National Revolution and
7th November 1975
And Indemnity Acts
7th November 1975 was declared as the ‘National Revolution and Solidarity Day’. Since then the nation had been celebrating this day in a befitting manner. Only exception being Sheikh Hasina and her party Awami League. The reason is obvious; if they accept this day as it has been named then that would tantamount to accepting whole saga of the past autocratic tyrannical rule of Awami- Bakshal regimes. Such magnanimity can’t be expected neither from Sheikh Hasina nor her party Awami League.
Before the election of 1996 Sheikh Hasina in Hijab and Tahzbee in hand had openly confessed and repented before the nation about all their miss deeds of the past and begged vote from the people. Even with such pretentious act and the support of an unscrupulous corrupt section of the administration under the care taker government Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League failed to get even single majority and thus she managed to form a coalition government after long 21 years. But soon after mounted on the saddle she took no time to throw away the Hijab and Tahzbee and she along with her cronies came out in their true color. Immediately after forming the government Hasina ordered that ‘National Revolution and Solidarity Day’ should not be celebrated officially any longer. Not only that, her government flouting the constitution unlawfully arrested the heroes of the 15th August and audaciously started two criminal proceedings against them called ‘Mujib killing’ and ‘Jail killing’.
The people were astounded to find that she and her party hadn’t have any change of heart at all but became even more monstrous and revengeful. As a result in the election of 2001to save the nation and themselves the people threw them into the dustbin of history once again. Awami League under Hasina suffered a humiliating defeat.
The revolutions of 15th August and 7th November are unforgettable events in our national history. Such epoch making events always occur at a critical juncture and have a background. 7th November is no exception. It also has a background. So far the people have seen lot of fanfares and heard a lot but none had talked much about the political background of this momentous event, the spirit that inspired the patriotic soldiers and the people to stage this revolution, against what this revolution was, against whom the revolution had to be organized. The so-called intellectuals are also carefully avoiding speaking on these issues for reasons best known to them.
To understand the true spirit and significance of 7th November’75 the people and the present generation in particular must clearly know the answers of the following questions: -
- Why the revolution of 7th November had to be organized by the soldiers and the people?
- What was the spirit and aim of that revolution
- Against what the revolution was?
- Who all played the vanguard role in that revolutionary uprising?
With out finding the answers to these questions, The National Revolution and Solidarity Day would just remain as a mere ritual. The spirit of this glorious revolution can never be engraved in the heart and soul of the nation.
In search of the answers one has to go back in the history, to the days of our liberation war of 1971.
On the fateful night of 25th March’71 the then unscrupulous military junta of Pakistan ordered the armed forces to pounce on the peace loving people of East Pakistan. On that order the armed forces launched a most barbaric and dreadful operation with all their might. That carnage was an unparallel genocide in the living memory. The nation was totally unprepared to face that kind of brutal onslaught and looked towards sheikh Mujibur Rahman for leadership. But to their utter dismay and disappointment at that crucial juncture the supreme leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman paid no heed to the request to lead them to organize a resistance struggle saying that he never believed in the politics of guns and courted arrest. Before that he also told his party leaders to run for their lives. Later flew away to safe heaven in West Pakistan. His wife and rest of the family members became ‘state guests’. The whole nation was stunned at such betrayal for a while and was totally dumfounded. At that critical juncture an unknown young army officer Major Ziaur Rahman imbued with the spirit of nationalism and patriotism after having consulted with a few more like-minded fellow officers and with their active support announced the clarion declaration of independence from the Kalur Ghat Radio Station in Chittagong. He urged the nation to rise and organize resistance against the brutal forces. That historic call electrified the whole nation and people from all walks of life flocked around the members of the armed forces, EPR, police, ansers, mujahid corps and the members of the civil administration to build up countrywide armed resistance that later turned into liberation war.
But most unfortunately our liberation war fell pray in the hands of the ruling Chanakkyas of the neighboring country. As pretentious friend after finalizing a long term ‘Blue Print’ India extended helping hand to fulfill its longtime ambition. They wanted to weaken their archenemy Pakistan. Assisting its dismemberment was considered a step forward in fulfilling their cherished dream of ‘Akhand Bharat’, at the same time to turn Bangladesh into a client state. After getting assurance from the Indian government that Awami League would be allowed to be the sole claimant of all the credits of liberation war and usurp the state power alone after independence, the then provisional government based at Kolkata and later Sheikh Mujibur Rahman signed the bond of slavery. Just for the lust of power Mujib and Awami League did not hesitate to betray with the blood and sacrifices of millions as well as the honor of thousands of our mothers and sisters. Not only that, right from ’71 up till now Awami League had been trying shamefully to be the sole champion of the national liberation war. Immediately after usurping the state power Sheikh Mujib and his party turned the whole country into their ancestral property. The ruthless tyranny of the AWAMI- BAKSAL one party dictatorship that suffocated the whole nation is still remembered by the people as a horrifying nightmare.
Sheikh Mujib’s worthy heir apparent Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League during their 5 years rule from 1996-2001 had aptly confirmed to the present generation the truth about their horrendous hair-raising past. As state terrorism, high handedness, loot and plunder were the order of the day through out that period.
Sheikh Mujib the supremo on his return from Pakistan via India after independence brought two gifts for the newborn country.
- He grafted the four principles of the Indian constitution as the four pillars of our national constitution. He also invented a quire political philosophy imitating that of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ called ‘Mujib Bad’. Noted political analysts and thinkers of the country never recognized ‘Mujib Bad’ as a political philosophy. Rather they viewed it to be a prelude to fascism and dictatorship.
- He chose a poem to be our national anthem of the same poet who was also the author of the national anthem of India.
Who could do so, a nationalist or a traitor? I leave the judgment to my fellow countrymen.
But right from the days of the liberation war many of the self-sacrificing freedom fighters could not reconcile with the Indian Chanakkya’s vicious design and provisional government and Sheikh Mujib’s capitulation. They never wanted independence where to accept the slavery of India instead of Pakistan. They fought to earn a genuine independence. Their dream was a prosperous and happy Bangladesh. Therefore, most logically in the post liberation era they raised their voice protesting the fascist rule of AWAMI- BAKSALITES. Country wide organized resistance emerged. It was not an easy task by any count. Thousands of opposition leaders, workers and activists had to sacrifice their lives on the soil of independent Bangladesh under the state terrorism of the fascist regime. Most of them were the valiant freedom fighters.
After the independence Sheikh Mujib and his government reluctantly conceded to organize the national defence forces. But he and his Awami League never could succeed to use the armed forces as their ‘Lathial Bahini’ (repressive tool) against the people. The reason being Bangladesh armed forces were organized with the tested patriotic freedom fighters and the repatriated member of the armed forces who had to suffer the agony of long imprisonment for their allegiance to Bangladesh. Hence, the character of Bangladesh armed forces is quite different from any other conventional armed forces of the world. It has been their faith that national and people’s interests are supreme; not that of any individual, group or political party having vested interest. As a result like others Bangladesh armed forces also fell at the wrath of AWAMI- BAKSALlTE regime. In that situation two secret organizations within the armed forces were organized. ‘Sena Parishad’ & ‘Gono Bahini’. On the question of nationalism, patriotism and on most of the issues of national importance both these organizations had similar views like other nationalist-patriotic- progressive political parties and groups. The differences were on the question of ideology and principles.
Sena Parishad believed in nationalism, patriotism and religious values. Gono Bahini on the other hand believed in scientific socialism.
The reign of AWAMI-BAKSAL was the period of unprecedented brutal repression. Volumes would not be enough to write the full history. Even then a brief account is given below.
AWAMI-BAKSAL period is the dark chapter in the history of Bangladesh. In 1975 with a stroke of pen Sheikh Mujibur Rahman killed democracy and imposed on the nation the yoke of one party rule of BAKSAL. He snatched away from the people freedom of press, freedom of expression, fundamental rights along with all political rights. All national dailies and periodicals were banned except 4 government-controlled dailies. Constitutional rights of the judiciary were also highjacked and was brought under the administrative control. Rule of law thus was buried. The period of AWAMI-BKSAL rule was full of barbaric atrocities. The history of AWAMI-BKSALITES rule was basically history of murder, rape, loot, oppression, plunder, famine, capitulation to the foreign exploiters, white terror and above all betrayal to the spirit of the liberation war. People could never be able to forget those horrifying memories. In the name of socialism they plundered the national wealth, they kept the border open for the smuggling, for their mismanagement of the economy the country got recognized internationally as the ‘bottomless basket’. There was no famine in Bangladesh during or just after the war but hundreds and thousands of people had to die out of the man made famine of’74 during the rule of AWAMI-BKSALITES.
Sheik Mujib and his government presented the people fascism in the name of democracy, social injustice in the name of socialism, national disunity in the name of Bengali nationalism and communal disharmony in the name of secularism. In this way after subjugating the whole nation in a state of gasping suffocation all the opposition was crushed systematically through state terrorism with a view to close all the constitutional and democratic avenues to bring any change of government. The nation was thrown into an era of total darkness with no hope to breath afresh.
At this juncture once again it was a young army officer Col. Ziauddin like a Bengal tiger roared against the national betrayal of Sheikh Mujib. Col. Ziauddin published his sensational article in the weakly Holiday in summer 1972. In his article he squarely accused Sheikh Mujib’s government and the people in power as the betrayer to the cause of the liberation war. In the article he wrote,
“Independence had become an agony for the people of this country. Stand on the street and you see purposeless, spiritless, lifeless faces going through the mechanics of life. Generally, after a liberation war, the new spirit carries through and the country builds itself out of nothing. In Bangladesh the story is simply the other way round. The whole of Bangladesh is either begging or singing sad songs or shouting without awareness. The hungry and poor are totally lost.”
This brave freedom fighter was the first to demand that the government should make public the 25 years treaty with India. Pointing towards Sheikh Mujibur Rahman he wrote,
“We fought without him and won. If need be we will fight again without him.”
If the revolutionary uprising of 15th August had not taken place then in the killing field presently over 100 political parties would have had premature death or would have been forced to fly the flag of BKSAL. Even Awami League could not have its rebirth. The nation would have been forced to bear the agonizing burden of their misrule for indefinite period of time. After the independence armaments, ammunition, gold, precious metals, vehicles, machine-parts of the mills and factories, raw materials worth crores of Takas were allowed by Awami League government to be taken away by the Indian army. To them the whole nation was considered to be their enemies. Even after all these shamelessly they had been proclaiming to be the sole agent of the national liberation war. Major Jalil BU a valiant freedom fighter among others vehemently opposed such wanton loot and plunder of the national wealth by the so-called ‘friendly forces’ and he was arrested. Comrade Shiraj Shikdar a great patriot and revolutionary and thousands of freedom fighters also had to die for their patriotism. Many nationalists had to face brutal persecution. It was Awami League of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that mortgaged the national independence and state sovereignty signing the 25 years long-term unequal treaty with India. AWAMI-BKSALITES by creating Rakkhi Bahini, Lal Bahini, Sheccha Shebok Bahini and other private Bahinis unleashed an unbearable reign of terror killing 40000 nationalists and patriotic people with out any trial. Having got killed Comrade Shiraj Shikdar in custody after inhuman torture sheikh Mujib himself on the floor of the national assembly intoxicated with power boastfully said, “Where is Shiraj Shikdar to day?”
On 23.1.1992 in the national assembly while depicting the barbaric rule of AWAMI- BKSALIES from 1972 till 1975 Mr. Moudud Ahmed the present law & parliamentary affairs minister of the Jote Sharkar said,
"After promulgating Emergency Act on 28th December 1974, on 29th December I was arrested without any reason under special power act. The government failed to bring any specific charge against me. This Mr. Tofayal Ahmed was the in charge of the Rakkhi Bahini. And in the hands of this notorious Bahini 40 thousand innocent people have lost their lives. The people of this country have not yet forgotten the brutal killing of Shiraj Shikdar. The period between 1972-1975 of AWAMI-BKSAL rule will ever remain as the most darkest chapter in the history of Bangladesh".
Any measure that is taken against the will and wish of the people just to perpetuate one’s power can’t last forever. No system can last long without people’s support. When the national traitors impose dictatorship or fascism on the people, the patriots had to organize revolutions to free the nation and its people from the clutches of the draconian regimes of the despotic rulers in the annals of the history. The history repeated once again in Bangladesh on 15th August 1975, when another dictator Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his fascist regime BKSAL was over thrown by a revolution spearheaded by the patriotic section of the armed forces. That was a successful revolution. The people got back their freedom from the bondage of slavery and the suffocation of the fascist rule. The spontaneous support of the people to the fall of BKSAL and the government of President Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed only proved that BKSAL had nothing in common with the aspirations of the people. Even the larger section of Awamileaguers had no approval to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s one party dictatorial rule. The spontaneous support of the people turned the successful uprising of 15th August spearhead by the patriotic armed forces into a popular national revolution.
14-15th night was earmarked for the night training of the 46 Brigade so, Subha Sadeq of 15th August was decided to be the D-day .The clock started ticking. After finalizing everything as par the plan with the name of Allah Sobhanatallah, the uprising begun while the city was still asleep in the early hours of the summer morning. Armed resistances were initiated first from the opposing side, three revolutionaries embraced martyrdom and a few got seriously wounded. That led to encounter. Within minutes the successful uprising could bring the historic change. The news of the overthrow of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his government and assumption of power by Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed as the President was announced in the Radio. For the greater interests of the nation curfew and martial law was promulgated temporarily. People were urged to cooperate with the armed forces in maintaining law and order and to protect lives and properties of the people.
