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Monday, September 21, 2009

The Demolition Of Ramna Kali Temple In March 1971 (Part II)

Picture (courtesy: Asia Tribune): Remains of the Temple of Lord Jagat Bandhu under.


By Rajen Thakur

Source: Asia Tribune


Another Massacre Held In Faridpur Shri Angan In Faridpur:
On 21April 1971 (07 Baikh 1377 BS, Wednesday ) eight bramahcharees of Sree Angan of the Lord Jagat bandhu Sunder were butchered and tomb of the temple was demolished.
All those Vaishnava Brahmacharees namely Sahid Kirtan Bandhu, Shahid Nidanbandhu,Shahid Kshitibandhu, Shahid Bandhudas , Shahid Chirabandhu, Shahid Gour Bandhu, Shahid Andha Kanai and Shahid Ravibandhu were killed by the Pakistani Occupation forces while Brahmacharees chanting kirtan, prayer, of lord Jagatbandhu Sundar,an incarnation of Vishnu,a vaishnava cult in Hinduism. This Sree Angan as commonly known to all section of people is a holy shrine and profoundly respected to all irrespective to caste, creed and religions.
Believe it or not, it was happened, a Pakistani Army Captain Jamshed who commanded the massacre in Faridpur from April to July’71 had to beg divine mercy and ultimately commit suicide before the altar of Lord Jagatbandhu’s main temple of the Sree Angan just a few days before Pakistan Forces surrendered to Joint Command of Indian Army in Dec.1971.Capt Jamshed was burried in the Sree Angan (near pond of the Shiva Temple) by the Razzakar and Bihari Muslims, Probodh Kumar Sarkar, a Freedom Fighter of Faridpur told me. It may be mentioned here Captain Jamshed who had torched the main temple, killed the Brahmacharees and desecrate the holy place became lunatic before his unnatural death. But why he committed suicide before the altar of the main temple of Pravu Shri Shri Jagatbandhu Sundar? Was it a dictum of destiny or maledictions of divine power?
Hari Priya Brahmachari, a witness of that massacre said the memory of that day was still painful. “I lost all my companions that day. Luckily I am still alive. They killed the Sadhus who were engaged in prayer, I hid myself inside a hole in the ground. Every day, many visitors come here and express their horror at the events of that day.”
In June 1971 Sydney Schanberg reported on the formation of these units:' Throughout East Pakistan the Army is training new paramilitary home guards or simply arming "loyal" civilians, some of whom are formed into peace committees. Besides Biharis and other non-Bengali, Urdu-speaking Moslems, the recruits include the small minority of Bengali Moslems who have long supported the army -- adherents of the right-wing religious parties such as the Moslem League and Jamaat-e-Islami.' Collectively known as the Razakars, the paramilitary units spread terror throughout the Bengali population. With their local knowledge, the Razakars were an invaluable tool in the Pakistani Army's arsenal of genocide.' However, In June the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sydney Schanberg filed a number of eyewitness accounts from Bangladeshi towns for The New York Times. In response, the Pakistan army expelled him from the country on June 30, 1971.
Who was responsible?
The Pakistan army and the Razakars did not stop at simply massacring Hindus. They also took to raping Bengali women. During nine months in 1971, over 200,000 Bengali women and girls were raped. Many were taken as sex slaves and raped multiple times by the Pakistani army."
'Measuring the Tragedy' the New York Times (June 7,1971) mentioned: “People have killed each other because of animosities of race, politics and religion; no community is entirely free of guilt. But the principal agent of death and hatred has been the Pakistan Army." These paramilitary units, the al-Badr and al-Shams, worked as informers and assassins to augment the military's gruesome task of killing Bengalis.
R.J. Rummel likewise writes that “the Pakistan army [sought] out those especially likely to join the resistance — young boys. Sweeps were conducted of young men who were never seen again. Bodies of youths would be found in fields, floating down rivers, or near army camps. As can be imagined, this terrorized all young men and their families within reach of the army. Most between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five began to flee from one village to another and toward India. Many of those reluctant to leave their homes were forced to flee by mothers and sisters concerned for their safety.” (Death By Government, p. 329.)
Rummel describes (p. 323) a chilling gendercidal ritual, reminiscent of Nazi procedure towards Jewish males: “In what became province-wide acts of genocide, Hindus were sought out and killed on the spot. As a matter of course, soldiers would check males for the obligated circumcision among Moslems. If circumcised, they might live; if not, sure death.”
