Assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

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Sheikh Mujibur Rahman assassination
Location Dhaka, Bangladesh
Date August 15, 1975
5.30am-6.00am.
Target Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family
Attack type
Military coup
Deaths 20 (including Sheikh Mujib, his wife and three sons)
Non-fatal injuries
2
Perpetrators Syed Faruque Rahman, Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, Mohiuddin Ahmed, A.K.M. Mohiuddin Ahmed, Shariful Haq (Dalim)

The assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took place in the early hours of August 15, 1975, when a group of Bangladesh Army personnel went to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's residence to arrest him. A gun battle ensued with Mujibs' sons and other armed Awami League members. At the time of his assassination, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was serving as the President of Bangladesh.

Background[edit]

Following the independence of Bangladesh in December 1971, Mujib was released from custody in Pakistan. He was flown from Pakistan via London, UK and then brought to India. Bangladesh at the time was under Indian occupation and control. Mujib was installed as the Prime Minister and later President of the new independent state. He soon established a system of one-party rule, banned all political parties, the press, his own party-army run by his sons, except for his own party publications, and declared himself lifelong president through a constitutional amendment in early 1975. His declaration of one party rule was opposed by the civil society, intellectuals and all political groups. Corruption already rampant, there was famine, disorder, shattered economy due to nationalisation. Rahman followed Indira Gandhi's disastrous map of running the nation.

The Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini (National Vanguards) was a highly controversial political militia force formed in 1972 with a status of an elite force which was loyal to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was assigned an apparent functionality of recovering arms from the civilians but actually acted as an armament to protect the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman-regime from pro independence forces not under India's orientation. Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini is considered one of the main ingredients of discontent among the army and the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as well.

Conspirators[edit]

Colonel (was Major in August 1975) Syed Faruque Rahman, Abdur Rashid, Sharful Haque (Dalim), Raju Ahmed and A.K.M. Raju Ahmed, all majors in the Bangladesh Army and veterans of Bangladesh Forces, victim to Mujib's treacherous rule and his son's wanton disregard of law and order planned to remove Mujib entirely from power. Khondaker Mostaq Ahmed, an Awami League cabinet minister under Mujib regime, agreed to take over the Presidency. Over the years many paints of alternative pictures of different conspiracies, implicating Mustaque and RAW as participants.[1][2] It is alleged that the chief of the army staff Major General K M Shafiullah and Defence Intelligence Agency DGFI Air Vice Marshall Aminul Islam Khan were aware of the conspiracy.[3]

Events[edit]

In the early morning of August 15, 1975, the conspirators were divided into four groups. One group attacked Mujib's house in road number 32, Dhanmondi Residential Area, Dhaka. This group was formed with the selected soldiers from the Bengal Lancers of the First Armoured Division and 535 Infantry Division, which was put under Major Huda. No resistance came from the platoon guarding the President's house. At first, Sheikh Kamal, son of Mujib shot out from the second floor window towards the reception on the ground floor. Mujib was found on the stairs, was asked to step down from power and was given some time to take decision. Mujib summoned Colonel Jamil, the new chief of the Military Intelligence over the phone. Colonel Jamil arrived first and ordered the army to return to their barracks, but was denied and shot dead in front of the gate. Mujib refused to go with them without Sheikh Kamal, and turned back to go upstairs when he learned that he was already murdered. He was shot dead.[4]

Then Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, wife of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was shot dead at upstairs, when she denied to be arrested. In the lavatories, they killed Sheikh Nasser and a couple of servants. They also killed other sons of Musib Sheikh Jamal and 10 year old Sheikh Russel along with the newly married daughter-in-laws of Mujib.

All the members of his family were also killed except for his two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, who were in West Germany at the time and took refuge by the Indian government and was flown to India.

Two other groups of soldiers killed Sheikh Fazlul Haque (Mani), Mujib's nephew and influential leader of the Awami League along with his pregnant wife at 13/1,Dhanmondi, and Abdur Rab Serniabat, Mujib's brother-in-law, and a minister of the Government along with 13 family members on Mintu Road.

The fourth and most powerful group was sent towards Savar to repel the anticipated counter-attack by the Security Forces where after a short fight and a loss of eleven men, Security Forces surrendered.

Three months later, four major leaders of the Awami League, first Prime Minister of Bangladesh Tajuddin Ahmed, former Prime Minister Mansur Ali, former Vice President Syed Nazrul Islam and former Home Minister A H M Kamruzzaman were arrested and jailed (they would later be murdered in jail on November 3, 1975).

