Bangladesh: An Enslaved Nation? (Part I)

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery”– Thomas Jefferson

By R. Chowdhury 30 November 2019

Bangladesh: An Enslaved Nation?
(Part I)

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery”– Thomas Jefferson

To win a war, to occupy a country, or to enslave a nation or a people, some sort of military action is needed. Not always. Here is an example how a country achieved one such feat without a war, without firing a shot. It happened in Bangladesh in 2007. It continues to date.  

In December 1971, Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan. But it wasn’t allowed to claim victory in the war it fought for nine months, spilling a sea of blood. India did. It took the surrender of the defeated Pakistani forces on December 16, 1971. Mukti Bahini, the liberation force of Bangladesh, was totally sidelined from the ceremony that took place on their own liberated soil for which they fought, for which they suffered, for which they bled, and for which hundreds of thousands died. Little did they know that their future sovereignty had already been compromised by the government in exile, headed by Tajuddin Ahmad, to the host authorities through a Seven-Point Agreement in July 1971.[1] India’s control on Bangladesh was later subtly entered in a 25-Year Treaty between Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh and Indira Gandhi of India in March 1972. [2] Behind the façade of the treaty of friendship, what drew attention of The New York Times was the defense and security of the contracting parties.[3]  It provided for “mutual defense consultations if either in attacked,” and would “take appropriate, effective measure to eliminate the threat.” It further “agreed not to join any military alliance directed against the other or to permit the use of their territory to threaten the security of the other.” Political and defense analysts did not miss the underlying tone in the message.

(Valiant freedom fighter Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Ziauddin challenged the 25-Year Agreement with India in a front-page article in the Holiday on August 20, 1972. 

Recalling Ziauddin’s challenge, this writer wrote an article titled “Recall the Spirit of 1971” which was published in a number of media outlets including the Holiday, News From Bangladesh, Indian Defence Forum, Pakistan Defence and others.[4]

 The Indo-Bangla honeymoon continued until August 15, 1975 when Sheikh Mujib had to leave the scene. However, India did not remain idle. It could not let its eastern neighbor slip out of its hand. It had to reap the fruits of its decades’ long investment culminating in the separation of East from the West of Pakistan in 1971. The Indian Chanoikyas, with the help of their local agents headed by brainwashed protege Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Mujib’s daughter, continued various mischief to destabilize and weaken the country so as to exert its control. Experts believe, India masterminded the elimination in 1981 of President Ziaur Rahman, who grew too independent and assertive to its liking, with the help of its local military recruits that included then army chief General H M Ershad. Yet, it could not claim full control, especially during the administrations of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). By end 2006, a BNP time, India found another betrayer to work for its agenda. Army chief General Moeen U Ahmed made the proxy takeover on January 11, 2007. Bangladesh virtually came under India’s grip since. A stage-managed election in December 2008 installed Hasina in power, keeping the remote control in New Delhi. India’s victory, in other words its enslavement of Bangladesh, was complete without a gunshot.

An extensive network of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW, India’s External Intelligence Agency) in the country ensured two-fold objectives: 1) that Hasina administration followed Indian agenda, and 2) a slow and steady process of Indianization of the country. Many observers also note with alarm an excessive infusion of Hindu culture in the lives of the people who are 90% Muslims.

To maintain Hasina’s absolute control, by extension that of India, no challenge to her authority is tolerated, be that opposition activities, be that criticism of government policies, be that exposure of corruption in the ruling coterie, be that disagreement with the distortion of history of the glorious liberation war to suit the Awami narratives. Even criticism of India is not allowed. The jails are overcrowded with opposition ranks and files with hundreds of thousands fake cases. The BNP chief and a 3-time Prime Minister is languishing in solitary prison cell with a 17-year sentence in a false case. She faces 34 more, which will take decades to adjudicate and may carry hundreds of years in punishment. Interestingly, in connivance with an obliging judiciary, the ruling authority quashed more than ten thousand cases against its own people, including 15 against Sheikh Hasina herself. Organized raids, killing and disappearance of dissenting elements are in the days work of the law enforcing agencies and the ruling party activists, with total impunity. Engineering student Abrar Fahad was brutally murdered in October by the ruling thugs because he posted a critical note in his Facebook about Sheikh Hasina’s give away of national interest during a recent trip to New Delhi. Abrar was not the only victim, nor will he be the last under the ongoing fascism.

