub-continent. Pakistan’s idealism was lost and within a decade, elites in Pakistan fulfilled the objective of the former EIC official Lord Macaulay’s desire of creating agents of English taste (brown sahib) in colonial territories. They hardly recognized contributions of Bengali Muslims to the Pakistan Movement and made no gesture to create equal opportunities for East Pakistanis to catch up with their legitimate share in the country’s civil and military bureaucracy and in its economic growth. In fact, the only handful of those East Pakistani officials who had held higher positions in the British-Indian administration, were also deprived of further promotion. Justice Abu Saleh Muhammad Akram, the senior most serving judge to succeed the first chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court did not do so. Instead, Justice Muhammad Munir became the second Chief Justice of Pakistan’s apex court. Justice Munir soon came up with a new term – the doctrine of necessity – to validate an executive action justifying the dissolution of Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly. East Pakistan was also deprived of their fair share in central government’s assets while the main source of foreign currency income came from an East Pakistani product, namely jute. This created a huge tension between the two regions of Pakistan. East Pakistani demands for justice and equal rights went to deaf ears. In Pakistan today there is a common tendency to blame India for what happened in 1971, although both the Qur’an and history has taught us that whatever befalls a community, it happens due to its internal weaknesses. More than half a century later, one needs to reflect and look back and identify its causes. Aside from historical causes noted above, one finds plenty of immediate weaknesses. We will highlight only a few here.

Moving toward Conflict

Faced with protests against his dictatorial rule, President Ayub Khan handed over power to the chief of armed forces, although under the constitution formulated under his own patronage, he was supposed to hand over power to the Speaker of the National Assembly. The Speaker happened to have been from East Pakistan. The new military general turned president, Yahya Khan, conducted a general election in 1970 but did not ensure a free and fair process. In East Pakistan, the Awami League (AL) – the party that secured most seats in the parliament – made a mockery of the system. It began with a huge propaganda campaign by publishing pamphlets with fake information about discrepancies between the two wings of Pakistan. Then they made sure that none of its political rivals could hold large public rallies anywhere in East Pakistan. On January 18, 1970 they attacked an opposition public rally (since January 1 public political activities were allowed) killing two and injuring hundreds in the open daylight in the capital city Dhaka. Neither the martial law administration, nor the civilian authorities took any action for exaggerating and spreading fake information about provincial inequalities. They also began fascist type attacks on political opponents. The AL had already a reputation of having a fascist approach to politics: In 1957, some of its leaders were involved in killing the Deputy Speaker of East Pakistan provincial Assembly during an ongoing session. Its student’s wing, East Pakistan Chhttra League, was also known for campus violence all over East Pakistan. By the end of Ayub regime, they began to receive support from International Islamophobic forces. A former KGB agent, Yuri Bezmenov, in an interview has revealed mechanisms of Soviet assistance to breakup Pakistan.

Years later, I found more information about how India was assisting secessionist elements in East Pakistan. In a casual discussion, an Indian friend of mine told me that he had received an offer from one of his neighbors that he could assist settling a personal dispute by supplying him with grenades. How he could have a military weapon in his personal possession, my friend wondered. His neighbor explained that when he was posted in East Pakistan during the last days of Ayub regime to work for Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Indian armed forces, he officially received those weapons. Since there was no accountability, he kept some when he retired. Many academic works on RAW would later confirm this claim. Nevertheless, as soon as the election results were out in late 1970, a drama of negotiations began between the military and political leaders. While these negotiations were still going on, extremist elements of AL began to target non-Bengalis all over East Pakistan; not only looting and vandalizing their properties but also sporadically killing them extremely cruelly. Both the martial law and civilian authorities maintained complete silence on these atrocities.

Beginning of the Carnage

The government of Yahya Khan decided to take the fatal military action on March 25, 1971. Reporting on their first night’s operation in a Dhaka University hostel, a Pakistani army officer describes in a recently self-published book:

In another room of the hostel, twenty stark naked young girls of West Pakistan and Bihari origin were found locked up, some since as long as fifteen days. In Jul 1971, I had the opportunity to speak to one of the NCOs of this unit, who was a part of the party, which recovered these unfortunate girls. This tough and hardy soldier shuddered at the memory and said that what they saw at that time would neither be forgotten nor forgiven by anyone present there. The young and innocent girls had been kept naked throughout their captivity and were sadistically tortured and brutally raped beyond all conceivable limits. The last addition to this group was a fifteen-year-old daughter of a Bihari businessman, who had been forcibly lifted from her house on 23 Mar, and during the last two days had been raped by at least 50 hoodlums. Five of these girls later expired due to internal injuries. It was only on witnessing such barbaric and inhuman episodes that some soldiers went berserk too and it became difficult for their officers to maintain the traditional control and discipline of the Army. In some instances, even some officers lost control over themselves. The intent here is to present some idea of the inherent stress of the situation and the extreme emotional trauma the troops were exposed to. Suffice it to say that for many soldiers as well as some officers, the spirit of revenge coupled with the opportunity to exact it proved too strong to be curbed merely by platitudes of the traditional Army discipline. [The Creation of Bangladesh: Witness to Carnage 1971 (p 217)]

Killings and rape of non-Bengali communities outside of Dhaka continued after March 25. A Bangladeshi academic, Taj Hashmi, has recently narrated his personal experience and developments in Bangladesh in the “Preface” of his book Fifty Years of Bangladesh, 1971-2021: Crisis of Culture, Development, Governance and Identity (Palgrave, MacMillan, 2022) as:

“At Sirajganj, a small town in northern Bangladesh before the Pakistani Army entered the town on 27 April 1971, I lost many Bihari school friends, who were burned alive or brutally killed by Bengali lynching mobs. Fazlul Haq Qureshi was one of them. He saved my life the day before he was killed along with all of his immediate family members. Almost 700 Bihari men, women and children met the same fate at Sirajganj alone, where I grew up.”

He has devoted one chapter in the book about the merciless massacre of Bihari Muslims in 1971. The Indian-American academic Sarmila Bose has perhaps conducted the most extensive and painstaking research on the subject. In 2006, in an article in The Telegraph (India) she captioned a picture as “The massacre may have been genocide, but it wasn’t committed by the Pakistan army. The dead men were non-Bengali residents of Jessore, butchered in broad daylight by in Bengali nationalists.” Bose has partially answered the question that we have asked in the title of this article. And yet the Congressmen have failed even to mention massacre of non-Bengalis in 1971. In an article writing for Aljazeera in 2011 after the publication of her major work on the subject she wrote:

As soon as I started to do systematic research on the 1971 war, I found that there was a problem with the story which I had grown up believing: from the evidence that emanated from the memories of all sides at the ground level, significant parts of the “dominant narrative” seem not to have been true. Many “facts” had been exaggerated, fabricated, distorted or concealed. Many people in responsible positions had repeated unsupported assertions without a thought; some people seemed to know that the nationalist mythologies were false and yet had done nothing to inform the public. I had thought I would be chronicling the details of the story of 1971 with which I had been brought up, but I found instead that there was a different story to be told.

The different story that is missing regarding events of 1971 is the story of the treatment of non-Bengalis. Why are these stories missing? Not only the Yahya regime – the regime that imposed a war on the total population of East Pakistan with its Operation Searchlight on March 25; it also made non-Bengalis and pro-Pakistani Bengalis vulnerable to aggression of the secessionist elements. By then most Bengali members of Pakistan armed forces either had revolted or were eliminated by Pakistan armed forces themselves. Only a handful remained loyal to Pakistan. Indiscriminate killings continued by all sides. The Yahya regime foolishly kicked out all foreign journalists from East Pakistan and heavily censored internal press. Subsequent governments in Pakistan seemed to have been shy to speak about it. Brig Karrar Ali Agha failed find a reputed Pakistani publisher for his work. Even to this day, the government of Pakistan has not released findings of its own appointed commission on the subject. The Hamoodur Rahman Commission report came into the public eye only when an Indian news channel leaked it.

