Mukti

For his father’s sins?

Posted in politics by jrahman on July 18, 2009

On 7 June, six officers of the Bangladesh Army were summarily dismissed.  According to the media reports, these officers — Lt Cols Shamsul Islam, Mahdi Nasrullah Shahir and Md Shafiul Haque Chowdury, Major Mahsinul Karim, and Captains AKM Annur Hossain and Habiba Islam.  Then, on 23 June, Brig Gen Abdullahil Azmi was summarily dismissed.  A fellow blogger wrote to me thus: … as observers and analysts of political power, I think we need to follow these things closely and track them on a continuing basis.

Here is my take on the dismissals.

Let’s start with whether the Government can summarily dismiss somebody.  I am not a legal expert, but I have been told that any member of the armed forces — unlike the civilian public service — can be dismissed without being shown any cause.  That is, I have been told, the dismissals are not illegal.  I am happy to be educated on this point.

Okay, if not illegal, were they still wrong?  Under what circumstances can someone be stripped off their livelihood (including pension and other entitlements) without basic rights of self defence?  Presumably if someone disobeys a direct and legitimate command, or absconds from duty without permission, these would count as a ground for instant dismissal.

Turns out that the the six dismissed on 7 June may have acted in a way that may count as ‘conduct unbecoming of an officer’, possibly ending in their dimissal.  According to media reports, these officers behaved in an extremely rowdy fashion on 1 March at a Senakunjo event.  Fully taking into account the context of that meeting, I think these officers’ behaviours, if true, make them unfit to lead armed men.  That is, I don’t see anything wrong with their dismissal. 

The dismissal of Brig Gen Azmi, on the other hand, seems to have nothing to do with the Senakunjo event, and everything to do with his father’s politics.  Azmi’s father is Golam Azam, former head of Jamaat-e-Islami, and an architect of the genocide in 1971. 

But what does his father’s politics has to do with Azmi?  According to media reports, Azmi was the top of his class in military academy, and has had a stellar professional career.  Yes, his father needs to be tried — one hopes, will be tried — for his actions in 1971.  But isn’t Azmi’s professionalism enough for a job in the army?  Does he need to lose his entitlements because of his father’s sins? 

I have heard that Azmi was fired because of ‘Jamaati infiltration’ of the army.  If that is so, then he shouldn’t have been summarily dismissed.  Instead, he should have been court martialled, and given the appropriate punishments if found guilty. 

But I am not even sure if there is anything to the ‘Jamaati infiltration’ story at all.  For the past few years, I’ve been hearing that ‘Golam Azam’s son is a big wig in the army, number 2/3/4, in line for being the chief ….’ from a lot of supposedly knowledgable people.  Turns out he was just a brigadier.

To put that in the context, Bangladesh army has 7 infantry divisions, each headed by a major general.  Then there are another half a dozen or so major generals commanding the artillery, engineering, air defence, medical units, DGFI, NSC, staff college, BDR, Ansar etc.  Then there are administrative posts such as the president/PM’s military secretaries, or chief of general staff, or adjutant general et, which are all usually major generals.  Then there are a few major generals deputed to the foreign ministry or commanding UN missions.  Above them, we have two lieutenant generals and a full general.  Add all these up and there were easily 20-25 people above Brig Azmi, and that’s assuming he was the top ranked brigadier. 

So he was fired because of Jamaati infiltration?  Excuse me if I don’t buy it.

In the Bengali Muslim tradition, the son is supposed to stand at his father’s funeral and acknowledge his father’s debts.  Golam Azam owes the nation for his misdeeds, but should the People’s Republic of Bangladesh be governed by the cultural traditions of Bengali Muslims? 

The Government has recently announced a body that will probe the promotions and dismissals in the army in the past seven years.  Irony, it seems, doesn’t exist in our country.

24 Responses

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  1. Kamal Ahmed said, on July 20, 2009 at 5:45 am

    A very well written piece and I agree with many of the points raised. If Brig Gen Azmi has done anything wrong he should have faced a court martial. Dismissal without giving any cause is certainly unfair. Our freedom was earned at a very high cost and this freedom should be available to all loyal citizens of Bangladesh irrespective of birth. This is a sacred right and no government should be allowed to deny this right to any citizen. If anyone has committed any crime then certainly he should be punished for that. But to take his livelihood away and not even telling him why is not acceptable.

