Road to independence: Bangabandhu refused to escape arrest


Although it was not for the first time that he refused to save his own life in the harm’s way, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman once again had chosen to face the danger himself as Pakistani armies were looking to arrest him in the wee hours of 26 March 1971.

According to an article published in the London-based Daily Telegraph titled ‘Tanks Crush Revolt in Pakistan’ on 30 March 1971, Bangabandhu received a phone call on the fateful night of 25 March from an aide, who asked him (Bangabandhu) to go into hiding as an estimated three battalions— one armoured, one infantry and one artillery— of troops were ravaging then Dacca from at about 10pm.

‘Sheikh Mujib was telephoned and warned that something was happening, but he refused to leave his house. ‘If I go into hiding, they will burn the whole of Dacca to find me,’ he told an aide, who escaped arrest,’ the article said.

Led by American-supplied M24 World War II tanks, Pakistani troops ran havoc across the city, including in Dhaka University and Rajarbagh Police Lines. In the university area, the troops took over the then British Council library and used it as a firebase to shell nearby dormitory areas.

At almost the same time, columns of troops moved in on Rajarbagh. Tanks opened fire first, followed by boots on the ground, who fired incendiary rounds into the buildings. According to the article, written by Simon Dring, as these were going on, other units (Pakistan army) surrounded the house of Bangabandhu.

‘When contacted shortly before 1:00am, he (Bangabandhu) was expecting an attack any minute and that he had sent everyone except his servants and a bodyguard away to safety,’ the article said. Quoting a neighbour, the article said that at 1:10am, one tank, an armoured car and trucks loaded with troops drove down the street firing over the house.

‘Sheikh you should come down,’ an officer called out in English as they (army) stopped outside. ‘Sheikh Mujibur Rahman replied by stepping out on to his balcony and saying yes, I am ready but there is no need to fire; all you need to have done was call me on the telephone and I would have come,’ the article said.

The officer then walked into the garden of the house and told the Sheikh (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman), ‘You are arrested.’ ‘He (Bangabandhu) was taken away, along with three servants, an aide and his bodyguard…’ the article said.

It’s Bangabandhu, not Zia HC rules Sheikh Mujib declared independence

In a watershed judgment, the High Court yesterday ruled that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, not Ziaur Rahman, proclaimed the republic’s independence on March 26, 1971. The proclamation was relayed by Kalurghat Betar Kendra (radio centre) in Chittagong the following day, it added. Observers say the judgment will help end the long, bitter wrangle over a significant episode of the country’s independence history.

The unwanted debate over a settled issue began after the assassination of Ziaur Rahman in 1981 with his party BNP claiming he was the proclaimer of independence, not Bangabandhu. The HC bench comprised of Justice ABM Khairul Haque and Justice Mamtazuddin Ahmed yesterday dismissed that claim, which had befuddled many over the Liberation War history. It also ordered cancellation of second edition of the third instalment of 15-volume war documents that portray Zia as the declarer of independence. The Liberation War affairs ministry brought out the publications during the BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government in June 2004. The court said the government could take actions against those who sought to rewrite history. In the judgment containing several rulings and observations, it directed the administration to confiscate the books presenting Zia as proclaimer of independence. It also ordered the government to ensure that textbooks at all levels and for all mediums have the facts about the independence struggle.

The HC gave its verdict after reviewing all relevant documents, books, newspapers published at home and abroad in March 1971, and arguments of the lawyers. It directed the Attorney General’s Office and the petitioner to send a copy of the judgment to the education ministry.

The debate had the nation deeply split for nearly three decades, much to success of those relentlessly trying to warp the young minds. The most damaging was inclusion of distorted history in the textbooks. The judgment, first of its kind, came in response to a writ petition filed by freedom fighter MA Salam. Salam filed the petition as public interest litigation (PIL) on April 19, seeking court directives to stop distortion of history. Later, Wing Commander (retd) Hamidullah Khan, a freedom fighter and BNP leader, became party to the case, opposing the petition. Former chief of army staff Lt Gen (retd) Harun-ar-Rashid endorsed the petition and became involved in the proceedings on behalf of the Sector Commanders Forum. The court completed hearing last month.


