Nightmare for AL men after bloodbath | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 29, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 29, 2010

Nightmare for AL men after bloodbath

The assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975 came as a severe blow to Awami League that led the country's Liberation War in 1971.
Following the cataclysmic event, many top and mid-level AL leaders either fled the country or went into hiding. Some were detained and tortured or forced to back the new regime installed by the killers of Bangabandhu and his family members.
"You are walking over your grave. If you get killed, nobody will take responsibility," Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed, who assumed office as president immediately after the killings, told Tofail Ahmed at Bangabhaban, putting pressure on him to lend support to the new government.
Incumbent President Zillur Rahman, who was brought along with Tofail to Bangabhaban, also had to endure tremendous pressure.
Talking to The Daily Star recently, Tofail Ahmed, who was special assistant to President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, recalled the post-August 15 days when AL leaders were gripped by horror of Bangabandhu's killing and the killers, who murdered four national leaders in Dhaka Central Jail.
Tofail said he was tortured several times. The killers repeatedly threatened to kill him if he doesn't back the Moshtaque government.
"The killers took me to a radio station several times. They mounted pressure on me to make statements on the radio in support of the new government. They tortured me as I refused to do their bidding every time," said Tofail.
He was also a member of the central committee of Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL), a national political party, which was formed to bring about a "second revolution" in the country.
Moshtaque, known for his conservative and pro-Islamic mindset, included some of his old colleagues in his cabinet. He received backing from all rightist parties, including those that had been banned for long.
Mohammad Ullah, Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, Prof Md Yousuf Ali, Phani Bhusan Mazumder, Abdul Mannan, Monoranjan Dhar, Abdul Momin, Asaduzzaman Khan, Dr AR Mallick and Dr Mozaffar Ahmed Chowdhury were among the AL leaders who joined the Moshtaque government.
"Only a few joined the Moshtaque government willingly. Most were forced to join it," said senior AL leader Abdur Razzaq.
Four AL leaders -- Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, M Mansur Ali and AHM Quamaruzzaman -- refused to join the new cabinet. They were detained on August 23 and kept in Dhaka Central Jail.
AL leaders including Abdus Samad Azad, Zillur Rahman, Abdur Razzaq and Tofail were detained in early September. Many mid-level AL leaders and lawmakers of the country's first parliament were also arrested at different times.
Incumbent Speaker of the ninth parliament Abdul Hamid, who was probably the youngest lawmaker of the first parliament constituted through the 1973 national election, was also detained and kept in prison for a long time.
"I was confined in a condemned cell of Rajshahi prison for 20 days. I had to have lunch after lighting a lamp," Hamid recalled the days in prison while talking to The Daily Star.
Hamid was arrested on March 20, 1976 in Kishoreganj and was confined in Mymensingh cantonment for 20 days. Later, he was shifted to Mymensingh jail.
He was taken to Kushtia jail from there, and then to Rajshahi jail where AL leaders Abdul Jalil and Sarder Amzad Hossain along with other party leaders were detained.
"Army men used to enter Rajshahi jail illegally carrying arms. One day I heard a detainee crying out in pain. I came to know that he was being tortured. I was later threatened with the same punishment," Hamid said.
Army men repeatedly interrogated Hamid, who was sub-sector commander of Bangladesh Liberation Force in Kishoreganj and Sunamganj sectors, to know about the arms he used during the Liberation War.
"I told them every time that I surrendered all the arms after the Liberation War," he said.
Hamid was kept in Rajshahi jail for six months and then shifted to Dhaka Central Jail. He was released in 1978 after winning a legal battle.
In efforts to create a vacuum in AL leadership and prevent any possible resistance, the killers arrested AL leaders at random and murdered the four national leaders, who successfully led the Liberation War in absence of Bangabandhu.
The killers also looked for two influential AL leaders -- Razzaq and Tofail -- in Dhaka Central Jail on the night they assassinated the four leaders. But luckily they were not in the central jail at that time. Razzaq was kept in Comilla jail and Tofail in Mymensingh jail.
"On November 3, six or seven armed army men tried to enter Mymensingh jail to kill me, but the then jail super did not allow them to enter the prison," Tofail said.
Talking to The Daily Star, Razzaq, who was one of the secretaries of BAKSAL, said almost all AL leaders and activists had to suffer more or less repression following the killing of Bangabandhu.
Asked about the then foreign minister Dr Kamal Hossain, Razzaq said Dr Kamal was abroad at that time and did not return to the country for a long time.
Student leaders were also on the run to escape torture and repression by the army.
Present AL lawmaker Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin, who was a student leader at that time, said he, Obaidul Quader, KM Jahangir Hussain and Bahalul Majnu Chunnu secretly communicated with some leaders and tried to stage agitations. But it could not be possible as most student leaders went into hiding to escape detention and torture.
BAKSAL could not begin its journey because of the catastrophic incident. BAKSAL, founded through the fourth amendment to the constitution on June 7 1975, was about to replace the nation's other political organisations and associations officially on September 1, 1975.
Khandaker Moshtaque declared martial law on August 20 with effect from August 15 and banned all political activities.
Amid a volatile situation fuelled by coup and counter coup, Ziaur Rahman became the Chief Martial Law Administrator on 19 November 1976, when Justice Sayem relinquished his position.
Ziaur Rahman ultimately became the country's president on 21 April 1977, when President Sayem stepped down.
Awami League was not allowed to resume its activities, until Ziaur Rahman consolidated his political power and completed preparation for forming BNP in 1978.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 22222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News