Published:  03:48 AM, 15 August 2021

15 AUGUST: Reminiscing On the Tragic Day of Bangalee Nation

A leader of towering height, he was born a great Bengali, one and only, in thousand years. A voxpopuli by birth who gave a proud identity to a nation teeming in millions soul and gifted a country known as Bangladesh standing with head held high in the map of the globe. His people gave him a title Bangabandhu as a mark of unalloyed love and adulation.

Yes, he was no other than Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman whose grave was dug in .Pakistani dungeon during liberation war, but the Pakistani rulers did not dare killing him. His peoples' unmitigated love brought him back from the crucible of death to the mellow soil of his dear country that he created. Alas! He fell prey to ghouls and fiends, in hiding in the blind alley of death, in a fateful night of August 15,1975 and thus he made another supreme sacrifice in the alter of freedom in post-liberation Bangladesh with his costly blood.

Reminiscing the day of assassination is much shocking and disturbing indeed. In the middle of August 1975, I was in Dhaka and staying at Banani. In the fateful morning of August 15,1975, I was just preparing myself with shaves and shower to go out from the house. When we tuned radio for routine morning news, suddenly the news of assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came to us as a bolt from the blue.

Radio broadcast filled with ominous hisses and breaths of those snakes and vampires who barbarously killed Bangabandhu and the members of his family before break of dawn, made the air heavy. In the radio broadcast, those hated snakes were found playing a macabre symphony and announced repeatedly the news of killing of the Father of the Nation by their barbarous hands.

They further announced that Khandakar Mostaque Ahmed took over the presidency of the country following the death of Bangabandhu. Khandakar Mostaque Ahmed, a long time political associate of Bangabandhu turned into a most hated and nastiest conspirator behind the killing of Bangabandhu. Such shocking and disturbing news made all of us suddenly mute and dumbfounded. Immediately, I went out of the house and took a rickshaw ride to see by myself actually what went wrong. With a stream of blood of a freedom fighter still flowing high in my veins & arteries, I looked for possible resistance that could be organized against the murderers.

People in the street were found absolutely shattered and dumbfounded without any direction. Army tanks were romping in the street with a very high handed gun brandishing troops who took part in the orgy led by the disgruntled (i) members of the army. Indisputably, they have registered their evil names in the black chapter of history having carried out the most gruesome massacre of the known history where the entire family members of BangaBandhu, - including the father of the nation and even his eight year old son - were brutally murdered. The two daughters escaped .the carnage as luckily they were abroad on that fateful night.

Rakkhi Bahini-a para-military force created by Bangabandhu was overpowered by army. Most of the Awami League leaders went in hiding. Freedom fighter Quader Siddiqui and a few other of his likes, after organizing a few armed resistances, left the country and vowed to take revenge of the killing of Bangabndhu.

Quader Siddiqui announced "who says that all the sons of Sheikh Mujib have been killed, Quader Siddiqui is still alive." The rest is history.Army jawans in the street came out in frenzy with delirious excitement and as a part of their noble (!) cause and conquering army were found driving the young civilians with long hair in their barrack style tonsorial.

This act of barbarism reminded me of delirious excitement displayed by the Pakistani marauders in 1971 in this soil in the name of Islam. It further reminded me a historic observation made by justice Kayani that the greatest chivalry of the Pakistani army was to conquer their own country. This further reminds me of a dialogue from an epic film i.e. Chenghis Khan "Jamuga is brave when Temujin (Genghis) is yoked".

Bangabandhu's gruesome murder, though apparently looked and assessed as an outcome of outrage of some disgruntled members of the army; actually had the long hand of conspiracy engineered by the enemies of our liberation both home and abroad. An investigating report published a couple of decades ago by a world renowned American journalist Lawrence Lifsultzh clearly suggests that American administration under President Nixon and Dr. Kissinger who did not support our liberation war in 1971 and could not stand Sheikh Mujib for his towering personality as an exponent of Bengali nationalism, was the ominous power behind the orgy of killings.

Khandakar Mostaque, Taheruddin Thakur, Shah Muazzem Hossain, Mahbubul Alam Chashi and few other cohorts acted as heinous puppet in the hands of the perpetrators while Ziaur Rahman being Deputy Chief of Bangladesh army reportedly had his tacit approval of coup and murder and subsequently became the greatest beneficiary of the killing of Bangabandhu.

