Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said she had wanted to make Ziaur Rahman an accused in the Bangabandhu killing case as his involvement in the massacre was beyond doubt.
“There’s no doubt that he was involved in the 1975 carnage. I wanted to make him an accused, but then Home Secretary Rezaul Hayat once said dead persons can’t be made any accused. But his name (Zia’s name) should have been there as an accused (in the case),” she told Parliament.
Hasina said Bangabandhu’s killers Farooq and Rashid in their interviews with the BBC had said Zia was involved in the conspiracy. It was also stated in the books of Anthony Mascarenhas and Lawrence Lifschultz. “So, how can they (BNP) deny it?” she questioned.
Mentioning that so many people were killed in different jails during the Zia’s regime, the Prime Minister asked the members of parliament (MPs) to take an initiative to find out how many people were hanged in different jails at that time.
“I think our MPs should take an initiative to find out how many people were killed during the 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 a good number of army officers and soldiers and 562 air force officers and soldiers were killed during Zia’s regime.
Mentioning different activities of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman during the 1971 Liberation War, she questioned about his contribution to the war. “Zia was a freedom fighter and Bangabandhu provided him with gallantry award. All these are true, but what’s his role in the Liberation War, anyway?” she said. 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”, Hasina said.
Hasina said Colonel Aslam Beg, who was in Bangladesh during the Liberation War and later became the chief of Pakistan Army, wrote a letter to Ziaur Rahman during the war complimenting Zia’s works at that time.
She mentioned that Aslam Beg, in his letter, said Zia did a good job and they (Pakistan) were happy with his works. He also asked Zia not to worry about his (Zia’s) wife and sons. Aslam also assured that Zia would be given more tasks in the future, she said.
Hasina said she has also a copy of the letter. She would bring it to read out in Parliament another day as it should remain there as record in the proceedings of parliament.
She said Zia and his allies had accommodated killers, terrorists, militants, war criminals, rapists . . . but the irony is that the issues of human rights, knowledge and rule of law have to be heard from them.
Mentioning that Zia introduced so-called multi-party democracy through “yes” or “no” vote in the election of 1977, the Prime Minister said, “Actually, Zia destroyed elections and demolished people’s trust on the vote.”
She also referred to the election of 1979 in Zia’s regime where he showed how to manipulate elections and vote.
Sheikh Hasina continued that in addition, he initiated the culture of not repaying a loan taken from a bank.
She said Zia's body was not found after the news of his death and that was why his namaj-e-janaza was held in absentia, but a few days later a box was brought.
Pointing out to General Ershad, the Prime Minister said it was done on someone's advice and consequently, a box was arranged and displayed. “Then the question came again and again in this Parliament that if the body was found, then why there was no picture of the body?” she said.
She said on March 25 in 1971 when roadblocks were set up across the country, barricades were also set up in Chattogram and on-duty, Ziaur Rahman on behalf of the Pakistani army fired on the people who set up the barricades. He then went to unload weapons from the Swat ship, but he was detained by the public, she mentioned.
Sheikh Hasina said on the evening of March 27, Ziaur Rahman had only read out the declaration of independence (on behalf of Bangabandhu) when local Awami League leader Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury directed to bring an army officer for it.