    I am not sure what you mean by ‘Jamaati Infiltration’. If the army is recruited from the people you would expect them to be from all different political persuasions. Of course they should leave any politics behind when they join the army. I would also expect large numbers of AL and BNP ‘infiltrations’ in the army. Why should it be wrong in the case of Jamaat and not so for other parties? As long as Jamaat is not declared illegal in Bangladesh I don’t see that as a punishable crime.

    I also wish to ask how you came to the conclusion that his father was the architect of Genocide in 1971? As far as I know Sheikh Mujib Government made a list of 195 Pak army officers as war criminals. Why was his name was not on that list? Dr Kamal Hussain as Foreign minister signed away the right to try these 195 and allowed them to go back to Pakistan. Has anyone ever asked him what right he had to let these butchers go? He should have refused to sign the papers and insisted that people of Bangladesh must be allowed to try them for genocide.

    I wanted to see if Jamaat says anything about this issue and found this on their website. I would like your comment on this.

    GHULAM AZAM CITIZENSHIP VERDICT
    The High Court dismissed the evidence of Pakistan Army atrocities as unrelated to Professor Ghulam Azam’s public position during the liberation war. Even Mr. Justice Muhammad Ismail Uddin Sarker who gave the lone dissenting judgment stating ‘Professor Golam Azam was not a citizen of Bangladesh’ found the Attorney General’s arguments implicating Professor Golam Azam with the atrocities of the Pakistan Army as untenable. The Honourable Judge wrote in his judgment: ‘From some news commentaries and a photograph we find that the petitioner Professor Golam Azam met with General Tikka Khan and General Yahya Khan. Apart from that, we find no direct evidence of the Petitioner’s involvement with alleged atrocities of the Pakistan Army or their collaborator Razakar, Al-Badr or Al-Shams men. The petitioner obtained the audience of the Military Junta during the liberation war. Other than that, we see nothing in the evidence that may be said to relate the petitioner with the atrocities committed during the liberation war’ (vide Dhaka Law Report No. 45, High Court Division, Page 433). It may be mentioned that Professor Golam Azam got back his citizenship of Bangladesh by the judgment of the High Court Division, which was upheld by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

    • Ishtiaque said, on July 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm

      Thanks.. good write-up. But you seems highly motivated in favour jamaat-BNP. You should know a number of officers in Army were fired and stripped off their service benefits by the BNMP-Jamaat government at the recommendations of the Hawa Bhaban. Those included Maj General Tareque Siddiqui and Brig. Gen. Ziauddin, two brilliant officers and many others. Some of them including former army Chief General Mustafizur Rahman were not allowed to enter the Dhaka Cantonment. A huge number of civil service officers were either terminated or made OSD for years together. Ask your conscience.

      • Kamal Ahmed said, on July 21, 2009 at 2:06 am

        Mr Rahman, thanks for your reply. I consider myself a patriotic Bangladeshi like most of our fellow citizens and it pains me to see the bickering and partisan politics pursued by the successive Governments in our beloved land. Bangladesh has great potential in its human resources yet the politicians are constantly undermining it through their selfish greed for power and control of the nations resources.

        I have no great love for any of these politicians or their party, neither do I hate anybody particularly. What really gets me is why none of them seem to put the country above their personal and party interests.

        I also think human rights should not be subject to any precondition. ‘If you belong to my party you can do what you like and if you are not with us then we will make life very uncomfortable for you’ is not a policy any fair minded person can endorse. I equally condemn all unfair dismissals whether by AL or BNP-JI, both in the armed forces and in the civil administration.

        I dream of a day when we can stop condemning each other to hell and work together to fight our common enemies, starting with fighting poverty and illiteracy. Bangladesh has been independent for over 37 years. If you look at all the wealth that has been siphoned off by corrupt politicians and Government officers it is easy to see that the nation has enough resources to tackle these problems. The question is where are the real patriots who can deliver the nation from the curse of corruption ?

  2. jrahman said, on July 20, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Ishtiaque, BNP-JI government was one of the worst in our history. Why should actions of this government be justified/explained against those of BNP-JI? What kind of logic is ‘BNP-JI fired Tariq Siddiq so AL has to fire Azmi’?

  3. Col. Bidhayak Sam Sen, PSC, WC. said, on July 21, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Sorry my Friends, Being born in a Wrong Faith, It was difficult to get into Army as a Commisssioned Officer, I was informed my eyes are not 20/20 in the Final stage. Crossing or passing ASB, and others were no problem, plus I was a FF under Sector 4 at the age of 15 only.
    After coming to Canada and at the age of 43 I obtained Reserve Commissioned in Canada, Entry rank a Captain due to my CPA, RPA etc. Here no body told me that my eye sight is screwed off. Promotion was rapid, done Staff College sucessfuly and the War Course at a later date and finally obtained my Para Commando or SSG Wings.
    After 10 years of Service, I am a Full Col and still on active Reserve in addition to my Civilian position as Director Finance & Budgets for the Feds.
    I have seen lots of boys less capable in both IQ and Fittness got easyly in Both the Army and JRB.
    I am happy that I am in Canada.

