Jatiya Rakkhi Bahini
|National Defense Force
জাতীয় রক্ষী বাহিনী
|Active||8 February 1972 to 15 August 1975|
|Allegiance||Bangladesh Awami League|
|Role||Counter-insurgency, Counter-terrorism Anti-Communism|
|Size||About 8,000 members with 2,000 recruits.|
|Headquarters||Sher-E-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka|
|Patron||Sheikh Mujibur Rahman|
|Mascot||Index Finger of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman|
National Defense Force (Bengali- জাতীয় রক্ষী বাহিনী Yātīy.a Rakṣī Bāhinī") was an elite para-military force formed on the 8th instant of February, 1972 by the government led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by an order commonly known as ‘Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini Act, 1972’ after the liberation war of Bangladesh.
It was an auxiliary force of police which turned into a private army loyal only to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
- 1 Inception
- 2 Decoration
- 3 Indemnity
- 4 Significant incidents
- 5 Rift with military forces
- 6 Death of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Aftermath
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 References
- 9 External links
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2015)|
On 24 January 1972, the government of Bangladesh issued a press-note which informed that a National Militia Force will be formed. The press-note stated that the veterans of the Bangladesh Liberation War would be recruited for the formation of this militia force. The recruitment for this militia force would include both vets who were enlisted in the general army and those who were not enlisted. This decision was made in order to provide an opportunity for the war vets to serve their country and rebuild the nation from the ashes of war that took place the year before. The press-note mentioned that militia camps were to be opened in every district and their sub-divisions, where all the war vets will be asked to surrender their arms. Few days after the press-note was issued, it became known that enlisted soldiers who did not participate in the Liberation War became disappointed due to the fact that if the war vets get too much priority regarding commission then their own career opportunities might get limited.
On 16 December 1971, the Pakistani army surrendered to the Bangladeshi forces which ended the Bangladesh Liberation War that lasted for eight months and twenty days. This event ultimately led the eastern wing of Pakistan to secede and gain independence as the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Subsequently, the government of Bangladesh initiated to make plans about how to rebuild the economy of this newly formed nation that had been ruined by the Pakistani army during the war. The government intended to do this through the co-operation of the war vets. On 18 December 1971, in the first ministerial conference of the Bangladesh government, it was decided that the war vets would be recruited for the formation of the National Militia Force. This conference prioritized on the sixth item of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historical Six Demands and the third item of the Eleven Demands of the Student Society (ছাত্রসমাজের এগারো দফা), both of which conferred on the issue of autonomy of East Pakistan and the formation of a militia or para-military force for the protection of this region.
However, these demands were made at a time when Bangladesh was the eastern wing of Pakistan and all the government offices, courts and armed forces of this region were accountable to the central government based in West Pakistan (this region became simply known as ‘Pakistan’ after the independence of Bangladesh in 1971). Hence, after the independence of Bangladesh, the new government and the armed forces of this country had little knowledge about how to operate autonomously. Moreover, most of the war vets were not men of the regular army and they lacked many capabilities and skills of a well trained soldier. Therefore, it became a difficult task to recruit these war vets promptly into the militia force.
During the Liberation War, Syed Nazrul Islam and many other Bengali nationalist politicians of East Pakistan formed the government of Bangladesh. Syed Nazrul Islam was appointed as the Acting President of Bangladesh in absence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was imprisoned in a West Pakistani jail during the whole war. Most of the political leaders of the Bangladesh government were forced to move to India during the war. Due to some security measures and other reasons, Acting President Syed Nazrul Islam, Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed and other ministers of the Bangladesh government were not able to return from exile to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh forthwith after the Pakistani army surrendered on 16 December. However, leading party-members of the Bangladesh government returned to the capital on 17 December and initiated their administrative tasks immediately. Along with other ministers of the Bangladesh government, Acting President Syed Nazrul Islam and Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed returned to Dhaka on 22 December. On 23 December, a ministerial conference was held by the Acting President. During this conference the National Militia Board was formed, with eleven members. The National Militia Board was formed in order to accomplish the objectives that were settled during the first ministerial conference of the Bangladesh government which was held on 18 December.
