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Quader Molla̢۪s execution: a milestone in history

THE execution Thursday night of Abdul Quader Molla, who had been convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal of war crimes and subsequently sentenced by the Supreme Court to death, is a milestone in Bangladesh’s history; the assistant secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami was the first to walk the gallows for perpetration of genocide and other crimes against humanity, spearheaded by Pakistani military forces, during the war of liberation in 1971. The execution also marks the beginning of an end to the nation’s prolonged wait to start getting rid of the proverbial albatross, which has hung heavy round its neck for so long, thanks primarily to the political opportunism displayed by the major political camps since independence. It does indeed call for unreserved and unbridled celebrations; regrettably, however, there seem to be some uneasiness especially among the sections of society inclined to critical thinking about some conspicuous anomalies during the trial and also in the lead-up to the execution of Quader Molla.
Such anomalies, the result of a general lack of sincerity and efficiency on the part of the ruling Awami League and the government that it leads, essentially played into the hands of Jamaat and others that have relentlessly sought to render the very trial of war criminals controversial. It goes without saying that the over-enthusiasm of some loquacious ministers to publicly predict the outcome of the trial and even the timeline for execution of the convicts has only lent credence to the allegations that the trials and the tribunals may be advancing the partisan agenda of the ruling party. The controversy arising out of the last-minute postponement of Quader Molla’s execution Tuesday night although two state ministers of the government had publicly said earlier in the day that he would be hanged past midnight and that all legal options had been exhausted, and sustained by the eventual chaos and confusion over the review petition and jail code seems to have only deepened the uneasiness in society.
Equally, if not more, disquieting was the reign of terror that Jamaat and Islami Chhatra Shibir have unleashed across the country since the execution of Quader Molla. The widespread violence and vandalism has amply showcased the strength, organisational and otherwise, that Jamaat and its student front have mustered over the past four decades or so. Here, too, the blame for the increasing arrogance of these undemocratic forces falls squarely on primarily the shoulders of the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. After all, these two parties, in their ideologically bankrupt and ethically challenged pursuit of state power, have hardly hesitated to make Jamaat their bedfellows at different junctures of the country’s political history since independence.
In any case, as indicated, Quader Molla’s execution is only the beginning of an end to the wait for justice in relation to the war crimes perpetrated during the war of liberation. While the majority of the people want the perpetrators to pay for the crimes they committed more than four decades back, they also want the war crimes trial to be above and beyond any question or controversy. With several cases nearing completion and several others under way, the state must ensure that the trial process meets the national and expectations of transparency and credibility,
As for the violence unleashed by Jamaat and Shibir, the government needs to realise that the fight against such toxic and murderous politics cannot be won through coercion by the state machinery; it needs to be fought ideologically, politically and culturally.

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