  4. Jyoti said, on July 21, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Col Sen, I am truly sorry that Bangladesh lost a patriot like you. It’s a sad reflection of communal ill will and bigotry still much too prevalent in our society.

    However, I am glad that you shared your story. It’s only by highlighting such injustices that we could one day eliminate them.

  5. Kamal Ahmed said, on July 22, 2009 at 5:04 am

    Col Sen, I wholeheartedly agree with the comments made by Jyoti. Bangladesh must treat all its citizens with equality and fairness and let the talents shine and contribute to the development of our nation. It is a pity your talents were not appreciated in the land of your birth !

  6. Mohammad said, on July 23, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Col. Sen,

    I crossed ISSB (Inter Services Selection Board )to get in to Army but got out in final medical as fell short of few kilos in weight. But haven’t heard of ASB ! Are you sure you are talking about Bangladesh Army ?

    • Col. Bidhayak Sam Sen, PSC, WC. said, on August 18, 2009 at 10:07 pm

      ASB is Army Selection Board., After 1975 for a short time selection for Bangladesh Army was done through ASB instead of ISSB(Inter service selection board). I am talking about 3rd Short Service Course for Bangladesh Army. While ASB selects only for Army, ISSB selects for all services eg. ARmy, Navy, Airforce. In my time board Chairman was Brig. M. A. Matin, BP, better known as Moshoua Matin, with Col. Bazlul Gani Patwari, BB,Col.Sharif Aziz, Lt.Col.Jiban Das and others.
      After my final ASB I was referred to Medical Board for consultation, thow my medical was done before my ASB.
      Any way I do not regret this, what God does is always good.

  7. Rizvi said, on September 1, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Dear All, I have read all the comments posted here re the Brig Gen Azmi, who’s father is the politician Golam Azam. If the case was like father’s sin, Brig Gen Azmi would never get a chance to join Bangladesh Army, never would get promoted up to this rank, he could be removed from the army by any previous govments, if anyone wants to point to AL, they were in power previously too. Anyways, to loose the job from the Armed Forces has many reasons, that are not always published in public media as those are considered as defence secrets, many Freedom Fighter soldiers and officers also lost jobs previously upto the rank of Maj Gen, even the Army Chiefs. So there are hardly any points to discuss on such official matters. Its hard for a dedicated soldier to loose the job in unfair ways, but for the rules and traditions of the Armed Forces Services, job loosers never talks in public, they know about this rule and tradition from the 1st day of their service career. Least of all, a soldier is trained to manage his life at any state of life, hope Brig Gen Azmi will find a better way to serve this nation, unlike all those who tried to destroy this nation. Thank you.

  8. […] For those who are not aware of this issue, you can read the details here in Mukti blog: […]

  9. putool said, on September 12, 2009 at 9:48 am

    hi col b s sen,

    heartiest congrats!!! despite such insults your faith in god is admirable undoubtedly a qualification certain to grab the stars, may gob bless you!!!

    insofar as the uv post “the sacking drama of gen fahmi” and sacking of brig gen abdullahil azmi is pretty confusing i.e. fahmi & azmi are the same???

    nevertheless confusions aside, in case of b/gen azmi’s sacking is concerned lets hope logic,rights or wrongs question, insofar as the decision of the army is concerned must never be rised in the supreme interest of bangladesh. enough is enough lets; hope and pray that brig gen azmi cease raising this issue, knowing very well the supreme interest of bangladesh!!! fate of various progenies of; yazid, nathuram godse mahatama gandhi’s assassin, galon u saw assassin of burma’s liberation hero gen. aung san are untraceable in the dustbin of history, so brig gen azmi in comparison is in bayhal tabiyet!! apparently, even free to travel in the supreme interest of bangladesh so why complain in violation of oath???

    hv a nice day, t.c.