The High Court bench observed that the Proclamation of Independence published on April 10, 1971, states beyond doubt that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made the declaration of independence. The Proclamation is protected by article 150 of the constitution and thus cannot be changed at will, it added. The court also declared illegal and unconstitutional the publications of the third volume of the books titled ‘Swadhinata Juddho: Dalilpatra’ (The Liberation War of Bangladesh: Documents). It directed the government to confiscate the books painting late president Ziaur Rahman as declarer of independence. Besides, it wants the government to stop sale, distribution and reprint of the books at home and abroad. The bench said the government might take initiative to bring to trial those involved in attempts to establish an untrue version of the Liberation War. It observed that the persons responsible have in fact committed an offence against the nation and the constitution.

The committee formed by the BNP-led alliance government to write and print history of the Liberation War had recommended that Ziaur Rahman be declared as the independence proclaimer in place of Bangabandhu, without having any authentic documents at its disposal. The court, however, said Zia had a valuable contribution to the independence war, and that he never claimed in his lifetime to be the proclaimer. Additional Attorney General M Enayetur Rahim, petitioner’s counsel Manzil Murshid, and Muntasir Mamun, a professor of history at Dhaka University, were present at the court during delivery of the judgment. They hailed the judgment as an epoch-making event. Talking to The Daily Star, they hope it would help restore the authenticated narrative of the Liberation War.


Originally, the information ministry compiled and published the documentary evidence of the Liberation War in 15 parts in 1982. Edited by Hasan Hafizur Rahman, those were reprinted in 2003. The Liberation War affairs ministry, set up during the BNP alliance regime, changed some of the facts in the second edition published in 2004. It deleted the first document of the third part that contained Declaration of Independence made in the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and broadcast from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra on March 26, 1971. Instead, it included a document stating that Major Ziaur Rahman first declared independence from ‘Biplobi Betar Kendra [Chittagong]’ on March 27, wherein he claimed to be the ‘provisional president and commander-in-chief of the liberation army’. The second document of the third part stated that Zia made another declaration on March 28 from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, this time on behalf of Mujib. In the first edition, the date was March 27. As the second edition caused an outcry, officials told The Daily Star, the then secretary Dr Mahbubul Alam had asked to stop selling the volume published under a Tk 5-crore project. Following his verbal orders, officials withdrew thousands of copies from the press.


According to the petition, the government on February 13, 1979, constituted an authentication committee for writing and printing history of the Liberation War. Dr Mofizullah Kabir was the committee chairman and Hasan Hafizur Rahman member-secretary. The books published by this committee in November 1982 were reprinted in December 2003. Both editions said Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence on March 26, 1971. Besides, the petitioner says, the fact was recognised in the Proclamation of Independence. The Liberation War affairs ministry on approval of the then prime minister Khaleda Zia formed a committee to reprint the 15-volume books. Rejaul Karim, Prof M Moniruzzaman Mia, Prof Emazuddin Ahmed, Barrister Moinul Hossain, Dr Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, Prof Sirajul Islam, Prof KM Mohsin, Prof Abul Kalam Monjur Morshed and Prof Jasim Uddin Ahmed were members of the committee. In June 2004, the committee published the books giving an inaccurate report of the declaration of independence. During hearing of the petition, the court assigned Barrister M Amir-Ul Islam, one of those involved in framing the Proclamation of Independence, as amicus curiae (friend of the court) on the issue

Author : Julfikar Ali Manik and Ashutosh Sarkar?

Bangabandhu The generator of Bangalee nationalism


BANGABANDHU SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN DEDICATED his life to establishing a democratic, peaceful and exploitation-free society called “Sonar Bangla” – Golden Bengal. He sacrificed his life to liberate the Bangalee nation, which had been groaning under the colonial and imperialist yoke for nearly 1,000 years. He is the founding father of the Bangalee nation, generator of Bangalee nationalism and creator of the sovereign state of Bangladesh.