I have always wondered about reports of non-Bengali massacres in various parts of then East Pakistan. Were these reports exaggerating the situation? As a college student at the time, I participated in many protest marches during the last days of Ayub Khan, and I witnessed growing tension but I could not have imagined such behavior against non-Bengalis. However, knowing the character of AL student wing, Chhattra League, I could not rule out the possibility of such atrocious behavior. Yet, reports of organized massacres all over East Pakistan struck me as extremely shocking. This reminds of many unknown faces participating in anti-Ayub rallies and my Indian friend’s assertion of the presence of RAW agents in East Pakistan makes sense to me now.

Genocide of Whom?

Does this mean we are suggesting that Pakistan armed forces did not commit genocidal crimes? Definitely not. However, genocide by definition demands evidences of organized killings and elimination of a community. Therefore, one should examine whether Pakistan army’s actions were in response to some of the atrocities committed by AL thugs earlier, as reported by Brig Karrar Ali. I have discussed the subject with Dr. Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, explained the situation in Bangladesh during the period, but he was insisting on Hindu genocide at the time. Referring to his Bangladeshi and Indian colleagues, he told me that any recognition of Bihari genocide would only undermine the genocide committed by the Pakistani troops. He also expressed his reluctance to conduct further inquiry on the subject. Are the interest groups politicizing the issue? Only a thorough examination of all three communities today has the potential of finding the answer. Such undertaking, however, may jeopardize India’s image as a “magnanimous power.”

Magnanimous India

The resolution placed at the US Congress wants us to recognize India’s “magnanimous role” in creating Bangladesh. Hundreds and thousands of Bangladeshis, particularly in the diaspora, are crying foul today because of India’s hegemonic control over their country. They forget that the geography of their country is the main factor that their leaders in 1947 opted for fighting for a homeland jointly with what became Pakistan. More than half a century later one should also seriously examine India’s role in the whole episode.

Views expressed are personal

All we have of freedom; all we use or know – Our Victory Day

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Today is 16 December. It is our Victory Day. This is a day of celebration for us all in Bangladesh!In memory of our Victory Day of 16 December 1971, our fallen heroes who left us in the heart and in the lungs, this round ember of pure love, that I try to rekindle with my poor means, with each breath. We will one day disappear, but let’s swing like feathers before we merge into the ground.

Today, as we should every day, we remember those who volunteered, sacrificed, served, fought, and died, for our freedom. We thank you, and we salute you as we salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We will never forget it. We will remember you.

Bangladesh is a land of countless festivals, in stride with the cycle of the seasons. These proceed with sowing and harvesting and around them have grown legends, most of them portraying the victory of good over evil. Joy Bangla (meaning victory to Bengal). Joy Bangabandhu. Joy Bangladesh, we love you. Joy our valiant and patriotic people who fought with the cruel Pakistani military junta and their local henchmen for establishing Bangladesh in the 1971 war. We salute those heroic people of Bangladesh who were brutally murdered by the evil forces of the Pakistani establishment.

We have lost in nostalgia for those horrible months of 1971 and are now enjoying the sunshine of our independence on this bright morning. Victory Day is Bangladesh’s most important secular holiday and a key element of the national identity, reflecting the nation’s enormous sufferings and honouring millions of victims of the bloody hell 1971 war, but we also wish to speak about the need today to fight global terrorism and cooperate with other nations to do that.

Victory Day is a public holiday in Bangladesh. In a remarkable feat of historical memory, today it is a vast torrent that fills the streets of every Bangladesh city. Yet, it is hard to deny the sheer weight of public enthusiasm on display, with whole families walking together to honour their ancestors, generating a mood that seems both sombre and festive. It is something for parents to do with their children, generation after generation. About three million Bangladesh people died and much of the country was devastated, leaving almost no family untouched. The anti-Pakistani victory is a great source of pride for our people, and legitimacy for our state, at a time when there is quite a lot of uncertainty. So, the idea is to take every opportunity to celebrate it.

This year’s Victory Day will commemorate the 49th anniversary of the capitulation of the Pakistani regime. Victory Day is comparable is like to Memorial Day in Bangladesh, and dedicated to the commemoration of all who died during our glorious Liberation War in 1971. Both are typically marked with parades and the visiting of memorials and cemeteries. For us, it can be canonised as the “Great Patriotic War” in Bangladesh — can in terms of mythological importance be compared to D-Day for Americans? Both events have left unforgettable imprints in the psyches of the respective societies.

While paying dues to fallen heroes is commended around the world, Victory Day in Bangladesh has increasingly become a manifestation of our people’s supreme sacrifices in 1971. Victory Day marks the decisive battle during the 1971 War of Independence in which our people defeated Pakistani forces who sought to re-assert control over our sacred land. Although it marks an important historical battle, the annual military parade also commemorates and recognises the contributions of all our people in their fight to gain and retain our independence.

Victory Day is celebrated all over the country. We hope the people of Bangladesh celebrate the end of Pakistani domination on us and remember those who stood by us in those times when Pakistan’s Army and their local accomplices were knocking at our doors, bombing our places into oblivion and killing millions of our people with no mercy in their hearts. The veterans also say that even though those horrible days are long gone, they should never be forgotten, adding that unfortunately, our world has changed from true patriotism to mollification.

The people bring together people whose near and dear ones fought for the independence of Bangladesh. Thus, we are honouring the memory of heroes who earned this hard-won victory 49 years ago, the war, the deadliest conflict in human history, came to an end as Pakistan’s Instrument of Surrender came into force on 16 December 1971. Almost all people of Bangladesh’s population were caught up in this 9-month-long war. Fireworks will conclude the day of commemoration. The observance of Victory Day is carried annually out to pay respects to the victims and fallen heroes of the war and to give laurels to the surviving veterans.

Long live the cause of freedom! Being a landmark event, people commemorate the patriots who gallantly fought the then-fascist Pakistani troops. It was the shared arduous experience of defending our beloved country that shaped and formed Bangladesh’s modern nation. The memory of the war has become sacred, and, for most people, it is as important as their own birthday. The emergence of Bangladesh has always had a significant place in Bangladesh’s ideology and its importance to its people can be magnified.

With some three million deaths in the fight against the Pakistani military junta and its local confederates, most of Bangladesh’s families experienced personal loss. Victory Day is a public holiday to mark the defeat of the Pakistani enemies by our freedom-loving forces in accompaniment of the Indian people and the Indian Army. The Pakistan Army ceded to the joint command forces of Bangladesh and India on this day 49 years ago. Victory Day is the festival of hope and togetherness. May our life be illuminated with endless prosperity, sparkling happiness and glowing health and that should be our prayers on this gracious occasion. We wish all parts of light in our lives and our dreams come true for a golden Bangladesh.

It is rejoicing that will be when we all see the green and red flag flying atop. We will sing and shout the victory because life is a highway. Righteousness was restored driving away wrongful-nesses; those were the days of great trials of fierce battles, darkness, tanks, bombs, guns and bayonets; still, we were the voice in the desert crying to behold the victorious freedom fighters were coming, riding on the clouds shining like the sun, at the trumpet’s call.

Lift our voices because it is the day of remembrance out of the harrowing hill, salvation will then come to our golden garden.