The whole nation that day welcomed and celebrated the news of the fall of BKSAL regime and came out with spontaneous jubilant support in favor of the revolution as soon as the news was broad caste. The people streamed on the streets of Dhaka with happiness and cheers to express their solidarity. The people all over the country were in frenzy after getting freed from the yoke of tyrannical dictatorship. On that day people at their own had organized special prayers. Milads were held in the mosques. Sweets were distributed in every neighborhood. Every one had the same thing to say, the country got saved from the hands of the tyrant. It was known that the people were fed up with the regime. But no one knew that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the AWAMI-BKSALITES had become so much unpopular and earned such hate rate of the people. This was discovered only after the successful revolution. The people always had given correct verdict in the past and they once again proved this through their spontaneous support in favor of the uprising at a crucial juncture of the history. The spontaneous support and jubilant participation of the countrymen also gave the August revolution the moral legitimacy.
On 4th April 1979 a condolence motion on the late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was raised in the national parliament. Lt. Gen. Ziaur Rahman was then the President. The speaker was Mirza Golam Hafeez. When such a motion is moved then usually the life sketch of the deceased is also read out and noted in the proceedings. On that day Mr. Mirza Golam Hafeez himself moved the condolence motion. The last sentence of the life sketch of late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that he read out said, “On 15th August 1975 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman died due to a political change.”(Preserved documents of the parliamentary proceedings.) This was very true, sad demise of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and few others was in no way ordinary killing or murders; they lost their lives in the armed encounter during the popular revolution that was organized to bring a political change in the country. On the same day Mr. Shah Azizur Rahman, the then Prime Minister with the approval of President Ziaur Rahman very clearly brought out the political aspects of the downfall of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in his speech that he delivered. He said, “On 25th January 1975 the manner in which black laws that were passed in the parliament just within 15 minutes and the yoke of one party dictatorial rule of BKSAL that was placed on the shoulders of eight crores people was nothing but a constitutional coupde’tat. The revolutionary uprising of the armed forces on 15th August 1975 was against that fascist one party coupde’tat.”(Preserved documents of the parliamentary session proceedings.) In the same session later he introduced the Indemnity Bill. The Bill was passed with 241 votes out of 300-member parliament, which was more than two third majorities, and thus the Bill became a law and part of the constitution as the 5th amendment. This is how directly elected President Ziaur Rahman and the elected parliament of the then BNP government gave the final verdict in favor of the 15th August revolution by providing the constitutional legitimacy.
So far, a lot has been published and said in favor and against the indemnities enacted by the past and present governments. Most of which are not only confusing but also questionable. Against such constitutional acts most vocal has been the Awami League. Sheikh Hasina seems to be more venominous then the party itself. Some known intellectuals of Awami Gharana have also joined the fray. In view of this as a conscious citizen and a freedom fighter I deem it appropriate to place some facts before the readers about the indemnities in the context of Bangladesh to facilitate my fellow countrymen to see through the cob wave that is being created from the time prior to independence about some most significant events that had taken place in our national history by the vested interested quarters so that they could seek truth from the facts.
The meaning of the word indemnity is ‘ Legal exemption from penalties incurred,’ according to the Collins dictionary. Such indemnity is usually given to some special acts that are executed and to the persons associated with for the greater interests of the people and the country. Through such indemnity all such actions and the persons are protected from being tried in any court of law.
It is not Bangladesh that has introduced this practice for the first time in the history of mankind. In today's world all the so-called civilized countries of the West who claim to be the champion and the custodian of the human rights - democracy etc are the pioneers who introduced such indemnities in the history of human civilization. Not only that, it is again those countries who still has kept their armed forces out of the jurisdiction of the civil laws.
The moral justification of providing such indemnity has always been greater national interests and the interests of the people. Such as: - removal of fascist-tyrannical government, ruthless dictatorship, to defend national independence and sovereignty against any foreign aggression, protecting human rights, democracy and enforcing law and order etc. In this context let's now turn to Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh it was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his government that introduced the indemnity for the first time. In 1972 through an ordinance the government indemnified all activities related to the war of independence and all those who were associated with it. This ordinance later was passed as a law in the parliament with more than two third majorities, thus the law became a part of the constitution. The reason to do so was again the greater interests of the country and the people. This law justified the struggle of the people of the then East Pakistan against the military dictatorship, injustice, tyranny and oppression. On 6th May 1974 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s government had also passed in the parliament the second indemnity law to protect the ill famed Rakkhi Bahini and all its activities.
Regarding Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s government first indemnity Mr. Abdul Jalil, the General Secretary of Awami League confirmed saying, “Awami League government had proclaimed an indemnity covering the period from16th December 1971 to 28th February 1972.” (Daily Jugantar 13.3.2003.) Sheikh Hasina the leader of the opposition has also accepted this fact in the house on 11th March 2003 while refuting the statement of the Prime Minister. (Daily Jugantar & other dailies of 13th March2003.) They however remained silent about the indemnity that was given to the Rakkhi Bahini.
The President Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed issued the third indemnity ordinance after the popular revolution of the 15th August 1975. After the historic change of the government state of emergency and martial law were promulgated in the country temporarily, hence President Mushtaq Ahmed had to issue an ordinance to indemnify all actions that had taken place during the revolution and the persons who were associated with.
The reason for this indemnity was similar to the first two i.e. greater interests of the country and the people.
The revolution of the 15th August was organized against the one party tyrannical rule of BKSAL, to free the masses from the suffocation of inhuman torture, misrule, to reestablish human rights, democracy, and rule of law. In the flow of events on the 3ed November 1975 a vicious coterie within the armed forces under the leadership of Brigadier Khaled Mosharraf staged a reactionary coup de'tat. General Ziaur Rahman being the representative of Sena Parishad who was appointed by the President Mushtaq Ahmed as the chief of army staff after the historic change of the government on 15th August was taken into custody. The sole aim of the putsch was to take the whole nation back to pre 15th August situation and to reinstall BKSAL regime in power. But the nefarious conspiracy could only last for three days. On 7th November the glorious revolution of the Sipahi-Janata crushed the conspiracy and most of the conspirators along with the leaders got killed at the wrath of the soldiers and the people. The Sipahi-Janata Biplob of 7th November was again spear headed and organized by the same patriots imbued with the same spirit of 15th August. Therefore, quite rationally the time and scope of the indemnity ordinance of President Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed had to be extended from 15th August to 7th November with some amendments that later became a law and part of the 5th amendment of the constitution in 1979. The then BNP government of Shaheed Ziaur Rahman enacted this law.
In the year 2001 BNP led Jote swept the general election and formed the government with more than two third majorities. Being unable to cope up with the over all anarchic situation that they inherited due to the misrule of the Awami League government with the civil administration and the crumbling law enforcing agencies, the new government legally called upon the patriotic armed forces in aid of civil power to tackle the unmanageable law and order situation to fulfill their election commitment. The armed forces responded for the greater interests of the nation and launched the “Operation Clean Heart.” Due to this momentous decision of the government the law and order situation drastically improved all over the country within a very short span of time. The people got a sigh of relief and welcomed the “operation Clean Heart.”
In this context the Jote government has passed the fourth indemnity bill in the house by more than two third majorities thus this indemnity like the previous three has also become a law and part of the constitution. The justification is again the greater interests of the nation and the people.
Though people at large had no grievances about this indemnity but mischievously the Awami League and its cohorts became the villains to condemn the third and the fourth indemnities maintaining a mysterious silence about the first and the second indemnities that were enacted as laws by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's government. They are now all out with unreasonable and baseless propagandas to undermine the BNP led Jote Sharkar for the third and the fourth indemnities. This is not the end of the story.
In 1996 after coming to power the Awami League government under Sheikh Hasina's leadership audaciously repealed the second indemnity law concerning 15th August and 7th November revolutions and initiated two trials so called 'Mujib killing' and 'Jail killing'. This is nothing but a naked violation of the constitution. When this unlawful act of the Awami League government was challenged in the court, the government managed an ‘amices curie’ through a few handpicked pro Awami Leauge lawyers who gave an astounding opinion that said, “The indemnity law of the 5th amendment is a 'Black Law' so the decision of the government to repeal it even without two third majorities is in order.” There after court refused any hearing on this opinion. Such conduct is a manifestation of reckless irresponsibility by any standard. Constitutionally the court can give an interpretation of any law if necessary. But such mechanization through the lawyers to say that annulment of any law or any change of constitution by the government without two third majorities to be correct is not only blatant negation of the constitution but also out right flouting of all moralities and principles on which laws stand.
May it be under pressure from the government, fear of persecution or any personal benefits, those lawyers who could shun their morality and professional ethics and cared less to stain the esteemed judiciary as the stooges of the government would all find themselves in the dust bin of the history as immoral and conscious less law breakers. Such an act would remain unforgivable forever.
Barrister Moudud Ahmed the Law & Parliamentary Affairs of the Jote Shorkar at a press conference at the ministry said, “the ‘operation clean heart’ was the need of the hour. To protect the human rights of 14 crores of people, violation of human rights of few individuals had to be accepted as individual sacrifices by the government as unavoidable. This indemnity law had to be passed to protect the honor of the armed forces. Regarding the indemnity he further said that Rakkhi Bahini started their operations from the 1st February1972 but the law was made on the 8th March 1972. This Bahini killed 40 thousand people but there could not be any trial of even a single such murder because of the reason that the act was amended and passed in the parliament on 6th May 1974 as article 16 which became a law and part of the constitution indemnifying all their actions. So after giving indemnity to the Rakkhi Bahini Awami League does not have any right to criticize the present indemnity law.” (Daily Jugantar13.3.03.)
A solid argument indeed!
In view of this argument, one can strongly say that in 1996 after coming to power Awami League government with single majority had no right to annul the indemnity law which also had become the part of the constitution regarding 15th August and 7th November revolutions and to initiate the farcical trials 'Mujib Killing' and 'Jail Killing.' Mr. Moudud Ahmed the honorable minister however made no mention about this in his statement. Whether this omission on his part was deliberate or not that time will reveal. Whatever may be the case on the basis of his same argument the people have a question to ask: -
“Mr. Moudud Ahmed, the honorable Law Minister would you be kind enough to say, what right the Jote Sharkar has to keep the national heroes of 15th August and 7th November in the death cells behind the bars?”
It is people's expectation that the Jote Sharkar should formulate such irrevocable laws regarding the indemnities so that no one in future dares to flout the constitution again. At the same time the government should immediately declare that the way the past Awami League government had annulled the third indemnity act and had planed to kill the leaders of the 15th August and 7th November revolutions who are all valiant freedom fighters with distinctions, ex-members of the patriotic armed forces by mockery of trials is unconstitutional and illegal.
This is ironic to watch that those heroes are still languishing in the death cells when BNP led government is in power! To dispel all misgivings in the minds of the people the Jote Sharkar under the leadership of Begum Khaleda Zia must free them all with out any further delay and also pave the way for those in exile to return. By doing so, the present Jote Sharkar must prove to the people that they are determined to uphold the sanctity of the constitution.
It is now high time to realize the fact, that no one should be allowed any opportunity to undermine our national pride; that is the patriotic armed forces as they are the time tested last resort to safeguard the national identity, independence, sovereignty and stability.
The leader of the present Jote Sharkar Begum Khaleda Zia, the worthy heir-apparent of Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman personally is particularly well respected for her uncompromising resolve for truth and justice. This image of her needs to be firmly engrained into the heart and soul of the people, so that at any critical juncture of national crisis the patriotic armed forces and the genuine nationalists could have unflinching faith and confidence on her and under her dynamic leadership can unite as a formidable force to frustrate any evil design or conspiracy against national interests hatched up by the national traitors and their foreign masters.
To save the country and the nation from multi prong conspiratorial activities no party or the Jote alone would be good enough. Not only the present government but also all future governments that would claim to be truly patriotic and nationalist will have to be dependent on the patriotic armed forces and the people. In the flow of our national politics no one has any scope to deny that this phenomenon has been proven to be a historical fact.
With characteristic firmness, sincerity and prudence it would be most reasonable to accept what time demands. If that is not done then those momentous events of the past such as: -
Maj. Zia’s clarion declaration of independence on 26-27 March 1971. Historic change of autocratic regime of BAKSAL on 15th August 1975. Sipahi – Jonotar Biplob on 7th November 1975 and Operation Clean Heart, where the patriotic armed forces and the dedicated true nationalists were involved in each of those events cannot be expected to reoccur again at the need of the hour. As no one at the crucial juncture of any national crisis in future would come forward with the aim to serve the greater interests with gallant self sacrificing spirit because they will neither have that spirit, encouragement, enthusiasm and inspiration nor the courage to do so. At the end the whole nation will plunge into a suicidal despondency. Those who love their motherland would never like to have such a despondent Bangladesh.
Before such dismal - vigor less passivity get embedded in the national physics it must be averted at any cost as an imperative priority.