My father spent nearly half his life behind bars and yet with extraordinary courage and conviction he withstood numerous trials and tribulations during the long period of his political struggle. During his imprisonment, he stood face to face with death on at least two occasions, but never for a moment did he waver.

As a daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I heard many tales about him from my grandfather and grandmother. He was born on Mar. 17, 1920 in Tungipara, in what was then the British Raj. During the naming ceremony my great-grandfather predicted that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would be a world-famous name.

My father grew up rural – amid rivers, trees, birdsong. He flourished in the free atmosphere inspired by his grandparents. He swam in the river, played in the fields, bathed in the rains, caught fish and watched out for birds’ nests. He was lanky, yet played football. He liked to eat plain rice, fish, vegetables, milk, bananas and sweets. His care and concern for classmates, friends and others was well-known. He gave away his tiffin to the hungry, clothes to the naked, books to the needy and other personal belongings to the poor. One day, my grandfather told me, he gave his clothes to a poor boy and came home in his shawl.

At the age of 7, he began his schooling, though an eye ailment forced a four-year break from his studies. He married at the age of 11 when my mother was 3. He demonstrated leadership from the beginning. Once in 1939, he led classmates to demand repair of the school’s roof – just when the premier of then undivided Bengal happened to be in town. Despite a deep involvement in politics, in 1946 he obtained a BA.

Bangabandhu The generator

Bangabandhu was blessed from boyhood with leadership, indomitable courage and great political acumen. He played an active role in controlling communal riots during the India-Pakistan partition. He risked his life for the cause of truth and justice. He rose in protest in 1948 against the declaration of Urdu as the state language of Pakistan and was arrested the following year. He pioneered the movement to establish Bangla as the state language. In 1966, he launched a six-point program for the emancipation of Bangalees. In 1969, my father was acclaimed Bangabandhu, Friend of Bengal. His greatest strength (and weakness) was his “love for the people.” He is an essential part of the emotional existence of all Bangalees.

The appearance of Bangladesh on the world map in 1971 was the culmination of a long-suppressed national urge. On Mar. 7, 1971, my father addressed a mammoth public meeting in Dhaka and declared: “The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation, the struggle now is the struggle for Independence.” He sent a wireless message, moments after a crackdown by the Pakistani army, declaring the Independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of Mar. 26. The world knows he courted arrest – and yet Bangabandhu emerged as the unquestioned leader of a newborn country.

Once in power, my father pursued a non-aligned, independent foreign policy based on peaceful coexistence. Its basic tenet: “Friendship to all, malice to none.” He advocated world peace and declared his support for all freedom struggles. He supported the concept of a “Zone of Peace” in the Indian Ocean. In 1974, he was awarded the Julio Curie Prize for his devotion to the cause of peace.

But at a time when Bangladesh was emerging as an advocate for oppressed nations, his foes assassinated him on Aug. 15, 1975. My mother and three brothers were also killed. Even my younger brother Sheikh Russel, who was then nine, was not spared. The only survivors were my younger sister Sheikh Rehana and myself; we were on a trip to Germany.

Consequently, the political ideals for which Bangladesh sacrificed three million of her finest sons and daughters were trampled, and Bangladesh became a puppet in the hands of imperialism and autocracy. By assassinating Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the conspirators wanted to stop the country’s march to freedom, democracy, peace and development. The process of law and justice were not permitted to take their course; human rights were violated. It is, therefore, the solemn responsibility of freedom- and peace-loving people to help ensure the trial of the plotters and killers of this great leader, my father.

Author : Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is the prime minister of Bangladesh.

Raising A Child On The Spectrum

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive and debilitating childhood syndrome. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that has no known cause or cure although many viable theories exist. ASD affects how a child develops his/her ability to learn from its environment, be it in the area of language, gross motor behaviour (such as running or walking up steps), fine motor (like writing or holding a pencil), daily living skills ( like using the toilet, buttoning their shirt), and in their ability to interact with others. Although there are some well known indicators of autism, each child’s presentation of the disorder is unique.