And those were the days of hell, but our dry bones became as flesh as living, and the time came for rebuilding the devastated country of praise. Bangladesh’s beauty is a merited gift; her departure is unnecessary, and her lips without speaking can write history. Bangabandhu’s call is the one we want to answer for eternity; to speak until no words remain; give until there is nothing to defeat to his submission is life’s greatest victory. The night flower of this heart was like a rainbow, our presence brightened the horizons, but just like the stars disappeared with the daylight.

Our eyes were full of tears once we discovered the beasts ramped on us. The news of the black night of 26 March 1971 blew like a missile in the heat with a fire shooting out from the dark sweltering us, blazing us, leaving the world of our land, all ribbon tied. Dimples and pretty lips, we dropped our world with beauty and tissues fighting back the enemies in full force. Filled with pink ivory issues, this is the way that we felt, we were real… They were killers, they were a disease!  They sat there and shattered our lives. With many of people, you will discover we did not break like glass. Still, we walked in high heels strolling through pink valley skies. With a charm called a Pink Ribbon; – we wore.

Melodic lullabies echo as heartstrings strum secret chords as transcendental images appear. Stargazers are lost for words kaleidoscopic Illuminations paint the sky in an optimistic light. Hope descends in serene silence floating through shadows of the night dancing spirits move to dulcet tunes. Shadows can be seen against the moon. Do you hear our call? To the hallowed ground, we trip hand in hand with a new chapter to embrace in its splendour. Ring out voices on notes sweet and clear. To the universe, our souls will surrender, and fragments of the past spun into flags of freedom. Our Victory March erased from strife away with the racing winds ever so bold singing Golden Bangladesh to hail a new Life on this Victory Day; the lighter the air the higher we climb.

No more the fetid chitterlings to the fading strains of a repetitive tune. Not broken -We rise – We matter. Victory Day celebrations spell a victory for Bangladesh. Joy Bangla and Joy Bangabandhu. Joy Four National Leaders. Joy all Freedom Fighters.

Recollecting glorious December in Bangladesh

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December is the Month of Victory for Bangladesh.

If war is necessary, it is a necessary evil. Its evil is sometimes concealed for a time by its glamour and excitement, but when war is seen in its reality, there is a little glory about it. At its best, it is hideous calamity. It brings in awful loss of life. In our great liberation war of 1971, millions of men, women and children were killed; many died of diseases, and encountered untold sufferings. Hundreds of thousands of our mothers and sisters lost their chastity at the wretched hands of Pakistan’s savage military forces and their local mango-twigs, particularly Jamaat-e-Islami gawks.

If we recall the divested homes and wrecked hearts tell the rest of the story with tears. It brought in destruction of property, waste of health, dislocation of trade and industry, and general upsetting of the social life of the nation by war – imposed on us deliberately by Pakistani military junta.

Men have found way to abolish their great evils, such as, slavery and if they want to abolish war, they can definitely find ways to do that as where there is a will there is a way. We must not think the way Pakistan and American rogue states think.

Some people forget that war always brings destruction on mass scale. They forget Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching of non-violence, following which he freed his motherland from the shackles of slavery. They forget that if Gandhi could oust the powerful Britishers by dint of non-violence, why not others follow the same foot print.

In the month of our victory, we want to remember that wars are necessary evils and their horrors are so many and of such magnitude that they cannot be described in words. We must not forget the horrors of the two world wars. In the wars, there was mass-killing and destruction of property. Thousands were made widows and orphans. War brings hatred and spreads falsehood. People become selfish and brutal. As a result, humanity and morality suffers.

War is the enemy of all humanity.

Wars are not the solution of the problems. Instead, they generate problems and create hatred among nations. War can decide one issue but gives birth too many. Bangladesh, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the greatest horrible faces of the consequence of wars. Even after so many decades, people are suffering from the miseries of war. Whatever be the cause of war, it always results in destruction of life and property at large.

One obnoxious face of modern warfare is terrorism which targets the strongest of the strong and causes dangers beyond control of anyone. Terrorists do not discriminate between races, religion, and culture. They target only the humanity as a whole.

Victory Day is celebrated on every 16 December in Bangladesh to mark the anniversary of the surrender of Pakistan’s armed forces in Bangladesh at the end of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

We are in the know of the union with Pakistan only came about as a result of the partition of British India into Muslim and Hindu zones in 1947 – India becoming one nation and Pakistan another. However, West Pakistan (now Pakistan) was separated by hundreds of miles from East Pakistan (Bangladesh), which made for a most unnatural union.

Later, Pakistan began to refuse equal status to the Bengali language, people of this land and otherwise ignite resentment in Bangladesh. Finally, in 1971, a bloody broke out with Pakistan as Bengalis demanded an independent and sovereign state.

Aided by India and former Soviet Union, Pakistan was finally defeated by us. Pakistan’s General Amir Niazi finally surrendered to the joint forces of Bangladesh and India on 16 December at the-then Ramna Race Course in Dhaka. The crowds gathered to witness the event cheered wildly. Within only a few months’ time, most other nations of the world had recognised Bangladesh’s hard-won independence.

The 16th of December, 1971 is a red-letter day in our national history. It was on this day; we were to snatch our independence after a life and death liberation war for long nine months. This victory was a victory of right against wrong. It was a war of self-emancipation. Every year, we observe this day in a colorful manner. This day reminds us of the supreme sacrifices of our people in a colorful manner.

This day also reminds us of the supreme sacrifice of our freedom fighters who will ever shine in our hearts like the luminous stars in the sky. But at the same time, we must remember the spirit of the liberation war.

We wanted a country where justice will prevail over injustice and wrong. The lords of the mischief mongers are getting upper hand in the society, whereas the meek and mild become the worst sufferers. Disorder in everything has become the order of the day.

I call back after the victory, I felt proud and dignified. I revisited the well-known battlefields, which were familiar to me, after the war was over.

December – the month of the war victory marks great memories for us as we lived the moments of victory on 16 December 1971, and feel glory of eliminating all sense of sorrow incurred by the defeat of Pakistan’s military forces.

On this month of December, we pay rich tributes to the memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the sake of our independence. So, let all of us remember the spirit of the victory and see to establish just laws in the country to build it as a country which is rightly be called ‘Sonar Bangla.’

December is a red-letter month for the people of Bangladesh. The biggest fight for the people of a nation is the fight for independence. Salute to the brave people and army of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is a symbol of the immense victory of good against evil! It was a celebration of the right against wrong. Every fighter who sacrificed their life for the freedom of the country will forever stay at the heart of the people.

The struggle for freedom was long and gory for the people of Bangladesh. However, the moment they achieved it, there was a sigh of relief in the entire country.

Let us use the independence in the right manner as it comprises the hard-earned tears and sweats of all the people of the nation who had been through the liberation war of 1971. Salute the flag as the red ball in the national flag of Bangladesh symbolises the power of the country and also the blood that has been shed by our soldiers to get freedom. Victory day of Bangladesh is part of the collective memory of country. The greatest battle fought and won by the nation and its people.

Let us take an oath that we will not misuse the freedom given to us by the country. We will make each of the freedom fighter proud with the way we use our independence. Independence of ours shall not cut the freedom of others. Co-exist and co-ordinate is the mantra of living.

Our freedom was possible due to the support of India and former Soviet Union. Our youth got trained and we got freedom through our youths. Victory day is a struggle to be at the depth of our hearts forever.

The cruelty can only be defeated with grit and determination. Every warrior from Bangladesh was then determined to drive out the Pakistani enemies and live on their own terms. The nation faced its greatest crisis until finally Victory Day arrived and the people of Bangladesh could finally smile.

On the morning of 16th December 1971, the sun did shine bright on the land of Bangladesh and the day was greeted with smile throughout the entire country.

