2001 BNP-Jamaat Pre-Election Sabotage: Attacks & Massacres on Awami League Supporters to Seize Power

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Published on February 10, 2023
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Prior to the 2001 national elections, BNP-Jamaat initiated widespread violence, including beatings, torture, and killings, against Awami League leaders, activists, and supporters. The Awami League, led by President Sheikh Hasina, had just completed a five-year term in government and peacefully transferred power to the caretaker government to ensure a fair election process. But Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman directed BNP-Jamaat terrorists to launch violent activities against Awami League members. No one, including women and children, was safe from the atrocities committed by these terrorists. 

Awami League, in Bangladesh's history, is the only political party that voluntarily and smoothly transferred power to the caretaker government, aiming to provide a peaceful election environment. However, under the directives of Khaleda Zia, BNP-Jamaat militants launched brutal attacks on the homes of Awami League supporters, causing immense pain and suffering to women and children. These extremists acted like demons, terrorizing the citizens.

On September 14, two weeks prior to the October 1 election, a local Chhatra League president Shah Kamal was murdered and ten others were injured in a BNP attack in Sarishabari, Jamalpur, according to a September 21 report by the Janakantha. The next day, terrorists shot an Awami League leader, Shahjahan Bepari, to death in Jazira of Shariatpur. Additionally, during an Awami League rally in Bagerhat, BNP cadres launched an attack, injuring at least 30 people.

In Morelganj of Bagerhat, the family of an Awami League leader, Shahjahan, who was murdered by BNP-Jamaat, was threatened and attacked by Jamaat-Shibir. The family was told to withdraw the case or face death. This caused the family members to flee for safety. Jamaat activists even attempted to murder the victim's elderly father. However, the terrorists retreated when the women of the village stood together armed with brooms.

In the Jessore-1 constituency, BNP-affiliated terrorists went from house to house, threatening residents not to vote for the Awami League symbol, the boat. The fundamentalists, who were trained with terrorist forces, aimed to capture the polling stations in Benapole, a crucial area in the constituency. They even appointed officials from Islami Bank as presiding officers, allowing former Shibir cadres to take control of the polling stations and manipulate the votes.

In Chittagong's Rangunia, the people were impacted by the violence carried out by Razakar Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury's forces. He brought in 20 notorious and convicted terrorists, armed with 7 AK-47s to the area. The cadres of Saka Chowdhury intimidated the 50,000 voters of Rangania to prevent them from going to the polling stations. This resulted in the Awami League being unable to conduct election campaigns. The BNP-Jamaat terrorists also broke into the election offices of the Awami League and physically assaulted its leaders and activists. This extremist group was trying to gain power through terrorism instead of relying on the votes of the people. They followed similar tactics in 2001 as they did in 2014 by burning thousands of people with petrol bombs.