Ahmadya Muslim Community: Victims of Fundamentalist
The unprecedented persecution, which started on the minority and ethnic communities of Bangladesh since the four party alliance led by BNP–Jamaat assumed power in October 1, 2001, is still going on. Simultaneously the activities of various armed fundamentalist organizations and their activities have been intensified.
Recently we are observing in national dailies different dimensional news about persecutions on the minorities. Mr. Shah Alam, Imam of local Ahmadya Mosque and leader of Ahmadya Community of Raghunathpur Baag of Jhikargacha in the district of Jessore, was brutally assassinated in broad day light with ‘lathi’ and hockey sticks on October 31 (2003). Two more members of Ahmadya Community were also injured in this attack. Fourteen families of Ahmadya Muslim Community of Uttar Bhobanipur village of Bheramara in Kushtia district have virtually been ostracized and confined in their own houses. According to reports of the national dailies in this regard, local Jamaat-e-Islami leaders are responsible for these atrocious incidents. Leaders of Ahmedya Jamaat also accused Jamaat-e-Islami for these heinous incidents in Jhikargacha and Bheramara.
After reading the consecutive news of such of persecution in the newspapers we have made a visit those troublesome areas of Jessore and Kushtia on 15 and 16 November. There were present Justice K.M. Sobhan, adviser of 1971 Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee and a leader of Human Rights movement, was with me along with other 10 central and district level leaders and the lawyers, journalists, cultural and local human rights activists of Jessore and Kushtia. We have spoken with the deceased Shah Alma’s wife Nazma, sons Mustafa and Kabir, daughter Sathi, younger brother Yusuf Ali including both the members of Ahmadya and Sunni Community of the village at Raghunathpur Bag. Similarly we have a talk with the members of the persecuted families and the police administration of Uttar Bhobanipur of Kushtia. Although police is staying in the trouble area at the moment, none of the criminals who are responsible for these incidents has been arrested so far.
Ten year old Sathi, daughter of assassinated Shah Alam of Raghunathpur bag, witnessed the gruesome murder of her father. Even after 15 days of the event she looked panicky and scared. While stating the event she cried and burst into tears. Along with her mother and aunt, Sathi also tried to prevent the killers to save her father but they did not bother of this obstruction. Sathi’s mother Nazma (38) witnessed how her husband was killed with ‘lathi’ and hockey sticks under the leadership of Aminur, who is a local Rokon (Senior member of Jamaat-e-Islami) of Jamaat-e-Islami, a Madrasha teacher and Imam of local mosque. When she herself wanted to take her dying husband to hospital in a rickshaw van she was prevented by the killers. She filed a lawsuit against Aminur including other 16 persons who are responsible Shah Alam murder. Police has not yet arrested any of criminals. They are rather asking the relatives of the deceased to capture those accused by themselves. The accused are threatening Nazma, wife of deceased person that they would kill her and her children if she dose not withdraw the lawsuit against them.
After Friday prayer on October 31 accused Aminur instigate the musolli (people who assemble in the mosque to offer prayer) by telling them that the ‘Kadianees’ (Ahmedya) are ‘kafir’ (non-believer) and nothing will be happened if they killed them. Local farmer Jamaluddin (35), who was present in the mosque, stated that before they come out for killing Shah Alam, Aminur had taken oath of the ‘musollis’ of the mosque. Aminur further declared that the ‘Kadianees’ are Christians and they eat pork. Aminur also declared that if any charge were filed against the killers he would sell his property to fight the case in favour the accused.
Delwar Hossain (24), one of accused of these incidents, a student of Islami University, son of Nuru Munshi, described how Jamaat-e-Islami’s activist Aminur had threatened the ‘mussllis’. He stated, on the day of the event Aminur had declared in the mosque that ‘Jehad’ (War in the name of Islam) would have to be launched against the ‘Kadianees’ and who would not go with him to Shah Alam’s house, they will not be allowed in the mosque to offer their prayer. Aminur’s companions caught the collar of Nuru Munshi’s Shirt and dragged him. According to Delwar’s statement, Shah Alam had been killed before Nuru Munshi reached the spot and his father Nuru Munshi get senseless to see the dead body of the deceased.
