The Day make the victory complete

#bangabandhu : January 10, l972. Day dawned in Dhaka. The great leader of the Bangalees Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is coming back home. The ocean of people passed the night sleepless. They thronged to the Racecourse and Tejgaon Airport to have a better place to stand on and have a glimpse of their beloved great leader from a better angle. What a awaiting it was! The national dailies pen pictured their eagerness as quoted here under.

The Daily lttefaq in its first lead wrote “The Great man is coming and all are thrilled in every direction. Today is the day we have waited for long. The Father of the Nation · Bangabandhu Sheikh Mojibor Rahman is coming to the sweet lap of his motherland in the midst overwhelming love and confidence embedded in sacrifice after a prolonged span of nine months. The jail of the Pakistani military killers was not strong enough to keep him inside.

Every daily awspaper depicted emotion-choked stories and editorials. The Daily Ittefaq in its first page editorial went to say under the headline ‘Esho Baaglar Svvapnik, Swagatam’ (come the dreamer of the Bengal, welcome) while the Dainik Bangla in its editorial said under the caption ‘Beerer Sonitey Tomay Baran Kari” (we receive you in the
pool of blood shed by our heroes)

The Daily Sangbad : The whole city is awaiting the Bangabandhu. By this time Dhaka has become a city of celebtation. With the arrival of the leader coming closer people of all walkes of life–peasants, labourers, students and members of the women folk are getting more prepared. The lttefaq in another story under the deadline “Aami Sarbagre grihini” ( First of all i am a housewife) : Begum Miijibur Rahman. while talking to a group of journalist yesterday said, first of all l am a housewife, I am to shoulder the responsibility of running a big family.

“Bangabandhu” – An illustrious leader

#bangabandhu : In 1973 at the Algiers Non-Aligned Summit, embracing Bangabandhu, Cuba’s Fidel Castro remarked, “I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas.”

This Sheikh Mujib is not just a mere individual or a name. He is an institution. A movement. A revolution. An upsurge. A tidal bore. A Lenin, a Mao, a Netaji, a Gandhi, a Fidel, a Kemal… He is the essence of epic poetry and history. He is the architect of a nation – the Bengali Nation. He is Bangabandhu.

The history of Bengali nation goes back more than a thousand years. This is why contemporary history has recognised him as the greatest Bengali of a thousand years. And he will live on as the brightest star in the annals of historical legends. He will show the path to the Bengali Nation that his dreams are the basis of the existence of any nation struggling for freedom.

Bangabandhu’s political life began as a humble activist while he was still a student. He was fortunate to come in contact with the towering personalities like Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and AK Fazlul Huq, both charismatic chief ministers of undivided Bengal at different times. Bangabandhu grew up in the gathering gloom of stormy politics as the British Raj in India was falling apart and the Second World War was violently rocking the continents. He witnessed the ravages of war and the stark realities of the great famine of 1943 in which about five million people lost their lives. The tragic fate of the people under colonial rule turned young Bangabandhu into a rebel.

This was also the time when he saw the legendary revolutionaries like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi challenging the British Raj. He also came to know the works of Bernard Shaw, Karl Marx, Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Soon after the partition of India in 1947, it was felt that Pakistan with its two wings separated by a physical distance of about 1,200 miles was a geographical absurdity. The economic, political, cultural and linguistic characters of the two wings were also different. Keeping the two wings together under a forced bond of a single state structure in the name of religious nationalism would merely result in rigid political control and economic exploitation of the eastern wing by the all-powerful western wing, which controlled the country’s capital and its economic and military might.

Bangabandhu started his fight against the British colonial overlords and then he directed his wrath against the then Pakistani neo-colonialists. Slowly, he prepared his people for their eventual destination. He was in the forefront of mass movements. After his imprisonment in 1949, he gave active support to the formation of the first mass opposition political party, the Awami League, under the leadership of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, which subsequently spearheaded the struggle for independence. In the 1954 provincial elections, Bangalis overwhelmingly voted for the Awami League-led United Front to power. The victory was, however, short-lived. In order to maintain their sway and dominance, the rulers in the western wing of Pakistan, through coercive means, imposed military rule in 1958. Bangabandhu and other nationalist leaders put up stiff resistance against it and were detained for years together.