Aftermath of assassination[edit]

Khondaker Mustaq Ahmed assumed the presidency, Major General Ziaur Rahman became the new Chief of Army Staff. The leading conspirators were all given the highest ranks. They were later toppled by yet another coup led by Brigadier General Khaled Mosharraf on November 3, 1975. Mosharraf himself was killed during a counter revolt four days later on November 7, which freed Major General Ziaur Rahman in power and was brought in to bring law and order. In the meantime Major Syed Faruque Rahman, Rashid, and the other army officers had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. They were exiled to Libya, China, Zimbabwe, Canada and other countries, and were given several diplomatic posts in Bangladeshi missions abroad. Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd.) Syed Faruque Rahman later returned and founded the Bangladesh Freedom Party in 1985, and took part in the presidential election in 1987 against India backed military ruler Lieutenant General Hussain Mohammad Ershad.

Trial[edit]

The military decided not to court-martial the military officials who masterminded and participated in the coup. No case was registered with the police, by relatives of Mujib or his party men, either. In fact, the conspirators could not be tried in court of law on the charge of assassination because of the Indemnity Act passed by the government under President Khondaker Mustaq Ahmed. However, when Awami League, led by Mujib's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, won the election in 1996, it repealed the Act. The Bangabandhu murder trial commenced. Col. (Rtd.) Syed Faruque Rahman was arrested from his Dhaka Old DOHS home. Col. (Rtd.) Bazlul Huda was brought back from Bangkok, where he was serving sentence for shop lifting, as part of criminal exchange program between Thailand and Bangladesh. Lt. Col. Mohiuddin Ahmed was active in military service when he was arrested. Col. (Rtd.) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan was on active diplomatic service, appointed by previous Prime Minister of Bangladesh Begum Khaleda Zia, and returned to Bangladesh when he had been called back by foreign ministry. Later he was arrested. Col. (Rtd.) Abdur Rashid and other accused, however, left Bangladesh as 1996 general election showed an upcoming Awami League victory. Colonel (Rtd.) Rashid is now reportedly shuttling between Pakistan and Libya. All these men were also involved in jail killing in November 1975.[citation needed]

The trial ended on November 8, 1998, and death sentences in firing squad was given, by the District and Session Judge of Dhaka Mohammad Golam Rasul, to 15 out of 20 accused of the assassination; however, Taheruddin Thakur, former Information Minister and one of the prime conspirator, was exonerated. He later died naturally in 2005.[5] However, the sentences were yet to be carried out as five of the convicts sought permission to file appeals in the high court. High Court bench comprising Justice Mohammad Ruhul Amin (Chief Justice of Bangladesh from 2007 to 2008) and Justice A B M Khairul Haque (current Chief Justice of Bangladesh) gave divisive verdict. Senior Justice Amin acquitted 5 out of original 15 accused, but junior Justice Haque upheld the lower court verdict. So another verdict from a third judge became essential. Later, as a third judge Justice Mohammad fazlul Karim (immediate former Chief Justice of Bangladesh) accused 12 out of original 15 including 2 acquitted in Justice Amin's verdict. One of the convicts, Major (Rtd.) Aziz Pasha, died in Zimbabwe on June 2, 2001.[6] As 5 accused again appealed to Appellate Division, decision remained pending due to a shortage of minimum requirement of three judges for a hearing session since August 2001, as several of judges embarrassed to hear the case. On June 18, 2007, one of the conspirators who had been sentenced to death, Major (Rtd.) A K M Mohiuddin Ahmed, was extradited to Bangladesh from the United States, following a series of failed attempts to gain asylum or permanent residency in the United States. On August 7, 2007, the murder case hearings resumed after six years.[7]

The appellate division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh gave its verdict on November 19, 2009, after a five member special bench, headed by Justice Mahammad Tafazzal Islam, (later Chief Justice of Bangladesh in 2009) spent 29 days hearing the petition filed by the death row convicts.[5][8]

The appeal of the convicts was rejected and the death sentence was upheld.[9] Before the verdict, approximately 12,000 extra policemen were deployed to guard strategic buildings, including the Supreme Court, to prevent any attempt to disrupt the proceedings by the convicted men's supporters.[9] The men's supporters have been blamed by the government for a grenade attack on one of the prosecution lawyers in October 2009, although no one has been charged yet.[9]

Captain (Rtd.) Qismet Hashem, Captain (Rtd.) Nazmul Hossain Aanssar and Major (Rtd.) Abdul Majid were acquitted throughout the high court division and appellate division verdicts and are, now, living in Canada.

Conspirators Major (Rtd.) Bazlul Huda, Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd.) Mohiuddin Ahmed, Major (Rtd.) A.K.M. Mohiuddin Ahmed, Colonel (Rtd.) Syed Faruque Rahman and Colonel (Rtd.) Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan were executed on 28 January 2010.[10] [11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]