By Mansoor Ahmad London
Islam is a peaceful religion which accords abundant respect to the dead bodies of all humans, but especially to the dead body of a Muslim. Generally one cannot exhume graves under Islamic Law. After a body has been buried, it is considered to be in the protection of the Law; so, disinterment is an act that is unlawful.
The disturbance or removal of an interred body is subject to the control and direction of the court. The Law does not allow disinterment, based on the public policy that the sacredness of the grave should be maintained. Once buried, a body should not be disturbed. A court would never normally command or allow a body to be disinterred unless there is a solid showing of requirement that disinterment is within the interests of justice. Each case is individually decided, based on its own particular facts and circumstances.
Recently an extremely heinous and brutal incident which is in violation of human rights and human dignity took place at Ghatura village in Sahilpur Union of the Upazila of Brahmanbaria. According to the news sources published in the various newspapers of Bangladesh, it is evident that Swapna Akhter Begum, wife of Mohammad Saiful Islam, gave birth to a premature baby girl on 7th July 2020 at a Hospital in Brahmanbaria. Noted here that Mohammad Saiful Islam is the son of Mohammad Rizwanul Haq, a Freedom Fighter of Bangladesh Liberation War and currently serving as President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Fazilpur under the District of Feni. In order to ensure special care and remove complications this premature baby was preserved in incubator.
The new born baby however could not stay alive and died at 5.30am on Thursday, the 9th July 2020. The dead body of the deceased baby was taken to her maternal grandfather’s village home at Ghatura and following religious rites was buried there at around 8.00am at the government-owned graveyard in which all sects of Muslims including members of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at had been buried for many years without any hindrance.
Soon after her burial, a group of fanatic Muslims clerics known as Mullahs spread anti- Ahmadiyya sentiment. Using loudspeakers these fanatic Mullahs started agitating people, exclaiming that they would not allow any Ahmadiyya members to be buried at the graveyard. Subsequently, some miscreants along with similar minded anti-Ahmadiyya people gathered at the graveyard and they dug up the body of the innocent new born baby from the grave and threw away it on the roadside outside the wall of the graveyard.
At these adverse circumstances police were informed of the situation. But it is not a matter of great surprise shock that the police came at the situation and did not take any action. The police superintendent remarked that they were investigating the matter and actions would be taken later. Compromising with the fanatic Mullahs, the police advised the members of the bereaved family to take away her dead body and burry at the Ahmadiyya Graveyard in Brahmanbaria. The members of the bereaved family had no alternative but to take the dead body and buried her there.
This is an upsetting incident and I cannot find the suitable words to describe the trauma, agony and distress of the bereaved Ahmadiyya family. In over 215 countries of the world the members of Ahmadiyya community are acknowledged and recognized as a peaceful, law abiding religious community members who are contributing momentously in the nation building activities with NO political agenda. The condition of the Ahmadis is no different in Bangladesh. It is a population comprised of law-abiding and patriotic individuals who embrace both love for their faith and for their nation.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states : ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance’.
The government of Bangladesh along with local administration must not show any type of gentleness or softness to any anarchy and disorder in the name of religion or religious feelings. Rather they must handle any such attempt of barbaric and cruel acts by fanatics with an iron fist, as most of the people living in Bangladesh, irrespective of their religious faith, believe in communal harmony, and we know that the extremists & miscreants are a minority. In order to ensure the human rights of all minorities, including Ahmadiyya, the incumbents definitely need to do something major as well to stop the overall activities of the fundamentalists and bigots.
Only by taking strong action against the organizers of such atrocious and barbarous acts can the government uphold the constitutional rights of all citizens of the country ()()()
Mr. Ahmad is Member of Commonwealth Journalists Association (UK)