Translations

JATIA SAMAJTANTRIK DAL (National Socialist Party): A SENTIMENTAL APPRAISAL

– BY AHMED SOFA

When I critique Jatia Samajtantrik Dal[1] (hereafter, Jasod[2]), I feel like I am stabbing myself. Once upon a time, I was infatuated with this party. I was involved with this party for many years of my life. Those were years of blindness and fascination. The ability to blur vision and to charm is a special one. Mesmerized by the youthful spell of Jasod, many like me gathered under the flag of this party. When I think of the thrust of the inexorable wave of youthful life bursting out of the body politic of Bangladesh, a pleasant amazement excites and bewilders me. When the thought of those little-known youths arises in my mind, a feeling of deep sorrow covers my entire existence.

There are many critics who love to lambast Jasod every week in the op-ed columns of newspapers. I have no say about them. Those grey-headed ‘scholars’ who earn a living by happily writing away sarcastic eight-column-commentaries watching the cruel and miserable defeat of thousands of enthusiastic youths—who were like the warm breath of Bangladesh—would need to berate someone till the end of time in order to exhibit their intellect.

But there was once a time when many of these very intellectuals used to willfully train revolutionary ideals to the rank and file of this party, whose leaders they couldn’t reach even if they tried so. And now, they offer a bag full of condemnation. But who are they deriding by the way? Isn’t it their own disgraceful past? Everybody knows that the lively fountain of Jasod is no more. One doesn’t need to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to say that. The people of this county are a witness to the reality that the party is dying down. Now the analysts want to issue the death certificate. The question remains, do they have the competence and moral right to do so? But let it be, I shall say here what I want to.

I had placed my faith in this party; had stood by them with all my means. Even the founders of Jasod have, by now, rather gracefully accepted the fate of their party. They act as if they knew all along the destiny of such imprudent kids. They had acted as the main protagonists of the soap opera that was Jatia Samajtantrik Dal in a bid to excite the masses. The three seasons of the drama serial have finished. The actors and actresses are now seasoned artists. And any producer or director can hire them for their own plays nowadays.

In the meantime, my psychological purity has been violated by acts of betrayal. But, I believe the ability to love is a special one; even if in-vain-love is not unheard of in history. Although the damage has been done and I have ruined a part of my life chasing Jasod, I cannot swear that I will not do the same if urged again. I repent not; it is a kind of loss that cannot be complained about. Nevertheless, I have my writings and my obligations and my skills. I shan’t have much trouble in living this evanescent life. But the woman who has lost her husband; the child whose father has walked the gallows with a smiling face; the families which have lost all they had; the young chap who, being devoid of all hopes and aspirations, has to wear the thorny crown of existence every day—where will they plea? In which court will they seek justice? In that sense, my loss is nothing compared to theirs. My losses invoke a sense of pride in me instead of sorrow. I was able to respond to the call of time. I was lucky enough to observe a tumultuous epoch full of ups and downs in our history. That’s not a small thing for a man. Notwithstanding all that, a feeling of guilt is crushing me like a boulder even today. My blood boils when I think of it, and it drives me crazy. I have picked up the pen today to express that specific emotion of mine towards Jasod.

I know not how to express myself. Man can express trivial emotions of gain or loss easily, but cannot do so for feelings of utter disappointment. But I shall still try.

I have a sort of reactionary feeling. When I think of three certain young leaders of Jasod, a metaphor springs up in my mind automatically. It is as if the three best Muslin[3]-weavers of one time have taken a contract to stitch up torn old cloth. If I could have murdered these three people before 1980, I would have been able to preserve three enduring symbols of Bengali young generation in history. They would have remained as the relics of revolution. Alas, it was not possible for my own shortcomings. But I had the chance, and this failure makes me suicidal at times. I would have had to pay the price for such an act. But I would at least have secured a place in history for me; be it as a traitor like Judas. Many are saying that because of Jasod, a vacuum has been created in the process of political evolution in the country. The same is true for the party established by Siraj Sikder[4]. But the way and manner in which they hampered a normal political growth in Bangladesh differ. But I shall come to that later.

Political parties fail when they take the wrong line of action or adopt counter-productive programs by dint of erroneous analysis of the existing social forces. With them, fail the hopes and aspirations of the classes that these parties say they represent, or those that put faith on and lend active support to them. Despair and fathomless emptiness descend upon their support-base within the society. The utter defeat of Jasod and Siraj Sikder’s party, primarily, heralded the era of direct military intervention in the political sphere of Bangladesh. Secondly, it allowed the re-emergence of fundamentalism. The young activists of Jasod and Siraj Sikder’s Sarbahara Party were the most probable promising force for social transformation in Bangladesh. These two parties emerged in the post-liberation period. The lion’s share of the leaders and activists of Jasod came from Awami League[5] (hereafter, AL), while the party of Siraj Sikder emerged through the gradual changes and divisions of the communist movement of this country. The two parties share some common traits; activists of both the parties epitomized in them the upheavals of possible social change in post-liberation Bangladesh. In short, their activists demonstrated the indomitable zeal of bearing the most volatile emotions of the society. Moreover, they tried to feel the vagueness of the old-fashioned parliamentary-style democratic movements and the structural ineffectiveness of the outdated communist organizations through their emotions, if not by their wits. Although their methods were counter-productive and activities were violent, at times they produced glimpses of examples of what course the political currents should take in a third world country like Bangladesh. But in the same vein, it would not be a mistake to say that these two political parties lacked any stable political philosophy. In reality, Jasod talked of establishing ‘Scientific Socialism’ and Siraj Sikder blindly followed China’s Mao Zedong. But the consequence of their fruitless politics has been that Siraj Sikder’s party disappeared from the political sphere like a flash of lightning. Nowadays, dacoits commit looting and robbery uttering the slogans ‘long live Siraj Sikder’ and ‘long live the Sarbahara Party’. What a miserable ending of Siraj Sikder’s politics! On the other hand, Jasod is still in existence; but not as one body. It has many factions, many shareholders. But they are like phantoms: they do not possess the power to even organize reactionary activities if they cannot bewitch other political bodies. Once, the moon was a part of the earth. The earth had not yet cooled down to solid state. The process had just begun. Suddenly, an asteroid went past the earth at unimaginable velocity. Due to the gravitational force of that celestial body, a part of the boiling volatile earth came off and started rotating in a separate orbit. As it was so small in mass, it lost heat quickly—that is the moon we see in the heavens.