Therefore it is recommended that the treatment strategy should be planned according to the needs of the child and the family. Autism occurs when the normal development of the brain is affected for some yet unknown reason, and the brain does not develop within the normal parameters. Hence adaptive behaviours are not acquired adequately and the child does not learn to acquire age appropriate behaviours, such as, making eye contact, responding to their name when called and learning to communicate both verbally and or nonverbally. In this vacuum of learning through observation, many behaviours and mannerisms appropriate in children in the first year or two continue to remain even to adulthood. That is why an early detection, followed by treatment that encompasses all the areas, is of utmost importance. In many cases with early detection and appropriate intervention starting as early as 1-3 years of age can achieve normal developmental milestones. It is equally important that treatment plans include strategies that use the child’s strengths and interests to deal with their areas of weakness.

A positive intervention strategy needs to first and foremost target the ASD child’s ability to communicate with his/her caregivers. Hence language skills need to be assessed: both what the child understands and is able to speak. A child with ASD frequently has weak muscles in their hands and fingers, or they are hypersensitive to textures, which leads to an inability to learn the simple activity of using a spoon or a pencil. Difficulties controlling their impulses, a tendency to express their angst in a physical manner, are all behaviours typical of a toddler. Most children as they grow older learn to replace these behaviours with verbal expressions which the child with ASD does not have.

Therefore it is also of the utmost importance to teach the parents strategies on how to handle these meltdowns, or use rewards to change socially inappropriate behaviours. Even as much as 10 years ago, it was believed that a majority of children with ASD were also functioning significantly below the average range of intelligence. Latest research has indicated otherwise. Current measures of intellectual functioning such as the Wechsler, Binet and Reynolds are not designed to take into account certain areas of significant weakness seen in ASD children. Which is why they should not be viewed as an overall indicator of intellectual functioning, but rather as measure of their strengths and weaknesses. Many children with mild autism and Asperger’s Syndrome can achieve high levels of intellectual success. We have authors, poets, scientists, artists who are all within the spectrum.

Many adults with autism are successful in their various careers and are contributing members of society. A supportive family, early and appropriate intervention targeting their areas of weakness has enabled them to succeed at home, in school and society as a whole. A mother raising her child with special needs has to be braver and stronger than the average parent. Things that most of us as parents take for granted, such as seeing that first smile, our child reaching their arms out to be picked up, hearing their first words, are not what these mothers are rewarded with. Children who have autism get mesmerized by a flickering light or the changing shades on the window. They tend to shy away from people because we overwhelm them. All our changing expressions, tones of voice, facial movements that we inadvertently emulate during a conversation are almost too much information for their brain to process simultaneously.

Therefore, from only a few months of age children with autism shy away and are unable to process and integrate average conversational behaviour. Soon this behaviour of attending to the various aspects of a conversation disappears from their normal repertoire of responses. Thus from a very young age they stop learning how to conduct conversational behaviour and hence do not acquire this typical developmental milestone. So in order to behave like the average child, the child with ASD has to be taught to recognize the varying facial expressions, changing tones, and respond back in a similar manner.

ASD affects not only how the child experiences the world around them but also how their families function in society. These children are beautiful, intelligent, creative and talented. They are not crazy or handicapped. They deserve our compassion, our understanding, our respect and our help. We as a developing nation need to create an environment where there is acceptance and tolerance for differences. All children are miracles from God. I would go so far as to say that how we as Bangladeshis treat our children with special needs is a reflection on how we are going to advance as a nation. A nation that does not help and respect our most vulnerable members is a society that is destined to be unsuccessful.

Author :  Sheikh Hasina’s daughter Saima Hossain Putul

Source: www.bdnews24.com, September 15, 2010

Bloodbath on Road 32

Even after 35 years of the gruesome massacre on Road 32, the event needs to be retold for the nation to know the brutality with which the killers swung into accomplishing a mission — annihilating Bangabandhu and his family.

The reprint of the story based on interviews of the survivors and their accounts at the court during the trial of the killings was thought to be worth it for the detail it speaks of.


