Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib


We have just mourned the death of our loved ‘father of the nation’ for the thirty fifth time. Many of these years have been spent under autocratic governments; some have been spent with democratic governments who were happy to present a distorted view of history. But now, and for the second time, we have a democratic government in power which will not be worse off if a true history of our beloved Bangabandhu is presented in full.

Then why are we still not seeing a true, complete, and coherent picture of who Bangabandhu truly was and the facts and stories behind all his gigantic contributions to our country?

There is no question as to how great a man Bangabandhu was, and that he is the father of the nation. He was a great leader, a statesman, and most important of all, he was a man of great generosity and courage. But I know this because I have read at least a dozen books on him written by authors both foreign and Bangladeshi, and have had countless discussions with family members who knew him personally. Every Bangladeshi does not have that privilege. They all deserve to know the man behind the legend, a man who probably was greater than the legend. But unfortunately the new AL media gives us only poorly constructed pictures that tell little about Bangabandhu, but lay claims only.

We hope the Ministry of Information will look into this and give our great leader the respect he deserves and serve his legacy with the truth. Then we can all say in unison, ‘Long live the name, the legend, and the memory of Bangabandhu!’

Author : Altaf Mahmud, Student of North South University, Gulshan, Dhaka / Published On: 2010-08-30

POEM : Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Rounding the Galaxy,
A golden star feels sensation,
Suddenly it decides to come in this world as man,
He is nobody,
He is Bangabhandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Staying in this world,
You were always dedicated for the people,
You voice was always active,
For the rights of the people of East Pakistan.

You gave the Six Points ”
To save the rights of East Pakistan,
Although West Pakistan denied it,
To continue repression on us.

Antagonists tortured on you,
But you endured it,
You were the great person,
Dedicated for East Pakistan.

When you understood,
The necessity of liberation war,
You declared the war of independence,
Against repressive West Pakistan.

You gifted us an independent Bangladesh,
Nation acknowledges it,
You are our golden leader,
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a charismatic leader

Bangabandhu affixes his signature to the draft of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

