|Ghulam Azam. Photo: news.priyo.com|
Wily strategists meet their nemesis in unexpected ways.
Ghulam Azam, the once all powerful leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, who died recently, might have brooded over this old dictum, in his last days in detention. It was only last year that he was sentenced to 90 years of imprisonment for his crimes against humanity which he committed when people of the then East Pakistan - today's Bangladesh - had risen up against the occupation army of Pakistan in the year 1971.
It was not surprising that the funeral of this man who evoked intense hatred and loathing from a large cross-section of the population of Bangladesh for his role during and after the liberation of the country witnessed protest demonstrations all over the country. There were even demands that his body be sent to Pakistan for final rites and should not be buried here.
“The janaza (funeral prayer) of a war criminal can never be held at the national mosque,”
Ziaul Hasan, chairman of Bangladesh Sommilito Islami Jote, an alliance of progressive Islamic parties, said at a human chain near the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque where Azam’s body was taken for funeral prayers. (The Telegraph, 27 th Oct 2014).
It is now part of history how as Ameer (Chief) of the then East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami he had played a pivotal role in forming collaborator forces with the Pakistani army- namely Shanti (peace) Committee, Razakar, Al Badr, Al Shams. He was the ‘torchlight’ who guided massacres of intellectuals in Dhaka at the end of the conflict.(Dec 71). As the official charge sheet tells Al-Badr, the militia floated by Jamaat-e-Islami, was entrusted the job of exterminating Bengali intelligentsia by the Pakistani military in mid Dec 1971 - because it was believed that they were the brain behind the struggle for independence.
The facts regarding the bloody period which accompanied Bangladesh’s emergence have been recounted n number of times. It need be noted here that Bangladeshi authorities claim that as many as 3 million people were killed in this struggle, while news outlets like BBC have quoted the figures in the range of 3,00,000 to 5,00,000 for the estimated death toll as counted by independent researchers.An official Pakistan government investigation after the debacle of 1971 - under the Hamoodur Rahman Commission after ‘acknowledging its mistakes’ itself had put the figure as 26,000 civilian casualties.
Even after emergence of an independent Bangladesh after the nine-month-long Liberation War in 1971, Ghulam Azam continued in his crusade to thwart its survival, as he tried in vain to revive East Pakistan and spread propaganda against Bangladesh for several years.After the assassination of Sheikh MujiburRahman in the year 1975, he had returned to Bangladesh on August 11, 1978 on a Pakistani passport. He subsequently got back his citizenship and re-joined his position as the Ameer of the Jamaat-e-Islami.