Darkness settled in seemingly with a promise to facilitate a peaceful slumber for the city dwellers after a hot day’s tiring work. There was nothing uncanny in the bearing of the night, except that it was completely oblivious of what Cassius and a few villains were conspiring to execute under cover of the night’s darkness. These villains committed the gravest ever crime that people will always remember with hatred and acute ache in their hearts. An indelible smear desecrated the otherwise laudable history of Bangladesh.
The serenity of the night was shattered by the boot-steps of the shadows of uniformed personnel, climbing up the stairs in our building in Sukrabad, just a few minutes’ walk from Sheikh Mujib’s residence, across Mirpur Road. I gathered the courage to crane my neck through one of the open windows, only to be rebuffed by a soldier, growling at me, to be quiet and to get back to sleep. Tension bristled across the room, and anxiety paled the faces of other members of my family. Muffled whispers ensued, and in spite of me being extremely worried, I had to pacify others inside the room, by saying that it was nothing important. I advised them to retire to their respective beds, but kept my ears alert for sensing any untoward noise. Before long, war noises started to pound our hearts, which drove me to the end of my wits. It took a few moments before I could regain my composure. Immediately everyone in the house was asked to prostrate on the floor to avoid any bullet hitting us.
Sporadic reports of the guns and tanks kept the anxiety mounting in every mind, and a refreshing sleep was denied. We were still in the dark about what was happening in Sheikh Mujib’s residence, on the other side of the road. People in the houses around were all awake but none dared to go out to find out what was happening. The tiring, sleepless night was finally over and the remorseful morning dawned to expose the unthinkable crime that had been committed in the sanctified land of Bangladesh. As the armed shadows, guarding on the rooftop, vanished into nothing, curiosity overtook me. I just cantered along the alley to reach an under-construction building. Reaching the top floor offered me an uninterrupted view along Mirpur Road from beyond Kalabagan to Asadgate. Completely deserted, the road was burning in the scorching heat of the sun. A car was left abandoned near Sobhanbag mosque, with four of its doors flung open and two human hands drooping on one side of the car, which gave me to understand that a dead body was lying inside. The tanks and artillery were placed somewhere on Manik Mia Avenue. Every few minutes an army jeep chased shadows along the road to apprehend the fugitive who, they might have thought, could appear from nowhere to resist their crime.
As I gathered later, guns and tanks were stationed in some strategic places to deter people from coming together to protest the dubious activities of the uniformed people. The streets remained deserted and Dhaka University, which was waiting to welcome the undisputed leader of Bangladesh to its convocation, was made off limits for the public by the heavy armed vehicles of the defense forces. People remained indoors, extremely anxious to hear what had happened in the darkness of the night. Speculations and rumours were a murderous presence in every nook and cranny. Nothing was authentic, and an unbearable uncertainly pervaded every mind.
It was close to nine in the morning when the perpetrators made their sinister act known to the public through a radio announcement, sending thousands across the country into shedding tears hysterically. The heartbreaking news was initially rejected by many as a kind of concoction of some ill-motivated uniformed personnel, but soon the truth dawned on all that the great leader was no longer alive. My old mother wept profusely. I tried to console her, but between sobs she uttered, “Why do they have to kill him?” This incident occurred at a time when I was a first year student of Dhaka University. It affected me so much that the hatred that gathered in my mind has never ceased to curse the killers. The solemn prayer of my mother for the salvation of the great leader’s soul still rings in my ears. My mother, although she did not understand much of politics, had a tremendous affection for Sheikh Mujib. Her prayers for the fallen hero will never go unrewarded. August 15, 1975 has taken our leader to his peaceful abode in heaven, it has also inscribed his name in letters of gold in millions of hearts which will never be erased.
Now that this day of mourning has once more traversed its annual course, people need to be united to subdue the evil forces of darkness that caused this bloodbath. Those who are responsible for the crime and those who are the beneficiaries are to be brought to book. Our posterity needs to learn the truth about the killings. We must also tell our children how the anti-liberation forces, under the cover of religion, have been distorting the facts about our great leader, and poisoning their innocent minds with fabricated stories about him. It is for the sake of truth that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s unselfish devotion to the people and the country should be projected, with all honesty and sincerity. It is for the betterment of the nation that all perpetrators of the crime of his assassination be brought to face justice. Only then can we expect to develop a prosperous Bangladesh, free from all sorts of injustice.
Author : – Muhammad Abdul Hai
Bangabandhu Random Videos Play list from the house of
The 7th March speech of Bangabandhu was the definitive commencement of Liberation war. The independence of Bangladesh was declared by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman through a message on 26 March 1971 just before he was arrested at about 1:30 a.m. This declaration of independence marks the beginning of the Liberation War.
“This may be my last message, from today Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh wherever you might be and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your fight must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh and final victory is achieved.”
Bangabandhu spread the declaration and was reached to many. The wife of M.R. Siddiqi was given an urgent message over telephone from Bangabandhu received through the wireless operators of Chittagong. [ Sheikh Mujib: Triumph and Tragedy by S. A. Karim]
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FROM KALURGHAT (March 26, 1971):
Soon after the Pakistani army crackdown on the night of March 25, 1971,the first declaration of independence was made over the radio by M. A. Hannan.