On 3 January 1972, naming Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed as the chairman, the Bangladesh government announced the names of the ten members of the Central Regulating Board of the National Militia. The Members were:
- Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani (Chairman, Bhashani’s National Awami Party)
- Abul Hasnat Muhammad Qamaruzzaman (Home Minister, People’s Republic of Bangladesh)
- Manoranjan Dhar (Member of National Assembly, Awami League)
- Moni Singh (Chairman, Communist Party of Bangladesh)
- Professor Muzaffar Ahmed (President, Muzaffar’s National Awami Party)
- Gazi Golam Mostafa (Member of Provincial Assembly, Awami League)
- Rafiq Uddin Bhuiyan (Member of Provincial Assembly, Awami League)
- Tofael Ahmed (Member of National Assembly, Awami League)
- Abdur Razzaq (Member of Provincial Assembly, Awami League)
- Captain (retd.) Muhammad Shujat Ali (Member of Provincial Assembly, Awami League).
The Central Regulating Board of the National Militia consisted of members who represented either Awami League or other political parties that supported the independence movement of Bangladesh.
On 6 January 1972, Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed held the first conference of the National Militia Board in the Bangladesh Secretariat. It was during this conference Tajuddin Ahmed officially announced that the war vets are to be recruited for the formation of the National Militia Force. Four days after the conference was held, President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to Bangladesh. On 12 January, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman resigned as President and took office as Prime Minister. Few days later, the government of Bangladesh finally settled to form the National Militia Force and on 24 January, a press-note was issued to announce to the public that a militia force will be formed.
The National Militia Force was authorized under the Home Ministry. At that time, the Home Secretary appointed by Sheikh Mujib was one Taslim Ahmed, who was alleged to have supported the Pakistani government during the war. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman also appointed Brigadier General A.N.M. Nuruzzaman as the Director of the National Militia Force. Sarwar Hossain Mollah and Anwar Ul Alam were made Assistant Directors under Nuruzzaman. Since it was decided that the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR) was soon to be dissolved and absorbed into the National Militia Force, an office for militia was formed in the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana. The National Militia began its first official duties from 1 February 1972.
Even though most of the soldiers of the East Pakistan Rifles were war vets, many Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) of the East Pakistan Rifles did not participate in the Liberation War. These JCOs and NCOs became consternated due to a rumour that EPR soldiers who did not participate in the war might not get commission in the new Militia Force after the EPR is dissolved. The effects of this rumour reached a boiling point on 16 February when the Director of the National Militia, Major A.N.M. Nuruzzaman and Assistant Director Anwar Ul Alam went through a battery inflicted upon them by some furious JCOs and NCOs at the Pilkhana (the headquarters of the East Pakistan Rifles). Some war-vet soldiers of the EPR rescued the Director and Assistant Director from those non-veteran soldiers and took them to a safe zone in the Pilkhana. The veteran soldiers and the non-vet soldiers soon started firing at each other. The firing ceased after Prime Minister Sheikh Mujib arrived at Pilkhana on hearing about the commotion.
The incident at Pilkhana soon made Sheikh Mujib realize that it would be imprudent to take soldiers and non-militant war vets in the same force, as they do not share the same sense of humour. Therefore the Prime Minister decided to form two separate forces, namely the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and the Jatiya Rakkhi Bahini (JRB). The Bangladesh Rifles would include all men from the East Pakistan Rifles, whose duty would be to maintain security at the frontiers. Lieutenant Colonel Chitta Ranjan Dutta was appointed as the Director-General of the Bangladesh Rifles. The other force, which was created in lieu of the National Militia, was the Jatiya Rakkhi Bahini, which would include new men who had fought in the war. The function of the JRB would be to maintain law and order in the domestic affairs and assist other armed forces of the country whenever it is called upon by the government to do so. Major A.N.M Nuruzzaman was made the Director of the Rakkhi Bahini. Colonel Anwar Ul Alam, the Deputy- Director of the Rakkhi Bahini mentioned in his book, Rakkhi Bahini'r Shotto-Mittha (Reality and Myth of the Rakkhi Bahini) (ISBN 9789849025399), that Jatiya Rakkhi Bahini is the first armed force in the modern era that has a Bengali name.