“For month after month in all the regions of East Pakistan the massacres went on,” writes Robert Payne. “They were not the small casual killings of young officers who wanted to demonstrate their efficiency, but organized massacres conducted by sophisticated staff officers, who knew exactly what they were doing. Muslim soldiers, sent out to kill Muslim peasants, went about their work mechanically and efficiently, until killing defenseless people became a habit like smoking cigarettes or drinking wine. … Not since Hitler invaded Russia had there been so vast a massacre.” (Payne,Massacre, p. 29.)
There is no doubt that the mass killing in Bangladesh was among the most carefully and centrally planned of modern genocides. A cabal of five Pakistani generals orchestrated the events: President Yahya Khan, General Tikka Khan, chief of staff General Pirzada, security chief General Umar Khan, and intelligence chief General Akbar Khan. The U.S. government, long supportive of military rule in Pakistan, supplied some $3.8 million in military equipment to the dictatorship after the onset of the genocide, “and after a government spokesman told Congress that all shipments to Yahya Khan’s regime had ceased.” (Payne, Massacre, p.102.)
The first formal and public protest was raised after independence of Bangladesh by Senior Advocates in the Supreme Court Bar headed by Advocate S R Paul along with 22- leading non-Muslim Intellectuals in April 1979 .In a statement of memorandum addressed to the than President of Bangladesh and to the fellow brothers and sisters of Bangladesh stating the woeful episodes of discrimination on the non-Muslim citizens. Although equal under the law, these minorities are, in practice, disadvantaged in such areas as access to government jobs and political office. Selection boards in the Government service and educational institutions are often without minority group representation. Property ownership, particularly for Hindus, has been a contentious issue since independence when many Hindus lost land holdings due to unequal application of the law. Reported cases of violence directed against religious minority communities have resulted in loss of property and so forth, which was published as an advertisement in the front page of The Sangbad, Dhaka, on 18 January 1979
The appeal by the Hindu leaders, contained in an advertisement published in Sangbad in January 1979, is excerpted below: “It is a matter of great regret that secularism has not been implemented in political and social life. No help has been given in the reconstruction and renovation of hundreds of temples, Vihara and churches including the historic Kalibari temple of Ramna and the East Bengal Swarasta Samaj which were razed by the Pakistani occupation army. The Ramna kalibari has not been returned despite claims. The Enemy Property Act of Pakistan has been illegally retained in independent Bangladesh under a different name and this has been invoked to make hundreds of thousands of non-Muslims homeless and landless. Severe discrimination has been practiced against non-Muslims in the matter of admission in educational institutions ,trade and government services.”
We sought to place on record a major case of human rights violation that has escaped the attention of the world in the hope that it would trigger further research by people better qualified than us. Is there any positive development since the above cited three decades old demands of Hindus in Bangladesh?
In the post August 1975 the changes in the attitude towards minority and Jamaat as well right-wing religious forces became partner of power game and army became the arbitrator in Bangladesh politics. Democracy, rules of law, human rights are crying for justice, but justice is at stake. The population of Hindu minority has declined from 15 %( 1974) to 10 %( 2001).
The Hindu minority becomes the coveted enemy under VPA. The state turned authoritarian for fifteen years (1975-1990), military dictators ruled the country the initial constitutional commitment gradually diluted by successive amendments through a martial law ordinance, secularism was dropped from the guiding principles of state through a martial law ordinance, secularism was dropped from the guiding principles of state introduced by the regimes.
After 1990, the two dominant parties –BNP and Awami League- had altered power. But fates of religious minority and backward section of citizens remain under punitive measures and obnoxiously humiliated. Earlier, elections were tussle between army owned political party and people’s parties-results also were tutored. In December 2008, army and Election Commission were neutral, participation of voters was massive, and results depicted ‘people express for change which is internationally acclaimed’. But earlier elections since second parliamentary election in 1979 minority and women had to face violent attacks and to bear agonies of the power-game of pre and post electoral victory particularly in the 8th parliament election held in October 2001. So in the case of the generation of early forties, they too had little knowledge about parley politics of the late forties, but we the members of that generation have created history and achieved our nation-state, Bangladesh.