Bangladesh is rich in culture and heritage. Pakistani rulers wanted to play with it and hence were thrown out of the country. The nation has had enough of patriots; let us not add to it by fighting amongst each other.

You cannot cage a wild bird and so you cannot cage Bangladesh. It is a country flying high with dreams and thriving to betterment every moment. We struggled our way to freedom and we are never going to easily let it away! The cries of pain yet reverberates into the ears of the living. Our nation has a dark history and it teaches us to fight and stand for ourselves.

On the whole, war has always been the greatest blot on humanity. Now it requires retrospection for the whole of human race to think over it for the sake of humanity, otherwise nothing will remain neither war nor humanity.

Myanmar-Bangladesh ‘Border Guard Diplomacy’ strengthens ties

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Border Guard Bangladesh in a top-level meeting with their Myanmar counterpart Border Guard Police on Thursday called for maintaining peace and curbing trans-boundary crime.

In the meeting held in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, the Bangladeshi side also urged building mutual trust between the two forces.

The BGP is hosting the eighth edition of this top border conference, where several hours of discussion were held. A joint discussion will be held again today.   BGB director general Major General Shakil Ahmed is leading a 10-member Bangladesh delegation, while police force deputy chief Major General Aung Naing Thu is leading a 15-member Myanmar delegation. The Myanmar delegation includes senior officials from Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP), as well as representatives from the country’s ministries of defence, home affairs, foreign affairs, and labour and population affairs.

Representatives from Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office, home and foreign ministries, among others, are attending the discussion.

 Bangladesh wants a ‘peaceful’ and ‘crime-free’ border through the building of mutual trust. A press release shared by BGB headquarters said that issues related to recent border tension, including airspace violations, transnational counter-terrorism and criminal activities, drug smuggling, and human trafficking, among others, were on the priority list in the discussion.

The meeting also discussed joint patrolling and trust-building measures, it said. The Bangladesh delegation will return to Dhaka on November 28.

The meeting was held just 10 days after Squadron Leader Rizwan Rushdee, 30, an officer of the Bangladesh Air Force deputed to the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, and a Rohingya woman were killed and a member of the Rapid Action Battalion was badly injured during an anti-smuggling operation on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border near Naikhyangchari under the Bandarban district on November 14.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army was blamed for the killing.Earlier on October 30, border forces from Bangladesh and Myanmar pledged to improve bilateral relations after shells landed in Bangladesh amid clashes between Myanmar forces and the rebel Arakan Army in Rakhine State.

On October 26, Myanmar’s special operations commander, Lieutenant General Phone Myat, visited Bangladesh’s army chief, General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, in Dhaka in an apparent attempt to improve relations and boost regional security.

Bangladesh filed diplomatic complaints after fighter jets and drone flights violated its airspace and mortar shells landed on its territory several times between August and September.

On September 16, a Rohingya teenager was killed and five people were injured when a mortar exploded at a Rohingya camp along the Naikhyangchari border.

A 10-member Bangladesh delegation led by BGB Director General Major General Shakil Ahmed are participating in the conference.

The topic of discussion at the conference includes de-escalation of the tense situation at the border caused by the recent internal conflict in Myanmar, violation of the air border, combating inter-state terrorism and preventing the activities of cross-border criminal gangs, prevention of illegal infiltration, prevention of drug and human trafficking, enhancing mutual cooperation to increase security at borders, exchange of various information related to borders, conducting joint patrolling, organising regular coordination meetings/flag meetings at the region and battalion levels, repatriation of detained/punished citizens of both countries, repatriation of forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals to their original abodes and increasing mutual trust between BGB and BGP.

There had always been tension along the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Along the 271-kilometer sea and land boundary between the two nations, the two have a history of conflict. For instance, a border battle with the Myanmar military in 1978 necessitated the deployment of Bangladeshi troops along the border. When Myanmar sent out its naval ships to place a Korean drilling rig in Bangladesh’s exclusive economic zone close to St. Martin’s Island in 2008, Bangladesh too came dangerously close to having a maritime conflict. But the current issue really began in 2017 with the exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar.

The entire world is aware that in 2017, more than a million Rohingya refugees sought safety in Bangladesh. These refugees have been hosted by Bangladesh on humanitarian grounds. To maintain regional stability, the Rohingya refugee situation must be solved.

Bangladesh is under great pressure due to the current Rohingya crisis. In dealing with this crisis, the country has had to face, and continues to face, some new diplomatic realities. It suddenly discovered that some of its long-time friends were no longer with it. It has largely failed to achieve the expected results by applying traditional diplomatic methods to resolve the crisis. Therefore, there is a need for new thinking in the successful application of the various methods of modern diplomacy. Such as economic diplomacy, military diplomacy, or cultural diplomacy. Military diplomacy is a special strategy among the strategies used by various countries to protect the country’s interests and strengthen the state’s diplomatic position in the international arena, and both its influence and application in the current world are increasing.

What did Bangladesh do at that time? First and foremost, Bangladesh found a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the tension it currently experienced at the border with Myanmar. There has never been any notion that it can resolve the issue through violence or armed war. But diplomatic action alone is insufficient.

It must be supported by deterrents because deterrents are what give diplomatic actions bite. Some international experts have also contended that the military balances are likely skewed in favor of Myanmar, making it challenging for us to demonstrate an effective level of deterrence. However, Bangladesh made an effort to make sure that its diplomatic actions have a solid foundation.

In an effort to deliver protest notes to the Myanmar ambassador, the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry has so far used diplomatic channels. It hasn’t changed anything. In addition to civilian diplomacy, the Bangladesh government has taken a step forward in solving the border and Rohingya crisis through successful military diplomatic activities. IT must be of no surprise that in special circumstances, a country’s military diplomacy plays an instrumental role in managing foreign relations.

Relations between the two countries are now at a chilly level, with rounds of talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar surrounding the Rohingya crisis and Myanmar’s last-minute bungling of repatriation. In such a context, Bangladesh is looking for a possible solution to this crisis in military diplomacy.

Just like political diplomacy, military diplomacy has had positive discussions with Myanmar’s military leadership to resolve the Rohingya crisis, and in terms of defense cooperation, the relationship between the two countries will accelerate and strengthen mutual trust with this friendly country.

The influence of the military on state power in Myanmar is immense. Apart from that, the current Rohingya crisis falls within the ambit of the army. As a result, any move to deal with the crisis without involving the country’s army is bound to fail. Had there already been a close professional relationship between the Bangladesh and Myanmar armies, that relationship could have been put to good use in de-escalating the current crisis.

The Bangladesh army and border guard have seen success in military diplomacy before. In May 2014, the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) member Naik Mizanur Rahman was killed in firing by Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP), causing intense tension on the border between the two countries.

Later, on the instructions of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the then BGB Director General  took the initiative to develop bilateral relations with the BGP. In June of that year, he led an eighjt-member Bangladesh delegation to a meeting of the BGB and Myanmar Police Force (MPF) chiefs in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

This was the BGB’s first meeting with the MPF. The meeting was considered as a milestone in the development of the border forces of the two countries. BGB and BGP worked together for a long time by accepting the land border agreement during the visit of the then BGB Director General.

This brings relief to Bangladesh’s 261-km border with Myanmar. Based on that meeting, Myanmar then expressed good neighbourly behavior with Bangladesh.

A Myanmar military commander visited Bangladesh and met its Army chief in Dhaka in an apparent attempt to improve relations and boost regional security on October 27.

According to an ISPR statement, the Myanmar military’s special operation commander, Lt Gen Phone Myat, explained the situation in Myanmar and how the junta was trying to maintain law and order while working with friendly countries. The statement said Bangladesh army chief discussed improving military relations, discussions between commanders and training exchanges.