The War of Liberation of Bangladesh separated two streams from the larger political flow that had existed. The spin-off from the nationalist AL was Jasod and that which splintered from the pro-Chinese communist politics became known as the Sarbahara Paty.

Now, let’s examine how and why Jasod came into being. During the War of Independence, the Indian government took the initiative of forming the Bangladesh government-in-exile[6] under the leadership of Tajuddin[7]. At that time, Sheikh Mujib was in the Pakistani prison. The Indian government was aiding the Tajuddin government, but could not be assured. It had its doubts whether Sheikh Mujib would be able to return from Pakistani prison. The Indian government was also not confident about Tajuddin’s ability to control the turbulent circumstances in a Mujib-less Bangladesh. New Delhi was almost certain that the luxury-loving leadership of AL would fail to bear the heavy burden of containing the situation after returning to Bangladesh. In case the war had protracted, they formed and started training the Mujib Bahini[8] as the second line of defence under the leadership of Mr. Serajul Alam Khan[9] and the Late Fazlul Haque Moni[10]. The Indian government did not even feel it necessary to consult the Tajuddin government regarding the formation of Mujib Bahini. The leaders of this (irregular)[11] force had many a time openly challenged the leadership of Tajuddin. Those who have read the book ‘Muldhara-71’[12] written by Maidul Hasan know all about it.

After the liberation, the members of Mujib Bahini came back to Bangladesh alongside Tajuddin. Differences of opinion started to emerge between Serajul Alam Khan and Fazlul Haque Moni on various issues. Moni had challenged the Tajuddin government while in India; but when Sheikh Mujib returned from Pakistan and took up the supreme command of the country, Moni judged it best to support his maternal uncle’s government. I have put it simply, but the rivalry between Seraj and Moni did not neutralize so easily. AL is a multi-class political organization under the control of the middle class. But the political ambitions of all the classes that AL represents had, no doubt, also contributed to this process of breaking up. This could be a topic of research for social scientists.

Basically, the faction of AL having a fighting attitude became known as Jasod in the post-liberation period. One more truth must also be revealed: the then Finance Minister, the Late Tajuddin helped this party with money and other assistance during its formative years. At that time, many thought that Tajuddin was helping this party as a hedge for him in the future if ever a rift between Mujib and Tajuddin would occur. In the course of time, that rift obviously occurred, but never there existed a reality for him to join Jasod. And the young Turks of Jasod would never have accepted the dictations of any AL leader. There could be yet another side to the story. Perhaps, Sheikh Mujib himself secretly agreed to the creation of Jasod. It would be wrong not to assume that, in the face of infighting within AL and political compulsion of its allies CPB[13] and NAP[14], Sheikh Mujib might have seen Jasod as a way to exert pressure on the former. Recently, the news that is emerging on the frequent secret meetings between Sheikh Mujib and Jasod leaders indicates that fact.

Let’s turn our attention to Jasod [again][15]. Basically, a faction of AL later went on to create Jasod. A faction of the youth involved with AL—many of whom were from a lower class background— assembled under the flag of Jasod. Due to the bifurcation of the Communist Party into pro-Moscow and pro-Peking blocs and their inability to acknowledge the Bengali national identity, most youths from the lower-middle class had joined the AL. If the communists had avoided this confusion from the beginning, the history of Bangladesh would have been written differently. But there is no use discussing the counterfactual. What I want to assert is that Jasod is a part of AL. Whereas, the platform of the nationalistic structure on which the AL politically stood was not wide enough; [AL’s] feelings for and understandings of a national ideology was not sharp enough; [AL] did not have any well articulated work-plan for economic re-construction; [AL] encouraged politics of plunder and pillage instead of establishing a great and superior ideology; and [some within AL][16] could not able to participate as a stakeholder in matters of national policy, a part of AL was compelled to break away from it with forceful emotions. If we think deeply, it would be evident that AL lost its ability to function as a nationalist party the very day when the most radical and militant portion of it had left to form Jasod. Notwithstanding, AL has not died out, mainly because it is a huge political body. But AL hasn’t got the political will either to stand upright with that body or to progress forward. Basically, AL’s history since 1975 is a history of their political demoralization. A prime example of how deep this process of demoralization went is that after the assassination of Sheikh Mujib along with his family, [almost][17] not a single voice of instant protest could be hard in this country. Can such an instance be found in world history? The burden of AL’s feeling of moral guilt was so heavy that, until the recent years, it has not managed to relieve itself to stand on its feet again.

So, Jasod was established. Their manifesto declared grandiloquent goals of achieving scientific socialism. They started working with the aim of conducting social revolution along the lines of Marxism-Leninism. Millions of young people signed up like insects flying into the fire. Their exuberantly emotional voices echoed from one corner of the country to the other like the sounds of a gale. But what were the end-results of all of this?

Jasod leaders were boastfully proclaiming the establishment of Marxism-Leninism, the streets were vibrant with slogans and processions, the walls were painted with graffiti containing political rhetoric. But in nature, they bore the worst characteristics of ALJasod vowed to continue class-struggle, but could not secure its own position in the country. So much inclination towards power was evident in their nature and behaviour that their activities could be best described as the acts of a rebellious son against his father. Jasod managed to convince its activists that they had the right to seize power from AL. Many of the Jasod leaders and activists consciously believed that—and even did not hesitate to openly say in public—it was they who had placed Sheikh Mujib in a position of power; [so] they had the legitimate right to oust him—even to murder him, if needed—in order to grab power.

Their declaration of revolution, their oath in the name of Marxism for social transformation—all these were just pretext. Their real objective was to get a share of the power. But the bleaker their prospects of gaining power became, the greedier and disheartened they became. The death of countless young men, their endurance of oppression and misdeeds—all these were direct symptoms of such disappointments.

He who does not respect personal sacrifice, devotion and solemn commitment to revolution, can be termed as a brute. After the death of Sheikh Mujib, the scripts representing claims to the throne were swept away by a torrent of blood. From where will a prince gather the courage to occupy the throne when someone else usurps his father—the king? Still, in the minds of a section of Jasod, the policy of capturing power by hook or by crook has been engraved in stone. Are the activities of Serajul Alam Khan and Mr. Rab[18] not the perfect example of that? Sheikh Mujib had created tigers, and others are showing circus-stunts with those tigers.

