Sector Commanders' Forum (SCF) leader Maj Gen (retd) KM Shafiullah yesterday said that as then army chief he could not avoid the responsibility of the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975.
“It's because those who killed him were my subordinates. I could not break the walls around me. Everybody can't do everything,” he said.
“I feel that pain every August,” said the senior vice chairman of SCF, addressing a discussion at the capital's National Museum, marking National Mourning Day.
SCF-Muktijuddha-71, Dhaka Division organised it on Bangladesh's achievements and failures in four decades of independence.
Shafiullah said it was beyond his imagination that the army officers could kill the father of the nation. “As chief of the army staff, I was not in a position to move. I believe Bangabandhu knew, at least before the killing, that I did not deceive him,” he said.
He said that after the phone conversation with Bangabandhu in the early hours of August 15 when his residence was already under attack, he called up his subordinates, including then deputy chief of the army staff Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman, but to no avail.
Shafiullah said Zia refused to send troops to Bangabandhu's residence at Dhanmondi.
“So what?” were the words from Zia after some army officers told him of the assassination of Bangabandhu, he said.
Shafiullah said Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman and the then Awami League leader Khondoker Moshtaq were the main culprits behind Bangabandhu's killing.
“The army officers could never kill Bangabandhu without Zia's involvement in it,” he said, adding that Moshtaq's becoming president and his activities proved how he was the mastermind of the assassination.
He said Bangabandhu made a mistake by relying on Moshtaq who was basically a sycophant.
SCF Dhaka Division Chairman Abul Kalam Azad Patwary said that while pro-Pakistani army officers and some other leaders were conspiring against the Bangabandhu regime, socialist party leaders had created a pretext for his killing.
“They (socialist party men) would loot godowns, banks, trains, launches, and then chant slogans in favour of Bangabandhu,” he said, adding that the socialists were now getting places in the parliament and cabinet.
SCF Organising Secretary Nurul Aslam said the ideals of the liberation war were still to materialise because wrong people were getting positions and engaged in corruption.
SCF Vice Chairman Col (retd) Abu Osman Chowdhury laid emphasis on fighting corruption for the progress of Bangladesh.