Monday, 28 March 2016

28 October, 2006: A case study of the violent politics of the Awami League

written by: Talukder Shaheb, blog

At the end of BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government’s tenure (2001-2006), the 13th Amendment to the Bangladesh Constitution required the president to offer the position of the Chief Adviser to the immediate past Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who was to be Justice K.M. Hasan, soon after the tenure of the government expires on October 28, 2006. The then main opposite party Awami League (AL) opposed Justice Hasan, alleging that he belonged to the then ruling BNP. Awami League launched country-wide blockade and general strike to stop Mr. Justice K M Hasan taking the oath of the chief of the caretaker government.
Sheikh Hasina, the President of Awami League, called her party activists to march to Dhaka with oars and sticks to take control of the streets of the capital. From a rally held on 18th September 2006 at the Paltan ground in the the capital, Sheikh Hasina instructed her party activists to come to Dhaka with oars, logs, and sticks:
“you [the people] be ready and come to Dhaka from villages, upazilas and districts with oars, rowing poles and with whatever you have when I will call you,” Hasina instructed her coalition activists urging to build a resistance against the following caretaker government.1 Following her call, her party activists gathered in the city sparking the violence of October 28.2
Chronology of events
On the eve of October 28, 2006, the then Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia addressed the nation on the evening of October 27th. On the following day, October 28th, a feeling of fear prevailed across the country as Awmi league threatened to massive blockade if Justice K M Hasan was not offered for the post of the chief advisor to the caretaker government.
The activists of the then opposition alliance led by Awami League took to the streets, started setting fire in the markets, set vehicles ablaze and clashed with the BNP and Jamaat activists, and even with the law enforcers. Hundreds of Awami League activists carrying bamboo poles and oars paraded most city roads, chanting slogans against Khaleda Zia and Justice KM Hasan.3 The Awami League activists blocked almost all the city entry points in the morning and clashed with any procession of the BNP they saw.
The major violent incidents took place at the Paltan intersection, Shahbagh, Jatrabari and Mirpur in the capital.4Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (BJI) arranged a pre-declared program at 3.00pm at Baitul Mukarram North gate in the capital to observe the day of power handover of the government. Another political meeting was arranged by Bangladesh Awami Legue at Paltan ground which was quite far from the Jamaat’s venue. At 11.00 am suddenly a procession started to throw bricks upon the activists of BJI and the students organisation Bangladesh Islami Chatrashibir (BICS). A rally led by AL leaders Hazi Selim and Dr. Iqbal passing by the Jamaat gathering, suddenly attacked the Jamaat meeting and started throwing bricks and sticks at the Jamaat workers.5 Even a number of big bombs were hurled by the AL men close to the stage as Jamaat Chief Matiur Rahman Nizami was at the tail end of his speech.6
Awami League activists used handmade bombs, arms, logs, oars and sticks in their indiscriminate attack on BJI and Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir (BICS). Due to this sudden attack, along with Jamat leaders Nurul Islam Bulbul, Josim Uddin, Mujahid and other activists were severely wounded and 5 of them died instantly. AL activists and cadres beat to death Jamaat activists with oars and sticks they were carrying. 7
Electronic media showed how inhumanly the Awami league men killed Shibir activist Mujahid by beating with sticks and oars. 8
The atmosphere at Dhaka Medical College Hospital was rendered heavy with the cries of the relatives of the injured and the dead activists of BJI and BICS. Hundreds of shocked relatives and party activists thronged to the hospital to see whether their relatives were among the dead and the injured. More than 400 of the injured were admitted to the hospital.9
