Protection of fundamental rights and legal aid committee formed

When human lives were made cheap, security of the people was endangered some conscious citizen took a bold initiative and formed protection of fundamental rights and legal aid committee.

On 31st March 1974, at the Dhaka press club in a meeting Protection of Fundamental Rights and Legal Aid Committee was formed. The meeting was presided by Dr. Ahmed Sharif. The famous poet, Mr. Abu Zafar was made the chairman of that committee. Elected office bearers were Mirza Golam Hafeez, made the head of sub committee for legal affairs, Dr. Ahmed Sharif, the head of publication sub committee, Mr. Binod Das Gupta, the head of information sub committee Mr. Abdul Haq, the head of legal aid sub committee:

Mr. Enayetullah Khan, the treasurer

Mr. Maudud Ahmed, general secretary

Mr. Syed Zafar assistant secretary.

The committee comprised of 33 members. In that meeting some decisions were also taken concerning human rights and the prevailing socio political situation in the country. The basic aim and objectives of this committee were explained in their following statement:-

"Democracy has been enshrined in the constitution as one of the principles. As per articles 31, 32, 33 life and individual freedom have been ensured. It is also stated that every citizen will have the right to defend himself legally against arrest and detention. Inspite of such provisions, these rights of the people are being grossly violated all over the country that is what can be seen from the reportings in the daily newspapers. The reports say that people are being arrested unlawfully and are being subjected to torture and intimidation under custody or detention. Many people are also reported missing at the hands of the law enforcing agencies. Therefore, the opinion of the responsible citizen who believes in rule of law should be organized. And doing so the cases of violation of fundamental rights should be brought to the notice of the people, opinion needs to be formed against such violation, so that any unwarranted and illegal activities in violation of the constitutional rights can be opposed and resisted. Simultaneously another responsibility has to be taken. Many are kept under custody without any trail. Some are not even given scope of any legal protection. These people should be given legal cover. Appropriate organizations to provide legal assitance to the needy have to be developed. With out fund such undertaking is not possible. Steps have to be taken to create a fund for carrying out these responsibilities. The committee can not restrict its function at Dhaka alone. To ensure legal protection to the people the committee should establish its branches at the district levels and even at lower levels as well. This committee will maintain relations with similar organizations in other countries of the world".

In July 1974 the working committee of Protection Of Fundamental Rights And Legal Aid Committee evaluating fast deteriorating condition of fundamental and democratic rights of the people came out with a statement, "Presently Bangladesh government is using JRB as its main instrument against their oppositions. JRB has been armed with Special Power Act of fight the anti social elements. But factually they are using this power to annihilate the political opposition who wants to oppose the government democratically. The government has created a reign of terror in the social and political life of the people in the cities and rural areas by massive deployment of Rakki Bahini. Due to involvement in political activities people are being arrested and the minimum formalities are also not being fulfilled. They are inflicting inhuman torture on the captives. These brutalities towards the political opponents are being published in the newspapers including some of the nationalized papers. The government is not only trying to subjugate the opposition through persecution and arrest they have also declared 144 in the whole country. This has been done with a plea of their so called ‘rectification campaign’ that was suppose to have started two months earlier. But the real reason for declaring 144 is to take away the democratic right of the opposition to organize. We shall like to draw attention of the people to another fact. By imposing restrictions on individuals to make any statement or write in the newspaper and restriction on the supply of the news print has created serious impediment in the pewspaper and publication sectors. We demand the government should redress these forthwith and also release all the political prisoners".