All prevailing related laws and the constitutional provisions have to be further strengthened and made full proof or if need be constitutional amendments should be made and new laws enacted in this regard. So that in future no one can ever dare to drag the armed forces and the nationalists to the dock for their operational undertakings and actions to deal with any national crisis. Such audacity is a blatant abuse to their nationalism and patriotism and thus intolerable and totally unacceptable. Only such effective constitutional amendments and laws can be the amulet for present and future Bangladesh. With such measures Bangladesh could also become an invincible fortress for all time to come.
Sooner the good sense prevails on the mentality of the national leaders and the fellow countrymen and they realize the gravity of all that has been narrated above better it would be for the country and the nation.
Lets get back to the follow up events after the historic 15th August revolution.
The revolutionaries were over whelmed by the reaction of the masses. They bowed their heads and saluted the patriotism of fellow countrymen. All of them felt so grateful to Allah Subhanwatallah for being able to do some service to the country and the people. All the risks and hard work became rewarding at last. The blessings and Dua that they received from the people were the most precious reward that they could ever get. Their confidence on the people grew tremendously and they realized that no power will ever be able to subdue 10 crores Muslims of Bangladesh. The courageous people of Bangladesh would foil all conspiracies and one day will surely secure their rightful place in the comity of nations with dignity and honor. In the tide of jubilation the Indo-Soviet axis became ineffective. The anti people betrayers had all gone into hiding with their tails down to save themselves from the wrath of the people. But they were not spared even in their hideouts.
People with their own initiatives had been haunting the culprits and apprehending them to the local authorities. As it became difficult to escape the watchful eyes of the people many who had absconded started surrendering themselves. Mr. Tofayel Ahmed and Mr. Abdur Razzak were two such characters. Mr. Kader Siddiqui sent a telegram expressing his willingness to surrender to the President. He was not replied. Then he ran away to India and started anti state activities with the help and assistance from across the border. He carried out some futile armed incursions at the border. One officer and four soldiers of the Bangladesh Army had to lay down their lives while repulsing one such incursion. Maj Gen. Ziaur Rahman’s government tried him in absentia on the charges of sedition. He was proved guilty and was awarded 12 years rigorous imprisonment. Since then he lived in exile in India for all these years and had returned to Bangladesh of late and got rehabilitated in the active politics.
Let us go back to 15th August.
Soon after the news broadcast about the fall of the BKSAL government and the demise of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the national Radio and TV there came Col. (Retd) Abu Taher, Col. (Retd) Akber Hossain, Maj (Retd) Shajahan Omer, Maj (Retd) Ziauddin, Maj. (Retd) Rahmatullah, Capt (Retd) Majed, Ex-PMA cadets Mushtaq Ahmed, Sharafat and many others. After hearing the announcement they all came running to pledge their support and services at the same time to congratulate the successful revolution. Meanwhile Lt. Col. Amin Ahmed Choudhury had already neutralized the main camp of the JRB at Savar and got their allegiance in favor of the revolution Lt. Col. Rashid had gone to bring Khandakar Mustaq Ahmed to the Radio station.
I left for the cantonment to bring Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman and the three Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy and Air force.
The Dhaka cantonment then was totally with the revolution. The whole atmosphere out there was jubilant and every one was rejoicing the victory. As I drove through they were showing victory signs and greeting me with cheers. In the early morning when Maj Gen. Shafiullah, the then Chief of Army Staff came to know about the uprising he ordered Col. Shaffat Jamil the Dhaka 46 Brigade Commander to counter the uprising, but the Brigade Commander was undone as the loyalty of his Brigade was with the Sena Parishad in favor of the popular uprising. Then Maj Gen. Shafiullah had asked Brigadier Khaled Mosharraf the Chief of General Staff. But Brig. Khaled replied,
“Bangabandhu is dead. The army has revolted and the entire army has celebrated.
Nothing can be done”
Within an hour I returned to the Radio Bangladesh with Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman, Maj. Gen. Shafiullah, the Army chief of staff, Air Vice Marshal A.K. Khandakar, the Air Chief of Staff and Vice Admiral M.H. Khan, the Navel Chief of Staff.
Maj. Gen Khalilur Rahman, the Director General BDR and Mr. Nurul Islam the IGP were also asked to come over to the Radio station. Lt. Col. Amin Ahmed Choudhury came with the acting Director of the JRB, Col. Hassan. Lt. Col. Rashid came with Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed, the new President of the Republic and the accepted leader of the uprising. He was given a Guard of Honor at the Radio station as he arrived.
Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed delivered his historic speech on the Air as the new President of the People Republic of Bangladesh. All the three Service’s Chiefs in their speeches gave their allegiance to the government of President Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed and upheld the revolutionary popular uprising of the patriotic armed forces. Within hours the law enforcing agencies arrested many of the AWAMI-BKSAL leaders. The same day Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed was formally sworn in as the new President in a simple ceremony at the Banga Bhaban. The interim Chief Justice A.B. Mahmood Hossain administered the oath taking ceremony. Mr. Mahmudullah was sworn in as the Vice President. The new cabinet also took oath on the same day.
Virtually all of them belonged to AWAMI LEAUGE and BKSAL and were elected members of the parliament.
Cabinet Ministers were.
· Justice Abu Sayeed Choudhury
· Prof. Yusuf Ali
· Mr. Fani Bhushan Majumder
· Mr. Md. Sohrab Hossain
· Mr. Abdul Mannan
· Mr. Maneranjan Dhar
· Mr. Abdul Momen
· Mr. Asadduzzaman Khan
· Dr. A.R. Mullik
· Dr. Mozaffar Ahmed Choudhury
· Mr. Shah Moazzem Hossain
· Mr. Dewan Farid Gazi
· Mr. Taheruddin Thakur
· Proff. Nurul Islam
· Mr. Nurul Islam Manju
· Mr. K.M. Obaidur Rahman
· Mr. Moslemuddin Khan
· Mr. Khitish Chandra Mondal
· Mr. Reazuddin Ahmed
· Syed Altaf Hossain
Mr. Mominuddin Ahmed
Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed proved taller than his size. 10 out of 18 ministers and 8 of 9 state ministers of BAKSAL joined the new cabinet supporting the 15th August revolution and giving allegiance to Khandakar Mushtaq’s government.
Pakistan on the same day recognized the new government. Saudi Arabia, which refused to recognize AWAMI-BAKSAL regime for four and half years since the independence recognized the government under the leadership of Kandakar Mushtaq Ahmed on the second day after the political change. Peoples Republic of China and United States of America not only recognized; simultaneously Beijing Radio and VOA in a special broadcast warned,
“The political change in Bangladesh is an internal affair and no out side intervention would be tolerated by Peoples Republic Of China and United States of America. Such intervention would be considered as a destabilizing factor and hence, People’s Republic of China and USA would not remain silent. To maintain stability all necessary measures would be taken.”
Not only that, the government of Peoples Republic of China alerted the armed forces on the Cino - Indian boarder to stand by against any expansionist move form across the boarder. Against such action and stern pronouncements from both these powers India had to abandon the decision to invade Bangladesh on the 17th August.
Within a short period of 12 days Japan, Iran, Soviet Union and even India along with 39 other countries recognized the post 15th August government.
I left for the cantonment to bring Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman and the three chiefs of staff of the army, navy and air force.
The Dhaka cantonment then was totally with the revolution. The whole atmosphere out there was jubilant and every one was rejoicing the victory. As I drove through they were showing victory signs and greeting me with cheers. In the early morning when Maj Gen. Shafiullah, the then chief of army staff came to know about the uprising he ordered Col. Shaffat Jamil the Dhaka 46 Brigade commander to counter the uprising, but the Brigade commander was undone as the loyalty of his Brigade was with the Sena Parishad in favor of the popular revolution. Then Maj. Gen. Shafiullah had asked Brigadier Khaled Mosharraf the chief of general staff to take some measures. But Brig. Khaled replied,
“Bangabandhu is dead. The army has revolted and the entire army has celebrated. Nothing can be done”
Within an hour I returned to the Radio Bangladesh with Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman, Maj. Gen. Shafiullah, the army chief of staff, Air Vice Marshal A.K. Khandakar, the air chief of staff and Vice Admiral M.H. Khan, the navel chief of staff.
Maj. Gen Khalilur Rahman, the director general BDR and Mr. Nurul Islam the IGP were also asked to come over to the Radio station. Lt. Col. Amin Ahmed Choudhury came with the acting director of the JRB, Col. Hassan. Lt. Col. Rashid came with Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed, the new President of the Republic and the accepted leader of the revolutionaries. He was given a guard of honor at the Radio station as he arrived.
Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed delivered his historic speech on the Air as the new President of the People Republic of Bangladesh. All the three service’s chiefs in their speeches gave their allegiance to the government of President Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed and upheld the popular revolutionary uprising spear headed by patriotic armed forces. Within hours the law enforcing agencies arrested many of the AWAMI-BKSAL leaders. The same day Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed was formally sworn in as the new President in a simple ceremony at the Banga Bhaban. The interim chief justice A.B. Mahmood Hossain administered the oath taking ceremony. Mr. Mahmudullah was sworn in as the Vice President. The new cabinet also took oath on the same day.
Virtually all of them belonged to AWAMI LEAUGE and BKSAL. All of them were elected members of the parliament.
Cabinet Ministers were.
· Justice Abu Sayeed Choudhury
· Prof. Yusuf Ali
· Mr. Fani Bhushan Majumder
· Mr. Md. Sohrab Hossain
· Mr. Abdul Mannan
· Mr. Maneranjan Dhar
· Mr. Abdul Momen
· Mr. Asadduzzaman Khan
· Dr. A.R. Mullik
· Dr. Mozaffar Ahmed Choudhury
· Mr. Shah Moazzem Hossain
· Mr. Dewan Farid Gazi
· Mr. Taheruddin Thakur
· Proff. Nurul Islam
· Mr. Nurul Islam Manju
· Mr. K.M. Obaidur Rahman
· Mr. Moslemuddin Khan
· Mr. Khitish Chandra Mondal
· Mr. Reazuddin Ahmed
· Syed Altaf Hossain
· Mr. Mominuddin Ahmed
At the time when the uprising took place Mr. Abdul Malek Ukil a senior leader of BKSAL was on a tour to London. While the journalists wanted to know his reaction at the demise of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman he said,
“Pharaoun’s downfall has taken place in Bangladesh”.
Mr. Mohuiddin Ahmed another senior leader of AWAMI-BKSAL regime went to the Soviet Union as the special envoy of President Mushtaq Ahmed to explain the reasons why the revolution of 15th August became an absolute necessity to the Kremlin leadership.
Mr. Justice Abu Sayeed Choudhury ex-president willingly became Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed’s special envoy and later the foreign minister and had went around the UN and other countries of the Western world to apprise the leaders about the reasons and justifications of the 15th August revolution and the political change.
The ill-fated Gazi Golam Mustafa was removed from his post and justice BA Siddiqui a well-respected judge of the Supreme Court was appointed as the chairman of the Red Cross. Presidential order No 9 was repealed. Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed in a Presidential ordinance announced repudiation of BKSAL and his commitment to restore multi party democracy in the country. The plan of Sheikh Mujib to divide the country into 61 districts and the appointment of governors were annulled. 19 districts that existed before were reconstituted and professional district commissioners were posted to administer the districts. On charges of corruption and misuse of power ex Vice President of the Republic, 6 ministers of Sheikh Mujib’s cabinet, 10 members of parliament, 4 bureaucrats, and 12 businessmen were arrested. Two special courts were constituted for their trial. Actions against 36 senior officers of the armed forces were contemplated. The government ordered the relevant authorities to prepare the list of all political prisoners. The political parties were also asked for their list of prisoners. On 25th August the leading political leaders Mr. Mashiur Rahman and Mr. Oli Ahad were released unconditionally. On the same day Gen. Osmani was appointed as the defence advisor to the President. Maj Gen. Khalilur Rahman was appointed as the chief of defence staff. Simultaneously Maj. Gen. Shafiullah and Air Vice Marshal AK Khandakar were relieved from their posts and Maj. Gen Ziaur Rahman and Air Vice Marshal M.G. Toab were appointed as the chief of army staff, and the chief of air staff respectively. Daily Ittefaq and Daily Sangbad two leading newspapers were given back to the owners. On 16th August Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, the leader of the down trodden sent a congratulatory message in support of the new government of Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed. The new government could also muster support from all the nationalist and democratic political parties, mass organizations, leaders and groups. They all sent their sincere congratulations to the patriotic armed forces for their courageous vanguard role. On 3ed October President Mushtaq declared that from 15th August 1976 open multi party democracy will resume in the country and the general elections will take place on 28th February 1977. With all these steps taken the overall situation of the country not only drastically improved there were also marked improvements in country’s law and order situation, administration and production in the mills and factories. The prices of the daily essential goods and foodstuff started coming down. Robberies, thefts, hoarding and smuggling reduced substantially. Stability returned in the society. The people got back sense of security. The policies and the steps taken by the interim government were highly appreciated at home and abroad.
