Published:  12:48 AM, 15 August 2017

Abominable August killings and subsequent resistance

Abominable August killings and subsequent resistance Writer along with Sheikh Kamal, the eldest son of Bangabandhu, and other future leaders of the country

15th August, 1975 is a unbearable torment in our life. On that very day, we were working at the office room of Arts Faculty at Arts Building ahead of Bangabandhu's arrival on DU campus. Sheikh Kamal departed us at around 11:00 pm on August 14. But friends continued disturbing him over telephone till dead of night. At one stage, his telephone couldn't be reached. At the wee hours of night, someone informed that tanks were seen in the city. In the meantime, we heard the painful bad news, Bangabandhu was no more. None was alive in that house on Road No. 32 in Dhanmondi. 

I had got dumb and confused. As I was a chain smoker, the frequency of smoking cigarettes increased after hearing the sad news. Ismat Kadir Gama started smoking cigarettes one after another. Mahbub Jaman Bhai, Kazi Akmar Hossain also took refuge of cigarettes. Momtaz Hossain went away toward the city boarding on SP Mahbub's car. Somebody told us to bring out procession immediately. But nothing was clear till then. We took decision to inquire about the matter. But we made our minds to forge resistance movement against such heinous and brutal killings.

Being confused at hearing the sad news of the killings of Bangabandhu and his family members, we communicated with just-married Sheikh Shahidul Islam. But no curiosity was seen in him. Then we contacted one of secretaries of BAKSAL Abdur Razzaque who was frightened that time and taking preparations to go into hiding. The secretary general of the then Jatiya Jubo League Tofail Ahmed stayed at home stopping all communications (he was taken to headquarters of Rakkhi Bahini after some while). Another secretary of BAKSAL Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni was martyred.

As students and youths had no notable relation with senior leader and one of the secretaries of BAKSAL Zillur Rahman, we took shelter at the paternal residence of Communist Party member and cultural activist Mofidul Haque. We consulted with each other there and decided to contact the national leaders and forge movement against such brutal killings. Accordingly, we went into hidings at our own will (I took shelter at the residence of my relative who was a high government official). All educational institutions including Dhaka University were declared closed. Our work scope got limited. But we didn't sit idle.

The national leaders who were out of jail got confused as Mostaque took the power and most big leaders except some cabinet members went under his fold. Many of them became busy to make their positions maintaining communication with ministers (some famous student leaders were among them).

We, some central leaders of Jatiya Jubo League and Chhatra League and few mid-level leaders among the MPs took position against killings of 15th August. We started working with Chhatra Union leaders who were in Chhatra League. We launched protest against the killing of Bangabandhu and his family members in different parts of the country divided into groups. Late S M Yusuf, Late Shafiqul Aziz Mukul, Fakir Abdur Razzaque, Raziuddin Ahmed Raju and others were among us who were actively working. The Parliament Speaker Abdul Malek Ukil and the executive member of BAKSAL Mohiuddin Ahmed went to Moscow and returned home as good boys.

In the meantime, the chief of the killing group Khandaker Mostaque convened the meeting of MPS at Bangabhaban. We did massive activities on behalf of Chhatra League urging to boycott the meeting. Among the student leaders, Ismat Kadir Gama, Momtaz Hossain, Nurul Islam, Kazi Akram Hossain, Mujahidul Islam Selim and I (Rabiul Alam Chowdhury) had tried to foil the meeting (For details you can read: Facts & Documents: Bangabandhu Killing, Professor Abdu Sayeed).

The meeting was held in spite of our resistance. Shah Moazzem Hossain, K M Obaidur Rahman, Rafia Akther Dolly and others were active to make the meeting successful. But Mostaque didn't get desired outcome from the meeting. As veteran politician of Brahmanbaria and famed lawyer of Bangabandhu killing case Late Sirajul Haque challenged the legality of the Mostaque government in the court, everything was spoiled.

Bangabandhu with Indira Gandhi in Delhi, 10 Jan 1972

Many middle-line leaders of Awami League took some initiatives for getting united that time. Shamsuddin Molla, Sirajul Haque, Anowar Chowdhury, M A Malek, Mofizul Islam Kamal, Rowshan Ali, Kamruzzaman (teachers' leader), Moyezuddin Ahmed, Khaled Mohammad Ali, Commandant Manik Chowdhury and others had played the bold role in this regard. More people joined with the protesters after the end of Mostaque's rule.

It is also true that we didn't get good behavior from many persons that time. But we weren't subdued. We built communication with each other within a short time. We used to hold meetings with pro-Awami League students-youths at the house of Momtaz Hossain at Purana Paltan with passionate shelter of his parents. We took financial assistance from them every now and then.

Besides, we had held meetings at residences of SM Yusuf at Nimtoli and Raju Bhai at Eskaton. We also sat at residence of Bhutto Bhai at Bakshibazar. Leaders of Chhatra Union would hold meetings at residence of Mohiuddin's eldest brother and other places. We had taken the decision to bring out a procession for the first time under the banner of Jatiya Chhatra League on the day our university was reopened.

Dhaka University was reopened on October 20, 1975after long vacation. Madhu's canteen was abuzz with students. Leaders of different student organizations took their position at the canteen. We, the leaders of Jatiya Chhatra League, sat before several tables. Whispering had started. Many got astonished at our bravery (We had already learnt that JSD had taken the decision not to stand against us).