The force was formed after an order known as ‘Jatiyo Rokkhi Bahini Act, 1972 | President Order no.-21’ which was issued on 7 March of the year but it was ordered that the act will be treated in effect from 1 February 1972.
During the nine-month-long struggle for the independence of Bangladesh over a hundred thousand of common people joined the war after getting trained by Indian majors. Tajuddin Ahmed felt these people should come under national service as they had arms and training. Tajuddin Ahmed asked Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to form a para-military force for them.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman primarily rejected the proposal but soon realized the necessity of an elite force. Because many police officers were martyred in the liberation war. So whenever the armed miscreants attacked them in their office, they were outnumbered.
And even the raw, machineries and goods of factories were being smuggled through the border to India which also became a headache for the newly formed government.
Analyzing the entire situation and for the sake of people’s security Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman decided to form this force.
Analyzing the history it is clear that the formation of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini was not only a result of necessity, but also a well-planned step.
On the first article published in TIME magazine just after the repatriation of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman named as "BANGLADESH: Mujib's Road from Prison to Power" they explained the situation of the new born country.
According to the article, "Many of the more radical young guerrillas who fought with the Mukti Bahini (liberation forces) may not be content with the moderate course charted by the middle-aged politicians of the Awami League. Moreover, the present Dacca government is a very remote power in country villages where the local cadres of the Mukti Bahini are highly visible."
The article also quoted one of its commanders, Ali Ashraf Chowdhury. "We will never lay down our arms until our social ideals have been realized", he said.
The article says, "So far the Mujib Bahini has done a commendable job of protecting the Biharis, the non-Bengali Moslems who earned Bengali wrath by siding with the Pakistani army. But the government is anxious to disarm the Mujib Bahini, and has plans to organize it into a constabulary that would carry out both police and militia duties."
Masudul Haque’s book named as "Bangladesher Swadhinota Juddho O CIA" (Liberation War of Bangladesh and CIA), the writer quoted Abdur Rajjak, a young leader and the chief of Bangladesh Swecchasebok League (Bangladesh Volunteer’s League) that Mujib told them not to surrender all the guns.
It means there was a hidden agenda behind the formation of Mujib Bahini which was known to its members only and probably it was to convert the entire force into an elite personal cult. And obviously, it was planned.
Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini was actively deployed just after the Indian Army left Bangladesh on 17 March.
The force was trained and brought up by Major General Sujan Singh Uban from Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) as per the request of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Moidul Hassan, who is the writer of "Muldhara ‘71" (Mainstream ‘71) confirmed the information in the book Muktijuddher Purbapor.
|“||Analyzing the geo-political situation when USA started to recover their loss after the surrender of Pakistan Army on 16 December, Pakistan government had to release Sheikh Mujibur Rahman without any condition. Just after returning home Sheikh Mujibur Rahman realized to form a security force and he decided to form the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini only with the loyal part of Maujib Bahini. Without any discussion in the cabinet, which members were concerned about the stages of libetaion war he himself gave the responsibility of forming the force to Major General S. S. Uban who was a recruit of CIA in 60s and now working as the IG of RAW.||”|
On the other hand Brigadier General (Retd.) M. Shakhawat Hossain claimed that an Indian commander named Major Reddy was the all in all of the Savar camp. The post and the activity of that Indian is still a mystery to all who knew it. In Savar camp there was three additional battalions who were called Recruit Battalion. These three battalions were directly supervised by Major Bala Reddy. Many Junior Commissioned Officers of Indian Army were in the training camp of Savar.
Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini had a complete table of organization which was circulated on 8 March 1972 by a gazette notification. The chief of the force was known as Director General. His five deputies were known as Deputy Director General.
Brigadier ANM Nuruzzaman was appointed as the Director General while Major Anwar Ul Alam Shahid (Deputy Director, Training), Lieutenant Colonel Abul Hasan Khan (Deputy Director, Administration), Lieutenant Colonel Sarwar (Deputy Director, Operations), Lieutenant Colonel Sabihuddin (Deputy Director, Signals), Lieutenant Colonel Azizul Islam (Deputy Director, Zonal Headquarters of Chittagong) and Lieutenant Colonel A M Khan (Deputy Director, Medical) were his six deputies.
Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini was well uniformed in Olive Green. Members of the force were given L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle, Heavy machine gun, Submachine gun, Light machine gun, Mortar, Steel helmets, Leather boots etc.
They were provided with jeeps and trucks imported from India.
Some additional land and properties were also given to this force by the government. The Zonal Headquarters building in the Vatiari of Chittagong and lands in Giltala of Khulna, Bateshwar of Sylhet, Bogra and in Mirpur of Dhaka.
During its first days as it was formed as an auxiliary of Police, it helped police to guard the office. When police failed to control the situation, they were deployed.
At least 44 offices and residents of police were attacked and looted from June to December 1973. So the government deployed Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini within September of the year.
But within a very short time it became so unpopular due to its action.
Specially, Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini draws the attention after the formation of Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal (Jasad).
JASAD challenged the government’s activities and started to gain huge popularity especially among the students and youths. And many other secret organizations was emerged and gained popularity as the government was failing to solve almost every issue.
JASAD and other leftist secret groups started to create debacle all around the country. This was a headache for the government. So the government deployed Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini to eliminate all the leftist criminals.
Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini started massacre just after their deployment.
Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini turned into a monster within a very short time. Though it was formed as an auxiliary to Police and to protect people, it started misusing its rifles.
According to various statistics, over a thousand people were tortured to death by them.
He wrote, "The Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini, which roughly translated means National Security Force, was a Para-military force whose members had to take oaths of personal loyalty to Mujib. Despite its high-sounding name, it was a sort of private army of bully boys not far removed from Nazi Brown Shirts.
This force had no code of conduct. They had liability to none but Mujib. So the politically motivated killing increased rapidly.
Mascarenhas said, "By the end of 1973 the total of politically motivated murders in Bangladesh had crossed the 2000 mark. The victims included some members of Parliament and many of the murders were resulted of intra-party conflicts within Awami League.
Within three years, political killing by Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini reached about 30 thousand. Many political leaders along with their families were killed or abducted by this cult.
The youths and students were there common target as JASAD was popular to them and most of the activists of JASAD were youths.
Even the capital Dhaka was not immune to the violence. An unofficial curfew was introduced after midnight. Almost every rickshaw, taxi and private car was checked and searched by Rokkhi Bahini personnel.
The force which emerged to be a hero, turned into a villain.
Abuses against Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD)
A notable occurrence occurred on 17 March 1975. Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini set up fire the headquarters of JASAD on 14 March 1975. JASAD decided to form a rally towards Home Minister Mansoor Ali’s house and surround it as a counter to that incident on 17 March.
The rally that started from Paltan was forwarding to the Home Minister’s house but the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini opened brush-fire and at least 50 JASAD activists were killed on the spot.
Among them a leader of Bangladesh Krishok League central committee and a teacher of Nawabganj High School Siddiqur Rahman Khan was killed on 10 October 1972. On 17 September 1973 JASAD Student’s League leader Bablu, Robi, Ebadat Ali, Motaleb, Kalu and many other were killed in daylight by Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini.
General Secretary of City College Students’ Union Jahangir, student of Jahangir Nagar University Shah Borhan Uddin Rokon, student of BUET Nikhil Chandra Saha; Narshingdi JASAD leader Alauddin; JASAD leader from Gazipur Akram, Joinal, Shamsu, Badal, Anwar; Manikganj JASAD leader Shahadat Hossain Badal, Delwar Hossain Haraj, Abdul Awal Naju, Najim; activists from Jamalpur Giasuddin Master; JASAD activist Abdur Rashid, Hasu Miah; leader from Mymensingh Masuduzzaman, Abdul Jabbar; Madaripur JASAD activist Jahngir, Saddam, Ali Hosen, Mofijur; Faridpur’s Kamaluzzaman, Abdul Hakim; Moniddin Ahmed, Salam Master, Rafique Uddin from Razshahi; Ata, Ranju, Manik Das Gupta, Tota, Colonel Rana, Khalil, Rajjak of Bagura; Natore’s JASAD leader Nasiruddin; leader from Pabna Ashfaqur Rahman Kalu are the notable names from the list of the political people, murdered by Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini.
The history of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini is a history of brutality. The range of the brutality increased day by day. The Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini was a source of fear to individuals.
