08/11/2014 22:27 08/11/2014 20:35
[Note: Mir Mir Quasem Ali is a Media Entrepreneur and Political leader of opposition largest Islamist party 'Bangladesh Jamaat e Islami'. Current government of Bangladesh alleged him war crime and put into controversial trial for his alleged role in 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh. The politically motivated controversial trial gave him death sentence recently. To know brief about him visit wiki here and to know about his trial visit here]
Written by; Golam Mawla Roni
(Former MP of Ruling party Awami League)
Translator: Md. Kamruzzaman
I met Jamaat leader Mir Quasem Ali on last Ramadan (July 2013). At that time I was detained in Kashimpur Prison. I was arrested on the day with huge mockery as if a thief or a robber or a gang leader was nabbing. I was also tagged with a particular designation entitled “MP-Parliamentary Member” along with my original name on that great day. I had been taken to Dhaka Central Jail first and then shifted to Kashimpur Prison at night. I was almost demolished in both mentally and physically with severe hunger, tiredness, fatigue and humiliation at midnight while crossing the jail gate at Kashimpur Prison. This was my first jail experience as a prisoner.
Image: Writer Golam Maula Rony
Next morning I met Mir Quasem Ali. He did handshake with me and looked at me with great wonder and said: "You seem to be very familiar. Where have I seen you?" I replied, “At television”. ‘Oh! I see’ he replied and then he concluded the conversation. I was a little disappointed as the opening address with Mir Quasem Ali was totally different than that of two other prominent figures like Mahmudur Rahman and Gias Uddin Al Mamun. The acquaintance with the later seemed to be more frank and cordial than that of the former. I marked Mir Quasem Ali as a man holding a strong anti-Awami League sentiment and possessing of a hard, weighty and unromantic mentality. But it did not take much time to confiscate my misconceptions.
Image: Mir Quasem Ali
In the month of Holy Ramadan, we took ‘Iftar’ (first meal after performing the fasting) and dinner together. After the month of Holy Ramadan we jointly took breakfast, lunch and dinner. At first we were four in number. Later another Jamaat leader ATM Azhar Ali joined with us. He was brought to Kashimpur Prison from Gazipur District Jail just a few days after the Ramadan. We performed our four prayers collectively excepting the Fazr prayer (early Morning Prayer). Every evening, we took sit on chairs in front of the open play-ground and gossiped. Sometimes we also walked instead of gossiping. After two or three days the relationship between me and Mir Quasem Ali was as normal as that of others. We behaved like friends but not shunning respect to each other.
Uninterrupted leisure of the prison life very often made me tired. After the routine works including namaz (prayer), studying, sleeping and exercise, there was huge time at hand. While felt agony I walked on the corridor. At that time Mir Quasem came to my room or invited me to his room with profound love and honour. He talked less and listened more. He threw talent questions regarding my life, philosophy, politics, religion, affairs, society, family and constitutional areas. Listening to my speeches he just concluded with such remarks like ‘fine’ or ‘Alhamdulillah' (all praise to Almighty Allah) and the like. After a few days I came to understand that Mir Quasem Ali is exceptional and not like most other people of the contemporary society. It became more vivid to me while following the style of his behaviour, speaking, food habits and prayer. Whenever, any question rises in my mind I straightforwardly asked him and he responded the best as per his capability.
Before going to jail, I heard a lot about Mir Quasem Ali from many friends. It has been widely told that he is a billionaire and possessing of millions of dollar (thousands crore BD taka), the main fund creator of Jamaat and having a good number of open and secret institutes in both home and abroad, using helicopter for moving from one place to another in the country and the like.
The gross gossip against him is that he has appointed lobbyist farm in the United States spending 50 million US Dollar (400 crore BD taka) to halt the trial of war criminals in the 1971 War of Liberation. I had no faith to those absurd gossips and avoided debating with those gossipers as the social, economic and political status of them was in such a lower position that it is nothing but an idiotic business to argue with them.
