Sunday, 2 October, 2022

15 August 1975: A Travel Down Memory Lane

  • Anwar A. Khan
  • 15th August, 2022 07:31:28 PM
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15 August 1975: A Travel Down Memory Lane

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The tearful month of August is running out fast. Bangabandhu Mujib, Bangladseh's Founding Father and the country's President, would visit the University of Dhaka on 15 August 1975 from where he was once expelled for a life time in an illegal manner by the reprobate Pakistani rulers. In August 1975, I was a senior student of Dhaka University and stayed at Sergeant Zohurul Haque Hall (SZHH)

Although I have always been apolitical, I felt very excited along with my so many friends on his profoundly honoured would-be visit. On the day before that grand visit, the University of Dhaka was adorned attractively. The whole area adjacent to it took a festal look. To me, it seemed that youth was like spring, an over-praised season greatly pleasing or entertaining if it happened to be a favoured one, but in practice it didn't happen as a general rule, for biting vile winds of northern area of Dhaka military cantonment of Metropolitan City of Dhaka than genial breezes.

At the very pre-dawn hour on that day, my roommate and close friend Abdus Sobhan Khan Arif burst into terrified voice and woke me up from sleeping and gave the horrendous and heart-breaking news about Bangabandhu's brutal murder. He almost dragged me out to a room nearby to ours where a one-band Radio was tuned on and with our frightening heart; we got a line about the voice marked by deep ill will; deliberately harmful of Major Dalim sounding out, "Sheikh Mujib is killed. The army has captured power. The martial law is imposed on throughout the country…"

We were tremendously shocked, appalled and at the same time, we were very rancorous to have heard of this cowardly and horrific act. A pall of deep gloom descended on the Metropolitan Dhaka City and elsewhere in Bangladesh. The blowing of winds came to a sudden halt. The leaves of trees didn't move. Everything stood still on that day. What TIME magazine, August 1971 said, peeped into the corner of my mind then, "A man of vitality and vehemence, Mujib became the political Gandhi of the Bengalis, symbolizing their hopes and voicing their grievances. Not even Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, drew the million-strong throngs that Mujib has attracted in Dacca. Nor, for that matter, has any subcontinent politician since Gandhi's day spent so much time behind bars for his political beliefs."

A few minutes later on, suddenly a prevarication of news was spread that the dead bodies of Bangabandhu and his family members were taken to the morgue of Dhaka Medical College & Hospital (DMCH). We, some of our friends, immediately ran to DMCH through the path of Polassey area to see his mortal remains in the twinkling of an eye and pay our deep honour to this sky-touching figure of our history.

But that was a bootless exercise for us. Instead, we found some murdered dead bodies brought in there by some naval officers in their vehicles. We desperately tried to get to know of those dead bodies, but in our intense despair, we came to know that there was no verity of truth to that news. In fact, those were the dead bodies of Bangabandhu's dear and dear ones. All at once, a police contingent upon receiving instruction from the killer army officers, stormed there with rampant arch, used truncheons to unmercifully disperse the mob standing there. Conking out their baton charges, we ran down, cut and ran away quickly from that place.

We then walked up to Gulistan area and adjacent areas to Bangabhaban building, and found some armoured tanks were moving in Bangabhaban building. The faces of armed personnel were found marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences. While we were passing by the Suhrawardy Udyan, we found several armoured tanks parked inside of it and with some hawkish eyes, the operators appeared to tactical manoeuvre to act in order to achieve a certain roughshod goal.

From there, we went before the Bangladesh Betar Bhaban at Shahbagh area which was surrounded by some armoured tank contingents with soldiers in violent mood about to strike or hurt. It was learnt that Khondokar Moshtaque Ahmed, a trusted comrade of Bangabandhu, at that time turned into his Judus and the mastermind behind the hellish killing of his leader was inside the Betar Bhaban. He was then making ready in preparing a speech to be broadcasted to the nation in consultation with Taheruddin Thakur, a former journalist and State Minister of Information of Bangabandhu's Cabinet, Mahbub Alam Chasi, DG of Comilla BARD Academy and a long time known Moshtaque loyalist, Tajul Islam, Press Adviser to the self-declared President Moshtaque and usurper of power of Bangladesh with an agreement on a secret plot under the passed night's deep darkness.

Being dog-tired after moving in or to various places, we came back to our residential hall at about 3.30.00pm on that frightful day. When we were crossing by the DU Arts Faculty Building, we found evidence that some armoured tanks rolled through this road to ravage the DU Campus areas at the wee hours of 15 August 1975; signs of the chains of those tanks were found visible here and there. In some places, the roads were found cracked and the pot-holes occurred on the roads because of the tanks' movements. This was aimed at frightening the DU students from any resistance by them.

We advanced a little further and got the wind about another notorious incident that the renowned scholar and scientist, a luminary, most popular and pro-student VC of Dhaka University Prof Dr. Abdul Matin Chowdhury was taken into confinement by those ill-famed killer foxes of Bangladesh army on some cooked up and folderol heraldic bearings or charges. We were struck by this tiding and their debauched immorality for not adhering to ethical or moral principles by those insensate murderers.