Zia's impeccable reticence over the matter after the killing of Bangabandhu and his subsequently rewarding of the killers with the prized position abroad and rehabilitating the defeated enemies of liberation war into the politics in this country clearly testifies the veracity of the investigating report of Lawrence Lifsultzh.

An interview with the German TV company by the self-confessed murderer of Bangabandhu further suggests that the killing squad carried out the massacre after receiving a 'go-ahead' signal from Ziaur Rahman who did not like to get himself involved directly in the plot being a senior officer in the army but committed to protect the members of the killing squad after their accomplishing the job.

This episode drives me back upon a reminiscence of history as to how a seventeenth century English soldier Oliver Cromwell not entirely decided to dethrone and kill Charles I -the King of England, ultimately endorsed the action of his son-in-law Ireton and other officers in the southern army who had removed from the house of commons all members loyal to the King towards their ultimate plan to execute the King.

Like the beneficiary of the murder of Bangabandhu, Cromwell asserted that he had not been acquainted with the plan to purge the house "yet since it was done" he was glad of it and would endeavor to maintain it." Cromwell pushed on by Ireton finally accepted King Charles's trial as an act of justice.

When the king refused to plead in the Commission, Cromwell signed the death warrant. King was executed by the perpetrators and Cromwell instead of directly ascending to the throne and making a king by himself, became the Lord Protector and ruled the country amidst vehement opposition and resistance in the parliament until his death in 1658. His body was known to have secretly interred in the Westminster Abbey 13 days before his state funeral".

 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, who stood the test of time as an undisputed leader of the Bengali nation through his long struggle for the emancipation of the people of this region, gave birth to a nation:- an independent Bangladeshi and came out victorious and reincarnated alive from the crucibles of death and with noose fastened around his towering neck in the gallows in Pakistani dungeons was finally brutally murdered by the Bengali perpetrators in his own soil. This is a heinous act of shame in our national history.

A leader, who, through his untiring struggle gave birth to a nation, was brutally killed along with his family members having stayed virtually unprotected in Dhanmondi, 32; virtually without any resistance by army and other armed forces who were in command. They simply played the role of silent onlookers of the orgy of dead. Well-wishers and world leader are reported to have alerted Bangabandhu about his own security and possible danger. Being a lion-hearted public figure raised from grass-root politics, he perhaps did not think even in his wildest imagination that he could ever be killed by the Bengalis.

After a heroic comeback home from the abyss of death in Pakistani prison where a grave was dug for him, Bangabandhu with his all magnanimity forgave all those collaborators except those murderers and war- criminals who acted in favor of Pakistan during liberation war, for the sake of upholding national unity.

But the inborn enemies in disguise perhaps did not forgive him for his uncompromising role to take his people out of the shackles of Pakistani rulers and give birth to an independent nation. Bangabandhu suffered the same fate as was suffered by the great nationalist leaders like Patrice Lumumba of Congo. Salvador Allende of Chile, NguanThieu of Vietnam, Bung-Karno (Ahmed Shukarno) of Indonesia.

On Roman Emperor Julius Caesar's murder by vile hands of Casca, Cassius and Brutus, Marc Antony rose to the occasion and subsequently rounded up all the murderers of Caesar. Sadly, on Bangabandhu's murder, except Col. Jamil Ahmed, no Marc Antony was seen around. Everyone was busy on their way to relishing the taste of power set in place in Bangabhaban on that fateful day and its aftermath. It gives no reason to believe that a section of misguided members of the army were only involved in the murder. Rather the full establishment of the army was involved either directly or indirectly.

Long 46 years after the killing of Bangabandhu, enemies of Bengali nation could not yet rest and forgive Bangabandhu and trying relentlessly with blatant lies and Goeblsean propaganda machine to smear the shinning image of Bangabandhu this way or other. Most nakedly exhibiting the abominable shadow of criminal mind, the enemies, until few years ago, staged  a macabre dance with a ghoulish rhythm and outcry of ominous music by cutting cake baked in the ooze exuding from festering wound that refuses to heal.