Especially from the last days of 1973, atrocities of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini crossed the limit. They were protected by the top level of the government which made them desperate.
Mascarenhas said, "…the nights were made hideous by the wailing of women whose husbands and sons had been dragged away by Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini on Home Minister Mansoor Ali’s orders. These unfortunate people ‘just vanished’."
In an operation which was operated in Mymensingh, about 1500 teenagers were killed. Most of them were connected to Puba-Bangla Shorbohara Party (East-Bengal Have-nots’ Party) of Siraj Sikder. Others were suspected to have link with Marxists and Leninists. But many of them were not active enough in politics.
Almost all the camps of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini were a mine of corpse. They created massacre in every places they had gone. In Kaliganj of Jessore a mass-grave was discovered after the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini left the place. At least 60 skeletons were found in the grave.
Machine-guns were fixed in front of Tongi Thana by Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini facing to the workers’ colony during a protest which killed over hundred workers.
Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini was also significant for its activity during the last days of 1974 and in the first days of January, while Bangladesh faced a serious famine.
When the famine started, millions of people came to the capital from villages in search of food. The government decided to drive the poor and have-nots out of the capital as it was embarrassed in front of international community with the famine.
On 3 January Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini was deployed to ‘Clean Dhaka’ depriving the poor-beggars and destitutes from the city. In this operation about 0.2 million have-nots and slum dwellers were taken away from the capital and were forced either to return to their villages or to be moved to the three camps. The camps were hastily laid out several miles from the city. Condition of the camps was disastrous.
Amongst the three camps, the camp of Demra was the most appalling one, in where Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini gathered about 50 thousand people. Those people were ill-treated and sometimes they felt that death is a better solution.
Attack on media
Media, which is called the fifth the pillar of a nation nowadays suffered several, attacks by Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini due to publishing news about their illegal activities.
On 7 September 1972, Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini personnel torched the head-office of newspaper ‘Desh Bangla’. On 11 August the police sealed the office of ‘Desh Bangla’ in Chittagong for publishing news against Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini. They also arrested two journalists and eight workers of the press.
Al Mahmud, a famous poet and the editor of popular newspaper ‘Gonokontho’ was arrested for publishing the news of the attack on JASAD activists while encircling the Home Minister’s residence in Dhaka. At least twelve JASAD activists were killed and about a hundred were wounded as Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini personnel opened fire on that political program. But the government claimed the number of death were only six.
Al Mahmud did not listen to the government and tried to publish the accurate news. When the government came to know that, they sent three trucks full of Police and Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini personnel to seize the office and press of ‘Gonokontho’ at night and arrested the Editor Al Mahmud along with seven workers of the press. Many staff reporter of ‘Gonokontho’ were abducted for their job. The publication of the newspaper was clogged on 20 January 1974. The declaration of ‘Gonokontho’ was cancelled by the government on 27 January 1975.
Government cancelled another popular weekly ‘Holiday’ on 13 May 1975. Enayetullah Khan, the editor of ‘Holiday’ was detained for publishing news against the government and the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini.
An incident on the May of 1974 drew the attention of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. A teenager of just 17 was found to have ‘disappeared’ after four days of torture. The court castigated the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini for ‘operating outside the law’.
This ruling of the court disturbed Mujib and he stripped it of its power to intervene in such cases.
He amended the Jatiyo Rokkhi Bahini Act in 1974 just after the court’s ruling. Article-2 of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini Act (Amended) says,
|“||8A. Notwithstanding anything contained in, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (V of 1898), or in any other law for the time being in force, any officers may, while performing any function under article 8, without warrant-
a) Arrest any person whom he reasonably suspects of having committed a cognizable fence under any law;
b) Search any person, place, vehicle or vessel, and seize anything found in the possession of such person or in such place, vehicle or vessel in respect of which or any means of which he has reason to believe an offence punishable under any law has been committed.
Article 3 of the act says,
|“||No suit, prosecution, or other legal proceedings shall be against any member of the Bahini for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance of this order or rule made there under."
So these are the basic provisions of the infamous Act called the Jatiyo Rokkhi Bahini Act (amended),1974.