Against the backdrop of these entire narrated facts about 15th August historic change Sheikh Hasina and her party Awami League with what rationality has been clamoring at the top of their voice that the fall of Sheikh Mujib’s fascist regime and unfortunate demise of a few individuals was a simple crime of ‘murder’ committed by some indiscipline stray young army officers? If that was the case; then why after the historic change of government all the chiefs of the armed forces, BDR, police, other law enforcing agencies, judiciary, administration and even Rakkhi Bahini giving their allegiance to the president Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed’s government had given statements in the national broadcast supporting 15th August revolution? Why did then so many of the AWAMI-BKSALITE leaders and the parliamentarians joined Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed to form the cabinet? Why the jubilant public in a festive mood swarmed the streets all over the country including the capital city of Dhaka to celebrate the fall of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman breaking the curfew that was promulgated? These facts only prove the truth that though the 15th August revolution was spear headed by the young members of the patriotic armed forces; the main strength of this epoch making event were the conscientious people of Bangladesh.
As a matter of fact, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman constituted autocratic one party rule of BKSAL just to lay the foundation to perpetuate power for himself and his family. This is how the fascist dictators emerged in the annals of history. Similar measures were taken by most of them to perpetuate their power. Hitler did the same. Nazi party made him a demagogue. The AWAMI-BKSALITES imitated raising the slogan,
“Ek Neta Ek desh Sheikh Mujib Bangladesh”
The consequence was Sheikh Mujib decided to be a fascist dictator. Mussolini of Italy was another example. All the fascist dictators are destined to face the same fate, which is pathetic and miserable end.
After establishing normalcy in the country Sena Parishad committed to fulfill the remaining agenda. Sena Parishad had to work against mountainous hurdles.
The change of 15th August dawned a new era. The people could see the light again as the darkness that shrouded the whole nation withered away. The closed door flunked open with the opportunity to reestablish human rights, democracy and rule of law. In the national polity a new life was generated. Thus the helpless nation once again got back the freedom to make a fresh start.
In the political history of Bangladesh four most significant events are declaration of independence 1971, historic change of government of 15th August 1975, reactionary putsch of Brig. Khaled Mosharraf & co of 3ed November1975 and Soldiers-people’s revolution of 7th november1975.
In all these events the members of the nationalist and patriotic armed forces are involved. Therefore, all these events are the links of the same chain. Particularly the events of 15th August & 7th November are inseparable. Both these two epochs making revolutions had the same spirit and strength behind. The only difference being in organizing the revolution of 7th November Gono Bahini under the leadership of Col. Abu Taher had joined hands with Sena Parishad and other like minded nationalist and patriotic organizations and groups. Therefore, it is but rational to say that evaluation and recognition of either 7th November or 15th August in isolation would not be enough to fully comprehend the spirit, significance and glory of ‘The National Revolution and Solidarity Day’ or to engrave that spirit into the heart of the nation. To inspire the new generation to make sacrifice for greater national interests both these two successful revolutions must be given equal recognition and honor. To understand the rationale of this argument it is imperative to know the truth about what all had happened in between behind the scene after the successful change of 15th August and 7th November. Therefore the relevant events are narrated below for the better understanding of the people and particularly the present generation.
Since the formation of the new government the Sena Parishad was trying to implement its programme in the most difficult situation. Although the people by and large had spontaneously supported the change the defeated and the anti national forces could not accept this change so easily. In view of the popular sentiment of the people in favor of this nationalist change the defeated forces could not dare to oppose the change publicly and thus resorted to hidden conspiracy in connivance with their foreign mentors to reverse the process of the change to take back the country once again to pre’75 period. Such conspirotial activities had started right from the 15th August. We had to remain alert about any untoward happening.
We were making every effort to constitute the national government as soon as possible and to hold the national elections at the shortest possible time so that nationalist spirit can take roots in the political sphere of Bangladesh. Simultaneously steps were taken to merge the Rakkhi Bahini with the army and to reorganize the army itself to consolidate the nationalist forces to strengthen the post’ 75 process. This responsibility was assigned to the newly appointed chief of army staff Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman, the representative of the Sena Parishad. As the defence advisor Gen. Osmani’s main responsibility was to restructure the neglected armed forces as per the national defence requirements and resources that were available. The reorganization of the defence forces particularly the army at that point of time was a very complicated and difficult task. The Rakkhi Bahini members had to be co-opted in the army after careful scrutiny.
Pro BKSAL and the ambitious elements have to be thrown out from the defence services. Some of the units have to be reorganized. The command structure needs to be changed. The ordinary soldiers and the officers need to be told about the revolution and its objectives. Their conscience needs to be sharpened. Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman was getting full support and cooperation from the members of the Sena Parishad of all the units in different cantonments. Maj. Gen. Zaire Rahman had to take up the responsibility to reinstate all those army officers who were unjustly retired by the erstwhile AWAMI-BKSAL regimes. He embarked on implementing all these tasks through normal process. Simultaneously we resumed our discussions with different patriotic and nationalist political parties, groups and individuals on the question of the national government, future of democratic political process, elections and the framework of the national politics. This exercise was also equally arduous and mind-boggling. Most of the political parties were considering their own interests first. Party interests were given precedence over the national interests. Even Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed initially had opposed the formation of the national government. He wanted to continue with his interim government till the elections were held. But on our insistence he finally conceded to form the national government. The decision was to initiate the democratic process by the members of BKSAL who once killed the democracy to prove the point that majority of the Awamileagures were anti BKSAL and then to dissolve the interim government in favor of the national government.
JSD and a few other political parties wanted us to join them in taking over power and implement their party programme. But our replies were stern. We firmly rejected any idea of the armed forces getting directly involved in the national politics. Either a national government or a non-party government will be formed and its responsibility would be to implement the programme of the Sena Parishad not any party programme. The government necessarily has to be a neutral government and its primary task would be to hold free and fair elections at the earliest. The responsibility of implementing any specific party programme will be the responsibility of that party which would be voted to power in the elections.
After a few days Maj, Gen. Ziaur Rahman informed that Brig. Khaled Mosharraf and Col. Shaffat Jamil were creating obstacles on his way. Some pro-BKSAL officers have joined hands with them. Brig. Khaled Mosharraf was a valiant freedom fighter, but highly ambitious. To fulfill has ambition from the days of liberation war very tactfully he had been trying to increase his influence and power base. The AWAMI-BKSALgovernments had also patronized him all through. The sudden fall of the BKSAL regime upset all his plans. That is why he became desperate to perpetuate his ambition. Maj, Gen. Zia could not desist him in spite of his best efforts. Brig. Khalid’s lust for power was fully exploited by the AWAMI-BKSALITES and the Indo-Soviet axis. He became a pawn in a conspiracy that was being hatched up by the anti national forces and the outside powers to turn the clock back.
We had been receiving information about this conspiracy from the intelligence agencies and other various sources. Col. Shaffat Jamil was instigating Brig. Khaled. A blind supporter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who could not accept the change. The champion of Atrai operation Col. Shaffat Jamil’s ego could not accept the fact that Sheikh Mujib’s government was over thrown by his Brigade and he failed to do anything as the Brigade commander. This failure was taunting him all the time. That is why he also joined hands with Brig Khaled and other anti national forces to avenge the personal defeat. Some senior Rakkhi Bahini officers and a few officers who were involved in the Agartala Conspiracy Case and had blind loyalties to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman joined them. Initially we could not believe that Brig Khaled being a freedom fighter could get involved in such kind of anti people activities just for his own ambition. Gradually we have also been receiving similar information through the branches of Sena Parished of different cantonments. Such reports made us worried. It was clear that something ominous was brewing. I went to Brig. Khaled with an attempt to disassociate him from such anti people activities. Personally we were close to each other so I thought I could give it a try. He on the face completely denied that he was involved in any such activities. He also denied that he was not cooperating with Maj, Gen. Ziaur Rahman. This was quite disappointing. I realized be became obsessed with his ambition. He became so blind that he is not realizing the implications. He has sold off himself knowingly or unknowing in a deep conspiracy. I felt very sorry at such kind of betrayal from a person like Brig. Khaled whom I always thought to be a nationalist and a patriot. I also tried to persuade Col. Shaffat Jamil to withdraw himself from all such activities that are harmful for the country and the nation. But he also behaved almost the same way as Brig. Khaled. I told both of them, “Any action that may create division within the army at this crucial juncture would be considered as national betrayal. It is imperative now to have a solid unity within the armed forces to ensure stability in the country. And that can only be achieved through total loyalty to Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman as the chief of staff. Without such loyalty we shall never be able to achieve the objectives of the revolution.” Our personal relations that had developed through the liberation war allowed us to talk so frankly in spite of ideological differences. At the end of our conversations both had overtly assured their cooperation with Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman but we got an impression that those were just empty promises. In reality both of them would continue with their design. We along with Maj. Gen. Zia started pondering how to tackle Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat and save the nation from any untoward happening. After long deliberations decision was taken to remove those officers from the active service. This was a very delicate and risky affair. But even then this needed to be materialized at any cost. Most of the able freedom fighter commanders had earned personal loyalties from those troops and officers with whom they had fought. Both Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat were valiant freedom fighters and enjoyed personal loyalties from their subordinates as successful commanders. Therefore, their removal might create some problems. But Maj. Gen. Zia and we together should be able to handle any such eventualities and as such the decision was taken. Gen. Osmani was then told about the decision.
After hearing everything he was shocked. He just wouldn’t believe that Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat could get involved in such nefarious activities. But when the intelligence chiefs submitted their reports he was utterly disappointed and burst into anger. The reports suggested that the conspiracy was supported by a strong segment of BKSALITES. India and Soviet Union both were providing necessary help and support. India and Soviet Union wanted to divide the armed forces through some of its members so that the country plunges into a civil war and at that situation; at the request of that segment of BKSALITES the Indian army would storm the country under the 25 years treaty and shall restore ‘peace’ after reinstalling a government under Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed. Thus the present process will be reversed and Bangladesh once again will get back to its status of a vassal state. The reports also mentioned that Indian High Commission and Soviet-Embassy at Dhaka and the RAW agents had become high per active of late. Regular meetings were being held at different places. Brigadier Khaled has been seen in some of these meetings. At the advise of the Indian High Commission Mr. Rashed Mosharraf an ex-MP of BKSAL, the elder brother of Brig. Khaled had been working as the contact man between various concerned parties and Brig. Khaled Mosharraf. About this conspiracy an article was published in the weekly ‘Holiday’ of Mr. Enayetullah Khan. Mr. Leaf Shulz also wrote about this in his book ‘The Unfinished Revolution.’
“Mr. Atiqul Alam, The press reporter for Reuter was in possession of the latter of Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed written in his own handwriting about the plan of a counter coup de’tat addressed to Mr. Samar Sen the Indian High Commissioner at Dhaka.”
Mr. Zillur Rahman Khan in his book ‘Leadership Crisis in Bangladesh’ wrote,
“The four leaders in the jail (Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, Mr. Nazurul Islam Mr. Kamruzzaman and Mr. Mansur Ali) were well aware about the coup de’tat of Brig. Khaled Mosharraf. It was a pro Mujib counter coup’de’tate. Because the four leaders were taking all preparations to come out from the Jail as heroes and form the government.”
In total 36 officers of the armed forces were to be relieved from the active services. Simultaneously the process of reinstatement of the retired officers was required to be expedited. In this process we all were reinstated in the service. Thus Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rrahman’s hands were strengthened. Maj. Gen. Zia then took steps to post us in the strategic units. After we were reinstated Brig. Khaled & co. became nervous. They realized once we are posted in the units it would become extremely difficult to materialize their plan. They also realized that their days were numbered. Therefore, they became desperate to execute their heinous plan at the earliest.
Around this time one day Maj. Gen. Zia got Col. Rauf and Col. Malek’s retirement proposals approved from the President. Col. Rauf was the trusted defence intelligence chief of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. After the formation of BKSAL Col. Rauf was replaced with Col. Jamil who was from the home district of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and was considered to be more loyal. Necessary orders were issued. I got alarmed soon I came to know this. I rushed to Maj. Gen. Zia in the cantonment. I told him,
“Sir, what have you done? The decision was to retire all the 36 officers at one go. Instead you have retired only two of them and thus you have ringed the bell of alarm for the rest. Don’t you think this is dangerous?” Maj. Gen. Zia in reply said,
“Don’t worry let me move step by step. Things would be all right. Let me handle things in my own way.”
I was not convinced at his logic. But then nothing could be done. He was the Boss and one of us, we couldn’t impose on him nor it would be fair to interfere in his way of working. So I came back with an uneasy mind.
Meanwhile, Brig. Khaled and his followers have started a vigorous campaign within the armed forces. It was said that Maj. Gen. Zia was not a competent revolutionary. It wouldn’t be possible to achieve the objectives of the revolution with him as the chief of army staff. Maj.Gen. Zia being an ambitious man was very cleverly acting against the spirit of the revolution and was planning to perpetuate his own power. Under these circumstances an alternative has to be thought of. To the soldiers Gen. Zia was a symbol of righteousness. He was equally very popular for his honesty. But such malicious propaganda by a group of officers headed by Brig. Khaled Mosharraf, a freedom fighter succeeded in creating some confusion in the rank and file. This made the situation murkier. Because of the failure of the chief to retire all those 36 officers in one go, the conspirators could manage to do all these. We could see through the real danger about the situation in the armed forces when in one of the meetings two of our comrades Maj. Hafizuddin and Capt. Iqbal raised doubt about the efficiency of Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman. They not only doubted his efficiency, they also suggested if necessary then the Sena Parishad might even have to consider to replace him with Brig. Khaled Mosharraf or any one else as the chief of staff. However, their suggestions were not taken as the majority of the central leadership held different views. Majority thought that Maj. Gen.Zia is sincere and is equally committed to attain the objectives of the revolution. He might have done some mistakes in his implementation method but certainly he has not done any thing contrary to the spirit of the revolution that can raise any doubt about his sincerity of purpose. Hence, at this stage we must have complete trust and confidence on him and should cooperate with him whole-heartedly against Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat & co. Nothing other than this would be beneficial. If he has done any blunder in the implementation process then that should be brought forward with patience and we must resolve all such mutual problems through discussions. The nation was unaware about such explosive situation then prevailed within the armed forces. Everything was happening behind the scene.