In 1961, Bangabandhu was released from jail after he won a writ petition in the High Court. Then he started underground political activities against the martial law regime and dictator Ayub Khan. During this period, he set up an underground organisation called “Swadhin Bangiya Biplobi Parishad” or Independent Bangiya Revolutionary Council, comprising outstanding student leaders in order to work for achieving independence.

Keeping the essence of Swadhin Bangladesh, Bangabandhu placed his historic Six-Points in 1966. He called for a federal state structure for Pakistan and full autonomy for Bangla Desh with a parliamentary democratic system. The Six-Points became so popular in a short time that it was turned into the ‘Charter of Freedom’ for the Bengalis, their Magna Carta. The Army Junta of Pakistan threatened to use the language of weapons against the Six-Point movement and Bangabandhu was arrested under the Defence Rules on May 8, 1966. To subdue him, Bangabandhu was charged with secession and high treason, which was known as the infamous Agartala Conspiracy Case. But people burst into an upsurge against his arrest.

With the defeat of Ayub Khan regime in 1969 in a mass-upsurge, which led to the unconditional withdrawal of Agartala conspiracy case, Bangabandhu had become the undisputed, homegrown hero for the Bangali nation. People’s admiration of his unfathomable courage and yearning for his guidance proved that he was indeed the ‘Friend of Bengal’. They then started calling him Bangabandhu. The torch of politics of the Bangali Nation was truly and irreversibly in his hands. He would carry it ahead, undaunted in his determination to transform the destiny of his people to make a Shonar Bangla.

Bangabandhu’s finest hour came on March 7, 1971. His historic speech on that day changed the course of the history of struggle for independence in the then Pakistan and gave millions of Bangalis a new sense of direction. Bangabandhu possessed the rare quality of harnessing the overwhelming power of the masses that overthrew the military regime standing in the way of Bangladesh’s liberation. Bangabandhu’s March 7 Speech has become UNESCO’s world’s historic document since last year. His speech is now denoted as on a par with Gettysburg Address, and so on.

He declared in his speech, “The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle now is the struggle for our independence.” In his historic speech, Bangabandhu urged the nation to break the shackles of subjugation and declared, “Since we have given blood, we will give more blood. The people of this country will be liberated In-Sha-Allah.” He called upon people to turn every house into a fortress with whatever they had to fight the enemy.

He advised the people to prepare themselves for a guerrilla war against the enemy. He asked the people to start a total non-cooperation movement against the government of Yahya Khan. There were ineffectual orders from Yahya Khan on the one hand, while the nation, on the other hand, received directives from Bangabandhu’s Road 32 residence. The entire nation carried out Bangabandhu’s instructions. All institutions, including government offices, banks, insurance companies, schools, colleges, mills and factories obeyed Bangabandhu’s directives. The response of the Bangalis to Bangabandhu’s call was unparallel in history. It was Bangabandhu who conducted the administration of an independent Bangladesh from March 7 to March 25.

Another finest hour for Bangabandhu was when he declared independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of March 26, 1971, and an all-out guerrilla war began against the Pakistani oppressive regime. In his declaration he said, “This may be my last message. From today Bangla Desh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangla Desh, wherever you are and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your fight must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangla Desh and final victory is achieved.”

And the victory achieved on December 16, 1971 was a dream come true for Bangabandhu. Thousands of people sacrificed their lives in the name of Bangabandhu. It was his political inspiration and moral persuasion that made mass people embrace martyrdom in Bangabandhu’s name. The quest for his independence became synonymous with his title “Bangabandhu”. And eventually he embraced martyrdom on the August 15, 1975 for the Bengali Nation.

The multifaceted life of any great man cannot be put together in language or colour. Bangabandhu was such a great man that he has become greater than his creation. It is not possible to hold him within the confines of picture-frame when his greatness is so unfathomable. He is our emancipation – for today and the days to come. The greatest treasure of the Bengali nation is his heritage and legacy. He has conquered death and become became a part of eternity. His memory is our passage to the days that are to be in future.

