Bangabandhu family was in risk of being last 1971 casualty

slider-7 : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other members of Bangabandhu family, who were in Pakistani captivity even until a day after the December 16 Victory, were exposed to high risks of being massacred by frightened enemy guards, as last casualty of 1971, two crucial witnesses said.
“The Pakistani soldiers guarding the house were looked frightened but arrogant . . . visibly they were unaware of the surrender even on that morning of December 17,” one of the top Bangabandhu aides, Hazi Golam Morshed, told BSS in an interview coinciding with the Victory Day anniversary.
Morshed, now 85, was the man who escorted the four-man squad of Indian soldiers led by gallantry award winning Major Ashok Tara to the house at road number 18 of Dhanmandi where Begum Mujib, Sheikh Russel, Sheikh Rehana and Sheikh Hasina and her newborn son were in captivity at that moment.
“Major Tara approached the (Pakistani) soldiers in bare hands keeping his weapon to his men behind . . . One of the guards shouted, asking him not to proceed a single step further if he wanted to avoid being shot,” he recalled. Morshed described the subsequent few minutes to be highly delicate as it appeared that the “frustrated, frightened and directionless” Pakistani guards were going to kill the Bangabandhu family. In separate media interviews, Tara, 29, at that time, supplemented him saying from a close distance he also understood how the captive inmates of the house were desperately seeking to be rescued sensing the Pakistani guards could kill them all.
“It was a very sensitive and important operation, and had anything gone wrong, it would have brought a very bad name to the Indian government and the Indian Army,” recalled Tara, now 71, whom Bangladesh honoured conferring the “Friend of Bangladesh” award on him two years ago.
Morshed happened to be also the last man to accompany Bangabandhu until the Pakistani troops invaded his 32 Dhanmandi residence on the black night of March 25 and himself too was arrested to languish in Dhaka cantonment and subsequently in Dhaka Central Jail until November 25. On his release he found out that Bangabandhu’s family was detained in that house at Road No 18 of Dhanmandi, heavily guarded by the Pakistani troops even on December 17 morning, a situation that prompted him to bring to the notice of the allied force about their captivity.
“I heard that the Indian army has setup a (makeshift) camp at the Circuit House in Kakrail . . . my cousin Engineer Abu Elias Majid, now staying in the United States, drove me there in his car and we found Major General BF Gonzales sitting on a chair on the veranda,” Morshed recalled. After some initial conversation, he said, the Indian general asked him if we had any car with us and getting an affirmative reply he wanted a lift to the airport, which was being guarded by Indian soldiers to secure VIP movements with Tara being their commander.
“Gonzales introduced me to Tara and then entrusted him with the task of rescuing the Bangabandhu family,” Morshed recalled. According to Morshed, the Indian troops right that moment did not have vehicles at the scene and therefore they had to approach a Bengali gentleman who happened to be there with a car and driver and “the man instantly agreed to lend his car for the rescue mission”.
“Tara got onboard in our car driven by my cousin while three Indian soldiers including a JCO (junior commissioned officer) followed us in the other car,” he said. As the two cars reached near the house a crowd stopped them and cautioned Tara about the situation pointing towards a bullet-ridden car near the house with its unknown dead driver inside, whom they killed overnight apparently due to fright or nervousness. They also told him that on the previous night they also killed five people including a woman as they were passing by the house. Tara then came out of the car and handed his sten gun over to the JCO and asked his three men to stay on one side of the road and began a slow walk to the house when a sentry on the rooftop warned him that he would be shot if he took another step further being visibly confused seeing the Indian army appearance at the scene.
“See, I am an Indian Army officer standing unarmed in front of you . . . If I have reached unarmed in front of you, it means your army has surrendered, you can ask your officer,” Tara recalled shouting back in a mix of Punjabi and Hindi. After few moments the Pakistani havildar shouted back saying “I have no contact with the officer”. The Indian major recalled that he later came to know that a Pakistani captain had abandoned his post and the news of the surrender had not yet reached the lower ranks as communications were disrupted. Incidentally at that time, he said, few Indian helicopters flew overhead and “I pointed to them and shouted — look our helicopters are flying in the sky and look behind me, our jawans are inside Dhaka”. Tara again started walking slowly towards the house telling the guards “you have a family with children as I do; if you lay down your arms and come out peacefully, I guarantee you a safe passage to your camp or wherever you want to go to”. But as he reached the entrance a young Pakistani soldier aged only about 18 appeared from the bunker at the gates pointed his rifle at him.
“The young boy was shivering. It was probably the first time he saw an Indian army officer at such close quarters . . . I locked eyes with the boy even as I was talking to the havildar on the rooftop . . . I kept up the conversation and softly pushed the barrel of the gun away from my body,” he said. Tara, a Bengali who retired as a highly decorated colonel of Indian army later said the conversation lasted for about 10 minutes when he spoke to the captors in fluent Hindi and Punjabi and the tense situation was finally dispelled without any casualties.
“And as soon as I entered the house, (Bangabandhu) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s wife hugged me and said I was her son sent by God from the heaven (to save the family),” he recalled. Tara also recalled that an Indian newspaper later commented “the release of Begum Mujibur Rahman along with the other family members has been as thrilling as the fall of Dacca or for that matter the liberation of Bangladesh”.
“Many a time I thought that neither I nor the Indian officer (Tara) will survive this. It is a new lease of life for us,” the report quoted Begum Mujib as saying later in an interview. Tara remembered that inside the house, there was barely any furniture and the family had been sleeping on the floor and “there were hardly enough rations either . . . I saw only biscuits”.
Tara recalled clicking a picture of the 24-year-old Sheikh Hasina with her baby in her arms. The Pakistani troops tracked Bangabandhu family down from a house in Moghbazar area few days after the war began and his elder son Sheikh Kamal joined the Liberation War in the first chance as he left 32 Dhanmandi hours ahead of the March 25 crackdown. His younger brother Sheikh Jamal later also managed to escape the makeshift Dhanmandi jail and eventually joined the resistance, while the rest of the family members were detained until December 17 and for the last two days Sheikh Hasina’s nuclear scientist husband also could not enter the house where he too was staying with the family. A would be mother Sheikh Hasina was in her advance stage, deprived of proper food and care required during the pregnancy and she was eventually allowed to be admitted at a hospital but her mother was debarred from accompanying her.
“When my mother wanted to come with me, the (Pakistani troops) was plainly told her ‘what you will do in the hospital? There are nurses and doctors in hospital. Are you a nurse or a doctor? You can’t go.”
“When my mother told them being the mother I want to stay beside my daughter to give her courage. But her appeal carried no value to them,” Sheikh Hasina later wrote in an article recalling her critical those days in 1971. Sheikh Hasina’s son – Sajib Wajed Joy — was born on July 27, 1971. She named her “Joy” which in Bangla means “victory”, in line with the desire of her father during her early days of pregnancy as the nation was heading towards the Liberation War.
By Anisur Rahman

