US to help repatriation of Bangabandhu murder convict


United States Secretary of State John F Kerry pledged Bangladesh to help in repatriation of the most-wanted fugitive Rashed Chowdhury, one of the convicted killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is living in the USA illegally. The information came from the report on Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali’s visit to the US in last December.

Cabinet secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan after the cabinet meeting on Monday briefed media about the report. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting. The report said the US secretary of state is impressed at the steps has been taken by Bangladesh government to contain terrorism.

The cabinet approved the draft of International Finance Corporation Act (amended)-2015 and Bangladesh Palli Unnayan Board Act 2015 (amended)-2015. The secretary said both the acts are already in practice. After incorporating some additions and deletions, both the acts will be translated in Bangla, the secretary added.

India gets names of six Bangabandhu killers

India has received a list of six killers of Bangladesh’s independence architect

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Lok Sabha, lower House of Indian Parliament, was told yesterday.

As per information available, the Interpol wing of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has received a list of six wanted criminals who are killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Junior Home Minister Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to a question.

He said appropriate action, including issuing Look-Out Circulars against these six persons, had been taken.

During her talks with her Indian counterpart P Chidambaram in Delhi recently, Home Minister Shahara Khatun raised the issue of India’s handing over of two persons, including riasaldar Mosleuddin, for trying them on the charge of assassinating Bangabandhu.Chidambaram had told Shahara that both the wanted persons were believed to be in West Bengal state, and the security agencies of that were trying to locate them.

He had said that if located, there would be no legal hassle in the handover of the two persons to Bangladesh to stand trial.

Pallab Bhattacharya, New Delhi

Bangabandhu’s writ runs in East Pakistan

On this day in 1971, the whole of Bangladesh was in a state of ferment.

With each day passing by and with the central government of General Yahya Khan paralysed by the non-cooperation movement led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, it was obvious that the state of Pakistan was fast reaching a point of no return.

In Dhaka, the residence of the Awami League chief turned into the real seat of political authority, with crowds of professionals, cultural figures, students and all other categories of citizens constantly making their way to Dhanmondi Road 32 to affirm their support for the democratic cause.

In West Pakistan, except for a handful of rightwing politicians, all political quarters kept up the demand for a quick transfer of power to the Awami League as a way of preventing a political division of the country.

And in East Pakistan, which by now had become Bangladesh de facto, the authority of the central government as well as the provincial administration had dwindled into non-existence except in the cantonments. Offices, businesses and other establishments spontaneously conducted themselves under the direct authority of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The directives issued on a day to basis by the Awami League were articulated by Tajuddin Ahmed, general secretary of the party. At the universities and other educational institutions, militancy went up by leaps and bounds, the clear message being that there was no way out of the crisis except through full sovereignty for Bangladesh.

In the province, curfew was imposed in Rangpur while the security forces and the army resorted to shooting in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna and Tongi. In Dhaka, the National Awami Party led by Prof Muzaffar Ahmed pledged its full support to the Awami League in its movement. The regime decides to take its soldiers back to the barracks.

There was yet no sign of the regime stepping back in favour of a negotiated settlement with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. A vast majority of Bangalees, however, expected Bangabandhu to declare independence at his scheduled March 7 rally.

Suspense hung heavy in the air.

Author : Syed Badrul Ahsan

Bangabandhu, in sublime oratory

The die was cast. On this day in 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led the Bangalee nation across the political Rubicon. At a time when the nation and observers abroad expected him to make a unilateral declaration of Bangladesh’s independence, he trod a fine line and made it clear to the world that while he was not about to announce a UDI, he was leaving no one in any doubt that the Bangalee nation was headed for political freedom. In a speech which encompassed the history of Pakistan over the preceding twenty three years, Bangabandhu spelt out in brief and yet great detail the many ways in which the people of East Bengal had been denied their political and economic rights by successive governments of Pakistan.

And then Bangabandhu came to the immediacy of the moment. Referring to the political crisis caused by the theatrics resorted to by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, followed by the postponement of the national assembly session, which again was followed by General Yahya Khan’s invitation to political leaders to a round table conference in Rawalpindi, which subsequently was rejected by Mujib and then a rescheduling of the national assembly session for March 25, Bangabandhu spelt out his preconditions before his party could join the session. Altogether these conditions were four in number: one, martial law would have to be withdrawn by the regime; two, an inquiry must be initiated into the killings of Bengalis by the Pakistan army since the beginning of the month; three, the army would have to be taken back to the barracks; four, power would have to be transferred to the elected representatives of the people.