I am at the fag-end of this analysis. AL had become weak due to the departure of the section of Jasod from it, and Jasod virtually died along with the toppling of AL. The mother and the son died together in the same labour room. This remains a tragic episode of the defeat of our nationalism.

Ahmed Sofa (June 30, 1943 – July 28, 2001) was an eminent writer, intellectual and activist of Bangladesh.

Written sometime between 1987-1990. First published in the weekly Uttoron magazine. This article was compiled in Ahmed Sofa Rachonaboli – Saptom Khando (Collected Works of Ahmed Sofa – Volume Seven), Nurul Anwar (ed.), Khan Brothers and Company, Dhaka: 2008, pp.168-174.

Translated by Kazi Niaz Ahmed, who is a researcher at the Institute of Governance Studies (IGS), BRAC University. He is also the publisher or Foreign Affairs Insights and Reviews, a Dhaka-based bi-monthly magazine.

Translation published in Foreign Affairs Insights and Reviews, Dhaka: Volume 2, Number 3, June-August 2014

Web address: http://fairbd.net/jatia-samajtantrik-dal-a-sentimental-appraisal/

End Notes:

[1] Literally, National Socialist Party; popularly known as JASOD or JSD, this left-wing party was founded in 1972 by freedom fighters of various leanings.

[2] Added by the translator.

[3] Fine, luxurious cotton originating in Bengal.

[4] A communist revolutionary leader of Bangladesh (b. 27 October 1944, d. 2 January 1975). He established the Purba Banglar Sarbahara Party (literally, Proletarian Party of East Bengal) in 1971 and joined the Liberation War. He died in police custody.

[5] The biggest and one of the oldest political parties in Bangladesh. Established in 1949, this party spearheaded the liberation struggle of Bangladesh.

[6] Officially, the Provisional Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (popularly known as the Mujibnagar Government, named after the place of now Meherpur district where it was formed). Established on 10th April 1971 and sworn-in on 17th April 1971, it was based at 8, Shakespeare Sarani in Kolkata, India.

[7] Tajuddin Ahmad (b. July 23, 1925, d. November 3, 1975) was the General Secretary of Awami League, the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh and a war hero. After independence, he was the first Finance Minister of the country under Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was brutally murdered by some renegade members of the military in Dhaka Central Jail in the aftermath of the 15th August 1975 coup d’état.

[8] Literally, Mujib’s Army, it was also known as the Bangladesh Liberation Force (BLF). It was part of the Bangladesh Mukti Bahini, a guerrilla force fighting against Pakistan. Mujib Bahini was a special force created by the Awami League and composed of 60,000 young supporters of the liberation movement.

[9] A legendary youth leader, political theorist and founder of the Sadhin Bangla Nucleus— a secret organization which participated directly in the war of independence in 1971. Initially, he was with Awami League but later helped to found Jasod and was its ideological Guru. Jailed for many years in Bangladesh for his political views, he has been working as a visiting professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, USA since 1996 (b. on January 6th, 1941).

[10] Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni (b. December 4, 1939, d. August 15, 1975) was a Bangladeshi politician, freedom fighter and a nephew of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He made his name as a student leader and, later, founded the Awami Jubo League (Youth League). He was assassinated during the military coup of August 1975, while serving as a minister in Mr. Sheikh Mujib’s cabinet.

[11] Added by the translator.

[12] A famous book on the history of the Liberation War of Bangladesh.

[13] Communist Party of Bangladesh, which is the largest Marxist-Leninist political party in the country. Founded in 1968 as the Communist Party of East Pakistan, it has a long and rich history that dates back to the founding of the Communist Party of India and, later, the Communist Party of Pakistan. It played a prominent role in the Liberation Movement of Bangladesh.

[14] The National Awami Party, which was a left-wing political party in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was founded in 1957 in Dhaka by the legendary leader Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and played an important role in the independence of Bangladesh. After the death of Bhashani in 1976, the party lost much of its prominence and many of its leaders became members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

[15] Added by the translator.

[16] Added by the translator.

[17] Added by the translator.

[18] A.S.M. Abdur Rab (b. 1945) is a freedom fighter and one of the founders of Jasod. As the Vice President of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU), Rab was the first person to hoist the Flag of independent Bangladesh on 2 March 1971. He became the leader of the opposition through a controversial election in 1988 and also served as a minister under AL during 1996-2001.

Relations between Bangladesh and West Bengal against the Backdrop of India

— Ahmed Sofa

ONE

No Indian intellectual would deny that India got actively involved in the Liberation War of Bangladesh [in 1971[1]] with a certain long-term vision in mind. But we should not judge West Bengal[2]  by the same standards. The people of West Bengal supported the liberation struggle of Bangladesh with natural enthusiasm. And their support was not part of any diplomatic maneuver whatsoever.

There were two reasons why the Bengalis of West Bengal so vehemently supported the cause of Bangladesh: one was historical and the other was psychological. The historic reason was that the Bengalis had desired a bright future while waging the struggle against the British colonialists. Although that aspiration failed to distinguish itself from the mainstream of the wider Indian independence movement, the Bengalis always had a pride in themselves. Their contribution to the anti-British independence movement was the most noteworthy. Everybody in Bengal believed to be true a quote from Gopal Krishna Gokhale[3]: “what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow”.

However, after the British had left, any notion of superiority among the Bengalis of West Bengal stumbled time and again. Though population-wise West Bengal was not the smallest of provinces, it could do little within the vast federal structure of the Republic of Indian. The language and literature of West Bengal, which was their symbols of superiority, came under stiff challenge. With patronage from the Central government, the expansion of the Hindi language gradually overtook Bengali. Because there are hardly any capitalists amongst the Bengali society, a section of the Bengali intelligentsia—for making a mere living—passively took a permissive position towards the Hindustani bourgeoisie. For them, these were practical steps emanating from the demands of the real world. Let’s take for example the speaking-style that has developed in West Bengal. If one does a comparative analysis of Bengali pronunciation now and that of 30-40 years ago, a phonetic alteration would be clearly visible. The dialect of West Bengal has fast evolved to become a distinct one. If we examine the pronunciation of West Bengal closely, it would be evident that the accent of Hindi has infiltrated the Bengali language unnoticed. And it is happening behind-the-scenes in a continuous process.

