Zia was involved, no doubt: PM
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday told parliament that she wanted to make Ziaur Rahman an accused in the Bangabandhu murder case because there was no doubt in her mind that Zia was involved in the killing.
She also said Zia, a former president and founder of the opposition BNP, did not become a sector commander but rather worked as an "Odhinayak" during the country's Liberation War of 1971.
Hasina made these remarks while delivering her valedictory speech in the 14th session of the 11th parliament.
The leader of the House also said she does not run the country based on what the media says.
"There is no doubt that he [Ziaur Rahman] was involved in the 1975 massacre [of Bangabandhu and most of his family members]. I wanted to put his name as an accused [in the Bangabandhu murder case], but the then home secretary Rezaul Hayat told me that dead persons could not be made accused. But the name [of Zia] should have been [included] as accused [in the case]," Hasina said.
Hasina, also president of the ruling Awami League, said Bangabandhu's killers Farooq and Rashid in interviews with the BBC said Zia had been involved in the conspiracy. Besides, it was stated in the books of Anthony Mascarenhas and Lawrence Lifschultz.
"So, how can they [BNP] deny it?" she asked.
DEBATE ON ZIA'S BODY
Referring to the ongoing debate on Zia's grave at the city's Chandrima Udyan, Hasina said a box was brought from Chattogram which was claimed to contain his body.
She also said freedom fighter Mir Shawkat and the late army chief and former president Hussein Muhammad Ershad had admitted that the box did not contain Ziaur Rahman's body.
The prime minister said discussion is going on about the grave of Ziaur Rahman and whether his body is indeed there, but said that she did not want to say anything more about it.
She said Zia's body was not found after his death in May 1981.
The PM also said "gayebana janaza" of Ziaur Rahman was held.
A few days later, a well decorated box was brought and shown.
She said the question of whether the body was found has come up time and again in parliament and queried that if indeed the body was found, why should there not be a picture of it?
It has been said Ziaur Rahman's body was identified by Colonel Mir Shawkat, a BNP leader, she said.
"I knew him [Shawkat] as a freedom fighter. Once I met him and I asked him to tell the truth [whether he saw Zia's body] and he replied 'where will I find the dead body?'"
Hasina also said, "I also asked General Ershad that 'you brought a box?', 'Where is the body?'"
"He told me, 'Sister, where will I find the dead body?'"
ZIA WAS 'ODHINAYAK'
In her speech that lasted about an hour, Sheikh Hasina said, "Ziaur Rahman was a freedom fighter and Bangabandhu provided him with a gallantry award. All these are true, but what is his role in the Liberation War actually?"
She said Colonel Aslam Beg, who was in Bangladesh during the Liberation War and later became the chief of the Pakistan army, wrote a letter to Ziaur Rahman during the war complimenting Zia's work.
Beg in his letter said Zia did a good job and Pakistan were satisfied with his work. He also asked Zia not to worry about his [Zia's] wife and sons. Aslam also assured that Zia would be given more work in future, said the PM.
She said she has a copy of the letter. She would bring it to read out in parliament on another day as it should remain in the proceedings of parliament.
"When Khaled Mosharraf had been injured, Major Haider took over the charge. Zia didn't become a sector commander, rather he worked as an 'Odhinayak'," said Sheikh Hasina.
Referring to BNP MP Harunur Rashid, she said the MP mentioned that casualties were high in the area where Zia was in charge. If so, there is a question about what Zia did in the war.
"Whether he made an arrangement in favour of Pakistan so that our freedom fighters would die… that is my question," she said.
PM URGED MPs
Mentioning that a lot of people were killed in different jails during the regime of Ziaur Rahman, Hasina asked MPs to take an initiative to find out how many people were hanged in different jails during his regime.
"I think our MPs should take an initiative to find out how many people were killed in total during Zia's regime. So many people were hanged in every jail particularly in Dhaka, Bogura, Rajshahi, Khulna, Cumilla and other places. There were coups one after another and hundreds of people were killed," she said.
Hasina said Zia and his allies had accommodated killers, terrorists, militants, war criminals, rapists . . . but the irony is that they are the ones talking of issues of human rights, knowledge and rule of law.
'DON'T RUN THE COUNTRY ON THE BASIS OF…….'
In her speech, PM said she never ran the country by listening to what the media said and what people said on talk shows.
"I run the country from my heart. Because, my father made this country independent. He had spent years in prison for poor people and dedicated his life. I have learnt from my parents what needs to be done for this people and I use that. I check whether people are getting its benefits. I don't like being disappointed or encouraged by what anyone says," said the premier.