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Bangladesh Burning

The ghost of the 1971 Liberation War and the ghastly spate of events associated with it are back to haunt Bangladesh. The war, one of the darkest periods in Bangladeshi history was characterized by mass murder and genocide of such a large scale, that it has rarely been seen in human history with perhaps the sole exception being the Holocaust. For months at a stretch, the country of Bangladesh(then East Pakistan) was racked by a brutal and oppressive military which had but but one aim - eradicate all opposition and maintain Pakistani supremacy.

Protests have been racking Bangladesh since December 2012
On the night of 25th March, 1971 the Pakistani Army began it's dreaded Operation Searchlight, a mission which had begun with orders coming directly from the office of the then President Mr. Yahya Khan. With that began the blood-thirsty Butchering of Bangladesh which lasted until late December that year. Specially handpicked and targeted were Bangladeshi Hindus, a religious minority which was thought to actively be supporting the separatist movement. Forming a large bulk of the intelligentsia, they were cut down ruthlessly. Even nationalist Muslims were not spared, especially those in universities (The University of Dhaka was a choice target with as many as three thousand cold-blooded murders occurring there). By mid-May the population of Bangladesh had been reduced by as much as 15 million, with the majority seeking shelter in neighboring India.

What's appalling is that this massacre was actively abetted and supported by many radical Islamists, staunch and whole hearted supporters of the status quo, that is being a part of Pakistan. This small minority of the Bangladeshi population reigned over the country, turning into a vast killing field and bringing in a period of dread. Included in this minority were the Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamic political party at that time.

Thus, it is shocking to know that this very political party is yet very much existent today in the mainstream political establishment. In fact, it was part of the government till very recently(2008), it's leader, the arbitrators of the genocide, those very people with the blood of thousands on their hands holding plum position in the Cabinet. Such was the sorry state of affairs in Bangladesh till when in 2009, Sheikh Hasina, riding on a huge mandate captured the Prime Minister's Seat and implemented what it had promised for long - a War Crimes Trial.

But today, the War Crimes Trial seems to have divided and polarized the country more than uniting it. Within just 24 hours, it let out a double whammy to the Jamaat by convicting two of it's senior-most popular leaders. It obviously also had a counter reaction by the Islamists with nationwide shutdowns (there have been around 15 of them costing the economy a good $3 Billion) and mass protests. And accompanying them is the widespread rioting.

The Genocide of 1971
Hundreds of Hindu households and temples have been burned to dust besides countless killed. In their blind rage, even the Muslims have been targeted. The intelligentsia has again been targeted, with some radical supporters of the Jamaat killing  Ahmed Rajib Haider, a 35-year-old blogger who strongly advocated the War Crimes Trial.  The country of Bangladesh, at peace but 6 months ago is turning into a full-scale riot house with it's population more or less divided between these two opposing ideologies.

Moreover, to add fuel to the raging fire the Bangladeshi Government is busy fishing in troubled waters by announcing it's decision to work towards banning the Jamaat. Shabhagh Sqaure in Dhaka is fast becoming the Tahrir Square of Bangladesh, not with the downfall of the Government in mind but with the ushering in of a new era in Bangladeshi politics, either for the better or for the worse. 

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