In an assessment on Bangladesh disseminated in January, 1997, this writer had observed as follows: ” There are individual officers in the Bangladesh intelligence community and in its security forces, who feel positively towards Sheikh Hasina (Prime Minister) and her father, but one cannot say the same thing of these organisations as institutions. Institutionally, they may not share with her the same enthusiasm for closer relations with India and for assisting it in dealing with the insurgency (in the North-East).  It would take her and her party considerable time to understand and assess the intricacies of their working and the labyrinthine relationships which they have built up with their Pakistani counterparts during the last 21 years.  She, therefore, has to move with caution.”
The savage manner in which 15 members of India’s Border Security Force (BSF) were reportedly abducted, tortured, killed and their bodies mutilated beyond recognition last week shows that even after almost five years in power, Sheikh Hasina is apparently not in total command of her military and intelligence establishment, which like its counterpart in Pakistan, has been infected by the fundamentalist virus of Afghan vintage and is probably developing an agenda of its own vis-à-vis India.
Last week’s savage incident uncomfortably brings to mind three other incidents of the past:
* The brutal massacre of Bengali intellectuals by the Al Badr, the militant wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) of the united Pakistan in 1971.
* The savagery to which some captured Indian soldiers in the Kargil sector in 1999 were subjected by the Al Badr of the present Pakistan and the Al Qaeda ,also known as the Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HUJ), of Osma bin Laden, before their bodies were returned by the Pakistan Army in a similarly mutilated condition.
* The attack on the Indian army in the Siachen sector launched in the early 1990s by Maj-Gen. Zahir-ul-Islam Abbasi, the station chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan in New Delhi in the late 1980s, along with some other fundamentalist officers without the authorisation of the GHQ and the then Government of Mr. Nawaz Sharif. The attack was repulsed by the Indian Army after inflicting heavy casualties on the rogue elements in the Pakistan Army.  The late Gen. Asif Nawaz Janjua, the then Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), removed Abbasi and other officers and punished them.  Subsequently, in 1995, they joined hands with the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), which was declared by the US as an international terrorist organisation in October,1997, and plotted to have Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, the then Prime Minister, and Gen. Abdul Wahid Kakkar, the then COAS, assassinated and to proclaim the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in Pakistan.  Lt.Gen. Jehangir Karamat, the then Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO), detected the plot in time and crushed it.  The dramatis personae were court-martialled and jailed.
Ever since Sheikh Hasina came to power in 1996, independent analysts and women’s rights organisations in Bangladesh (BD) had been drawing attention to her inability or to the difficulties faced by her in reversing the process of Islamisation of the society and the administrative and security infrastructure under the two military dictatorships which followed the assassination of her father in 1975 and to counter the increasing activities of Islamic fundamentalist organisations such as the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) of the pre-1971 vintage, the Islamic Oikya Jote (IOJ- the Islamic United Front)) and the followers of bin Laden’s HUJ (Al Qaeda).  They were also drawing attention to the spread of the fundamentalist virus in the BD diaspora, particularly in the UK.
Chakma human rights groups had been highlighting the pre-1996 nexus between the JEI and the Bangladesh Army and documenting instances of their joint attacks on and destruction of Buddhist places of worship and Buddha statues in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), which, according to the Chakma groups, had continued till the middle of 1996.
In a paper on the “State of Minorities in Bangladesh: From Secular to Islamic Hegemony”, Mr. Saleem Samad, an analyst of the BD scene, points out how the trend towards the Islamisation of the civil society and the State apparatus in Bangladesh started even under the late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first President of Bangladesh.
Shiekh Mujibur Rahman revived the Islamic Academy (which was banned in 1972) and upgraded it to a Foundation in March 1975 and increasingly attended Islamic gatherings. He also banned sale and consumption of liquor, though production of liquor continued and betting in horse-race.  He sought membership of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in February 1974, attended the OIC conference at Lahore the same year, established diplomatic ties with Pakistan after granting unconditional pardon of the occupational forces of Pakistan involved in war crimes on innocent people, especially women, and allowed their subsequent safe repatriation, and secured the founder membership of the Islamic Development Bank in 1975.
Towards the end of his rule, Mujib made frequent references to Islam in his speeches and public utterances by using terms and idioms which were peculiar mainly to the Islam-oriented Bangladeshi – like Allah (the Almighty God),Insha Allah (God willing), Bismillah (in the name of God), Tawaba (Penitence) and Imam (religious leader).  He even dropped his symbolic valedictory expression Joy Bangla (Glory to Bengal) and ended his speeches with Khuda Hafez (May God protect you), the traditional Indo-Islamic phrase for bidding farewell.  In his later day speeches, he also highlighted his efforts to establish cordial relations with the Muslim countries in the Middle East.
According to Mr.Saleem Samad, the process of using Islam for leadership legitimisation purposes gathered momentum during the military regimes of General Ziaur Rahman (1975-1981) and General H.M. Ershad (1982-1990).  During the regime of Zia, the Constitution was amended to delete secularism as one of the four state principles and insert “Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim” (in the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful).  The principle of secularism was replaced by the words, “Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all action.”
“Islamiyat” was introduced as compulsory from classes I to VIII in schools with the option for minority students to take similar religious courses of their own.
Between 1982 and 1990, Ershad made systematic efforts to continue the policy of Zia, rehabilitating anti-liberation elements and the parallel Islamisation culminating in the Eighth amendment to the Constitution declaring “Islam” as a state religion. Earlier, the short-lived government of Mustaque Ahmed (August 1975 – November 1975) brought to power at the behest of young military officers, had declared the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as the”Islamic Republic of Bangladesh” over the state radio.
Mr.Samad points out that the subsequent regimes of Khaleda Zia and Shiekh Hasina, which came to power through popular mandate through a free and fair election process under two consecutive neutral governments (in 1991 and 1996), too continued the Islamic policies of the previous governments.  They did not try to reverse the Islamisation measures taken by Ershad. The Constitution of Bangladesh, despite the Awami League being in power today, remains an Islamic one.
In mid -1993, the Khaleda Zia Government, under pressure from Islamic fundamentalist elements, asked the commercial banks to disallow the withdrawal of substantial cash money by Hindu account holders and to stop the disbursement of business loans to Hindus living in the districts adjoining the India-Bangladesh border.
None of these Governments took action to restore to the Hindus their properties seized by the Ayub Government in 1965 under the Enemy Property (Custody and Registration) Order under the “Defence of Pakistan Rules Ordinance” which has since been replaced by the Vested Property Act.
In a study titled “Resistance to Fundamentalism in Bangladesh and Britain”, an organisation called Women Against Fundamentalism (WAF) has pointed out as follows:
“In 1971,there was widespread collaboration (with the Pakistani rulers) by government officers at local and national level.  Unable to visualise a Bengali victory, they wished to protect their jobs and sided with the rulers who they expected to be the victors.
“More ideologically based was the enthusiastic collaboration of the Islamic party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, and its student wing who formed the active service units of the Al-Badr to defend Pakistan and wipe out Bengali intellectuals.  These ‘razakars’ (collaborators) are held responsible for perpetrating thousands of rapes and massacres in the name of Islam and for guiding the Pakistani army to the resistance bases.
“In the middle of the war, the Pakistani rulers established national and regional ‘Peace Committees’ whose task, in their own words, was to ‘seek out miscreants and Indian agents and to assist the armed forces in destroying them’.  A leading member of the national Peace Committee was Professor Golam Azam who repeatedly exhorted the razakars to rid the country of anti-Pakistani dissidents.
“After the Liberation, there was an expectation of war crimes trials.  A Collaborators’ Ordinance was passed but it was used patchily and apparently more as an excuse to pay off old scores than to put on trial the leading collaborators and murderers although their identity was very well known.  The civil servants who had collaborated were very soon rehabilitated to serve the new government and in 1973, in a changing political climate, a General Pardon was declared (for collaborators other than murderers and rapists).  The extent of this politically motivated rehabilitation was demonstrated by the appointment of a former regional Peace Committee chairman as the President of Bangladesh.
“Most of the leading collaborators went abroad to work against Bangladesh in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the West.  A leading figure among them was Golam Azam who along with other former collaborators played a key role in the expansion of Jamaat-e-Islami and its establishment in Britain.  In 1978,Golam Azam returned to Bangladesh, ostensibly to visit his sick mother.  Despite his having no citizenship and being widely held to have been a major collaborator, he has lived there ever since with the protection of successive governments and his own ‘Islamic Guards’.
“In 1991, Golam Azam was declared the Amir (leader) of the Jamaat, now an active and increasingly successful political party working to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh. Their argument in Bangladesh, as in Egypt and Algeria, is that democracy is un-Islamic because laws can only come from Islam.  Nationalism is also regarded as un-Islamic and Bangladesh ‘s whole existence and secession from Pakistan is therefore disapproved of. Jamaat is believed to have political links with Iran and financial support from Saudi Arabia.  The student wing of Jamaat has gained control of the campus of the Chittagong University, through a combination of ideology and guns, and has near control over other campuses.  Fights and shootings take place very frequently in the universities, many students and teachers have been killed and teaching and examinations disrupted or suspended.
“The Jamaat’s activities have been tolerated and encouraged to a greater or lesser extent by successive ruling regimes and governments in Bangladesh who have relied on their support.  Islamisation has come a long way in Bangladesh with Islam now the official religion and agitation led by the Jamaat for an Islamic Republic.
“The Islamic movement has prospered for a number of reasons.  Many people have a nostalgic attachment to Pakistan and a mistrust of India.  In the depth of the economic and social problems of Bangladesh, and disillusionment with both the capitalist and communist nations which are seen as having failed to support the country, the promise of a renaissance through internationalist Islam seems attractive not only to the very religious rural poor but also to educated young people who can see no other positive future.  The extent of corruption and the general lack of confidence in the government and bureaucracy makes the concept of a ‘pure’ corruption-free society ruled by Islam an appealing option to many people.”
Alarmed by the return and rehabilitation of Golam Azam, the secular forces in Bangladesh started a number of movements to identify the collaborators of Pakistan and the Al Badr in the 1971 massacres and to have them tried.  In a report released in March, 1994, a People’s Enquiry Commission, consisting of prominent personalities,identified, in addition to Golam Azam, eight others as the collaborators of the Al Badr in the massacres–Abbas Ali Khan, Maulana Matiur Rehman Nizami, Mohammed Kamruzzaman, Maulana Dilawar Hussain Sayeedi, Maulana Abdul Mannan, Abdul Kader Molla and Abdul Alim.
Abbas Ali Khan held the No.2 position in the Jamaat and members of the Razakar force (who were given short courses in military training) were, under his leadership, given powers equal to those of the regular armed forces, and they allegedly carried out widespread killings, rapes and looting in villages.
Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami, who was the Secretary- General of the JEI, used to exhort them to “carry out [their] national duty to eliminate those who are engaged in war against Pakistan and Islam,” and to finish off Awami League supporters.  After one such meeting, Al-Badr forces, in cooperation with the Razakars, surrounded the village of Brishlika and burnt it to the ground.  He has since taken over as the Amir of the JEI in December last and has not suffered any penal consequences.  On the contrary, he is now an important political ally of Begum Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP).
Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, the Assistant Secretary-General of the JEI, was in charge of recruiting members for and organising the Al-Badr in Mymensingh.
A member of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Majlis-e -Shoora, Maulana Dilawar Hussain Sayeedi took active part in the organisation of the Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams forces.  He was also accused of involvement along with Pakistani army troops in the killing of sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Faizur Rahman,father of Humayun Ahmad, a renowned writer and professor of chemistry at the University of Dacca.
Maulana Abdul Mannan, the president of the Jamiat-e-Mudarresin, an organisation of teachers of madrassas and the owner of the daily “Dainik Inquilab,” the country’s second-highest circulated newspaper, was one of the key collaborators of the Yahya regime during 1971.  A Minister under General Ziaur Rahman after 1976 and subsequently in President H M Ershad’s cabinet, Mannan was also associated with the killing of intellectuals, specifically eminent physician Alim Chowdhury.
Abdul Kader Molla, the publicity secretary of the JEI, was known as a ‘butcher’ in the Dacca suburb of Mirpur, mainly populated by non-Bengali Muslim migrants in 1971.  An eyewitness to Molla’s criminal activities in 1971 told the commission that Razakar men, under the command of Kader Molla, brutally murdered the poet Meherunnessa .
According to the commission’s report, Abdul Alim himself carried out executions of Bengalis by lining them up and shooting them dead.
Despite their involvement in the massacres carried out by the JEI of united Pakistan and its Al Badr, many of these personalities of the JEI are today in the forefront of the fundamentalist, pro-Pakistan and anti-India forces in BD and privileged allies of the BNP.
A Special Rapporteur (SR) of the UN Human Rights Commission, Geneva, who visited Bangladesh from May 15 to 24,2000, reported to the Commission as follows: “The 1972 Constitution (articles 39 and 41) guarantees freedom of religion and conscience and their manifestations, while defining certain limits e.g. in the interest of the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.  The principle of non-discrimination is also guaranteed.  The Constitution accords a special role to Islam, which is defined as the state religion; the Amendment of 1977 defines the Muslim faith as one of the nation’s guiding principles.  The sharia does not constitute the basis of the country’s legislation.
“Most of the officials with whom the SR met stated that the government was in favour of secularism.  Non-governmental representatives and independent experts said that state policies generally respected freedom of religion and belief, in the strictest sense of those terms, and also respected their manifestations, within the framework of the limitations provided by the law.  However, religious communities – more particularly minorities and ethnic groups, but also Muslims – encounter serious problems.  These problems arise in two main contexts: (a) relations between the state and religious communities (e.g. restricted access for non-Muslims to public-sector employment) and between the state and ethnic communities (e.g. the delays in the implementation of the peace accord concerning the CHT); and (b) relations between the state and non-ethnic communities, particularly extremist religious parties.
“There is a real and effective threat of religious extremism, stemming largely from such religious parties as Jamat-e-Islami, which are very active in their efforts to train Muslims by infiltrating mosques and madrasas and engaging in political action.  This extremism is notably responsible for the climate of insecurity among non-Muslim minorities, as well as among the Ahmadi Muslim minority community, among ethnic groups and among women, regardless of their religious confession.
“There have been looting and destruction of (Buddhist) temples, as well as harassment of Buddhist monks and other Buddhists by Muslim extremist groups; Buddhists have suffered discrimination with respect to public sector jobs.
“There is discrimination against Christians with respect to access to public sector employment, including access to police and army jobs; there are stereotypes representing Christians as anti-Muslim (because of the Crusades); there is an absence of any real interchange between the Christian and Muslim communities, especially in urban environments.  The authorities do not, in practice, recruit Christian teachers, even though there are enough Christian students to justify such recruitment; extremist Muslim groups often oppose the use of bells and loudspeakers for hymns in places of worship; there is a strong current of anti-Christian activism and the police largely remain passive when incidents occur; legal decisions in favour of the Catholic Church, concerning the use of their property, have not been applied because extremist Muslims have opposed their application on a variety of grounds.
“There is no interference by the authorities in the religious activities of Hindus; there is a feeling of insecurity, however, due partly to the Vested Property Act; Hindu women are often victims of harassment and rape carried out by criminal elements of society. ”
The electoral support enjoyed by the JEI in BD is more than that of its counterpart in Pakistan, but still not substantial.  It won only 18 seats in the 1996 elections, but it has built up considerable street power and has important allies in the IOJ and the HUJ. They have carefully retained and nursed the nexus which the JEI had built up in the military and intelligence establishment before 1991, but available evidence does not permit a quantification of the support enjoyed by them in the establishment .
During the 1980s, many cadres of the JEI had participated in the fight against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan and, in the process, established a networking relationship with different Afghan Mujahideen groups, with Pakistani jehadi organisations and with the HUJ (Al Qaeda) of bin Laden.  They had also played an active role in assisting and training the Rohingya Muslims of the Arakan State of Myanmar.  The BD military-intelligence establishment had allowed the HUM of Pakistan to run training camps for Rohingya Muslims in BD territory.
In recent months, a Bangladeshi version of the HUJ has made its appearance and has been operating independently.  Though the BD authorities claim that the HUJ came into being in 1992 when Begum Khaleda Zia was the Prime Minister, reports of its activities have come to the fore only during the last two years.  It has been projected as an organisation owing its inspiration to bin Laden and the Taliban of Afghanistan.  Their slogan reportedly is: “Amra Sobai Hobo Taliban. Bangla Hobe Afghanistan'(We all will become Taliban and Bangla will become Afghanistan).
After the arrest and interrogation of a South African citizen of Indian origin Ahmed Sadeq Ahmed,a Pakistani citizen Mohammad Sajed and two Bangladeshis- Maulana Nazrul Islam and Sardar Bokhtiar– in 1999, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the BD Police projected them as members of bin Laden’s organisation and gave the following details of the HUJ as gathered by them during the interrogation:
* Bin Laden had sanctioned taka 20 million (US $ 0.40 million) for recruiting and training cadres and organising terrorist and subversive activities in Bangladesh.  He had handed over the money to Mohammad Sajed, who is the coordinator of the pro-bin Laden militants working in Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh.
* Mohammad Sajed told the investigators that he had handed over the money to Sardar Bokhtiar.
* Bokhtiar confessed to having received this amount and said that he had distributed it to 421 madrasas which were helping the HUJ in recruiting and training its cadres.
* Maulana Nazrul Islam, who was arrested in Sirajganj district, is said to be the Amir of the HUJ in BD.
These claims of the CID were strongly refuted by the JEI of BD and its counterpart in South Africa.  Despite this, the US Secret Service took them seriously enough to advise President Clinton to cancel a visit to a village outside Dacca during his visit to BD in March,2000.
The BD authorities also blamed the HUJ for two alleged attempts to kill Sheikh Hasina in July 2000, when explosive devices were recovered at or near the places to be visited by her during a routine security check.
Since the beginning of this year, there has been a number of violent incidents in which the involvement of the Islamic extremist elements was suspected by the BD Police.  The more important of these incidents were:
* On January 20, 2001, six persons were killed and 50 others injured in two separate bomb blasts in Dhaka.  Home Minister Mohammad Nasism held the JEI and its affiliates responsible for the attack.  Water Resources Minister Abdur Razzak accused Pakistan’s ISI of having instigated the incidents.
* On February 6, seven persons were killed and 100 injured in a clash between Islamic fundamentalists and the security forces at Brahanbaria, bordering the Indian State of Tripura.  These incidents were a sequel to the arrests of two top leaders of the IOJ for having threatened two judges who had banned the issue of fatwas by clerics and killed a police constable.
* On April 14,a bomb exploded at an open-air concert in Dacca, killing at least nine people and wounding nearly 50. The concert was part of celebrations marking the Bengali new year.  Sheikh Hasina blamed the blasts on “forces who opposed Bangladesh’s independence (from Pakistan) and want to destroy Bengali culture”.  The JEI had been campaigning against the celebration of the Bengali new year on the ground that it was unIslamic.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also been targeted by these groups as ‘un-Islamic’.  The hundreds of NGOs working to raise living standards and the lot of women in one of the world’s poorest nations, have been accused of destroying Islamic culture.
With reference to the attack on the BSF personnel, the BD Press has quoted the BD Foreign Secretary, Syed Muazzem Ali, as telling journalists at Dacca on April 20,2001, as follows: “The border force has standing responsibility of protecting the frontier from any external attacks.  BDR are there to repulse any attack on the country’s frontier. There are some situations when decisions are taken instantly.  It does not require to send file to Dhaka, get order and then start firing.  It is the charter duty of BDR to protect our frontier from any attack on our border.  If question of war comes, then the orders from top level may come.”
He thus tried to justify any action by the BDR without the orders of Dacca.
Sheikh Hasina’s election victory in 1996 was greeted in India with lots of hope and expectation that her tenure would mark more cordial and closer relations between the two countries.  The atmosphere has since then definitely improved.  There are warmer vibrations between the political leaderships of the two countries than before 1996.  Her words and gestures have been more sensitive to the concerns of India than those of her predecessors, but what has been wanting is meaningful action on the ground.
She has been unable to order or persuade the military-intelligence establishment to stop its involvement with Indian insurgent groups operating from BD territory and to expel them.  Even if she has done so, they have disregarded her orders.  She has not been able to rid sections of her security bureaucracy of their hostile mindset towards India as seen from the recent incidents.  She has resisted requests from India and pressure from the US to sell the BD’s surplus gas to India, lest there be protests from the anti-India elements.
This gap between words and actions does not appear to be due to any insincerity on her part.  It is more due to her failure, even after five years in power, to get a true measure of her military and intelligence establishment and to put herself in the driving position in relation to them.  It would take her or even Begum Khaleda Zia, if she comes back to power in the elections due shortly, considerable political skills and time to tame the security bureaucracy and make it carry out the bidding of the political leadership.
At present, India has no other option but to be patient and watchful. It is in India’s national interest that the democratic experiment succeeds in BD, that the political leadership there, of whatever persuasion, establishes effective control over the security bureaucracy, that lurking/budding Abbassis and Musharrafs in the BD security forces are detected and removed in time and that the creeping fundamentalisation of the society and the State structure is halted and reversed .