This change in language is occurring naturally due to practical reasons. The influence of the rest of India on West Bengal is adversely affecting the basic structure of the Bengali language. But the whole economic and political system is such that West Bengal has little space for raising its voice. On the other hand, they are unable to accept it either. Day-by-day, they are losing their identity to Non-Bengali linguistic, cultural and economic hegemony; without any avenues of resistance.

West Bengal saw the flame of Bengali pride since antiquity being reignited in the Liberation war of Bangladesh. That a Bengali nation-state was on the verge of taking birth, that their pride, Bengali language and culture, was going to attain a special place of honour in this new nation—these facts were enough to create an ambiance of festivity in the hearts and minds of the Bengalis of West Bengal. The pride of West Bengal, which was choking inside the encirclement that is India, suddenly had a wide horizon in front of it. Most of West Bengal saw the war with an eye of blurred romanticism. But after the liberation of Bangladesh, a lot of them had to fundamentally change this view. They thought that the independence of Bangladesh would establish a utopia here; there would be abundance in life, and the educational system would start producing Rabindranaths[4] and Jagadish Boses[5] of the new era. But nothing as such came about. Instead, abrupt changes in state principles, violence and assassinations, poverty, famine followed one another. West Bengal dreamt for Bangladesh what they failed to attain for themselves. The plight of Bangladesh has no doubt frustrated a section of them, and it was inevitable.

A love-hate relationship prevails among a section of the educated quarter of West Bengal. If anything noteworthy happens in Bangladesh, they brag about that success of their common-language-brothers across the border. And if anything bad happens here, they do not hesitate to criticize us and our past record of debacles. Likewise, when West Bengal tries to stand up to the Central government, in its imagination, it includes Bangladesh as well. And any lack of support from Bangladesh annoys them.

In the near past, not only West Bengal but also other Indian states have drawn inspiration from the example of Bangladesh. Say, for example, the Language Movement [of 1952 of the then East Bengal[6]]. Our success in the Language Movement has set an example for the suppressed languages of various Indian provinces. Our precedence provided inspiration for language movements organized in Assam and in the Dravidian-language-speaking areas. The struggle for autonomy prior to the independence of Bangladesh had also provided the Indian states with new avenues of inspiration.

TWO

It is a matter of fact that Bangladesh is an independent sovereign country and West Bengal is a province of India. Nevertheless, Bangladesh and West Bengal continue to influence each other in some aspects. Besides obvious influence on language, literature and culture, the main driver of society—political arena—is not also out of its purview. We can take for example the Naxalite movement[7] of Charu Majumdar[8]. Ignoring the geographic barrier, this movement with its tumultuous emotions did reach Bangladesh. If anything like that happened in the future as well, it would certainly reach our shores again. Likewise, if any meaningful movement on the side of the people took place in Bangladesh, that would affect West Bengal escaping the ever watchful eyes of the border guards.

West Bengal is one of the progressive states of India. The ideology of the people of West Bengal is much more forward-looking than those of other provinces. This is the reason why the CPI (M)-led Left Front has been able to rule the province so far. I think it is not an overstatement to say that, except two or three provinces, the political structure of most of India is medieval. Notwithstanding, West Bengal is one of the exploited provinces [by other regions[9]] of India. Little or no local capital has flourished here.

For these reasons, there exists and will remain a conflict between the Union government and West Bengal. For, the rightist forces will remain at the helm of power in the center for many more years to come. This reactionary central government will be able to penetrate and control the progressive provinces of India if there is a loyal and subservient government in Bangladesh. Victory in the war that ensued between India and Pakistan centring the Liberation War of Bangladesh, and the coming to power of Awami League in Bangladesh following the war of 1971 ensured electoral victory for Indira[10]-led Congress[11] in all the provinces. Similarly, the bourgeoisie of India will always want to keep an obedient government in Bangladesh, which will never question the exploitative character of the Indian capitalists, in order to stop the progress of leftwing politics in their country. They will rather welcome a communal but submissive government in Bangladesh rather than any progressive leftist one.

The central rule from Delhi is bound to be aggressive as it is based on plundering the common people. They will not be able to suppress the progressive forces in the provinces where they are facing resistance unless they have a friendly government in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, India will never invade and occupy Bangladesh to annex it within the Indian Union, unlike Goa or Kashmir. Anything like that would create a new crisis for India and the interests of the bourgeoisie would be jeopardized.

So, whatever weakens the bourgeois-rule at the seat of power in Delhi is good for Bangladesh’s survival. It is true that the leftists in Bangladesh do not have any strong political party, and that they are divided into many fractions which are locked in suicidal feuds. The leadership and party cadres of leftwing politics are confused and apprehensive of each other. But let us be hopeful that a situation will emerge and all the leftist parties will unite under a specific plan of action. That will make them a power to contend with in Bangladeshi politics for sure.

The bourgeois-government of India will do everything in its power, including military intervention, to shun the rise of leftists in Bangladesh. In such a case, the victorious or strong progressive forces of various provinces of India and the people of Bangladesh will become the natural ally of each other. In the long run, the interest of the oppressed of India and those of Bangladesh is the same.

West Bengal is our closest neighbour. There exists an unbreakable bond between the two in terms of language and culture. The ruling elite of India had used this attribute to expedite the [inevitable[12]] break-up of Pakistan. This card has been played in the recent past as well. To keep the progressive people apart from each other, to create mistrust among them, the ruling class of West Bengal is always active.

The Anandabazar Patrika[13] is the biggest propaganda-machine of the reactionary forces in West Bengal. It has a readership of more than 1.5 lac people. One of its sister concerns is the weekly Desh. This weekly is not only popular in West Bengal but also among the educated literature-loving society of Bengalis all over. There is a popular allegorical story about Anandabazar Patrika that depicts the power of the almost Goebbelsian character of this newspaper.

The story goes like this: according to Hinduism God Brahma[14] lives in the heavens. He has various ways to remain informed about all that goes on in the universe. Among these, there is a special bell that rings when anyone anywhere lies. Once, that bell started to ring without stopping. Lord Brahma was terribly annoyed and surprised by the person telling such ceaseless lies. The constant tolling of the bell was interrupting his thought and work. So, he ordered Narada[15] to investigate who was spreading such continual falsehood. Accordingly, Narada searched the skies and the hell, but could not find out the liar. Seeing no other option, he came to the earth. He went to Europe and saw that the Europeans do lie a lot, especially in their commercial advertisements. But those are not serious enough to ring the bell in heaven. He went to all the other continents and could not find out any fabrication which goes on day and night. Narada thought that the bell of Brahma might have gone bad. Thinking this, lastly, he reached India, his homeland. Here too, he could not find what he was looking for. He thought of going back to Lord Brahma and telling him to recheck the key and spring of his bell. While thinking this he was passing through Sooterkin Street[16] in Kolkata. And suddenly, he cried out: “Eureka! Eureka!” The thing was that Anandabazar Patrika was being published from a press at that street, prompting Brahma’s lie-detecting bell to ring on endlessly. And thus it will go on until Anandabazar Patrika stops publishing. Such is the level of objectivity of the most widely circulated Bengali daily in India!