Counter revolutionary activities within the armed forces, difficulties in the process of political negotiations made the situation quite complicated.
At that point of time some thought that instead of a ‘national government’ a ‘revolutionary command council’ headed by Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman should be established and Sena Parishad should play more direct and active role in running the affairs of the government to tackle the prevailing precarious situation till the elections. But the central leadership of Sena Parishad remained firm against all such provocations. Our position was clear. It was not the spirit of popular August revolution to usurp power and to introduce a military dictatorship. The aim was to re-establish democracy so that the nationalist and patriotic political forces in the country could get organized. At all cost the objectives of the revolution should have to be perused as decided. All kind of temptation has to be resisted. We cannot prove ourselves to be power hungry militarists instead we must maintain our image as the custodian of the national independence and sovereignty and the supporting force for the cause of emancipation of the people. This is how we came out more resolute in our commitments to peruse our cause. The conflict between the chief and Brig. Khaled was intensifying with every passing day. Almost every night I had been running from pillar to post to pacify their misunderstandings. I was trying again and again to persuade Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat but nothing seemed to be working.
As the last resort I requested Col. Nazmul Huda, then the Brigade commander at Rangpur to come to Dhaka. Gudu Bhai, Col. Huda is a child hood friend of Brig. Khaled. They were just two bodies one soul. Although Gudu Bhai was one of the accused of the Agartala Conspiracy Case but he was a gem of a person and I had developed a very close personal relation ship with him since liberation war days. He was a well-read and politically conscious person. He was warm hearted and a patriot. He was blind towards Sheikh Mujib. But soon after the liberation war he became thoroughly disillusioned with the AWAMILEAGUE and BKSAL. He became disappointed with Sheikh Mujib as an administrator and his party leaders. He could not reconcile with the misrule of AWAMI-BKSAL regime. He became one of us to unmask the AWAMI-BKSALITES during our operations at Comilla. When I and a few other officers were retired from the service under PO 9 in 1974, Col. Huda had submitted his resignation in protest. The Prime Minister of course did not accept his resignation.
As a last resort I through Col. Huda might be able to convince Brig. Khaled to desist from his disruptive activities. Col. Huda came over. I had detailed discussions with him. After hearing every thing he assured me to do his best to make Brig. Khaled understand the gravity of the situation. He held two long sessions with Brig. Khaled over the next two days. But he was undone. Finally Gudu Bhai conveyed that Brig. Khaled was not willing to listen to anything. He was in no mood to make any compromise with Maj. Gen. Zia.
That was a night to remember. After his last long session with Brig. Khaled he asked me to see him at the residence of his brother Mr. K. Q. Huda at Banani. I went to see him. Gudu Bhai was looking totally dejected. He was anxiously waiting for me. We sat down in a room. Just two of us.
“Dalim, Khaled could not be convinced. I am getting horrified to even think what might happen at last, as khaled is so obsessed. Not only that he had also asked me to join him.” Col. Huda said. I got surprised and asked,
“What are you going to do Sir?”
“Well I really don’t know what should be done! Col. Huda replied with lot of strain on his face. He further said,
“Well as I could not make him understand, perhaps I could try to control him if I was at Dhaka. He is also in touch with Brig. Nuruzzaman.”
Brig. Nuruzzaman the then JRB director had just returned from his foreign tour. It became very much clear that the conspiracy had by then gone too far.
“I cannot even say no to Brig. Khaled. You know all about our intimate relations.” Col. Huda said.
“It is something like jumping into the fire.” I said.
“You are right. But I am undone.” Col. Huda was uttering those words as if he was talking to himself.
“Well Sir, I consider you to be a patriot and a conscious person. You have proved your patriotism in the past and I am sure national interests will get precedence to you in future as well. Let us see what finally happens. Let us have faith on Allah. You have understood everything now and I shall remain in touch with you. Many thanks for taking the troubles to come over all the way from Rangpur. I am really very grateful.”
This is how we ended our last meeting. As I was leaving Huda Bhai said,
“Before you go listen to one thing. I sincerely salute your selfless patriotism.”
This was not only our last meeting, it was also the last time I met Col. Huda my dear Gudu Bhai. That night I returned with anguished mind and fear of uncertainties. All the way I thought perhaps all our efforts would not be good enough to stop the flow of events.
Time was passing. Everyone was busy with his own game. But no one visualized that the nation was seating on a powder cake that was ripe to explode anytime. Everything seemed business as usual but only few of us knew what exactly was going on behind the scene. Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat became more defiant and had crossed all limits. They were refusing to carryout almost every order of Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman. I had to rush to the cantonment almost every night to defuse the situation and to mediate between the parties. They made the situation very unstable.
One evening Maj.Gen. Zia called me to see him urgently.
I went to his residence. He was looking tired and somewhat dejected.
“Khaled has become desperate for his ambition and power. We have to do something before it is too late”. Maj Gen. Zia said.
“You are in the position who has the power to take any action Sir. But you got to be prudent in your action. Every move should be well calculated”. I replied.
“I have decided to take the files of all those remaining 34 officers within a day or two for the President’s approval. It would not be right to waste my more time”. Maj. Gen. Zia said.
“You should have done it much earlier Sir. However it is always better to be late then never”.
“How far you have gone to get 1Fd Regt Arty and 8Bengal Regt to Dhaka?” I asked.
“Khaled is delaying the movement on some pretext or the other”. Maj. Gen. Zia said.
“Well, it is rightly so that he will not allow this. He knows well that if 4 Bengal Regt is moved out from Dhaka and 1Fd Arty and 8th Bengal are brought in then it would become impossible for him and his followers to stage anything untoward here in the capital. So, it is for your own interest you should ensure to get those two units as quickly as possible if necessary by passing Brig. Khaled. What has happened about our postings? You must not delay any further to get our posting orders out. That needs to be done immediately so that we can be with our troops to strengthen your hands.”
Maj. Gen. Zia was listening quietly and was also thinking something very deeply.
Two days after this meeting Gen. Zia took the files to the President. The President told him that he would sign the files after consulting with Gen. Osmani. Gen. Zia told this to me. I then went to Gen. Osmani and wanted to know about the files. In reply Gen. Osmani just said the matter was under consideration of the President. That means the President had discussed the matter with Gen. Osmani and for some reasons he kept the decisions in abeyance. I found this a bit intriguing and somewhat hazy. It was a wait and see situation.
Meanwhile, a rumor spread that Lt. Col. Farooq and Lt. Col. Rashid’s behavior had created resentment among some senior officers. Although those were trifle matters and insignificant but Khaled & co did not hesitate utilizing that as an opportunity to spread melafied propaganda within the army. Such nasty and made up propaganda just added fuel to fire. And the situation became even more complicated. At the same time Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat had virtually made the chain of command nonfunctional. And gradually Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman became a hostage in their hands. They were even interfering in his day-to-day routine work. After serious deliberations we decided to discuss about the impending catastrophe with the patriotic leaders of different political parties whom we could take into confidence. So the problem was discussed with Toha Bhai, Mahboob of Sharbahara Party, Maj. Jalil and Col. Taher of JSD. They all agreed to fight united against any counter revolutionary move sponsored by Indo-Soviet axis.
After knowing all the details from me Col. Taher said that at that crucial time any move against Maj. Gen. Zia should be considered counter revolutionary. Because there is no alternative to Maj.Gen. Zia for the reorganization of the army. Moreover, at any national crisis his personality and image will be of utmost importance for the unity of the army and even the nation. Therefore, he has to be protected at any cost to achieve the objectives of the 15th August revolution. He further said if Brig. Khaled finally makes a move then for the greater interests of the nation he and his Gono Bahani would be ready to join hands with the Sana Parishad and others to fight back. If necessary to foil such conspiracy a second armed revolution shall have to be organized. That day we were discussing at our personal level. Two comrades in arms were talking to each other with full trust and confidence. He was not talking as the leader of any political party, but as a tested friend. I could feel in him the spirit of a true nationalist and a patriot. A freedom fighter with all seriousness and genuine concern. The selfless dedication which inspired us one day to attempt our escape together from Pakistan to join the liberation war, the same spirit once again prevailed on us to take a solemn oath that we shall fight again united as one to protect the national interests against any nefarious design. There may be differences in our ideologies and way to go about but that was not above national interest. For the cause of the country and the nation we are one. We decided to take necessary steps to prepare Sena Parishad and Gono Bahini to face any eventualities shoulder to shoulder. We also decided to maintain uninterrupted contacts to exchange information and to discuss developments of events secretly.
A few days have passed. Our reinstatement order has been gazatted but our posting orders were not out yet. The President did not yet sign Brig. Khaled and 33 other officer’s files. It became apparent that decision on this matter was being delayed due to dubious manipulation of the vested interested quarters. I tried my best to find out where was the bottleneck. But could not. The crisis kept on brewing.
One after noon in late October Maj. Nur came to see me.
“What is the matter Nur you look worried?” I asked.
“Some thing to worry about Sir. I am with Maj. Hafeez and Capt. Iqbal for last two days. They are firm in their belief that Maj. Gen. Zia has to be removed from the post. They are prepared to take any step to materialize that. They for the last time had requested us to agree to their proposal”. Maj. Nur said.
It was very clear. Days are numbered. Some how Brig. Khaled could win over Maj. Hafeez and Cap. Iqbal. They have agreed to work with Brig. Khaled to get rid of Maj. Gen. Zia. Maj. Hafeez and Capt. Iqbal have tremendous influence on 1 Bengal Regt. Brig. Khaled has definitely thought that he would be able to neutralize 1 Bengal Regt through Maj. Hafeez and Capt. Iqbal. 4th Bengal is considered to be his own. He can take his move once he can get hold of 1 Bengal Regt. And that is what is going to happen as I could see. Maj Nur’s indication points towards that. With lot of anxiety I told Maj. Nur,
“They can do whatever they feel like. We may not be able to stop them but certainly I shall not go along with their thoughts and ideas. You may convey my decision.”
“I totally agree with you Sir, we can’t be a party to any thing which will do no good to the nation and against the spirit of 15th August. You better apprise Maj. Gen. Zia about the gravity of the situation and warn him against the impending eventualities.” Nur said.
The same evening I rushed to Maj. Gen. Zia. We both sat down on his lush green lawn.
“Sir how is your cantonment?” I asked opening our conversation.
“Khaled and Shaffat’s audacities are beyond limits now. I am getting all kind of reports on their nefarious activities. The situation is most disturbing”. Said Maj. Gen. Zia.
“I gather Brig. Khaled is trying to lay his hands on the 1 Bengal. You got to be careful about this. If he can take care of 1 Bengal then he may venture anything”. I tried to convey the message.
“Oh! Don’t worry. Advance party of 1 Fd. Regt. has already reached. Within a few days the main body will arrive from Comilla. Not to bother about 1 Bengal. That is my battalion. Moreover, Maj. Hafeez and Cap. Iqbal are there. How can then Khaled lay his hands on 1 Bengal?” With his usual self-confidence Maj. Gen. Zia replied. I just could not say anything more. Neither I could tell him what Maj. Hafeez and Capt. Iqbal were thinking. I just said, “Even then it is always better to be alert as the situation is very hot. You got to be very careful Sir, by the way why our posting orders are not coming out as yet? Why MS Branch is sitting on it? To handle the explosive situation we must get ourselves posted as planed. You must ensure this.” But his mind was somewhere else. I could read from his face that he was alarmed and worried. As I know him intimately and for long his expressions were familiar to me. This was my last meeting with Maj. Gen. Zia before the fateful night of 2/3rd Nov. 1975.
2nd November 1975. For preoccupations I have not been able to visit home. So I decided to go to Mailbag after lunch for sometime. Accordingly I reached Mailbag. Every body was very happy to see me. In the evening Nimmi and I went to the cantonment to look up Minu Fuppu. We had our dinner there. Quite late we were returning home. Suddenly Nimmi suggested that she wanted to be with me that night. So, I decided to take her to Banga Bhaban. Since 15th Aug 75 I could hardly give her anytime. We came to Benga Bhaban. It was about 11:30 pm; every thing seemed normal. As we reached my suite on the 1st floor suddenly duty Havildar came and told me,
“Sir Maj. Hafeez and Capt. Iqbal have withdrawn guards of 1 Bengal Regt. Lt. Col. Rashid and Lt. Col. Rarooq are having meeting with the President.”
The news was disappointing but not unexpected. This was the logical out come of all that had been going on for last couple of days. I asked Nimmi to wait in the room and rushed to the Presidential suite. President Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed was sitting on a sofa. Dejected and annoyed. Lt. Col. Rashid was trying to contact some one over the Red phone. Lt. Col. Farooq was quietly sitting on another sofa. “What is happening?” I asked Lt. Col. Rashid.