by B.Raman

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: corde@vsnl.com )

Bangladesh Liberation War Mujibnagar Government Documents 1971

Book Review

Oath-taking at Bidyanathtala

Zobaida Nasreen

Bangladesh Liberation War Mujibnagar Government Documents 1971; compiled and edited by Sukumar Biswas; Mowla Brothers; February 2005; Taka 1200; 655 pp.


It is undoubtedly true that the Bangladesh War of Liberation is the most remarkable event in the history of the people of Bangladesh, and it is equally true that the documentation of this struggle is a continuous process. Unfortunately, since the history of the liberation war has become a highly politicized matter, its history, and interpretations of it, have become a contested site. Though the war in 1971 was itself the historical consequence of a long-lasting economic, political and social oppression, it is often treated as an outburst of the oppressed people.


It was as a part and a continuation of this history that the Pakistani army launched a barbarous attack on civilians on the night of March 25, 1971. It was the beginning of a genocide with rare parallels in world history. After the declaration of independence by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 25th March, a provisional, independent government of Bangladesh was formally established on 10 th April, 1971. The oath-taking ceremony of this provisional government took place at Bidyanathtala under Meherpur sub-division of Kushtia district, which was subsequently renamed as Mujibnagar. From then on, this provisional Bangladesh government came to be popularly known as ‘Mujibnagar Government’.


Yet there is a scarcity of reliable documentation about the Mujibnagar Government, which played not only the pivotal role in our struggle for independence, but which is also considered as the first non-institutionalized government of the Bangladeshi people. The provisional government of Mujibnagar had to face tremendous hurdles, but, as the author puts it in his preface, ‘it eventually succeeded in achieving independence through farsightedness, firm mental strength and relentless effort. The Mujibnagar Government was recruiting freedom-fighters for fighting against the Pakistan army, giving them training and making and implementing war-plans, (and) also had to keep in their mind the responsibilities of arrangement of relief of nearly ten million refugees in India, sending emissaries to different countries of the world, making efforts to form world opinion and also maintain overall good relations with India regarding all aspects (of the military and civil struggle).’


The book is arranged in four sections: In the first part are 77 out of 82 press releases issued by the Mujibnagar Government. The second part contains ‘Bangladesh‘ a bulletin published by the Mujibnagar Government. The third part includes news items in the foreign press related to Bangladesh and the freedom movement which started after the crackdown of Pakistan army on March 25. The fourth part contains a number of documents of the Mujibnagar Government and rare photographs of that period. The latter is indeed the great attraction of this book.


Though many books have been published on the liberation war or its background over the last 34 years, few of them have focused on the Mujibnagar Government. In the case of documents pertaining to the liberation war, the most definitive is the official, 14-volume Bangladesher Swadhinata Juddho, Dalilpatra, edited by Hasan Hafizur Rahman, published by the Bangladesh government. While that does include papers and documents relating to the Mujibnagar Government, they are not arranged chronologically. Also, some of the documents in Mujibnagar, as Professor Salahuddin writes in the foreword,’had remained hitherto unknown.’ Given the specific focus of Dr. Biswas’s book, it therefore gives us a truer picture of the Mujibnagar Government. Of special interest is that all 26 volumes of ‘Bangladesh‘– a journal brought out by the then newly formed External Publicity Division of the Mujibnagar Government to fight the crucial publicity and propaganda war–has been published here for the first time.


But here one must note that typos abound: indeed, at the very beginning, the author’s introduction is spelt ‘Indtroduction.’ At times the indexing has been overdone; for example, ‘Gestapo rule,’ and ‘Gestapo’ are indexed separately on pp. 185 and 157. Why? And if that is to be the case, then why leave out ‘Gestapo interrogation’?

But, in conclusion, it must be said that it is a necessary book, one that should be of interest to all Bangladeshis concerned about the history of their freedom struggle. Dr. Sukumar Biswas, a researcher on our liberation war as well as publisher Mowla Brothers, are to be commended for having undertaken to bring out this book.


Zobaida Nasreen is a graduate of the Anthropology Department, Jahangirnagar University.



Documenting a government-in-exile

by Syed Badrul Ahsan


There has generally been a rather woeful dearth of documentation relating to the War of Liberation as well as the period preceding it. The paucity of recorded material stands out in sharp contrast to the materials that have been with us about the partition of India in 1947. If we were now to go into a search for papers dealing with the Rawalpindi Round Table Conference of 1969 or the Mujib-Bhutto-Yahya talks of March 1971, we would come away quite disappointed. That would be because apart from the discrete views made known by the parties involved in such happenings of historic proportions, there is little else to actually work upon.

