15 August is the day of national mourning. It’s a day when all beings of whole Bengal, even nature drop tears. Because, this day of August, back in 1975 it seemed like this rainy August and brutal bloodshed of Bangabandhu were the representation of the weeping of the sky itself crying out of extreme grievance.
The time when the murderers were brush firing all the family members of Bangabandhu at the hour just before dawn, it was raining, as if nature was weeping. Frightened Bangladesh against the raised firearms was all bemused in mourning and the unexpected sudden shock. This flame of bereavement will burn for epochs to come. 15 August is the day to recite lamentation, the 45th anniversary of the martyrdom of the architect of independence Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Martyred Souls in that Darkest Night
In that darkest night of 15 August 1975, heinous assassins killed the unprecedented leader of whole Bangali nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, wife of Bangabandhu Sheikh Fazilatunnessa, eldest son Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal, youngest son Sheikh Russell, Sheikh Kamal’s wife Sultana Kamal, Jamal’s wife Rosy Jamal, brother of Bangabandhu Sheikh Naser, officer at SB Siddikur Rahman, colonel Jamil, army soldier Syed Mahbubul Haque, almost simultaneously the assassins attacked the nephew of Bangabandhu, a Juba League leader Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni’s residence and killed Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni, his pregnant wife Arju Moni, they attacked at brother-in-law of Bangabandhu Abdur Rab Serniabat’s residence and killed Serniabat and his daughter Baby, son Arif Serniabat, grandson Sukanta babu, son of Serniabat’s elder brother Sajib Serniabat and a relative Bentu Khan. Nation will remember all the martyrs with deep condolence and respect.
The Dream that Led, Shattered to Pieces
Bangabandhu might have been killed physically but his soul is immortal. He lives eternally. Because he is the visionary and the architect of a Nation-state. As long as this country exists, he will exist immortally. He influenced the whole Bangali nation with the spirit of nationalism to be brave enough to start an armed revolution against the colonial ruler and oppressor the Pak Military force. So he is immortal to the spirit of this nation. Bangabandhu is not just a person, the name of a great idea. The idea which reinvigorated the whole nation. The bangali nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularism the philosophies with which the constitution of the country was created by the architect of independence and greatest ever bangali in thousands of years, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib. In the realm of oppressors and the oppressed, Bangabandhu was beside the absorbed.
In accordance to the continued 24 year-long struggles and movements against the oppressing Pakistani rulers, the call for independence he did on his great speech in the historic 7 March 1971 address at Sohrawardi Udyan is an unforgettable one. The call from his lightning voice, “This struggle, is our struggle for freedom. This struggle is the struggle for independence”, this immortal invocation mesmerized the whole oppressed nation of millions and made them start fighting for independence. Spellbound by that priceless call the nation of Bengal became the warriors without fear.
After the most tyrannical genocide happened in the dark night of 25 March 1971 nation again heard his declaration of independence at the first hours of 26th. At that night the Pakistani forces arrested Bangabandhu from his residence at Dhanmondi. Following that he was imprisoned the whole nine months of Battle for independence in the prisons of Pakistan. But the battle ran under his call. While imprisoned he was under threats of execution but never gave up for the question of independence, as he is the dreadnought greatest leader. After the war of freedom ended, Pakistan had no other option but to release him back to Bangladesh. Bangabandhu came back on 10 January 1972 with a heroic welcome to his envisioned independent Bangladesh after appearing on a Press Conference held on 08 January 1972 in London, the United Kingdom.
After coming back to a war-torn country, while working on to re-establish the country from ruins of the war he also engaged people of the country with development. In his battle towards rebuilding the nation, he had a firm belief that people of the nation will never forget his dedication and contribution to the country. Never could think them as ingrates. As the president of the newly formed Bangladesh, he kept living in his non-glamorous residence at Dhanmondi 32, instead of any state-provided residence.