  10. Kamal said, on September 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Hi putool,

    Brig Azmi’s sacking is clearly a Gov decision imposed on the army and therefore in the interest of the nation should be exposed. It seems his complaint is mainly against the government rather than against the army. If you are sacked from your job after nearly 30 years of devoted service without any explanation and also have your rightful entitlement of pension and other dues you have earned through your long service taken away how would you feel? If he had done anything wrong he should have been put through disciplinary process and punished accordingly. This type of political victimization does not do our country any good. It is nothing but childish vendetta and a shameful political immaturity by this government. Any civilized nation in this world will condemn such action. It is unfortunate that you find nothing wrong with such unfair practice. Every citizen should be treated equally under the law and should have a right of redress under the law if wronged. Nobody should be criticized for protesting against injustice.

    I don’t know what twisted logic allows you to bring Yazid etc into this discussion. If you are referring to his father’s role in 1971 please read the decision of high court judge during GA’s citizenship trial – incidentally he is the only judge who gave judgement against his entitlement to Bangladeshi citizenship. Unless you have definite proof of someone’s crime it is irresponsible to accuse anyone of such crime.

    With best wishes
    Kamal Ahmed

    I have found this information on JI website.

    GHULAM AZAM CITIZENSHIP VERDICT
    The High Court dismissed the evidence of Pakistan Army atrocities as unrelated to Professor Ghulam Azam’s public position during the liberation war. Even Mr. Justice Muhammad Ismail Uddin Sarker who gave the lone dissenting judgment stating ‘Professor Golam Azam was not a citizen of Bangladesh’ found the Attorney General’s arguments implicating Professor Golam Azam with the atrocities of the Pakistan Army as untenable. The Honourable Judge wrote in his judgment: ‘From some news commentaries and a photograph we find that the petitioner Professor Golam Azam met with General Tikka Khan and General Yahya Khan. Apart from that, we find no direct evidence of the Petitioner’s involvement with alleged atrocities of the Pakistan Army or their collaborator Razakar, Al-Badr or Al-Shams men. The petitioner obtained the audience of the Military Junta during the liberation war. Other than that, we see nothing in the evidence that may be said to relate the petitioner with the atrocities committed during the liberation war’ (vide Dhaka Law Report No. 45, High Court Division, Page 433). It may be mentioned that Professor Golam Azam got back his citizenship of Bangladesh by the judgment of the High Court Division, which was upheld by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

  11. Rahman said, on September 18, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    It seems that Mr. Kamal believes everything posted in the Jamat website to be the absolute truth. He is even willing to give Mr. Golam Azam a clean chit on his involvement in the war crimes committed in 1971 on the basis of the information given in the Jamat website. Hitler was not physically present in any of the Nazi concentration camps where thousands of people were gassed to death. However, as the leader of the Nazi Germany, he is still held responsible for the death of countless innocent civilians in those camps. Mr. Golam Azam may not have directly taken part in the killing of any person in 1971, but the members of his Jamat-e-Islami took part in the killing of thousands of Bengali freedom fighters and intellectuals. There is still plenty of evidence to prove this and no amount of chicanery can hide the crimes committed by Jamat in 1971.

    • Kamal said, on September 20, 2009 at 8:39 am

      Dear Mr Rahman,

      I am surprised you did not notice that there is a reference to the High Court Records. I don’t think Jamat would be stupid enough to give a High Court Judgement as reference if it was false. You may ask any lawyer in Bangladesh to check its authenticity.

      You have to prove someone’s guilt before you call anyone a criminal. There has been no action by any government, including 1972-75 and 96-2001 AL govt against GA for war crimes. In fact Sheikh Mujib Govt only accused him of collaboration and not of war crimes or genocide.

      I am for the truth to be exposed and am eagerly waiting for this govt to start this so-called war crimes trials. Let us find out where the truth lies. You cannot take the propaganda of the political antagonists as evidence of his involvement in Paki Army atrocities. You have to have proven links of his involvement in the decision making process of these atrocities.

      Hitler was the commander was the Nazi Army. G Azam was not in a position to control the Paki Army in any way that I can see. The butcher Tikka Khan was a friend of Bhutto and later became leader of Bhutto’s party. He clearly was no friend of JI. The relationship between PPP of Bhutto with JI was not much different to that between AL and JI. Therefore I would need to see some proof of GA’s direct involvement in the war crimes committed by the Paki Army.

      I suspect the delay in starting the trials are because the govt is unable find any evidence linking GA to these appalling crimes. Since he is the no 1 on the list of the accused (accusations levelled at him by his political antagonists in a propaganda campaign Goebbels would be proud of), if they cannot come up with any hard evidence against him, where do they stand regarding the rest of the accused?

      Mr Rahman, I say bring on this trial. I suspect you are in for a big surprise! May be we will see ‘mountain has given birth to a mouse’.

