Last Friday was 19 November being the anniversary of the trial of assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It is also the responsibility of the Awami League government to unravel the mystery of the conspiracy to assassinate Bangabandhu. On this day in 2008, the Supreme Court of the country announced the final verdict of the trial of Bangabandhu's assassination. A stigma incident occurred. The trial of the most heinous murder in the history of Bangladesh is a great achievement in the political history of Bangladesh. The trial of this murder was interrupted at every step of the case.
There were conspiracies to stop the trial at different times. On 15 August 1975, the anti-independence forces killed Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family. The murderer Mushtaq government has issued an indemnity ordinance to prevent any trial for the murder of the father of the nation immediately after the murder. When Ziaur Rahman came to power, he not only upheld the Indemnity Ordinance, but also gave diplomatic jobs to all the murderers who wore it under the Indemnity Ordinance and gave them the opportunity to go abroad.
Even when Hussain Mohammad Ershad came to power, he did not take any initiative to try Bangabandhu's assassination, nor did he repeal the Indemnity Ordinance. Instead, he promoted the killers of Bangabandhu. Then, when Begum Khaleda Zia came to power in 1991, the democratic journey began. At that time everyone expected that the black law indemnity order would be revoked and the murderers of Bangabandhu would be brought to justice. But Begum Khaleda Zia followed in the footsteps of Zia-Ershad and she too wrote another scandalous chapter by promoting the killers to diplomatic service.
The Awami League finally came to power in 1996 and after the Awami League came to power, an initiative was taken to repeal the Indemnity Ordinance. The then state minister for law, justice and parliament Abdul Matin Khasru passed the bill in parliament. Then the war crimes trial began. At this time, it was said from various quarters that the speedy trial law was to try Bangabandhu's murder. But the Awami League president was respectful of the rule of law. And that is why he did not go for speedy trial but chose the path of trial for the murder of Bangabandhu under the existing law.
And to cross this long path, the trial of Bangabandhu's assassination was often boxed at different times. Before the Awami League came to power in 2001, the trial of Bangabandhu murder case was given only in the lower court. One bench after another of the high court began to express embarrassment over the case. When the BNP-Jamaat coalition government came to power after the 2001 elections, it came to a halt in the Appellate Division. At that time, the trial of Bangabandhu murder case was delayed due to lack of judges in the Appellate Division.
The late Barrister Moudud Ahmed, the then Law Minister, admitted in his book that Bangabandhu's trial was stalled due to political reasons. This is a failure of his. The Awami League came to power again in 2008 after winning a landslide victory, and the final verdict in the Bangabandhu assassination case was given soon after. Later, this verdict has been implemented step by step. Although the assassination of Bangabandhu was tried, the conspirators behind the assassination, the masterminds behind it and those who created the background for the assassination were not tried.
For the last few years, there has been talk of setting up a commission of inquiry into the context of Bangabandhu's assassination, its conspiracy and its role, and through that commission of inquiry, there has been a demand to raise the issue of Bangabandhu's assassination before the nation. Various leaders and ministers of the Awami League government are also making this demand. But so far, no such commission has been formed.
Majority of Bangladeshis believe that just as the trial of Bangabandhu's assassination is a step towards our journey from darkness to light, it is also the responsibility of the Awami League government to unravel the mystery of this assassination conspiracy. The Awami League has to fulfill this responsibility.
Omer Sher is a retired Professor of Economics at Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada and a researcher on politics in South Asia.