Dhaka Islamists drag India in blame game over 1971 war crimes

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DHAKA - Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, the Jamaat-e-Islami - facing charges of targeting unarmed civilians during the 1971 war - has now accused India of killing a score of academics 39 years ago, a day before the country celebrates its Bijoy Divas (Liberation Day).

The charge by Jamaat-e-Islami leaders came on the day the country paid homage to a group of Dhaka University teachers and artists who were pulled out of their homes and killed on the night of Dec 14, 1971.

This act was allegedly carried out by Pakistan Army personnel with the help of Islamist militia - Al Badr, Al Shams and Razakars.

The joint command of Indian and Bangladeshi forces secured the surrender of the Pakistan Army’s 93,000 men Dec 16, 1971, ending a 14-day military campaign in the then eastern Pakistan.

“The intellectuals had stayed in the country till December 14, 1971, as they felt safe here. They were against a war being fought from India. That big power realised that they won’t become its agents,” Jamaat’s acting secretary general A.T.M. Azharul Islam said.

“So, it cannot be said that the big power (India) was not behind the killings of the intellectuals as the trial for the crimes was not held,” the Daily Star quoted him as saying.

Jamaat held a discussion at its party office, while thousands of people paid tributes at the Martyred Intellectuals’ Memorial in Mirpur and the Rayerbazar Mausoleum in the national capital.

The top brass of the Jamaat, which had opposed Bangladesh’s liberation, is now in jail and facing trial for “war crimes” by an International War Crimes Tribunal set up by the present Sheikh Hasina government.

The government Wednesday moved the tribunal to issue arrest warrant against Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a senior leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), accused of organising killings of academics and minority Hindus in 1971.

Chowdhury, who leads an Islamist group within the BNP, is considered close to party chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

Hasina alleged at a rally Tuesday - organised to remember the killed intellectuals - that Zia was “in league” with the Islamists as she had lent support to a strike call Dec 26 by the Sammilita Olama Mashayekh Parishad, a body of Muslim clergy.

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