We, some leaders….. Mahbub Jaman, Rabiul Alam Chowdhury, Momtaz Hossain, Kazi Akram Hossain, Ajoy Dasgupta, Khaled Khurram, Mrinal Sarker, Kamrul Hasain Khan, K M Jahangir, Bahalul Majnun Habibur Rahman Khan, Mukul Bose, S M Salam and others were at the canteen. Mahbub Jaman delivered the speech and we started the procession chanting slogans 'Joy Bangla', 'Joy Bangabandhu'. Students and teachers of the university witnessed our procession with great surprise. Many of them welcomed us. Some teachers, as our well-wishers, advised us to be attentive to study and warned about the horror of martial law. We also gathered on the university campus next day.

When we entered into the university on October 21, we found some gangsters were roaming on the campus with lethal weapons like hockey sticks, wooden sticks etc. As soon as we sat at Modhu's canteen, they swooped on us. But we didn't get frightened. Rather we managed to bring a procession resisting the attack that day. Our procession was a large one. Several thousand students took part in it. Our activists from Jagannath College, Dhaka College joined the procession. Chhatra Union leader Mahbub Jaman, Kazi Akram, Ajoy Dasgupta and I addressed the procession.

Thereafter, our activities and presence had increased on DU campus (though some friends were with us but they didn't come to the campus). Our activities were spread other educational institutions of the city as well as the whole country. At one stage, we took the decision to go to Bangabandhu Bhaban with procession. In continuation of this, we had some groups and started giving speeches during classes of the university. I was assigned for Arts Building (Kalabhaban). We had got positive response from many of our teachers in this regard.

At that time, we became active to make Awami League more organized. We tried our best to go ahead organizing an aimless large number of activists and patriotic people.  Except us, the leaders of student leaders Chhatra League who came forward in the resistance movement in Dhaka city include Mohiuddin (President of Manikganj Awami League and District Council Chairman), Mohammad Yunus, Abdur Rouf Sikder, Mobarak Hossain Selim (retired bank official), Akbar Ali Morji (Rajbari District Council Administrator), Kamal Ahmed Majumder (currently an MP), Shamim Mohammad Afzal and others. Among the leaders of Chhatra Union, I can remember the names of Khandaker Shawkat Julias (retired secretary), Shawkat Hossain, Noor Ali, Kamrul Hasan Khan (I seek apology whose name can't be remembered while writing the article).

The present time and post-Mostaque situation isn't similar. If the rule of Mostaque was stretched, many persons could be known in a pure manner. The day which was fixed by us for the procession, Khandaker Khaled Mosharaf ended the rule of Mostaque through a coup on that very day. November 4, 1975 is another red-letter day in the history of Bangladesh. Immediately after that day, the four national leaders Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Monsur Ali and Quamruzzman who led in the Liberation War on behalf of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were brutally killed inside the jail at the direction of killer Mostaque.

We stood against the Mostaque government that day for fighting with Mujib's ideology braving the death, not to be ministers, MPs, presidium members. Many of our friends attempted to take the charge of reconstituting Chhatra League after meeting with Shah Moazzem Hossain during the illegal 83-day rule of Mostaque. Later, some of them led Chhatra League and Awami League. I can remember those who left the country to save the skin. But they are now active to take share of the power. It is hard to tell how difficult the movement that time was. Two former leaders of Chhatra League Nuh-ul-Alam Lenin and Ajay Dasgupta has highlighted those days in their book "Bangbahdhu's Killing: First Year of Protest".

One can also feel the unbearable sufferings of those days reading the book "Facts and Documents: Bangabandhu's Killing". I think both books are realistic. Dr Hannan also wrote a book on this issue which is noteworthy. The Awami League leaders who took part in the resistance movement with us include Syeda Johra Tajuddin, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Shamsuddin Molla, Anowar Chowdhury, Ivy Rahman, Rowshan Ali of Jessore, Mostafizur Rahman Patal of Bogra, Commandant Manik Chowdhury from Habiganj, Mofizul Islam Khan Kamal, Dr S A Malek, Salauddin Yusuf, Kamruzzaman (teacher's leader), Molla Jalaluddin and others.

The persons who played nasty and dirty roles that time include Shah Moazzem Hossain, K M Obaidur Rahman, Nurul Islam Manjur, Rafia Akterh Doly and others. The man who joined hands with Mostaque and became the deputy president, later got the nomination of Awami League. Mysterious person Mizan Chowdhury also passed away as a leader of Awami League. It means destiny. The family members of Bangabandhu were passing days in a critical situation. They couldn't dare to take initiative even secretly. We couldn't communicate with Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana. We had heard from different sources that they couldn't overcome the shock of August 15. In such a situation, we had taken the decision to bring out a protest procession.

The procession brought by us was the first organized one in protest of the killing of Bangabandhu. That procession had shook the seat of Khandaker Mostque as well as the whole Dhaka city. Our procession had showed the ray of hope to the soldiers of the ideology of Mujib, inspired them to get united. For this reason, October 20 is a milestone in the history of democratic movement and struggle. We can still see the finishing line of this journey. The struggle for democracy still continues. The ghosts of Mostaque and killers are roaming everywhere wearing different masks. When we see the finishing line of our journey of democracy in our lifetime, the full spirit of October 20 (1975) will be achieved. We are waiting for that day.

The writer is Member of Parliament & Member, Central Executive Committee,  Bangladesh Awami League

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