Some frequently asked questions indulge my mind as to why time and again I had to face the harsh reality for being honest and keeping truth alive. Some unexpected events had trembled my life at the beginning of my university days and I had to make the hard choice.
It was a sunny afternoon in the last week of October 1978, just the day after General Ziaur Rahman was physically assaulted near Dhaka University Library by some angry students who were friends and colleagues of mine. However, I was waiting for some of my friends who went for shopping at New Market.
It is worth mentioning that the common students of the Dhaka University were not that much worried and bothered about what happened with Ziaur Rahman on that day. It was crystal clear that General Zia was the prime beneficiary of the August 15th political change in which Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was brutally assassinated along with the most members of his family by a military Coup.
Because of this draconian political killing, mass people including the students of Dhaka University did not show any sympathy to General Zia. Before my friends arrived, some people from the intelligence had come to me and told that general Zia is waiting for me. He wants to talk to me now if i can go. I asked them being a president, why he is waiting for a student.
Zia didn’t hesitate to do whatever he needed to safeguard his illegal power.
He was the mastermind behind the killing of the Father of The Nation
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He also tried to attack Khondker
Mustaq in 1976 at a public rally at the Baitul Mokarram. It was believed
that he helped provide everything to launch the grenade attack at the
meeting and nobody knows how and when the case registered against
those involved was withdrawn. Zia assured the attackers that he would
provide whatever assistance they needed
They replied that the president is serious to meet with a leader of a student wing to work for his own party (BNP) and he has information about me that I can help him in this regard. They said Zia is convinced that you would be able to organize a student front for him.
Without a moment of hesitation I had rejected the proposal and asked them to go find somebody else. May be if I had joined with general Zia, I would have been made at least a state minister before his tragic death. And by supporting the military rulers, I could have joined with general Ershad and by bargaining I would have been made a full minister and who doesn’t know making money was much easier in this process.
However, Bangabandhu had the schedule to visit Dhaka University on the 15th of August 1975 and I was supposed to be at the Fouler Road near British Council by 7:30 in the morning. There was an enthusiasm working in the mind of the students that Father of the nation, who has created the independent Bangladesh, is coming to us.
We will be able to see him at the closest proximity, and can ask some question directly about life and sacrifice he made for the nation. Around 12 at night I came back to Zahurul Haq Hall to stay over so that I can get up early in the morning. I woke up with the noise and screaming of some of my comrades who came to my room with a small radio.
We were listening the voice of Major Dalim. And we finally convinced that the disaster is done, though it was quite unexpected and unbelievable. Instantly I left the Hall and went to one of my relative’s house at Elephant Road. After the brutal assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975, the politics of violence began in the land of Bangabandhu. Country’s political scenario got radically changed.
It appeared to be like the then East Pakistan. The ideals upon which the independent Bangladesh founded were also changed overnight. I was thinking about the situation. How it could happened? How they got that courage and mental composure to kill the father of the nation? We had a pride that only in nine month of war we got the victory and independence.
We are a nation of real heroes. But after the killing of our father of the nation I myself felt so mean and so coward and inhuman as a nation. Whole night I cried and was thinking of the contribution the Bangabandhu to his countrymen. He sacrificed his entire life for the people of this country.
The unprecedented Jail killing in the safe custody took place in same year. The four national leader: Syed Nazrul Islam, acting president of the provisional government in exile, Tajuddin Ahmed, the erstwhile prime minister who led the war of liberation, Qamruzzaman and Captain Monsur Ali, who played crucial role in the war of liberation in 1971, were brutally killed in the central jail in Dhaka on November 3, 1975.
Another brutality took place on the very next day. Lieutenant General Khaled Mosharraf and some other brilliant officers of the Bangladesh Army who also fought a tremendous battle against the Pakistan army during the war of liberation, were also killed by a group of derailed army personal who had been on a wrong trajectory and became the tools of General Zia who usurp power from President Justice Sayem by brandishing arms.
Zia didn’t hesitate to do whatever he needed to safeguard his illegal power. He was the mastermind behind the killing of the Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He also tried to attack Khondker Mustaq in 1976 at a public rally at the Baitul Mokarram. It was believed that he helped provide everything to launch the grenade attack at the meeting and nobody knows how and when the case registered against those involved was withdrawn.
Zia assured the attackers that he would provide whatever assistance they needed. Attacking the opponent even at public meeting was a demonic practice introduced by the BNP founder. And his son Tarique Zia is no different from the father as he was the mastermind of August 24th grenade attack at the public rally of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Another turning point of my life was the council of Bangladesh Chhatra League held in 1979 at the Romna green which had failed to constitute a new central committee. There were two rival groups in the main party in Awami League and it directly affected the student wing.
The main two groups of Bangladesh Awami League were agreed to chose a new committee for Chhatra League central committee. It was said that the president and secretary will come from the each group, and the other office bearers would be selected by the president and secretary. I was accepted by the leaders of both the groups and the confidential group, (known as the progressive forum), but the only senior leader Abdus Samad Azad was against me.
Finally no new committee was declared in that year. Everybody knows Bangladesh Awami League is a party built with strong ideological background and it has created an independent nation upon some basic ideology. But the most surprising thing is that a particular group of people used to play dirty game when they got opportunity.
Party interest was not important to them. For their own benefit they could do everything. After 15th August tragedy, they met with General Zia. They didn’t hesitate to hire Zia’s gunman Lutfar during the council to fight with the rival group of Awami League and subjugate the council.
Because of having such selfish and unscrupulous members in the party, Awami League lost quite a good number of its valiant son who was ideologically enriched and most popular amidst the partymen. Violence produces violence. It can give nothing good, but take life and blood. I wonder those people who resorted to violence, did ever calculate how much benefit they got out of the politics of violence or not.
Another opportunity came to me when a high command of Bangladesh Awami League told me to work for her and she would look after everything of mine. Everybody knows when the Awami League leader helps somebody how far he or she can go. One of her disciple wanted to get a nomination for the parliament member.
She gave her nomination and made her foreign minister. But when I got those proposals there was a tag of war in the party file and ranking. Party was going to divide. I felt that if the Awami League gets divided we will be lagging behind. I asked not to break the party. But it didn’t happen. Awami League was broken and Khaleda Zia became the first woman prime minister of Bangladesh.
Dr. Kamal Hossain, claimed to be the constitution maker and supposed to be the fore runner in giving democracy an institutional shape, had allegedly played an instrumental role in bringing military ruler General Ershad to power in 1982 by unconstitutional means. It is mentionable that a new government of Bangladesh was formed in 1972 and Bangabandhu became the Prime Minister.
However, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman left his seat in the parliament for Ataur Rahman. Bangabandhu used to give due respect to his senior leaders. During the governance of Pakistani rulers, Ataur Rahman Khan was made the chief minister whereas Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib was a minister.
So Bangabandhu never forget to show due respect to his senior leaders. But at the last hour of his life, Mr Ataur Rahman Khan, a senior most politician of the country, collaborated with military ruler general Ershad. All these factors make us understand that why democracy had a difficult and rocky road in Bangladesh.
Sharif Shahab Uddin is Editor-in-Chief, Bangladesh Post.