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Jamaatis circulating anti-India news

Jamaat cadres and sympathisers are whipping up anti-India sentiments through press and social media.

SUSENJIT GUHA  Kolkata | 25th Jan 2014

adical groups in Bangladesh and their sympathisers are spreading fake news to whip up anti-India sentiments ever since the Bangladesh government deployed joint forces, comprising the police, Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), to crack down on the violent activities of the largest Islamist party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, commonly called Jamaat, and arrest the cadres. Since last October, Jamaat virtually insulated Sathkhira, a district bordering West Bengal, from the rest of Bangladesh and started exercising their writ.

Three reporters of the Dainik Inqilab, a Jamaati mouthpiece, were put behind bars and the offices of the newspaper were temporarily sealed after they published a fake headline story last week with copies of photoshopped fax messages, citing involvement of the Indian armed forces during the operation at Sathkhira. Leaders of the Bangladesh Awami League, a party which is in power, demanded an apology from Khaleda Zia, the chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Jamaat's political ally, after she brandished the newspaper soon after the apology at a rally at Suhrawardy Uddyan and spoke of the presence of "unknown faces" in a bid to add credence to the fake report to whip up anti-India sentiments.

The allegation by Zia at the rally came after the newspaper had formally apologised for the fake news based on fabricated information. At Suhrawardy Uddyan, Pakistan surrendered to the Indian armed forces and the Mukti Bahini (a group of liberation warriors) on 16 December 1971. It was from the same venue, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, popularly known as Bongobondhu, gave the clarion call for the final struggle for independence from Pakistan, on 7 March 1971.

Three reporters of the Dainik Inqilab, a Jamaati mouthpiece, were put behind bars and the offices of the newspaper were temporarily sealed after they published a fake headline story last week with copies of photoshopped fax messages, citing involvement of the Indian armed forces during the operation at Sathkhira.

According to Shahriyar Kabir, a leading Bangladeshi human rights activist, Jamaat fought tooth and nail to thwart the struggle for a free Bangladesh, but failed because of India. Speaking to this newspaper on the phone from Dhaka, he said, "They hate India because they believe that it was her assistance to the Mukti Bahini that helped the birth of Bangladesh." Zia had also pointed to "unknown faces" when she was placed under virtual house arrest in the wake of a surge in violence in the run-up to the nation's polls early this month. Kabir said, "Zia admonished the guards stationed at her residence because they did not look like Bangladeshis. Some common Bangladeshis believe such fake news."

The anti-India tirade based on falsehood is spilling over to social networking sites with the President of India coming under attack as well.

Pro-BNP academician and scientist, Syed Safiullah, updated his status on Facebook to invite comments from students by questioning the calibre of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, who according to him, was "a lower division clerk" during his youth. Pranab's beginning as a Professor of Political Science was conspicuously left out.

In another post, Safiullah hailed AAP's Kejriwal and compared him to a "bull in a China shop" for "Indian hegemonists and reactionaries."

One of his students drew a bizarre analogy: "It will certainly change the political landscape of India...like Jamaat which is going to change our politics forever."

Kabir cautioned: "A dubious Jamaat was going for an image makeover and wooing well known Indians with a reasonable media presence to portray them as a moderate, not a militant Islamist organisation."

Noted historian and author, Muntassir Mamoon, concurred: "Bangladesh Jamaat leaders are courting Indian personalities to soften their image." According to an Indian daily, Abdur Razzaq, the assistant general secretary of Jamaat, told visiting media persons in Dhaka last year that his organisation wanted to engage with Indian civil society. A senior Jamaati 1971 war criminal undergoing trial in Bangladesh, Mir Abdul Wasim Ali, roped in US lobbying firm, Cassidy & Associates, to promote his case in Washington.

Kabir added, "Jamaat's anti- India hatred translated into attacks on minorities."

At the fishing hamlet of Malopara in Jessore, womenfolk from the minority community, some with babies in their arms, jumped into the adjoining Bhairab river on the wintry January night of the polling day to save their honour from marauding Jamaatis. Muslim women on the other handprovided them shelter, offered food, their clothes and blankets. To media persons, the next morning, they said, "We could also become targets of Jamaatis someday."

Mamoon cautioned that "rooting Jamaat out of Bangladesh would be an uphill task as they were well financed from abroad and had business interests in road and water transportation, media, education and construction and various other sectors in Bangladesh."

Young human rights activist and lawyer, Sahanur Saikat, refused to agree: "Please have faith in our younger generation and our rural folk. Jamaatis can be defeated."

 
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