Dhaka: Despite the passing of 27 years, people’s desire for a country with a flourished democracy is yet to be met, said leaders of anti-autocratic movement in 1990. On the anniversary of the toppling of autocratic military ruler HM Ershad, the leaders, observed that the expectations and desires of establishing democracy and rule of law are yet to be fulfilled as the successive governments moved away from the main goals of the movement. The country’s democracy is yet to take an institutional shape even after 27 years of the movement that left many people killed including Dr Shamsul Alam Milon and Jihad, they regretted. Pro-ruling party leaders, however, said that the present government is trying its best to flourish democracy in the country by defeating various conspiracies.
Some leaders said the sacrifice of the martyrs in the nineties movement has turned futile as the hard-earned democracy has been undermined and confined constantly.
Talking to The Independent, many of the movement leaders also criticised the Sheikh Hasina led present government for providing shelter to the then autocrat HM Ershad by sharing power with his party and appointing him as special envoy to the Prime Minister.
The leaders demanded that the government hold the next general elections under a neutral administration by dissolving the parliament, showing respects to the martyrs of nineties movement.
December 6 is observed as Democracy Restoration Day in the country, marking an end to the autocratic rule of HM Ershad in early December of 1990.
In 1982, Ershad seized power in an army coup by ousting the then elected government led by Justice Abdus Sattar. He proclaimed martial law and suspended the Constitution. Ershad declared himself as the Chief Martial Law Administrator and installed a Supreme Court justice as the president. The following year, he took over as president and in 1986, won the presidency in a rigged election.
A prominent leader of the Anti-Ershad movement, former vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students Union (DUCSU) Amanullah Aman accused the present government of confining and undermining
the democracy. “Another movement has now become necessary to restore the democracy,” said Aman, who is now a senior leader of the BNP.
“The democracy has now become confined and human rights is violated as the expectation of the martyrs of nineties movement have been undermined,” he alleged.
“The sacrifices of the martyrs including Joynal, Zafar, Basunia, Jihad and Dr Milon got spoiled as there is hardly any democracy in the country,” Aman claimed.
Recalling the anti-autocratic movement, he said the movement got momentum on October 10 as the leaders took oath on the footstep of Oporajeyo Bangla keeping the body of Jihad, who was killed during anti-regime protests, in front of them.
Students began a non-stop agitation by constructing a stage in front of the National Press Club and Ershad decided to resign on December 4.
The then president of Bangladesh Chhatra League, Habibur Rahman Habib, regretted that their expectations to establish democracy and rule of law by toppling the then autocratic regime are yet to be fulfilled.
Habib, who is now a leader of the BNP, said the government has deceived the people and the martyrs by promoting Ershad.
“Democracy has been undermined and ashamed as the than autocrat HM Ersahd has been appointed a special envoy to the prime minister,” he said.
“The Awami League government should hold a free and fair poll under a neutral administration by dissolving the present parliament. They should restore democracy in the country by showing respect to the souls of martyrs of nineties movement,” he said.
Recalling the memories of the nineties movement, the emotion choked leader said the anti-autocratic movement that began following grabbing power by Ershad on March 24, 1982 had turned into a mass upsurge on October 10 as many people including Jihad were killed in police firing.
Habib also described the formation of Sorbodoliyo Chhatra Oikya based on 10-point demands in the backdrop of the disunity among major parties.
“Finally, the killing of Dr Milon on November 27 had accelerated the fall of the autocratic regime,” he added.
The pro-Awami League leaders of anti-Ershad movement in 1990 observed that democracy is yet to take an institutional shape in the country though the party president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been trying heart and soul to do so.
They claimed that a deep rooted conspiracy is still on against the restoration of democracy in the country.
The main aim and objective of the 90’s democracy restoration movement is yet to be met and the people of the country are still in the wait to have the taste of true democracy, they added.
When contacted, Aushim Kumar Ukil, an active leader of 90’s movement and currently the Cultural Affairs Secretary of ruling Awami League, said the main goal of the movement was to overthrow the autocratic ruler and establish democracy in the country.
After passing a long journey on a chaotic path, the people of the country have started to get the taste of democracy due to the efforts of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s daughter and the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said.
“Our movement against the autocratic ruler in 1990 has not gone in vain. Our prime minister and AL President Sheikh Hasina has been trying relentlessly to restore democracy in the country, foiling different kinds of conspiracies against the democracy,” he claimed.
He also alleged that the BNP-Jamaat nexus had tried to halt the continuation of the constitutional process in a bid to kill democracy by foiling the last January 5 general elections. But they failed to do so eventually due to the astute leadership of Sheikh Hasina, he added.
When contacted, JSD lawmaker Nazmul Haque Prodhan, who was a veteran leader of the 90’s movement, said the democracy is yet to be fully restored in the country though they took an oath on the street in 1990 against autocratic rule and sacrificed young lives.
He also criticized the AL-led present government for sharing power with the former military ruler HM Ershad.
“I think the Ershad-led Jatiya Party should be banned immediately in honour of the 90’s movement martyrs,” he said.