The people of Bangladesh observed a National Mourning Day on August 15 in memory of father of the nation, Sheikh Mujibur. Better known as Bangabandhu, he was an outstanding orator and hugely a charismatic personality matched by few. His whole life was full of constant struggle and it is difficult to keep a count on how many times he was sent behind the bars. I was a young officer of information ministry in 1969 when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came to Rawalpindi to attend all-parties conference convened by President Ayub Khan. It was during this visit I had the first and the last occasion to see Sh. Sahib when my late elder brother, Riaz Ahmed Pirzada, President of Rawalpindi, Awami League invited him for a lunch. I distinctly remember that while talking on the religion and the state, Sh Sahib had said, “Religion is the weakest bond between the two Wings. There are several independent Muslim countries but these cannot group into one sovereign state. Remember anything that could keep us united was only possible when 6-Points are implemented in letter and spirit.” The same day Mujib walked out of all-parties conference when his call for acceptance of 6-Points and the demands of other political parties were rejected by Ayub Khan.Sh Mujib’s life was such a long drawn struggle as a nationalist leader that not even a small fraction of it can be reviewed in these columns. However, an attempt is being made to touch upon only few traits of his political career. Sh Mujibur Rahman became a political activist at young age when he joined the All India Muslim Students Federation in 1940. By his hard work and unflinching faith in his abilities he soon impressed a veteran political leader and one of the stalwarts of freedom movement, Husain Shaheed Suhrawardy, who later founded the Awami League. Sh Mujib actively participated in the Pakistan movement under the leadership of Suhrawardy. After independence as a student political leader, Mujib rose in East Pakistani politics and within the ranks of the Awami League he was a charismatic and forceful orator. Following Suhrawardy’s death in 1963, Mujib became President of the Awami League. He was one of the key leaders to rally opposition to President Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracies plan, the imposition of martial law and the one-unit scheme which centralized power. In 1966, Mujib proclaimed a 6-Point plan titled “Our Charter of Survival” at a national conference of opposition political parties at Lahore. Briefly the 6 Points were: 1. Federation of Pakistan in its true sense 2. Federal government to deal with only defense and foreign affairs 3. Separate currencies for East and West Pakistan 4.Collection of taxes to be a provincial subject 5. Separate foreign accounts for East and West Pakistan. 6. Separate militia/paramilitary forces for East Pakistan. His Six-Point programme was however viewed in West Pakistan by some politicians and the government as a secessionist move.Mujib was arrested for what is known as Agartala conspiracy case in 1968 for allegedly conspiring with the Indian government for separation from Pakistan but was not found guilty. He was released before the all-parties conference called by Ayub Khan. Talks with Ayub Khan of combined opposition parties broke down. Ayub Khan could not face the countrywide demonstrations against his government and failing to meet popular demands like parliamentary form of government on the basis of adult franchise instead of Basic Democracies. Instead of transferring power according to the constitution to the speaker of the national assembly, Jabbar Khan, a Bangali, Ayub Khan handed over reigns of the government to Gen Yahya Khan who imposed martial law. As a tribute to Jabbar Khan it has to be said that he was extremely polite but firm in conducting the proceedings’ of the assembly. He was one of few speakers that there was never any uproar by the members in the assembly against his rulings. Indeed he was a very much-respected person.Unrest over continuing denial of democracy spread. On December 5, 1969 Mujib made a declaration at a public meeting held to observe the death anniversary of Suhrawardy that henceforth East Pakistan would be called ‘Bangladesh.’ Mujib’s declaration heightened tensions across the country. The West Pakistani politicians and the military began to see him as a separatist leader. He had been asserting for Bengali cultural and ethnic identity and also re-defining the debate over regional autonomy. Yahya Khan held elections in December 1970 which were said to be most fair and transparent but the election result revealed a polarisation between the two wings of Pakistan. Awami League and Peoples Party swept the polls in the two Wings. Mujib emerged as leader with largest number of seats but Z A Bhutto thought that transfer of power to Mujib could signal disintegration of the country as Awami League did not get a single seat in West Pakistan. But so did Pakistan Peoples Party failing to get a seat in East Pakistan. Bhutto threatened to boycott the assembly and oppose the government if Mujib was invited by Yahya Khan to form the next government, demanding his party’s inclusion. Detailed meetings of Sh Mujib were held in Dhaka with Bhutto and representatives of Yahya Khan but no feasible solution was found though it was reported those days that Mujib was prepared to show some flexibility but not on fundamentals of Six Points. There was deadlock and Yahya Khan was devoid of any vision or perception to tackle the situation politically. As a general he decided to solve the problem with the use of force. Yahya Khan declared martial law, banned the Awami League and ordered the army to arrest Mujib and other Bengali leaders and activists. The army launched Operation Search Light to curb the political and civil unrest, fighting the nationalist militias that were believed to have received training in India. What happened next is a painful and gory tale of sufferings of people of East Pakistan.Sheikh Mujib was arrested, but many of his supporters managed to escape to India, where they declared a provisional government for East Pakistan. After Mujib’s arrest a guerrilla war erupted between government forces and Bengali nationalists aided by India. An all-out war started between the Pakistan Army and Bangladesh-India Joint Forces and there was death and destruction everywhere. After 9 months of resistance and unrelenting struggle for independence, Mujibur Rahman on March 26, 1971 called for Bangladesh as an independent state. Mujib was arrested and moved to West Pakistan and kept under heavy guard in a jail in Faisalbad. In December 1971, Pakistani military troops led by Gen AAK Niazi surrendered to Indian Gen Jagjit Sing Arora in Dhaka. On January 8, 1972 following the official ending of hostilities, Mujib was released by Bhutto government. He flew to New Delhi via London and after meeting Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, he came to Bangladesh as national hero and father of the nation. Mujib assumed office as a provisional president, and later prime minister. He charged the provisional parliament to write a new constitution, and proclaimed the four fundamental principles of “nationalism, secularism, democracy and socialism,” which came to be known as “Mujibism.” A constitution for Bangladesh was proclaimed in 1973. Incidentally the same year ZA Bhutto got approved a new constitution of Pakistan from National Assembly. Like ZA Bhutto, Mujib nationalised hundreds of industries and companies and initiated land reform aimed at helping millions of poor farmers. By and large the experiment of nationalisation of industries by both Mujib and Bhutto proved to be disastrous pushing the economies on the back foot. Major efforts were made by Mujib government to rehabilitate an estimated 10 million refugees. However the economy of Bangladesh began recovering and a famine was prevented. So the two sovereign states simultaneously were on road to process of rebuilding and restructuring of their economies. Mujib made a significant trip to Lahore in 1974 to attend the OIC summit, which helped repair relations with Pakistan to an extent. But he did not live long to see normalisation of relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh. On August 15, 1975, a group of junior army officers invaded his residence with tanks and brutally killed Mujib, his family and the personal staff. Only his daughters, Sheikh Hasina Wajid and Sheikh Rehana survived because they were abroad at that time.In life he was a hero of Bengalis and in death he is revered as father of the nation.
(The writer is a columnist, analyst and former Pak diplomat)