According to the English language newspapers from around the flashed around the world on news wires on the evening of March 26, 1971 and the world came to know about the independence of Bangladesh from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s original message received in Calcutta on the morning of March 26 and from broadcasts from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro on the evening of March 26.
The following world press also reported on 26th March:
The Statesman and The Times of India from India; Buenos Aires Herald from Argentina; The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald from Australia; The Guardian from Burma; The Globe and Mail from Canada; Hong Kong Standard from Hong Kong; The Jakarta Times from Indonesia; Asahi Evening News from Japan; The Rising Nepal from Nepal; The Manila Times from the Philippines; The Straits Times from Singapore; The Pretoria News from South Africa; The Bangkok Post from Thailand; The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times of London from the United Kingdom; and, Baltimore Sun, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post from the United States.
Bangabandhu dictated the declaration through telegram, A telegram containing the text of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s declaration reached some students in Chittagong. The message was translated to Bangla by Dr. Manjula Anwar. The students failed to secure permission from higher authorities to broadcast the message from the nearby Agrabad Station of Radio Pakistan.
The Kalurghat Radio Station’s transmission capability was limited, but the message was picked up by a Japanese ship in Bay of Bengal. It was then re-transmitted by Radio Australia and later by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Announcement of the declaration of independence:
Awami League leader M.A. Hannan aired the declared the independence on behalf of Bangabandhu : (Signed by Bangabandhu):
Abul Kashem Sandeep translated the message to broadcast.
“Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dhaka. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between EPR and Police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pindi on the other, are going on. The Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May God aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla.”
Siddiq Salik had written that he heard about Mujibor Rahman’s message on the radio while Operation Searchlight was going on. [ “Witness to Surrender” ]
The Statesman published from New Delhi on March 27, 1971 and explained the two messages received on March 26:
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made two broadcasts on Friday following the Pakistani troops move to crush his movement, says UNI.
Announcement of the declaration of independence by Major Zia on behalf of Bangabandhu, There are Major Zia declared the independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
# Maj. Gen. Hakeem A. Qureshi in his book The 1971 Indo-Pak War: A Soldier’s Narrative, gives the date of Zia’s speech as 27 March 1971.
# MASSACRE by Robert Payne, Publisher : The McMillan Company New York.
# J. S. Gupta The History of the Liberation Movement in Bangladesh
# India, Pakistan, and the United States: Breaking with the Past By Shirin R. Tahir-Kheli ISBN 0-87609-199-0, 1997, Council on Foreign Relations. pp 37
Major Zia’s declaration of independence on behalf of Bangabandhu was made controversial over an Very few people heard this declaration and Major Zia’s famous “Ami Major Zia Bolchhi”.
“Our struggle is for our freedom. Our struggle is for our independence.” The speech is regarded as the de facto declaration of independence although a formal declaration came on March 26, 1971
Our history has undergone huge twist at the hands of vested quarters. Some people claim that Zia declared himself as provisional commander in chief. In fact Zia made two speeches. When this unauthorized speech created confusion among the people, the Awami League leaders asked Zia to read out a text prepared by A. K. Khan.
Zia followed the suggestion, and made a second speech, where he mentioned that he was speaking on behalf of our great national leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The government of theSoverignStateon behalf of our great national leader, the supreme commander ofBangladeshSheikh Mujibur Rahman, do hereby proclaim the independence ofBangladesh. And that the government headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has already been formed. It is further proclaimed that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the sole leader of the elected representatives of seventy five million people ofBangladesh, and the government headed by him is the only legitimate government of the people of the independent soverign state ofBangladesh….
It was impractical to think of the declaration of independence without mentioning name of Bangabandhu. His name carries more value than any political party. The sky is the limit to measure the popularity of Sheikh Mujib and the landslide victory of 70’s election was its reflection only.
Zia read out the declaration on behalf of Bangbanandhu. Formation of Mujib Nagar Government carries the historic significance.
Bangabandhu’s Declaration of Independence. (Reserved in Liberation War Museum, Segun Bagicha, Dhaka)
Telex Copy of Bangabandhu’s Declaration of Independence
IT was Friday, August 15, 1975. It was one of the most tragic days of our history. It reminded us of the dark night of March 25, 1971. The Father of the Nation, loved and respected in Bangladesh and the world over as a great hero, lay dead on the stairs of his famous residence at Road Number 32, Dhanmandi Residential Area. He was only fifty-five. We were twenty-year-old sophomores of Dhaka University.
Who killed Bangabandhu? His people, whom he loved to a fault? No! They were unhappy with a few activities of his government but they never even dreamt of killing him. They who control the world like people who obey them. They don’t like nationalist leaders and great patriots like Bangabandhu or Allende. Thus, Allende dies but General Pinochet lives on and makes life miserable for his countrymen.
There are many such instances in the Third World. If you want to kill a great leader, make him unpopular through planted journalists, corrupt and disgruntled bureaucrats and dismissed soldiers. Use some of them during his killing. Then get obedient people to rule the country and serve your purpose. No wonder our High Court has ruled that governments, which succeeded Bangabandhu and his cabinet were not legal. They had captured power by sheer force.
