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'August 15 assassination ushered extra-constitutional seizure of power'

  • Published at 08:16 pm August 21st, 2020

The August 15 was also a process through which the Pakistani collaborators, who opposed the independence of Bangladesh, came to power

Depicting the atmosphere of horror and suppression that prevailed during and after the killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, discussants said the carnage on August 15, 1975 paved the way for seizing the state power unconstitutionally.

They came up with the view at a webinar, organized by the Centre for Research and Information (CRI), on Thursday evening.

Titled as " Bangladesh 1975: Setting the clock back," the virtual discussion was moderated by Dhaka Tribune Editor Zafar Sobhan.

Syed Badrul Ahsan, journalist and biographer, said the August 15 assassination ushered in the illegal extra-constitutional seizure of power.

The August 15 was also a process through which the Pakistani collaborators, who opposed the independence of Bangladesh, came to power.

He said too many things went wrong during August 15 and there were too many beneficiaries of the carnage.

"And, we are still paying the price," Badrul Ahsan added.

Lawrence Lifschultz, investigative journalist and former South Asia correspondent of the Far Eastern Economic Review, said Ziaur Rahman had a meeting with CIA station chief Philip Cherry in Dhaka ahead of the killing of Bangabandhu.

He said Zia and the CIA station chief met at a dinner in a Bangladeshi businessman's house in the capital.

Citing from the book of General KM Shafiullah, Lifschultz said Zia as a key fellow of the army held back any other troops going to Road 32 where Bangabandhu resided.

And, Zia's job was to make sure that the army did not intervene in the matter, the journalist added.

Also Read - Lifschultz: Zia was a psychopath in his capability to use violence, betray others

Salil Tripathi, historian and visiting scholar at New York University, recalled his interview with self-confessed killer Syed Farooq Rahman in 1986.

He said: "He [Farooq] was incredibly confident…I had the impression that obviously he has the support of somebody important because he cannot be doing what he can."

Unless someone was backing him, it seemed he could not enjoy such impunity, Tripathi added.

Dhaka University former pro-vice chancellor Nasreen Ahmed said after the 1975 carnage the whole generation grew up being fed on lies and they have no sense of history today.

"As Bangabandhu's daughter is leading us [now], this generation is getting to know what Bangabandhu is all about."

Economist Mohammed Farashuddin said the economic arrangement was completely overturned after the killing of Bangabandhu and there was no real enlightened policy making.

"There was an atmosphere of horror and suppression."

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