National Mourning Day: Dalim goes on air
12:00 AM, August 15, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:28 PM, August 15, 2016

National Mourning Day today

Dalim goes on air

The night still shadowed the whole nature with its deep black curtain. It was around 4:30am. Four people at the radio office in Dhaka's Shahbagh just fell into exhausted slumber following a late night programme that ended at 2:00am.

Suddenly, a fierce sound of gunshots outside the radio office broke the silence of the night of August 15, 1975. Radio engineer Pranab Chandra Roy, one of the four stationed at the office, woke up by the sound, baffled.

Around an hour later, the shift-in-charge saw from the window several members of the armed forces barging into the radio office carrying firearms. Then the army officers moved to the police barrack on the compound and asked the policemen to surrender by holding up their arms, said Pranab, who was a witness in the Bangabandhu murder case, in his statement. 

Two to three minutes later, some army officers along with jawans stormed into his room brandishing guns. One of them, identifying himself as Major Dalim, shouted and asked for the shift-in-charge.

As Pranab introduced himself as the shift-in-charge, Dalim in a harsh voice said, "Sheikh Mujib and all his gang has been killed and army have taken over power. We will now make an announcement on the radio; turn all these [equipment] on."

Pranab and other officials turned all the equipment on, according to his statement.

Dalim then said, "Now I will make an announcement on the radio. If the announcement is not heard on the radio, I will kill you all."

Terrified, Pranab explained: "The announcement won't be heard if the transmitter in Kalyanpur [station] is not turned on."

"What to do then?" asked Dalim.

Pranab replied that it would be possible if the shift-in-charge of Kalyanpur station is asked to turn on the transmitter. Dalim asked Pranab to make a telephone call to Kalyanpur office.

He called Abdul Matin, shift-in-charge of Kalyanpur station, and said, "Sheikh Mujib has been killed and the army officials are in front of me. You turn on the transmitter."

Matin did not believe him and asked whether he went insane.

Amid the conversation, Dalim snatched away the telephone receiver from Pranab and hurled abusive words at Matin.

Matin turned on the transmitter after a while.

Dalim made the announcement.

"I am Major Dalim speaking; autocrat Sheikh Mujib has been killed. The army led by Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed has taken over power. Curfew has been declared," said Dalim, recalled Pranab.

The announcement was being broadcast repeatedly with brief intervals.

Around 7:00am, Khandaker Mushtaque arrived at the Betar Bhaban. After a while, the then state minister for information, Taheruddin Thakur, was seen drafting the speech for Khandaker Mushtaque sitting by him.

Then around 8:00am, the speech was recorded in Mushtaque's voice and then broadcast on radio, according to the Pranab's statement.

An hour later, Pranab saw chiefs of the three forces, the head of BDR, the IGP, Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman and Brig Gen Khaled Mosharraf talking to Khandaker Mushtaque.

Later, Taheruddin Thakur drafted the speeches for Maj Gen KM Shafiullah, Rear Admiral MH Khan, Air Vice-Marshal AK Khandker, IGP Nurul Islam and the BDR chief. They gave their voices for recording. Their recorded speeches were broadcast on radio.

Pranab then left by handing over the charge to Reazul Haque, radio engineer, whose duty roaster was from 6:00am to 2:00pm.

Reazul, who had started from home by a government vehicle with his colleagues, was obstructed by the army in front of Betar Bhaban. When they were giving their identities, the army men asked them to get off the vehicle and kept them inside the control room.

It was sometime between 6:00am and 6:00am, said Reazul, another witness in the Bangabandhu murder case, said in his statement.

After sometime, he heard from the radio speaker the announcement made by Dalim.

The telephone at the control room rang. As he picked up the phone receiver, he heard Maj Rashid from the other side of the phone.

"I am Major Rashid speaking, get Major Dalim."

Reazul then asked one of the soldiers to call Dalim.

Attending the phone, Dalim said arrangements were made to send ammunition.

IT WAS A BLUFF

The morning radio announcement made by Major Dalim -- the army led by Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed has taken over power and curfew has been imposed -- was a bluff.

The army as an institution was not involved in the bloody changeover. And Mushtaque did not officially assume the office of the president until the afternoon of August 15.

Only out of excitement Dalim announced that curfew has been imposed all over the world.

He also announced that martial law has been imposed. 

Next day, the state-run newspapers also published news that martial law was in place.

But there was no official gazette on the announcement of the martial law until August 20 when president Mushtaque issued a martial law proclamation, giving retrospective effect from August 15.

Those show how the killers and conspirators established their control over everything as if their verbal words gain the force of the law.

Take one more example.

After the assassination of Bangabandhu, then BDR chief Major Gen Khalilur Rahman was made the chief of defence staff by Mushtaque.

In his statement in the Bangabandhu murder case, Khalil said there was no official gazette for his appointment. He worked as the chief of defence staff for three months.

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