Members of deceased Shah Alam’s family and all other witnesses of the village stated, Aminur and his gang went to Shah Alam’s house with bamboo and hockey sticks only for killing him. After Jumma prayer armed Aminur accompanied by more then one hundred people went to Shah Alam’s house and asked him if he would give up Ahmadya creed and faith. On his denial they killed him. Jamaat-e-Islami’s activists were threatening him since long to give up Ahmadya creed and faith.
Although no one of the Ahmadya community of Uttor-Bhobanipur of Bheramara upozilla in Kushtia has so far been killed but they threatened to be killed. Saber Ali (36), a members of Ahmadya community said, Imam of local mosque and worker of Jamaat-e-Islami Razzak Moulvi and his companions Mehrul, Palan, Israfil, Majedul and others had threatened to slaughter the ‘Kadianees’ of Uttar Bhobanipur after three days of Eid. Saber Ali and the ostracized and confined members of the local Ahmadya community alleged that they ruined Betel-leaf-ground of Ahmedyas and not even allowed to come out from their houses. The local shopkeepers are also been threatened not to sell any goods to the ‘Kadianees’. Anwara Khatun’s (32) husband Salimuddin is an Ahmedya. Only on this ground she is being threatened that if she desired to remain alive she must divorce her husband and made a confession of sin and begging pardon of Allah. Anwara told them that she would not divorce her husband. After this she was threatened to kill. Then she, with her husband and children left their house and took shelter in their neighbour Saber Ali’s house in a single cloth.
Fourteen families of the Ahmadya Community of Uttar Bhobanipur have been passing their days in an inhuman condition since the last 26 days. Because of confinement at their house they cannot even harvest their paddy and other crops from their field. Five days ago Saber Ali’s wife Minara Khatun (39) in hide went to collect Bringal from her garden. At that time Mokhles, Meherul and others abusing her with vulgar and indecent slang and snatched the Brinjels from her garden. Dabir Ali’s wife Rashia Khatun (30) alleged that the followers of local Jamaat-e-Islami brought out processions everyday in front of the Ahmedya’s houses and throwing vulgar, indecent and offensive slang and comment to the Ahmedya’s. Even they have made filthy and indecent slang and comment about female members of Ahmedya’s community.
Even the children of Ahmadya Muslim community of this village could not escape this persecution. Shirin (14), Bilkis (13), Rubel (9) and Sohel (10) informed us that Razzak Moulvi and his people had stopped them from going to their schools. Some of them are studying in Govt. School, some of in BRAC School and some of them studying in religious school. Everywhere situation is the same. The teachers of Govt. School informed the guardians of the students that if the Ahmedya students come to school for studying then other students would not come there. Even the teachers of BRAC School informed us that other guardians threatened them saying that they would not send their children if the Kadianees’ children come to their school for studying. One teacher said, even if any Kadianee girl comes to school to study they would set five boys upon her for insulting. Harassed and humiliated Shirin and Bilkis told us with tears that their annual examination will be held after Eid holiday but they have been told not to appear in school annual examination.
We went to Uttar Bhobanipur on 16 November (2003) and found that in the previous night the miscreants had lifted and taken away tubewells of two Ahmadya families. Salimuddin (40) reported that they could not cook their food due to scarcity of water and they had fasted without drinking water at ‘Sehri’ (Late night meal during Ramadan). He also said, they did not know if water would be available at the time of ‘Iftar’ (Break fasting at the sunset).
While talking with us these persecuted people particularly the members of the Ahmadya community of Bheramara looked very scared and panicky. At night on our way back to Dhaka we came to know that Mominul Islam Rakib of Uttar Bhobanipur was tied with a tree and beaten up simply for chatting with us.