The sacrifices of the Hindu leadership were never acknowledged either officially or publicly.
Does the nation pay respect to those departed souls?
Is there any room for the Hindu leaders in the history who fought for the cause of history and the War of Liberation?
In the post-August 1975, Bangladesh, Bengali, Hindu and India are equated with a typical psyche by the ruling cliché. "The existing literature on the history of Bangladesh underplays not only the inner contradictions of the Muslims of Bengal, but also other significant features of her past.
It's a 'crisis of confidence'.
In the 9th Parliamentary election held in December 2008, people expressed desire for change through ballot –and there is a great change by ballot. "A new journey of democracy marching ahead daughter of Bangabandhu, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina has shown us a vision with her ‘Charter for Change’ and we opted for that change. A new journey of democracy a freshly begins in January 2009. We congratulate Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her overwhelming victory. She came to power after 7 years 5 months 21 days since her 5-year first- tenure of the head of government’s office completed on 15 July 2001.
Bangladesh Hindus want justice not puja dole, they want equal citizenship rights, political, religious and economic participation not piety or mercy. It's an evidential fact that Hindus in Bangladesh unfortunately have been facing the music of great declination in respect of politico-economic and social status today, to the extent to which caste is declining as a social factor; it is reverting itself as a political factor.
Here in Dhaka, newly formed 'Babu cultured' puja committees displayed their vulgar wealth of crore taka in some places in posh areas of the capital. This money could be used in the cause of Hindu welfare or even in the construction of the Shri Shri Ramna Kali Mandir that remains uncared for nearly four decades since it's demolished by the Pakistani Army in March1971.The Government of Sheikh Hasina has placed Taka one crore to Hindu Kalyan Trust , a wing of the religious affairs ministry for distribution among the deserving puja committees in the country. The Puja committees in the capital and other parts of the country depend on doles and protection of law enforcing agencies. They usually organize Puja mondaps and display communal harmony in the name of Puja once a year like other festivals but in reality, besides begging, there is no security and political and economic power to earn for them. The fate of minority remains under the same wheels over sixty years.
It may also be mentioned here Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her first term in office in 1997 allowed Sharadiya reception, and President of the Republic invited Hindus at the state reception on Sharadiya Utsav at the Bangabhaban . Since then the Bangladesh has been organising Sharadiya state Reception for Hindus and also religious state reception for Buddhist and Christians. Through this gesture of state-reception, Awami League in its secular commitment recognises the religions of minorities apart from state-religion. The Hindu leadership under the umbrella of Durga Puja is a farce and becomes a political bargaining factor for a class of beneficiaries.
The celebration of Puja festival committees under the so-called Hindu leaders in Bangladesh is tutored and cared for in the past and present by the elected Governments and army regimes.
However, this year in 2009, highest number of Durga Puja would be observed in the country without any untoward incidents because both the communities are to be in greatest festive mood starting from Eid-Ul Fitr, September on 22 to the Bijay Dashami on September 28. The Government keeps her eyes and ears open to avoid any untoward incidences. Hindus are happy and reposed confidence over the actions of the government relating Durgapuja- Festival so far apart from some untoward desecrating image and temple incidences in some parts of districts.
To commemorate the festival, messages from the two figureheads of the country and other political personalities come forth to give finesse. Unfortunately for Hindus in Bangladesh they have been facing the music of great declination in respect of politico-economic and social status today The Durga Puja has lost its religious fervour and festivity in Bangladesh. Well-placed Hindus, like Babus of bygone days, of different walks of life in the metropolis, dressed in their best, attend state function, the 'Bijoya Dashami' reception at Bangabhaban, the president’s palace.
With the spirit of complete surrender to achieve eternal liberty and Blessings of Ma Shri Shri Durga be bestowed on all of us with best Vijoya wishes and greetings to all. With the spirit of complete surrender to achieve eternal liberty and Blessings of Ma Shri Shri Durga be bestowed on all of us With best Vijoya wishes and greetings
Shri Rajen Thakur is a freedom fighter, an organiser of Mujibnagar Government and columnist- author
- Asian Tribune -