The massacre of 28th October caused the tragic death of Shibir activist Mujahidul Islam, Golam Kibria Shipon, Jamaat activist from Lalbag, Habibur Rahman, Jamaat activist from Jurain, Jasimuddin, Jamaat activist Jasim (s/o Haji Anwarullah) and Abdullah Al Foysal from Siddhirganj. Later, on 5 November 2006, Saifullah Mahmud Masum died in hospital from severe wounds sustained on 28th October.
The violence of Awami League in 28th October 2006 was not limited to Dhaka only. On the same date Awami League men killed BJI activist Ruhul Amin in Gazipur, BJI activist Saber Hossain in Nilfamary, Arafat Hossain Sabuj in Magura, Abbas Ali in Meherpur and Jabid Ali in Satkhira.
At least 18 people were killed throughout the country by the “oars and logs” attack of Awami League and its allies.10 At least 1,000 were injured, many with bullets, in attacks by the activists of the AL led alliance.11 In Kurigram, Islami Chhatra Shibir activist Rafiqul Islam, wounded in a clash with the Awami League activists, died in a clinic at about 5:00pm.12
In Narsingdi, Hajipur union council chairman Saiful Islam, 33, also a local BNP leader, and his younger brother, Ripon, 28, died in a brutal attack of Awami league cadres at about 2:30pm. His elder brother, Mah-e-Alam, 42, cousin Shamim, 35, and supporters Hannan Sarkar, 33, and Elen Hossain, 32, were injured when they tried to save Saiful from the Awami league attackers. More than two dozen offices of the BNP and its front organizations were vandalized in the attacks of Awami league. In Chittagong, a toll collector of Shah Amanat Bridge, Abul Kalam, wounded in an attack by Awami League on Saturday morning, died in Chittagong Medical College Hospital at about 4:00pm.
Kalam and three others were wounded when the Awami league men, during a road blockade, attacked state minister Zafrul Islam at 11:30am. Zafrul somehow managed to escape the scene unhurt.13
Road communications between Dhaka and other areas remained snapped due to massive blockade by Awami League. Shops and business establishments were closed. Streets in towns and cities were deserted. Railway communications were also disrupted in many areas.14
Mujahidul Islam
Mujahidul Islam was a 3rd year student of BBA at Stamford University. He was the President of Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir, Mirpur 10 unit of Dhaka. On 28 October 2006, Awami League activists killed Mujahid by beating with sticks and oars.15 They severly tortured him by indiscriminately beating him with blunt and sharp weapons on his hands, nose, legs, head, mouth. 14 party alliance activists killed Mujahid so cruelly, it brought to shame barbaric practices of the Dark Ages of the Medieval period.16 After ensuring Mujahid’s death, the killers danced on his dead body under broad day light.
Golam Kibria Shipon
Golam Kibira Shipon was a first year student of BSc in Physics in Dhaka College. He was a very brilliant student and a Hafez i.e. one who memorized the Holy Quran by heart. He had achieved distinction in his Higher secondary exam. Shipon was the president of 27 ward branch of Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir, Dhaka south unit. He was brutally killed in similar fashion as Mujahid.
Saifullah M Masum
Saifullah M Masum was the youngest child of retired government employee Mahtab Uddin Ahmed and Shamsunnahar Rubi. On 28 October 2006, Awami League cadres hammered his whole body with bricks and sticks. After 5 days of struggle with death he succumbed to the injury and died on 2nd November 2006.
List of persons murdered in the 28 October clash in Paltan:
1Hossain Mohammad Mujahidul Islam22Student, Stamford University, President, BICS, Mirpur-10.D-23, Lalkuthi, Mirpur-10
2Golam Kibria Shipon21President, BICS, 27 Ward, Dhaka SouthBaganbari, Mothertake
3Saifullah M. Masum25Secretary, BICS, Word 27, DhakaBaganbari, Mothertake
4Md. Josim Uddin34BJI ActivistBakshibazar, Dhaka
5Md. Josim Uddin34BJI ActivistChandpur
6Md. Habibur Rahman40BJI ActivistShah Alibag, Mirpur, Dhaka
7Abdullah Al Foysal24BICS ActivistNarayangonj
8.Md. Rasel25Chatra Maitree ActivistDhaka

