Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hasina cites pending appeal in court for not moving to outlaw Jamaat

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-02-07 03:04:09 BdST

The government cannot outlaw the Jamaat-e-Islami just yet as an appeal seeking a ban on the party that opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan is pending at the Supreme Court, Sheikh Hasina has said.

However, speaking in parliament on Wednesday, she said she hoped that the Jamaat will get banned much the same way it lost its registration with the Election Commission as a political party following a court battle.

The party cannot use its name in elections but its leaders are contesting as candidates of its ally the BNP or independently.

Many pro-Liberation War parties and organisations, including the Ganajagaran Mancha, have been demanding that the Jamaat be banned.

In 1971, the Jamaat-e-Islami opposed the 11-point movement and other demands when the struggle for Bamgladesh's independence reached its peak. The party and its erstwhile student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha raised several groups such as the Razakar, Al-Badar, Al-Shams to collaborate with the Pakistani occupation force.

They were engaged in murder, rape, looting and other war crimes during the Liberation War. The Supreme Court has convicted seven top leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami as of now with five of them already hanged.

A court verdict has termed Jamaat-e-Islami a ‘criminal party’ saying those against the independence of the country should not hold office in any organisation in the country.

While seeking death penalty for Jamaat supremo Ghulam Azam, who was sentenced to 90 years in prison for war crimes, the state also appealed for a ban on Jamaat in 2013.

On Wednesday, Tarikat Federation chief Syed Nazibul Bashar Maizvandary MP asked Hasina whether the government was banning Jamaat.

“Public opinion has been created against the Jamaat. People have rejected it. A case to ban it is pending in court. It seems we can’t do anything until the court gives its verdict in the case,” Hasina replied.    

“I hope if the court verdict comes very soon, then Jamaat will be banned as a party,” she added.

The prime minister described how Ziaur Rahman, the founder of the BNP, paved way for the Jamaat to revive its politics in Bangladesh after the assassination of Bangabandhu, who had started the process to try the war criminals after independence.

She slated the BNP for allowing the Jamaat leaders to use its name and electoral symbol to contest in the recent parliamentary polls won by the Awami League by a landslide.

Maizvandary also asked whether BNP acting chief Tarique Rahman, who has been sentenced up to life in prison for money laundering, corruption and the Aug 21, 2004 grenade attack, will be brought back from London.

Hasina said she believes the government will be able to bring back all of those convicted in sensational money laundering, 10-truck arms haul, grenade attack, and corruption cases but are staying abroad.