Who needs a Bangalee �Mullah Omar� to rid of Sarbahara operatives or mete out street justice?

Friday May 07 2004 19:05:41 PM BDT

By A.H. Jaffor Ullah

Photo : Azizur Rahman aka Bangla Bhai- The Daily Star

On May 6, 2004, I read in the Daily Star for the first time that a �Mullah Omar� like figure by the name Azizur Rahman aka Bangla Bhai (a non-standard Bangla construction!) who is dispensing justice in the northwestern districts of Bangladesh.

This man�s activities reminded me of Mullah Omar who was doing the same thing in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the aftermath of civil war in the late 1980s when Russian soldiers had left the war-torn nation. Mullah Omar then formed a Vigilante Force with ragtag Madrassah students, which finally emerged as a very powerful political force. This is the way the Taliban party came into existence.

The Talibans in Kandahar and elsewhere in Afghanistan had meted out justice to miscreants. Ordinary Afghanis liked it so much so that they encouraged the Talibans to take control of their nation. And Mullah Omar and his brigands just did that. The rest is history.

In Bangladesh, a similar thing is happening right now. One Azizur Rahman has formed a group of vigilantes by the name �Jagrota Muslim Janata Bangladesh� or JMJB to catch the members of an outlaw group, Sarbahara and mete out street justice. The sad part is the police are encouraging the rural force to aid JMJB brigands to catch the Bangladeshi desperados (Sarbahara). That is not all what the JMBJ operatives are doing in the western districts of Bangladesh. The leader, �Bangla Bhai� is also enforcing strictest Islamic dress code among females. This was reported in the Daily Star report.

It seems as if the JMJB members are trying to enforce religious dictums among ordinary people. Asking men to grow beards and women to sport burka (veil) is a direct infringement to personal freedom of our people. The JMBJ goons forgot that about 10-11% people in Bangladesh are not Muslims. On top of it, many Muslims may not like the idea of keeping beard or wearing burka in a climate that is very hostile to wear Islamic garb, which is ideal for desert climate in hot summer months.

The question that pops out is � who this JMBJ thinks they are? Bangladesh is not like Afghanistan where there was no police force to enforce law and order in the wake of the civil war. Bangladesh is a burgeoning democracy and the nation has a police force. Therefore, there should not be any vigilantes manning the streets to catch outlaws such as Sarbahara men.

The ruffians who go by the name JMBJ are trying to shove ultra-Islamic values down the throat of Bangalees in rural areas. Strangely enough, the Deputy Inspector of Police, Noor Mohammad, instead of admonishing Azizur ran aka �Bangla Bhai� for taking laws into his own hand had bestowed a glowing encomium to him and his ruffians for a job �well done.�

There should not be any Vigilante Force operating in Bangladesh because it undermines the capabilities of the police, which is the arm of the government to maintain law and order throughout Bangladesh. It seems as if the police in the western districts where JMBJ is very active is inoperative now and are relying on the ruffians managed by Azizur Rahman aka �Bangla Bhai� to maintain law and order. This has to be a terrible development.

The Inspector General of Police in Bangladesh should immediately visit the affected districts and sack those police officers who gave moral support to JMBJ thugs. The DIG of Police, Noor Mohammad, should also be reprimanded for encouraging the Vigilante Force to carry out street justice. The Home Mister should not twiddle his thumb sitting in Dhaka hearing the news of vigilantes manning the law and order plus acting as judge all at the same time.

This scribe has seen the photo of Azizur Rahman aka Bangla Bhai who sported his full beard in the picture. This megalomaniac wants to enforce his ideas on ordinary people. Suggesting men to keep beards in this day and age is simply preposterous an idea. He is also admonishing women folks for not wearing burka. Therefore, it follows that this madman is bent on enforcing his values on others. Bangladeshi people are granted freedom of choice by the constitution of this free nation.

Why is this man hell-bent on denying the rural folks their constitutional right? To add insult to injury, the police are encouraging JMBJ ruffians to enforce street justice. It is quite possible that some innocent people may receive the street justice from Azizur Rahman and his loyal supporters.

A correspondent of DS from Naogaon reported that JMJB men yesterday allegedly beat three outlaws to death at Atrai in western part of the nation. Bangladesh has court system in place and only the judges can mete out justice. There should not be a parallel judiciary in Bangladesh. It seems as if Azizur Rahman and his gang of vigilantes are running a parallel judiciary in Bangladesh with blessings from the police.

Judging from all the reports appearing in the newspapers this scribe thinks that Azizur Rahman has become a sort of like warlord. If this megalomaniac �Bangla Bhai� is not emasculated soon, other regional �warlords� will emerge in various districts. Therefore, this newly developed Vigilante Force should be nipped in the bud.

The inept police of Bangladesh have miserably failed to capture members of the outlaw group Sarbahara and now they are relying on a roving gang of ruffians such as JMJB members to enforce law in rural districts. It is also apparent that the JMJB men have other ideas in their head. They want strictest brand of Islam such as Wahhabism and its code of conduct to be enforced in Bangladesh. This is the same ploy Mullah Omar of Kandahar used to gain notoriety and power.

Maybe, Azizur Rahman aka �Bangla Bhai� is using the same method to gain power and popularity among our rural folks. The sooner the government crushes this neo-Talibanism in Bangladesh the better. There should not be two police forces and two judiciaries in Bangladesh. Therefore, the government should declare JMBJ an illegal or outlaw organization. But more than anything, the self-declared leader �Bangla Bhai� should be brought to justice for dispensing his brand of �justice.�

A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA


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