THREE

All the bourgeois newspapers of West Bengal are working together so that the proletariat of their land could not create any ideological bond with and mutual respect towards that of Bangladesh. They win over the rightist writers very easily by providing financial benefits. At times, they manage some Bangladeshi writers too as their drumbeaters.

There remains a lack of quality literary magazines in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi writers those get to publish their works in the print media of West Bengal, albeit at the cost of their own self-esteem, is held highly here. It is a common knowledge nowadays that many high-profile writers of Bangladesh show a kind of loyalty towards these bourgeois newspapers.

But, the progressive forces of West Bengal have no such popular media outlet, which is a big weakness of them. The capitalist and reactionary media is using this gap to their advantage. They distort news and engage in yellow journalism. For example, once Anandabazar Patrika ran a news-item that a steamer carrying Hilsha fish from the then East Pakistan[17] to West Bengal was also carrying scores of decapitated heads of Hindu women. One can only guess how many such news-items have been published by Anandabazar Patrika and others like it over the years.

Primarily due to these news-medias a sense of fear and apathy and, in some instances, a sense of hatred and ignorance towards Bangladesh have grown among the common people of West Bengal. Because of this misrepresentation of Bangladesh and the Bangladeshi people, the majority of West Bengal has a negative notion of them. No doubt, unawareness about Bangladesh is the main cause of this.

People of West Bengal know so little about Bangladesh that many of them ask whether Bangladeshis speak Urdu or not. There are questions in their minds like – is Rabindra-literature read here? Do people know the names of Samaresh Basu, Buddhadeb Bosu, Sunil Ganguly[18]? –etc. Save the Bengalis who migrated from East Bengal, most of the natives of West Bengal talk in such wired ways.

That there are people in Bangladesh who like to read extensively, practice literature and culture, and there are non-communal people with big hearts and wide outlooks is unknown to a large part of the West Bengal-population. They think it is a country of Dombas and chandalas[19]. They think that the upper-caste Hindus have all migrated to India and that what is left of the Hindu community in Bangladesh consists of just Namasudras[20]. And regarding the image of the Muslims, they can only think of the butchers of Razabazar and the broken-Urdu-speaking porters of Khidirpur in Kolkata. As Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim county, they think all the people in Bangladesh are like the Muslims of Khidirpur and Razabazar[21]: devoid of education, culture, heritage, manners and so on. The capitalist media-houses of West Bengal are fueling such perceptions with their distortion, half-truths and partiality. And they are such apt in spreading such propaganda that it is virtually impossible to compete with them.

Bangladesh has never taken any steps to ameliorate this situation. There is a Bangladesh Mission in Kolkata[22]. I suspect that the activities of that Mission have only helped to solidify Bangladesh’s negative image among West Bengal-population. I have my doubts about those working in that Mission regarding their willingness or quality in representing Bangladesh’s education and culture positively. Couldn’t we publish a monthly or weekly magazine from West Bengal to represent our literature and fine arts? Yes, we lack behind in many aspects; but still, our literature and culture have achieved their own unique characteristics which are not inferior to those of West Bengal in any way. Isn’t it the duty of the Bangladesh government to exhibit our brightest creative works in front of the educated and well-cultured people of West Bengal? If such a magazine were to be published from the Kolkata Mission, the Bengali speaking people of West Bengal would be able to correct many of their prejudices and deep-rooted misperceptions regarding Bangladesh.

Our government is doing nothing, but the Indian government is not sitting idle. They publish a regular weekly magazine from their High Commission in Dhaka. They are publishing writings of their countrymen, as well as attracting talented young writers from Bangladesh. India is giving scholarships to learned people of Bangladesh. Without any doubt, these people will grow a sense of gratitude towards India. A time will come when we will no more be able to stand up against this hegemonic culture. Do not forget the idiom: a stitch in time saves nine.

The Daily Gonokantho

December 1980

Ahmed Sofa (June 30, 1943 – July 28, 2001) was an eminent writer, intellectual and activist of Bangladesh.

This article has been compiled in Ahmed Sofa Rachonaboli – SaptomKhando (Collected Works of Ahmed Sofa – Volume Seven), Nurul Anwar (ed.), Khan Brothers and Company, Dhaka: 2008, pp.215-222.

Translated by Kazi Niaz Ahmed, who is a researcher at the Institute of Governance Studies (IGS), BRAC University. He is also the publisher or Foreign Affairs Insights and Reviews, a Dhaka-based bi-monthly magazine.

Published in Foreign Affairs Insights and Reviews, Dhaka: Volume 2, Number 1, January-February 2014.

End Notes:

[1] Added by the translator.

[2] A province of India adjacent to Bangladesh, which shares a common language, culture and history with it.

[3] A leader of the Indian National Congress and a hero of India’s independence movement, b. 9 May 1866 d. 19 February 1915.

[4] Rabindranath Tagore, great Bengali poet, writer and philosopher. The first Asian to have won the Nobel Prize, b. 7 May 1861 d. 7 August 1941.

[5] Jagadish Chandra Bose, pioneering Bengali scientist and inventor. Made significant contributions to the invention of the radio and to plant science, b. 30 November 1858 d. 23 November 1937.

[6] Now Bangladesh. Added by the translator.

[7] A pro-Maoist armed revolutionary movement which originated in the Northern parts of West Bengal.

[8] A communist revolutionary leader of India, b. 1918 d. 1972.

[9] Added by the translator.

[10] Indira Gandhi, the third Prime Minister of India. She was in power during 1971, b. 19 November 1917 d. 31 October 1984.

[11] Indian National Congress, India’s oldest and largest political party.

[12] Added by the translator.

[13] A well-known Bengali language daily newspaper published mainly from Kolkata, West Bengal.

[14] The Creator; one of the three major deities in Hinduism.