According to these provisions anybody can be arrested by the Rokkhi Bahini at will mid they would remain immune from any judicial supervision in all their activities in which they would be pleased to indulge in "good faith".
This indemnity refrained the Judiciary Division from taking any legal actions This indemnity amplified their desperate actions.
Statement of Aruna Sen
Aruna Sen was the wife of leftist politician Shanti Sen from Rajvadrapur, which was in Madaripur Sub-division of Faridpur (Presently Shariyatpur). She made a statement after she got rid of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini. Rokkhi Bahini personnel took her from home and tortured her to get the address of her husband and son. The statement was published in 17 March edition of Weekly Holiday and in the June edition of Monthly Sangskriti in 1974.
She stated the horrifying moments of torture and described the butchery of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini in Vedorganj and Damudya camp.
She said in her statement,
|“||On 17 Asshin (6th month of Bengali year), Rokkhi Bahini personnel attacked their village for the first time. They started beating the villagers and took her to their camp along with Lakkhan Sen, a college student. They wanted to know the address of my spouse (Shanti Sen) and son (Chanchal Sen). Then they left us after physical torture.
After someday, just on 6th February I was forced to wake up by some Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini personnel. When they dragged me out of my house, I saw Rani there. They left our village along with us for Vedorganj camp of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini. On the way, they were verbally abusing Rani (Rani Singha) with unpronounceable words. After I had arrived the camp I saw Kalimuddi, Mostofa, Gobindnag and Haripod there and came to know that they were tortured physically. When we entered the camp, Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini personnel stood around us. Some of then were commenting, some of them were pulling our hair, some of them were slapping etc. After sometime they left us outside the camp under sun. They dragged me to 1st floor at evening. After sometime I heard Rani screaming. After half an hour her scream ended. The sound of beating her was disturbing the silence of the night. When they left Rani in the room the midnight was passed. Senseless body of Rani was carrying the signs of beating and it was bleeding from various places of her body. Rani told me during the torture Awami League secretaries of Vedorganj and Damudya were there.
They asked Rani to give the address of Shanti Sen and Chanchal Sen and asked about arms. When Rani sain that she know nothing about them, they started slamming her. After interrogating and slamming for some hours, they attacked her with stick. Three sticks were broken on her. Then they asked her whereabouts of Shanti Sen and Chanchal Sen, Rani replied the same. Then they got angry and hang Rani with ceiling fan. Then they started whipping her. It was so hurting that after some moment Rani asked them to shoot her down. They said in reply that a bullet was valuable to them. They would torture her to death beating her for seven days. After hours of torture though Rani lost her sense they did not stopped lashing her.
On 8th February, they took Rani and me to 1st floor. Awami League secretary of Damudya Fazlu Miah and secretary of Vedorganj Hossen Khan were waiting there in chair. They said, 'Tell us the whereabouts of your spouse and son. Tell us where the guns are. They are dacoits and using guns for their job.” I replied, “They are not dacoits. They all are true patriots; everyone knows that they are politicians.'
They asked the same to Rani and she said that she know nothing. Then they got angry again and started abusing us verbally. Then they hang us and ripped the clothes of Rani. After that they started lashing us from both sides. After some moment I lost my sense. When I woke up I saw Rani laying down painted with blood. As I had clothes, I was less injured. I was so thirsty and even could not move. They were laughing at us like demons of hell. Two soldiers dragged us up as they ordered them. I stood on my foot. But Rani was so injured that she could not stand on her foot. Then two rokkhi dragged her again and gave some clothes to wrap. Then dragged her downstairs. Commander was asking the soldiers to make her walk or else she would die.
On 9th February, 1974 they arrested Hanufa too. A farmer named Karim was also arrested from Ramvodropur. They hammered Karim so hard that he was about to die. A school teacher and two youths were detained from Punditsar of Nariya. A boy named biplob died on his way to camp due to their torture. I heard a youth named Moti was also killed by them. Altaf, a peon of Krishi Bank who was arrested on 4th February was killed as they threw him from the roof of the building after hours of torture.
On the 9th instant at noon, they took Hanufa, Rani and me to a pond. Then we were being forced to swim. After some moments we were tired and tried to come near the bank. But they were standing with long bamboos and were not giving us to come near the bank. After getting tired, when we were unable to swim they started beating with stick. When we were unable to swim after some moments, they used to stand on our body leaving our body under the water. This treatment was done for three times in a row with us.