   It is from such a perspective, or away from it, that Sukumar Biswas’s collection and collation of documents relating to the Mujibnagar government of 1971 assume significance. Documents is in many ways the first time (and do not forget that there is the very authoritative Muldhara ’71 of Maidul Hasan as well to fall back on) a scholar has attempted to put together some documents he feels are important to an understanding of how the Bangladesh government-in-exile conducted itself in the extremely difficult months of the war. Statements put out by Acting President Syed Nazrul Islam, Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed and Foreign Minister Khondokar Moshtaque Ahmed find prominence in the anthology. There are too the turning points of the war, particularly in relation to the emerging nation’s diplomacy. The defections of Bengali officers of Pakistan’s Foreign Service are noted in great detail by the Mujibnagar authorities. It is these crucial announcements of how a military struggle for freedom is being systematically strengthened in various ways that Biswas now puts on record. Especially intriguing is the move, an abortive one, by the Pakistani authorities to have A.F.M Abul Fateh, a Bengali serving as Pakistan’s ambassador abroad, extradited to Islamabad once he switches allegiance to the Mujibnagar government.

   Mujibnagar Government Documents 1971 focuses in an important way on the stupendous efforts put in by expatriate Bengalis to propagate the national cause throughout the course of the war. The Bangladesh Association of Japan sends out a congratulatory telegram to M. Hossain Ali for his courageous move of declaring allegiance to Bangladesh in the early phase of the war. In Washington, the Bengal Revolutionary Committee, led by Mian Nawab, appeals to the international community to accord diplomatic recognition to the Bangladesh government. The documents make note of the many steps the Mujibnagar government took to present the Bangladesh cause before the global arena. One notes that Abdus Samad, later to be a minister in both the Mujib and Hasina governments, travelled to Budapest as the representative of the Mujibnagar government at a peace conference in May 1971. A government press note in June urges Bengalis proceeding to London from their occupied country to avoid passing through Karachi airport. Syed Nazrul Islam despatches a telegram in October 1971 to West German Chancellor Willy Brandt on the latter’s coming by the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Overall, Mujibnagar Documents demonstrates the clarity of purpose with which the government-in-exile operated despite the many constraints it was weighed down by. It was a government on which a war had been thrust by the Yahya Khan military junta. And it acquitted itself well. Read the notes and letters reproduced in the concluding section of the anthology.

Bangladesh Liberation War Mujibnagar

Government Documents 1971

Collected, compiled, edited by Sukumar Biswas

Mowla Brothers

ISBN 984 410 434 3







Bangabandhu and Bangladesh

 By Muntasir Mamun

The inhabitants of Bangladesh had dreamt of a free land for long. Many individuals had sought to materialise this dream in the past. Many had spoken about that land during the first forty years of the last century. That plan was once again drawn during the partition of India. Moulana Bhashani had spoken about an independent territory for the Bangalis during the decade of 1960s. But none could give complete shape to that dream. That dream was finally realized on 16 December 1971 under the leadership of a pure Bangali – Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was he who could erect for the Bangalis the geographic boundaries of a free state. Bangabandhu, Father of the Nation, or Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – in whatever name we may call him – his iconic figure looms large whenever we talk about Bangladesh. That is why, his name has become ingrained in our history and because of that we repeatedly reminisce about him. There are numerous claimants to the Bangladesh dream. Many might have dreamt it; many had talked about Bangladesh through signs and gestures; but Sheikh Mujib had completed the task like an architect. Like many others, he also thought of Bangladesh, but preparations for the purpose continued up to 1971.

Moulana Bhashani had also spoken about Bangladesh in open forums. But his role was negligible in this field. However, all those dreams and speeches had prepared the people. Journalist Abdul Matin had written in his autobiography: “He met Mujib one day at noon during the military rule of Ayub Khan. Sheikh Saheb said that he did not care Ayub Khan. He knew the minds of the people. After remaining silent for a few moments, he talked about using the Agartala case in the anti-Ayub movement”. It can be said in this context that the Agartala conspiracy case might not have been fully cooked up.  That dark gentleman had emerged from the very midst of our rural paddy culture. His heart was vast like nature itself, and he wanted to cover the Bangalis with that – the whole of Bangladesh. The Bangalis had repaid that gesture as long as he lived.

One day on 27 March 1971, a Major suddenly told the Bangalis to snatch freedom and they jumped for that – the Bangalis are not made of such stuff. It took a long time to awaken them and it was Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who succeeded in doing that. Consequently, whether one likes it or not, can there be any option other than calling him the ‘architect of our freedom’? And it was not that Sheikh Mujib became ‘Bangabandhu’ overnight in 1970 and ‘Father of the Nation’ all of a sudden in 1972. It took him three decades to become Bangabandhu. If we consider the period between 1940 and 1974, we shall see that Sheikh Mujib became Bangabandhu and Father of the Nation for several reasons. These were: the vastness of his heart, his humanism and tolerance, his appearance, dresses and words; all of these had demonstrated his intention to maintain everlasting bonds with a huge population. Some information and proofs could be obtained about the long-drawn conspiracies of the villains of 1975 for seizing power. Khandakar Mostaque is an example. Evidence of the conspiratorial mentality of this principalvillain in our history could be observed even before the liberation war. The frontline leaders of Awami League had visited Bangabandhu at his Dhanmondi residence on 25 March 1971 and asked him to remain cautious. Only Khandakar Mostaque was not seen there. After independence, he lobbied with Dr. Wazed Miah to become Foreign Minister with seniority. Later, in 1974, Dr. Wazed Mia saw after going to Khandakar Mostaque’s residence that one Major Rashid was going out of the house after secret talks with him.

There has been much debate about the message of Sheikh Mujib broadcast by Mr. Hannan from Chittagong on 26 March 1971. Dr. Wazed Miah had written: “Bangabandhu’s message was in a taped form. After transmitting that message from Dhaka’s Baldah garden, that brave member of EPR had sought fresh orders by contacting Bangabandhu’s residence over telephone. Bangabandhu then directed the EPR member via Mr. Golam Morshed to leave that place instantly after throwing the transmitter into the pond of Baldah garden.” I shall not go into the debate on whether this information was correct or not. I understand as an ordinary student of history that the country called Bangladesh was founded at the very start of March 1971 and that had happened at the directive of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Professor Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir highlighted this in a very clear and logical manner in his essay titled ‘Accountability of the State’. He wrote: “The 35 directives issued by Sheikh Mujib had laid the ground for all-out noncooperation with the Pakistani state through resistance and rejection of its authority and complete cooperation of the Bangali masses with their administration through establishment of a pro-people authority.

—— The Bangali people had nurtured the thought of becoming the inhabitants of a separate, different and independent state in their bosom, head and heart even before the commencement of the war.” From the 1960s, Bangabandhu had two objectives. One of those was unambiguous, while another was unclear or something akin to a dream. The clear objective was to build up the Awami League, spread the organization throughout the country and establish a civil society by going to power on Awami League platform. There were infightings within the Awami League, which was natural for a big party. But Sheikh Mujib’s organizational capacity was unique. He had the two qualities of tolerance and flexibility, which were needed for making the party bigger. I have even seen old people in remote rural areas, whose only possession was a tea-stall, who never got anything from the party, but had never left it after coming to the fold of Awami League at the behest of Sheikh Mujib. There are many more selfsacrificing Awami Leaguers in the nooks and corners of Bangladesh, who did not leave the party despite becoming destitute. The leaders, however, do not keep track of them. Besides, Sheikh Mujib had such individuals as his

companions, without whose help he might not have achieved his cherished goal. As a result, the Awami League became bigger, expanded after the 6- point movement and simultaneously Sheikh Mujib became the undisputed leader of the masses. He also had tremendous self-confidence and courage. The blossoming of the party had also raised his confidence in himself as well as the people. That was why he could transform the 6-points into a 1-point. And this was his unclear vision or dream. That he was unwavering on the question of this

objective and had the necessary courage and confidence for materialising this dream were highlighted during the Agartala conspiracy trial. Fayez Ahmed had written about an incident during this trial. He was sitting beside the main accused Sheikh Mujib. They were not allowed to talk inside the court.

Sheikh Mujib tried to draw the attention of Fayez Ahmed a number of times in order to say something. Fayez Ahmed said, “Mujib Bhai, conversations are not allowed. I can’t turn my head. They will throw me out.” A loud reply came forthwith, “Fayez, one has to talk to Sheikh Mujib if he wants to stay in Bangladesh.” –

 ——-He did not know then that this symbolic utterance by Sheikh Mujib was not meant for any individual person; it was a message for the entire people of a country, which could ignite fire. Sheikh Mujib returned to the Bangladesh of his dream in 1972. Now his role was not that of a wager of movements. Rather, he played his part in materialising the dream of a Golden Bangla. He worked tirelessly with that objective in mind until 15 August 1975. Reconstruction of the country was in full swing and the Constitution was already framed by that time. The biggest achievement of Bangabandhu and the then Awami League government was to endow the country with a Constitution. I do not know whether there is any other example of a country where it was possible to provide a Constitution so swiftly in the aftermath of such a bloody war. The four core principles of the state were proclaimed through this Constitution, which could have been termed as radical in the context of the then realities. These were: Democracy, Socialism, Secularism and Nationalism. These principles in fact contained those very ideals for which the liberation war was fought. This was especially true of secularism. That is why the military generals had at the very outset struck at these core principles, especially secularism. Besides, the Constitution described the social, economic and political rights of citizens and the philosophy of the state. In other words, it indicated that the liberation war was waged for establishing a civil society in place of a military-dominated one. The 1972 Constitution had incorporated the necessary institutions for a civil society; it firmly strove to lay the foundation for a vibrant civil society in Bangladesh.

