Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Brief Report of NSI Organised Public Meeting on "Shahbagh Movement: A beacon of hope for South Asia" in Delhi

Welcoming the Shahbagh movement of Bangladesh- initiated by youth bloggers wherein hundreds and thousands of people have hit the streets of Dhaka, demanding strict punitive action against war criminals and their organisations, namely Jamaat-e-Islami — and how they are trying the reinvigorate the four basic principles of its formation namely democracy, secularism, socialism and nationalism, Mr Sumit Chakravarty, editor of 'Mainstream' underlined its historic significance for our times. He was speaking at a seminar on 'Shahbagh Movement : A Beacon of Hope for South Asia' organised by New Socialist Initiative, here in Delhi on the 14 th May at Gandhi Peace Foundation.

According to him clearly, at a time when the rest of South Asia is witnessing the rise of communal mobilizations, Bangladesh’s Shahbagh Movement stands apart as a unique and ground-breaking venture, for it has demanded that secular principles and ethos alone should guide and govern all politics. Thus, this movement is qualitatively and politically far more mature than, say, movements which arose from the womb of Tahrir square of Cairo.

A background note circulated by New Socialist Initiative, which is a newly emergent platform of the left, which recently had organised its founding conference in Delhi, for the seminar narrated how it is important not only to understand the significance of Shahbagh movement but also to understand why secular-democratic and left forces of India have till now maintained a studied silence on this historical movement

Speaking on the occasion, Noor Zaheer, famous author and activist said we should not limit ourselves to comprehend the struggle at the level of trial of war criminals only. In fact, the youth who has been joined by great masses of the people have understood that what lies in future for them if they do not fight fundamentalist forces who are trying to impose a very bigoted view in running of the government. People have become conscious that if the religious extremist forces are not dealt with then future of women and future of minorities would be quite bleak.

Javed Naqvi, Special Correspondent of 'Dawn' said that we are getting garbled messages from Shahbagh.He added that this sudden worldwide interest in Jamaat-e-Islami should also be expored and one should also look at the possibility of legitimate grounds of problematic people/organisations. Underlining the impact of economic policies peddled by the likes of IMF/World Bank, he appealed to the audience to explore the stand of Jamaat-e-Islami on IMF and that of Awami League on the same issue.

Kalyani Menon Sen, feminist activist who had been recently to Bangladesh and was direct witness to the goings on in Dhaka narrated her experience of the events and explained how the movement emerged when people felt that the the war crimes tribunal is not giving exemplary punishment to to war criminals who at the time of the liberation struggle/war of the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)—colluded with the Pakistan army and committed untold acts of atrocities on the general public.
The seminar started with a sad note due to the news of Asghar Ali Engineer's demise and the house observed one minute of silence to remember the deceased.
Bonojit Hussain, of New Socialist Initiative, conducted the seminar and gave a vote of thanks at its conclusion. 
Few images of the meeting are pasted below:



Indranil said...

Thanks for a much needed initiative followed by an excellent brief. However, based on our interaction with Mr. Pinaki Bhattacharya, an eminent thought leader of Shahbag, I beg to differ a bit.
"it has demanded that secular principles and ethos alone should guide and govern all politics" --- if this is the case, as pointed out by Mr. Badruddin Umar also, Shahbag demand charter should explicitly ask for abandonment of eighth constitutional amendment. The amendment was made to make it a Islamic state. Why it is not so? In response to this question, Mr. Bhattacharya clearly told that Shahbag demand charter is based on a agreed common minimum understanding. This common understanding was essential to gather quick support from people. However, to a lot of common Bangladeshi people, a state without official religion is not acceptable.
Interestingly, AL which has by and large supported the movement so far, has recently announced floated the debate to adopt the Medina Charter, constitution of Medina to prove its true commitment to Islam.

I agree that Shahbag has championed the concept in principle, but at the same time, factual implementation of this victory may still not be there.

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