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Readers' Opinion

Fabricated Stories by Mr. Taj Hashmi to Justify the Killing of Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Tuesday September 27 2005 13:23:50 PM BDT

Shabbir Ahmed, USA

Mr. Taj Hashmi wrote a rebuttal in response to Mr. Musa Sadik's informative essay on the killing of Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family. It is posted in the link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/asiapeace/message/3653. Here I have written a rebuttal to Mr. Taj Hashmi's write-up. ---- Shabbir Ahmed]

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Fabricated Stories by Mr. Taj Hashmi to Justify the Killing of Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
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The people of Bangladesh struggled for the independence under the leadership of Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was arrested by the brutal military regime of Pakistan at the onset of our liberation war. In fact, the brutal military regime of Pakistan cracked down on unarmed civilians of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) at the night of 25th March, 1971. At the same time, they arrested Bongobondhu, the elected majority party leader of Pakistan at that time. For long nine months, he was under the custody of the military rulers of Pakistan.

Despite his absence, the people of Bangladesh created resistance as per his pre-arrest guidance against the repressive regime of the Pakistan military and their Islamic fundamentalist alliance partners namely, Jamaat-I-Islami, Muslim League, etc. Under the pressure of the leaders of the countries of the world, the brutal military regime of Pakistan could not able to kill him through the martial law court. He was released in early January 1972. Bongobondhu returned to his beloved motherland with an ill health and stood in front of his people to deliver a speech on January 10, 1972. He was so weak and so much emotional that he was not able to speak.

His voice cracked several times and he could not able to control his tears and emotion. Many others and myself listened to the emotional speech he delivered to the people of Bangladesh. I did not hear anything in Bongobondhu's speech giving all credits to his party (the Awami League) men and women. However, a pedagogue/researcher (I assume) of the department of history in Simon Fraser University, Canada named "Mr. Taj Hashmi" was physically present and he heard all these in Bongobondhhu's speech. Mr. Hashmi in his write-up claims that Bongobondhu gave entire credits to Awami league leaders and workers.

As anyone can understand, almost all the people of Bangladesh listened to Bongobondhu's speech and overwhelmed with emotion on that day of his return. A good number of people of Dhaka attended physically to listen to his speech. I listened to the whole speech at that time from a small city in the northeastern part of Bangladesh. I also collected the video of Bongobondhu's speech a few years ago and watched that speech again he delivered after his return from the jail in Pakistan. I have a book on the important speeches of Bongobondhu. The necessary information of the book are: titled "Bongobondhur Bhashon", edited by: Mizanur Rahman, publisher: Novel Publications, address: 137, ShantiNagar, Dhaka-1217, second edition, 1989, total pages 222. The pages 41 to 43 in this book contains Bongobondhu's speech on January 10, 1972. In his speech he said:

"Almost ten million people, who took refuge in India and the rest of the people who remained in the country did suffer a lot. I salute you - those who shed their blood, valient freedom fighters, students-farmers-laborers, Hidnus-Muslims, EPR (East Pakistan Rifles), Police, Bengal Regiment, and all others." (Translation mine, source: page 42 as mentioned above)

In the same speech, Bongobondhu gave compliments to his fellow leaders without mentioning the name of Awami League as follows:

"My co-workers, I compliment you for conducting the war of our liberation."

I would like to ask Mr. Hashmi about the above statements in the speech of Bongobondhu. Did not Bongobondhu pay respect and give credits to all those who really deserved? Did not he include almost all the people of Bangladesh? Is it not true that his co-workers/leaders of Awami League and other parties (including Maulana Bhashani, National Awami Party leader - as the head of the advisory council) conducted the liberation war against the military of Pakistan? In fact, except a few disgruntle Razakars/Al-Badars and their sympathizers, we all suffered. Bongobondhu, despite his ill health and his high level of emotion for his unexpected return from the jail of Pakistan, did not forget at all to pay respect to all of the people of Bangladesh - who suffered in long nine months.