Those behind the massacre
Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina, the President of Awami League, called her party activists to march to Dhaka with oars and sticks to take control of the streets of the capital. From a rally held on 18th September 2006 at Paltan ground in the capital, Sheikh Hasina instructed her party members to come to Dhaka with oars, logs, and sticks:
“If our demands are not met, you [the people] be ready and come to Dhaka from villages, upazilas and districts with oars, rowing poles and with whatever you have when I will call you,” Hasina instructed her coalition activists urging to build resistance against the next caretaker government.17 Following her call, her party activists gathered in the city sparking the violence of October 28.18
Tofail Ahmed
“We will not only besiege the capital city but also the villages. Besides, we will also go for indefinite countrywide shutdown if our demands are no fulfilled,” Awami League presidium member Tofail Ahmed said on 19 October, a few days before the massacre of 28 October.19
Haji Selim and Dr. Iqbal
The violence of 28 October was started by two Awami League lawmakers Haji Selim and Dr. Iqbal. On 28 October at 11 a.m., a 14-party rally led by AL leaders Haji Selim and Dr. Iqbal passing by the Jamaat gathering, suddenly attacked the Jamaat meeting and started throwing bricks and attacked with sticks on the Jamaat supporters.20
After that, a number of big bombs were hurled by the Awami League men close to the stage as Jamaat Chief Matiur Rahman Nizami was at the tail end of his speech.21
Role of Administration
The killing of 28 were staged under broad day light in front of Police and other law enforcing agencies but they failed to take necessary measures of stop such political violence. The attack on BJI and BICS activists was initiated by AL at 11 a.m. and it continued till 5 p.m. and yet the law enforcing agencies did not come forward to save the victims of the brutality in Paltan and other places. Jamaat leaders repeatedly asked for help to the Home Minister22and Police authority for saving their lives but the administration did not respond to their appeal. The law enforcing agencies did not perform their legal duty to maintain peace and law and order situation.
Subsequently, three cases were filed by the families of the murdered persons and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (BJI). Jamaat leader ATM Sirajul Haq filed the case no. 61(29/10/2006) at Paltan police station. The police submitted charge-sheet upon investigating the case filed by BJI accusing 46 persons on 11 April 2007. In an order of court given on 23 April 2007 the case was sent for further investigation. After the Awami League led alliance came into power, they formed a committee under supervision of the ministry of Law to withdraw cases on political ground. Referring to the barbarous Paltan killing, the state minister for law Advocate Kamrul Islam declared that the cases filed at Paltan Police Station had been lodged to harass prime minister Sheikh Hasina and the cased were withdrawn upon government directives without hearing the plaintiffs and depriving the victims of justice.
Picture Gallery
The government should ensure the proper and immediate trial of the offences committed on 28 October 2006 in Dhaka and it must change its decision of withdrawal of the case filed by the victims in order to serve the people with proper administration of justice. The illegal practice of using violence and torture to suppress the political opponents must be stopped immediately by Awami League and all other political parties. The law enforcing agencies should not tolerate such violent political activities. Political leaders should not make any statement which may encourage the party activists to engage in any violent and illegal activity.
The civil society should raise their voice against the unacceptable attacks on the opponent political parties by Awami League and closely monitor whether any party is involved in any illegal practice to establish dominance and supremacy. The Civil society must make the people aware about the torture, violence and violation of human rights by any political party. Emphasis has to be put on building the culture of tolerance and the practice of participation in our national life.
International community must consider the issues of human rights violation and torture in the political arena while making any decision about their relation with Bangladesh.
Donor and rights agencies should ensure that no person is tortured or murdered only for political identity, and that all people get equal protection of law from the state.
1. Hasina asks all to enforce blockade Wednesday,
3. A city of siege, a day of panic,
4. Ibid.
7. Daily Star, October 29, 2006,
9. A city of siege, a day of panic,
12. Ibid.
14. Ibid.
16. Daily Ittefaq, 29.10.06
17. Hasina asks all to enforce blockade Wednesday,