[15] A sage with an ability to travel to distant places depicted in the ancient Vedic texts of Hinduism.

[16] From where Anandabazar Patrika is published.

[17] Now Bangladesh.

[18] Some famous and popular writers of West Bengal.

[19] untouchables of the lowest class.

[20] Outcaste Hindus of Bengal.

[21] Two neighbourhoods of Kolkata.

[22] Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata.

ON THE QUESTION OF THE FUTURE OF MADRASA-STUDENTS

— Ahmed Sofa

Frankly speaking, I have no idea of the number of madrasa[1]-going students in Bangladesh. We do not expect even a rough statistic on the number of Senior, Junior, Wahhabi[2] and Shrine-based madrasas in Bangladesh from the related department of the government[3] as well. Of course, it is true that the operational state of most of the departments and ministries is the same. Nobody seems to keep the necessary reliable data; everybody acts only upon the orders of the superiors. Nevertheless, although lacking enthusiasm, the ministries nowadays are trying to keep some numerical data, only because our foreign donors and lenders, nowadays, do not want to commit to any undertaking without looking at some quantitative information and appraisal.

But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that, if asked, the concerned ministry would not be able to produce even a fictitious count of the number of madrasas and their students. They can only give some information about those madrasas which receive some form of monthly assistance or a yearly lump sum grant from the government. The madrasas that are beyond the sphere of government assistance and will remain so; the madrasas that deem taking government assistance to be grave sin; the madrasas that are located at the houses of Pirs[4] and their Dargahs[5]the madrasas that run on the donations of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha[6]; the madrasas that are run by Wahhabis in a strict Christian Missionary- style — the number of all these madrasas together and the extent of their student population are unknown, and—though not impossible—a very hard thing to know indeed.

After visiting many towns and villages of Bangladesh, I have come to the conclusion that the number of madrasa-students is very close to the number of students studying in mainstream educational institutions. And contrary to popular yet vague believes, the education system of all the madrasas is not uniform as well. The madrasas which got government approval and are under the Madrasa Board have one type of curriculum, where a bit of English, Bengali and other modern subjects are taught. The teaching method is no way less amazing: there is only one teacher for mathematics, English, Bengali, social science—all these subjects. But the number of such approved madrasas is totally insignificant compared to the vast assortment of madrasas. Nonetheless, some students from these government-approved-madrasas, after completing degrees like Jamaat-e-Ula or Title[7], do go on to enroll in colleges[8] after appearing for SSC[9].

The rest of the vast number of Madrasas across the country follows a variety of curricula. Some follow Deoband[10], others follow word for word the curriculum of the Calcutta Madrasa[11] established by Warren Hastings[12]. Still, others follow the curriculum developed during the era of Aurangzeb[13]. On the other hand, in Junior Madrasas elementary lessons of Arabic, Urdu and Persian languages are generally given. The students there are made to read Raah-e-Nijat[14] in Urdu for religious education; they also study Mawlana[15] Saadi’s[16] famous Persian books like Karima[17]GulistanBostanPandenamah etc. One common point of view amongst the madrasas is: the older the curriculum of a madrasa, the more is its pride.

Those students who go to colleges and universities after finishing madrasa education take up jobs in various sectors just like their college and university-going classmates. But the main challenge they face in obtaining government service is that, most of the times, their age exceeds the maximum age limit for entering such jobs, as they come to general education after completing madrasa at a relatively advanced age. A portion of those who pass Jamaat-e-UlaTitle, Fazil[18] etc. become teachers themselves in madrasas, or—if they have the certificate of HSC[19]—join schools in the general stream as teachers of Religious Studies. The other portion makes a living by becoming Imams[20] and Muezzins[21] at mosques; by teaching the Holy Quran and Amparah[22] at Maqtabs[23]; by helping to slaughter chickens, goats and cows in accordance with Islamic rules; and by performing Quran Khawani[24]. They are even compelled to resort to going from house to house reciting Fatihah[25] and conducting Zeyarats[26] on demand; giving Islamic sermons and speeches to the public[27]; performing roles of traditional healers through offering Duas[28], giving out blessings, tabij[29] and holy water, and casting out evil spirits[30] etc. for making a hand to mouth living.

A student of the general line, after graduating from university, can switch jobs if s/he is not happy with the salary; or, if a member of any tread union, can bargain for a pay rise and other facilities through various means. The Madrasa students with Jamaat-e-Ula or Title degrees have to spend more time in educational institutions than those of university degree holders; but what do they get out of this? Do they enjoy the same privileges as the university, medical college and engineering college students? Can an Imam or a Muezzin or a Munshi[31] press, in any way, for a fair salary? Surely, the growth in the number of Munshis and Mawlanas in the country is outnumbering the growth of that of mosques and madrasas.

The environment of the madrasas is such that the students do not acquire any professional expertise; the structure is so medieval that the students cannot even think of getting trained in any trade or taking up any other profession after graduating from them. Nowhere in the Muslim world occurs such a colossal waste of valuable human resources in the name of religious education. Neither have the madrasa-teachers and students engaged in any meaningful discussion regarding their problems and demands nor have the cognizant sections of the society paid any attention to them.

The so-called educated people of this country look down on the madrasa-educated in a fashion which is totally irrational and inhumane. This attitude is dangerous and will give birth to grave consequences for the country. Apart from using them for petty political gains by some vested quarters, no one has ever thought of solving the problems these people face or about their total wellbeing.

The political parties and student organizations of this land have never paid attention to the madrasa students. As a result, clouds of medieval darkness still hover over the madrasas. Any of the modes, values and enquiries of the modern era seldom get a chance to sparkle amidst such an environment. Inquisitiveness, which lies at the heart of the philosophy of science, never dwells the madrasas. So, there, the proper growth of intelligence becomes entrapped by a closed, inertial life. Lest we forget, the madrasa-going student-body is also a part of our wider, vigilant student society; just as the school-college-university-going students are the future of the nation, so are the madrasa-going ones. But I do not think that anyone has ever given equal importance to this matter. Hitherto, the madrasas have remained just a trivial footnote in the reports processed by the Ministry of Education. Even the progressive political parties of the country hold the view that the madrasa-students are not concerned about the state of the country and its society. Many come to the conclusion—without any exploration and observation—that each madrasa is like a citadel of reactionism; that no socially conscious, patriotic, political or cultural personality can emerge from them. Needless to say, this is a very biased point of view. Many of the non-communal and progressive personalities of the Indian sub-continent came with a madrasa-background. Figures like Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad[32], Mawlana Muniruzzaman Islamabadi[33], Mawlana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani[34] were all madrasa-educated. Whereas the Muslims who received western education from the Aligarh University[35] in British India adopted a policy of appeasement towards their British colonial masters, the Alems[36] of Deoband Madrasa did not think twice in taking a directly anti-British stance. Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed[37], known as the founding father of the Communist Party of India, also went to madrasa as a boy. So, the notion that the madrasa students are not socio-politically conscious is not true at all.