“What was apprehended has happened. Your good friend Hafeez and Iqbal had with drawn the 1 Bengal guards from the Banga Bhaban and no replacement has arrived yet. There are unusual movements in the cantonment. Nothing is clear yet. Chief, CGS and the Brigade commander none are available on phones. I could contact Gen. Osmani he is on his way. He could not say exactly what was happening in the contentment. He has asked Maj. Gen. Khalil to send two BDR companies to Banga Bhaban as soon as possible.” After he finished with me he asked Lt. Col. Farooq to go to the Race Course, his headquarters. At that point I said, “Well Farooq you go to the race course, but don’t move your tanks and troops. We must know exactly what is going on and only then we should decide what to do. Firstly we must see whether this impasse can be resolved peacefully through dialogues. For this purpose, I shall go to the cantonment. But you must restrain yourself till I return.” Lt. Col. Rashid and Lt.Col. Farooq agreed. Maj. Shahriar had joined us. So was Capt. Huda. Nimmi had gone and woke them up and broke the news to them.
Maj. Shahriar was asked to go to Radio Bangladesh Control. Capt. Huda was to stay back at the Banga Bhaban to assist Gen. Omani and Lt.Col. Rashid. The rest were all dispatched to their positions with the troops.
As I was leaving Banga Bhaban Lt.Col. Rashid said,
“Dalim think over whether it would be safe for you to go to the cantonment at this time.” It is true this was highly risky, but I replied,
“To save the country and the nation some one has to clean the dirty linen.”
I returned to my room. Nimmi realized the gravity of the situation and was little nervous.
“What is going to happen now?” She asked.
“You take the driver and leave Banga Bhaban for some safe place. It is not clear which way things will move. Whatever happens, if I remain alive then we shall meet again.”
I called the driver and instructed him to reach Nimmi wherever she wanted to go. Nimmi was hesitating to leave me alone. But as I insisted she left for the uncertainly. While leaving she just said, “Take care. Allah will guide and protect you.”
After she left I quickly got into my uniform and took my escort, wireless operator and set out from Banga Bhaban. First I went to Mrs. Moazzem Hossain’s residence at Azimpur. Maj. Nur was there. I picked him up after explaining everything about the latest developments. After hearing every thing Maj. Nur said, “Only way a terrible bloodshed can be stopped that is by establishing direct contacts with Maj. Hafeez, Cap. Iqbal and Brig. Khaled. There is no other way.” I fully agreed with what Maj. Nur had said. Both of us decided to go around the city to see the situation on ground before moving to the cantonment. We went to the residence of Prof. Abdur Razzak at the Fuller Road in the varsity area. Mahua my sister and Litu my brother in law used to live there. The aim was to get some civilian clothing. We woke them up. Explained everything in short and got some cloths of Litu to change. Mahua asked where was Nimmi? I said that she had left Banga Bhaban for some safer place on my insistence. I asked Mahua to alert the close ones and then said good-bye to Mahua and Litu. We started going around the city. University area, Pilkhana, New market, 2nd Capital, Airport, Rampura, Industrial area, TV station, Police line, nowhere we could see anything unusual. We could only see the check posts those were manned by our troops. We saw the tanks those were deployed at the strategic locations around the city. After a whirl wind going around we came to the Radio station. In the control room Maj. Shahriar was talking with some one over the phone. Seeing us he shortened his conversation and had asked how was every thing? We said all that we saw. Maj. Shahriar also said that he has also got similar reports from various sources. But for some unknown reasons the Savar booster station was not functioning. There was some problem there he said. This was affecting both TV and Radio transmissions. I then told Maj. Shahriar that Nur and I were going to the cantonment to avert any bloody confrontation so that the ‘neighbor’ does not get any opportunity to interfere. Before coming to the Radio we went to one of my aunty Biva Fuppu’s house at Shonatangor. I wanted to make some important calls from that house. But unfortunately the phone was out of order. So my uncle Mr. Iman Ali, a police officer took me to the house of one of his colleague close by. I made the calls from that house. I could contact some leaders of the Sena Parishad. Most of them were not much aware about the happenings. I explained the situation and asked them to remain vigilant and prepared against any counter revolutionary activities, which might be on the offing. Then I tried to contact Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman. But from the dialing tone I realized that his phones were not functioning. Major Shahriar also said that in spite of repeated attempts he could not get through to Maj. Gen. Zia. From the Radio station we started off for the cantonment. After we crossed the Airport we found two trucks mounted with troops standing on the roadside in front of the gate of the cantonment. They were from Bengal Regiment. I asked the contingent commander why they were here? The Subedar said, “Tomorrow some pro-BKSAL demonstrations are expected. So we have been ordered to take up positions around the Airport to maintain law and order situation”. From his answer we realized that the Brig. Khaled & co did not disclose the main purpose of their deployments fearing reprisal from the troops. The troops have not been told about the counter revolutionary Coup de’ tat. They were scared to tell them that Maj Gen. Zia was placed under custody and the move was against the popular government of Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed. They had to hide the facts because they knew that majority of the troops would not support any move against the present regime. Our self-confidence grew and we felt completely reassured after talking to the troops at the gate. The bloody confrontation can be averted. First we went to Brig. Khaled’s residence. He is not home. He is in the army headquarters. From there we went to AHQ. No one was there. The whole of AHQ was dead asleep other then the duty officer, and his staffs and guards. From there we went to Maj. Hafeez’s residence. He was not home. Capt Iqbal was also not available. Col. Shaffat Jamil was also not found at the residence. Nothing untoward could be seen out side the chief’s residence as well. Then we went to 46 Brigade headquarters. None of them were there. From there as we reached the gate of 2 Fd. Regt Arty we noticed lot of activities. We were told that 4 Bengal has deployed their troops and RR (recoilless riffles) facing 2 Fd Regt Arty after midnight. This has created commotion in the Regiment. They had also taken counter measures. Both these units were located opposite to each other. Any impulsive move could erupt an explosion. We called the leading members of the Sena Parishad and explained the situation. We asked them not to be agitated and remain calm against all provocations. But they should remain vigilant. We also told them that we were going to meet Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat to sort out the problems through discussions. We also assured them that all provocative actions by the 4 Bengal would stop once we talk to Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat. From 2Fd Regt Arty Nur and I went to the 4 Bengal headquarters. As we entered through the gate we could see lot of activities going on there. All were very busy. The soldiers were lined up in battle dress. As we got down I found Capt Kabir. A SMG slung to his shoulder, he was moving around like a fly. I asked him,
“Where were Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat?”
“They are all here Sir.” Capt Kabir replied. While I was talking to Capt.Kabir I saw Capt. Naser of Lancers approaching. He came forward and said,
“Welcome Sir welcome,” and extended his hands for a shake.
Both Nur and I were slightly perplexed. As he was shaking he said,
“Sir we can not achieve any thing by Mushtaq or Maj. Gen Zia. They both are useless. That is why we want their removal. I am sure both of you would be with us.” I interrupted,
“Where are Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat?”
“They are both here. Maj. Hafeez and Capt. Iqbal are also here Sir.” Capt. Naser informed.
“Naser do me a favor. Please go and tell Hafeez I would like to talk to him.” I asked him.
“I am going Sir. Please wait in the Adjutant’s office.” Capt. Naser left to look for Maj Hafeez.
As we entered the adjutant’s office we found Lt. Col. Aminul Haq Bu and Lt. Munirul Islam choudhury (Later Brigadier and Lieutenant Colonel respectively) were sitting in despair.
“What is the matter Sir, why are you here?” I asked Lt.Col Aminul Haq.
“You can well understand being the commanding officer, what does it mean to be here in this condition.” He replied.
“ Don’t mind Sir, who is responsible for this situation today? Many of you knew that such a thing could happen but no timely action was taken. That is why we are facing this unfortunate situation to day isn’t it? Col. Amin well understood what I meant and remained silent.
We could understand. Both of them, the commanding officer and the adjutant of 4 Bengal were disarmed and kept in that state, as they were not considered trust worthy. Soon after came Maj. Hafeez and Capt Iqbal. They took Nur and me to another room.
“What have you done Hafeez. Finally you had to do such a sad thing that we were worried about?” I asked Hafeez.
“Why do you say it is a sad thing? Mushtaq and Zia both are incapable of implementing our agenda. You are quite aware of this, then why are you not accepting?” Maj. Hafeez charged me.
“They are betraying our revolution. We have to discard them. The parliament of AWAMI-BKSALITES needs to be dissolved. We hope to get you, Nur, Pasha, Shahriar, Huda, Rashed and the Sena Parishad to strengthen our hands by joining us.” Said Maj. Hafeez.
“Look Hafeez! I had accepted before and I am doing it now that implementation of our agenda is not proceeding at the desired speed. And for this President Mushtaq and Maj. Gen. Zia’s go-slow policy is greatly responsible. But for that such an impulsive move has to be taken that is not acceptable to us. But then you have already made the damage. Now please listen carefully why we are here. We have come here to ensure that a blood both does not take place. Lets go to Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat and talk it out how to salvage the situation from this unfortunate impasse.”
After analyzing the whole situation Nur and I had firm belief that our proposal to hold discussion could not be refused as they particularly Maj. Hafeez knew it well that not only in Dhaka but also in other cantonments Sena Parishad’s position was much stronger compared to them. Maj. Hafeez thought for a while and said,
“All right let’s go.”
As we came out we found Brig Khaled, Col Shaffat, Capt Naser, Brig. Moinul Hussain, Brig. Nuruzzaman of JRB, Col. Rauf, Lt.Col. Malek were all standing under a mango tree in front of the office block. They were discussing something. As we approached they stopped their discussions. I saluted Brig. Khaled. He extended his hand for a shake and said,
“Welcome! I knew that you two would definitely come.” Before he could proceed any further I said,
“Khaled Bhai finally you have done it.”
“What have I done? It’s not my doing. Believe you me Dalim it is theirs doing, these young officers. They think Zia can’t deliver anything. They think he will do nothing to achieve the goals of the 15th August Revolution and he is also incapable to promote the interests of the army as the chief. Therefore they want a change.” Said Brig. Khaled very innocently.
“And that is why this crisis has been created so that you can take Maj. Gen. Zia’s place to provide a more efficient leadership?” I asked.
“No. Not at all. I don’t want to be the chief. Believe you me.” Said Brig. Khaled to prove his innocence.
Some one butted in, “We don’t mind to accept Brig. Khaled’s leadership.”
“Come on keep quite.” Brig. Khaled muted that voice.
“Anyway Sir, its not time to talk all such things which are of no use now. Nur and I have come to discuss how to stop the blood bath. We have asked Lt. Col. Rashid and Lt. Col. Farooq not to move any troops or the tanks till the out come of our discussion. Now please tell us whether you all are prepared to have any discussion or not. My straightforward talking made them uneasy and they started looking to one another perhaps to find out what to say. At that moment while I was making my proposal Maj. Hafeez who was standing next to Brig. Khaled whispered something into his ears and my proposal was accepted. As Brig. Khaled and others agreed to talk I said,
“ But Sir, while coming we found some troops had been deployed near the airport which we found not conforming with what all is going on here. Anyway, that is a different matter. But the commotion that we found at the 2 FD Arty due to the provocative acts of 4 Bengal could explode any moment and if that happens then there would be no scope for us to discuss anything. So I request please for heaven sake order 4 Bengal to stand down at once before we start our discussion..” Brig. Khaled realized the gravity of the situation and had ordered Col. Shaffat to stand down 4 Bengal immediately. Col. Shaffat left to execute his order. We all sat down in the office of the commanding officer.
Meanwhile, day has dawned unnoticed. At the very beginning we wanted to know from Brig. Khaled about Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman. He informed me that he was in his residence. He was ok. Some people are looking after him. A polite way to say that he has been placed under house arrest. The conspirators did not have the guts to reveal the fact to the troops that Gen. Zia was placed under arrest. We should first sort out with Brig. Khaled about Gen. Zia so I said,
“Sir, before we start our talks let me make one thing very clear, whatever had been done with Gen. Zia is done but if anything more is done to him that shall not be acceptable to us. So in this regard you have to give me your explicit assurance.” Brig. Khaled being an intelligent person promptly replied,
“Be rest assured, no harm would be done to him. At the most he may be removed as the chief of army staff that’s all. Nothing more than that.”
The meeting started in one side Nur and me and on the other side all of them under Brig. Khaled’s leadership. At the very beginning I asked straight away,
“When there is a popular government in place what had prompted this counter revolutionary act?”
All became absolutely stunned at my direct question. Perhaps each one was trying to find a befitting answer. Col. Shaffat came out to say,
“We want to dismiss Mushtaq government as well as the present parliament. Because the present parliament is the parliament of Awami BKSALITES.”
“What next?” I asked.
“We don’t want Gen. Zia as our chief.” Col. Shaffat said.
“Who will run the government?”I asked.
“We shall have a revolutionary council.” Said Capt. Iqbal. Col. Shaffat refuted,
“Khandakar Mushtaq will hand over power to the Chief Justice.”
Brig. Khaled came out with a different proposal. He said,
“Continuity has to be maintained. Khandakar Mushtaq will remain as the President but the three chiefs have to be sacked.”
