Sub-editorial, Daily Amar Desh, Thursday, 11 April 2013
[Translated from Bengali to English]
What was actually going to happen at the capital Dhaka's Shapla Chattar (Lotus Square) on 6 April 2013 was the central theme of the countrywide discussions prior to the Long March and Grand Rally of Hefazat-E-Islam. At length the seemingly turbulent day 6 April passed quite peacefully. Absolutely bewildering, many people have not yet been relieved of the illusion of "seen but not convinced".
Hafezzi Huzur openly stepped into politics with the announcement of establishing Islam. If we consider that occasion as the first milestone, then we must acknowledge this spectacular rally of millions of people assembled in response to the call for defending Islam with a non-communal spirit as the second milestone of the same movement.
Centering Shapla Chattar, a large area of Dhaka city quietly turned into a human sea. This unprecedented mammoth gathering was more than human sea. If hundred thousand people assemble in a rally, we may call it a human sea. If more than ten times of that number of people assemble somewhere, terming it a great human ocean might be an appropriate expression.
We Hindus believe that if huge a mass of people assemble at a place on religious grounds imbued with the spirit of human welfare, that place is turned into a sacred site of pilgrimage and the mass of people assembled there becomes an angelic spiritual body for the time being. Therefore as a devout Hindu, I believe that on 6 April 2013 Shapla Chattar turned into a sacred place of pilgrimage and an awakening of a massive divine spirituality occurred there. Maintaining this great momentum will generate enormous benefits for this nation. If the Hefazat leader Allama Ahmad Shafi takes initiative to organize this great religious assembly every year at Shapla Chattar with the participation of the devotees from other religions also, the spirit of universal communal harmony of Bengal will start illuminating the whole world within a short span of time.
Now the question might be raised, what was it so extraordinary happened in that Long March and the Grand Mass Rally of few hours that it delighted and influenced me, a devout Hindu, so profoundly.
In order to find out a response to this question, we must first realize that the participants in the rally were not merely pious Muslims, they were at the same time profoundly offended by the utter sacrilege of their beloved religion. In this context a strange perception is prevalent in public, that Muslims absolutely loose temperament if they are outraged by a religious cause. This perception has either been imported here from the West or exported from here to the West. I have even heard many people hailing from Muslim families saying this sarcastically. In order to attend the Long March of 6th April 2013 called by Hefazat-E-Islam, hundreds of thousands of offended Muslims from different parts of the country came to Dhaka. On their journey to Dhaka they faced extensive persecution, suppression, oppression and humiliation at different places - in the absence of transports they reached Dhaka by walking on feet. Even many thousands of them having failed to travel to Dhaka due to various forms of resistance and obstructions, organized rallies in different district towns. But nowhere they were found causing the slightest disturbance or chaos. The people of Bangladesh witnessed with great amazement how religious faith can make people so profoundly patient and tolerant.
A great characteristic of Shapla Chattar rally was that the speakers from the podium spoke firmly from an uncompromising position about their religious belief and principles, but none of them was heard uttering a single word of contempt that could offend the sentiment of the followers of other religions. A sincere observance of this doctrine can open a new horizon for unprecedented communal harmony in the country.
There were widespread speculations on the possibility of many disastrous consequences if the Long March to Dhaka and the mass rally at Shapla Chattar allowed freely to happen. Most prominent hypothesis was that once the mass freely allowed to assemble at Shapla Chattan, the 'Huzurs' would sit-in indefinitely at the Shapla Chattar and adjacent areas and would not move from there until declaration of martial law. But in reality the military armored vehicles was not seen scrolling on the streets and the 'Huzurs' peacefully left the area exactly at 5.0 PM as originally scheduled.
The resurgence of humanity on that day impressed me and many other like-minded people. Grinned under the wheels of sheer mechanical life, the residents of Dhaka city were about to forget what is called humanity. The grand mass rally of Hefazat at Shapla Chattar rediscovered and brought back that lost human compassion and generosity. The utmost efforts by thousands of people imbued with profound compassion and care to feed and quench the thirst of the Islamic scholars and devotees attending the mass rally profoundly touched the hearts and minds of many people, except of course of those devoid of any human feelings.
Two lowest paid staff of the Daily Amar Desh office went to Shapla Chattar with 12 bottles of water for quench thirsts of the clergies and devotees of the mass. On their way to the rally a poor person gave them 100 Taka with request to purchase some foods and feed the Ulemas and devotees. They saw a cucumber seller distributing his cucumbers free of cost to the Ulemas and devotees at the rally. May be this humane service would cost his family members to remain hungry for that day, but it did not worry him. My colleagues spoke with a septuagenarian gentleman who traveled on foot from Gazipur to attend the rally. In the Islamic religious functions, if someone chants "Narae Takbir", others respond with "Allahu Akbar". My two young colleagues noticed that an old gentleman was not responding to the call for Takbir. Upon inquiry the old gentleman quietly said that he had traveled on foot from Comilla and was so weak that he was unable to chant slogans as loudly as he would have loved to do so. Despite that he did not leave the place and was attending the rally under scourging sunshine.
Before, during and after the rally, widespread criticism and slandering about the program continued unabated. The posture of a section of media and TV Channels indicates that they have started a crusade against the pious Muslims of the country. Their opinion is that Hefazat-e-Islam is a fanatic group, they want to establish a Taliban style government in Bangladesh, adherence to their ideology will take the country thousand years backward, there will be nothing called women's rights, they are extremist, militant, communal, so on and so forth. After peaceful completion of the Shapla Chattar rally one of the journalists living in London sarcastically termed it as "kick with the bruised feet". This obviously exposed his own inferior mental disposition.
The propaganda campaign portraying the Ulemas as extremist and communal elements was so successful that a serious fear was spreading among the religious minorities surrounding the rally. Frightened by the rumor that after the rally the 'Huzurs' will spread across the city, search the minority houses and destroy their statues of their deities, the Buddhist community deposited all their statues in the central Buddhist Monastery for safety. On 7 April 2013 the President of Bangladesh Buddhist Community and Rector of Central Buddhist Monastery His Eminence Dr. Shuddhananda Mohathero himself informed me about it and showed me the statues deposited to him by the Buddhists. I found that as many as 19 Buddha statues were deposited to the custody of the Monastery. I asked jokingly if Mullahs came with sticks and guns to break them, he laughed.
A discussion on the accusation that Hefazot-e-Islam was dragging the 'society thousand years backward' gathered momentum even in my residence. At a certain stage my wife intervened and asked whether like the current age indiscriminate murder and sexual assaults were so rampant a thousand years ago during Atish Dipankar era? Lack of an appropriate answer, the discussion lost momentum after her question.
Hefazat-e-Islam has to remain vigilant about all these false propaganda and rumors. The pious Muslims might be outraged and offended by these false propaganda and rumor. The conspirators might themselves commit a big incidence to incite Muslims to resort to an inter-communal conflict. We should not step into this trap and succumb to the conspiracies. Failure to uphold the non-communal spirit and sustain the bondage of inter-ethnic friendship and solidarity will defeat the whole purpose of the religion.
It is a matter of pleasure for me to note that Muslims are active and committed to become good Muslims and adhere to the principles ordained by Islam. Their success is likely to guarantee my safety and safeguard and strengthen my honor and dignity. 6 April 2013 demonstrated how exalted people can rise up and how lowly people can go down. Let us all collectively avoid lowliness and foster the supreme human values and principles. That will protect Islam and humanity and establish justice in the country.
Link to my blog and English Version:-
Link to original OpEd published in the Daily Amardesh:-