The conspiracies of the defeated evil forces never stopped. To avenge the defeat, they consistently kept laying traps with conspiracies. Those conspirators used those aspiring mistracked army members on that 15 August killing to put such a conspiracy into reality. And they attacked the house at Dhanmondi 32 also known as the breeding place for independence. They assassinated the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu and all of his family living there.
With that heinous most brutal killing ever in the history of the world and human civilization, they not only killed Bangabandhu but tried to kill the ideals the thousand years awaited and achieved ideals of independences along with him. Had ill attempts to erasing the heroic ballads of valour. Though this atrocious killing of Bangabandhu was a sad incident for whole Bangali nation, but instead of trying those criminals of that assassination, disgraceful moves have been taken place to shield them for a long time. Even the murderers were awarded in many ways. To prevent murder trial, infamous ‘Indemnity ordnance’ had been enacted by the murderer of Bangabandhu the Khondokar Mushtaq government.
On 8 June of 1976, from the alleged murderer group of that 15 August, 12 of them were given jobs at several high commissions around the world.
- Lt. Col Shariful Haque (Dalim) first secretary to China,
- Lt. Col Aziz Pasha first secretary to Argentina,
- Lt. Col AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed first secretary to Algeria,
- Major Bazlul Huda 2nd secretary to Pakistan,
- Major Shahriar Rashid 2nd secretary to Indonesia,
- Major Rashed Chowdhury 2nd secretary to Saudi Arabia,
- Major Nur Chowdhury 2nd secretary to Iran,
- Major Shariful Hossain 2nd secretary to Kuwait,
- Col Kismat Hashem 3rd secretary to Abu Dhabi,
- Lt Khairuzzaman 3rd secretary to Egypt,
- Lt. Nazmul Hossain 3rd secretary to Canada,
- Lt. Abdul Majed 3rd secretary to Senegal
After long 21 years in 1996, when Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina led govt came to power, this ‘Indemnity Ordnance’ was dismissed and trials for killing Bangabandhu was made possible, after so many struggles the trial was accomplished. In the last regime of the BNP allied government, attempts were made to keep away from executing the sentences, but after the current government got re-elected on 2009, the judgement was accomplished and 5 of the accused who were given capital punishment, were executed on 27th January of 2010. Still, some of the convicted murderers are fleeing in various countries.
What happened at that night?
According to the personal secretary (resident PA) Mr AFM Mohitul Islam’s statement:
On 1975 he was working at the house number 677 of Dhanmondi 32, the residence of the president at that time Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was on duty there, from 8 pm of 14th August, 1975 to 8 am of 15 August. After the night passed 12am of 14th August he has gone to bed at 1 am of 15 August in his destined bed.
At the statement of the case, Mr Mohitul said, ‘After that, I can’t remember when I went to sleep. Suddenly, the telephone mechanic waked me up and said, the president wants to see you. The time was about 4:30 am or 5 am. The sky looked brighter around. Bangabandhu told me over the phone, miscreants attacked at Serniabat’s residence. I immediately called the police control room. After several tries, I couldn’t connect to the police control room. Then I tried to get a line to Gonobhaban exchange. Afterwards, Bangabandhu came from upstairs and asked me why no one is picking up the phone at the police control room. At that time I was shouting on the phone saying “hello”. Bangabandhu took the receiver from me and said, “This is the president speaking”. At that very moment, a bunch of bullets came through the windows and struck at the walls of that room. On another phone, the chief security officer Mohiuddin was trying to talk. From the broken glasses from the shots of bullets my right hand got injured and was bleeding. Then it was non-stop shooting from the windows and Bangabandhu lied upon the floor. I also jumped down to the floor.