Kissinger compared Bangabandhu to Allende


In his book “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” noted journalist Christopher Hitchins, former editor of Harper’s magazine, wrote “Kissinger had received some very bad and even mocking press for his handling of the Bangladesh crisis, and it had somewhat spoiled his supposedly finest hour in China. He came to resent the Bangladeshis and their leader, and even compared (this according to his then aide Roger Morris) Mujib to Allende.”

“As soon as Kissinger became Secretary of State in 1973, he downgraded those (the US diplomats stationed in the US Consulate in Dhaka) who had signed the genocide protest in 1971,” the book says. About Kissinger’s trip to Bangladesh, Hitchins says, “In November 1974, on a brief face-saving tour of the region, Kissinger made an eight-hour stop in Bangladesh and gave a three-minute press conference in which he refused to say why he had sent the USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal three years before.”

“Within a few weeks of his departure, we now know, a faction at the US embassy in Dacca began covertly meeting with a group of Bangladeshi officers who were planning a coup against Mujib. On 14 (15) August 1975, Mujib and forty members of his family were murdered in a military takeover. His closest former political associates were bayoneted to death in their prison cells a few months after that,” the book says.

Execution of five killers of Bangabandhu: Flashback

Execution of five killers of Bangabandhu

e-News® | The NEWS Company…DHAKA, August 15, 2015 :  The nation was freed from an age-old stigma following the execution of the verdict of five among the death sentence awarded accused in the murder case of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on January 28, 2010 at Dhaka Central Jail. On the night, the process of execution began at 12.01 am. At first, former Lieutenant Colonel of Army Mohiuddin Ahmed (Artillery) and former Major Bazlul Huda were executed. Few minutes later, sacked Lieutenant Colonel Faruk Rahman was executed. At last, former Lieutenant Colonel Shahriar Rashid Khan and AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed (Lancer) had been executed.

The entire process to execute the verdict was completed within 40 minutes. After the execution, prison officials told the waiting reporters about the expectations of five killers. Hundreds of people from all walks of life took to the streets surrounding Dhaka Central Jail. Five ambulances were readied to carry the bodies to the relatives of the executed Army officials. Besides, a police van carrying five coffins made from wood and another private vehicle carrying two beds were kept in front of the prison gate.