We were then mentally devastated to the full or entire extent and waiting for in front of our SZHH. At about 4.00pm on that odious day, Col. Rashid, one of the most important brainpans of the 15 August 1975 catastrophic massacre came to our dormitory in warlike surliness by an army jeep flanked by some soldiers who looked like cretins and equipped with sub-machine guns, sten-guns, heavy pistols… who were also manifesting their red eyes to us. At one time, Col. Rashid burst into extreme anger and exasperatedly made a short speech and then said, "Don't try to balk us; and you will be perished from this earth in no time." We, as general students, heard him only. Immediately thereafter, he left the place along with his changeling and arrogant soldiers.

At evenfall time, we entered into our Hall's TV Room to get to know or become aware of the news items which were being aired then. A meeting conducted by execrable President Moshtaque at Bangabhaban was demoed where this offender was seen in pallid faced. In the frontline, we saw sitting with the killer soldiers some flunkies, namely Gen Osmani, a newly appointed Defence Adviser to Moshtaque like a braggart, Gen Shafiullah, Gen Zia, Gen Khalil, Naval Chief MH Khan, Air Chief AK Khondokar and many more morally reprehensible personas.

To our utter shame, a news item was read out citing Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani's support to wrongful Moshtaque government displaying his still photograph. But we remember what Annada Shankar Ray wrote on hearing the sad news of Bangabandhu's beastly killing, "As long as Padma, Meghna, Gouri, Jamuna flows on, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, your accomplishment will also live on."

Before 5.00 o’clock in the morning on 16 August 1975, suddenly SZH Hall where we resided were heavily stormed by a large Lancer Unit of Bangladesh Army mostly wearing black attires equipped with heavy guns. A large group of Lancer forces cordoned-off the entire area of our Hall taking positions in its different locations; some lying on the nearby play-ground and some standing in different strategic places with guns pointed blank towards us. A group of soldiers went inside the Hall and pounded in our rooms.

They angrily shouted to come out from our rooms in hands-up position. They forced us to vacate all rooms and then we were made stood up in hands-up position nearby the Hall's play-ground; lined us up; and then used vulgar words against us mostly in Urdu and English languages. For a moment, we called back that they were the Urdu-speaking Pakistanis who we defeated during our great Liberation War in 1971 to establish Bangladesh. They imperilled us in a very harsh language, "We shall take you all to an unknown location; and we are not sure whether someone of you may come back to this dormitory or not." Two of our friends were mercilessly beaten by them to create an unwanted panic among us and those two friends of us got wounded and they were then bleeding.

We were then feeling affrighted. Suddenly, we found a senior most and brilliant scholar teacher Prof Dr. Khosh Mohammed, Chairman of DU's Mathematics Department and our Hall's Provost was escorted by some rogue junior army officers at hands-up position and forced him to pass walking before us to the Hall's TV Room. Provost Sir was thrown into a state of intense fear or desperation because his face then looked very depressed and dispirited.           

Some students were forced foregather at the TV Room along with our Provost Sir. On the podium of this room, a few army officers climbed up and used plebeian and unwashed language against everybody present there and in a vehement outcry, they hollered, "All students, deposit to us in no time whatever arms and ammunitions you have in your possession. Otherwise, no one will be spared." A pall of gloom descended upon the TV Room. Prof Dr. Khosh Mohammed paused momentarily and said in a very cool voice, "I know for sure; my students do not have any arms and ammunitions in their possession."

The unpleasant army persons then angrily shouted to obey their orders. Provost Sir requested them to give his students for a time up to 10.00 o’clock on 17 August 1975 and he said, "If my students have any arms and ammunitions in their self-possession, they will do so at this TV Room within that time-frame." They then reluctantly agreed to this proposal and then these poseur military-men pulled-out their troops exasperatedly from the SZH Hall and left the place foul-mouthed along with their army convoys. They didn't turn up again. This was the solitary Hall only of DU that these savage wildcats rampaged during that time.

Khondokar Moshtaque Ahmed was the lone Punic character of Bangabandhu's cabinet adopting a despicable scheme kissed publicly on the cheek of Mujib to prove his allegiance to his leader (this picture was released in the-then newspapers). In order to cozen, he was so jerry-built that he gained ground to receive Bangabandhu's fond touching on his face. But look how Bangladesh was made one of the dark places of the earth "on 15 August 1975 and after" by Moshtaque and his gangsters.

15 August 1975 truly paints the heart of darkness of some wretched men's execrable dissembles, and posits in the body of the work unleashed by some ugly and horrifying characters. But Moshtaque and those morally reprehensible men have no place in our lives. In fact, these ruffians' place must be the outfall at a grime place. Eminent journalist and columnist Syed Badrul Ahsan has aptly said in one of his columns in 2017, "Forty-two years after the assassination … it is time to plumb the depths of the tragedy which took hold of our collective life in that sad summer…" Yes, it has to be. To dig out the key foxy players both local and foreign, who acted behind the screens for all these felonious crimes, their faces must be brought to light. Rise up and salute the sun. Because Bangabandhu was a sky-touching figure during his times across the world because of his attributes of leadership. We should imitate him in all glory and dignity. If we choose to, we will not be second to him in anything.

To finish-off today, we wish to remember the words of Journalist Cyril Dunn, "In the thousand-year history of Bengal, Sheikh Mujib is her only leader who has, in terms of blood, race, language, culture and birth, been a full-blooded Bengali. His physical stature was immense. His voice was redolent of thunder. His charisma worked magic on people. The courage and charm that flowed from him made him a unique superman in these times."

The writer is an independent political analyst who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs

Source: Sun Editorial