The true history must be brought to light
A few days ago, Minister of Information Hasanul Haq Inu demanded that a proper investigation be carried out regarding the death of Colonel Abu Taher, who was hanged under the orders of the Zia regime in July 1976.
Taher’s death warrant was signed by President Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem, for at that point Zia had not yet assumed the presidency, but was nevertheless the strongman of the regime.
It is said that when the military court delivered the verdict of guilty on Taher, Zia summoned senior officers of the army, and almost all of them, with perhaps one or two expressing an opposing point of view, agreed that the detained freedom fighter should be executed.
It was a dark moment for the country, for here was a freedom fighter whose fate lay in the hands of other freedom fighters, as well as army officers who had been repatriated from Pakistan and who were now holding decision-making positions in the military.
They would soon dispatch Taher to his grave.
One cannot but agree with the minister, whose association with Taher is part of history and who therefore remains witness to the politics which the valiant freedom fighter pursued in independent Bangladesh.
One is fully in agreement with the facts related to Taher’s death. He was hanged following a travesty of a trial, and was not given any opportunity to mount a proper legal defense before the sham of a military tribunal trying him once he had been arrested in late November 1975.
Taher’s execution is one of the saddest episodes in Bangladesh’s post-liberation history. Minister Inu is right to draw our attention to these truths.
It is now our responsibility, as citizens, to call upon the state to undertake the onerous task of inquiring into the many deaths which, like Taher’s, have left the history of this country mauled beyond measure. We have the murder of General Khaled Mosharraf, Colonel Najmul Huda, and Major ATM Haider in mind. These men, whose attempt to restore decency in the country in early November 1975 is now part of history, were brutally killed on November 7.
It has been said that while these three freedom fighters, exhausted and on the run from mutinous soldiers following the collapse of their coup, had sat down to a breakfast provided by their captors at 10 Bengal in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Taher and a few other men appeared at the door, observed them and then went away. Moments later, a fresh batch of soldiers, all loyal to Taher, barged into the room, took the three men outside and shot them dead in cold blood.
It is quite logical to suppose that the men, or most of the men who murdered Khaled Mosharraf and his fellow officers, are still around. They need to be rounded up in the interest of justice. And while we agree with Minister Inu that Taher’s death calls for a fresh inquiry, we also think Taher’s links to the murder of the three officers should be brought under the scanner.
In a similar manner, the killing of army officers by soldiers, all provoked by a so-called Biplobi Sainik Sangstha whose inspiration was Taher and the leadership of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, calls for intense and detailed inquiry. Many of the killers must still be around, despite more than four decades having elapsed. Round them up to get at the truth.
The myths we have lived with need to be exposed for the hollowness they are; and if our heroic men of the so-called “Sipahi-Janata Biplob” of November 7, 1975 have actually indulged in dark conspiracy, we must have the truth revealed.
There are other crimes which require equally necessary investigations. The murder of General MA Manzur still haunts the country.
The man who went from Dhaka to Chittagong on June 1, 1981, entered the cell in the cantonment where a detained Manzur had been confined, shot him dead, and then walked out, should be searched out.
If he is dead, there are others who are alive, and who, from Dhaka and Chittagong, orchestrated the killing of the general, another one of our freedom fighters.
All these men complicit in the murder of General Manzur should be rounded up and made to face justice for their crime.
A proper inquiry will reveal the conspiracy behind not only Manzur’s death but also General Ziaur Rahman’s murder on May 30, 1981.
Post-May 1981 circumstances were characterized by relentless moves to silence other freedom fighters. 13 officers, many among whom had waged war for Bangladesh’s liberty in 1971, were tried, again, by a feigned military tribunal on charges of involvement in Zia’s murder, and hanged.
It was thus that the facts behind Zia’s assassination, first through Manzur’s death and then through the execution of the 13 officers, were buried along with the men who could have acquainted the nation with the truth.
The real story behind these executions needs ferreting out, in order for Bangladesh’s people and people around the globe to be educated on the sordid history of conspiracy and murder which kept this country in its grip between 1975 and 1981.
All of these tragic incidents have dealt grievous blows to Bangladesh. With a government in office led by the Awami League, the party which spearheaded the War of Liberation, there ought to be no difficulty in plumbing the depths of such dark realities and emerging with the truth, the better to prevent a recurrence of such evil in the future. Surely Minister Inu will agree?
Syed Badrul Ahsan is a journalist.