My allegiance to Mushtaque govt was to avert civil war
Former Air Chief A K Khandaker has said that he expressed his allegiance to Mushtaque government to avert a civil war and later resigned driven by conscience, reports UNB.
"I finally made up my mind that it is not possible to keep myself involved in the process of injustice and conspiracy and left Bangabhaban on August 17," he said.
Next day, he said, he went to Bangabhaban and submitted his resignation letter as the country's first Chief of Air Staff to the Principal Secretary to the President, Mahbubul Alam Chashi.
Making his deposition to the trial court yesterday as the 48th prosecution witness in Bangabandhu Murder Case, Khandaker said he along with Army and Naval Chiefs were taken to Bangabhaban after the assassination of Bangabandhu on August 15.
"They took us from the radio station to Bangabhaban with escort and kept us confined there" on the plea of discussions and meetings.
The witness said some days after he had tendered his resignation Mushtaque called him at Bangabhaban to say that it was accepted. But he would be officially informed of the decision afterwards.
The first Air Vice Marshal of the country also told the court that he was replaced by Group Captain Tawab who was staying in Germany at that time.
Khandaker, who represented Bangladesh government when Pakistan occupation forces surrendered on December 16, 1971, said Tawab had retired from Pakistan Air Force with all benefit during the Liberation War.
Referring to the oath of allegiance to the post-August 15 government by the three services chiefs, the witness said he found Khandaker Mushtaque and Taheruddin Thakur in the radio station.
Among those present there were Major Noor, Major Dalim, Major Rashid, Major Farooq and Major Shahriar. One of them said the three chiefs will have to express allegiance to President Mushtaque.
"Taheruddin Thakur wrote the text of allegiance for us to read out and it was recorded and broadcast," said Khandaker.
Earlier, he said, an anxious Army Chief Major General K M Shafiullah called him and he went to the headquarters of 1st Bengal Regiment of 46 Brigade where he found a total indisciplined and chaotic atmosphere.
"Carrying arms, Major Rashid and Major Dalim were at the office room. There were also some army personnel with black and khaki uniforms and with arms," Khandaker said.
Elaborating the dismal situation there, Khandaker said most of them were at the age of irretionality and tension. "A minor confrontation or disagreement could have laid to a sprey of killings."
Under the circumstances, he said, he was forced to go to the radio station and so was Naval Chief Admiral Khan.
In this respect, the then Air Chief said before he reached the office, Shafiullah was compelled to agree to go to the radio station to express his allegiance to the new government.
"We were taken to the radio station with open-jeep escort by Major Rashid and Major Dalim who were carrying arms."
A K Khandaker said Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed and Taheruddin Thakur followed them to Bangabhaban from the radio station with escort.
"Khandaker Mushtaque took oath as President in the afternoon while the cabinet in the evening. The officers who were at the radio station were present on the occasion," he said.
Besides, the witness said, Major Rashid, accompanied by his wife (Zobaida Rashid), was sitting on the front row during the swearing-in of the cabinet ministers.
"She was the lone lady present in the oath taking ceremony," he said. He could not say her name when asked by the judge. "I came to know about her identity from others."
The former air chief said he first learned the news of assassination of Bangabandhu over telephone from Shafiullah on August 15 morning.
"I talked to Bangabandhu last on August 14 night and I was astonished hearing the news. I asked Shafiullah if he was sure and he said yes," the witness recalled.
Khandaker said immediately after he went to Shafiullah's residence on foot wearing casual dress. Shafiullah was looking very sad at that time.
"I found General Zia there in full uniform, but after a while Brigadier Khaled Mosharraf came there with casual dress like me."
The witness said they instantly decided to maintain total discipline in the armed forces. "Later I went to Air Force HQ and asked my senior officers to maintain strict discipline."
A K Khandaker categorically said that none of the armed forces but a few army officers were involved in the conspiracy and killed Bangabandhu.
He said a meeting of senior officers on August 18 at the office of Shafiullah decided to bring them under chain of command. It also decided to bring them to book.
Khandakar, who became the air chief on April 7, 1972, said Bangladesh Air Force 'had nothing after independence.'
"Squadrons of fighters, transports, helicopters and highlooking radar and four bases were formed during the Bangabandhu regime," he said.
He said he was given retirement after Major Rashid brought Tawab from Germany. "Later President Sayem offered me a job in Bangladesh mission abroad and I accepted it following suggestions from my family and relatives.
After his deposition, the witness identified Lt Col (dismissed) Syed Farooq Rahman, Lt Col (retd) Sultan Shahriyar Rashid Khan and former minister Taheruddin Thakur on the dock.
He was introduced to the court of Dhaka District and Sessions Judge Kazi Golam Rasul by Chief Special PP advocate Serajul Haq and Special PP advocate Ramjan Ali Khan.
Earlier, cross-examination of PW-47 Major General (retd) Khalilur Rahman was completed. He was questioned by advocate Khan Saifur Rahman and advocate Sharfuddin Mukul.
Prosecution lawyers informed the court that their next witness will be former Naval Chief Rear Admiral M H Khan or energy minister Lt General (retd) Noor Uddin Khan.
The court was adjourned till 9:30 am today.