It is such a disgrace that a researcher like Mr. Hashmi, working in the department of history of a University in Canada, wrote with so much distortion of the speech of Bongobondhu. If the distortion were from a low-level Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) worker or from a Jamaat-I-Islami (JI) cadre, I would have disregarded. But, it came from a researcher of a history department, who wrote on the speech with his professional affiliation. That is why, I strongly protest and condemn his ill efforts to distort the historical speech of Bongobondhu that he delivered on January 10, 1972.

Mr. Hashmi ridiculed Bongobondhu's story on the preparation of his grave outside his cell in the jail. As he wrote: "He narrated the absurd story about Pakistani captors preparing a grave for him outside his prison cell in Pakistan during his captivity in 1971." Bongobondhu mentioned about this in his speech. Can a sane person think that Bongobondhu (who knew very much that he could be killed) made up this story? Did not Gen. Yahya sign the order for the execution of Bongobondu? Did not Z. A. Bhutto pursuade Gen. Yahya to delay the execution? Did not the Pakistani military kill people in jail in the past? Did not Pakistani military kill Sergant Zahrul Haque in jail? Bongobondhu did not make up this story because this was mentioned by a British writer named "Robert Pane" in his book.

I have the Bengali translation ("Pakistaner Karagare Bongobondhu") of this book (translated by: Obaidul Quader, published by: Shikha Prokashoni, 65 Pari Das Road, Dhaka in 1991). In this book, the brutal incidances of the torture on Bongoboindhu along with the events of 1971 are narrated. It is mentioned that a few jail inmates dug a grave in front of Bongobondhu's cell. The military rulers could have tried to create pressure and torture him mentally by digging a grave. Similar torture were narrated by their one time collaborator Z. A. Bhutto before his death in the jail under the military ruler Gen. Ziaul Haque of Pakistan.

So, Mr. Hashmi, as a researcher currently working with a department of history, please do not distort the facts. It will not enhance the prestige of yourself and the prestige of your university. It is not surprising that a low-level worker or a leader of BNP and/or JI in Bangladesh can say/write this. But, it is surprising that a researcher like Mr. Hashmi wrote such a low-level write-up in Asiapeace.

Mr. Hashmi later mentioned about Rakhi Bahini - a paramilitary force created to bring law and order under a post-war situation, where the dissidants (Mr. Rab, Major Jalil, et al.) he mentioned were trying to bring Bangladesh under strict communist rule through armed revolution (they formed a communist militant force called Gono Bahini). I do not support the excesses committed by Rakhi Bahini. I also do not support the killings of police, other law enforcement agency people, and ordinary farmers of village areas by the armed communists/goons of Gono Bahini led by the leaders of Jathio Samajthanthric Dal (JSD) and Sorbohara party led by Siraj Sikdar. I really do not know why Mr. Hashmi is so sympathetic to the armed communist goons. In a post-war situation, the police forces were not able to handle the law and order situation. A good number of freedom fighters were on the street looking for employment. They were employed with Rakhi Bahini. Bongobondhu and his cabinet formed Rakhi Bahini in consultation with the armed forces.

Most of the officers in Rakhi Bahini were from the army like the present day Rapid Action Battalian (RAB) formed by the present BNP-JI government. They were not given power to kill hundreds of people through cross fires as we see the power given by BNP-JI government to RAB. They were not given any indemnity for killing anyone. In fact, any excesses committed by the Rakhi Bahini were supposed to be investigated instead of absorbing them into the army. Also, the excesses committed by the army during martial law under the two mailitary dictators (Gen. Zia and Gen. Ershad) should be investigated.

In one portion of his write-up, Mr. Hashmi compared Bongobondhu with Satan by narrating a low-level joke. In fact, in his joke, he portrayed Bongobondhu as even worse than Satan. Such a street-level joke of a former Dhaka University faculty and a current researcher of a University in Canada! How low a faculty can go against a deceased leader, who spent more than eleven years in jail to establish the rights of the Bengalis he loved so much? Mr. Hashmi could have criticized Bongobondhu's rule instead of writing a street-level Satanic story.