Since 1991 I have been doing my business. I am very clearly informed about those wealthy persons living in Bangladesh and the types of businesses they do. There are some places for the wealthy persons of Bangladesh to live and for their socialisation, i.e. there are some clubs. Like many others, I know the luxurious cars, sophisticated residences, beautiful ladies, gardens, friends, meetings and business bodies of those wealthy figures. But in that society there is no one in the name of Mir Quasem Ali. He has been living at a house located in Mirpur on a 5 Katha plot sharing with his other brothers since the independence of the country.
My conception about the US politics, economy and lobbyist farm is clearer than most other people of Bangladesh as I have obtained the US State Department Fellowship on these issues. First of all it is mandatory to know about the types of jobs the lobbyist farms in the US do or can perform. Secondly, how can the US, as a country, halt the trial of the war criminals? Not only the US, is there any other country having the power of barring the trial of the war criminals? Are we in a state as we were earlier?
When a public leader like Shiekh Hasina did not receive the phone call of the Foreign Minister of the US the second powerful man of world’s super power, rejected the call from US ambassador in Bangladesh and denied to meet with the visiting US assistant foreign minister or the special envoy to the United Nations Mr. Taranco (Oscar Fernandez-Taranco), how a lobbyist farm can deal with her. So I am not supposed to make any such gossip regarding those lobbyist farms. So avoiding questioning on outside gossips, I just discussed with Mir Quasem about the period of 1971 and tried to know what his role was at that time.
One day, I asked him whether his business facing any problem due to is imprisonment. He replied, ‘I don’t have that many businesses that can be interrupted’. I have a developer company in Chittagong which is not that bright due to the fact that flat business is going dull now and there is no new project. I own two tourist ships named ‘keari Sindabad’ running in Cent Martin-Coxbazar route. It’s a seasonal business and going well. On the other hand, Daily Nayadiganta and the Diganta Television (shut down by current govt.) both companies are public limited and there is a number of directors to run these. So I have no tension. Now my sons are taking care of the businesses. Besides, my directorship in the Ibn Sina (Hospital) or Islami Bank is mostly honorary. In these institutes I was the member of the Board of Directors’ like some other Jamaat leaders did. Founding process and running procedures of these institutes are different from other institutes of the country. For example, among the chairmen of the Islamic Bank, many did not have the ownership of single penny’.
I was listening to Mir Quasem Ali and looking around the whole room. Nothing including clothes, decoration, and furniture seemed to be extra-ordinary for a detainee with divisional facilities (reserved for VIP). We used to drink mineral water buying from the shops located inside the prison but Mir Quasem Ali drink normal water from the supply line. He did not have any foreign fruits but saw him eating fruits available locally like grapefruit, pineapple, hug plum, banana etc. There were six ceiling fans in the room of a VIP prisoner like us and we always used to use all those but Mir Quasem never did so, he used to use one fan only if needed.
As time passed, I noticed more frank and cordial behaviour of him with me. I used the opportunity and asked him many imprudent questions and tried to measure up his mental condition. I am so regretful till now for one day’s comment. Why I uttered such words on that day! In the evening on the day, I along with Mahmudur Rahman and Mir Quasem Ali were talking while sitting on the chairs in the field of jail. I suddenly asked him what your weight is. He replied, 92 kg. I said, it’s dangerous, please reduce it, otherwise, something serious may happen to you. What might happen? I replied, you probably be put to death penalty and hanged till death by Tribunal. So what? What is the relationship between death by hanging and weight? Like a stupid I uttered ‘the body of Sheikh Abdur Rahman (head of extremist leader in Bangladesh who was served death penalty) was…...from head due to overweight’. He laughed out loudly like a child. Then with a smiling face he looked at the sky and said, “Mr MP! (Member of the Parliament) all decision comes from the above (the Almighty Allah).” I promptly felt nervous as if I was stricken by thunder and my heart was filled with unbearable pain, I tried to cover my agony but failed. He was still looking at the sky. After this incident I sought pardon from the Almighty Allah and decided not to utter any irrational word in future.