After a while when the firing stopped, Bangabandhu stood up. I also stood up. The servant boy Selim also known as Abdul came from upstairs with Punjabi and spectacles for Bangabandhu. Bangabandhu came to the veranda wearing those Punjabi and spectacles. He (Bangabandhu) said, “So many fires going on, what are you doing army sentries and police sentries?” At that time Sheikh Kamal said, “Army and police brothers come with me”. A bunch of people wearing black dress stood before Sheikh Kamal. I (Mohitul) and DSP Nurul Islam Khan were just behind of Sheikh Kamal. Nurul Islam grabbed me from behind and took me to his office room. I tried to peek through to look outside of that room. I heard some shots of bullets just some moments later. At that time Sheikh Kamal lied before my legs having shot. Kamal Bhai shouted, “I am the son of Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Kamal, Bhai tell them”.
Mohitul Islam told him his statement, “There were black dressed and khaki dressed among the attackers. At that time we heard shots and saw DSP Nurul Islam Khan was shot at his leg. Then I realized the attackers are from the army. And they came for murders. When Nurul Islam was trying to take us out of the room, Major Bazlul Huda picked me by grabbing my hairs. Bazlul Huda took us to downstairs and made us stand in lines. Moments after I heard Bangabandhu’s voice loudly. Huge sounds of firing were heard. We heard wailing and afflicted cries of women. In the meantime, Sheikh Russell and the housemaid Ruma was brought downstairs. Russell hold me tight and asked, ‘Will they kill me too?’ I said, no they will to do anything to you. I thought they won’t harm a boy so young. But after a few minutes, Russell was told that he would be taken to his mother and they took him to a room and killed him brutally. Then Major Bazlul Huda told to the Major Faruque who was standing at the gate of the residence of Bangabandhu that, ‘All are finished’.
Retired Colonel Faruqe Rahman at his confessional testimony said, he co-ordinated the mission at Bangabandhu’s residence on 15 August of 1975 by the command of Khondakar Mushtaque. He was in charge of the whole mission. Retired Colonel Rashid was in charge of Bangabhaban while Retired Major Dalim was in charge of Radio center. Distribution of the duties in important places was all done by him (Faruque).
Fervidity of little Russel was unable to soften the murderers
“Allah’s sake please spare my life. My Hashu Apa is in Germany with my brother-in-law. Please I lay before your legs, please send me to Germany to them”. This was the last fervidity of the youngest son of Sheikh Mujib before he was killed.
But this crying might have shivered the dominion of Allah but the stone-hearted murderers were not moved a little by this. Like they killed Bangabandhu and all his family members, they also killed this impeccable young child in cold blood.
Dr. MA Wazed Miah, described this tyrannical killing of Russell in his book, ‘Some happenings around Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib And Bangladesh’.
MA Wazed Miah wrote in his book, after the killing of Bangabandhu and other members of the family, Russell ran downstairs and sought refuge to the housemaids and servants. Abdur Rahman Roma who were long been taking care of Russel was holding Russel’s hand at that moment.
After some minutes a soldier took Russell away saying he will be sent out of the house. Russell cried and begged to spare his life for the sake of Allah.
A sentry couldn’t stand this heart-touching begging any more and hid him into the sentry box of the gate of the house. But after about half an hour a major saw Russell at that place and took him to upstairs and killed him cold-bloodedly with a revolver.
Only a 4th grader to University Laboratory School, a lively child, Sheikh Russell embraced death when he only started to see his father’s political life.
Before killing Sheikh Russell the assassins killed all the members of the family, his elder brother Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal, mother Fazilatunnessa Mujib and father the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman one after another.
The youngest brother of Sheikh Hasina, Sheikh Russell was born on 17th October 1968 at the residence of Bangabandhu at Dhanmondi.
Indemnity Ordnance: Another dark chapter in the history of Bangladesh
To escape the murderers, the self-proclaimed president Khondokar Moshtaque Ahmed (who had been the commerce minister at Bangabandhu’s cabinet) ruled the infamous Indemnity Ordinance on 26th September 1975. The day was Friday. The ordinance published in ‘The Bangladesh Gazzette, Published by authority’, had a signature of Khondakar Moshtaque. Beneath the sign of Moshtak, there was a signature of MH Rahman, who was at that time being secretary of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Ministry. On 15 August 1975 just after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed, Mushtaque declared himself as president before dawn.