Successful Minister of Agriculture Maulana Nizami

In 2001 The four-party alliance formed the government after winning the parliamentary election with an overwhelming two-thirds majority. Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami assumed the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture of the government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. He set a unique example of in reforming the corruption-laden ministry and by executing various development oriented activities as well as service to the nation. The following parts highlight some of the activities of Maulana Nizami as the

Minister of Agriculture:–
Food Production: Increased by 7 lac Metric Tonn
Despite the fact that one lac 24 thousand hectare of lands of crops was devastated by flood and cyclones in the year 2001–2002, but the production of Boro paddy increased by 7 lac metric tonn compared to the year 2000–2001.

House of Farmer a Farmhouse: Epoch-making Programme by Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami
The then Minister of Agriculture Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami took up a programme called “house of farmer is a farmhouse” with the aim of meeting the demands of own nutrition by turning every household of farmers into a farmhouse, ensuring extra income and self-dependence. The practice exists to date.

Strengthening the Seeds Wing of BADC: A Unite Decision
To meet the local demands of high quality seeds, the then Minister of Agriculture Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami took up an effective initiative to increase the amount of base seeds and licensed seeds by BADC.

Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami inaugurates paddy harvesting Promotion of Agriculturist and Agricultural Scientists: What Generous Does
While he was the Minister of Agriculture, Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami resolved the long long-clogged promotion problems of various research institutes and Department of Agricultural Extension. Besides, he regularized the jobs of many third and fourth class employees. Because of his generous heart, he took up these initiatives.

Extensive Visit at the root levels: Revolution in Agriculture Sector
As the Minister of Agriculture Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami brought life to the agricultural extension workers, scientists and farmers by his extensive visit at the grass root levels. As a result, a revolution was brought about in the agriculture sector.

Plantation of Fruit-trees: Something that No One Did before
According to the will of Maulana Nizami, fruit tree plantation, for the first time, was separately prioritized in the National Tree Plantation Programme and the programme was celebrated for weeks. This programmes is in existence to date.

Changing the Designation of Block Supervisor: A Successful Initiative
During the tenure of the Maulana Nizami the initiative of changing the designation of bloc supervisors to Sub-assistant Officers was taken.

Soil Quality Testing: A Smart Initiative
While he was the Minister of Agriculture Maulana Nizami took the initiative to expand the activities of the Soil Resource Development Institute. As a result of which, it was possible to test soil quality across the country and a manual for land and soil resources was prepared for the Upazila level.

Increase Production of Maize and Jute: Compassion for Farmers
Maulana Nizami gave directions take up necessary programmes to massively increase the cultivation of maize and jute. As a result, plenty of maize and jute are being cultivated in the country at present. At that time, the farmers also received justified price for those two types crops.

Expanding the Activities of Barendra Multipurpose Authority
In line with the directions of Maulana Nizami the activities of Barendra Multipurpose Authority was expanded to other parts of the northern districts going beyond Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj.

HC rejects 1988 writ challenging state religion

The High Court on Monday rejected a 1988 writ petition challenging the constitutional provision of state religion. The rule retained Islam as state religion as per the eighth amendment to the constitution.
The bench of Justice Naima Haider, Quazi Reza-ul Haque and Md Ashraful Kamal rejected the writ saying that the petitioners had filed the writ as an organisation not individually thus had no locas standi.
The court observed that the platform Swairachar O Sampradaiyikata Pratirodh Committee had no legal basis, no registration.
After the rule, one of the petitioners Subrata Chowdhury said they were very disappointed at the rule. ‘We are not given chance to explain… We will appeal against the verdict,’ he said.
The court earlier on March 1 had asked Swairachar O Sampradaiyikata Protirodh Committee to explain whether it had the right to challenge the legality of Article 2A of the Constitution that declares Islam as the state religion.
In 1988, the petition was jointly filed by   former Chief Justice Kemal Uddin Hossain, academicians  Khan Sarwar Murshid, Kabir Chowdhury, Mosharaf Hossain, Serajul Islam Chowdhury and Anisuzzaman, sector commander Chitta Ranjan Dutta, writer Borhan Uddin Khan Jahangir and journalist Faiz Ahmed, as the leaders of the committee.
Only three of the petitioners Serajul Islam Chowdhury and Anisuzzaman, and Borhan Uddin Khan Jahangir are now alive, lawyer AKM Zagrul Haider told the three-member larger bench of Justice Naima Haider, Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Haque and Justice Ashraful Kamal.
Following instructions from the  Chief justice order, the larger bench on Monday took up the writ petition.
In a supplementary rule issued on December 1, 2011 by another bench asked the government to explain why the retention of Article 2A in the Constitution under the 15th amendment of July 3, 2011would not be declared unconstitutional and void.
The original rule issued on June 8, 2011 asked the government to explain why the inclusion of  Article 2A in the Constitution by the eighth amendment in 1988 would not be declared unconstitutional and void.
On Monday, the larger bench declined to hear the original rule as the eight amendment was struck down as unconstitutional.
The bench also asked the petitioner’s lawyer Zagrul Haider to explain on March 27 whether it could hear the issue of state religion since the Appellate Division settled it a verdict on the 15th amendment.
The court also revoked an order given on December 1,2011,  appointing 14 senior lawyers as amicus curie to assist the court on the issue.
The court said it would take no legal opinion from the amicus curiae as it would delay the disposal.
Kamal Hossain and 13 other senior lawyers were present at the hearing.
The court deferred the hearing until March 27 as Zagrul Haider prayed for time saying his senior Subrata Chowdhury was out of the country and that he was expected to return home on March 3.
The petitioners called for scrapping Article 2A saying it contradicts the basic structure and essential feature of the constitution embodied in its preamble, by making a particular religion –the state religion.