But a probable fulfillment of the demands, as the Bengali leader pointed out soon enough, was no guarantee that the Awami League would join the session. Bangabandhu merely told the million-strong rally at the Dhaka Race Course that he would see if he could or could not join the national assembly session. He left the door open for negotiations with the regime and yet gave out the very strong message to his people that independence was the eventual goal for them. It was oratory at its sublime as Bangabandhu concluded his address. “This time the struggle is for emancipation”, he declared. “This time the struggle is for independence.”

March 7, 1971 was to change the course of history for the people of what would soon be a free, sovereign Bangladesh.

Author : Syed Badrul Ahsan

Bangabandhu’s finest hour . . .

IT was his finest hour. As Bangaban-dhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman rose to speak before the million people gathered at the Race Course in Dhaka, indeed before the seventy five million people of Bangladesh on March 7, 1971, something of the electric was in the air. Over the preceding few days, reports and rumours had been making the rounds about an impending declaration of independence by the man whose party, the Awami League, had secured a clear majority of seats (167 out of a total of 313) in Pakistan’s national assembly at the general elections of December 1970.

What should have been a journey to power as Pakistan’s prime minister on Mujib’s part had by early March 1971 been transformed into a movement for Pakistan’s eastern province to prise itself out of the state created through the division of India in 1947. The reasons were all out there. They had to do with the intrigues which had already been set in motion to thwart the assumption of power at the centre by the Awami League.

In the event, the speech Bangabandhu delivered at the Race Course served the very crucial purpose of bringing home the truth that Bangladesh was on its way to political freedom. At an intellectual level, the speech was a masterpiece. Within its parameters, Mujib deftly negotiated his way out of a bind, one in which he had found himself since President Yahya Khan had injudiciously deferred the scheduled March 3 meeting of the new national assembly in a broadcast on the first day of the month. Almost immediately, the fiery student leaders allied to the Awami League cause moved miles ahead to demand that Mujib declare Bangladesh free of Pakistan.

Over the next few days, such demands began to be echoed in other areas, eventually persuading everyone that the Bengali leader was actually about to give in to the pressure for an independence declaration. His rejection of an invitation to a round table conference called by General Yahya Khan for March 10 was seen as evidence of his intended action. Besides, there had been no perceptible move by him to restrain the students of Dhaka University when they decided to hoist the flag of what they believed would be an independent Bangladesh.

And yet those who stayed in touch with Bangabandhu, or watched the way he handled the situation in those tumultuous times, knew of the difficulties he had been pushed into. Caught between a rock and a hard place, he needed to find an acceptable, dignified way out of the crisis. On the one hand, a unilateral declaration of independence would leave him facing the charge of secessionism not only from the Pakistan authorities but also from nations around the world. He knew that as the leader of the majority party, he could not have his reputation destroyed in such cavalier manner. There were before him the poor instances of Rhodesia’s Ian Smith and Biafra’s Odumegwu Ojukwu, images he was not enthused by. Besides, any UDI would swiftly invite the retribution of the Pakistan military, at that point steadily reinforcing itself in East Pakistan.

On the other hand, Mujib realised that as undisputed spokesman of the Bengalis he was expected to provide his people with a sense of direction, one that would reassure them about the future. A recurring image is of Bangabandhu taking slow, ponderous steps as he went up to the dais on that March afternoon. It was the picture of a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. There is every reason to believe that he was still shaping his ideas, those he would soon give expression to before that crowd of expectant Bengalis.

And then he began to speak, in oratory that was to prove once more the reality of why he had over the years scaled the heights in the politics of Bengal, of Pakistan. In that one speech he painted the entire history of why Pakistan had failed as a state. Even as he did so, he laid out his arguments in defence of what the Bengali nation needed to do. He mocked the conspiracies then afoot to deprive Bengalis of political power. With prescience, he told his people that even if he were not around, not amidst them, they should move on to protect the land, its history, from those who would trifle with it. Every moment bubbled with excitement. Bangabandhu soared, and we with him, as he defined our path to the future. The man who only minutes earlier had seemed wracked by deep worry now offered us a clear path out of the woods and into a very bright blue yonder.

“The struggle this time is the struggle for our emancipation. The struggle this time is for independence,” declaimed Bangabandhu. We cheered. We whooped for joy. We knew that he had not declared independence, but we were made aware that he had set us on the path to freedom. He had refused to be a secessionist; and he had abjured all ideas of a UDI. He had told us, in precise, unambiguous terms, that liberation was down the road, that it was a mere matter of time. We were content. As we went back home, with loud refrains of Joi Bangla around us and in our souls, we told ourselves that life for us had changed forever.

On March 7, 1971, Bangabandhu gave us reason to believe in ourselves once again. Because of him, we remembered our heritage. Because of him, we were Bengalis again. And because of him, we reached out to one another, to the world outside the one we inhabited, to build our own brave new world.

Author : Syed Badrul Ahsan, The writer is Executive Editor, The Daily Star. E-mail: bahsantareq@yahoo.co.uk