Bangladesh COAS Gen Shafiuddin Ahmed called for Myanmar to work with Bangladesh to ensure regional security and the rapid repatriation of the Rohingya community. Myanmar’s delegation expressed interest in cooperating in professional growth and training exchanges, increasing friendship and solving problems bilaterally, the statement said.

General Shafiuddin stated in September that Bangladesh’s armed forces were prepared to act if Myanmar’s troops continued to fire across the border while pursuing the Arakan Army. He claimed that he complained strongly to his counterpart in Myanmar about the shelling, gunfire, and interference with jet and drone flights that resulted in the death of a Rohingya refugee and injuries to others in the Bandarban district.

Tatmadaw, the military of Myanmar, has been engaged in combat with the AA in northern Rakhine State, close to the Bangladeshi border. Since August, Bangladesh has complained to the international community about fighter jet and drone flights over its territory as well as mortar and machine gun rounds that cross the border.

Mohammad Ikbal, a 17-year-old Rohingya teenager, was killed by at least three mortar rounds launched into Bangladesh on September 16. Six other people were also hurt. The visit was welcomed and is a great development.

A battalion-level flag meeting between BRB and BGP decided to improve bilateral relations between the two countries, while the Myanmar side regretted the recent incidents of shelling along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.The meeting stressed the need to take necessary steps to boost communication, confidence, and trust between the border guarding forces of the two ‘friendly countries.’

Although it has a long history, military diplomacy is currently being addressed in several nations. The Rohingya issue and the most recent border dispute have a negative impact on the peace, security, and stability of the region. Regional peace and security will be threatened by the Rohingya repatriation’s delay. Military influence and diplomacy may play a decisive role in ending the Rohingya crisis.

Additionally, given that Myanmar is currently governed by a military government, the military’s position will be able to strengthen bilateral ties. The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry can therefore develop plans and measures to end the Rohingya issue with this goal in mind. The solution to the border conflict between Bangladesh and Myanmar lies in multilateral diplomacy. Strengthening military diplomacy is necessary in this regard.

Although Bangladesh and Myanmar share a border of 271 km, the Rohingya refugee crisis has been a long-standing bilateral issue between Myanmar and Bangladesh. But in order to assist in resolving this regional humanitarian crisis, both involved parties must participate in meaningful political dialogue. To establish a long-lasting political solution, Myanmar and Bangladesh could use military diplomacy as a tactic.

Basically, there should be regular exchanges of visits, training sessions, and joint exercises between the military forces of Bangladesh and Myanmar. These will lessen mistrust while boosting assurance and comprehension. Additionally, this may assist in resolving the region’s ongoing Rohingya refugee problem.

Bangladesh and Myanmar must forge military-diplomatic ties in order to successfully handle the Rohingya repatriation process. The Rohingya situation might be resolved with the use of military diplomacy and clout. The military role will be able to promote bilateral relations because Myanmar is governed by a military regime.

Military diplomatic communication is an effective strategy in strengthening relations with neighboring states. As Myanmar is Bangladesh’s only neighbouring country after India, its strategic importance is undeniable for Bangladesh. It has tried all kinds of bilateral and multilateral efforts to deal with the ongoing Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, but so far, no promising results have been achieved.

The influence of the military on state power in Myanmar is immense. Apart from that, the current Rohingya crisis falls within the ambit of the army. As a result, any move to deal with the crisis without involving the country’s army is bound to fail. Had there already been a close professional relationship between the Bangladesh and Myanmar armies, that relationship could have been put to good use in de-escalating the current crisis.

Bangladesh: Plaudits to PM Sheikh Hasina for her bold stance

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Bangladesh is a peace-loving nation which has never tried to hurt any country, but if any attempt is made by anyone, be it an outlander or a local to disrupt peace and harmony in the country’s domestic affairs by any means, a befitting reply shall be given.

It is the duty of every citizen to carry forward the ideals and resolutions of our freedom fighters and soldiers, protect the independence, integrity and sovereignty of our nation and play their part in building a strong, prosperous and self-reliant Bangladesh. We always want peace and friendly ties with countries across the world because it’s in our blood and culture.

But we warn of befitting response to any misadventure in our internal affairs by any person or country!

Lashing out at the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, recently a few foreign diplomats and their mango-twigs are making irresponsible and provocative statements in connection with Bangladesh’s forthcoming national voting which is raspingly reprehensible and reflects the chauvinistic mindset, especially of Uncle Sam, which can further exacerbate the already impaired environment.

Let us now turn back, a little while. In 1971, the malevolent US administration under President Richard Nixon and secretary of state Henry Kissinger sided with the vicious Pakistani military junta during the nine-month Liberation war when we were battling life and death to establish our own homeland – Bangladesh.

Moreover, the history of the US Central Intelligence Agency is replete with numerous examples of political assassinations, not only in the US but also of leaders of other countries. So, on 15th August 1975, the world’s cruellest and most disdainful killing outfit CIA of America actively developed various methods for the deliberate elimination of the US’s newest political opponent, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, involving not only special forces in this task but also the special services of countries that cooperated closely with the CIA. Because Pakistan and its strong ally America were given a crushing defeat by the Bengalis in cooperation with our friendly countries India and the former Soviet Union in our glorious Liberation War with Pakistan in 1971 to establish Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu’s worthy daughter Premier Sheikh Hasina places human solidarity, the concern for others, at the centre of the values by which she lives and as she does. Using her experience, moral courage and ability to rise above nation, race and creed, she is making our planet a more peaceful and equitable place to live. Massive development works have happened and are taking place under her able and dynamic leadership for changing a lot of people in the country.

A hero should possess leadership power, be strong, and be devoted to a just cause. Strong willpower would allow the hero to get things done. And lastly, the hero needs to be devoted to their cause, while having the mindset of not giving up until something is accomplished. Sheikh Hasina portrays great leadership, a strong will for what’s right, and a devoted mindset; all of which signify that she deserves the title of a hero. With a strong will to get something done, she has proven that hard work pays off. She has been showing she is a strong leader through her good deeds. She is a strong, determined woman who has stopped at nothing to achieve her goal for people’s welfare in Bangladesh.

But we restate that some Western external strangers – diplomatists under the leadership of an over-enthusiastic American Ambassadors stationed in Dhaka have recently been trying to trespass into national affairs, especially in our upcoming national voting process…

Sheikh Hasina has bravely reminded them about Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, the diplomats have a duty not to interfere with the internal affairs of the State they are involved in the diplomatic missions.

They should bear in mind that Bangladesh can also take legal action under the Convention, since it is stated in Article 9 (1) of the Convention that, the receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is not acceptable.

Outrageous enough. The western power countries are also of their own volition and all of a sudden want to rewrite our history, but it is a squall attack on the truth. Their immoral acts have created an impression that they are taking sides with their old local mango twigs of 1971 in the current so-called political situation.

Thus, some foreign diplomats stationed in Bangladesh have been working against our freedom, against the sovereignty of our country. We will not tolerate this any longer.

Some of Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet colleagues have also issued bold statements, warning foreign diplomats against interfering in the country’s internal affairs. 

We do not need to resort to laws from other countries. Moreover, the country does not need an endorsement by any foreign envoy in the next general elections. 

Bangladesh is not a banana republic, and the country can never accept the arrogant behaviour of ambassadors and high commissioners from any foreign diplomatic missions, whatever the country they represent.

We urge foreign diplomats to Bangladesh to respect the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which stipulated that foreign countries have “the duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.”

Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent state. We have liberated it through a bloody war. We’ll not give any concession on the question of the country’s dignity. It will never bow down to anyone. We must maintain its dignity.