They said that the impugned article clashes with the state principle of secularism and freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
Article 2A was incorporated in the Constitution in gross violation of its basic spirit  by the regime of deposed military despot HM Ershad through the eighth amendment on June 9, 1988, contends the petition.

The Historic Speech of Maulana Nizami in the Tribunal

Alhamdulillah Wassalatu Wassalamu Ala Rasulillah Wa Ma Tawfiqee Illa Billah. Fa Alaihi Tawakkaltu Wa Ilaihi Uneeb

I want to categorically inform the court; during the war of liberation in 1971 my role was not involved in anything else other than politics. Politically, we demanded handing over the power to the elected representatives. Jamaat-e-Islami demanded the same, so did the Islami Chhatra Sangha. I believe along with the rest of the world, that tragic incident would not have happened, had the power been handed over according to the results of the elections of 1970.
At the same time history also knows that who impeded the power transition after the election.
Who obstructed the transfer of power? No one can show that Jamaat-e-Islami voiced anything that may have hindered the transfer of power. As the President of the Islami Chhatra Sanga, I was the first to protest against what Mr. Bhutto said. It was Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who obstructed the transfer of power. He was used by Yahya Khan or Yahya Khan used him; or they did it together. However, we had no connection with the causes that created the
circumstances for genocide.
By chance, I happened to be the President of Islami Chhatra Sangha Pakistan at that time. I was President till the last week of September. In a conference in Multan between 25-30 September, I resigned from my position following an election. I had no activities afterwards. I used to work in a research academy as a research fellow. The incident you brought against me in the charge number 16, I was not the President of Islami Chhatra Sanga at that time;
neither was I member of that organization; nor did I hold any position of Jammat-e-Islami then. Therefore, I did not have any role at that time. I have been alleged to be the commander of Al Badr; the newspaper clippings that have been provided as evidence, none of those clippings have Al Badr commander or Razakar chief designation next to my name. The page
number 36 of the book that has been handed over to me as formal charge clearly states that the former Ansar force was transformed into Razakar; all resources of Ansar force were handed to Razakar force and the officers of Ansar forces were kept as officers of Razakar force. Therefore, how can I have the scope of being a commander? The book you prepared proves that I had no scope for that.

I visited some places as the President of Chhatra Sangha, delivered speeches; however not all the statements in the newspapers are mine. Your book also has that evidence. There is a notion of one speech of mine in Jessore. I spoke of verses number of 111 and 112 of Surah Tawbah; you will notice that there is partial translation of the verse number 111. And there is not a single word translation of the verse number 112. This proves that newspapers do not
record all the statements of a speaker. Therefore, if the same happens in other cases where statements that were not mine but implicated with me, it will not be strange.

The criminal offenses that have been mentioned; I am transparent to my conscience, I am transparent to Allah that I had a political role but I was not involved in any immoral and inhumane activities by the grace of Allah; Allah did not involve me in any such thing. The incidents that have been mentioned here was not perpetrated in my presence, not committed in front of me, not done to my knowledge, not executed by my consent and I was not even aware of them. Honorable court, I am coming to the points that I visited some place; however, I am the only son of my parents and I did not even go to visit them during the war of liberation in 1971; I did not stay in my locality. I did not go to my residence let alone going to the greater Pabna area. Therefore, the few forces that were formed there, I can tell with full responsibility these are nothing but the most heinous lies of history. There is no question of my involvement in any of those. I did not even know many of these places. I visited many places before the elections in 1986; I did not know these places before that time. It is seen here that in an incident in Karmoja I arranged a meeting in retaliation for not voting in my favour. I did not even take part in the elections of 1970! I was not candidate in that election, where does the question of voting in my favour come from? And where does the question of retaliation for not voting in my favour come from?

