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Dhaka Tribune

17 sitting Awami League MPs murdered in 52 years

  • 7 MPs killed during Bangabandhu’s tenure, 4 during Sheikh Hasina’s
  • MP Anar marks first case of murder abroad
Update : 30 May 2024, 09:50 AM

Since the liberation of the country in 1971, a total of 17 members of parliament (MPs) from the Awami League have been murdered in Bangladesh.

This list includes Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was brutally murdered along with his family while in power in 1975. He was a member of parliament from Dhaka-12 constituency in the first parliament.

During Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's tenure as party chief and the country’s leader (1972-1975), seven MPs were killed.

In 1975, following Bangabandhu’s death, 5 more leaders from the party were assassinated or executed.

After Bangabandhu's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, took charge of the Awami League in 1981, four more MPs were murdered.

Among these four, the first two were killed while the Awami League was in opposition, and the latter two while the party was in government.

The latest killing of Jhenaidah-4 MP Anwarul Azim Anar marks the first case of a Bangladeshi MP being murdered outside the country.

MPs killed during Bangabandhu’s tenure

From 1972 to 1975, seven Awami League MPs were murdered.

Abdul Gafur, a language soldier from Khulna, was the first MP to be murdered in independent Bangladesh. He was elected to the Pakistan National Assembly from Khulna in the 1970 elections. He was shot dead on June 6, 1972.

AFM Nurul Haque Hawladar was elected MP from Shariatpur's Naria constituency in the 1973 elections. He was shot dead at home on May 30, 1973.

Abdul Mukim was elected from Jhalakathi and Nalchiti. He was shot dead in 1973 as well.

Motahar Uddin, who was elected from Bakerganj-3, was shot dead on January 10, 1974.

Gazi Fazlur Rahman was elected from Dhaka-22 (Narsingdi Manohardi). He was shot dead on March 16, 1974.

Golam Kibria was elected from Kushtia-4 (Khoksa-Kumarkhali) in 1970 and 1973. He was killed on December 25, 1974.

Abdul Khaleq was elected from Netrokona-1 in 1970 and 1973. He was shot dead on February 23, 1975.

Deaths in 1975

1975 marks a troubled year in Bangladesh’s history as several leaders from the Awami League were murdered.

The first president of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and most of his family members, except for Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, were killed in the early hours of August 15, 1975 by a group of military personnel at his residence.

That night, Abdur Rab Serniabat, lawmaker from Bakerganj-13 constituency, was also assassinated by the same group who initiated the coup d’etat against the Father of the Nation.

In the same year, four more ministers of Bangabandhu’s government, known as the four national leaders instrumental in the formation of the wartime Mujibnagar government in 1971, were brutally killed in jail. The murders occurred on November 3, 1975.

The four leaders were Syed Nazrul Islam from Mymensingh-28 constituency, Tajuddin Ahmad from Dhaka-20, Abul Hasnat Muhammad Qamaruzzaman from Rajshahi-10, and M Mansur Ali from Pabna-1 seat.

MPs killed during Sheikh Hasina's tenure

Sheikh Hasina returned to Bangladesh in 1981 as president of the Awami League. 

She served as leader of the opposition in 1991 and as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2001. During her leadership, four MPs were murdered:

Ahsan Ullah Master was killed in Gazipur in 2004 during the BNP-Jamaat coalition government. He was assassinated while addressing a local conference held at a school ground near his home near Tongi.

Former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria was assassinated in a grenade attack on January 27, 2005 at Sylhet’s Boidder Bazar during the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami coalition government.

Manjurul Islam Liton, a former MP from Gaibandha-1 constituency, was gunned down by miscreants at his village home in Masterpara of Sundarganj upazila on December 31, 2016.

Anwarul Azim Anar, the latest entry on the list, was allegedly murdered in Kolkata, India, this month. He was brutally murdered over alleged gold smuggling connections. The murderers dismembered his body to pieces in an attempt to escape justice.

Complications Over MP Anar's Death

As Anwarul Azim Anar's body has not been found, complications have arisen. 

The Jhenaidah-4 seat cannot be declared vacant by Parliament without official confirmation of his death. 

Although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury have expressed their grief over the tragedy, the seat remains occupied until an authority confirms his death.

What Awami League leaders say

When asked about the murders of Awami League MPs, party presidium member Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya declined to comment. 

Qamrul Islam, a member of the Awami League Presidium, said: "The context of the MPs’ murders during Bangabandhu's era was unique. The circumstances surrounding the killings of Ahsanullah Master and Shah AMS Kibria were also distinct. The situation cannot be compared to the case of Anwarul Azim Anar, whose death remains shrouded in mystery. Despite reports about his body or death, nothing is certain yet."

Awami League Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim said: "The context of MP murders from 1972 to 1975 is different from those after 2001. However, both periods are connected by a common thread: the efforts of domestic and international conspirators to destabilize newly independent Bangladesh under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the state-sponsored killings by anti-independence forces during the BNP-Jamaat period aimed at eradicating the Awami League. The murder of MP Liton is a completely different issue.” 

He said there are various reports in the media regarding the murder of Anwarul Azim Anar in India, but nothing definite is known yet. “We oppose all murders and demand justice for the victims."

Timeline: Jhenaidah-4 MP Anwarul Azim Murder
30 May 2024, 08:30
17 sitting Awami League MPs murdered in 52 years
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