It is not true, and cannot be true, that all madrasa students are reactionaries, and that they do not have any affection and love for this country. This is nothing but prejudice towards them. In spite of many changes in our political landscape during the last thirty years, this deep-rooted misconception still prevails. No progressive political party or student organization has come forward with a genuine goodwill to engage in dialogue or to discuss with the madrasa students regarding their wants and needs, and what their thoughts are for this country. Nobody has tried to politically organize the madrasa students for introducing them to the ideals of a modern state and to contemporary social thought.

The main reason behind this being the political parties and their student wings are mostly controlled by the bourgeois, petty bourgeois and their family members. If investigated we would find that, usually, children from working and lower-class families go to madrasas. Those who cannot afford to go to school but have thirst for knowledge sometimes get admitted to madrasas. The parents who are not affluent enough to send their sons to schools, seeing no other alternative, send them to madrasas instead. The madrasas run on zakat[38]sadaqah[39] and various kinds of charitable donations from pious Muslims, which cover the educational and other expenditures of these poor students. Apart from these, only a handful of parents send their offspring to madrasas for giving them a religion-based education.

Rabindranath Tagore once famously wrote: “যারে তুমি নিচে ফেল সে তোমাকে বাঁধিবে যে নিচে / পশ্চাতে রেখেছ যারে সে তোমারে পশ্চাতে টানিছে”; which roughly translates: “Who you cast down will tie you downwards / Who you left behind will pull you backwards.” None of the forward-looking political forces or their student-bodies has tried to take the madrasa students on board. The result is that they remain ever present as a dead weight in the path of progressive political and student movements of the county. Let us imagine a social revolution happens here and the madrasa students do not oppose it. Nevertheless, that revolution would not bring about any positive social change. For, secular education is still not universal in our country. Religious traditions and customs yet control many aspects of the social and cultural life of this country. The evil forces countervailing social revolution and progress breed discontent amongst the general people by branding revolutionary activities negatively. This happens in every country. But in our country, this problem will take a more acute form. Those who do religion-based politics use the bigotry of backward-looking people within the internal structure of our society to thwart any attempt towards achieving social progress. I do not think anyone has really thought of any strategy to confront this challenge. If political and social enlightenment came to the people of our villages, and if madrasa students having religious knowledge could be involved in organizational and campaigning activities then these endemic obstacles might be easy to overcome. Considering their class-identity, the madrasa students should have been potential revolutionaries. The reason they are not is that their thought-process in confined by the dungeons of the Middle Ages. None has ever knocked on their doors. If anyone ever did so, at least a portion of them would have listened and responded. Those of you thinking afresh of social revolution, I hope, would contemplate the issue of madrasa students and would care to make them your comrades in future struggles.

The Daily Gonokantho, 5th June 1980

Ahmed Sofa (June 30, 1943 – July 28, 2001) was an eminent writer, intellectual and activist of Bangladesh.

This article, originally written under the pseudonym Ananda, was compiled in Ahmed Sofa Rachonaboli – Saptom Khando (Collected Works of Ahmed Sofa – Volume Seven), Nurul Anwar (ed.), Khan Brothers and Company, Dhaka: 2008, pp.310-314.

Translated by Kazi Niaz Ahmed, who is a researcher at the Institute of Governance Studies (IGS), BRAC University. He is also the publisher or Foreign Affairs Insights and Reviews, a Dhaka-based bi-monthly magazine.

Published in Foreign Affairs Insights and Reviews, Dhaka: Volume 2, Number 2, March-May 2014

Web address: http://fairbd.net/questions-regarding-the-future-of-madrasa-students/

End Note:

[1] Usually, a religious school where Islamic education is the main focus of the curriculum.

[2] Anything relating to Wahhabism, which is a Sunni ultra-conservative movement founded by an 18th-century cleric, Mohamed ibn Abdul Wahhab of the Arabian Peninsula.

[3] The Ministry of Education, to be precise.

[4] In Sufism, a Pir is a spiritual person who guides and instructs his disciples on the Sufi path of Islam.

[5] a Sufi Islamic shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure.

[6] The two biggest Muslim festivals.

[7] Two of the degrees given by madrasas in Bangladesh.

[8] For Higher Secondary School-level studies.

[9] Secondary School Certificate, a nation-wide examination after the 10th grade.

[10] Referring to the Darul Uloom Madrasa situated at Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, India. Founded in 1866 and the birthplace of the conservative Deoband Islamic Movement in South Asia.

[11] Established in 1781 as Mohammedan College of Calcutta, more popularly known as Aliya Madrasa. Now, Aliah University (since 2008).

[12] The first Governor-General of Bengal (1772-1785) during the rule of the British East India Company.

[13] The sixth Mughal Emperor of Indian Subcontinent; ruled from 1659 till his death in 1707.

[14] A popular Islamic book.

[15] A title of a respected Muslim, usually religious, leader.

[16] Saadi Shirazi (1210-1291), one of the greatest Persian poets.

[17] Good for beginners, as mentioned by the author.

[18] Equivalent to Bachelor of Arts.

[19] Higher Secondary School Certificate.

[20] A religious person who leads the daily prayers at a mosque.

[21] A religious person who recites the Adhan or Call to Prayer from the mosque every day.

[22] An elementary level book on how to read and write Arabic.

[23] Elementary school in the Muslim world.

[24] Reciting the entire Quran for benediction.

[25] Surat al-Fatihah, the first chapter of the Holy Quran.

[26] Visiting graves, usually of relatives or venerated religious figures, and praying for the salvation of the dead.

[27] known as Waz Mehfil.

[28] Supplication to Allah (God)the Almighty.

[29] An Islamic talisman, usually containing verses from the Holy Quran, which is believed to provide good luck for the possessor or possibly offer protection from evil or harm.