Observers note that in obligation to her masters, Hasina slavishly follows the dictates of New Delhi at the expense of national interests and peoples’ aspirations. Out of the nearly 50 Agreements and Protocols Hasina signed with India, none can be cited to benefit Bangladesh. Notably, the people of the country came to learn of these agreements only after they have been concluded and when a section of the media leaked them.

The limited “economic growth,” achieved largely by the private sector, is trumpeted as a diversion, an eyewash, to hide the regime’s fascist practices that saw stolen election results in December 2008, in January 2014, in December 2018 and in 5000 other elections across the country. They were calculated highway robbery to enslave the whole nation. The people may be silent, but they are no fools. They recall what Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers, said, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” 

The people now wonder if it was worth replacing the Pakistani yokes with Indian shackles. Freedom fighters frustratedly look back at their sacrifices. They think they had jumped from frying pan to the fire. 

Indeed, the nation is in ransom, the people are enslaved!

R Chowdhury

USA

December 1, 2019

R Chowdhury is a former soldier and a decorated freedom fighter in the war of liberation of Bangladesh. Enjoys retired life in reading, writing and gardening. Writes on contemporary issues of Bangladesh; published three books so far.

Note: In the next installment, the writer intends to study India’s longtime plan on Bangladesh leading to 1971.


[1]         The salient points of the 7-Point Agreement between Tajuddin Ahmad, wartime Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Indira Gandhi, Prime Minster of India.

1. Bangladesh will have a para-military force, to be organized, equipped and supervised by India.

2. Bangladesh will procure all its military requirements from India.

3. Bangladesh’s foreign trade will be controlled by India.

4. Bangladesh’s development plans shall be approved by India.

5. Bangladesh’s foreign relations shall be guided by India.

6. Bangladesh cannot rescind any part of these agreements without prior approval of India.

7. The Indian force shall enter into Bangladesh at any time to crush resistance or uprising.

[2]           The twelve Articles incorporated in the 25-Year Treaty between India and Bangladesh:

(i) The contracting parties solemnly declare that there shall be lasting peace and friendship between the two countries and each side shall respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the other and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of the other side;

(ii) The contracting parties condemn colonialism and racialism of all forms, and reaffirm their determination to strive for their final and complete elimination;

(iii) The contracting parties reaffirm their faith in the policy of non-alignment and peaceful co-existence as important factors for easing tension in the world, maintaining international peace and security and strengthening national sovereignty and independence;

(iv) The contracting parties shall maintain regular contacts and exchange views with each other on major international problems affecting the interest of both the states;

(v) The contracting parties shall continue to strengthen and widen their mutually advantageous and all round co-operation in the economic, scientific and technical fields, and shall develop mutual co-operation in the fields of trade, transport and communication on the basis of the principles of equality and mutual benefit;

(vi) The contracting parties agree to make joint studies and take joint action in the field of flood control, river basin development and development of hydro-electric power and irrigation;

(vii) Both the parties shall promote relations in the field of arts, literature, education, culture, sports and health;

(viii) In accordance with the ties of friendship existing between the two countries, each of the contracting parties solemnly declare that it shall not enter into or participate in any military alliance directed against the other party. Each of the parties shall refrain from any aggression against the other party and shall not allow the use of its territory for committing any act that may cause military damage to or continue to threat to the security of the other contracting parties;

(ix) Each of the contracting parties shall refrain from giving any assistance to any third party taking part in an armed conflict against the other party. In case if either party is attacked or threatened to attack, the contracting parties shall immediately enter into mutual consultations to take necessary measures to eliminate the threat and thus ensure the peace and security of their countries;

(x) Each of the parties solemnly declare that it shall not undertake any commitment, secret or open, towards one or more states which may be incompatible with the present treaty;

(xi) The present treaty is signed for a term of twenty-five years, and shall be renewed by mutual agreement;

(xii) Any differences interpreting any Article of the treaty shall be settled on a bilateral basis by peaceful means in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding.[4]

[3]                https://www.nytimes.com/1972/03/19/archives/india-and-bangladesh-sign-25year-mutual-aid-pact-india-signs-pact.html).

[4]              http://www.bangladesh-web.com/view.php?hidRecord=251243

https://defenceforumindia.com/forum/threads/recall-the-spirit-of-1971.493/
https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/the-pride-of-1971-freedom-fighters.110046/
https://newsbd71.blogspot.com/2011/01/time-to-recall-spirit-of-1971.html)

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