BANGLADESH seems to be headed towards a major political crisis as the fatality toll in three days of violence, following Thursday’s sentencing to death of a Jamaat-i-Islami leader, has crossed 50. The widespread violence resulted from clashes not only between the police and Jamaat workers but also between the latter and supporters of the ruling Awami League. A disturbing development for the government is the decision by the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, to join the protests. Reacting to the death sentence passed on Jamaat vice president Delwar Hossain Sayedee and using strong language, BNP leader Khaleda Zia denounced what she called “brutality” and “mass killing” by the government and asked the people to “come out on the streets”. Bangladesh can expect more violence as Ms Zia has called for a strike on Tuesday, in addition to the one given by the Jamaat for today and Monday. Mr Sayedee is the third Jamaat leader to be convicted for alleged war crimes. The prosecution had accused him of crimes ranging from arson and torture to rape and murder. However, the tribunal that decreed the ultimate punishment is controversial. Rights groups say the court’s procedures do not conform to international standards, and the opposition accuses Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed of using war crimes allegations to persecute opponents — two BNP members are also being tried.

We know that crimes were indeed committed during those dark and painful days when the army was trying to crush popular resistance. Among those who helped the army in the civil war were the Jamaat’s Al Shams and Al Badr militias. But trying alleged war criminals more than four decades after the event smacks of vindictiveness and a political witch-hunt. The AL had been in power earlier, too, so it must explain, first and foremost to its own people, why it has chosen to start this judicial drama now. All sides should realise that the violence could snowball and perhaps pose a threat to Bangladesh’s democracy. The better alternative would be to embark on an exercise of reconciliation and forgiveness to put the past behind and move on.

Updated Mar 03, 2013 12:05am

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Comments (10) (Closed)

Mar 04, 2013 09:41am
"We know that crimes were indeed committed during those dark and painful days". "The better alternative would be to embark on an exercise of reconciliation and forgiveness". How noble!
Mar 03, 2013 01:48pm
Pakistan should admit that mr. jinha was a a clever attorney but poor visionary. He was used as a pipeline by feudal to achieve their aim of establishing feudalism. Once that goal was achieved he was thrown out of even school books.
Mar 04, 2013 10:00am
True, we are lucky enough. Nehru may have forsighted this. Today at least we better than Pakistan & Bangladesh.
Mar 03, 2013 09:58am
Keep your views to yourself
B R Chawla
Mar 04, 2013 04:10am
Unfortunate ! Religion is still having its last laugh with the help of politicians who do not shun to fish in the Troubled waters. Chawla
Mar 03, 2013 05:45pm
As an Indian you would. Keep it inside your borders.We are here to you will find should you try.
Shahryar Shirazi
Mar 04, 2013 02:14am
Raj, Jinnah was willing to live under one Indian Union the equivalent of a "USA" concept. That was the proposal Cabinet Mission bought with them back in '46. Nehru won't agree to it. Not fair to blame Jinnah. He was loyal to India and wanted to maintain his citizenship as much as he could. Shahryar
Iftikhar Husain
Mar 03, 2013 12:51pm
One time Mr Jinnah was ready to compromise but the mind set of the other side has given him the suspicion to take the other route and he is proved right the way things are happening in India.
Mar 04, 2013 09:56am
Dear editor, your report is one sided. From 5th February there were a popular protest at Shabagh square for giving lesser (life imprisonment ) punishment to another criminal named Quder Mulla. The Shabagh protest is spontaneous and all right thinking people (who do not do hate politics of Jamat brand) which include university professor, artist, writers, musician, student, journalist and scores of general public. The Shabagh protest is totally non violent and peaceful. Violence only started when Jamat gave a call for bandh and started in arson, looting, killing and even attacking minority community's houses and Temples. How many seat Khaleda had got in last election? So she has no choice, but to ride on the Jamat. But it is hope that the fundamentalist Jamat & their companion BNP will be routed sooner or later .
Mar 03, 2013 07:22am
As an Indian I see the whole concept of two nation theory of Mr. Jinnah is faulty.Rather it has given rise to discontent and suppression of rights of common people ,who are more bothered about their daily livelyhood.Rather a federation of states with a central government like USA would have been a better solution