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‘Justice was denied’: PM recounts horrors of her family's massacre in 1975

‘Justice was denied’: PM recounts horrors of her family's massacre in 1975

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina revealed on the eve of her four-day visit to India that she had previously lived with her children on Delhi's upscale Pandara Road under an assumed identity trying to avoid the notice of those who assassinated her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

In an emotional televised interview with South Asia’s leading multimedia news agency ANI nearly five decades later, the premier recounted the severe traumas that troubled her for years.

Sheikh Hasina described the frantic events of 1975, when she left Bangladesh to go to her nuclear scientist husband in Germany, with wet eyes.

It was July 30 in 1975 and her family members had come to the airport to see off Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana. It was a happy farewell and Sheikh Hasina had no inkling that it would turn out to be her last meeting with her parents.

Nearly a fortnight after her emotional farewell to her family, on the morning of August 15, Sheikh Hasina received news that her father, founding father of the Bangalee nation and the legendary statesman Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had been killed.

The horrors continued as she further compounded when she received news of the summary execution of more members of her family.

"It was really unbelievable. Unbelievable, that any Bengali could do it. And still, we didn't know how what really happened. Only there was a coup, and then we heard that my father was assassinated. But we didn’t know that all the family members were, you know, they were assassinated," Sheikh Hasina said, fighting back tears.

As many as 18 members of her family members and relatives were killed in the massacre, which included her 10-year-old brother Sheikh Russell.

According to the premier, India was one of the first nations to provide assistance to her.

She said, “Mrs Indira Gandhi immediately sent information that she wanted to give us, I mean, security and shelter. So we received, especially from Marshal Tito from Yugoslavia, and Mrs Gandhi. We decided to come back here (Delhi) because we had in our mind that if we go to Delhi, from Delhi we’ll be able to go back to our country. And then we’ll be able to know how many members of the family are still alive.”

Even after 50 years, Sheikh Hasina’s voice still carries the pain. “It’s very difficult time,” she said.

The first individual to provide a description of her father’s assassination was Humayun Rashid Chaudhury, who was Bangladesh Ambassador to Germany at that period.

“For a few moments I didn’t know where I was. But I thought about my sister, actually she’s 10 years younger than me. So, I thought how she will take it. It is so difficult for her. Then when we returned to Delhi, at first they put us in a house with all security, because they were also worried about us,” recounted Sheikh Hasina.

Sheikh Hasina and her family were allotted a secret house on Pandara Road with top-level security, and a job for her husband to make ends meet. “On one hand we lost everybody, and on another hand I cannot ask for justice. Justice was denied,” she said.