PC: To endorse the Dacca-Shahbagh Movement & protest the anti-Minority violence in Bangladesh & Pakistan
Bharat Bachao Andolan - Press Release
We condemn the violence against the Hindu Minority of Bangladesh & the Christian & Muslim Shia minorities of Pakistan. We support & endorse the historic Shahbagh Square protests & their call for a secular liberal democratic Bangladesh.
The recent upheaval in Bangladesh bears great portents for the future of Bangladesh, South Asia & even beyond. The Bangla youth that have assembled in the Shahbagh Square in their hundreds of thousands have given a clarion call for a secular democratic & liberal Bangladesh, based on the very founding values of the war of Liberation of 1971. Even as the slogans resound across the sub-continent, they have included all sections of Bangla society to create a progressive & an inclusive Bangladesh.
The Shahbagh protests are also demanding justice for the victims of the genocide of 1971, where 3 million Bangladeshis were victims of the violence unleashed by the Pakistan Army, as well as the Jamaat-e-Islami (Bangladesh), the Razakar militias, the Badar Brigade & other religious extremist organizations. It was in 1973 that an act of Parliament was passed to establish a War Crimes Tribunal to try the guilty.
It was finally in 2008 when the Awami League swept to power that the ‘War Crimes Tribunal’ was reconstituted & the trials conducted. This was part of the popular demand of the people & included in the Awami League election manifesto. Then on the 5th of February, when the verdict was announced for life-imprisonment against Abdul Kader Mollah (Assistant Secretary of the JIB & also called the The Butcher of Mirpur for the deaths of 344 people) for some of the worst accused, as against capital punishment, anger pervaded across Bangladesh. A movement soon grew out of a call given by 4 young bloggers, Imran Sarkar (28), Muhammad Haq Munshi (26), Maruf Rosul (24) & Amit Bikram (26) - the youth began to converge at Shahbagh, soon to become a global phenomenon.
“Joy Bangla” (Victory to Bengal); “Tumi ke? Aami ke? Bangalee Bangalee” (Who are you? Who am I? Bengali) – from the generation of 1971. They even added some of their own: “Amader ek hi dabi Razakar er fashi” (Our one demand, hang the Razakars); “Jamaat-e-Islami made in Pakistan”.
The demands of the Shahbagh youth include 3 core demands.
i) Death sentence for the perpetrators of the war crimes committed during the liberation struggle of 1971.
ii) A ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, the Islami Chattar Shivir, both involved in war crimes against the Bengali population.
iii) And boycott of companies controlled by the Jamaat.
The Shahbagh movement is a clarion call against religious fanaticism & extremism. It stands for a democratic secular Bangladesh, as against the establishment of an Islamic state. Thus this movement is very important for all those who are committed to the values of a secular democracy, where there is a mutual respect for all faiths & all citizens are equal. This as we know is not possible under any theocracy, Islamic, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist or Jewish etc. We also condemn the attacks on the Hindu minority & on Temples which have been targeted by religious fanatics opposed to the demands of the Shahbagh Square movement.
Thus the Shahbagh movement is once again enriching & redefining the very founding ideals of Bangladesh, which were & are committed to a secular linguistic nationalism, based on a common inclusive Bangla identity, as against defining their nation on the identity of the religion of the majority. Bangladesh also disproved the Two-Nation theory that had led to the partition of India along religious lines. Thus we oppose those religious forces in Bangladesh such as the Jamaat-e-Islami that are trying to establish a theocracy.
On the other side, we are once against witness to a massive anti-Christian pogrom in Lahore, where a fanatical mob attacked a Christian colony. Once again the ill-conceived anti-blasphemy law has been used as a weapon to terrorise the hapless Christian population. More than the so-called blasphemers, Islam is being tarnished by these crazed fanatics who inflict violence against minorities, indulge in sectarian strife & oppress women - all in the name of their regressive & backward understanding of religion.
Also we condemn the ongoing genocide of the Shia Muslim community of Pakistan, who are being targeted by the Lashkar-e-Jhanghvi, the Sipaha-e-Sahaba & other such Lashkar's. These Lashkar's are being supported by the Wahhabi-Salafist extremists within the Pakistan military & ISI, who are providing protection to these fanatics & even complicit in the Shia genocide. We also welcome the fact that Pakistan civil-society has stood up to condemn the violence & continue to struggle against all odds.
Herein also lies the promise & hope that Shahbagh provides, as here we have a Muslim majority nation calling for a democratic secular & liberal nation & are opposed to religious extremism & a theocratic state. Thus there is a greater need for the secular & democratic forces across South Asia to further unite, engage & support the struggle for a democratic & secular South Asia. This has been the very essence & ethos of our common civilization, where all faiths, religions & cultures are mutually respected.
Kishore Jagtap, Feroze Mithiborwala, Jatin Desai, Com. Prakash Reddy, Com. Sanjay Singhvi, Yawar Ali Qazi, Com. Charul Joshi, Nirja Bhatnagar, Farouk Mapkar, Adv. Shakil Ahmed, Jyoti Badekar, Sidharth Ughade, SS Yadav, Mulniwasi Mala & Jagdish Nagarkar. (90292 77751 / 9324514101)