The ordnance has two parts. In the first part, it’s said that, whatever happened on 15 August 1975 even if those go against existing laws, no courts along with the supreme one cannot take any case, complaints or no legislative actions can be taken.
In the second part, it said that the people who will be stated as related to that event affirmed by the president will be exempted from any allegations. That means no court case, complaints or legislative actions can be taken against them.
After this, another military ruler, Major Zia came to power. He was elected with two-third majority in 2nd parliamentary election under the military rule on 18th February 1979. Then he declared all the ordnances and declarations from 15 August 1975 to 9th April 1979, to be legal through the 5th amendment to the constitution.
Khondakar Mushtaque created a flaunt investigation committee to investigate the brutal murder of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members on 15 August 1975 and four national leaders killed in the Dhaka Central Jail on 3rd November on the same year. Later when Ziaur Rahman came to power had withheld all activities of those investigations for those most barbaric murders in the history of Bangladesh and he helped the murderers to flee from the country alongside that he appointed them to diplomatic duties to them, which was mentioned in the report done by the investigation committee in London.
This investigative commission was made officially on 18th September 1980 to investigate the reasons which hampered taking legal and justice actions to the alleged murderers of these killings. But at that time for the dis-cooperation of the government and not allowing visa to a member of the commission made this attempt an unsuccessful one. The head of the government at that time was Ziaur Rahman.
In the book of Professor Abu Sayeed, ‘Facts and Documents: Bangabandhu Murder’ mentioned about forming of this commission – it stated that according to the application of both daughters fo Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, son of Captain Monsur Ali, Mohammad Selim and son of Syed Nazrul Islam, Syed Ashraful Islam this formation of the commission led by Sir Thomas Williams QCMP. This application was hugely acclaimed at many public meetings held in Bangladesh and abroad.
The first meeting to this was held at a committee office at the House of Commons and chaired by Sir Thomas Williams on 18th September 1980. Jeffrey Thomas and a solicitor Abro Rose was also present in that meeting.
Besides, it was told to identify alleged officers from the list of army officers who were discussing leaving to Bangkok from Bangladesh on 3rd November on 1975. Among the fleeing persons were Lt. Col. Faruque, Lt. Col. Abdur Rashid, Major Shariful Haque (Dalim). Apparently, the leaders of the coup were identified as Lt. Col. Faruqe, Lt. Col. Rashid and Major Shariful Haque Dalim.
Earlier, taking in account an interview published of Col. Faruque in the London Sunday Times on 30th August 1976, confessing the killing of Bangabandhu and his family members and the 4 leaders, Amnesty International Mission visited Bangladesh lead by a member of the commission Shawn McBride and while discussing with the president they also mentioned about the jail massacre. They were told that the law will be allowed to let on its own pace.
But it was noticed later that, the persons related to the murders and fled from Bangladesh to Bangkok around 3rd November 1975 or around that time were given diplomatic duties. Commission decided upon these facts and realities that, to inspect the obstacles of law and justice on its own pace a member of the commission needs to visit Dhaka.
Decided that member of the commission Jeffrey Thomas QC along with an assistant will go to Dhaka to investigate in the fields on 13th January 1981. To this objective, they submitted an application to get a visa to Dhaka through the secretary and solicitor Abro Rose.
It was told from the Bangladesh High Commission that the visa will be provided timely. When requested to take the opportunity to take the flight of British Airways on that aforesaid date’s evening, Bangladesh High Commission in London informed that the passport and visa will be returned in the afternoon. In the afternoon when these were asked, it was told the consular department is closed.
Later the Bangladesh High Commission in London informed their decision that they are not willing to provide the visa to Jeffrey Thomas to let him visit Dhaka. Upon this denial to the visa, the commission came to this decision that, law and justice are not allowed on its own pace and they alleged Ziaur Rahman’s government for creating obstacles to all these processes.
To observe the day countrywide with appropriate status and gravity, government and number of political, social and cultural organizations have taken various programs into the schedule.