Legal notice to remove ‘state religion Islam’ from the constitution withdrawn in the face of threats

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Hill Voice, 20 August 2020, Dhaka: Legal notice sent to 10 people including Awami League general secretary, cabinet secretary, law ministry secretary and home ministry secretary demanding removal of state religion Islam from the constitution and writing secularism has been withdrawn.

Supreme Court lawyer Ashok Kumar Ghosh withdrew it in a notification on 19 August 2020 Wednesday. He himself confirmed the matter to the media.

Lawyer Ashok Kumar Ghosh said, “The matter will be decided after discussing with the political leaders. So, I have withdrawn this notice.”

Earlier the notice had said that in 1971, under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for the independence of East Pakistan in protest of the exploitation, torture and illegal activities of West Pakistanis after 1947, we, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and other citizens along with India, Russia and other countries fought a bloody war and have gained freedom. In our holy constitution of 1972, nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism were the basic principles in running the state with the spirit of independence.

The notice said the principles of the 1972 Constitution were changed after the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, four years after independence. Which was not accepted by the intellectual community and the minority people of independent Bangladesh. Non-communal Bangladesh has now become communal Bangladesh as a result of the addition of state religion in Article 2A of the Constitution.

I sent a legal notice to file a writ petition with the High Court to change this article. But no writ petition will be filed for the time being. For now, the legal notice has been withdrawn. In fact, Ashok Ghosh Babu was forced to withdraw the notice on his own.

A person named Ayon Biswas AB mentioned on his Facebook wall that Advocate Ashok Kumar Ghosh told the media that he withdrew his legal notice on the assurance of some people like Shahriar Kabir, Rana Dasgupta.

But the real truth we are all capable of realizing. The way in which most of the people (Muslims) of Bangladesh have reacted to the news of the exclusion of state religion in the media shows that it is not possible to build Bangladesh as a fully secular state. Needless to say, Ashok Kumar Ghosh withdrew the legal notice out of concern for his own safety.

As soon as the news of Ashok Ghosh’s legal notice to withdraw state religion Islam came in the media, his picture, personal mobile number, home address and Facebook ID went viral. Almost all people except a handful of people have carried out provocative propaganda against Ashok Kumar Ghosh, we have even seen pictures of human chains demanding his death sentence!

Extremist Muslims have made various threatening comments on his Facebook ID, and they have reportedly blocked his Facebook ID named A K Ghosh. They also stopped incoming calls by threatening his personal mobile number.

In 1984, General Hussein Muhammad Ershad illegally seized power by imposing military rule in Bangladesh. In order to keep the fanatic Muslims in his favour for the sake of surviving his power, Ershad removed secularism from the constitution of Bangladesh and established the state religion Islam, declaring Friday a public holiday instead of Sunday and changing the date of the Bengali year from that of Indian Bengalis.

Everyone knows how this dictator, who is extremely chaotic and irreligious in his personal life, used religion. The then BNP, Awami League and even Jamaat-e-Islam did not accept this blueprint of killing democracy in the name of amending the constitution by assuming into the power illegally. At that time, the BNP called for a nationwide strike in protest of the annexation of the state religion Islam.

Although there have been many shifts in power since 2020, but no party has reformed the illegal amendments by the dictator Ershad. From 1984 to 2020, a lot of water flowed in the Padma. The power of Hindus in Bangladesh has further diminished, they are even more neglected in politics today, says Ayon Biswas AB.

It goes without saying that the Awami League-led grand alliance government has come to power and strengthened the state religion and Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim by recognizing them through the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Therefore, many say that the Sheikh Hasina-led present Awami League and the government are not following the spirit of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, but have become followers of the dictators of General Zia and General Ershad.

Ayon Biswas AB further mentioned in his Facebook status that the majority of people in Bangladesh have become more communal today. Ashok Kumar Ghosh dreamed at sky level without considering all aspects, hence his untimely death of legal notice did not take long time and it was expected.

There are 57 Muslim-majority countries in the world, of which Islam is the state religion of 24 countries. Nepal was the only Hindu state in the world, the communist government of Nepal abolished it after coming in power and established a secular state. Taslima Nasreen wrote in her Facebook post, “The part of my autobiography in which I expressed my opinion that there is no need to have state religion, that part was banned by the Left Front government of West Bengal in 2003. The communists do not believe in the state religion, but if the state religion is Islam, then they have no objection.”

In 1947, India was divided on the basis of religion and two independent countries were born, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People’s Republic of India! Islam is the motto of one state, democracy and secularism is basic principles of another state! Isn’t that weird?

After the break-up of Pakistan in 1971, another country, Bangladesh, was born, whose main motto was democracy and secularism, but it lasted only 4 years. In 1975, the democracy of Bangladesh was overthrown by the dictators. But in 1947 and 1971, Bengali Hindus had to make the most sacrifices to sustain democracy and secularism, but even after so many sacrifices, it could not be sustained.

Today, India is a democratic and secular state. The Constitution of India is still intact. Not once in 73 years has military rule been imposed in India, but it has been done many times in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Many will say that secularism survives in India in name only, but in reality it has no basis. Then I tell them to establish this nominal secularism in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Only then will it be understood how secular and non-communal the people and the ruling class of this country are.

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