In this context, Bangabandhu had said in one of his speeches: “I do not know whether democracy was initiated immediately after a bloody revolution in any country of the world. —– Elections have been organised. The right of vote has been expanded in scope by lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. Bangladesh’s own aeroplanes are now flying in the skies of different countries; a fleet of commercial ships has also been launched. The BDR is now guarding the borders. The ground forces are ready to repel any attack on the motherland. Our own navy and air-force are now operational. The police force and thanas have been rebuilt, 70 percent of which were destroyed by the Pakistanis. A ‘National Rakkhi Bahini’ has been raised. You are now the owners of 60 percent of mills and factories. Taxes for up to 25 bighas of land have been exempted. We do not believe in the policy of vengeance and revenge. Therefore, general amnesty has been declared for those who were accused and convicted under the Collaborators’ Act for opposing the liberation war.” But the people were not inclined to appreciate the framing of Constitution, its principles, and the successes of Sheikh Mujib due to rising price of essentials and the law and order situation. Not only was Bangabandhu killed along with his family, the husband

of his sister Abdur Rab Serniabat and his nephew (sister’s son) Sheikh Moni

were also killed along with their family members. It was quite apparent that intense hatred had worked behind this; otherwise this kind of brutality could

not have been carried out in cold blood. The assumption that if any of the family members survived, then he would come forward to provide leadership was also at work. That this assumption was not unfounded has been proved subsequently.

Bangabandhu’s two daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana survived as they were staying abroad. Later, Sheikh Hasina became the leader of the Awami League and is now once again waging a struggle to reinforce the civil society.

It is clear from the manner in which the Bangabandhu family was assassinated that there were local and international conspiracies and a long time was spent for planning it. The conspirators took risks and that risktaking paid off. A faction of the Awami League led by Khandakar Mostaque was involved in it. It can be cited as evidence that it was during Mostaque’s rule that the four Awami League and national leaders Tajuddin Ahmed, Syed Nazrul Islam, Mansur Ali and Kamruzzaman were killed inside the central jail on 3 November 1975. Saudi Arabia and China recognised Bangladesh immediately after Khandakar Mostaque came to power. Relationships with Pakistan and the USA also improved. Consequently, the theory that foreign powers had a hand in the killings cannot be dismissed outright.

Almost three decades after Sheikh Mujib’s killing, the people can once again feel what Sheikh Mujib really was and why he was awarded the title ‘Bangabandhu’. People can realize today that he wanted to raise the stature of the Bangalis, and one way of doing that was to give back the honour to the unarmed people. Whichever parties and persons might have ruled Bangladesh after his murder, his name could not be erased from the minds of the people. That effort still continues. That is because it is evident today that we got that honour only once, that path was opened for us only once in 1971, when Bangladesh succeeded in ousting all kinds of armed thugs under the leadership of an unarmed Bangali called Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Despite the many flaws and heaps of criticisms levelled against Sheikh Mujib, we should note, just as an opponent of Sheikh Mujib and Awami League – Moudud Ahmed – had written (translator’s translation from Bengali): “The appearance of Sheikh Mujib was the biggest event in the national history of Bangladesh. His burial did not take place through his death. More pragmatic, efficient, capable and dynamic political personalities than Sheikh Mujib might have emerged or may emerge, but it will be very difficult to find someone who has contributed more to the independence movement of Bangladesh and the shaping of its national identity.” He had endeavoured to uphold the interests of the Bangalis throughout his life and had never compromised until his objectives were attained. That is why the Bangalis gave him the title ‘Bangabandhu’ and ‘Father of the Nation’ out of sheer love and emotion. His lifestyle was like that of an ordinary Bangali of eternal Bengal; that is why he could so intensely connect with the ordinary people and their communities. He possessed all the attributes of an ordinary Bangali.

But his love for his people and country was extraordinary, almost blind. He used to say: “My strength is that, I love human beings. My weakness is that, I love them too much.” The position of Bangabandhu vis-à-vis other doers in the civil society of Bangladesh will become clear if the events of 1971 and 1971-75 are analysed. It is impossible to write the history of pre and post-independence

Bangladesh without mentioning him. The names of two great Bangalis will remain forever shining in the minds of the Bangalis. One is Rabindranath Thakur and the other is Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. One had shaped the Bengali language and wrote the national anthem of Bangladesh. The other materialised the age-old dream of the Bangalis by helping create an independent territory called Bangladesh for an entire nation. I feel proud for this, and my posterity will also be so. The names ‘Bangali’ and ‘Bangladesh’ will continue to live on. And that is why Anandashankar Ray had written: “As long as the Padma, Meghna, Gouri, Jamuna flows on, Your accomplishment will also live on, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.”

Translation: Helal Uddin Ahmed

Why Sheikh Mujibur Rahman deserves to be the Father of Nation of Bangladesh: A factual Review!

The very old adage: ‘Truth never can be masked by the lie’ has once again come true. After almost 25 years of relentless distortion of Bangalis glorious history of independence by the anti-liberation force, the truth has re-surfaced burying the utter lies generated about the history of independence. At last, the Bangladesh Army Chief, Lt General Moeen U Ahmed has voluntarily uttered the much needed truth by saying: “after 36 years of independence we still have not been able to honour the Father of the Nation.” Entire nation cheerfully commended his courageous statement and urge the caretaker government to bury our distorted history forever and give Banglais National leaders their due places in the glorious history of Bangladesh. No sane person can deny the historical fact that it was Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who transformed the ever oppressed, quarrelsome, directionless, and divided but politically conscious Bengalis into a united mighty force in the entire history of Bangali nation. Bangabandhu was the very nucleus of Bangalis independence movement and it was his towering popularity having super charismatic leadership under whose magnificent shadow Bangali fought and earned a sovereign country in 1971. Just one authentic historical citation from the world-known news daily will surely establish my assertion as incontrovertible truth about the Bangalis independence. Below is the direct quote from The New York Times, March 15, 1971. In an international news feature with the Main heading: “Hero of the East Pakistanis” the reporter Mr. Tillman Durdins wrote: “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman—the Bengali nationalist who has emerged in recent months as the undisputed leader of the people of East Pakistan. Sheikh Mujib’s position of leadership at the age of 50 is the culmination of almost a lifetime political struggle, rising wave of popularity amounting to mass worship by the Bangali patriots. His words have literally become the law of the land.” Honourable readers, I am sure you will agree with me that after reading this 37 year old news piece from the world famous news paper published 12 thousand miles away from the then East Pakistan should be enough to remove all confusion and controversy created by some ungrateful politically misguided Bangalis! But unfortunately that is not the case with Bangali Nation at all. Time and again some ungrateful Bangalees brought various unjust and laughable allegations against Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the sovereign Bangladesh. Their intention of making false allegations is only to malign Bangabandhu’s glorious role behind the creation of independent Bangladesh.

My essay will deal with some general lame excuses commonly used by the anti-Mujib ungrateful Bangalees to create unnecessary smoke’s screen only to distort the glorious history of 1971. Out of many false allegations against Bangabandhu let me discuss only the following:

(1) Major Zia gave declaration of the independence!