It was well understood they had ventured the coup without any specific agenda. They had no homework done and they lacked unanimity of thoughts and ideas. Suddenly, all of us got surprised to hear a jet fighter zooming up. I asked Brig. Khaled,
“Sir why Migs are up? For heaven sake stop this provocative act. Otherwise it would be simply impossible to hold back on the tanks to roll all over.
Brig Khaled talked over phone with the ATC (Air traffic control) and found out it was Sqn. Ldr. Liaquat who had gone up with one of the Mig-21. Brig. Khaled asked Sqn. Ldr. Liaquat to land back and join him at the 4 Bengal HQ through the ATC.
The field mess waiter came in and informed that the breakfast was served. We all moved to the tearoom. Fresh Dal Puri and tea has been arranged at the regimental canteen. After the breakfast as we moved out we saw col. Mannaf standing in uniform. He quickly moved forward and saluted,
“Khaled you are the boss, and I salute you as a soldier, and I am with you.”
An interesting character! Almost similarly he was also supporting the 15th August revolution. Perhaps, he was behaving like a disciplined officer. However, it is not understandable how could such officers command respect from their subordinates changing colors like that of a chameleon! Every one was enjoying the fun. Brig. Khaled even did not bother to reply and said to us,
“Lets go, we have to continue our discussions.” He had his usual smile on his face. We again settled down in the Co’s office once again. Col. Sabbiuddin Ahmed came and joined us in the discussions.
“Well Dalim you are blaming me for nothing. I am no way responsible for what has been done today. The young officers had grievances against Maj. Gen. Zia. They realized he had no abilities to lead them. That is why they have acted to remove him.” Brig. Khaled said coolly. He also pointed towards Maj. Hafeez, Capt. Iqbal, Col. Shaffat Jamil, Capt. Kabir and Lt. Kader etc.
“I had to come here at their request.”
It was very clear Brig. Khaled very cleverly firing his guns from other’s shoulders to fulfill his ambition.
“Are you going to replace Maj. Gen. Zia to provide able leadership?” I asked again.
He in reply asked in return,
“Do you think I am here just to be the chief?”
“I am thinking nothing Sir. I just want to know what are you up to?” I replied.
“Please tell me what are your demands? Once you let me know about that then Inshalla we shall find a way out of this limbo. As soon as I finished, Capt. Naser of Lancers said,
“Yes, we want Brig. Khaled to be our chief.” “Yes, yes” some of the young officers echoed.
At that time some one came in and informed Sqr. Ldr. Liaquet has come. He was asked to come in by Brig. Khaled. Sqr. Ldr. Liaquat came and saluted Brig. Khaled.
“What’s up man? Why the hell did you take off for?” Asked Brig. Khaled.
“Sir, I had information that Lt. Col. Farooq had started his tanks at the Race Course to move towards the cantonment and Capt. Kismat is also taking similar actions at Balur Ghat that is why I went up.” Sqr. Ldr. Liaquat replied.
“Dalim you said that you have come here to stop the blood shed, but one of your colleagues is trying to attack the cantonment. Is it not a contradiction?” Brig. Khaled was agitated.
“Sir please have trust on me. Let me check what’s happening.
You all can be rest assured that nothing of that sort would ever happen.” I said.
I went to the next room to contact Lt. Col. Rashid. I found Air Vice Marshal Toab and Rear Admiral M.A.Khan there. Both of them were frightened and looked totally lost. Both of them were pale. Seeing me out there both of them got some relief it appeared. AVM. Toab came close to me and asked,
“Dalim how come you are here? Can you please tell what is going on?”
In reply I just said, “Sir, take everything easy and watch what happens.”
I contacted Lt. Col. Rashid.
“Rashid it is Dalim here from 4 Bengal HQ. Brig. Khaled, Col. Shaffat and all others are here. Maj. Hafeez, Capt Iqbal are also present here. AVM. Toab and Rear Admiral M.H Khan have just been brought here. Gen. Zia is at his residence. Maj. Nur is with me. We are discussing. Sqr Ldr. Liaquat has come back with his Mig-21 at the order of Brig. Khaled. It is reported that Lt. Col. Farooq and Capt. Kismat are preparing to move towards the cantonment with tanks. No tanks to be started. I shall come to Banga Bhaban with their demands very soon. I have told Brig. Khaled that Nur and I are here to stop any blood shed for the greater interests of the country and the nation. And at the same time to find out a peaceful solution to this crisis. Therefore, you have to ensure that no provocative move is initiated from our side.”
“I am getting in touch with Lt. Col. Farooq and Capt. Kismat not to take any such move.” Replied Lt. Col. Rashid. I returned to the conference room.
“Don’t worry Sir. The tanks will not roll.” I told Brig. khaled.
Suddenly Brig. Khaled asked,
“Where is AVM Toab?”
“He is here Sir,” Replied someone.
“Bring him in.” Ordered Brig. Khaled.
AVM Toab, the air chief came in. He was looking very nervous. He looked all around and talked to Brig. Khaled,
“Well Khaled, please tell me why the air chief has been brought here in such a disgraceful manner. What’s happening? Where do I stand? Am I still the chief?”
He could hardly finish, Squ.Ldr. Liaquat roared,
“Shut up you! You are no more the chief. I have taken over the command of the air force.”
Air Vice Marshal Toab just kept mum and maintained a blank look on his face. It was really a miserable state of affairs.
“Make him sit in some other place”. Said Brig. Khaled. AVM. Toab was moved out from the conference room.
“Dalim we have four demands.
1. Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed will remain as the President.
2. All the three services chiefs shall have to go and new acceptable chiefs shall have to be appointed by the President.
3. Chain of command has to be restored in the army. All the troops and the tanks have to fall back to the cantonment.
4. The present parliament has to be dissolved and the constitution abrogated. After the multi party democratic elections the new parliament will make a fresh constitution as per the aspirations of the nation. Till then the country will be governed by the martial law.”
The demands are carefully formulated taking into account the present mood of the people and to retain popular support. The move was very clever indeed to grab power step by step. At the same time turning the tide of the present political process. After hearing their demands I said,
“Well Sir, let us go together to Banga Bhaban to discuss with the President about you demands.”
Brig. Khaled looked a bit uneasy at my proposal. Col. Shaffat replied on his behalf,
“Brig. Khaled will not go himself. His nominees will go to Banga Bhaban.”
I laughed and said casually,
“Khaled Bhai, why you don’t want to come along with me to Banga Bhaban? Are you scared? But we are not scared to be with you all here. Then why should you be scared? Please have a heart. We must have trust and confidence on each other and that is the basis on which we shall be able to salvage the nation out of this uncalled for crisis.”
Brig. Khaled did not reply. It was decided from their side Col. Munnaf and Lt. Col. Malik would accompany me to the Banga Bhaban. I came back to Banga Bhaban with both of them. Everything looked normal on the streets. People were moving around normally. All were quite and peaceful. But behind the scene what an explosive situation has developed the people had no clue of that till then. For them it was business as usual.
At the gate of Banga Bhaban I could find the troops from the BDR in position. Maj.Gen. Khalil had sent the reinforcements. I made Col. Munnaf and Lt. Col. Malek to sit in the office of the military secretary. Then I went to see the President. Gen. Osmani, Lt. Col. Rashid and Capt. Huda were with the President. They wanted to know what was happening in the cantonment. I told them every thing in details. I also informed them that Col. Munnaf and Lt. Col. Malek have come as the representatives of the counter revolutionaries with their demands. Both these officers were well known to Gen. Osmani. As he heard about their names he exclaimed! “How could they give allegiance to Khaled?”
“Sir, it is hard to understand human characters. There is nothing surprising in it. Under the prevailing circumstances we got to think about more pressing problems.” I replied. Lt. Col. Rashid asked me, “What is your opinion?”
“First of all I think Brig. Khaled and others can not last long. From the strength point of view, we are stronger than the people at 4 Bengal HQ. The patriotic members of the armed forces and the people will reject them right away when they will see through their design. But in spite our superior strength, I consider that it would be suicidal to launch any military operation from our side. We must not take any action until the people know their real intentions. If we do so then that might be construed to be an inner power struggle between two fractions of the armed forces. This might divide the armed forces and a bloody civil war will become inevitable all over the country. And our neighboring country would definitely exploit any such situation. Before, the people could realize anything the defeated AWAMI-BKSALITES will once again be restored in power. We just cannot allow that to happen. On the other hand I am confidant if we do not go into any physical confrontation at this point of time and step aside, then Brig. Khaled & co. will expose themselves in the eyes of the people and the members of the armed forces through their actions sooner than expected. People will become clear about their real intentions. They will come to know that ambitious Brig. Khaled for his personal ambition has played into the hands of the defeated forces and their Indo-Soviet masters and the country was about to go back to pre 15th August era, at that time if a military action is organized against this anti national clique, people and the patriotic members of the armed forces would come out with spontaneous support in favor. At that circumstance it would not be possible for the neighbor to contemplate any direct intervention. Even if they venture to do so then it would be them versus the whole nation. But I think if the people rise then they will not dare to move in, as they had to abandon their plan after 15th August.
Secondly, I feel Brig. Khaled is trying very cleverly to remove our services chiefs keeping Khandakar Mustaq Ahmed in front just to hoodwink the people. Once they can take the control of the armed forces it would be just a matter of time that President will be removed and their political leadership will take over. So I strongly feel President should play no role whatsoever to assist them to implement their blue print. If he has to continue as the President then he should do so with the spirit of 15th August with his own authorities but not as a stooge in the hands of Brig. Khaled & co. I think this point needs to be conveyed very clearly to Brig. Khaled. If they don’t agree with, then Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed should decide to step down.”
There were deliberations on what I said and then unanimous decision was taken that we shall not take any military action. What would be the reply of the President to the representatives against their demands that was also decided.
Then Col. Munnaf and Lt. Col. Malik were called in. The military secretary brought them in. They came in and saluted the President. We all were present at one side. The atmosphere was solemn.
The President asked them, “Speak, whatever you have got to say?”
Col. Munnaf on behalf of Brig. Khaled and others repeated the 4 demands and wanted to know the honorable President’s reply.
President Mushtaq Ahmed heard everything patiently and then in his own style in a very composed and sober manner said,
“Well I have heard you patiently. Go back and tell those people at the cantonment, if I am the President, then I shall execute my responsibilities at my own terms and for the best of national interests. I am not at all prepared to remain as the head of state and be dictated by one Brigadier. I want that the chain of command be restored immediately and Brig. Khaled should allow my three chiefs of staffs to come over to Banga Bhaban with out any further delay. Khaled should also withdraw the troops he has deployed to cut off the relay station so that Radio and T.V can resume their normal broad casting. My priority at this moment is to bring back normalcy in the country. If Brig. Khaled does not execute my orders then tell him that he should come to Banga Bhaban and take over the country and do what ever he feels like. I shall call for a rickshaw and go back to my residence at Agamosi Lane.”
After finishing the meeting with the President we came back to 4 Bengal HQ. Brig. Khaled and all were waiting for our return. Col. Munnaf said everything exactly what ever the President had said. Brig. Khaled looked disappointed and anxious. He perhaps realized that Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed was a tough nut to crack and it would not be possible to use his shoulders for his purpose. Khandakar Mushtaq a highly intelligent and sharp person has understood the game and refused to play in his hands. The rest who all were present burst into outrage. Col. Shaffat said, “How dare he speaks like that?”
“All right we shall see what to do next.” Brig. Khaled said and signaled Col. Shaffat, Brig. Nuruzzaman, Maj. Hafeez, Capt. Iqbal, and Sqn. Ldr. Liaqat to follow him for a close door session to decide about the next move. They all went to another room and started their exclusive meeting. Their problem was that they knew abbot the superior strength of Sena Parishad, the popular image of Gen. Zia among the soldiers and the countrywide popularity of Kandakar Mushtaq’s government. On the other hand our problem was not to provide any scope to the neighboring country for any physical intervention till Brig. Khaled & co were exposed as stooges of AWAMI-BKSHALITES. After about 15/20 minuets they came back.
“Dalim, as Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed is not ready to accept our terms in that case he has to handover power to the Chief Justice, Justice Sayam.” Said Brig. Khaled.
“To handover power to Justice Sayam will be against the constitutional provisions. Besides, Justice Sayam being a man of law, would he accept to take over like this?” I asked Brig. Khaled.
“Well some how this transfer has to be legalized. To convince Justice Sayam is my responsibility”. Said Brig. Khaled.
It became very clear from his insistence that due to some compulsion he was insistent to appoint Justice Sayam as the President even violating the constitutional provisions.
“I can say nothing on this new proposal. Please ask your representatives to come with me to Banga Bhaban again to discuss this matter with the President and get his decision.” I suggested to Brig. Khaled.
“ Yes, they will go with you again.” Brig. Khaled agreed.
“ Well Sir, if there is nothing else from your side then we shall leave now.”
As I stood up from my chair, at that point Brig. Khaled said,
“ Dalim one thing more. We all know that you, Nur, Pasha, Shariar, Rashed, Mohiuddin, Huda and others are patriots. We also have almost same feelings and views about the country and the nation. Since the liberation war we know each other. I on my own behalf and rest of us would like to say very clearly that other than Lt. Col. Rashid and Lt. Col. Farook we have no grievances against any one of you. Rather we want your co-operation to fulfill our dreams. I request you most earnestly, please strengthen our hands by joining us. Try to understand, Zia cannot deliver anything. He has betrayed all of us and our cause.”
