On August 15, 1975, Bangabandhu’s family members were killed by an assassin’s bullet. Photo: Bangladesh Awami League
The unprecedented brutality that took place at Bangabandhu’s residence at 32 Dhanmondi and inside the Dhaka Central Jail on 15 August and 3 November 1975 respectively was not the result of a sudden decision by some junior serving or retired officers of the military. The killing of Bangabandhu and four national leaders in his family was the result of a far reaching and deep political conspiracy. The matter of domestic-foreign conspiracy has become clear from many subsequent events.
It is pointless to debate that as many were in favor of Bangladesh’s liberation war, there were also opposing forces. As it was inside the country, it was also outside the country. The pro-liberation forces were victorious, the opposing forces were defeated. The victorious power was jubilant, while the defeated power was temporarily retreating, they were vengeful and waiting for the right moment. The victorious powers assumed that our final victory was achieved only through the surrender of the Pakistani forces, all danger being over. Got freedom, now what to fear! There were many signs that the defeated party was planning to consolidate their forces and cut the Sind to the house of independence with the help of domestic and foreign allies, but there was no plan of resistance.
Those who are in favor of independence, instead of consolidating their strength, they have walked the path of division and disunity. The combined result of all this is the negative events of August-November 1975. Even today, we have not been able to get rid of the pain caused by the killing of Bangabandhu’s family on August 15 and the killing of four national leaders in jail on November 3. The political divide that still exists in our country was created along the path of the August-November killings of 1975.
It cannot be claimed that the August and November tragedies of 1975 have created a great vacuum in the politics of Bangladesh, even in five decades it has not been possible to fill it. The seeds of the politics of violence that rears its head like a monster in the country today were planted through the seventy-five murders. The nation has been cleared of stigma by completing the trial of Bangabandhu’s murder and prison murder. But politics is still not free of conspiracies. Nagini’s poisonous breath still permeates the air.
On November 3, 1975, a brutal and hellish murder took place in Dhaka Central Jail at midnight. Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, Captain M Mansoor Ali and AHM Kamaruzzaman, who led the liberation war of Bangladesh and were loyal associates of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, were brutally killed in jail. Such brutality is unprecedented in the history of the world. The killers committed this murder with a far-reaching plan to make Awami League leaderless. On August 15, 1975, the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib in his family started the change in the direction of Bangladesh’s politics achieved through the liberation war. The defeated forces of 1971 retaliated by assassinating Bangabandhu, turning the country’s politics towards progress and towards Pakistan. Bangabandhu’s assassination was directly led by a few army personnel, but there were various domestic and foreign forces behind it. Awami League had accomplices of the killers. There is no reason to believe that a few hot-headed junior army officers carried out the August 15 massacre on a whim. It was premeditated and therefore inevitable. There were attempts and plans to carry out such atrocities on any other day than August 15. Bangabandhu’s generosity, forgiveness gave the conspirators an opportunity. In various national and international realities, there may not have been conditions to stop the inactivity of evil forces. Bangabandhu became politically isolated due to several reasons. Distance was created with slow mentors. Bakshal he did to build national unity but it did not happen. Gaps were high. The rank is not given on merit. If Bangabandhu had lived, Bangladesh under his leadership would have raised its head in the World Assembly.
The traitor was chosen from within the Awami League. Khandaker Mushtaq, KM Obaidur Rahman, Shah Moazzem, Taheruddin Tagore were not made in a day. Even Bangabandhu was not aware that they were building a tunnel of doom. But he did not care much for their intrigues.
Bangabandhu was a very generous man with very humane qualities. He himself did not believe in conspiratorial politics. He also did not believe that any conspirator could do him any harm. A Bengali would kill him, that too was beyond his imagination. The killers have taken advantage of his human weakness. 15th August has shattered the course of Bangladesh politics. The entire country was stunned by the death of Bangabandhu’s family. Bangabandhu’s followers were also shocked and confused. With Khandkar Mushtaq as president and almost everyone in Bangabandhu’s cabinet supporting Mushtaq, the common people were disoriented. Murderers are able to control everything very easily. However, with the brutality of the murderous majors and the killing of Bangabandhu, disharmony was being created in the army.