If given chance to talk, there are many things to talk about; I clearly want to say that when my name was published in the newspaper in 1988 as the Secretary General, my wife said, someone called in guise of your friend. What did he say? He asked her, do you wish to be a widow? She questioned, why was he asking that? He replied, we would kill your husband in front of you. She said, okay do that if you can. He replied, why are you accepting that so easily; keep him away from assuming the responsibility of the Secretary General. Keep him away from the being active in the politics of Jammat-e-Islami. My wife replied, he does what he feels to be right, I cannot prevent him from doing that.
Honourable court, afterwards, I took part in the parliamentary election in 1991 and was elected as a member of parliament (MP) and elected as the leader of the parliamentary party. Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee was formed in 1992. We had to struggle against the activities of this Committee in parliament, in the Supreme Court as well as in the streets. As General Secretary and leader of the Parliamentary party I had to play a role. I came to the centre of attention from that time. Afterwards, the incident of Karmoja that was described, is an interesting case. In November of 2000 the result of election of the Ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami was declared and I was elected Ameer for the first time. After the election of Ameer, it was decided that I would be sworn in on 6 December. On that day, some bones were resurrected from an old grave and shown on the TV,which was only to defame the new Ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. No one brought this incident to attention before that day. Besides, Karmoja lies in the entry point of my constituency Santhia thana. I go here via that area, nevertheless, no one ever brought to me such allegation. They concocted this incident so that I cannot enter my constituency. But, by the grace of Allah, in the following election I received the highest number of votes from that constituency.
Honourable court, no party of individual was identified as was criminal because of the political role. Not only army but including the auxiliary force, a total of 195 individuals were identified as war criminals. Those who were the members of Malek cabinet, they were not included there. No member of the Peace Committee from the central to the district level was included there. Politically, Sabur Khan was a top leader; the founder of Bangladesh late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman himself freed him from prison and sent him home in a vehicle.
Therefore, I do not think that there is any scope for indentifying someone as war criminal or committing crime against humanity because of political role. I read in the Holiday magazine before being arrested that 195 individuals were set free to save the leadership of Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. I mentioned a while earlier, Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is the actor behind the genocide. I can clearly remember that when the assembly was postponed on 1 March, there was a cricket match going on the stadium that day. The spectators took to the streets leaving the game and chanted slogan, “Kick Bhutto in the head, free Bangladesh”. That same Mr. Bhutto came to Bangladesh on a state visit in 1974 and received unprecedented reception. Because of over-crowded reception, he was taken to the [Savar] monument not by road, but flown onto a chopper. These are parts of history.
Honourable court, the anger at me grew to some extent as I became a minister following the election in 2001; I came to attention after being elected the Ameer of Jamaat, I came to further attention after becoming a minster. But I want to categorically state that as a minister I never acted against the sovereignty or interest of the country. While I was the Minister of Agriculture, saplings of fruit trees were added to tree plantation campaign, as a result the production of indigenous fruits increased twofold. I was then transferred to the Ministry of Industries; after twelve years the sugar industry turned into a profitable industry.

Honourable court, no government is the last government and no judgment of the world is the final judgment; there will be another judgment in the hereafter. Everyone including you and I will have to face that judgment. How were the witnesses for this trial assembled! How were the complainant gathered! How was a vindictive campaign of politics of vengeance perpetrated in the name of investigation! Honourable court, I would like to request you; you have performed Hajj while assuming that position. You have visited the shrine of the holy prophet (peace be upon him); I would like to bring forward two Hadith of the holy prophet (peace be upon him). One is: it is adequate for an individual to be a liar, who states whatever he hears. According to this statement of the
holy prophet, rumors cannot be used as evidence in trials. I have a Kamil degree in Islamic jurisprudence. Based on that, I am stressing on this point. The second Hadith is regarding the responsibility, duty and honour of the judges. There are three categories of judges: judges belonging to the first class are those who unearth and realize the truth and give verdicts in
favour of that, they will go to the Heaven. There is another category of judges, who understand the truth but give verdicts against it; they will go to the Hell. The last category of judges who give verdicts without understanding anything, they also go to the Hell. I wholeheartedly pray for you who are responsible for this tribunal; in the words of the holy prophet may Allah give you the opportunity to become the judges belonging to the first class and save you from becoming the second and third class judges.
I rely on Allah. O Allah! You judge the truth among us. Truly, Allah is the best arbitrator.

