One of my colleagues requested me to write the fact of how Bangabandhu was betrayed at home and abroad. I was a little boy at the time of his killing. Obviously it is a difficult for us to mention the names of those who are highly established in politics and social arena. It is embarrassing too in a sense. There are many people who were mature enough to understand the facts of what happened in those days. Unfortunately we are still in the mist.
From my adolescence I have tried my best to know the facts of the brutal killing and what actually happened during those days. Yes, there were many witnesses who have misinterpreted the facts for their own causes. Many of them exaggerated the facts to make the killing more emotional and many have been trying to escape their responsibilities. And yes, there are some people who have been honestly trying to rescue the facts. However, we are the very first generation to have our understanding of his life and ending through the texts and listening from the seniors. What we have read about his killing is as follows:
A detrimental penumbra had been floating around Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for years. Soon after Awami League, led by Bangabandhu, won the first ever general election, on December 7, 1970, in the history of Pakistan, the USA started to see the zodiac that who the Sheikh Mujib was. On the other hand, Pakistan was its closest allies as the then US President Nixon famously said," Pakistan is a country I would like to do everything for". Indeed, they have done everything for the than West Pakistan. Pakistan's military used US arms against the Bengali democracy-loving people without any accountability. Throughout the bloodshed, the White House did not make any complains that Pakistan was using its supplied weapons against the Bengali civilians.
Their antagonism was so high that the Nixon administration's initial impulse was not to help the helpless Bangladesh refugees who were starving to death. Nixon-Kissinger and their administration through the 9-month long civilian killing preferred to stick with Pakistan army. Kissinger told the Chinese Premier Zhou that they would be on the same page about Pakistan. He said, "You know from President Yahia Khan that the strong friendship we feel for him and his country". So in brief, this was America's position during our liberation struggle.
There are many reasons to believe that USA never changed their position till the killing of Bangabandhu. After our winning against their ally, USA remained skeptic that Sheikh Mujib was going to join Soviet bloc. So it was a desperate necessity for the then USA to topple the Bangabandhu government and they took all the necessary initiatives. Three major initiatives they took: 1) They have created an atmosphere to debase Bangabandhu's popularity through making grotesque stories against him and his families, 2) They helped in making a network among the anti-Mujib military and civil officials and 3) They either neutralized India or at least they were able to imply the offending part of the Bangladesh military that India would not be a factor. Khandaker Mostaque was worried about possible Indian military intervention.
On 16 August US Consul General in Kolkata appeased his authority and Mostaque through a message saying," We have not seen or heard anything that would indicate that the Indian army eastern command has taken any special measures in connection with Bangladesh coup." Rest was done by a group of army men supported by retired military officers those had personal dissatisfactions. Although the then US embassy in Dhaka denied having any direct contact with the offenders immediately before or after the coup, the state department documents declassified so far suggests that the Americans knew about the coup in advance.
In India, mass people and some politicians believed the US was involved in the killing. On 14 August, West Bengal Congress leader Pryoronjon Das Munshi said, the assassination once again proved how active the CIA and China were in the subcontinent. Communist Leader Bhupesh Gupta accused the CIA of backing Mujib's killeres. General Secretary of CPI front World Peace Council Ramesh Chandra claimed that he had learned when he visited Dhaka in April 1975 that several CIA agents had been working in Bangladesh in disguise as volunteers, aid workers. Surprisingly the government of India and party members in Bangladesh remained calm.
Who inside the country were involved in the killing of Bangabandhu and his family members; who supported the misdeed? We firmly assume that Mostaque alone became a scapegoat while many others played the same role. We are uttering his name because he was given the post. But many accepted the coup spontaneously. Soon after the killing, major Dalim broadcast the coup as several former military officers willingly rushed to the radio station to pledge their support and services including Colonel Abu Taher, Colonel Akbar Hossain, Major Ziauddin, Major Shahjahan Omar, Major Rahmatullah and Captain Majed. Kahndokaer Moshtaque was brought by Colonel Rashid at the radio station.
Soon After he arrived, he told the majors to bring the three service chiefs to the station. Dalim rushed to the cantonment and within an hour he returned with Shafiullah, the army chief, Air vice Marshal A K Khandaker and Navy Chief Commodore M H Khan. Can we ask how it was possible for them to rush there fully dressed within such a short time? Were they ready to get out of the house before the subordinate stood at the thresholds? These questions probably will remain unanswered.
The writer is Executive Editor, The Asian Age
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