Some freedom fighter army officers felt the urge to bring back the chain of command in the army. One of them was then Brigadier Khaled Musharraf. He was a freedom fighter and an efficient and professional army officer. Under his leadership, a fierce guerrilla force was formed during the liberation war. Khaled Musharraf may have hoped his superiors would do ‘something’ to restore order to the force. But soon he realized that he would not get the new army chief Ziaur Rahman with him. Ziaur Rahman was an ambitious man. There was a kind of arrogance in him. Zia was in contact with the plotters even before the assassination of Bangabandhu and after the assassination he also dreamed of rising with the help of the murderous majors. It will not be possible to deter the murderous majors with Zia in front, Khaled Musharraf thought of becoming the army chief himself. He interned Zia. Instead of directly taking the power of the state, Khandaker took the path of bringing the murderous majors to bear by pressuring Mushtaq. While he is busy incapacitating Mushtaq at Bangabhaban, the killers have executed the jailbreak plan. Khandaker Mushtaq and his murderous associates implemented a cruel plan to expel from the world those who are supposed to have power in the hands of the Awami League. After killing four leaders in jail, the murderous majors left the country safely.
Khaled Musharraf’s plan was full of ambiguities and loopholes. Did he want to prosecute the murderers of Bangabandhu and bring the Awami League to power? Or wanted to sit in power? If it was the first, he would not have reconciled with the murderers and would have taken the initiative to arrest them and free Bangabandhu’s trusted associates who were imprisoned. But he thought he had done a great job by allowing the murderers to leave the country safely and replacing Khandaker Moshtaq with Justice Sayem.
From August 15, the Jasdar revolutionary soldier organization was active within the army. Colonel Taher was the head of this organization. Colonel Taher is said to have been in touch with the August 15 killers. Colonel Taher continued to plan to use the army to seize power. Khaled Musharraf took over as the army chief, but his intentions and plans were not made clear to the countrymen, creating a kind of fog. Jasad, the revolutionary paramilitary organization, created confusion by promoting Khaled Musharraf as a ‘Russian-Indian agent’. With his brother Rashed Musharraf as the leader of the Awami League and a procession from Dhaka University on 4 November to pay tribute to Bangabandhu’s residence and Khaled Musharraf’s mother taking part in the procession, it was announced that the pro-Indian Awami League was coming back to power. All reactionary, fanatical and anti-liberation forces united. On the other hand, Awami League and its allies were disorganized, disorganized and somewhat disoriented. Jasad, Gen Bahini, revolutionary military organizations took advantage of the situation. Khaled Musharraf was practically isolated before establishing control over the military forces. He could not clarify anything to the people of the country except that he was promoted from Brigadier to Major General. However, from November 3 to November 6, 1975, numerous meetings were held at various places including the cantonment on the initiative of Colonel Taher. Colonel Taher planned a counter-coup. He urged the soldiers to come out with arms. The pro-Jasad workers and students will wait outside and armed soldiers will come out of the cantonment. This is how Colonel Taher planned and executed the military coup.
But what Khaled Musharraf really wanted to do, whether he wanted to bring Bangabandhu’s killers to justice, or whether he wanted to establish a constitutional government, no one could know. After a long wait, Awami League formed the government under the leadership of Bangabandhu’s daughter, Sheikh Hasina, and the trial of Bangabandhu’s murder and imprisonment was completed. Some of the convicts have been executed. Some have escaped. The nation is free from stigma. The path to establishing the rule of law in the country has been somewhat smooth. However, as the masterminds behind the 75 murders have not yet been identified through any thorough investigation, the movement of masked men in politics has not yet stopped. Moreover, the murder of Khaled Musharraf, a brave freedom fighter of the November tragedy, has not been prosecuted. The tragic and sad memory of Jail killing day makes us sad and depressed. The seeds of murder-conspiracies that have spawned in our politics do not seem to have germinated. The indifference and negligence of some causes great harm to many. So no more indifference and neglect. All forms of violence should be removed from politics. Without cleaning the garbage on one side, the garbage is piling up on the other side. Today we are witnessing with pain the reverse journey of the non-communal, democratic and people of all castes, professions and creeds that Bangladesh became independent. Religious extremism is on the rise. Intolerance is on the rise. Awami League and Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina are still in power – will the people of the country feel relieved if they cannot stand up against all kinds of crimes and bring the criminals under punishment to make Bangladesh livable for all people? If the politics of looting is going on in the name of the spirit of the liberation war, if the participatory and competitive election system is not visible in the name of democracy, is there moral strength to be proud of the spirit of the liberation war?