Blended with poison of vengeance, they celebratedfake and obnoxious birthday on National Mourning Day of 15th August of someone who was no less drenched with love and affection showered from the big heart of Bangabandhu after having brought to freedom from self style captivity at the time when the sun of victory day in red glows rose in the eastern horizon. They did it deliberately to vilify the sanctity of national mourning day remembering the death anniversary of the father of the nation.

Bangabandhu through his lifetime struggle for the case of his people had ascended so high a position that venomous spits slung at him by the apostle of Lucifer will never reach it to tarnish his great image. Legend says Faust (Dr. Faustus) was endowed with knowledge, wisdom and pleasure of the youth by Mephistopheles-- Lord of demon and in return sold out his soul.

Like Faustus, those literally vacuous and politically neophyte sinners, back in Bangladesh, caught in the quagmire of insular partisan jingoism, have also sold their soul to the perpetrators of darkness and venture in vain to tarnish the towering image of Bangabandhu. These acts remind me of a poem: "Ye that see in darkness/When the Moon is drowned/In the coiling fen-mist/Far along the ground/Ye that see in darkness/Say, what have ye found?". 

Following the killing of Bangabandhu, country's overall situation became very unstable. Conspiracy, distrust, intrigue, treason became regular phenomena of those days. Coup, counter coup, silent killing of freedom fighters, factions in the Army became endemic behind the iron curtain of cantonments. Killers of Bangabandhu and their associates did not feel themselves safe in keeping alive the four great national leaders i.e. Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, A.H.M Kamruzzaman and Captain Monsoor Ali who led the Liberation War in the name of Bangabhandu and were in the custody of junta following the killing of Bangabandhu.

The killers played another orgy of killing on November 3, 1975. They intruded into the safe custody of Dhaka Central Jail and fired hail of bullets at the four national leaders and bayoneted them to death. The killers, indeed, created another black chapter in the world history of killing in safe custody. I have no language to condemn this barbaric act of murder of Bangabandhu and four national leaders. But, can only deplore and express pity and hatred for those mindless murderers and their abettors using the words of Shakespeare, "woe to the hand that shed this costly blood".

Bangabandhu's killers with swords of death sentence hanging on their neck were carefully protected by those perpetrators who were in the seat of power for long time. High-Court judges were seen embarrassed to confirm the death sentence of the lower court for execution. This is how the execution of death sentence of Bangabandhu's killers again purposefully delayed over the years. There is an old saying: "Justice delayed is justice denied". It strongly persists in the political criminalization process into which moral values, social justice and consciousness of the nation as a whole has become hostage with shackles and chains.

Message of justice whimpers and remained incarcerated for long time, shock wave of which reaches deep into the cavity of bleeding heart of every Bengalis who witnessed the birth of a nation after a bloody war. The nation having waited with excruciating pains of 'justice delayed' for long time, at last saw five of the killers walk the gallows after a due process of law while few are still at large at abroad with death penalty hanging on their heads.

Crimes never get written-off and go unpunished. Again going back to history as further narrated, "In 1661 after the restoration of King Charles II, Cromwell's embalmed remains were dug out of the Westminster tomb and hung up at Tyburn where criminals were executed. His body was then buried beneath the gallows but his head was stuck on a pole on top of the Westminster Hall where it is known to have remained for long time for display".

In recent history we can see how Augusto Pinochet the former dictator of Chile who came to power in 1973 after a bloody coup backed by CIA killing Chile's national leader Salvador Allende was haunted down and chased to be brought to the dock of justice for his crime in killing the national leader and thousands of other Chilean national.

Following death of Pinochet, his dead body has been cremated other than being buried at the request of his family members as they were afraid that his body may suffer the same fate of Oliver Cromwell someday in the near future in the soil of Chile. Bengalis eagerly count on seeing the invisible perpetrators behind the murder of Bangabandhu be handed due justice for their vile role even posthumously.

Though Bangabandhu is not physically present with us, but his presence as father of the Bengali nation is undying. His stentorian and thunderous voice still echoes and resonates in the air of Bangladesh. His towering image is deeply etched in the eyes of every Bangalis. Let the National Mourning Day on 15th August be turned into a source of formidable strength toward making a real Sonar Bangla that Bangabandhu had dreamt where there shall be no place for the anti-liberation forces. Long live the memory of Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahrnan. Joy Bangla. Joy Bangabandhu.

Mahbubar Rahman is a former Civil Servant.

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