Only a day after Maqbul Ahmed took charge of Jamaat-e-Islami and, in a surprise move, recalled the sacrifice of the freedom fighters, war heroes in Feni have alleged that Maqbul was involved in wartime atrocities in 1971 as a collaborator.
Maqbul, who took oath on Monday, in a written statement the same day recalled the “valiant and courageous freedom fighters and the people of all classes who had made outstanding contribution and sacrifice during the war of liberation in 1971.”
He said: “We are blessed with an independent and sovereign country because of their optimum sacrifice and dedication.”
He also mentioned the names of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the architect of independent Bangladesh, Ziaur Rahman as martyr president, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani as a popular leader, and General Ataul Gani Osmani and “other great leaders of our struggle and movement for independence.”
Maqbul Ahmed takes oath as Jamaat chief
In the following paragraph, the new Jamaat ameer remembered the party's former chiefs Ghulam Azam and Motiur Rahman Nizami; former nayeb-e-ameer Maulana AKM Yousuf; former secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid; former assistant secretaries general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla; and party’s former central executive committee member Mir Quasem Ali and others “who had made outstanding and significant contribution throughout their lives for establishing a just and welfare society in Bangladesh on the basis of Islamic ideology.”
He claimed that the five top Jamaat leaders – condemned war criminals Quasem, Nizami, Mujahid, Kamaruzzaman, Quader Molla – had been hanged “unlawfully” by the incumbent “authoritarian” government “because of their pro-active and dynamic roles.”
Maqbul also alleged that Ghulam Azam and Yusuf had died in jail “because of the government’s oppression and torture. I am praying to Almighty Allah for the acceptance of their martyrdom.”
He claimed that Jamaat leaders Abdus Subhan, Delawar Hossain Sayedee and ATM Azharul Islam had been kept in jail to face slow death as they were sentenced on the basis of false and baseless allegations of crimes against humanity.
His remarks resulted in criticism among cross-sections of people for mentioning the sacrifices of the freedom fighters for the country's independence and hailing the war criminals in the same statement.
During the war, Jamaat top brass had branded the freedom fighters as miscreants, atheists and agents of India, and acted against the creation of Bangladesh by collaborating with the Pakistani occupation forces as a party. Jamaat was also behind the formation of Peace Committee, Razakar forces, al-Badr and al-Shams.
Jamaat has always been critical of the ongoing war crimes trials while Maqbul, as the party's acting ameer in the last six years, made many infuriating statements regarding the trial process and judgements.
The religion-based party is also believed to be behind the rise of extremism and communalism in the country as it resumed politics after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Maqbul got the acting ameer post of Jamaat after the arrest of previous chief Nizami in 2010 for war crimes. He had attended party meetings and issued statements regularly from unknown locations.
Earlier he served as the nayeb-e-ameer, assistant secretary general, regional coordinator and Rokon of the party.
Hailing from Omrabad village under Purbo Chandrapur Union of Dagonbhuiyan in Feni, Maqbul was a teacher at Feni Model High School in 1971 and later joined Jamaat-e-Islami after his retirement. He lost the 1991 elections contesting from Feni 2 constituency.
Maqbul also supported the 13-point charter for demands of radical Islamist party Hefazat-e-Islam when the latter waged all-out movement against the government in 2013 demanding blasphemy law to try atheist bloggers and a ban on Ahmadiyya Muslims.
Earlier this year, he threatened to wage tough movement if the state religion provision in the constitution was revoked by the apex court.
HC: Registering Jamaat unlawful
After taking oath, Maqbul asked the government and other parties to arrange a national dialogue with all the political parties and stakeholders to solve the existing problems and crises of the country. He earlier called for national unity after the July 1 Gulshan cafe attack.
Jamaat lost its party registration with the Election Commission in 2013 after the High Court observed that the EC had not registered the party in 2008 “lawfully” and its charter contained elements contrary to the constitution and the election rules.
Allegations of 1971 crimes
According to Feni district freedom fighters' Commander Mir Abdul Hannan, Maqbul was a razakar commander during the war. Upon his directives, members of al-Badr and razakar forces abducted freedom fighter Maulana Waz Uddin, a former leader of Bangladesh Students Union and vice-president of Feni College Central Students' Union, and killed him in Chittagong.
Dagonbhuiyan unit commander Shariat Ullah Bangali accused Maqbul of masterminding the death of 10 Hindus at Laalpur village of Joylaskar Union in the upazila. The victims were burnt to death.
“Razakar Mosharraf Hossain Mosha killed freedom fighter Ahsan Ullah of Khushipur village of the upazila on the order by Maqbul. Mosha, hailing from Safua village, is still alive,” Shariat told the Dhaka Tribune, demanding investigation into the allegations against the new Jamaat chief.
Barbarous Nizami hanged
Hannan alleged that around 200 razakars of Feni including Maqbul had been enjoying impunity as no charges were brought against them at the International Crimes Tribunal.
Former ameer of the district unit and central leader Prof Liakat Ali binned the allegations terming them politically-motivated.
“Some dishonest people are trying to make a leader of the Islamic movement controversial by making false accusations against him,” he claimed.
'War-time allegations baseless'
After Bangla Tribune published a report on Maqbul's war crimes on Tuesday, Jamaat Nayeb-e-Ameer Prof Mozibur Rahman in a statement claimed that the allegations were imaginary, confusing and baseless.
Mozibur alleged that the report was published as part of a conspiracy since there had been no allegations of war-time crimes had been brought against Maqbul since the independence.
“Such an allegation against a party like Jamaat-e-Islami which is following Islamic ideology and principles is completely unacceptable and irrelevant. They cannot confuse and misguide the countrymen by publishing such false, baseless and ill-motivated report,” the statement added.