Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Tui Rajakar!

So goes one of the favourite slogans one sees on Shahbag related social media these days. In translation, 'You're a collaborator', or war criminal - it seems to be able to take on a range of meanings. The word rajakar, roughly meaning volunteer, comes from Urdu (رضا کار), and originally Persian where کار means work, and رضا pleasure or consent (ultimately derived from Arabic). Now the Arabic ض tends to be pronounced as a 'z' west of Iraq and the Bengalis have a funny thing of switching their z's into j's, hence Rajakar. Interestingly, apparently the j<->z replacement goes in the other direction too as in the case of this lovely little delicacy.

But I digress: the word rajakar one of the favourite weapons used in the Bangladeshi political milieu for conducting smear campaigns against enemies. This practice has a history going back all the way to 1972, as detailed in my previous post; these days we mostly see it applied to the JI leaders currently on trial at the ICT. However, there are other - non Jamaat-e-Islaami - politicians who have been given this label. It seems that every self-respecting Bangladeshi politician must at some point in their career be called a razakar, no matter how dubious the label might look in terms of their political affiliations.

Here are some recent examples:
  • Kader Siddique, the Tiger of Tangail and hero of the Liberation war called a razakar by some AL goons.
  • Kader Siddique summoned to court for calling present Home Minister, Dr Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir of the Awami League, a razakar.
  • Awami League MP Ashiqur Rahman, again accused by Kader Siddique. Siddique makes an interesting point in this article
Citing the murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider, the KSJL boss said the Prime Minister had been in his house and said the Jamaat-Shibir has no right to politics. "Why didn't she go to the house of Biswajit Das and say Bangladesh Chhatra League has also no right to do politics?"

           Why, indeed?
  • Kamal Lohani, described here as 'eminent journalist and cultural activist' calls for Khaleda Zia to be declared a war criminal.
  • And the list goes on and on. But surpassing all this in its sheer level of bizarreness must be this, courtesy of our quirky friends at Shahbag: "“Razakar ludu” -- a game of snakes and ladders with the war criminals as the main players."

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