Bid to befool Rajshahi voters, civil society men say
BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami candidates during election campaigns in Rajshahi constituencies have given a 'false version' of the dreadful rise of so-called Islamist militancy in the country to befool voters, civil society members alleged.Jamaat candidates once again brushed aside the dreadful events, saying thees are no more. BNP candidates claimed that the four-party alliance government did not abet militancy, rather it brought militants under justice.They said, the problem of militancy is no more now. Their election campaigns ended yesterday midnight.BNP candidate Mizanur Rahman Minu in Rajshahi-2 constituency in an interview with a local newspaper in Rajshahi termed the allegation of his abetting militancy as 'pre-planned' to tarnish his image. “During alliance rule, we brought militants under law, took them to court, and did not help them. BNP is a liberal party where there is no shelter for militants and extremists. We just hate them”, Minu said in the interview.“BNP government dealt with militancy issue very strictly. It would not have even arisen had the previous governments did like BNP”, said Kabir Hossain, BNP contestant in Rajshahi-3 and also the party's Liberation War affairs secretary.Kabir's rival and Jamaat-e Islami candidate Ataur Rahman said, “There is no militancy in Rajshahi region. It was the incident of Bagmara (an upazila in Rajshahi from where militants were exposed). They rose in Bagmara and they were buried in Bagmara”.BNP candidate in Rajshahi-1 Enamul Haque, brother of barrister Aminul Haque who is abroad after convicted for life in a militancy abetting case, and BNP runner in Natore-2 Sabina Yasmin Chhobi, also expressed similar views. Chhobi is wife of Ruhul Kuddus Talukhdar Dulu, charged as a militant patron.Their versions of the militancy came as grand alliance candidates here spoke about the role of former BNP-Jamaat stalwarts in abetting militancy.Rajshahi region, once infested with outlaws, saw the rise of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants, led by JMB leader Siddiqul Islam Bangla Bhai in 2004. The JMB cadres in the name of action against underground operatives allegedly killed around 25 people and mimed over 500 in the region in only three months. Former BNP minister Aminul Haque and former BNP deputy minister Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu, with the help of former BNP lawmaker Nadim Mustofa, former RCC Mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu, and former state minister Alamgir Kabir reportedly patronised militants using police and the administration. Allegedly backed by Minu, a large group of armed JMB militants marched through Rajshahi city on May 23, 2004.They addressed a number of wayside meetings and handed over memorandums to the then Rajshahi deputy commissioner, superintendent of police and deputy inspector general of police. Militant kingpin Asadullah Al Galib was provided with a certificate, signed by Minu in 2004, which said 'Galib has no link with militancy'. Galib is being tried for his militant roles.As JMB's Rajshahi operations raised countrywide concern, the then government was forced to arrest Rajshahi University teacher and militant kingpin Asadullah Al Galib. Then the JMB militants threatened of a serial blast for freeing Galib. Finally they unmasked it on August 17, 2005 and ran terror strikes on courts and judges, drawing global concern.Later, the then four-party government arrested them as JMB leaders threatened of revealing their links with government high-ups. The arrested militants were executed during the rule of present caretaker government.Eminent littérateur Hasan Azizul Haque said it is no more a secret now that BNP-Jamaat leaders including former Rajshahi mayor patronised militants of Bangla Bhai. It would be better for them (four-party alliance candidates) to promise that they would never patronise militants, if elected, he told this correspondent.“They are now talking false on militancy ahead of election. They can not avoid responsibility of abetting militancy”, said Haque.The truth is that the serial blasts and terror attacks on courts and judges in 2005 occurred when the BNP-Jamaat government was forced to chase militants following local and international pressure, said Mahtab Uddin, a social worker. Mahtab said voices of militants sank when they (militants) threatened of disclosing their links with BNP-Jamaat. “Jamaat denial of Bangla Bhai's existence when local media were focusing on the issue proves their involvement”. Dr AHM Zehadul Karim, a Rajshahi resident, now vice chancellor of Comilla University, said the versions BNP-Jamaat candidates are totally false. “The fact is that militancy is still a threat today”.The militancy issue should have been in election manifestos of BNP and Jamaat as it rose during their rule, he said.“Instead of commitment against militancy prior to elections, they have distorted facts," said Nurul Alam, president of Rajshahi district unit of Shujon (Shushasoner Jonno Nagorik).Dr Mahbuba Kaniz Keya, a Rajshahi University teacher, said there is no need to have a proof that the BNP-Jamaat version is false as the militancy issue is as clear as water. "We are still under threat. The militants will come out whenever they find a suitable ground”. Manoranjan Nandi, a prominent playwright, said, "By distorting the facts, political leaders tried to fool voters. We want tough words against those who are engaged with militancy."