  12. Dr. Md. Sirajul Islam said, on May 1, 2010 at 2:12 am

    One must know that unlike other profession, army job is quite sensitive and simply someone was top in the class during training is not the only criteria here, but his loyalty to the country, which was in doubt for him, especially when he is son of a war criminal. Government can dismiss even any civil servant after 25 yrs. of his service…hundreds of examples are there. So, for him it was done following that law as usual. I would rather wonder why he was not sagged during the last regime of Awami League….probably because he did not complete 25 yrs service at that time. From reliable sources I could come to know that he has a 3rd division in HSc and he hide it, he did not perform some of his responsibilities during BMA long course but awarded SoH due to political reason. Rumour is there that he indulged in spreading of Moududi books among Army official as well. I do not think his dismissal is an utter unjust but a long expected decision…rather quite delayed.

  13. A Syed Ali said, on May 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    replying to Dr Md Sirajul Islam – I lived a major part of my life in various cantonments in Bangladesh. distributoin of Moududi books by Brig Azmi is an utter rubbish. He could not also hide his HSC results from the BMA/ISSB authorities. SImple reason that these are all investigated, 80% of the time before the cadet joins BMA. During his BMA training he could not move onto the next term without doing his duties, to say so is to label all the officers who were instructors and trainners at the academy as jamati. that time most officers in the academy were freedom fighters. Almost all the JCO/NCO were pro liberation. with that set of trainners he could not have an easy sail through the academy. all you had to do is to ask any officer who ever worked in the same cantonment with Azmi – Azmi is a true Bangladeshi and a throughbred soldier. to win battles and wars we need commanders like him to lead our soldiers, not spineless magots in uniform. Present pro Awami League Lt Gen Sina Ibn Jamaly was an instructor at the Academy when Azmi was a cadet. Why don’t you ask him about his student? or Why not Maj Gen Jibon Kanai Das, who was a company commander at the Academy?

    • prince said, on June 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      with due respect to all those who post comments here, my first submission is – since u know how 2 use comp and compose ur thoughts, i understand u r educated. and what is education 4 if it is not 2 refine ur animal instinct? can we not use polished language? why we have to use vulgar abusive language to say what we want to say? do we have to be so mean, so parochial, so barbaric? if u use filthy language, u reflect ur family values, ur upbringing, ur teaching – ur quality as a human being, who is expected 2 be ashraful makhlukat!
      my next submission is – b4 commenting on anything, we must first be sure that i know enough. prophet (pbuh) said (pardon me if the wordings r not exactly what i’m saying; the spirit is same), “if u hear something and say the same thing without verifying, it amounts 2 lying (or perhaps gibat)”. all of us must verify facts first.
      having read the comments of mr a sayed ali i cannot but help feel pity 4 dr md sirajul islam 4 his comments.

  14. moin said, on August 23, 2010 at 10:45 am

    dear col sen
    the thing u r saying is realy funny.bks my uncle is an officer fm 3 rd short course.so for the short course u r suppose to face one preliminary medical test .so if u have a eye prob u r not suppose to go for asb .n the logic u r showing dat u joined in canadian army its prity funny too.bks in canada any body who is dump enough to walk in da street as a jobless person he can join in army .wheres in bd most talented gyes get chance in army as a commissioned officer.so it cannt be a logic dat bd cdnt recognise right person.i realy doubt dat u mr col is compitent enough to compit one og da jco (junior commitined officer)which comes from nco s.losssssssssssssssssssss

  15. Prince Abdur Rahman said, on November 12, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Hello Everyone,
    Its been a long time that we have not been posting. I’m looking for Dr Siraj, Mr Kamal Ahmad and Col Sen. Oh yes, also Putool (mr or mrs or ms?). How things r? Haven’t heard anything lately. Anything new? Any fascinating point? Where’s that brig gen we’ve been talking about?

  16. blue sapper said, on May 10, 2012 at 7:21 am

    PSC title not used in many western countries. The colonel sen is saying that he took commando training after he became 45 years old. The retirement age in Canadian Army is 55.

  17. Prince Abdur Rahman said, on May 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Hello everyone, no comment since long! where r the great writers?

  18. […] why does Jamaat seek a military intervention?  I don’t think much of the Jamaati infiltration idea.  Rather, I think the intention is to ‘change the facts on the ground’ more than […]

  19. […] why does Jamaat seek a military intervention? I don’t think much of the Jamaati infiltration idea. Rather, I think the intention is to ‘change the facts on the ground’ more than anything […]


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