By Ayaz Ahmed Pirzada

Published By :

Bangladesh Today (Dhaka) August 16,2008
Pakistan Observer (August 20,2008)
The Independent (Dhaka ) August 22,2008

The Trial


Here comes another August 15 and brings with it the shocking memory of the most gruesome murder in the history of Bangladesh. It was the 15th August of 1975. A group of disgruntled blood-thirsty mid-level army officers stormed into the two-storied building at road number 32 in Dhanmandi. When the killers came out of the house the greatest Bangali political hero who led the Bangalis to their greatest achievement- independence- Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was lying dead in a pool of his own blood in the staircase of his home. Along with him almost all his family members, 10 in all, met the same fate. Only his two daughters–Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana survived the massacre.

As the nation mourns the killing of its greatest political hero its sense of grief is deepened by the fact that justice has not yet been dispensed to the killers. Not even after 28 years. In fact it took 21 years to bring the murder case to the court. Khandakar Mustaque enacted an indemnity ordinance that would bar any legal action against those who were involved in the chilling murders of Bangabandhu, his family members as well as his relatives and senior Awami League leaders. Subsequently, during Ziaur Rahman’s time this was incorporated into the Constitution through the 5th amendment.

Thus the killers were secured from being tried for the next 21 years. In fact, early in the day they were awarded diplomatic assignments. Sixteen years of military rule, parts of it under civilian garb, was followed by 5 years rule of a democratic government led by Begum Khaleda Zia, but the indemnity act remained intact. It was only when Awami League came to power in 1996 that the murder case was finally taken up for trial.

On October 2, 1996, a FIR was lodged with the Dhanmondi Police station and thus the government initiated the trial under the ordinary law of the land through the arrest of the accused murderers. Eminent criminal lawyer Serajul Huq was appointed as the special Public Prosecutor by the government. He was assisted by Anisul Huq, Barrister Mosharraf Hossain Kajal, Sahara Khatun, Nurul Islam Sujan and Syed Rezaur Rahman. The chargesheet was submitted accusing 23 persons, 3 of them already dead, on January 15, 1997. The hearing took around 18 months to be completed and District and Sessions Judge Kazi Golam Rasul gave his verdict on November 8, 1998. Fifteen of the accused were given death sentence while five others were acquitted.

Bangabandhu with his family members: (from left) Sheikh Kamal, his oldest son, younger daughter Sheikh Rehana, youngest son Sheikh Russel on his lap, wife Fazilatunnesa, second son Sheikh Jamal and daughter Sheikh Hasina. All of them were brutally killed on the night of August 15, 1975, except Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana.