At dawn on August 15, I got up to hear from my parents that Bangabandhu had been killed along with his family. Even ten-year-old Sheikh Russell was not spared. My initial reaction was of great shock. I was dumbfounded with sorrow. Bangabandhu didn’t deserve a death like this! He was our greatest politician. His love for his country and his people was beyond question.
Who could kill our greatest patriot? The radio and TV were announcing his death at regular intervals. A certain Major Dalim was claiming credit for his death! Who was he? We had never heard of him before!
There was fear, there was confusion. There was silent sorrow among his followers and people who admired him. There was celebrations too — we later heard. There were a few people chanting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ somewhere in old Dhaka. There were a few Biharis, celebrating his death in Mohammadpur. But the patriotic Bangalee was silently shedding a tear or two for him. How could a Nelson Mandela or a Yassir Arafat get killed by his own people? They wondered.
Well, they killed Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi too, didn’t they? Some argued with themselves. Years later, I learned that the first procession to protest the death of Bangabandhu was organised by the boys and girls of Chhatra Union in nowhere else but my own district Kishoreganj. They warned the real killers that the death of this great patriot would turn Bengal into a Vietnam. Student leader, Kazi Abdul Bari led the procession. He had to suffer inhuman torture in jails for his noble protest against injustice. I feel honoured today to get a chance to salute this brave student leader. May Bangladesh be blessed with more Baris and not with Mushtaques and Dalims.
What were the Chhatra League leaders and workers doing? They went into hiding because they were the most wanted people for the Mushtaque government. Many faced arrest and torture later on.
I myself saw Abdur Razzak escaping through Dhanmandi Road Number 15 and Rayer Bazar. He was a big and healthy person then with no diabetes. We wanted him to escape, live and then protest. I saw him when curfew was withdrawn for an hour and a half for Jumaa prayers.
We were not political activists but we were young and patriotic and not exactly cowards. A few of us got together and walked up to Bangabandhu’s residence, which was less than a mile from our area. There was army patrol on the roads and police guard in front of Bangabandhu’s residence. We heard that tanks were guarding Khandker Mushtaque in the Bangabhaban. We were not allowed inside Bangabandhu’s residence but nobody disturbed us when we sadly stood in front of House No. 32 and quietly saluted the greatest son of Mother Bengal.
The killing of the full family was too great a shock for us. We spotted bullet marks on the walls. An uncle of mine worked for BTV as a news journalist. He had a chance to see Bangabandhu’s dead body the next day as a member of the BTV news team. We had listened to him in rapt attention when he told us what he saw inside.
Before the curfew was clamped again on August 15, we also managed to see Sheikh Moni’s residence. There were big signs of machine gun firing on the walls. Women and children were not spared in this house too. Why this mindless killing? To spread fear? To terrorise the people and keep them quiet?
There was no Awami League worker to be seen. There was not even a Bengali nationalist to protest his death. These two types were shedding silent tears. Dhaka had suddenly gone back to the Pakistani days, it appeared. It was a heart-rending experience for us.
Thirty lakh people had embraced martyrdom for nothing? There were rumours galore. Bangabandhu was alive and not dead? Sheikh Kamal had escaped too? India could attack us any time. O God, keep Bangabandhu alive! This man doesn’t deserve such a death. We silently prayed for him.
Khandker Mushtaque claimed himself President since the morning but took the oath in the evening. The Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Syed A.B. Mahmud, administered the oath to him. The Vice President, ten Ministers and six State Ministers also took oath. There were a few respected names in the cabinet.
Were they forced to join Mushtaque? The three services chiefs were present. Members of Parliament charged with corruption by Bangabandhu were also present. Mushtaque, it appeared, wanted to tell the world that only Bangabandhu was corrupt and his ministers had no fault.
The silence of the Rakkhi Bahini surprised many. A formal reaction of the Indian and the Russian governments was not coming. Ambassador Samar Sen was in Delhi. The Pakistan government was quite happy. Bhutto’s reaction said it all. We recollected that both Bhutto and Kissinger had visited Dhaka a year or so back.
Bangladesh Betar had instantly become Radio Bangladesh. What was wrong with the Bangla name? The curfew helped Mushtaque to take control in less than fifteen hours. People talked about his cunning. A few secretly called him the new Mir Jafar. He spoke to the nation in the evening. His nice words couldn’t remove our fear and anxiety.
We were happy to note that the stalwarts of the Mujibnagar government didn’t join Mushtaque. Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain Mansur Ali and A.H.M. Kamruzzaman didn’t betray their leader. Abdus Samad Azad, Zillur Rahman, Abdur Razzak and Tofayel Ahmed didn’t join Mushtaque either.
We went to sleep with heavy hearts. We loved and respected the martyred Bangabandhu even more. He had his tragic flaws but he was our greatest hero, wasn’t he? He was our greatest hero of the past, the present and the future. My twenty-year-old heart profusely bled for him. I was a budding writer. How could a writer not weep over the death of his land’s greatest patriot?
Author : Junaidul Haque writes fiction, essays and reviews books.
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