Bangabanhu murder
Friday, 15 August 2008

Many questions need to be answered

On Aug 15, 1975, a group of Army officers mounted a coup d'etet and murdered the President of the Country, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, alongwith his entire family save his two daughters who were abroad in Germany. Three months later, the conspirators also murdered four other leaders of AL who were incarcerated in jails and who included Tajuddin Ahmed, Mansur Ali, Syed Nazrul Islam and AHM Kamruzzaman. The murder of Bangabandhu severely destabilized the politics of Bangladesh and led to a chain of violent events which included the 7th November Jatio Samajtantric Dal led "Sipahi-Janata Biplob" and which brought General Zia ur Rahman to power and the Bangladesh Military into politics. What is truly horrendous is that immediately after the 1975 coup d'etet, the instruments of the State were used to block the entire process of law and justice in its tracks by an Indemnity Ordinance providing immunity from law to a small group of brutal murderers. It was only in 1996, when the AL formed the government, that the infamous Indemnity Ordinance was annulled and steps taken to bring the perpetrators of 15 August to justice. Since then the courts are pursuing their own pedantic course without really providing any justice. Following the independence of Bangladesh , Bangabandhu was released from custody in Pakistan. He became the Prime Minister and later President of the newly formed state. With an intention to form a new Nation-state out of the chaos of a devastating war, he soon established a system of one-party rule called BAKSAL, banned all the newspapers except four government publications, and declared himself president through a constitutional amendment in early 1975. His declaration of one party rule was opposed by many political opponents and, allegedly, CIA used this to increase propaganda against him. Corruption started to spread during those initial years of Bangladeshi independence. Other major challenges which the Nation had to face included the humanitarian disaster (roads, banks, markets, houses & schools were destroyed) that was left behind after the 1971 war, which culminated in a devastating famine in 1974. The main charges against Bangabandhu included nepotism and misgovernance. Public wrath foamed up as people's purchasing power plummeted and there was no sign of any improvement. Syed Faruque Rahman, Abdur Rashid, Sharful Haque Dalim, all Majors in the Bangladesh Army, hatched a conspiracy, the standard account of which is chronicled in Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood by Anthony Mascarenhas, Khondaker Mostaq Ahmed, an Awami League cabinet minister under Bangabandhu's rule, agreed to take over the Presidency. Journalist Lawrence Lifschultz paints an alternative picture of the conspiracy, implicating Mustaque and even the CIA as participants but the Soviet dissident Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov has stated that Mujibur Rahman was killed by his own Marxist-Leninist comrades following the KGB standard procedures in instigated coups. It is alleged that the chief of the army General Shafiullah and defence intelligence were unaware of the conspiracy. Dictated by the coup masterminds, Khondaker Mustaq Ahmed assumed presidency and the participating army officers became the de-facto leaders of the country. They were later toppled by yet another coup led by General Khaled Mosharraf on November 3, 1975. Mosharraf himself was killed in a counter coup on November 7, which installed General Ziaur Rahman in power. In the meanwhile Faruque Rahman, Rashid, and the other army officers had been promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonels. They were exiled in Libya and other countries, and were given several diplomatic posts in Bangladesh missions abroad and the Indemnity Ordinance passed by the government under president Khondaker Mustaq Ahmed gave them a blanket pardon for any acts committed on August 15, 1975. In fact, the murder of Bangabandhu leaves behind many questions to be answered. We hope, the day will appear when the perpetrators will be punished. 

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