Brig. Khaled’s utterances made me surprised. I really could not understand how sincere was he in his utterances. How it is possible that Brig. Khaled and the rest are failing to understand the implications of their counter revolutionary coup de’tat? But if they are aware then this offer should be taken as a very clever move. They are trying to trap us like Khandakar Mushtaq. I thought for a while and said,
“Sir, so long we could hardly get any time to think about ourselves. I alone cannot say anything about our own future course of action. It has got to be a consensus decision. Many who are with you today were also with us on 15th August. I would like to reiterate once again to my those friends in very clear terms that we do not consider that Maj. Gen. Zia has betrayed us or the spirit of 15th August and the liberation war. We also have no reason to believe that he is unable to achieve our desired goals and is unable to protect the interests of the army. With out any valid reason creating such a national crisis mistrusting him cannot be rationally acceptable. We also think all such propagandas against him are uncalled for and malicious. He was one of us and he remains be one of us even now. Against your kind proposal to join, I would like to say only this much that the spirit of 15th August and that of 3ed November is not the same. Never in the history these two events would be portrayed in similar ways. The historic successful revolution and the political change of 15th August 1975 would be portrayed as the milestone in the struggle against fascist and despotic rule and at the same time in the struggle of the people against hegemonies. On the other hand the putsch of 3ed November 1975 will go down into the history as a saga of national betrayal, thus the event would be identified as the black chapter in our national history. I know right now none of you are ready to accept what I said. But shortly the future will justify my words. What ever decision we might take about our future you would be informed in due course of time.”
This is how after long day sessions with Brig. Khaled and others we returned to Banga Bhaban. Both Col. Munnaf and Lt. Col. Malik also came along with us. While driving back Maj. Nur said,
“Sir, the way you answered Brig. Khaled was very unpalatable. You should not have taken such a risk.”
It is very true. Nur had a point. Such frank and tough talks could be very dangerous. But some how I could not restrained myself. They just came out spontaneously. When some one tries selflessly to speak out the truth Allah provides him with necessary courage and strength.
After ending the marathon hectic negotiation when we returned to Banga Bhababn we came to know about a startling event that had taken place while we were busy in the discussions.
In the early hours of the day Brig. Khaled had sent Capt. Naser to Maj. Momen’s residence to get him from the house. He complied with the order without telling Mrs. Momen where he was being taken. Maj. Momen was then the commanding officer of the Bengal Lancers. Mrs. Momen became suspicious and immediately phoned Maj. Huda in the Banga Bhaban informing what had happened. Maj. Huda straightaway smelled something fishy and alerted LT. Kismat who was then in charge of the armored squadrons at Balur Ghat. He was also responsible to look after the deployment of the tanks around the cantonment. After receiving the information LT. Kismat had no doubt that Maj.Momen had been taken hostage and definitely Brig. Khaled would now try to take the control of the squadrons under the regimental HQ, as this was then the most formidable force in the balance of power. So he immediately took all precautions against any such anticipated move. LT.Kismat’s apprehension proved correct. Within a short span of time a Leader of Rakki Bahini named Sharif in army uniform wearing the badge of lieutenant appeared in the regimental HQ dispatched by Brig. Khaled. This was enough for LT. Kismat to understand that this was the first move of Brig. Khaled and more to follow. Soon after from the blues Capt. Naser arrived along with Dafadar Mujib who was once LT. Kismst’s chief drill instructor in BMA. They both came up to LT. Kismat at the regimental HQ. After normal exchange of formal greetings Capt. Naser enquired from LT. Kismat who were the officers then present in the regiment and Dafadar Mujib pleaded to LT. Kismat to consider handing over command to Capt. Naser. This was enough for LT. Kismat to understand the ulterior motive loud and clear and with out answering anything he just ordered the guards on duty to arrest Capt. Naser and Dafadar Mujib and to put both the conspirators in the regimental quarter guard giving no reaction time. This action of LT. Kismat and his decision not to allow Rakkhi Leader Sharif to leave the regiment cowed him down completely. Being totally helpless he had no choice but to accept that and remained there as a naïve silent spectator under the watchful eyes.
Soon after the news reached Brig. Khaled LT. Kismat received a call from Maj. Momen requesting LT. Kismat to release those two. But LT. Kismat had no doubt in his mind that Maj. Momen was talking under duress but even then for LT. Kismat being a disciplined officer was not easy to defy Maj. Momen’s order. But LT. Kismat proved his mettle at that crucial moment and without any hesitation curtly replied to his commanding officer defying his request that he would not release them unless Maj. Momen is back to the regimental HQ. After getting LT. Kismat’s firm reply Brig. Khaled could understand his nefarious intention would not be materialized. His bluff has been caught. So he was compelled to swap. Maj. Momen returned to the regimental HQ and arrested ones were released.
Maj. Huda’s timely information and LT. Kismat’s praise worthy handling of the situation as an able revolutionary frustrated another design of the conspirators.
On return Maj. Momen instead of rebuking LT. Kismat thanked him for his wits and courage to defy his request that saved him.
It was a deplorable and treacherous act that only proves how mad was Brig. Khaled for power to full fill his ambition.
Any way, I met the President and apprised him that the conspirators were trying to usurp power through justice Sayam. Khandhakar Mushtaq Ahmed finally decided to handover the power to justice Sayam. Brig. Khaled’s representatives went back to 4 Bengal HQ after knowing the President’s decision.
After the President’s decision the central leadership who all were available of the Sena Parishad convened a closed-door meeting. In the meeting the decision was taken that the exposed top leaders would leave the country temporarily. After deliberations Bangkok was considered to be the most suitable place. How Sena Parishad will counter Brig. Khaled and others after our departure that was also discussed. Sena Parishad would join hands with other patriotic and nationalist forces on a minimum programme basis. Particularly with Col. Taher and his Gono Bahini to organize another revolution at an appropriate time after Brig. Khaled & co gets exposed as the lackeys of the defected AWAMI-BKSALITES and their foreign masters, the Indo-Soviet axis. Decisions were also taken about Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman and President Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed. It was decided that after the over throw of Brig. Khaled & co. Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman would be released and reinstalled as the chief of army staff. Then Maj. Gen. Zia then would request Khandakar Mustaq Ahmed to resume his duties as the President. It was also decided that from Bangkok the departed leaders would maintain contacts with the Sena Parishad and Col. Taher as much as possible. Arrangements were made to circulate these decisions to all Sena Parishad units in all the cantonments. Col. Taher was then present at the Banga Bhaban. The decisions were taken after due consultations with him. When we finished with the meeting it was evening. Meanwhile necessary instructions were issued to the concerned ministries from the President’s secretariat regarding our departure for Bangkok. I called Brig. Khaled as I had promised.
“Sir we have decided to leave the country. Myself, Nur, Pasha, Shahriar, Huda, Rashed, Rashid, Farooq, Mohiuddin, Sharful, Majeed, Kismat, Nazmul, Hasham and Moslemuddin along with our families will be flying out tonight. Necessary arrangements are being made through the President’s secretariat. We are sorry that we could not cooperate with you all.”
“Why are you leaving the country I don’t understand? We have some reservations about Rashid and Farooq but why you all?” Brig. Khaled reiterated once again. Although he pretended to be sincere, but we knew that he and his associates would be happy hearing about our departure had would be greatly relieved considering that they would not be facing threats any more from their powerful opponents who have decided to leave the country. Was he then trying just to entrap us all through!
Whatever might be the case, the fact remains that we made a tactical retreat and left the country just to save the country and the nation from a possible blood bath. Consequence of which would have been not only disastrous but the nation also would have lost the freedom that was just regained through the historic change of 15th August revolution. We left Dhaka at about 10:30 p.m. at night of 3ed November 1975 for Bangkok by a special Biman flight.
Just within three days after we had left the country and when we were at Bangkok, on the 7th November 1975 another historic revolution was initiated under the joint leadership of Sena Parishad and Gone Bahini of Col. Taher. This was also supported by the people spontaneously like that of 15th August 1975 thus turning the revolution spearheaded by the patriotic section of the armed forces under the leadership of Sena Parishad and Gono Bahini of Col. Taher into a popular mass uprising.
Brig. Khaled & co. was ousted from the power. The evil conspiracy of the defeated forces and their foreign masters were shattered by the soldiers and people’s solidarity. On both those historic days the streams of people flooded the streets of Dhaka and other major cities of the country. The nation manifested a unique soldierly to face the national crisis. The whole of Bangladesh turned into an invincible fortress against the anti national and anti people traitors and the hegemonic and expansionist powers. After the successful uprising Brig. Khaled, Mosharraf and a few of his close associates tried to escape from the country but they failed and got killed in the hands of the revolutionaries. Col. Shaffat and the rests all were arrested. As par the earlier decision Maj.Gen. Ziaur Rahman was released from his captivity and was restored as the chief of army staff. He then accordingly called upon Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed and requested him to resume the responsibilities as the President. But Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed declined the request of Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman. Later in a historic speech broad caste in the national media Khandaker Mustaq Ahmed explained the reasons why he did not accept the Presidency when requested by Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman, and paid glorious tributes to the heroic revolution of the 7th November 1975.
Both the historic events of 15th August and 7th November are not isolated from one another. They are distinctly inseparable links of the same chain. The patriotic members of the armed forces imbued with the same espirit spearheaded both these successful popular revolutions. On the 15th August the Sena Parishad was at the vanguard and on The 7th November the Sena Parishad and Gono Bahini of Col. Taher took same responsibility jointly. The spirit of both these revolutions was to protect the very existence of the nation, to re-establish human rights and democracy, to brake the shackle of Indo- Soviet axis to make the independence meaningful, to free the country and the nation from the strangulated suffocation of the fascist dictatorship in other words the spirit of the liberation war of ’71.
The authenticity, of my narration of the events from 2nd Nov to 7th Nov’ 75 were echoed in the slogans that thundered the sky of Dhaka chanted by the revolutionaries after the victory of 7th revolution. The slogans were: -
“Narae Takbir Allahu Akber.”
“Siphai Janata Bhai Bhai Khaled er Rakta Chai.”
“Khandakar Mushtaq Zindabad. Bangladesh Zindabad.”
“Major Dalim Zindabad.”
“Rashid, Farooq Zindabad Khaled Mosharraf Murabad.”
“General Zia Jekhane Amra Achi Shekhane.”
“ Bangladesh Zindabad”
The 15th August is a day of national deliverance. The national and international media and the newspapers of that time bear the testimonies to this fact. The history shall also bear the same. It is needless to say that if right from the inception of Bangladesh the spirit of the liberation war was not betrayed, there would have been rule of law, human and fundamental rights, freedom of speech and if there were democratic and constitutional ways and means available to change the government than it would have not been necessary to organize the revolution of 15th August 1975 to free the people from the pains and suffocation caused by the fascist BKSAL regime of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
I would like to quote here the editorial that was published in the leading newspaper, the daily Ittefaq on 15th August 1975 under the heading, ‘Oitihashik Nabajatra.’
“To fulfill the historic demands of the nation the armed forces of Bangladesh under the leadership of elderly statesman and people’s hero Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed had taken over the powers at the dawn of Friday the 15th of August. The previous government has been overthrown and Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed was sworn in as the President in a solemn but simple ceremony. All the law enforcing agencies of the country like that of Bangladesh rifles, police even the services chiefs of the defence forces had given their unflinching allegiance to the new government. There is a sad background of this political change in the national life. Our dreams and aspirations were high as we achieved our independence with the sacrifices of 30 lacs of martyrs and at the cost of honor of innumerable mothers and sisters. But what the people had got during this period of three and half years or more in one word is deprivation and frustration. There were valid reasons why the armed forces had to come forward under the leadership of Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed to take over the historic responsibilities for the greater interests of the nation and to materialize the true aspirations and the dreams of seven and half crores people of Bangladesh. The ruling coteries of the past had shutdown all the avenues of constitutional transfer of power and thus made military intervention inevitable. The tide of history cannot be thwarted by the lust for power. At this historical juncture our responsibilities are more. At this crucial juncture to consolidate the gains of the historical step that the armed forces had taken under the leadership of people’s hero Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed and to fulfill our historic responsibilities to the people we all have to march forward united as one.”
The successful revolution of 15th August 1975 will remain as a milestone in the history of the people’s struggle for the democracy and emancipation. It will ever glow as a beacon for the people to inspire them to fight and struggle against any kind of fascist dictatorship.
The August revolution ended the black chapter of AWAMI-BKSALITES rule and herald a new horizon in the political history of Bangladesh.
The spirit of nationalism and the democratic polity that ushered with the historic political change of 15th August 1975, still flows with ever increasing vigor and vitally in every sphere of our national life by shattering all conspiracies of the anti national elements. The spirit of popular August revolution shall remain as a source of inspiration to the present and future generations to fight the ‘Novo Mirzafars’ and safeguard the national independence and sovereignty for all time to come.
In view of this truth; is it justified to give recognition to 7th November alone as ‘National Revolution and Solidarity Day’ by neglecting 15th August? Aren’t these two historic epoch making successful revolutions can be the claimants of equal right of recognition? The responsibility at the end of the judgment is being left with the conscience of beloved fellow countrymen.