When we went to the houses of the victims on November 15 and 16 to know about the incident of assault and persecution made on the minority Ahmedya Community of Uttar Bhobanipur in Kushtia and Raghunathpur Bag in Jessore by the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami terrorists, the helpless Ahmedyas started crying with the eyes of full tears. Everybody became thunderstruck to listen the agonies of the helpless persecuted people. It is only possible by the killer Jamaat-e-Islami to preach hatred and animosity against one sect of the Muslims by another sect and instigate the ‘musollis’ to kill them by standing in the mosque after Jumma prayer in the holy month of Ramadan of the Muslims. Jamaat-e-Islami instigated the Pakistani invaders to commit genocide and raping and abducting of women during the liberation war of 1971 for the sake of Islam. They constitute various killing squads like Razakar, Al-Badr, Al-Shams, etc. and took part in genocide. It is now becoming evident gradually that after 1971 they are now sharing power in the government and making preparation for another genocide like the one in 1971.
It is unfortunate that no political party has so far expressed concern at the persecution and killing of the members of Ahmadya Community of Jessore and Kushtia. We feel there is no reason to think that the persecution of the Ahmadya Muslim Community is not an isolated event, nor it is the outcome of the present deteriorating law and order situation. Jamaat-e-Islami and their other fundamentalist partners have been demanding since long that the ‘Kadianees’ should be declared as non-Muslims. They have been making hostile and provocative statements against them in the open public meetings. Being the partners in power they now want to create a sort of social frenzy for annihilation of Ahmedyas by using administration and mosque. Although the Sunni Muslims are aggrieved at the assassination of Shah Alam in Jessore, we observed a kind of collective effort for social boycott of the Ahmedyas of Uttar Bhobanipur village in Kushtia. Either for having favour from or out of fear of Jamaat-e-Islami the common people of Uttar Bhobanipur did not stand by the side of the distressed persons as the way the people of Raghunathpur Bag stood by the side of the family of the deceased Shah Alam. While we were praying at the grave of Imam Shah Alam the Sunni Muslims of the village also participated with us in the prayer.
No political party, no government, nor any state can take the responsibility of ascertaining as to who are real Muslims and who are not. This is also contrary of the Holy Quran because the Quran do not permit such matter. Jamaat-e-Islami is involved in this kind of anti-humanity and anti-Islamic activities since the very inception of Pakistan.
The way Jamaat-e-Islami and their other associates fundamentalist organisations have been making their evil efforts in creating a social frenzy in their demand to declare the Kadianees’ as non-Muslims in the name of religion, if it is not repelled its consequences would be fatal. By creating an environment for killing and persecuting the opponents indicates that henceforth it will not be possible to liable any person or organization for such offences. It can be stated without any hesitation that if Jamaat-e-Islami succeed in annihilation of Ahmedyas they would not abstain from attacking and persecution anybody, any community and any organization by blaming them as anti-Islamic, because this is the characteristic of Jamaati Politics.
Anti Fundamentalist Secular Democratic Society of Bangladesh is now more endangered than ever before. Consecutively the members of minority religious and ethnic communities are being attacked. They are being compelled to give up their own religion, otherwise they are being put under all sorts of persecutions. If this kind of persecution committed by the 4 party alliance government is not resisted effectively the spirit of liberation war i.e. secular democracy would not only be ruined but the thousand year old tradition of communal harmony, tolerance and liberal of the Bengali nation would also disappear from this country. If progressive, democratic political parties and civil society do not stand jointly and vehemently against the rise of fundamentalism and terrorism in Bangladesh, we all would have to bear the responsibility of throwing the future generation into the vicious darkness of fundamentalism.
Shahriar Kabir is a writer and a human rights activist in Bangladesh; Acting President, Committee for Resisting killers & collaborators of Bangladesh liberation War of 1971 General Secretary, South Asian people’s Union against Fundamentalism & Communalism; Member of Mukto-Mona.