The writer works for Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF);

Author :Shazzad Khan, The Article was published in daily Star on March 30, 2018

Unesco recognises Bangabandhu’s 7th March speech

#bangabandhu : The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has recognised the historic 7th March Speech of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as part of world’s documentary heritage. The historic 7th March speech of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has been included in the memory of the World International Register, a list of world’s important documentary heritage maintained by UNESCO, according to a press release of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The director general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, announced the decision on Monday, at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, said the release. ‘The world will now get to know more about our father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and our glorious Liberation War’, said foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali.

The 7th March speech of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman provided inspiration to the Bengali people in their quest for freedom and emancipation. The speech also energised the entire nation and prepared the people for the forthcoming liberation struggle. It also served as the ultimate source of inspiration for the countless freedom fighters who joined the Mukti Bahini.

Sheikh Mujib’s speech is played throughout the country during the various national occasions and continues to reverberate in hearts and minds of the Bengali people. This speech continues to enthrall our people and will continue to inspire succeeding generations.

The International Advisory Committee is responsible for recommending whether or not a document qualifies for inclusion on the Memory of the World International Register. The International Advisory Committee during its meeting from October 24 to 27 in 2017 recommended the 7th March speech for inscription on the Memory of the World International Register. The Memory of the World Register now includes a total of 427 documents and collection from all continents.

National Mourning Day observed

#bangabandhu : Bangladesh today fondly remembered Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his 41st death anniversary with the President and the Prime Minister paying floral tributes to the Father of the Nation. President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina – Sheikh Mujib’s daughter – paid their tributes and offered wreaths on the portrait of ‘Bangabandhu’ at his Dhanmandi residence followed by a state salute by an army contingent.

President A Hamid and PM Sheikh Hasina later visited Sheikh Mujibur’s shrine at southwestern Tungipara village. Hundreds of people followed the Bangladeshi leaders in paying tribute, and recalling the horror when 32 people were killed as a group of rogue soldiers staged a coup in 1975. It was one the bloodiest political assassinations in the world.

The day is observed at the state level as the National Mourning Day in memory of the victims of the military coup. The national flag was lowered to half-mast at government and other buildings in the country. Sheikh Mujib – fondly called ‘Bangabandhu’ (friend of Bengal) – was killed in the predawn raid at his Dhanmandi house along with his wife, three sons, two daughters in-law and several presidential aides and Awami League leaders.

His two daughters – Sheikh Hasina, now prime minister, and Sheikh Rehana – escaped the bloodbath as they were in Germany.

“This brutality was a rare occurrence not only in the history of the Bangalee nation but also in the history of the world,” President Hamid said in a statement. Hasina in a statement said: “I pray to the Almighty Allah for the peace of the souls of the martyrs of the 15th August.”

Unrest followed the carnage, and then deputy army chief general Ziaur Rahman emerged as the strongman of Bangladesh. The regimes that took over protected the killers by enacting an indemnity law and rewarded several of the coup plotters with diplomatic posting abroad. As the Awami league returning to power in a landmark election in 1996 after 21 years of political wilderness, Awami League scrapped the indemnity law and initiated a process of delayed trial of the perpetrators of the carnage.

Indira called KGB to verify ‘Chinese’ hands in Bangabandhu killing

Indira called KGB
Indira Gandhi perhaps swiftly suspected Chinese involvement, not CIA, in the 1975 Bangladesh coup which led to the tragic death of the Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with his family members. Leonid Vladimirovich Shebarshin the then KGB resident in India indicated as such in his book, ‘The Hand of Moscow: The notes of the chief of Soviet intelligence.’ Apart from the ‘Chinese’ factor, his narratives and attitude call for fresh scrutiny to understand the ongoing debate on foreign elements in the fateful events of 1975.

Shebarshin, who was later promoted as KGB Chief (1989-91) under Mikhail Gorbachev, unpredictably commented that “I should say, that such events cannot be easily forecasted…. How could one forecast that a young Major, who was offended at someone’s wedding, would not be nursing his insult, but would gather his friends and march to kill the “father of the nation” and proclaim an Islamic republic?’’

According to research by Prothom Alo, the “forecast’’ factor of the “such events”, as described by the ex KGB Chief, does not match the undisputed forecast given by the then RAW chief Mr Rameshwar Nath Kao. After his first meeting with Mujib in December 1974, he sent one of his senior RAW officers to Dhaka in March 1975 to brief further about a possible coup. Mujib was informed, Kao wrote in the Indian weekly Sunday (23-29 April 1989) that: “conspiracies against his life were being planned in two units of his army, namely the artillery and cavalry. Unfortunately, the Shiekh ignored all these warnings.”

The materials quoted here are from Shebarshin’s 1992 book and have been translated from Russian and provided to the Prothom Alo upon request by Dr Svetlana Chervonnaya, a Moscow based historian and researcher, who was personally acquainted with the ex KGB chief Shebarshin. She has a copy of the book with his inscription. In 1990s he approached her to ask if she had any opportunity to help him publish his book in the West. “To spill the beans, people of his background had to become defectors,” Ms Chervonnaya told this author on Sunday from Moscow through an e-mail.

Shebarshin was well-versed in Indian subcontinent politics and Sino-US relations as well. He was fluent in English, Urdu, Farsi and Hindu languages. He shot and “killed himself” with a pistol in 2012. The foreign powers at work in the shadows leading up to the coup are still being uncovered. Following the incident, most pro-Soviet news agencies worldwide reported it to have been backed by the CIA, an allegation constantly denied by the US. The US suspects that allegations of CIA’s involvement, as widely covered by the Indian press during the Emergency, may have been instigated by the Indira government.

When the visiting US senator Thomas Eagleton pointedly asked Mrs Gandhi on 21 August 1975: Do you believe that CIA was involved in Mujib’s murder? She has replied twice: we do not have such information. Now for the first time, after 41 years, the public domain has come to know of India’s apprehensive attitude concerning a possible Chinese involvement.

“I remember that on that day at the [Soviet] embassy we had a meeting of the party committee [‘partcom’]. As usual, we were discussing everything and nothing in particular…. In the morning, the officers [of KGB station] received their assignments, a request was sent to the Centre for information from Dhaka, I still remember the irritation I felt with this [party meeting] distraction from the real business.” It is also on record that RAW Chief Mr Kao, at the behest of Indira, met President Mujib to warn him about an impending coup. The President, however, paid no mind. The American papers also document their attempt at a warning although the details are yet to be unearthed.

A number of US declassified papers show US and Indian officials occasionally apprehending and talking about a possible coup or disorder in Bangladesh. Mr Shibershin wrote: “By 1975, relations between India and Bangladesh had aggravated. The earlier consensus had given way to suspicion, mutual reproaches and conflicts. At the dawn of 15 August, five officers of the Army of Bangladesh, leading an army squadron, burst into the palace of the President of Bangladesh, killing the “father of the nation” Mujibur Rahman, his relatives and the Prime Minister Mansur Ali. [Ali was actually killed in jail on 4 Novemeber.] Bangladesh was proclaimed to be an Islamic Republic. The events took India by surprise.”

However, the ex-KGB chief recalled in his memoirs: “Suddenly an officer on duty reports: there is a telephone call from the office of Prime Minister. One of Indira Gandhi’s assistants would like to see me at the office as soon as possible.” The national award winning soviet intelligence chief LV Shebershin has however brushed aside the possibility of any Chinese involvement in Bangladesh coup in his meeting with the Indians. Talking to the top aide of Ms Indira, “I said honestly that I have no grounds for such conclusion.”

Another of his narrations seem to indicate that he had no idea about the Bangladesh coup beforehand whereas it is a matter of great curiousity as to how the RAW Chief did not share this information with him. He was 27 when posted in Pakistan in 1964 and was rewarded for playing a pivotal role in the signing of the 1966 Tashkent pact. In early 1971, he was sent as a deputy KGB resident in India and during the Emergency (1975-77) he served as a KGB resident.

Leoned wrote: “I am quickly looking through the incoming information: nothing of substance, mostly wild guesses, deliberations and fears. I am going to the Office.” He did not reveal the identity of the caller he met that day but it may have been PN Dhar, the then principal secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Dhar acted as a close aid of Indira under PN Haksar in 1971 who soon replaced him and became head of the PMO. Initially the KGB resident was reluctant to rush to the PMO and discuss Bangladesh.

“I say that at the embassy there is a charge d’affaires ad interim (Ambassador VF Maltsev on leave), likely I have been invited through a misunderstanding; I am saying that I am ready to contact the charge d’affaires and have no doubt that he will arrive in half an hour.” Shibershin added further:

“The situation (in Dhaka) is interesting, but needs to be ascertained.” But he quickly decided to go when he was told by the caller that he has received “an instruction from the top (he had only one boss – Indira Gandhi) to meet with him”. He indicates that it was the PM herself saying “This is another thing, I think, – it is now clear.” LV Shebarshin wrote: “In the course of that first conversation I had nothing to satisfy the interest of the Indian.”

It may be recalled that in 1975 the Soviet leadership command in Moscow informed Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB)’s top hierarchy there is no such proof that the CIA was instrumental in toppling Mujib. This proposition was still questioned by senior pro-Soviet leaders like Manjurul Ahsan Khan whether they (KGB) were competent enough to gather the correct intelligence. Ex-KGB agent Vasili Mitrokhin was reportedly given capital sentence in his absentia for his defection. He, with the clandestine help of Britain’s MI-5, brought the important documents into the UK and in 2005, of which the Cambridge historian Christopher Andrew, wrote “The Mitrokhin Archive II, The KGB and the World”. It confirmed that KGB in 1975 did harbor the belief of CIA’s involvement in the coup without any basis.

Lawrence Lifschultz, a distinguished US journalist, had in the beginning, possessed a similar belief that the CIA was not involved but has since then found strong evidence suggesting otherwise and has adjusted his position accordingly.

Mitrokhin notes

Christopher Andrew and Mitrokhine wrote in their book that in a newspaper interview after his retirement from the KGB, Shebershin spoke “nostalgically about the old days, about disinformation-forging documents, creating sensation for the press”. They have noted further that “the KGB claimed to have planted over seventy stories in the Indian press about CIA subversions. The Delhi main residency claimed that, thanks to campaign, Mrs Gandhi had raised the question of CIA operations in India during (October 1974) her talks with Kissinger.” The book claimed that Indira herself was convinced that the CIA was plotting her overthrow which she told Fidel Castro in 1973 at a banquet in Delhi. Indira also wrote a letter to the PM of Sri Lanka Sirimavo Bandaranaike about CIA plotting and she took it seriously and set up a committee to investigate.

By the summer of 1975, her suspicions of a vast conspiracy, aided and abetted by the CIA, had grown to ‘something close to paranoia.’ The Bangladesh coup, according to the said book, ‘further fuelled Mrs Gandhi’s conspiracy theories. Behind their murders she saw once again the hidden hand of the CIA.’

The China factor

Farooq and Rashid, the two top plotters of the Mujib killing, met the US political counselor on 21 October 1975 in Dhaka and sought the supply of US arms to prevent possible Indian intervention in Bangladesh. The following day the then US Ambassador Boster sent a cable to the Washington where it was stated that the duo is not expecting “adequate support’’ from China or Pakistan to thwart the Indians.

Later (20 November, 1975) in Bangkok, when the killer group was awaiting American visas, Farook Rahman told the US political officer: China has demonstrated its military muscle in the borders to warn India. Interestingly, the Indian officials told Henry Kissinger in 1974 in Delhi that they have intercepted a West Pakistani code message which indicates that President Yahya Khan was expecting military help from the sea and northern borders of China. Kissinger quickly replied: “we were not there.” Upon return from his secret visit in China in July 1971, Kissinger wrote to Nixon: Chou think that “India was responsible for the present turmoil in East Pakistan.” Chou also “recalled the Chinese defeat of India in 1962 and hinted rather broadly that the same thing could happen again.”

Kissinger concluded: “the Chinese detestation of the Indians came through loud and clear. Conversely, China’s warm friendship for Pakistan a firm and reliable friend was made very plain. The lesson that Chou may have been trying to make here was that those who stand by China and keep their word will be treated in kind.” But no overt military support was provided to West Pakistan by them in 1971. However, Chinese PM Chou recognised Bangladesh immediate after the August coup and declared the establishment of a diplomatic mission in October.

Source : The Hand of Moscow: Notes of a Chief of the Soviet Intelligence Service & Prothom Alo