Speakers at a virtual discussion early Monday laid emphasis on initiating a cultural movement and restoring the original constitution of 1972 to tackle communal forces who are making efforts to raise their ugly heads again.
They also bemoaned that the communal forces recently dared to create a controversy over Bangabandhu’s sculpture and defaced one in Kushtia as political forces used to use religion and religious groups for their narrow political interests by staying away from the Liberation War’s spirit of non-communal Bangladesh.
Canada-based Bongobondhu Cultural and Research Society arranged the programme titled “The killing of Bengali intellectuals in 1971 and the perspective of today’s bigotry”, marking the Martyred Intellectuals Day.
Speaking at the programme, noted columnist Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury said the reemergence of fundamentalism after nearly 50 years of the country’s independence is very surprising.
“The current government used to blame people’s ultra-religious sentiment for the rise of communalism, but it’s not true. There’s a conducive environment to non-communalism when Bangabandhu advocated for it. But the military rulers and Khaleda Zia destroyed it and turned the country into a communal one,” he said.
Besides, Gaffar Chowdhury said a democratic government is now in power, but there is no democracy in the country. “This contradiction also helped the rise of fundamentalism.”
He said though Awami League used to identify itself as a secular party, their many steps encouraged fundamentalism.
The columnist said though Awami League has been in power for a long time it did not take steps to make the country’s education, culture and social systems non-communal and modernise the madrasa education.
He said the country’s constitution framed in 1972 guaranteed non-communalism as one of the basic principles of the country, but military ruler Ziaur Rahman dropped it. “We should have restored it.”
Gaffar Chowdhury said Awami League could not restore the constitution of 1972 due to its fear of religion.
He said the communal forces got the scope to create controversy over the statue of the Father of the Nation only because of a compromising policy of the government.
“A big cultural movement is now crucial to check the fundamentalism. It’s our bad luck that we don’t have intellectuals to create a resistance against fundamentalism as they did during the Liberation War. Our intellectuals are now busy either serving the government or the opposition,” the journalist observed.
Gaffar Chowdhury called upon Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to drive out communal people from her party and make her administration non-communal by restoring the 1972’s constitution.
Prominent poet Asad Chowdhury lamented that the communal forces damaged a statue of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Kushtia in the Month of Victory.
“How can Babunagari and Mamunul (Haque) threaten to throw the statue of Bangabandhu to the Bay of Bengal? They could do it as we’ve backed off from the main principles of our Liberation War and the 1972 constitution.”
The poet said non-communalism was one of the main principles of the Liberation War, but it could not be implemented. “Rather, the fundamentalist forces have been pampered in many ways. “We need to think about it seriously.”
He said Bangladesh is now suffering much from Identity crisis than the onslaught of coronavirus. “We must come out of it.”
Dr Haider Ali Khan, a professor of economics at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, said both the external and internal factors are behind the rise in communalism in Bangladesh.
About the external factor, he said huge money of some middle-east countries are being spent in different countries, including in Bangladesh, in support of extremists.
“The internal factor has a link with the degradation of society after the assassination of Bangabandhu on August 15, 1975,” the noted economist observed.
To overcome the internal problem, he said it is now imperative to wake up the younger generation and let them know the real history.
Dr Haider Ali said the government and the intellectuals, especially those Bangladeshis staying in different countries, will have to forge a strong unity with international intellectuals to remove the external causes of fundamentalism.
Martyred journalist and intellectual Serajuddin Hossain’s sons Shaheen Reza Noor, Touhid Reza Noor and Selim Reza Noor also participated in the discussion and described how their father worked with Bangabandhu and played a role in liberating the country.
A prominent journalist and close associate of Bangabandhu, Serajuddin Hossain was picked up by the Pakistan army with the help of Al-Badr and Razakars on December 10, 1971 and killed.
Source: United News of Bangladesh