Karim, a young boy died a couple of hours ago after a day long physical torture. A boy became senseless after he was dipped under the water; they left him on the bank. When I was cleaning his face, he opened his eyes. I could not control my tears. The Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini personnel took him away. I heard that the boy was killed.
One night two rokkhi soldier entered our room and tried to molest Hanufa and Rani. They started wrestle, escaped and then screamed loudly. Hearing this other soldiers came to our room along with their commander. The commander listened to them and threatened them to keep quiet and not to tell this anyone.
In the night of March 12, they hang Rani and tortured her with hunter. On 13th March they implemented a new technique to torture; they tried to stop our breath forcefully. When she lost her sense, they left her.
On 19th February they left the camp along with us. They took us to Dhaka on speedboat and jeep. Then they sent us to central jail.
After the veteran communist activist Aruna Sen was detained, many newspapers of Dhaka featured this incident. A writ was filed at Supreme Court. The court asked Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini to present her in front of the court and prove her detention legal. They presented her but failed to prove the detention legal and had to leave them.
Aruna Sen died in 5 January 2005.
17 March carnage
Jasad, frequently tortured by JRB, decided to hold a rally on 17 March at Paltan. They also made a plan to surround the resident of Home Minister Muhammad Mansur Ali on the same day after the rally.
On 17 March 1975, agitated Jasad supporters tried to set up a barricade in front of the resident of the Home Minister Muhammad Mansur Ali after the rally. But prepared JRB personnel started firing indiscriminately upon the crowd leaving eleven dead on the spot.
However, the Home Minister was not in Dhaka that day and was spending leisure hours with his family.
From the memoirs of Ayesha Faiz
A house in Babar Road of Mohammadpur was allotted to her by the government for his martyred husband. But just after three days she was kicked out of the house with her family by a Subedar Major of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini.
She detailed the incident in her biography Jibon Je Rokom (Life as it is).
|“||Just after three days we had shifted to the house of Babar Road suddenly a Subedar Major of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini came to our home. He asked, “How did you get this house?”
I told in reply, “It has given by the government. My husband is a martyr.”
The Subedar Major left our house without saying anything else. But I got puzzled.
After some moment another Subedar Major came home. He was not alone; he came with a truck, full of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini personnel. There were guns in every pair of hands. The name of the Subedar Major was Hafiz. He entered my house and claimed, “The house is mine. Sheikh shaheb (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) has given this to me.”
I said, “How is that possible? I have the allotment papers.”
He replied my words tearing a curtain within a second and ordered his sub-ordinates to kick us out.
I was shocked a by this. I protested and said, “Let’s see how brave you are.”
Subedar Major was thundered and left my house with out uttering any word. After that, hundreds of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini personnel encircled my house. They were neither letting anyone to enter nor to go out. Kajal (Humayun Ahmed) was in Muhsin Hall. He came after he was informed. They did not even allow him to enter the house. The entire night passed like prisoner.
When it was dawn I went to Police. They said that, “We are just servants! We can do nothing against them.”
I returned home at night. They stopped me to enter. After a long conversation they permitted me to go in.
At 8 PM a troop of Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini entered my house demolishing the door. Iqbal (Muhammad Zafar Iqbal) stood up and hide me with his hands. One of them jumped near to me showing the bayonet. Reloading his gun, he put his finger on the trigger of his rifle and shouted. I was thundered, “Does he want to kill us?”
I left home with my children.
Once I was made refugee by Pakistan Army of occupation.
Execution of Siraj Sikder
After the liberation war he started his mission to establish a socialist society. During the liberation war on 3 June he established a political party named as ‘Purba Bangla Sharbahara Party’. On the first congress of the party he was elected as the President on 14 January 1972. He started working as the President of the party. In 1973 he was elected as the President of an alliance of eleven peoples’ organization named as ‘Purba Banglar Jatyo Mukti Front’ (National Liberation Front of East Bengal). But analyzing political situation of the country which was named as "One Party Democracy" by Guardian and the increasing torture over his party members forced him to choose the way of revolution.