It was not dawn yet. A false dawn spread its pale light across the sky. At House 677 of Road 32 in Dhanmondi, it was time to change guards while everybody was still in deep sleep: President Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, wife Begum Mujib, sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russell, daughters-in-law, and brother Sheikh Naser.

Bangabandhu’s personal assistant AFM Mohitul Islam was on night duty, but he hit the bed around one in the morning. Suddenly the phone rang and he sleepily picked up the receiver. At the other end was the President himself. The clock was about to strike five.

“Get the police control room,” Bangabandhu ordered Mohitul. Mujib just got the message that his brother-in-law Abdur Rab Serniabat’s house was under attack.

Mohitul dialled the police but the line did not get through. He then tried to reach the Ganobhaban exchange. Somebody picked up the phone at the other end but would not speak.

Mujib was impatient and asked him why he did not contact the police control room. Shakily, Mohitul gave the President the bad news — he cannot reach anybody.

Irritated, Bangabandhu took away the telephone receiver from Mohitul.

“This is President Sheikh Mujib speaking,” he thundered.

Just then a hail of bullets slammed Mohitul’s office room and shattered the windowpanes.

Bangabandhu had little idea that the assassination mission had started. Little did he know he would not live to see the false dawn turning into a morning darker than night.


It was also in this false dawn that Havildar Md Quddus Sikder along with seven other guards were hoisting the national flag to the tune of bugle at Bangabandhu’s residence. It was time for the guard changeover. Then he heard gunshots coming from the lakeside.

The guards immediately took position behind the boundary wall. They were baffled and were still looking for bullets to retaliate when some army men in black and khaki uniform thundered into the house through the gate.

“Put your hands up,” they shouted at the guards. The tragedy showed its first signs.

Inside Mohitul’s office, Bangabandhu stepped beside a table and pulled Mohitul to the ground. Right then house help Abdul brought Bangabandhu’s punjabi and glasses from the first floor. The president quickly put them on and came out into the veranda.

He shouted at the sentries.

“There have been firings all around. What are you doing?”

And off he went to the upper floor where his wife, sons Russell, Jamal and wife Parvin Jamal Rosy and brother Sheikh Abu Naser were sleeping. He did not realise this would be his last meeting with his family.


House help Rama was sleeping on the veranda in front of Bangabandhu’s bedroom. It was around five in the morning. Suddenly the door opened and Begum Mujib emerged.

“Criminals have attacked Serniabat’s residence,” she said.

Rama sprang up from his sleep. He ran down in panic and went outside the front gate and saw some army men advancing toward the House 677 with weapons raised and firing bullets in the air. An unknown fear gripped him. The immediate person he thought of informing about this impending peril was Sheikh Kamal, Bangabandhu’s elder son.

He again entered the house and ran up to the second floor where Kamal and his wife Sultana were staying. He woke Kamal up and somehow blurted out that the army had attacked their house.

Kamal quickly put on his trousers and a shirt and ran to the ground floor. Rama took Kamal’s wife Sultana to the first floor where the rest of the family was sleeping.

Rama also woke up Jamal who put on a shirt and trousers and went to his mother’s room. His wife followed him there.

All hell broke loose outside as bullets pinged and whizzed around. He heard somebody groaning downstairs. Little did he know that his brother Kamal was getting mutilated by those stinging bullets.


Mohitul saw Kamal coming down to the ground floor. He stood on the veranda and roared: “Army and police members, please come with me.” He was trying to locate the sentries.

Just then the killers appeared — three to four army men in khaki and black fatigues. Automatic weapons held at waist level in front of them. They stopped right in front of Kamal. Mohitul and Nurul Islam, a police officer, stood dumbfounded behind Kamal.

Mohitul recognised Major Bazlul Huda in khaki uniform. He had met him before. Without a warning, Huda shot Kamal first in the leg. Kamal jumped to Mohitul’s side by the reception room.

“Tell them I am Sheikh Mujib’s son Sheikh Kamal.”

“Don’t shoot him,” Mohitul pleaded. “He is Sheikh Kamal. Sheikh Mujib’s son.”