The beds were used to bathe the bodies after execution. Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Armed Police Battalion and plain-clothes policemen were patrolling the streets surrounding the jail and they stopped vehicular movement on the streets for several hours. Dhaka District Magistrate and Deputy Commissioner Jilar Rahman, Civil Surgeon Dr Mushfiqur Rahman and additional district magistrate Abhijit Sarker along with director general of Prisons Brigadier General Ashraful Islam entered the prison to see the execution. The then home secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder and the then DMP commissioner AKM Shahidul Haque were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, some 61 relatives of the accused met them for the last time. Of them, two detained sons of Mohiuddin Amhed were taken from Kashimpur Prison to Dhaka Central Jail to meet their father. In 1998, a court handed down capital punishment against 15 former Army officers for killing Bangabandhu and most of his family members. Later, the High Court, in a verdict, released three of them. Among 12 accused of the case, five were executed, six are fugitives and one died in Zimbabwe.

Bangabandhu murder sparked international denunciation


The international community is found to have sharply denounced the August 15, 1975 carnage as the nation reviews the aftermath of the August 15, 1975 putsch coinciding with his 40th martyrdom day. Global leaders like Willy Brandt were severely moved by the murder of Bangladesh founder along with most of his family members by some people who were none but his own countrymen.

“After the killing of Mujib, Bangalees can no longer be trusted. The Bangalees who can kill Mujib, can perpetrate any heinous deed,” said Nobel Laureate the then West German leader Willy Brandt in an emotional comment, even going beyond the diplomatic practices. Indian-born British citizen and noted litterateur Nirad Chandra Chaudhuri described Begalees as ‘Insidious Bangalee’ saying “the Bangalees exposed to the people of the world their suicidal character by killing the dreamer of Bangalee nation and father of the state named Bangladesh”.

“That did not end here an Indemnity Ordinance was promulgated to indemnify the killers. Further, those killers were rewarded with prize posting in different Bangladesh missions abroad. Not only Ziaur Rahman, his wife Khaleda Zia as well, rewarded the killers in various ways,” he wrote in the article. On August 16 in 1975, The Times of London mentioned that despite all things, Bangabandhu would always be remembered with due respect as Bangladesh has no real existence without Sheikh Mujib. The Daily Telegraph, published on the same day, said millions of people of Bangladesh would consider the atrocious killing of the Bangladesh leader as an irreparable loss to the country and its people.

Later on August 28, another esteemed newspaper ‘The Guardian’ published an article saying that people of Bangladesh apparently returned to the Martial Law rule and the religious campaign favouring the regime of military dictatorship Ayub Khan. On 16 August 1975 in news review programme of All India Radio ran a commentary saying “Jesus died. Now millions of people remember him by wearing cross. Perhaps, once Mujib as well will be like that.”

On the same day The Daily Telegraph published from London said, “Millions of people of Bangladesh shall consider the gruesome death of Sheikh Mujib to be irreparable loss”.

Sheikh Mujib is an object of regards and love of people even today. That prediction of international media came true. Therefore, in the language of the poet I would like to say, The world famous Time Magazine also published an article on April 5 in 1982 where it said the democratic era in Bangladesh ended with the August 15 and the assassination of Sheikh Mujib.

“As long as stay the Padma-Jamuna/Gouri-Meghna flowing on thy accomplishment will live on/Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman,” wrote famous writer and poet Annodasankar Roy.

Kissinger’s visit to Bangladesh was ominous

Henry Kissinger #thenewscompany  #bangabandhu

Henry Kissinger #thenewscompany #bangabandhu

Before the brutal murder of Bangabandhu on August 15, 1975 the visit of the US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, was quite significant. On October 30, 1974 Kissinger made a 19-hour stopover in Bangladesh. During the visit he met Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib for a couple of hours at the “Gonobhavan.”

According to US journalist Lawrence Lifschultz, “A month after Kissinger left Dhaka the conspirators at the US Embassy became active.” Prof Abu Sayeed in his book Bangabandhu: Facts and Documents and Lifschultz in his Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution writes about it elaborately. After talking to Bangabandhu, Kissinger addressed a press conference where he described Bangabandhu “as a man of vast conception”. When asked why he had sent the Seventh Fleet against such a man, Kissinger avoided a direct response and hurriedly left the conference room.

According to Lifschultz those who were aware of Kissinger’s plans at that time felt that Kissinger’s comments were a form of ridicule. Besides, when Bangabandhu went to New York to attend the UN session the Bangladesh Mission could not find a schedule for Bangabandhu with the US president, although that is the norm for first-time visiting heads of government. Later when Bangabandhu decided to visit Washington D C on his own the Americans hurriedly arranged a 15-minute appointment with the president. But the atmosphere was very cold.

However, Kissinger met Bangabandhu at New York where he was photographed with Bangabandhu. Apart from the US visit a number of other incidents also preceded Bangabandhu’s killings. In June 1974 Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto visited Bangladesh and the media publicized the killings and barbarism of the Pak army in 1971 extensively. Later, on May 1, 1975 Vietnam was liberated. Bangladesh’s quick recognition of the socialist country from where the US had fled left a deep impression on the Americans. Besides, the visit of Khondoker Mushtaque Ahmed to Iran that year was also significant.