We will never allow being dictated by foreign entities on how we manage our internal affairs. We will be happy to accept the help of our foreign friends. We will never accept dictation on how we are managing our own internal domestic processes. Rather, we chide them angrily.

Foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen hoped that the foreign diplomats here will follow the ‘code of conduct, saying some overseas missions do interfere in Bangladesh’s domestic affairs.“It’s sad… some foreign missions here are interfering in our domestic issues … it’s not right as they interfere in domestic issues beyond their own duties,” he told journalists after attending a programme at Bangabandhu Conference Centre in the capital.

Commenting on the US sanctions on Russia following the Ukraine war, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “No nation can be controlled through sanctions. She termed the sanctions on Russia as a violation of human rights.”

Speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration of the newly constructed office building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “It is our misfortune as the Russia-Ukraine war is taking place at a time when the whole world is at great economic challenges due to Coronavirus. She said the situation of people around the world is getting worse. People are being harmed due to sanctions. The sanctions that the United States has imposed on Russia are creating a hurdle for countries which are in need of importing various items. Due to the sanctions, transportation costs have increased, while there also are hurdles. The source for importing various items has shrunk. It is not only in Bangladesh, even United States is facing similar hurdles.”

She further said, “The US and developed nations need to think, the sanctions they are imposing is causing suffering to their own people as well. They also need to consider, ordinary people of all countries in the world are suffering more than those countries under sanctions. People in developed, developing and low-income countries are the worst sufferers of these sanctions.”

Sheikh Hasina called upon the United States and the Western countries to lift sanctions as they cannot control any nation ever through these sanctions.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister said, people living in the US and the Western nations also are complaining of sufferings due to the sanctions. “Everyone’s life is becoming miserable”, she added.

Everyone would also agree with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, as the sanctions imposed on Russia are failing in causing real suffering or stress in Russia. Instead, these sanctions are becoming counter-productive and are blowing back. Americans and Europeans are actually the worst sufferers of these sanctions, as inflation is becoming intolerable to people.

Thank you, reveredApa, for being who you are, your fearless and truthful standing posture against those arrant people. We stand by you with all our boldness.

Bangladesh-Myanmar: Military Diplomacy

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Myanmar is one of Bangladesh’s closest neighbors, and the two countries have had a long-standing relationship dating back generations. The 271-kilometer Bangladesh-Myanmar border is strategically significant for Bangladesh, despite the fact that it is militarized due to Myanmar’s continuous internal strife. Relations between Bangladesh and Myanmar were formalized on January 13, 1972, when Myanmar, as the sixth state, recognized Bangladesh as an independent entity. However, due to the presence of several unresolved issues such as Rohingya refugees and maritime border demarcation, the scene has changed in an unfavorable way, and ties between these two neighbors have not always been as friendly as envisioned.

Defense diplomacy

Military diplomacy in the twenty-first century goes beyond traditional notions of war and peace.Myanmar’s military-to-military ties with other countries are critical for the country’s long-term survival. To protect mutual bilateral interests, Myanmar’s military (Tatmadaw) should develop ties with Bangladesh’s military.

The military cooperation between Myanmar and Bangladesh has a lot of promise. There are several areas where the two countries may engage and work together, with the most essential being the improvement of relations.In a fresh turn of events, a three-person delegation from the Myanmar army met with the Bangladesh army in Dhaka. The two sides talked about promoting regional security and stability as well as the prompt repatriation of the Rohingyas.The Myanmar Army was reminded by the Bangladesh Army to exercise caution when undertaking any operations in the border regions.

The Rakhine region of Myanmar, which borders Bangladesh, has seen a number of airspace violations over the past few months as border guards there have fought domestic militants. Bangladesh strongly protested the violation of airspace and the landing of shells inside Bangladeshi territory. However, Myanmar border guards have apologized to their counterparts in Bangladesh for these events. Border soldiers from Bangladesh and Myanmar’s junta promised to mend bilateral ties.

The Myanmar delegation led by Lt Gen Phone Myat, Command Bureau of Special Operations, paid Bangladesh Army Chief Gen SM Shafiuddin, Ahmed, a courtesy call on October 26 at the Army Headquarters. The conference happens a few weeks after border tension erupted as a result of border violations committed by Myanmar during hostilities with the Arakan Army, an armed rebel organization in Rakhine State.

The commander of the Bangladesh Army, SM Shafiuddin, urged the Myanmar delegation to cooperate for regional security and discussed ways to strengthen ties between the two militaries, as well as collaborative discussions, training exchanges, coordinated disaster management, and information sharing.The Myanmar delegation provided information about the situation in Myanmar and stated that they are working to keep order and peace in their nation at the meeting between the two forces.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have exchanged military delegations, which could pave the path for the two nations to address their bilateral issues. To address certain common bilateral concerns, both sides might collaborate and share their knowledge and expertise. Military training exchanges between the two-armed forces can benefit both sides in terms of improving operational capabilities. Combined military exercises, UN peacekeeping operation (UNPKO) training, and disaster management cooperation, as well as exchange programs, senior-level visits, and medical cooperation, sports events, adventure activities, military tourism, joint cycling expeditions, and adventure training, are some examples of sectors of cooperation.

The united efforts of the two states may pave the way for closer connections between the two neighbors. Improved military ties between Bangladesh and Myanmar can aid in the smoothing of ties and the resolution of long-standing issues such as the Rohingya crisis, maritime disputes, and border-related trans-border crimes Both forces from Myanmar and Bangladesh should exchange visits, training, and joint exercises on a regular basis.  These will aid in the reduction of mistrust and the promotion of trust and understanding.

This could also help to resolve the region’s long-standing Rohingya refugee crisis.

On the environmental front, the Tatmadaw and Bangladesh military may collaborate to lessen the risk of regional environmental degradation through coordinated disaster management systems, operations, and projects. Cyclonic Storm Sitrang was a tropical cyclone that affected India and Bangladesh on 25 October 2022. Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar could work together. Cyclone Nargis in 2008 was the best illustration of it. This natural calamity wreaked havoc on both countries’ coastlines. Both Myanmar and Bangladesh have several opportunities to work in order to lessen the risk of environmental degradation and loss.

The two countries’ relations are based on cross-border dialogue between ordinary people on both sides of the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The most effective strategy to progress together and maintain a peaceful relationship between the concerned countries is to establish a people-to-people connection between the two sovereign countries. This is especially essential when the countries in question are neighbors. The people of Bangladesh and Myanmar must have a harmonious and thriving relationship. Both militaries can essentially promote trade and commerce with one another.

Potential mutual benefit

Apart from India, Myanmar is the only other country on our border. It has the potential to provide Bangladesh with strategic benefits. It could be the starting point for a land-based alternative to the maritime route to China and Southeast Asia. Such a road link has the potential to expand Bangladesh’s communication network with Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Myanmar is also a country with a lot of promise, thanks to its abundant natural resources. Myanmar’s forests and natural resources, such as gas, oil, and stones, are vast, and Bangladesh can considerably benefit from them. As a result, maintaining good relations with Myanmar is more in Bangladesh’s interest for reasons of national security.