The killers could not care less. Guns blazed again and bullets bored through Kamal again. He fell dead.


Kamal was only the first small game for the killers. They were looking for the giant. They asked some soldiers to keep watch on Mohitul and the police officer who also suffered a bullet wound in the leg.

In heavy steps they hurried to the first floor where their main target lived. After some time, Mohitul heard the loud voice of Bangabandhu. Gunshots rang out. Mohitul did not know what was happening up there. All he could do is hope that Bangabandhu was not hurt.

But Havildar Quddus saw the terrible event playing out before his eyes.

He was detained from the moment the killers had gone inside the residence boundary. Now they ordered him to follow them to the first floor. He numbly obeyed.

As Huda and Nur stepped on the landing of the staircase, Major Mohiuddin and his soldiers appeared at the top. With them was Bangabandhu. They were coming down.

Quddus was just behind Huda and Nur. Nur said something in English that he could not understand. To this, Major Mohiuddin and his men moved to the side.

“What do you want?” Bangabandhu asked.

Nobody answered.

Suddenly, Huda and Nur pulled the triggers and bullets from their Sten guns rained down on Bangabandhu.

The president collapsed on the stairs, silently, and died and blood flowed first around the landing and then down the stairs. He was still holding his favourite tobacco pipe in one hand and a matchbox in the other.

Mohiuddin, Nur, Huda and others went down and out of the gate through the south side of the house.

For them, the mission was accomplished.


Rama saw Bangabandhu dying in a hail of bullets. He was walking behind the group of Mohiuddin who brought the president out of his room. The killing over, the army men ordered Rama to get lost.

Trembling and feeling weak in his knees, Rama slipped into the bathroom of Begum Mujib’s room. Sultana Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and his wife Rosy, Sheikh Russell and Sheikh Naser were all holed up there. Naser was bleeding from his hand.

Rama told Begum Mujib that Bangabandhu had been killed.

Just then the killers returned and kept knocking on the door. The soldiers were too impatient to wait. They fired on the door. A terrifying moment of noise, cordite, flying bullets and splinters.

Then Begum Mujib softly said, “If we will have to die, let’s die together.” And she opened the door and begged for the lives of her family members.

The army men then herded Sheikh Naser, Sheikh Russell, Begum Mujib and Rama towards the stairs.

Begum Mujib stopped as she saw Bangabandhu lying in a pool of blood on the stairs. She broke into tears and said: “I won’t go further. Kill me here.”

The killers took Begum Mujib back into her room. Quddus then witnessed another most terrible thing that was to haunt him for the rest of his life. Major Aziz Pasha and Risaldar Muslemuddin started firing from their Sten guns. Begum Mujib, Sheikh Jamal, his wife Rosy, and Kamal’s wife Sultana stumbled on the ground with bullets in their bodies.


The killers took Naser, Russell and Rama to the ground floor and made them stand in a line beside Mohitul.

Sheikh Naser pleaded: “I am not into politics, I do business for a living.”

Mohitul heard an army officer telling Naser, “We won’t hurt you. Take your seat in that room.”

He took Naser into the bathroom attached to Mohitul’s office and opened fire.

Mohitul could hear Sheikh Naser begging for water. One of the army men winked at another, “Go and give him some water.”

Then the other army person went inside the bathroom and shot Naser again.


The most horrifying thing happened next. The killers went up and came down with Russell, Bangabandhu’s 10-year-old son — bewildered and devastated. He first held Rama close and then Mohitul.

“Bhaiya (brother), Will they kill me too?” the child asked.

“No Bhaiya, they won’t kill you,” Mohitul said. He had no idea what was next.

An army man in khaki uniform wrenched Russell away from Mohitul. The child wanted to go back to his mother.

“Take him to his mother,” Major Pasha ordered an army havildar.

The havildar with a mischievous smile held Russell by his hand and took him to the first floor. Russell was wailing. Then came another burst of gunshots.

A little later, Major Farooq Rahman met Bazlul Huda at the gate.

“All are finished,” Huda announced.

Author – Inam Ahmed & Julfikar Ali Manik