As required by law the case was then referred to a two-judge High Court Bench. After almost two years the High Court delivered its judgement on Dec 14, 2000. It was a split verdict — while Judge ABM Khairul Huq upheld the trial court verdict, Justice Ruhul Amin confirmed the death sentence against nine, gave life imprisonment to one and acquitted the remaining five of their charges. The case was then referred to a third Bench of the High Court. The hearing started on February 12, 2001 and Justice Md Fazlul Karim pronounced his judgement on April 30, 2001. He confirmed death sentence against 12 of the accused and acquitted three others. Those who are facing death sentence are Lt. Col. (Rtd) Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Lt. Col. (Rtd) Noor Chowdhury, Lt. Col. (Rtd) Shariful Huq Dalim, Lt. Col. (Rtd) Abdul Aziz Pasha, Lt. Col. (Rtd) Rashed Choudhury, Major (Rtd) AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, Lt. Col. (Rtd) Syed Faruq Rahman, Lt. (Rtd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan and Major (Rtd) Bazlul Huda, Lt. Col. (Rtd) Mohiuddin Ahmed, Capt. (Rtd) Abdul Majed, and Lance Dafadar Moslehuddin. He acquitted Capt. (Rtd) Kismet Hashem, Capt (Rtd) Najmul Hossain Ansar, Major (Rtd) Ahmed Shariful Hossain of their charges. However, only four of them are now in custody who are Lt. Col. (Rtd) Syed Faruq Rahman, Lt (Rtd) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Major (Rtd) Bazlul Huda and Lt Col (Rtd) Mohiuddin Ahmed while others are believed to be abroad.

The convicted persons then appealed to the Appellate Division (AD) of the Supreme Court against the verdict. The law requires a three-judge Bench to hear an appeal. The crisis began when 3 of the 7 judges of the AD felt ’embarrassed’; while the other 2 judges had already heard the case when they had been in the High Court, which disqualified them to hear it again. Thus a Bench of three judges could not be constituted till now.

Meanwhile, AL lost the general election in October 2001 and BNP came to the power. On October 28, 2002, Serajul Huq, the Special Public Prosecutor appointed by the AL government for this particular case passed away. Anisul Huq, his son and associate throughout this case, then wrote to Chief justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury regarding the appointment of ad-hoc judges so that the case can be resolved. Chowdhury passed on the request to the concerned authority, but in vain. Barrister Moudud Ahmed, Minister for Law, declined to comply saying that they had already raised the number of judges in the AD from 5 to 7. In an interview he also argued that the constitution doesn’t permit appointment judges on ad hoc basis.

Anisul Huq however differs with him. Article 98 of the constitution does have the provision of appointing an ad-hoc judge, he says emphatically. “The government is simply not sincere about seeing this case being completed smoothly,” he says. Huq’s allusions echo the more explicit accusations of the Awami League of the BNP’s attempts to delay the completion of this trial.

Apparently the present government’s sincerity regarding the completion of the Bangabandhu murder case is not beyond question. Its record concerning appointment of judges and absolute inaction regarding the extradition process of some killers living abroad gives some justification for the AL position.

The Bangabandhu Murder Case needs to be resolved not just for the consolation of the bereaved family or to satisfy a certain political party, but mainly for the sake of establishing the rule of law and justice.


Bangabandhu after the Liberation….A Turbulent Political Career

Bangabandhu returns home

Bangabandhu returned home on January 10, 1972 after ten months of solitary confinement in a Pakistani prison. Seventy million people of the newly liberated country had been waiting for his return since the end of the war and the subsequent surrender of the Pakistani army on the 16th of December 1971.

But January 10 was more than a leader’s triumphant homecoming. “Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on both sides of the streets that led to the airport. He was later taken to the Suhrawardy Uddyan; another hundreds of thousands of people gathered there just to have a glimpse of him,” Nafia Din, a student of Dhaka University during the turbulent days and now a professor of political science at a U.S. university describes the most momentous event in our political history after independence. In fact Suhrawardy Uddyan was the place where Mujib had made his last public speech, declaring civil disobedience against the Pakistani junta till the hand over of power to the legitimate representatives of the people. Ataus Samad, former correspondent of the BBC describes Mujib’s homecoming as an event that made our independence complete.

Anthony Mascarenhas, a journalist working for London based newspaper the Sunday Times who really broke the story of genocide against Bangali people internationally, writes in his book, “Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood” about Bangabandhu’s homecoming, “It was as if a human sea had been packed into the three square mile arena. Nothing like this had happened ever in Dhaka. There’s been nothing like it since then. The frenzied cheering, the extravagant praise, the public worship and obeisance were beyond the wildest day dream of any man.” But, Mascarenhas goes on “The trouble was that even before the last echoes of the cheering had faded Mujib the demi-god was brought face to face with an overwhelming reality.” Twenty million people displaced within the country plus ten million refugees who were coming home from India needed shelter, food and clothing.