Unfriendly relations between Bangladesh-Myanmar Myanmar can cause instability in the region and pose a severe national security threat for both Myanmar and Bangladesh. So, for ensuring greater regional and bilateral interest, Myanmar and Bangladesh must engage militarily through defense cooperation.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have a lot of potential in their bilateral relationship. There are a lot of areas where the two countries may collaborate and work together, the most important of which is the upgrading of existing military and commercial connections, which are now in poor form. But military diplomacy from the perspective of defense cooperation can help strengthen bilateral ties with a neighborly spirit and solve bilateral problems such as the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have opportunities to strengthen military ties in the face of common dangers.Terrorism and transnational crime are two of BIMSTEC’s key concerns, both of which are impossible for member governments to combat on their own. Over time, the nature of terrorism and militancy has also changed. Cyber risks are more important than ever before in the digital age. This type of fighting in the sovereign space necessitates strong intelligence exchange and capacity building, which can be eased by combining the two countries’ military skills.

Cross-border arms trade, as well as unlawful human and drug trafficking, will be hampered by institutional collaboration in this area Furthermore, high-level delegations would encourage bilateral negotiations aimed at overcoming previous impasses and providing UN peacekeeping deployments with capacity-building opportunities.

Finally, engaging with Bangladesh would benefit Myanmar. Military relations between the two neighboring countries can provide peace, harmony, regional stability, increased regional interest, and other benefits throughout the region (South Asia and Southeast Asia).

Bangladesh: Promoting “culture of peace” through UN peacekeeping

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The establishment and maintenance of stability through cooperation was the key motivation behind the UN’s founding in 1945. The primary objective of the UN is to “maintain international peace and security, and in pursuit of such ends, to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace and to bring about by peaceful means and in compliance with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.” As a part of a global peace movement, the UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) were established in 1948 to settle international conflicts. The first mission was to send UN Army investigators to the Middle East to observe the agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. In recent years, the UN peacekeeping operation has changed to reflect the dynamic nature of international conflicts and the global political landscape. The UN peacekeeping role was specifically extended after the Cold War.

South Asian countries send a sizable contingent of soldiers to peacekeeping operations. Peacekeeping operations are one area of international activity where the region’s united efforts have had a positive effect. Bangladesh has assumed a leadership position in the UN’s peacekeeping mission and is well-versed in the history of such missions. Bangladesh is one of the UN’s most significant and trustworthy partners thanks to its ongoing commitment, adherence to the organization’s regulations, and prompt adaptation measures. It has stayed committed to acting as an accountable UNPKO stakeholder despite the changing nature of the world’s security environment. Instead of concentrating only on peacemaking and peacebuilding, modern peacekeeping aims to ensure social protection in both pre- and post-conflict environments and to seal harmonious connections. After intrastate warfare ended and armed conflict began, peacekeeping now has a variety of responsibilities that go beyond its core duties. One of the main goals of UN peacekeeping missions may be to increase state efficiency and reduce state fragility. As a result, the current batch of troops may significantly affect the UN forces’ ability to operate.

Despite challenging topographical, meteorological, and other unfavorable conditions, Bangladeshi forces are completing the job with the utmost integrity, dedication, and professionalism. Bangladesh has been actively taking part in peacekeeping operations all over the world for the past three decades, and it has been essential to maintaining world peace and stability. In 1988, Bangladesh participated for the first time in both the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG) in Iraq and the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia. In addition to multiple successful operations in Somalia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bangladeshi troops ensured that rebels in Liberia and the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) gave up and laid down their arms. The country also closely monitored the elections in Mozambique, the Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and other African countries. Since 1988, Bangladesh has sent almost 175,000 soldiers, including more than 1,800 women, on 54 peacekeeping operations to 40 different countries on five continents. Presently, around 7,000 military and police are participating in ten distinct tasks. The majority of Bangladesh’s peacekeepers are stationed in Africa. The nations and names of the missions where Bangladeshi personnel are presently stationed are included in the following table.

When they first joined the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia in 1993, a detachment of 1,002 soldiers was headed by the 3rd East Bengal Regiment, an infantry regiment from the Bangladesh Army. The operation in Cambodia was a huge endeavor for Bangladesh, and the military of that nation contributed a sizable detachment to the peacekeeping effort. The Bangladeshi military participated in DDR efforts in Kosovo, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, and Liberia as well as demining operations in South Sudan. They have also helped Juba have access to water, sanitation, basic education, jobs, and other means of livelihood. In response to the growing threat presented by improvised explosive devices, Bangladesh’s Engineer Centre and School of Military Engineering and Ordnance Centre and School has started providing specialized training on counter-IED (IED). All peacekeeping units getting ready for deployment to Mali receive specialized training from these two institutes. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to adopt the 2016-introduced Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System. It has accelerated its deployment by contributing troops to the UN mission in Mali. Bangladesh is dedicated to upholding its reputation in order to bring about world peace. The most casualties occurred during three large ambushes against Bangladeshi contingents in 2017 and 2018. Eight valiant Bangladeshi warriors gave their lives in these three ambushes, inflicting serious injuries on 10 more troops.

A brigade-sized force was able to be sent to Freetown, Sierra Leone as a result of Bangladesh’s prompt provision of more troops in response to the UN’s request and in compliance with the mission’s increased mandate. Bangladeshi soldiers continued to serve in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo by frequently keeping an eye on villages to maintain security. Missions by Bangladeshi contingents in Darfur, Cyprus, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were completed successfully. Former peacekeepers and observers claim that the UN hired the majority of Bangladeshi soldiers for peacekeeping operations worldwide over the previous three decades because of their neutrality, professionalism, and quick responsiveness during the deployment. In addition to their competence, former members of the military forces and the police claimed that Bangladeshi peacekeepers’ high moral standing while serving in UN missions also assisted the country in sending out more troops. In 2011, 2014, 2015, 2021, and 2022, Bangladesh was the country that supplied the most troops.

In November 2019, Bangladesh Police received the Best Police Unit Award for its dedication to UN Peacekeeping missions. The Nyala Super Camp in South Darfur, Sudan, was secured by the Bangladesh Formed Police Unit (FPU) 11, which received praise for its outstanding efforts in boosting the capabilities of the police force. In 2021, some 110 Bangladesh Navy servicemen who took part in the UN mission to uphold stability in Beirut, Lebanon, were awarded the Peacekeeping Medal. Rear Admiral Andreas Mugge, the Maritime Task Force (MTF) Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, presented the medal to the officers and crew of the Bangladesh Navy destroyer “Sangram” in recognition of their contributions to peacekeeping operations. Since the Navy was sent to Lebanon 11 years ago, its personnel have performed their responsibilities with the utmost integrity, commitment, and efficacy. The Navy’s proud participation has strengthened Bangladesh’s status and image overseas. Additionally, Bangladesh was warmly commended this year by the US Embassy in Dhaka for their contributions to UN peacekeeping missions. When Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the former president of Sierra Leone, paid a visit to Bangladesh in 2003, he expressed his appreciation for Bangladesh’s significant help to Sierra Leone as a result of the performance of the nation’s peacekeepers in Africa. Ivorians frequently called Bangladeshi soldiers “munami,” which is Ivorian for “my friend.” Additionally, the UN awarded medals to about 861 members of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, including 19 women, who were serving with the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan (UNMISS) in 2020 for their unwavering efforts to ensure the safety of civilians.

The UN peacekeeping deployment is a significant illustration of internationalism and world collaboration. It has been proven to be one of the best strategies for promoting and upholding global peace and stability. The “Blue Helmet” now stands for global cooperation and collective leadership for world peace. Bangladesh eventually joined the “Blue Helmet” family with pride due to its enormous commitment to UN peacekeeping efforts over time. The nation of Bangladesh has reached unprecedented heights as a result of its participation, service, and sacrifice in UN peacekeeping missions for world peace. Bangladesh has been building its reputation in the UN for more than three decades thanks to its diligence and commitment. As a global peacekeeper and advocate, Bangladesh may be regarded as exceptional and exemplary. Bangladeshi peacekeepers have served in Africa’s arid regions and continue to do so. They have made a significant contribution in a variety of fields as security personnel, medical professionals, engineers, trainers, and advisors while dealing with numerous security threats, difficulties, and challenges. Around the world, threats are currently taking on new dimensions, which is likely to jeopardize world peace. Radicalization, environmental concerns, enormous human migration, the growth of right-wing extreme nationalism, catastrophic catastrophes, trade conflicts, etc. are some of the primary security dangers of the new millennium. The UN may react to the fresh challenges and change its emphasis to take into account the developing nature of the dispute and the evolving role of PKO. If Bangladesh is to keep up with the rate of global development and manage difficult disagreements, it may need to make progress.

