• Thursday, September 18, 2014

Funny obituaries

First JS session under Zia regime stated Mujib was 'killed in a political changeover'

Shakhawat Liton

Instead of condemning the gruesome assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the second Jatiya Sangsad described as "a political changeover" his assassination and the overthrow of his government by some disgruntled army officers.
In the obituary reference, the House dominated by the then military ruler Gen Ziaur Rahman-led BNP also mentioned Bangabandhu as "former president of Bangladesh".
But in fact, Bangabandhu was the sitting president when he was murdered along with most of his family members on August 15, 1975.
"He [Bangabandhu] had to die as a result of a political changeover on August 15, 1975," reads the obituary reference passed by the House on April 4, 1979. "Through his death, Bangladesh has lost a notable personality in the political arena."
Parliament, however, was full of praise for BNP senior leader and minister Mashiur Rahman alias Jadu Mia, describing him as "a selfless, committed patriot".
Mashiur was a senior minister in Zia's cabinet and a lawmaker of the second parliament when he died on March 12, 1979.
Interestingly, the second Jatiya Sangsad, which addressed Bangabandhu as former president, did not use the word “former” while addressing Mashiur in the obituary reference.
Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, who extended his full support to the regime installed after August 15, also received high praise in the condolence motion.
"His death is an irreparable loss to Bangladesh. The country has lost an extraordinary personality and pro-people leader."
Parliament took up the motion to condole the deaths of 11 other eminent personalities between August 1975 and early April 1979.
As per convention, parliament makes obituary references at the beginning of each session to mourn the deaths of eminent persons and victims of any tragic incident that occurs during its recess.   
But the second parliament completely ignored the brutal assassinations of the four national leaders -- Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Mansur Ali and Kamaruzzaman -- inside Dhaka central jail on November 3, 1975.
It did not even mention their names in the obituary reference, let alone mourn their deaths.
In the condolence motion, there was no mention of Bangabandhu's family members and others who were murdered on August 15.
Before the House took up the motion, Awami League leader Asaduzzaman Khan, the then leader of the opposition, met newly elected Speaker Mirza Golam Hafiz and appealed to him to ensure that parliament paid due tribute to Bangabandhu in the obituary reference.
But the speaker, who was a BNP lawmaker, rejected the opposition's appeal. He placed the proposal for the obituary reference with a half-hearted tribute to Bangabandhu.   
Even Bangabandhu's portrait was removed from the chamber of the House before the second parliament started its journey.
In his address at the inaugural sitting of parliament on April 4, 1979, then president Ziaur Rahman also refrained from paying proper tribute to Bangabandhu.
He just said, "I remember those great personalities who inspired the country's people through Bangladeshi nationalism and the ideals of independence. Among them, I mention the names of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and Janab Sheikh Mujibur Rahman."
Awami League MPs strongly protested the language of the condolence motion, the president's address and removal of Bangabandhu's portrait from the House.
They said Bangabandhu was still the Father of the Nation constitutionally, and demanded that his portrait be reinstalled in the House. But their protests went unheeded.
The AL lawmakers also refused to support the thanksgiving motion on the president's address for different reasons, including President Zia's silence on holding the trial of Bangabandhu's killers.
The BNP placed the nefarious fifth amendment to the constitution bill in parliament minutes after the obituary reference was passed.
In the bill, the Zia-led government sought to give constitutional protection to the September 1975 indemnity ordinance that granted Bangabandhu's killers immunity from the charge of assassination and unlawful overthrow of his government.
The bill also sought to condone and validate all actions and deeds by the disgruntled army officers and successive governments from August 15 to April 9, 1979.
The next day, on April 5, the House passed the fifth amendment bill amid protests by the AL and some other MPs in the opposition.
The second parliament commenced its journey in an unusual situation, as the country was still under martial law. There was no Speaker or Deputy Speaker to administer oaths to MPs elected at the 1979 parliamentary elections.
Through a martial law proclamation, the then chief martial law administrator empowered the then acting president, Justice Abdus Sattar, to administer oaths to MPs and preside over parliament's inaugural sitting until the election.
AL lawmakers and some other opposition MPs refused to take oath from Justice Sattar as he was not an elected person. Zia still held the post of chief martial law administrator when he addressed the new parliament.

[The report was prepared on the basis of the second parliament's proceedings]

 

Published: 12:01 am Friday, August 15, 2014

Last modified: 9:46 pm Friday, August 15, 2014

TAGS: Jatiya Sangsad Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman disgruntled army officers gruesome assassination political changeover military ruler Gen Ziaur Rahman-led BNP notable personality

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