Bangabandhu affixes his signature to the draft of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

The country was devastated by what Mujib later called “the greatest man made disaster in history.” Topping it all was the destruction of the transport and communications systems, which made the movement of relief-supplies a daily miracle. The railway tracks and signalling equipment and rolling stock were severely damaged. Every major bridge and more than half the river transport were completely destroyed. Chittagong, one of the country’s two ports and principal entry point for food imports, was rendered unserviceable by 29 ship-wrecks blocking the Karnafulli River channel. Fewer than 1000 of the country’s 8000-truck fleet were serviceable. There was no gasoline. Bangladesh desperately needed 2.5 million tons of food to avoid famine. And when this was forthcoming from the international community it required an additional miracle to get it to the country’s 60,000 villages, Mascarenhas writes.

To make it a law and order nightmare for any government there were an estimated 3,50,000 guns with equally vast quantities of ammunition left in the hands of various self-styled ‘Bahinies’. The world’s newest nation and its fragile economy were tittering on the brink of a total collapse.

The desperation was evident in an interview Bangabandhu gave to the Sunday Times. “What do you do about the currency? Where do you get food? Industries are dead. Commerce is dead. How do you start them again? What do you do about defence? I have no administration. Where do I get one? Tell me, how do you start a country?” he remarked to his interviewer six days after the jubilant reception he received at the Suhrawardy Uddyan.

The first move he made to run the country had cost him dearly. Unlike the overwhelming numbers of army-men and members of the police, with a few honourable exceptions, the bureaucrats remained in the service of the Pakistani occupation forces. When Bangladesh became independent on December 16, 1971, they quickly jumped on the bandwagon, proclaiming their new-found nationalism. So did many other opportunistic elements who were derisively dubbed the ’16th Division’, Mascarenhas says. Mujib turned to the 16th Division in the bureaucracy to run Bangladesh. “It was one of the fundamental mistakes he made in his three and half years in the helm,” Ataus Samad says. “It has been said that Castro told him not to run an independent country with the help of officials experienced in running a colonial administration. He advised an overhaul in the administration during the Non-Aligned Summit in Algiers, in 1973, where the two met for the first and the last time. But Mujib didn’t listen to that suggestion,” Samad continues.

So about 11,00,000 government certified freedom fighters, at the very outset of the independence, felt ignored and excluded from the reconstruction of the new country. Though Mujib offered the FFs to join the armed forces, only 8,000 turned up and they were absorbed in the Jatiya Rakkhi Bahini; officially it was the national militia, in practice, it behaved like a private army of the ruling party.

Prime Minister Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the parliament, 1973.

Prime Minister Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the parliament, 1973.

In contrast to the above administrative failures Bangabandhu’s government produced a very important success: a Constitution was framed on November 4, 1972, enshrining most of the noblest of principles found in any other constitution. On December 16 that year it took effect. “It was a Herculean task, and it was done, unbelievably, within a year of our independence. It was like France after the bourgeois revolution; the Constitution guaranteed every basic right of the citizens. It was the finest document of liberal democracy,” Nafia says. Democracy, socialism, nationalism and secularism were made the four basic guiding principles of the newly liberated country. Mascarenhas, too, believes Bangladesh “had a Constitution, which any country could be proud of.”

The first general election, held in 1973, in the independent Bangladesh was smooth sailing for Bangabandhu and the Awami League. In a landslide victory, the party won 307 out of the 315 of the total seats in the Jatiya Sangsad. Maulana Bhashani, the octogenarian leader of the National Awami Party saw the election result, according to a Guardian report, as “the signal for the arrival of undiluted socialism.”