2 ministers fined for contempt

The Supreme Court yesterday convicted Food Minister Qamrul Islam and Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Huq and fined them Tk 50,000 each for committing contempt of court by making contemptuous and derogatory comments about Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha.
The apex court ordered the ministers to pay the money to Islamia Eye Hospital and National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh within seven days. In failure, they will have to serve seven days in jail. 
This is the first time that SC has sentenced two sitting ministers for contempt.
Qamrul's counsel Syed Mamun Mahbub and Mozammel Huq himself said they would seek a review of the verdict.
Following the judgment, various quarters called on the two ministers to resign on moral grounds, although legal experts are divided on whether they can hold office after conviction.
Early this month, the two ministers came down hard on the chief justice for two days in a row, after the CJ expressed dissatisfaction over the “poor performance” of the prosecutors and investigators of the war crimes tribunal in dealing with the war crimes case against Mir Quasem Ali.
The verdict in Quasem's case was pending when they made the comments and the SC on March 8 sentenced the Jamaat leader to death.
Yesterday, an eight-member SC bench headed by the chief justice gave the verdict, after refusing to accept the unconditional apologies offered by the ministers.
The court said it could not accept their apologies as their comments had maligned and undermined the office of the chief justice and interfered with the administration of justice. Also, there statements are highly derogatory and contemptuous. 
Before passing the judgment, the CJ said they did not bring the contempt proceedings against all the persons whose names were mentioned in the report of the daily Janakantha to have spoken at the March 5 roundtable where the two ministers made derogatory comments.
“We have brought the contempt proceeding against only the two ministers to give a message to the whole nation,” he added.
Earlier, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, instructed by the court, read out the Janakantha report involving the two ministers' comments.
Following the verdict, the AG told reporters at his office that the constitution does not detail the fate of a minister convicted by the SC for contempt of court.
The cabinet may decide about them, as it is a question of morality, he said, adding that the SC judgement gave a message that the dignity of the court should not be damaged in any manner.
Former law minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed told The Daily Star that there was no legal bar for the two ministers to continue to hold office.
Under article 58 of the constitution, the office of a minister will become vacant, if he or she resigns from the office by placing his resignation in the hands of the prime minister for submission to the president, he said.
The membership of a lawmaker might be vacant if he or she is convicted and sentenced to more than two years, Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah told a private TV channel.     
However, eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik said the two lost their moral rights to join the cabinet meeting or to hold the office of minister as they have been convicted by the highest court.
Khurshid Alam Khan, an SC lawyer and editor of Dhaka Law Reports, told this correspondent that Qamrul and Mozammel should resign immediately, because they have been found guilty and their apology has been refused by the Appellate Division. 
Terming the SC verdict historic, the BNP demanded that the two ministers quit.
"After this verdict, the two ministers have no moral rights to hold the portfolio or to be in the government,” said BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a press conference at the party headquarters.
Khandker Mahbub Hossain, a BNP leader and also the outgoing president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, made a similar call for their resignation.
“If they don't, the prime minister should take steps to remove them immediately to set an example before the people,” he said.

Jamaat calls hartal today

The Jamaat-e-Islami yesterday called for a dawn-to-dusk “peaceful” hartal for today to protest “the conspiracy against Islam's status as the state religion in the constitution”.
Jamaat acting secretary general Shafiqur Rahman announced the shutdown through a press statement.
The hartal coincides with the beginning of the hearing on a writ petition filed 28 years ago challenging the legality of Islam's status as the state religion in the constitution.
The High Court yesterday set today for the hearing.
A special bench of Justice Naima Haider, Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque, and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal is scheduled to begin the hearing at 2:00pm today.
The government led by military ruler HM Ershad on June 9, 1988 inserted a section in the eighth amendment to the constitution making Islam the state religion. 
Fifteen distinguished citizens filed the writ petition with the HC that year challenging the amendment.  

Following a supplementary petition, the HC on June 11, 2011, issued a rule upon the government to explain as to why the part of the eighth amendment to the constitution, which made Islam the state religion, should not be declared illegal.
On June 30, 2011, the parliament passed a bill on the constitution's 15th amendment retaining Islam's status as the state religion.
The amendment, however, restored "secularism" as one of the four fundamental principles of the state, which had been omitted by a martial law regime after the 1975 bloody changeover.
In its statement, Jamaat, a key component of the BNP-led 20-party alliance, said Bangladesh is a Muslim country and Islam has been included in the constitution as the state religion. No demand has been raised from people to remove Islam from the constitution.
“If the government takes any initiative to remove Islam from the constitution, the people of the country will not accept it,” Jamaat said in the statement.
Ambulance, hospitals, fire service and vehicles related to the media will remain out of the hartal purview, according to the press release.