The country emerged yesterday from five days of largely flopped hartal which Jamaat-e-Islami vainly tried to enforce upon peace and freedom loving people of Bangladesh. The strikes designed to save Jamaat leaders facing gallows for 1971 war crimes failed to get any support from majority of the citizens who despise and hate the "butchers" of 1971 and feel they deserve capital punishment. Death sentences have been awarded by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) to several top leaders of the Islamist party who not only opposed the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 but helped the Pakistani occupation army in committing one of history's worst genocides. The Jamaati Razakar, Al Badr and Al Shams led by the leaders now facing death sentenced killed thousands of innocent people, tortured families of freedom fighters, raped women, burned down homes and forcibly converted Hindus to Islam. All these acts are against the teaching of Islam and the spirit of 1971 War of Liberation.
The series of strikes called by Jamaat over the past week was also intended to hold the country's 160 million people hostage to their vengeance of 1971 defeat, whims, cripple the economy, blacken the image of the country and detract good governance. The ICT verdicts delivered after long hearing of both prosecution and defence indeed satisfied most people in and outside the country except the Jamaatis and their political allies like BNP.
Bangladesh people supported the trial of the war criminals and were enthralled by the verdicts. They praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's firm resolve and brave decision to put war criminals on trial and send them to the gallows or life in prison through an internationally accepted legal procedure. Then why hartal.
The hartals were called on a completely illegal basis to thwart trials and deaths of war criminals who have been widely despised and disgraced for committing heinous crimes during the liberation war of Bangladesh. Many wonder how the Jamaat dare call for a national shutdown over a publicly and legally decided issue. But logic and good sense prevailed among the people who discarded Jamaat and its plea for strike. They totally rejected the hartals and kept doing their own business without sitting back home. On the five hartal days it was clearly evident as life across the country remained normal with transports, markets, ports and banks all open and functioning normally. Only the highway transports remained disrupted as bus and truck owners avoided taking risks.
The hartals focused on unabated Jamaati efforts to destabilize the country and destroy its economy to avenge their failures in 1971 and to halt the trial of those notorious and devilish Jamaat leaders. They were not only enemies of the country but posed as Dracula sucking blood out of people. People who saw the 1971 war and those lost their near and dear ones in the barbaric activities of Razakar, Al Badr and Al Shams still get frightened by the memories of horror haunting them.
Unfortunately, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman could not finish the trial of war criminals he started soon after the independence - as the friends of Jamaat and Pakistan killed him with most members of his family in a military coup in August 1975. After his assassination the Jamaati killers regrouped and gained strength with blessings of military ruler Ziaur Rahman who rewarded Bangabandhu's killers with jobs in foreign missions and reestablished their comrades in politics of the country they never supported or recognised. This is an irony that the freedom fighters and freedom loving Bangladeshis never expected.
Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina took up the mantle of her father when Awami League regained power in 1996 after a lapse of 21 years and she initiated the process of trying Bangabandhu's killers. Some of them have been hanged and some are still hiding in foreign lands. In her second term (2009-2013) Sheikh Hasina prompted the trials of war criminals through the ICT defying local and international pressures to stop the trials. People are happy to see justice delivered and the war criminals walking the gallows one after another.