Declaration of independence of Bangladesh? Sheikh Mujib’s 7th March speech was the actual declaration of independence. After the historical 7th March meeting—erstwhile East Pakistan was basically ruled by Sheikh Mujib. War of independence was in everybody’s mind, war was inevitable, and preparations were going on, in somewhat unorganized way. Bangalees throughout various places of the country were engaged in clashes with Pakistani army and Biharies. Those tumultuous days, everybody knew that, talk between Sheikh Mujib and Yahya khan was sure to fail. Besides, on the night of 25th March, prior to his arrest, Sheikh Mujib actually made his final declaration of independence which was heard by Pakistani Junta from the Kurmitola Cantonment. In an interview when Mr. Musa Sadik asked Tikka Khan (then Governor of East Pakistan) why he had to arrest Sheikh Mujib from his Dhanmondi residence, Tikka Khan replied, “My COD (Co-ordination Officer) brought to me a three band Radio and told me to listen to the broadcast which said that Sheikh Mujib Saheb given a call for independence. Personally, I heard Sheikh Saheb declaring independence, for I know his voice so well. That declaration was the reason and so, I as the then supreme authority of East Pakistan, I had to arrest him, and there being no other alternative.” Fact of the matter is, same declaration was read repeatedly on 26th March by Awami league MP Mr. Hannan from the Kalurghat Radio station. Some followers of Mr. Hannan told him that, some Bangalee (defectors) soldiers are waiting nearby Radio station. Mr. Hannan got an idea; he thought if a senior army officer could read the same declaration, then it might give encouragement to our Bangalee defector soldiers and police who were unorganized at that very critical time. Accordingly, Mr. Hannan invited Bangalee soldiers to the Radio Station and asked the senior most Bangalee officer Major Zia to read this declaration. This declaration was read on 27th of March and was heard only from Southern part of Bangladesh. On 27th of March I myself (I was in Daoudkandi, Comilla) heard this declaration from the then Major Zia’s voice and this was read as, “I Major Zia declare independence of Bangladesh on behalf of our great leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman……….”. I do not undervalue or deny the beefing effects of Bangalees’ morale (by Maj. Zia’s reading of declaration) at that crucial period of the nation. But I do not consider that, declaration of independence was really or absolutely essential at that time when Yahya’s brutal Army cracked down on unarmed Bangalees on 25th March, 1971. Country was already at war with Pakistani junta. Declaration was good but was not necessary and this declaration from Kalurghat was not heard by the entire nation at all. Even without Zia’s announcement, the nation would have automatically engaged in this unavoidable war. Leader of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman already gave his instruction to go to India and to form a Government in exile and it was exactly what was done by Sheikh Mujib’s associates.

Nobody was waiting for any “official” declaration coming out of Kalurghat! Let us hear from General Zia himself. On the occasion of 26th March, 1974—General Zia wrote an essay titled: “ A birth of a nation” which was published in the Weekly Bichitra. In that essay General Zia wrote: “Bangabandhu’s historical 7th March speech was a green signal to us, and we began to prepare morally and very secretly.” In another place General Zia said, “From the 1st of March, entire Nation was in total on cooperation with the Pakistani Army by the order of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.” It is to be noted here that, in his lifetime, General Zia never claimed that he declared independence of Bangladesh. In 1977, in an interview with the renowned reporter Mr. Ataus Samad, General Zia commented about Sheikh Mujib. General Zia said, “Sheikh Mujib was a great leader of Bangalee Nation and there will be nobody who can take his place in the history of Bangladesh.”

What would happen if there was no Declaration from the Kalurghat Radio station? Was declaration at all needed? What would happen if there were no declaration at all? Would Bangalee surrender to Pakistani junta and sit idle at home? Who was supposed to declare independence? How can somebody claim that Major Zia has declared independence of Bangladesh? On what capacity Major Zia can declare independence of Bangladesh? Was Major Zia a supreme leader of the nation in 1971? If somebody else other than major Zia was the senior most Bangalee army officer at Chittagong, and Major Zia was stationed in Bogra cantonment, who would possibly read the declaration? Would Mr. Hannan send somebody to Bagra to bring Major Zia to read the declaration? It was obvious that, whoever was present in Chittagong would have read the declaration. I do not understand, why some unscrupulous Bangalees started to give this credit of declaration after the death of General Zia? Yes, one can claim that, Maj Zia by virtue of his presence in the right place at the right time read the declaration of independence of Bangladesh on behalf the undisputed leader of independence. Truth is, if declaration was really crucial during those tumultuous days, there were at least one dozen big and famous leaders (Tujuddin, Syed Nazrul Islam et al.) left behind by Sheikh Mujib who could have very well read such declaration from any established Radio Station. Can anybody deny that? Some valuable and historical Quotes from the international Press in 1971: Immediately after the barbaric crack down by the marauding Pakistani junta, throughout the entire March of 1971 various world famous international presses continuously published news and feature articles on the episodes of then erstwhile East Pakistan which is now Bangladesh. Let me quote some of the news, which I have collected from various Bangladeshi newspapers and books.

a)     The Guardian– March 27, 1971: “The independence war has begun in East Pakistan. Pakistani soldiers started to crush Bangalee’s independence movement under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib. President Yahya Khan declared Sheikh Mujib the traitor of Pakistan. The declaration of the independent Bangladesh, in the name of Sheikh Mujib, came from a radio station named: “Voice of Bangladesh”. The radio also has issues an order to all Bangalees to follow orders only from the Sheikh Mujib, the leader of the independence.”

b)     The Times of London, March 27, 1971: “The leader of independence Sheikh Mujibhas declared independence of Bangladesh and severe battle is in progress in the eastern part of Pakistan. President Yahya Khan has banned Awami League political party, declared Sheikh Mujib as the traitor of Pakistan and vowed to punish Sheikh Mujib for his crime. ”

c)      The Evening News, March 26, 1971: Headline news- “The rebel leader Sheikh Mujib arrested.” The paper also added—“The radio Pakistan has declared that, Sheikh Mujib was arrested from his residence, within one hour after he declared the independence of Bangladesh.” In the April issue of the same Evening News published it’s cover story on Bangladesh in which it mentioned Sheikh Mujib as “the poet of politics and the undisputed supreme leader of Bangalee nation.”

d)     United News of India (UNI), March 26, 1971: “Today Sheikh Mujib has declared birth of Bangladesh from the ‘Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendro’. After that, on the night of 26th March, 1971, PTI, NDP, TSA, and BBC broadcast simultaneous news: “Broadcasting tonight from a clandestine radio station identified as ‘Voice of independent Bangladesh’ “The Sheikh has declared the seventy five million people of East Pakistan as of the sovereign independent Bangladesh.” After that this, the same news was echoed again and again all over the world. I challenge all Bangalees if they can give just one line of same news from any news media about the then obscure Major Zia!

2) Bangabundhu ended his 7th March ’71 speech with “Joy Bangla, Jiey Pakistan”!

This allegation is totally fabricated and a blatant lie from the anti-liberation defamers of Bangabandhu. I myself was physically present in the ‘ Ramna Race Course Maidan’ on March 7, 1971 along with almost one million Bangalees and still remember vividly every details of that great historical meeting. And I can swear that, Bangabandhu never uttered “jiey Pakistan”. He ended his speech by saying, “Joy Bangla”. Next day (8th March, 1971) same speech was broadcast from Radio Pakistan which I have recorded in my newly purchased Grundig tape recorder (with large spool tape) which I still have it with me. In that, recorded speech there was no such thing “Jiey Pakistan”. This is simply absurd and a total fabrication of the historical fact. Besides, this historical speech had been recorded by millions of freedom loving Bangalees, published in various news papers, in books, in the national archive etc. Nowhere, nobody could have ever claimed such a lie, at least I never heard. By the time (March ’71), when entire nation was tumultuously preparing and demanding “Independent Bangladesh”—the question of uttering such an unwelcome word by a undisputed leader of the independence was not only impractical but was simply impossible. From the beginning of March, 1971, entire Bangladesh was having Bangladeshi flags hoisted everywhere, except cantonment and Bihari colonies. Hundreds of thousands of Bangalees in the Race Course Maidan were carrying Bangladeshi flags in their hands. In that overwhelming situation no fool will dare to utter “Jiey Pakistan” without being attacked by the mob!

(3) Bangabandhu had no dream of Independent Bangladesh!

Here I can write pages after pages (but I have little scope today in this essay) to describe how Bangabandhu indeed dreamed Bangladesh as an independent nation. Of course, Bangabandhu was not the only dreamer of independent Bangladesh. Many other leaders such as Maulana Bhasani used to talk about (in public meetings only) independent Bangladesh, without any plan or follow-up. But no other leaders except Sheikh Mujib had any systematic plan to achieve independence. Had there been no Bangabandhu, there could be no Bangladesh today, period. From the inception of Pakistan, i.e., right from 1949, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did almost anything and everything which simply was seen and considered by every Pakistani Presidents/Prime ministers as the anti- Pakistani acts. He was the only Pakistani leader who spent more than 14 years in the jail during the period of 24 years of Pakistani era. He was a political headache for every Pakistani Presidents/Governors during the entire period of 24 years. Almost every ruler of Pakistan immediately after coming to power put Sheikh Mujib in jail for his so called anti-state activities. Let me put a few historical incidents in support of my claim. In 1993, Oxford University has published a book called “Zulfiqar Bhutto of Pakistan” written by Professor Stanley Wolpert of the University of California, which was the life story of Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto. In this book Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto wrote in his personal diary: “Before ’70’s general election, Sheikh Mujib said to his very nearest associates, ‘my only ambition is to achieve a free Bangladesh. After the general election, I will demolish the Legal Framework Order (LFO) of Yahya.’ Mr. Bhutto also wrote in his diary: “Had there been no action taken by Pakistani Army on 25th of March, 1971, Sheikh Mujib would have declared Independence next day (26th March,’71).” Professor Wolpert also mentioned referring Bhutto’s diary, that Sheikh Mujib has declared Independence on midnight, 25th of March ’71, possibly through a wireless station.