[30] Usually, mischievous Jinnsa kind of spiritual creatures believed in Islam—from human bodies and homes.

[31] Nowadays, a house tutor for teaching Arabic to children. During the Mughal Empire and British India, a teacher of native language or a secretary employed by Europeans.

[32] A senior leader of the Indian National Congress and one of the key figures of the Indian Independence Movement; b. 11 November 1888 d. 22 February 1958.

[33] A renowned Bengali Muslim journalist and political activist from Chittagong; b. 1875 d. 1950.

[34] One of the key figures of the Independence Movement of Bangladesh. An activist of the Anti-British Colonial and, later, Pakistan Movements, he became the founding President of both the Awami League and the National Awami Party in quick succession in the then East Pakistan; b. 12 December 1880 d. 17 November 1976.

[35] Aligarh Muslim University; established by the famous Muslim social reformer Sir Syed Ahmed Khan as Madrasatul Uloom Musalmanan-e-Hind, during 1875-78; situated in present-day Uttar Pradesh, India. It later became Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College and played a major role in training Indian Muslims in western education and in their renaissance. Became a fully fledged university in 1920.

[36] Islamic scholars.

[37] A noted Bengali politician and journalist, he was popularly known as Kakababu (Uncle); b. August 5, 1889 d.  December 18, 1973.

[38] A form of almsgiving compulsory for wealthy Muslims.

[39] Voluntary charity in Islam.

ODE TO HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE DEATH PENALTY

– By Dr. Salimullah Khan

Very recently, some countries of the world have annulled the provision of capital punishment as a way to castigate the guilty of heinous crimes within their jurisdiction. I specifically refer to the case of the ‘United States of Europe’. Citing this example, some are arguing that a harsh penalty like the death sentence is a violation of human rights. I must say that they have their logic. Nevertheless, we do need to put things into perspective in light of history. If mild punishment works, why go for severe ones? Once upon a time in Europe—especially in England—even petty theft was punishable by the death penalty. Even for stealing a mere 5 pounds, people were sent to the gallows. We do not know the exact date of inception of this law; but till the beginning of the 19th century, this law had not been made void. Moreover, before 1825 A.D., the workers of England—the land of the industrial revolution—did not have the right to form Trade Unions. If anyone dared to organize such a union, he was punished. The retribution, it should be registered, was Death!

We know from Sir Thomas More’s magnum opus—‘Utopea’—that in the 15th century England, people were hanged to death in the thousands for trivial larceny. A character of that book, whose trade was law, by the way, informs us that in England the universal penalty of theft was death. There were days when the same gallows was used to hang up to 20 burglars. We cannot even begin to fathom the sheer number of people who had perished.

King Henry VIII ascended to the English throne in the year 1509. During his rule alone, one historian showed, 72,000 thieves were given capital punishment in England.  But did it help in curving the spread of thievery or the frequency of theft? Sir More’s imaginary lawyer testifies otherwise. Thomas More finished his work in 1516. The aforementioned character of his book expressed his surprise at the fact that, though only a handful of crooks were able to avoid the long hand of the law, there was no reduction in the number of new thieves. He was utterly perplexed by this paradox.

By now, not only in England but also in Europe, the death penalty has been phased out. It would not be wrong to assume that petty theft has also reduced in these countries. Why and how? That is something to ponder about. Sir More’s advice was to terminate the capital punishment. His logic was: instead of hanging them indiscriminately, if people were provided with some honest means of living, then the severity of stealing would certainly go down. He argues, men steal, most of the time, for survival. They can even risk their lives to make a living. And indeed, many of them die. Nonetheless, if one had alternative ways to feed oneself, s/he would not opt for shady activities. But, England did not heed to the advice of Thomas More. Neither did Europe. After all these years, now Europe has found its conscience. Now they say that the death penalty is definitely a violation of human rights. No matter how severe and grisly the crime is, capital punishment must not be rendered. Bear in mind, it took Europe at least 500 years to come to this conclusion.

Things will become clearer by asking another question. Why did the United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations, adopt the document called the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (UDHR) only in 1948? There is no short answer to this inquiry. In broad, it could be said that if the two great wars had not occurred in Europe, the UDHR would have taken more time to surface. Even this document does not declare the death penalty as a breach of human rights. When was the war criminals amongst the German and Japanese civil and military leaders were being sentenced to death? Was it not during the time when the UDHR was in the process of adoption? If the history of Europe teaches us anything, it is that capital punishment cannot be a remedy against burglary. Moreover, there is no panacea other than establishing justice and equity in society. Where there is equality, why would people starve to death? And where is the need to steal for people of such a land? The ‘reign of destitution’ and the ‘rule of law’ cannot go hand in hand. Therefore, in a county where justice prevails, the prevalence of theft must come down—even, it could cease to exist.

We can look at the provision of the death penalty from another angle. That prism is birth control. Europe currently faces a demographic problem. In almost all the countries of this continent, the rate of population growth has fallen. But the population of Bangladesh is increasing. Keep in mind, the problem of population is not uni-dimensional but bi-dimensional. We can learn from the chronicles of Europe that with economic growth and material development, people willfully reduce the size of their families. But, in countries like ours, the westerners are preaching that population control will be followed by economic and material prosperity by leaps and bounds. All praises are for ‘birth-governance’! We may draw parallel of this with crime and punishment as well. Social progress has helped in banning capital punishment in Europe. Notwithstanding, we are being told that the end of the death penalty might ensure social advancement for us. The proposition, no doubt, warrants our thought. But, the problem is that we do not live in two separate worlds, rather share the same one. In this one world, only the establishment of a just and true system can eradicate the death penalty. The arrest of the death penalty had heralded just society—there has been no such example in human annals thus far.Dr. Salimullah Khan is an eminent intellectual of the country. He currently teaches at the University of Liberal Arts (ULAB), Dhaka.This article was originally published in the Bangla magazine ‘Sorbojon’ titled “Manobadhikar O Mrittudondo Bishoyok Odhikontu”. Translated and published with the consent of the author.Translated by Kazi Niaz Ahmed, who is a researcher at the Institute of Governance Studies (IGS), BRAC University. He is also the publisher or Foreign Affairs Insights and Reviews, a Dhaka-based bi-monthly magazine.Translation published in Foreign Affairs Insights and Reviews, Dhaka: Volume 1, Number 5, June 2013Web address: http://fairbd.net/ode-to-human-rights-and-the-death-penalty/