A phone call silenced DU | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 12, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 12, 2010

Fateful August 15 in 1975

A phone call silenced DU

It was a phone call that wrecked all arrangements, stopped everything on Dhaka University (DU) campus on the morning of August 15 in 1975.
Known as Oxford of the East, DU wore a festive look for its first convocation in independent Bangladesh and for according a reception to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The teachers and students were waiting impatiently for the moment when they will give a hearty reception to their beloved leader. But Vice-Chancellor Dr Abdul Matin got a phone call early in the morning that Bangabandhu has been killed along with members of his family.
Then all arrangements stopped. Everything came to a halt on the DU campus. The Bangalee nation became speechless.
In an interview with the news agency, spouse of Prof Abdul Matin and former principal of DU Laboratory School and College Razia Matin recalled the memory of the fateful day in 1975.
She said it was scheduled that Bangabandhu would come to the sociology department. There, three children, including Sheikh Russel, would show respect to him by pouring flower petals from a decorated silver plate. But the killers had killed child Russel along with Bangabandhu that day.
“It was early in the morning. Dr Matin was taking bed tea. I asked him why the people were not coming by that time. Suddenly the phone rang. Matin picked the receiver. He asked me to switch on the television. As I switched on the television, we heard 'I am Major Dalim speaking.' I was standing there, and then I just sat down. Matin was voiceless, perplexed. He uttered 'What should I do now?” elderly Razia Matin said in an emotion-choked voice.
“We were cleaning our house for the last few days and decorating everything with utmost care. I made arrangements to entertain by offering food on a silver plate. But everything stopped.”
Razia Matin said the convocation was scheduled to start at Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) at 10am on August 15 in 1975.
Before that, Bangabandhu was scheduled to visit the Arts Building and then other buildings and halls. The teachers and students were to receive him with garlands at the convocation venue at TSC. A citation was to read out too.
About the preparations for the convocation, Razia Matin said Bangabandhu disliked wastage of money. Therefore, no gate was erected in the university for the Father of the Nation.
There was even no excess of flowers. The students and teachers of Fine Arts Institute decorated the campus without any remuneration. The gardeners of DU make 100 garlands throughout the night.
Razia Matin said there was a programme of cutting cake at the VC's residence after the convocation. There were arrangements for tea. Snacks were brought for all from Purbani Hotel, but prepared pitha (cakes) and 'singara' (fried food item) for the President considering the issue of his security.
She said all the arrangements for the convocation stopped without any announcement after the killing of Bangabandhu. The sky, wind all around became standstill. Even a bird did not chirp that day.
An emotional Razia said an independent Bangladesh was not possible without Bangabandhu. Now he is gone - everything is barren.
She said Bangabandhu was a man of extraordinary personality and his heart was as big as the sky. He did not misbehave with anyone. Though he was the President of the country, he used to talk to people stopping his car everywhere. Those who can kill a liberal man like him are not sane people.
Bangabandhu's son Sheikh Kamal and Kamal's wife Sultana Kamal had appeared for post-graduation exams from the DU sociology department. They went to the Dhanmondi residence after working for the convocation till late into the night on August 14.
They usually used to live in Gono Bhaban, but that night they went to Dhanmondi residence only not to come back again.
Recalling the honesty and generosity of Bangabandhu, Razia Matin said she had advised her husband not to accept the proposal of being the DU vice-chancellor, as it might create enemies for him.
She said when Dr Matin rejected the proposal as per my advice, Bangabandhu said, “Anyone can become president and prime minister of the country, but everybody does not have the eligibility of being vice-chancellor of Dhaka University.” After that, Dr Matin took the charge of DU vice-chancellor.
Razia Matin said Dr Matin was arrested after the killing of Bangabandhu. He was in jail for 17 months. But he never detracted from the ideals of Bangabandhu.
Later Dr Matin founded the Bangabandhu Parishad and he was its founding chairman.
Principal Razia Matin condemned the efforts to destroy the spirit of Liberation War after the killing of Bangabandhu and urged all to project the right history to the new generation.
“We will be gone, but the history will exist,” she said.

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