(4) Bangabandhu wanted to negotiate with Yahya Khan and Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto!

Bangabandhu never negotiated with Pakistani junta. He never compromised with Yahya or any other Pakistani leaders and was not willing to be sold out for his self interest. He always kept the National interest over everything. Yahya Khan had to agree with Bangabandhu’s demand for holding elections on the basis of “one man one vote”. Bangabandhu’s bold decision (against the opinion of all other parties) to participate 1970’s general election was very crucial for gaining the electoral mandate from the people of the then East Pakistan. It is only an ignorant or wishful mad leader can declare independence of a region of a sovereign country by standing at the middle of an open stage of the public meeting. Had Sheikh Mujib declared independence of Bangladesh on 7th March, 1971 meeting, million people would have been killed by Tikka’s Army. I remember very well, at that time of meeting—army helicopters were frequently flying over our heads. It was Bangabandhu’s matured leadership and far-sightedness that, he ended this meeting by declaring: “Eve-r-er Sangram Amader Muktir Sangram, Eve-r-er Sangram Sadinoter Sangram, Joy Bangla”. This historic 7th March’s speech was basically the actual declaration of independence. After this speech, entire Bangladesh (except cantonments) was ruled by Bangbandhu himself. Ashohojog Andolonn (Noncooperation movement) itself was so effectively followed by the entire nation that, Pakistani junta actually lost their governing authority over Bangalees until mid-night, 25th March, 1971 when Yahya ordered his soldiers to crack down.

Historical “Six-Point program” was the Magna Carta for realizing legitimate rights for

Self-determination of Bangalees. Bangabandhu was never a power monger and Stubbornly refused to compromise his demands for full autonomy based on historical

“Six-point Program”, even in lieu of Premiership of Pakistan. Yahya wanted to offer him both money and Premiership at the expense of Six-point Program. But Sheikh Mujib never agreed even to make a small dent to his Six-point-program. That’s why he declared in his 7th March speech—“Ami Pradhan Montrytta Chai na, Ami aidesh-er manusher Mukti chai”. Actually, this famous “Six-point Program” was the main ‘bottleneck’ because of which there could be no negotiation at the Yahya-Bhutto-Bangabandhu meetings at Dhaka. According to the renowned journalist/writer Mr. Anisur Rahman, Bangabandhu told his faithful co-leaders, “my six-points will lead to one point—that is independence.” It is only unfaithful Banglalees or those who do not like Bangladesh can claim that, Bangabandhu had no dream for independent Bangladesh. Question is, if Bangabandhu himself did not dream for Bangladesh, then could we know who else did dream for independent Bangladesh and how? No other leader but the charismatic leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had consistently Championed Banngalees’ right for self-determination. It was no other political party but the Awami League under the leadership of Bangabandhu which had consistently and persistently spearheaded the rights for Bangalees’ self-determination. Who can deny the truth that, it was Sheikh Mujib’s monumentally charismatic leadership which had prepared, step by step, all Banglees to wage a war of independence? Who can deny the historical fact that, in 1966 almost all political parties of the then Pakistan had vehemently opposed Bangabandhu’s ‘Six-point Program”? Who can deny the fact that, General Ayub Khan had threatened to speak in the language of weapon? Who has the audacity to deny that, Ayub Shahi with the collaboration of “Shara Banglar Lajja”— Monem khan, the then infamous Governor of East Pakistan had publicly threatened to put Bangabandhu and his associates in constant “chains” and duly lodged the historical “AGARTALA CONSPIRACY CASE” to destroy Bangalees’ demands once for all? Why General Ayub Khan did everything possible to subdue/crush only Bangabandhu and not others? Answer of the above questions will reveal the truth. In the world history, Bangladesh independence war of 1971 was the only national war fought and won in the (by using name of the leader who was absent) name of a single leader, named–Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. There are not too many instances where any other nation fought a war by using the name of a single leader. It was in this war, people wrote and sung various popular songs and poetries in the name of their undisputed leader and it was in this war—peoples’ as well as, all those valiant freedom fighters’ (Muktijoddha) common and popular slogans were—“Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu”. Is there anybody who can deny this? Let me narrate a true story of my life. Immediately after the freedom of Bangladesh, i.e., in the middle of 1973, I went to Prague, Czechoslovakia with a post-doc fellowship. There, one day one Czech gentleman asked me what my native country was. When I answered, I was from Bangladesh—the guy looked at me as if he never heard the name “Bangladesh”. Then he asked me, what is Bangladesh? I replied, this is a new country near Eastern India—which was erstwhile East Pakistan. Then he (making his eyes big) loudly said, “Oh, Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Mujib, I know Sheikh Mujib—he is a great leader”. By saying this he embraced me with profound respect for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. My dear readers please tell me, what kind of leader becomes bigger and more famous than his (own) country? Why in every library and archives throughout the world—one can find the name of “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman” attached (as founding leader) with the history of Bangladesh? Was it because Sheikh Mujib never dreamed Bangladesh? How can we separate Bangabandhu from Bangladesh? It is an open challenge to all those wishful history distorters and anti- liberation goons—please go try to erase Sheikh Mujib’s glorious name from the recorded history carefully archived in the libraries of every country of the whole world. Please give us just one nation on earth where the name of that obscure major Zia has been recorded as the leader of the Bangladesh Independence. This is a challenge to you all.

(5) Why Sheikh Mujib did not flee from his residence on the night of 25th March and why he surrendered to Pakistan Army!

Yes, it was against the normal behaviour of most revolutionary leader like Sheikh Mujib who could flee from his home on that fateful night of 25th March, 1971. May be it was his miscalculation, but obviously it was his personal quality which was quite unique and different from any revolutionary leader of independence movement, and we should judge him from historical perspectives. Was there a single incident during his long political life when Sheikh Mujib fled or attempted to elude his obvious arrest? History tells us that, Sheikh Mujib never fled, hid, or surrendered to anybody in his entire life. Only a liar or an ignorant can claim that, Sheikh Mujib surrendered. Sheikh Mujib was a lion-hearted Bangalees who never knew how to hide himself from anybody; he never got out of his home through the back door, not even at the crucial moment when assassins armed with Stan-guns entered (August 1975) his home to annihilate not only him but his entire family members who were with him on that fateful night. During his 24-year long political ordeal throughout East Pakistani days, he never fled/hid for his life. Let me quote here from the interview of Gen. Tikka Khan (which was posted in ‘News from Bangladesh’ on March 28, 2000) by Musa Sadik, which took place in 1976 when Gen. Tikka Khan was the then Governor of Punjab. When Mr Musa Sadik asked, if Sheikh Mujib had gone to India along with Mr. Tajuddin what you would have done sir? Gen. Tikka Khan replied, “I knew very well that a leader of his stature would never go away leaving behind his countrymen. I would have made a thorough search in every house and road in Dhaka to find out Sheikh Mujib. I had no intention to arrest leaders like Tajuddin and others. That is why they could leave Dhaka so easily.” Then Tikka Khan said more in a very firm voice, “in case we failed to arrest Sheik Mujib on that very night, my force would have inflicted a mortal blow at each home in Dhaka and elsewhere in Bangladesh. We probably would have killed crores of Bangalees in revenge on that night alone.” History was the witness that Sheikh Mujib had saved his people from a big catastrophe. Should anybody still blame Sheikh Mujib for not fleeing from his Dhanmondi home?

(6) Sheikh Mujib and his party looted and plundered the wealth of newly born Independent Bangladesh!

