Faridul Alam Farid
Although Awami League is in power since 2008, unfortunately there has not been real initiative by the ruling party in banning militancy-linked Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). While key policymakers of the government have always been making promises of banning Jamaat, but in reality, there is no sign of banning this notorious and ruthless party, which had actively collaborated in the crime against humanity during the war of independence of Bangladesh.
Upon the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the new government banned Jamaat-e-Islami from political participation and subsequently its leaders went into exile in Pakistan. But, following the assassination Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, military dictator Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman came to power in 1975 and lifted the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami. Later Jamaat rebranded the name to Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB) and started political activities. Exiled Jamaat men returned to Bangladesh. It should be mentioned here that, Jamaat-s-Islami proclaims establishment of Islamic state with Sharia as the legal system of Bangladesh.
During those years, Jamaat-e-Islami has been alliance partner with both the mainstream parties – Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Awami League (AL). But since 2001, as Jamaat-e-Islami formed government as coalition partner of BNP, AL along with several pro-liberation and secularist forces started campaign demanding outlawing JIB from politics in the country.
In October 2018, five years after the High Court ruled that the Jamaat-e-Islami’s status as a political party be revoked; the Election Commission had executed the orders through a gazette notification.
The Election Commission (EC) started registering the political parties for the first time during the 2006-07 military-controlled interim government before the 2008 elections. Jamaat-e-Islami, which had representation in parliament, got registered along with 37 other parties at the time.
Parties registered with the Election Commission are eligible for contesting in elections.
In January 2009, a writ petition was filed with the High Court Division of Bangladesh Supreme Court challenging Jamaat-e-Islami’s registration as a political party. The petition sought order cancelling the registration for Jamaat’s failure in meeting RPO conditions. On 27 January 2009, the Bangladesh Supreme Court issued a ruling and the Election Commission Secretary was given six weeks time to reply. But the Election Commission did not give any reply to the rule. The ruling asked to explain as to “why the Jamaat’s registration should not be declared illegal”. As the verdict of the ruling, High Court cancelled the registration of the Jamaat-e-Islami on August 1, 2013, declaring it as unfit to contest national polls because of its constitution places Allah above democratic process.
The petition asked for orders to cancel Jamaat’s registration by the EC for the party’s failure to meet Representation of People’s Order (RPO) provisions.
On August 1, 2013 High Court declared Jamaat’s registration illegal.
In 2010 the government, led by the Awami League, began prosecution of war crimes committed during the 1971 war under the International Crimes Tribunal (ICC).
In 2018, the Election Commission had cancelled Jamaat’s electoral symbol ‘Weighing Scale’ following Supreme Court directives.
As Awami League has already has got people’s mandate for its third consecutive term, it is aspiration of the pro-liberation forces in Bangladesh seeing Jamaat-e-Islami being banned in the country. At the same time, properties belonging to Jamaat and those war criminals, even who had died before the ICC was constituted should be confiscated and handed over to the Freedom Fighter’s Welfare Association. We sincerely hope, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will give necessary instructions in uprooted the existence of Jamaat-e-Islami from this country – for good.