On 28 December 1974 the government announced the first ever state of emergency in the history of Bangladesh to arrest all the terrorists and opposition leaders. From then Siraj Sikder was being treated as an outlaw by the law and enforcement forces. He went underground after the promulgation of emergency.
He was arrested by the intelligence agents on 1 January 1975 from Hali Shahr of Chittagong and was brought to Dhaka by air.
He was tortured all day long and a rumor was spread that he was killed by Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini on his way to the camp at Savar on 2 January. His hand was tied and it was impossible for him to even move. There were clear spots of bullets which indicated that he was shot from a short distance. So it cannot be called as a cross-fire though the government mentioned it as a cross-fire. But a Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini commander later denied that the murder of Siraj Sikder was not . committed by his force. The actual fact behind the incident is still unknown.
Rift with military forces
The number of Jatiyo Rokkhi Bahini personnel increased to 30 thousand by 1975. This large force was armed to teeth. They were given automatic weapons, steel helmets, jeeps, trucks etc.
They had complete uniform with leather boots and a complete table of organization.
On the other hand Bangladesh Army, which was formed through a war against an army of occupation with some true patriots in 21 November 1971, found themselves as an orphan.
While the Jatiyo Rokkhi Bahini was being enlarged, Bangladesh Army was just watching that. There was no T.O.E. (Table of Organization and Establishment).
Military personnel did not have sufficient arms. Most of them had no uniforms, boots, helmets etc. In winter they had to guard the border in slippers.
Major General Manzoor, a freedom fighter who escaped from Pakistan, defying the Army to join the liberation war said Mascarenhas that sometimes military personnel were killed by National Defence Force (JRB) blaming them as collaborators.
All these discrimination created rift between the two forces.
Death of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Aftermath
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed in 15 August 1975 by some armed miscreants from the Artillery and Armoured Regiment of Bangladesh Army.
A mystery lies in the activity of National Defence Force (JRB) during the murder of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The force which was committed to save Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from all disturbances was inert while he was killed.
Bangabandhu wanted possible help from them but they did not even move. There was a tank set in front of their Headquarters at Uttara. Also the Director General of the force Brigadier Nuruzzaman was on an official tour to Europe and North America and Lieutenant Colonel Abul Hasan Khan was in the charge of the force temporarily until his return.
Colonel Abul Hasan Khan, a freedom fighter who was in charge of the National Defence Force (JRB) acknowledged their loyalty to the new formed government in a radio address after the coup.
Shahriar Kabir, a famous researcher on this incident has disclosed a research which says there were no freedom fighters in the top posts of National Defence Force (JRB) but the Director General and his two deputies.
After the coup, those officers and soldiers who were deployed all around the country from National Defence Force (JRB) escaped their camps and houses in fear of mob-violence, as the people were very angry on them.
Absorption in military forces
National Security Force was absorbed in Bangladesh Army after the death of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The force was absorbed in Bangladesh Army after a law named as Jatiyo Rokkhi Bahini Absorption Act, 1975 was ordered. It was issued on 9 October 1975 and was in effect from 3 September 1975.
The Director General of the force Brigadier Nuruzzaman was appointed as an ambassador after the force was absorbed.
In popular culture
- The Black Coat, a historical novel written by Neamat Imam and published by Penguin Books India in 2013, presents the most scathing criticism of Sheikh Mujib's rule and his employment of the Rakkhi Bahini in decades. The novel explores Sheikh Mujib's rule from 1972 to 1975, especially during the Bangladesh famine of 1974, when he became increasingly autocratic. Radio Canada commented that: The Black Coat is 'a novel that slays Sheikh Mujib,' and the Daily Star remarked: '…a poignant political tale… Imam has shown a lot of courage in dealing with one of the most tumultuous and controversial phases of independent Bangladesh’s history.' The novel attacks Sheikh Mujib's introduction of one party rule, the ruthlessness of the Rakkhi Bahini and Mujib's suppression of his political opposition and claims that Sheikh Mujib was Bangladesh's first and deadliest dictator. As the famine deepened, and the political opposition to Mujib's rule intensified, the Rakkhi Bahini units got busier than ever. Although they were freedom fighters at one time, they engaged themselves in promoting Mujib's autocratic aspirations.
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