Most of the time Mahmudur Rahman, Mamun and I discussed on political matters and Mir Quasem only heeded. Mamun said one day, ‘Sir! I have never seen such a silly man like you in my life. You were in abroad. Why have you returned to this country and been arrested?’. Instead of answering the question Mir Quasem uttered another question-why do I stay abroad? Drawing our attention surprised Mamun replied-listen to him! Listen to him!
In reply to Mamun’s such expression, Mir Quasem said-I know well what I have done. So I returned to my country keeping confidence to my own deeds. Besides, I had trust to the judiciary of the country. Hearing such innocent speeches Mamun became so much boring and addressed Mir Qrasem: "Sir! Please take bread, bread". I and Mahmudur Rahman were just laughing slightly.
We very often laughed at two habits of Mir Quasem. In every prayer he used to wear new dress. We performed prayer together four times and noticed him with new dress. Mamun was very straightforward and asked him why he changed dress four times. He replied, not four times, I change dress for five times. He continued, when we meet any emperor or aristocratic person, we meet with new and smart dress and in the same manner I stand before the Almighty Allah with new dress five times during my prayer (Namaz). Except changing of dress, I also observed another habit in Mir Quasem Ali. Every evening, he used to come down and offered Salam (Islamic greeting) and shake hand to all. He offered Salam and exchanged greetings to the detainees of other cells standing in front of our cells. Many convicts including Killer Abbas had residence at Mirpur. He showed more cordiality to them. Mamun made jokes and said sir (Mir Quasem) would contest in election (to be an MP) from Mirpur constituency and that’s why managing everything from jail. He just replied with a gentle gesture that no election or other purpose, I am just trying to fulfil the rights of my neighbours.
Image: Mir Qasem Ali, After the controversial court gave him death sentence
When he had hearing to the court, he exchanged Salam with all before leaving the prison. He took his suits at the time of being presence before the tribunal. After returning to jail he very often made jokes on different issues. We have never seen him in gloomy mood. Suddenly, one morning we observed Mir Quasem with a sad mood. It seemed that he was suffering from serious mental agony. We asked, what was the matter? What happed? He replied, I could not sleep over thinking of an issue and that’s why since last night I am not sound mentally. Hearing such speech from him, we were so serious. With deep anxiety we asked him what was happened and what was the issue you thought over? With a gloomy mood he replied, I found in a journal that the layer of ice in Siberia, Islands and Antarctica was melting due to the environmental disaster across the world. If it continued, within the next few years the countries like Bangladesh and the Maldives might be missing. If Bangladesh was lost, what would be happed in the lives of 17 hundred million people of this country? I was totally astonished and looked at his face. I whispered with great wonder, what a man he is! While his own life is in full risk, he is thinking about the ice of Antarctica!
He became the Imam (leader) in the prayers including the Tarabi (long night prayer during the holy Ramadan). After the prayer he performed a long Munajat (begging mercy from the Almighty Allah). Another seven or eight service detainees took part with us in performing the prayer. In everyday Munajat he uttered, “Oh, our creator, you are fully aware of our present works, our minds and situation. If we do any misdeed, trial us and if not, cover us with your scarf of mercy. Make our hearts stronger so that we do not become hopeless about your better solution, mercy and awards. Oh Allah! We know and strongly believe that no cruelty of any oppressor would do little harm to your beloved worshipers. Oh Allah! Please accept us as your obedient worshippers. Please release us from this prison and reach us to your mercy (our family members and children). Please protect us and our family members from the disgrace of this imprisonment. Oh Allah! Please bestow your mercy to Bangladesh. Please make our rulers able to practice justice and purify our faith. We are looking at the sky in the hope of attaining your mercy. We have raised our hands to you for your sympathy. Please pardon us and give us best results in both here and hereafter. Please protect us in every stage” (Ameen-please accept).
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