On the diplomatic front Bangabandhu’s foreign policy saw some significant success. The newly independent country got diplomatic recognition from all the major powers of the world including the four veto-wielding nations( all except China’s) at the United Nation’s Security Council. Bangabandhu’s presence at the Organisation of Islam Council’s (OIC) summit meeting in the Pakistani City of Lahore was a decision only a leader of his statute could make. Farhad Mazhar, believes “Mujib went to the OIC and set up the Islamic Foundation because he could feel the pulse of the people.” And his larger than life presence at the NAM conference in Algiers gave a huge boost to the morale of this tiny nation of 70 million people. The speech he made in Bangla at the United Nations in 1974 and the international publicity that followed made Bangladesh the voice of the Third world.

However some dark cloud of failure began to gather in the independent sky of Bangladesh. The rot was setting in from within. Corruption and monopolisation of state contracts by the ruling party cliques became so rampant that an economy of nepotism, corruption and black market literally took over the economy. Political oppression on Shiraz Sikdar revealed the autocratic nature of the highly personalised government run by Bangbandhu. The breaking out of JSD from within the ranks of Awami League clearly revealed the breach within ruling party ranks.

Bangabandhu inspecting a guard of honour of the Air Force.

By this time Bangladesh was facing a new menace that had almost crippled its already fragile economy. It was smuggling. Tony Hagen, then head of the UN Relief Operation to Dhaka, aptly described the situation to the Sunday Times“Bangladesh is like a bridge suspended in India.” Some unscrupulous businessmen and officials smuggled, almost all they could, to the neighbouring country. According to some reports the smuggling of goods across the border during the first three years cost the country’s economy about Tk. 60,000 million. The goods that were smuggled were mostly food-grains, jute and materials imported from abroad. In fact by December 1973, the economy was completely bankrupt, and about 2-billion US dollars of international aid had already been injected to the country’s economy. Some of these “unscrupulous businessmen and office bearers” were Awami Leaguers; and though, the whole party was in no way collectively responsible for the smuggling, Nafia Din believes, “ Some of their involvement in smuggling and the ’25-years treaty’ with India gave the Awami League a pro-India label.”

Then came the flood of 1974. Smuggling coupled with corruption and sheer nepotism in food distributions had turned the natural disaster into a man-made calamity. Bangabandhu publicly admitted the death of 27,000 people of starvation. Mascarenhas believes the death toll “of the (subsequent) famine was well into the six figures.”

At Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Bangabandhu wanted to make Bangladesh “the Switzerland of the east.” Nonetheless when the Rakkhi Bahini was raised to 25,000 men with basic military training and modern automatic weapons, the discontent amongst some army men turned into antagonism. “Most people wanted to see a Che Guevara out of Sheikh Mujib, but certainly he wasn’t Che,” says Farhad Mazhar. Mazhar thinks that because he wasn’t a revolutionary like Che or Castro, Mujib couldn’t make any people’s army after the independence like Castro did in Cuba after the liberation; which he believes the country at that moment desperately needed.

Bangabandhu, in the name of socialism, without giving the local entrepreneurs a level playing filed, nationalised all the industries in the name of a ‘planned and controlled economy’. Ataus Samad believes Mujib’s economic policy “had demolished the entrepreneurship skill of the Bangalis.”

Bangabandhu with the Algerian president and Bhutto at the Islamic Summit, Lahore, 1974.

“Corruption, cronyism, sycophancy and political repression had virtually isolated Bangabandhu from the people by then,” observes Nafia. Bangabandhu himself told the press that almost 4000 of his party workers, including 5 MPs had been killed by numerous self-styled political factions. In November that year, Tajuddin Ahmed, who led the nation on behalf of Bangabandhu and tipped as Mujib’s natural successor, publicly criticised the government for corruption and mismanagement. In a move that may be termed as suicidal for Sheikh Mujib, he asked Tajuddin to resign who readily complied and retired from politics for the moment. As the situation got worse and Bangabandhu became more isolated, on December 28, 1974 he declared a state of emergency and on January 25, 1975 he was sworn in as the President. On June 7 that year the one party state was formed.