Mr. Hashmi continued criticizing Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for creating Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BKSAL). I read Bongobondhu's speech where he mentioned about his programs to bring good people, especially, University teachers, intellectuals, engineers, doctors, et al. into the government's decision making process. In fact, he made membership open even for the government employees. In Bangladesh, the government employees are not allowed to take part in active politics while in USA, a government (both federal and state) employee can become a member of a political party. Mr. Hashmi joined BKSAL to avoid dire consequences. It is well known that Barrister Moinul Hussain and Gen. Osmani left the parliament and the party without joining BKSAL. What dire consequences did they face? Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) is not far (about half a mile away) from the Dhaka University campus. I checked with one of my senior friends (he and myself both graduated from BUET) about the "dire consequences" scenario in BUET for not joining BKSAL in 1975. He informed me that with his knowledge, no faculty of BUET joined BKSAL. He also informed me that no faculty members were worried about any dire consequences. It was not mandatory to join BKSAL. Mr. Moinul Hussain and Gen. Osmani were not in trouble at all for not joining BKSAL.

I read an interview of Mr. Rashed Khan Menon a few years ago, where he mentioned about his discussion with Bongobondhu on joining BKSAL. He mentioned as well that Bongobondhu requested him to join BKSAL by calling him in his office (Bongobondhu's office). But, Rahsed Khan Menon declined in front of Bongobondhu. The truth is: the opportunists did not want to miss the boat. They wanted to remain close to the power so that they did not miss any opportunity to advance their career. I think it was okay. But, it is not okay now for someone to be critical to the system/party that he joined and became a part of it.

On the situation after the death of Bongobondhu, Mr. Hashmi described a scenario that BNP and JI workers/sympathizers like to portray. I remember how the people even opposed to Bongobondhu felt terrible after his death. A human being with some values of humanity could not able to enjoy after his death along with all but two of his family members including his nine-year old son. Only those human beings with animalistic instincts could able to enjoy after the massacre of almost a whole family that includes children and women. Even collaborators like Shah Azizur Rahman and Sabur Khan expressed their sorrow to Mr. Zawadul Karim, then working as the chief editor of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (Bangladesh News Agency). In his (Mr. Zawadul Karim's) book titled "Mujib O Shomokalin Rajnithi" (Agami Prokashoni, 36 Bangla Bazar, Dhaka, 1991, page 29), Mr. Karim wrote:

"Shah Azizur Rahman and Sabur Khan expressed their heartfelt condolences after the killing of Sheikh Mujib and his family." (translation mine)

It is true that Shah Azizur Rahman and Sabur Khan were Razakars but not animals. They had some remnants of humanity. After three and half months of the death of Bongobondhu, there were coup and counter coup in early November 1975. No one knew which army general was running the show. At one point, the news of the ouster of killer Khondokar Mostaque came out. Mr. Hashmi should know that hearing that news on November 3, 1975, a good number of people in Dhaka came out and protested the killing of Bongobondhu in a rally. On November 7, 1975 the military dictator Gen. Ziaur Rahman emerged as a strong man from the army. A group of people - some with beard and Islamic cap (tupi) on their head were shown in newspapers, who were celebrating the take over of power by Gen. Zia. Was it the celebration (by Zia supporters) for the killing of Sheikh Mujib after three and half months of his death? Mr. Hashmi must be kidding!

In Bangladesh, many political killings took place. Two Presidents: Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Gen. Ziaur Rahman were killed. Bongobondhu along with his family members and a number of his close relatives including pregnant women and even a four-year old child (grandson of Late Mr. Serniabath) were brutally killed. No human being can glorify and celebrate any of these killings. Only the inhuman sadists and the perverts can glorify and celebrate the killing of a leader who spent prime time of his life in prison for the freedom of the Bengalis. I still remeber a close friend of mine, who used to be a bitter critic of Gen. Ziaur Rahman and a strong supporter of Bongobondhu, went to attend his (Gen. Zia's) Namaz-e-Janaza on the day of his (Gen. Zia's) burrial. In response to my question, he said that he was going for two reasons: (1) to attend the burrial of the President of Bangladesh and (2) to express the army coup leaders his hatred against killings. Unfortunately, a few people try to glorify the mid-night killings by the disgruntle army officers and conspirators. Are they devoid of human values?

Shabbir Ahmed, USA
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