I wish I write a separate essay on this issue. However, I will try to make a very brief account of this issue here. We all know that Bangladesh was liberated from the erstwhile Pakistan through a bloody war of 9 months. It was a country, which was separated from the mainland Pakistan 1100 miles away. Pakistani Military junta was defeated and fled from Bangladesh (Erstwhile East Pakistan) leaving an empty nation with no share of common wealth. As a result Bangladesh was a new independent nation with virtually no wealth inherited from Pakistan. Therefore, it was a newly born nation with an interim revolutionary government residing inside India. This new nation had—no police, no army, no naval force, no air force, no civil aviation and apparently no infrastructure of a competent civil government. There was broken, damaged train system; There was no transport department, no central bank, no money, no nothing etc. etc.. It was a country having 75 millions mouths to feed, with no source of wealth. Country started from a big zero. Entire nation was broke with war damages everywhere. 10 million refugees back from Indian camp and needed immediate rehabilitation, hundreds of roads and bridges broken etc. etc.. Bangabandhu got very little financial help from international community since Western world including USA and entire Middle Eastern oil-rich nations were unfriendly with newly independent Bangladesh. Only monetary help the country got was from World Bank and some Eastern European communist nations. That financial help was a small drop against the need of huge financial necessity to build war-torn impoverished nation of Bangladesh. Now, what was the source of money and other wealth that Awami league and Bangabandhu looted during the period of 1972 to mid-’75? I do admit that there were some corruptions going on in the newly formed ministerial level which was quite normal in any government, especially when it was formed in a hurry. But that corruption was bound to be very minimal because source of wealth to be looted was very minimal in that newly independent Bangladesh. Besides, after the brutal killing of Bangabandhu and his nearest leaders, how much money was recovered from their bank accounts? Was there any foreign bank account in the name of Bangabandhu or his associates in which Bangalees recovered millions of dollars? ANSWER IS A BIG NO! So where were those wealth that Bangabandhu and his family looted? Answer is, it was a total propaganda only to finish Bangabandhu and his Bangladesh. Yes, it was done very successfully and efficiently with the collaboration of both internal and external propaganda conspiracies. Just please consider, if Tarek Zia (the king of corruption) could steal at least 20 thousand crores of Bangalis hard-earned Taka simply by sitting in his comfortable throne in the infamous Hawa Baban, then why in the world the eldest son of the Bangladesh President Sheikh Mujib needed to commit dacoity (rubbery) in the Bangladesh bank? This only tells us how much false propaganda was waged against Bangabandhu by those anti liberation Paki-agents! As per newspapers of then Bangladesh, we have learned that they had found 12 thousands Bangladeshi Taka in the personal bank account of Bangabandhu. We have not heard any other wealth that anybody has discovered anywhere in the whole world in the name of Sheikh Mujib or his family members. We have not heard any Swiss bank account having millions of dollars for any of those 4 or five nearest leaders of Bangabandhu either. Genuine question to be asked: Where went all the wealth that Bangabandhu and his family looted?

(7) Sheikh Mujib a failed Administrator!

Bangabandhu was not any superhuman to handle the monumental problems he faced in the new born and war-torn nation like Bangladesh. No founding father of any nation on earth could achieve what Sheikh Mujib achieved within three years of independence. I urge the readers to give me just one example from the whole world, where the founding father did better improvement of his newly created nation than what Sheikh Mujib was able to do within such a short period! Anti-liberation force of Zia generation utterly failed to see the great achievement of Bangabandhu within short time in a new born country having virtually zero capital for the war-torn nation. New born Bangladesh was not full of gold or oil fields, and in fact, this new nation had nothing except massive devastations everywhere plus 75 millions impoverished people to feed. After his triumphant return from Pakistani prison on January 10, 1972, Bangabandhu quickly formed a full fledged Govt. for the newly born nation, virtually from zero status. Within a year Bangabandhu managed to rehabilitate 10 million Bangali refugees returned from India, quickly disarmed 200,000 plus freedom fighters , rehabilitated 250,000 raped victims, repaired thousands of  broken/destroyed bridges and roads, repaired tens of thousands of broken offices, schools and colleges, and most importantly, he offered a best constitution for the new born nation within a year. It was only because of a most popular and charismatic leader like Sheikh Mujib—hundred thousand strong mighty Indian army left independent Bangladesh within a short period of time. There is no instance in the modern history where a “liberator” or “occupational army” is withdrawn so quickly. Second World War ended sixty years ago. The American army bases in Germany and Japan still exist. It took many years for US army to leave the Philippines. What about Iraq and Afghanistan? When the American army is planning to quit? The strange twist of history is if Mujib was subservient to Indians, the Indian army would not be leaving Bangladesh so soon. And the Paki inspired coup plotters would not dare to do such a dastardly act on the fateful night of August, 1975. During the early critical period of ’72-75, Anti-liberation forces were busy making all sorts of false propaganda to undermine Bangabandhu’s popularity so that they could eliminate him by assassination. Entire Muslim world and United States of America did not recognize this new born nation and were engaged in conspiracy with Pakistan to remove sheikh Mujib from the power. Sheikh Mujib wanted to kick out the Russian fleet, which was “cleaning” the mines from Chittagong Port. In fact the Sheikh wanted to get help from the United Nations. After failing to get the necessary help from America, he had to give in to Russian “request”. Mujib wanted to build up an independent entity of Bangladesh with the backdrop of Indian Soviet help in the birth of the nation. He went to join the OIC conference in Pakistan, which the Indians did not condone. His forming BAKSAL was necessary to establish a temporary emergency period to save the new-born nation from the hands of JSD’s gonobahini terrorists and conspiratorial Pakistani agents who attempted to destroy the country’s economy in the name of the so called scientific socialism. Thousands of Paki-lover Bangalee Govt. officers of newly born nation along with all the Razakars were secretly engaged in total conspiracy and false propaganda to malign this infant government of Bangabandhu. The 1975 coup plotters are talking about restoring democracy. That is totally nonsense. They actually established a martial democracy in Bangladesh. They paved the path of total anarchy by JSD’s gonobahini and made a military dictator Ziaur Rahman the ultimate beneficiary of the August coup. If Zia was not assassinated later, he would be still the President of Bangladesh. And the Pakistanization process would have been completed. He collected all the Paki minded parasites from dustbin to form his administration. He paved the way of Islamization of Bangladesh. After the end of Sheikh Mujib era Bangladesh fell in the hands of international mollahs. Please consider this imaginary episode: Let me ask my honourable readers to consider this scenario—say in 1971, freedom-loving Bangalees did not get any help from their neighbours, i.e., India. Say India was a good friendly country of Pakistan just like China, and did not like to interfere with the internal affairs of Pakistan. And as a result, India did not shelter or allow a single Bangalee to enter into India. Therefore, finding no help from its only big neighbor—Bangalees were helpless having no weapons, no shelter from any neighbours, scattered into many pockets of rebellious Bangalees with little or no weapons. Within a few weeks or months, the mighty Pakistani military junta with the kind help of local RAZAKARS and ALBADARS have crushed the Bangalees rebels and saved Pakistan from splitting into two. Most of the Awami leaders including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Yahea’s big bird) and, most of the rebellious Bangalees (muktijoddhas) who survived had also been caught. Now, President Yahya Khan gave a national conciliatory/victory speech for the nation saying “Almighty Allah saved Pakistan”, and ordered Governor Tikka Khan to punish the rebellious leader only by martial law court. President Yahya told Tikka Khan that, he (Tikka) can hang only one rebel and let every body else go free by amnesty. Now, my dear readers, please tell me (honestly) which of the “Bangalee rebel” would have been hanged by the Butcher General Tikka Khan? Would not it (definitely) be that “Yahya’s big bird” the most unfortunate Bangalee named: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman? Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the most popular Bangalee leader of all time. During the tumultuous days of nine months of 1971, many ordinary Bangalees fasted and prayed for the wellness of the leader in Pakistani jail. Mujib was a person with magnetic personality. I do not consider that Bangabandhu really needs any propaganda or defence from me or from anybody else. The glorious history of Bangladesh independence is now totally murky. The defeated force of 1971 (Fundamentalists and Razakars), along with those pro-Pakistani neo- Muslim league (BNP) was relentlessly trying to undermine the glorious role of Bangabandhu only to confuse the young generation of Bangladesh. It is only those Bangalees who never learned true history of the birth of independent Bangladesh (due to relentless distortion of the history of freedom struggle) or, those defeated anti-liberation

force will still continue their ill-campaign of defaming Bangabandhu.


No amount of false and baseless propaganda will be able to tarnish the epic image of the founding father of Bangladesh. Desperate quest of history distortion did not last forever and as always, truth has come true by burying all utter lies. Or, the most popular saying: “you can fool some people for sometimes, but you can never fool all people all the times”—is standing tall again. For most valid and incontrovertible reasons (I have cited above) and historical facts, Bangabandhu obviously deserves to be the undisputed ‘Father of Nation’ of Bengali nation. We are fortunate that the much needed statement has finally come out not from the mouth of any Awami-supporter, or Bangabandhu appeaser; rather it has voluntarily and instantly come out from the mouth of a neutral and sincere Army chief who perhaps was silently and painfully watching all the dirty games of history distortion for the last 25 years. Now is the good time to have the Bangladesh history of independence corrected and established for good. Time has come to discard all the past dirty job of history distortion and put the glorious history back in correct and true format. While this honest and sincere Army chief is still the power house behind this present Bangladesh Caretaker Government—nation should get its undisputed ‘Father of Nation’ established in the constitution once for all. Let all other secondary leaders like Tajuddin Ahmed, Syed Nazrul Islam et al get their due position in the history. Let General Ziaur Rahman and all other sector commanders get their due respect and position (as the valiant freedom fighters) in the glorious history of independence. This honest and heroic task of neutral caretaker government, if implemented, will definitely unite the divided nation again as proud people to concentrate fully on the task of nation building.

By Dr. Khurshed Alam Chowdhury