BKSAL (Bangladesh Krishok Sramik Awami League), now the only legitimate political party, was officially described as the “Second Revolution.” But in effect it made Bangladesh a one party state with every political and administrative power personally vested in Sheikh Mujib. The promulgation says: “When the national party is formed a person shall:

a) In case he is a member of Parliament on the date the National party is formed, cease to be such a member, and his seat in Parliament shall become vacant if he does not become a member of the National Party within the time fixed by the President

b) Not be qualified for election as President or as a Member of Parliament if he is not nominated as a candidate for such election by the National Party.

c) Have no right of form, or to be a member or otherwise take part in the activities of any political party other than the National Party.”

Bangabandhu handpicked 61 men, which included many serving bureaucrats, as District Governors, to run the country. These non-elected “Governors” were to control the Bangladesh Rifles, the Rakkhi Bahini, police and army units stationed in their respective areas from September 1. Thus the man who led his country towards independence and freedom, within four years after its independence turned it into a monolithic and one party state. Through promulgating BKSAL all newspapers, except four under government control , were closed.

But the worst was yet to come for this infant nation wobbling on its independent feet. On August 15, 1975, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed, along with 13 members of his family, by a bunch of disgruntled army officers, under the political leadership of Khondokar Mushtak Ahmed.It was the most gruesome political assassination that continues to haunt the nation even today.

On that fateful night a group of killers led by ex-Major Noor and Major Mohiuddin, along with a group of mutineers from the Bengal Lancers, went to the private house at Dhanmandi to kill Bangabandhu. Ex-Major Noor fired a burst from his Sten gun on the right side of Bangabandhu; his whole body twisted backwards and then it slipped to the landing space of the stairs. It was 5:40 in the morning. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman died at an age of 56, at his home, from where he had led his people to independence. Begum Mujib was killed a moment later in front of their bedroom. Then the mayhem began. Sheikh Kamal and Sheikh Jamal, Bangabandhu’s two sons and their newly wed wives were killed. Sheikh Nasir, Mujib’s brother, who had allegedly amassed a heavy fortune during that period, was also killed. The self styled saviours of the people then killed Mujib’s 7-year old son, Sheikh Russell.

By this time another killer team, according to Mascarenhas, led by major Dalim went to Abdur Rab Serniabat’s house. In a 20-minute long massacre that followed, Serniabat was killed along with his wife, daughters and 3 minor members of the family. Serniabat’s son Abul Hasnat, a survivor in the family who had luckily escaped on that frightful night, according to Mascarenhas, “(later) saw his wife, mother and 20-year-old sister badly wounded and bleeding. His two young daughters, uninjured, were sobbing behind a sofa where they had hidden during the massacre. Lying dead on the floor were his 5-year-old son, two sisters aged 10 and 15 and his 11-year old brother, the family ayah (maid), a house-boy and his cousin Shahidul Islam Serniabat.”

Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BKSAL), a national front comprising major political parties and professional groups of the country was formed in 1975. People are seen attending the first conference.

The attack on Sheikh Moni’s house was, to quote Mascarenhas, “Brief and devastating.” Risaldar Muslehuddin led the killers to the house of Sheikh Moni, which was also at Dhanmandi. Moni’s seven months pregnant wife jumped in front of her husband, in an attempt to save him from the Risaldar’s bullet. Both were killed by a single bullet.

Khandakar Moshtaque Ahmed who declared himself as the president on August 15 following Bangabandhu’s brutal assassination, promulgated, on 26th September, an ordinance indemnifying the killers. The Ordinance was promulgated, as the Bangladesh Gazette dated that day says, “ to restrict the taking of any legal or other proceedings in respect of certain acts or things in connection with, or in preparation or execution of any plan for, or steps necessitating, the historical change and the Proclamation of Martial Law on the morning of 15th August, 1975.”

The August 15 killing and the Indemnity Ordinance had encouraged several successful and unsuccessful coup attempts later in the army. The killers were later awarded with high-ranking government jobs by the subsequent military governments that came as a natural by-product of the August 15 mayhem. The Ordinance, which was turned into an act and incorporated in our Constitution by General Ziaur Rahman who succeeded to power in November ’75 was scrapped in the late 1996 when Awami League came to power. The trial was held under the ordinary law of the land and after several years of legal proceedings verdict was given on this historic case. It is now under appeal at the highest court.