Bangladesh: The heinous jail killings of 1975

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Forty-seven years have passed by. The near and dear ones of the four most important national leaders of Bangladesh after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib are yet to receive any justice for the savage killings. Nor has the Nation gotten any redress for the tragic loss of their icons. Jail is supposed to be the safest place in the city. If some citizen’s life is at risk or either the government or he himself feels any deficiency in safety or security, he may be taken into protective custody in a jail or sub-jail. The law and order situation of the country was so poor and vulnerable during the period after 1975 that the safest place was not safe anymore. Some rouge personnel of the Bangladesh army executed one of the most criminal operations in the history of Bangladesh, Indian subcontinent and the whole world.

Similar or even more cruel was the same group’s operation on 15 August of the same year when Bangabandhu and almost his whole family were massacred at his Dhanmondi residence. Even the kid son of the leader, Sheikh Russell was not spared. Our Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana escaped as they were on a Europe tour. Bangabandhu being the father of the new Nation loved his people. That was a great quality. But he perhaps loved them too much and believed them too much. He had to pay the price of that belief with his blood and the lives of almost his entire family. He was advised time and again by the Bangladeshi individuals deputed for his security to shift to a properly protected residence which he always ignored showing the reason that he had faith in his people who could do no harm to him. The same happened when some of his friends among world leaders gave him the same advice. Oh, how wrong he was!

We do not need to study rocket science to understand that the few junior army officers in the rank of Major/Captain and their JCO/NCO associates could not plan and execute such a merciless, heinous, bloody coup to annihilate a leader of Bangabandhu’s stature together with his whole family. They must have had influential planners and supporters at home and abroad. Bangabandhu did not realise that with the emergence of Bangladesh, many countries of the then world politics were not happy since they supported Pakistan during our Great War of Liberation. It was a serious blow to their foreign policy. Similarly, a section of Bangladesh’s population and politicians were also having anti-Awami League agenda. That they would be able to strike with such venom was inconceivable. So the saddest day of 15 August came about.

Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad was an arch-rival of Bangabandhu all through his political life. He was cunning and shrewd but nowhere near our great leader in politics of the masses. He was envious of our Father of the Nation and being involved in the coup took over the Presidency of the country immediately. The junior officers executing the coup became all-powerful. They stayed back in Bangabhavan with Mostaq and wielded power. There was no chain of command in the army but the top brass showed visible cowardice and they kept silent. It was reported that they were rather engaged in a power struggle. Most of the political leadership was dumbfounded after the lightning happenings of 15 August and expressed allegiance to Mostaq. Many of them were sworn in as Ministers. Though most of the top Awami League leaders betrayed the blood of Bangabandhu and his family and were busy having their piece of cake in the state power, there were exceptions.

The trusted aides of Bangabandhu were the four national leaders having integrity and unflinching faith in the leader. They were Syed Nazrul Islam,Tajuddin Ahmad,Capt M Monsur Ali and AHM Kamaruzzaman. These four great national leaders together with Col Osmany steered our Freedom struggle to a glorious success. Of course traitor, Mostaq was a part of the cabinet but he always played deterring roles and even planned a confederation with Pakistan. When approached by Mostaq to join his cabinet to run the country, all four of them upheld their dignity and refused. They did not budge even after being threatened with serious consequences. All four ended up in jail soon thereafter.

The killers stationed in Bangabhavan including Mostaq could fathom that they could not sustain very long under the existing disturbing and uneasy circumstances. So, it seems that they were drawing contingency plans. Their plans were all drawn against these great leaders. The thugs and their masters knew that these leaders could lead Awami League to bounce back into mainstream progressive political activities. There was no other leader close to them who could lead Bangladesh.

So, when a counter-coup was staged by Brig(promoted to Maj Gen)Khaled Musharraf to bring back the chain of command in the Armed forces on 3 November 1975, the shameless criminals understood that they were kaput and executed the most heinous crime of jail killings.

In the early hours of the night between the 3rd and 4th of November, five uniformed individuals appeared at the gates of Dhaka central jail in the old quarters of Dhaka. They were led by Risalder Moslemuddin(Moslehuddin). They demanded to be let in which is a grave violation of the jail code by any standards. The jail authorities kept on refusing but finally succumbed to a telephonic order from President Mostaq. These rogues demanded to the jail officials that the four national leaders be assembled in a particular cell. They were in three different cells with other political prisoners. The jail officials did as directed and when the leaders were together in a particular cell, this military personnel having Sten guns and SLRs went there and fired indiscriminately at them. Taking them all as dead, they were leaving the jail premises as they were late and had other agendas. But as some of the leaders were still groaning and asking for water, one of the jail guards ran towards the jail gate to inform same to the killers. They raced back to the cell and bayonetted the four bodies heavily to make sure of their death.

Finally, they left. Awami League leaders like Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Amir Hossain Amu, SP Mahbubuddin were detained in nearby cells. Though they could not see anything being inside the four walls of the cell, they could figure out everything but were undone. An unthinkable crime was perpetrated and no one could be held responsible. Rather, the killers were later appreciated with prize postings at Bangladesh foreign missions.

A case was registered with the Lalbagh police station one day later. Initial procedures started. But not much headway could be made due to the promulgation of the indemnity ordinance. A commission of enquiry was also constituted which too could not work till preparing and submitting a report. The files were destroyed deliberately presumably during the next 21 years of unfavourable governments. No paperwork could be found when the Indemnity ordinance was repealed when in 1996 favourable Government came to power. The investigation had to start anew. Though a very difficult task, the concerned police investigators produced a miracle. The case was heard for years in a regular court of a District and Sessions Judge. In 2004, the court dished out a verdict. 3 of the JCO/NCO gang of Moslemuddin, Marfot Ali Shah and Abul Hashem Mridha were given capital punishment and eight officers of the army were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Strangely enough, the High court division of the apex court commutated the sentences and only one criminal remained with a punishment. All others went scot-free. A real shame indeed! The prosecution, of course, moved the Supreme court division. The Apex judicial body of the country duly considered the appeal and nullified the High court judgement. The judgement of the trial court was withheld. The Court also observed that such a conspiratorial savage killing inside the jail could not have happened without any involvement from high places. A thorough probe of the conspiracy behind such political killings was suggested.

Some of the convicts of jail killings were hanged to death for their complicity in the Bangabandhu killing. The others still remain absconding. They are sheltered by some countries under one context or the other. Bangladesh Government is following up on the issue of their repatriation to face the judgement with all seriousness. We don’t see much development in this regard though.

The patriotic forces of Bangladesh expect that a proper commission of enquiry will be formed soonest to investigate the 15 August and 3 November 1975 criminal activities by a small section of the armed forces leading to the killings of the founding father of the Nation and the four great National leaders. The conspirators behind the scenes should be exposed. The people of Bangladesh also expect that process to bring back the culprits from abroad should be expedited. Our deepest tributes to the four great national leaders and of course to Bangabandhu. They will be remembered by all patriotic Bangladeshis for all time to come.

Views expressed are personal