The Shahbag Movement: Why It’s Important To India

Posted on April 16, 2013 in GlobeScope

By Mr. Nupur Das:

When the entire nation was glued to the T.V. screens watching the India-Australia cricket test match series and even the  ‘mainstream media’ was a bit ignorant about it the country’s neighbor on its eastern front erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)  was undergoing a historical change. The mood of the people especially the youth of the country motivated by secular ideologies came out to the streets to demand justice for the victims of the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh and severely punish the religious fanatics who were very much instrumental in raging a civil war against the innocent people. (This uprising was similar in some sense with the very recent protests at India gate after the infamous December 16 incident as it was motivated by the youth and social media played a very active role in mobilizing the masses).

shahbag-protest

These religious fanatics were none other but the  jamat e islami men who wanted the military regime of Pakistan to continue in Bangladesh and continue it as an Islamic state. The jamat e islami had committed mass murders and rape during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war and  were opposed to the formation of an independent state of Bangladesh. The protesters demand the ban of jamat e islami from politics, punish the war criminals and want Bangladesh to be a more secular and a tolerant state towards minorities. These protests are met out with solidarity by the global citizens from Bangladesh living across the globe.  Even the international media was supportive and helped to spread the message of this historic movement across the globe.  This was for the first time that Bangladesh has seen a peaceful protest by its people after their liberation, where people used candle light protests, sloganeering, peaceful marches, etc.

However, the journey so far for a secular and stable Bangladesh has not been a cake walk. These peaceful protests are met by counter protests from the jamat e islami members who reportedly clashed with the police during their nationwide protests last month. The supporters and members  of these religious group  confronted the peaceful protesters too which resulted in the injury and deaths  of many. An active protester and blogger, Ahmed r haider, was  killed by the counter protesters which further lead to a deteriorating situation.

A stable and prosperous neighbor has been always in the interest of any nation-state. India has experienced illegal immigration from its neighboring country  Bangladesh (though its number has differed from the civil society and the government data). It was also reported that, being a porous border, illegal activities across the border like trafficking,  smuggling and other activities by various terrorists groups have been taking place. Bordering areas sometimes has proved to be the breeding grounds of terrorist activities which is very much disturbing for the Indian state. Hence, a stable and secular neighboring Bangladesh will be in greater interest of India. A pro democratic and secular state of Bangladesh would  ensure stability in the bordering states of India too (since most of the border is porous).

Moreover, it is on humanitarian grounds that we must (including the academic world, media, civil society, etc) come forward and show solidarity to the ongoing protests at Shahbag. Bangladesh, which had a very emotional attachment with India since pre independence days, had been undergoing this switch to a more modern state is truly appreciable and hence it is our duty as fellow men and women in its neighboring countries to show solidarity to their ongoing protests against the religious fundamentalists and seek justice for the victims of the 1971 liberation war which will prove to be a moral support for the people in the neighboring country. It is in the interests of the common man to strive for a democratic and secular nation state.

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