2001 violence on HindusCaretakers, BNP, Jamaat blamed

Judicial inquiry finds a mix of rulers and centre-right politicians trying to change the very fabric of the nation by unleashing the grisly attacks. FULL STORY

Published : 24 April 2011, 02:20 AM
Updated : 24 April 2011, 02:20 AM
Prodip Choudhury
Dhaka, Apr 24 (bdnews24.com)—A judicial inquiry has blamed dissimilarity in political philosophy, endeavour for establishing communal ideology and weaknesses of the caretaker government for the violent repression on the Hindu religious minority and opposition activists immediately after the 2001 national elections.
The persecution aimed to dent the spirit of the Liberation War and non-communalism and reintroduce Bangladesh as an extremely communal country before the world, said the report on the investigation into the countrywide violence perpetrated after the BNP-led alliance won the eighth parliamentary polls on Oct 1 that year.
The 1078-page report was submitted to home minister Shahara Khatun on Sunday, more than nine years after the incident and over one year after the formation of the commission, a copy of which is available with bdnews24.com.
Shahara said necessary steps would be taken in line with the recommendations and the report would be put to public domain.
The report said several top BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami leaders had directly incited the grisly attacks.
The report admitted that most of the post-election violence in 2001 could not be investigated due to some practical reasons. The integrated number of rape incidents, found from different sources, exceeded 18,000. The commission went for inquiring 3,625 incidents from 5,571 complaints submitted to it.
The report in five sections with graphs portrays the types, examples, causes, backgrounds and summary of the rape, torture, murder and looting and arson attacks on Hindu properties.
The BNP government in the second week of October that year initially dismissed the incidents of violence as "lies" and "exaggeration".
The probe report also included opinions and recommendations in relevant cases.
The commission recommended that the government form a short-term committee or commission in every district to further investigate these incidents.
It will be possible to give the report a complete shape after verifying the reports, submitted by those committees or commissions within a maximum of three months, the report said.
The report recommended that the government file new cases, revive old ones and compensate the affected people on the basis of the probe.
It pointed out that no such violence did occur at the instigation of the leaders of the party that won the ninth parliamentary elections.
"Post-election violence can be avoided if the top leaders of political parties are conscious this way."
Newspapers evidenced a wide range of crimes against the Hindu community after the BNP and its centre-right allies took office.
The High Court on May 6, 2009 ordered the government to probe the allegations upon plea from a legal rights group Ain-o-Salish Kendra.
On Dec 27 the same year, a three-member judicial commission, led by former district and sessions judge Mohammad Sahabuddin, was formed.
The report claimed the incidents, ranging from militant attacks in the name of Islam to the Aug 21 2004 grenade attack on the current prime minister, were linked.
It said the bomb attack on the Udichi programme at Ramna Batamul, attack on Baniarchar Church at Gopalganj's Maksudpur, the killings of judges Sohel Ahmed and Jagannath Pare, of former finance minister Shah A M S Kibria and several other killings attempted to destroy progressive and secular spirits.
Citing the administrative shortcomings of the Justice Latifur Rahman-led caretaker government, the report said there is no specific guideline to appoint the chief advisor and the 10 advisors to the interim administration are appointed according to the chief advisor's whim.
In this case, the report claimed, there is scope for the appointment to be influenced by partisan considerations and other unfair means.
It said the caretaker government acts as it deems fit and since it is not an elected one, it is not accountable to the people, which was how that transition government behaved.
"The oppression started immediately after the caretaker government had assumed state power. The government did not take any initiative to stop atrocities on minority or the opposition leaders-activists because of its partisanship."
"Rather the chief advisor transferred 13 key secretaries shortly after he had taken office on July 15, 2001.
"Later, a huge number of officers, including divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, police superintendents, Upazila executive officers and police officers-in-charge were transferred to fan the repression," the report further observed.
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher