National Mourning Day today

National Mourning Day today

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placed wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi in the city this (Wednesday) morning.

The Armed Forces gave her a guard of honour on the occasion.

Sheikh Hasina also offered prayer during her visit to the museum at about 6:15am. Chiefs of three services and senior Awami League (AL) leaders were present.

The Prime Minister later visited the graves of the members of Mujib’s family and other martyrs of 1975 at Banani Graveyard and placed wreaths and offered fateha there.

Senior ruling party leaders accompanied her.

A grateful nation pays deep homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman today (Wednesday) in observance of the National Mourning Day commemorating his 37th anniversary of martyrdom, reports BSS.

On the fateful night of August 15 in 1975, some disgruntled and over ambitious army officers assassinated Bangabandhu and most of his family members at his Dhanmondi Road-32 residence in the capital in a military putsch.

Those 18 members of Bangabandhu’s family and his close ones massacred in the August 15 tragedy included his wife Bangamata Fazilatunnessa Mujib, brother Sheikh Naser, brother-in-law Abdur Rab Serniabat, sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and 10-year-old Sheikh Russell, daughters-in-law Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal, nephew Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni, his pregnant wife Arzoo Moni and Bangabandhu’s military secretary Bir Uttam Colonel Jalil (later promoted as Brigadier General posthumously), who rushed to the spot of occurrence on receiving an SOS from Bangabandhu Bhaban early in the morning.

However, both the daughters of Bangabandhu, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, escaped the carnage as they were abroad then.

Since the mayhem, Awami League, its associate bodies and other likeminded pro-liberation, democratic and progressive political partiers, social, cultural and professional organisations have been observing the day as the National Mourning Day.

After assumption of office in 1996, the Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina initiated trial of the self- confessed killers of Bangabandhu in a traditional court and the court awarded them with capital punishment, which was upheld by the country’s apex court. The court’s verdict for five of the self-confessed killers had been executed on January 27 in 2010 while the government had already taken steps for bringing back home the remaining absconding killers from abroad to free the nation from a stigma.

In a message on the eve of the National Mourning Day, President M Zillur Rahman recalled with gratitude Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s chequered, long and eventful political career and his immense contributions and dedication to present an independent and sovereign Bangladesh in the comity of nations.

“Father of the Nation Bangabandhu dreamt of a ‘Golden Bangla’ throughout his life. It is our utmost responsibility to materialise his dream by building a happy and prosperous country.

If we do so the soul of Bangabandhu would remain in ever-rest in peace and we will be able to pay our deepest homage to him,” the President added.

Terming the killing of Bangabandhu on August 15 in 1975 the most barbaric massacre in the history of the mankind, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a message, said though the anti-liberation reactionary forces and their stooges assassinated Bangabandhu, they could not kill his dreams and ideologies.

In her message, the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, said that although the killers had assassinated Mujib, they could not kill his dreams and ideals. Millions of people nurture in their hearts the ideals of Mujib.
‘Let us take forward with bold steps the struggle to build a Golden Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu turning the grief of the great loss of the father of the nation into strength,’ she said.

The article that changed the history of Bangladesh

On 13 June 1971, an article in the UK’s Sunday Times exposed the brutality of Pakistan’s suppression of the Bangladeshi uprising. It forced the reporter’s family into hiding and changed history.

Abdul Bari had run out of luck. Like thousands of other people in East Bengal, he had made the mistake – the fatal mistake – of running within sight of a Pakistani patrol. He was 24 years old, a slight man surrounded by soldiers. He was trembling because he was about to be shot. So starts one of the most influential pieces of South Asian journalism of the past half century.

Written by Anthony Mascarenhas, a Pakistani reporter, and printed in the UK’s Sunday Times, it exposed for the first time the scale of the Pakistan army’s brutal campaign to suppress its breakaway eastern province in 1971.

Nobody knows exactly how many people were killed, but certainly a huge number of people lost their lives. Independent researchers think that between 300,000 and 500,000 died. The Bangladesh government puts the figure at three million.

The strategy failed, and Bangladeshis are now celebrating the 40th anniversary of the birth of their country. Meanwhile, the first trial of those accused of committing war crimes has recently begun in Dhaka.

There is little doubt that Mascarenhas’ reportage played its part in ending the war. It helped turn world opinion against Pakistan and encouraged India to play a decisive role.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi told the then editor of the Sunday Times, Harold Evans, that the article had shocked her so deeply it had set her “on a campaign of personal diplomacy in the European capitals and Moscow to prepare the ground for India’s armed intervention,” he recalled.

Not that this was ever Mascarenhas’ intention. He was, Evans wrote in his memoirs, “just a very good reporter doing an honest job”.

He was also very brave. Pakistan, at the time, was run by the military, and he knew that he would have to get himself and his family out of the country before the story could be published – not an easy task in those days.

“His mother always told him to stand up and speak the truth and be counted,” Mascarenhas’s widow, Yvonne, recalled (he died in 1986). “He used to tell me, put a mountain before me and I’ll climb it. He was never daunted.”

When the war in what was then East Pakistan broke out in March 1971, Mascarenhas was a respected journalist in Karachi, the main city in the country’s dominant western wing, on good terms with the country’s ruling elite. He was a member of the city’s small community of Goan Christians, and he and Yvonne had five children.

The conflict was sparked by elections, which were won by an East Pakistani party, the Awami League, which wanted greater autonomy for the region.

While the political parties and the military argued over the formation of a new government, many Bengalis became convinced that West Pakistan was deliberately blocking their ambitions.

The situation started to become violent. The Awami League launched a campaign of civil disobedience, its supporters attacked many non-Bengali civilians, and the army flew in thousands of reinforcements.

On the evening of 25 March it launched a pre-emptive strike against the Awami League, and other perceived opponents, including members of the intelligentsia and the Hindu community, who at that time made up around 20% of the province’s 75 million people.

In the first of many notorious war crimes, soldiers attacked Dhaka University, lining up and executing students and professors.

Their campaign of terror then moved into the countryside, where they battled local troops who had mutinied.

Initially, the plan seemed to work, and the army decided it would be a good idea to invite some Pakistani reporters to the region to show them how they had successfully dealt with the “freedom fighters”.

Foreign journalists had already been expelled, and Pakistan was also keen to publicise atrocities committed by the other side. Awami League supporters had massacred tens of thousands of civilians whose loyalty they suspected, a war crime that is still denied by many today in Bangladesh.

Eight journalists, including Mascarenhas, were given a 10-day tour of the province. When they returned home, seven of them duly wrote what they were told to.

But one of them refused.

Yvonne Mascarenhas remembers him coming back distraught: “I’d never seen my husband looking in such a state. He was absolutely shocked, stressed, upset and terribly emotional,” she says, speaking from her home in west London.

“He told me that if he couldn’t write the story of what he’d seen he’d never be able to write another word again.”

Clearly it would not be possible to do so in Pakistan. All newspaper articles were checked by the military censor, and Mascarenhas told his wife he was certain he would be shot if he tried.

Pretending he was visiting his sick sister, Mascarenhas then travelled to London, where he headed straight to the Sunday Times and the editor’s office.

Evans remembers him in that meeting as having “the bearing of a military man, square-set and moustached, but appealing, almost soulful eyes and an air of profound melancholy”.

“He’d been shocked by the Bengali outrages in March, but he maintained that what the army was doing was altogether worse and on a grander scale,” Evans wrote.

Mascarenhas told him he had been an eyewitness to a huge, systematic killing spree, and had heard army officers describe the killings as a “final solution”.

Evans promised to run the story, but first Yvonne and the children had to escape Karachi.

They had agreed that the signal for them to start preparing for this was a telegram from Mascarenhas saying that “Ann’s operation was successful”.

Yvonne remembers receiving the message at three the next morning. “I heard the telegram man bang at my window and I woke up my sons and I was, oh my gosh, we have to go to London. It was terrifying. I had to leave everything behind.”

“We could only take one suitcase each. We were crying so much it was like a funeral,” she says.

To avoid suspicion, Mascarenhas had to return to Pakistan before his family could leave. But as Pakistanis were only allowed one foreign flight a year, he then had to sneak out of the country by himself, crossing by land into Afghanistan.

The day after the family was reunited in their new home in London, the Sunday Times published his article, under the headline “Genocide”.

It is such a powerful piece of reporting because Mascarenhas was clearly so well trusted by the Pakistani officers he spent time with.

I have witnessed the brutality of ‘kill and burn missions’ as the army units, after clearing out the rebels, pursued the pogrom in the towns and villages.

I have seen whole villages devastated by ‘punitive action’.

And in the officer’s mess at night I have listened incredulously as otherwise brave and honourable men proudly chewed over the day’s kill.

‘How many did you get?’ The answers are seared in my memory.

His article was – from Pakistan’s point of view – a huge betrayal and he was accused of being an enemy agent. It still denies its forces were behind such atrocities as those described by Mascarenhas, and blames Indian propaganda.

However, he still maintained excellent contacts there, and in 1979 became the first journalist to reveal that Pakistan had developed nuclear weapons.

In Bangladesh, of course, he is remembered more fondly, and his article is still displayed in the country’s Liberation War Museum.

“This was one of the most significant articles written on the war. It came out when our country was cut off, and helped inform the world of what was going on here,” says Mofidul Huq, a trustee of the museum.

His family, meanwhile, settled into life in a new and colder country.

“People were so serious in London and nobody ever talked to us,” Yvonne Mascarenhas remembers. “We were used to happy, smiley faces, it was all a bit of a change for us after Karachi. But we never regretted it.”

Author : Mark Dummett, BBC News

BD not been created if Bangabandhu not born: Earshad

BD not been created if Bangabandhu not born: Earshad

Jatiya Party Chairman and former President HM Earshad Thursday opined that Bangladesh could not be created if Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not born.

“So Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is father of the nation,” said the ex-military ruler.

He came up with the comment at a painting competition and prize-distribution ceremony organized by Banani Bidyaniketon marking the great Victory Day.

The former military chief also said Bangabandhu proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh through delivering the historic speech at Suhrawardy Uddayan on March 7, 1971.

“We got the victory through a bloody war lasting nine months after the proclamation made by Bangabandhu,” he added.

He urged the students of the educational organization: “You have to know real history of the liberation war from pages of history.”

With Headmistress of the school Kumkum Nargis in the chair, the programme was also addressed by Dhaka City (North) Jatiya Party President Foysal Chishti, and Guardian Members Sakhawat Hossain Halim, Mizanur Rahman and Tasrin Akther.

| by , -Bangla news

Bangabandhu Murder Hearing, Faruque provoked all with monarchy story

Bangabandhu with cup a tea

The Supreme Court yesterday heard for the second day yesterday the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman assassination case. Syed Faruque Rahman, a convict in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman assassination case, said that he, on August 14, 1975, had excited his colleagues, saying that President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would proclaim monarchy in the country on August 15, the democracy will be damaged and the country will go under the possession of India and therefore they should depose the government of Sheikh Mujib.

Following his brief, the army men attacked the Dhanmondi house of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and killed him and others in the morning on August 15, 1975, he said it to the magistrate in his confessional statement.

Barrister Abdullah-al Mamun, counsel for convicts Bazlul Huda and AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, yesterday placed this confessional statement of Faruque Rahman while placing submission before the Supreme Court (SC) during the second day hearing of the case.

Meanwhile yesterday, the five-member Appellate Division headed by Justice Md Tafazzal Islam asked the lawyers and journalists to be careful in making statements or reports on this case.

At the start of the hearing Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told the court that different lawyers and journalists on television talk shows are making different comments on the consequence of the case, which is not right.

The court can pass order asking the lawyers and journalists to be restraint in making comments, he said.

Barrister Mamun told the court the counsels for both the state and the defence of the case should be restraint in delivering statements on the case.

The attorney general’s office should be careful in delivering statements, as he had earlier said that the case would be resolved within this year, he said.

The court said not only both the parties in the case but all including the media should be restraint on the matter.

The apex court yesterday adjourned the hearing and fixed 9:30 am today for further hearing on the appeals of the five convicts.

The five convicts — dismissed army personnel Syed Faruque Rahman, Sultan Shahariar Rashid Khan, Mohiuddin Ahmed, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, and Bazlul Huda — who are in jail now, filed the appeals with the SC in October, 2007.

Mamun in his submission yesterday concluded placing the statement of Syed Faruque Rahman, and started placing confessional statement of another convict, Sultan Shahariar Rashid Khan.

He will also continue submission today.

After the hearing, Mamun told reporters that Syed Faruque Rahman was forced to make confessional statement to the magistrate and then judge of the High Court Justice Md Ruhul Amin in his verdict of this case did not accept this statement.

He said another judge of the High Court Justice ABM Khairul Haque in his verdict accepted the statement.

Mahbubey Alam told journalists at his office that the media can publish reports on the proceedings of Bangabandhu murder case but nobody can make comments on TV talk shows on who are innocent and who will get released.

Meanwhile, the courtroom of the case was shifted to room no 2 from room 3 of the Appellate Division. The first day’s hearing was held at room no 3, which is smaller in size than courtroom 2.

A number of lawyers and journalists were present at the courtroom during the hearing.

Source: The Daily Star

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