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Remembering a giant of independence

  • Published at 07:42 pm May 5th, 2020
Khandaker Asaduzzaman
Former MP Khandaker Asaduzzaman Courtesy

Khandaker Asaduzzaman, who passed away in April, played a significant role in the Liberation War movement

Former finance secretary of the Mujibnagar government during the country’s Liberation War in 1971 and former Awami League parliament member from Tangail Khandaker Asaduzzaman died on April 25. He breathed his last at 4:10pm in his Gulshan residence in the city at the age of 85. 

Asaduzzaman, also a valiant freedom fighter and organizer of the War of Independence, is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters, and a host of relatives and admirers. Asaduzzaman bhai, who I was very close to, was also a former adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. 

He was buried with state honour at his family graveyard at Naruchini village at Gopalpur upazila under Tangail district following his second namaz- e-janaza there. Born on October 22 in 1935, Asaduzzaman was elected member of parliament from Tangail-2 constituency with AL tickets for three times in 1996, 2008, and 2014. 

In honour of the memory of Khandaker Asaduzzaman, we publish this translation of an extract from his memoirs of the Liberation War, and how he came to join it: “Although the Awami League won an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections, I, like many others, had doubts about whether the people of East Pakistan would actually gain power at all. This idea became more and more entrenched in my mind when Pakistanis started procrastinating on various excuses for handing over power even after the results of the special elections were announced. Everything seemed to be a sorted affair, a lovely ploy, trying to cover up something deep. 

“I was the deputy commissioner of Rajshahi at that time. After January 5, I was appointed as the joint secretary of the finance department of the provincial government. I came to Dhaka and got up at the circuit house and kept looking around. When the cabinet was disbanded on February 22, my fears intensified that something very bad was about to happen and that everything was in preparation for it. 

“When the session of parliament is adjourned, it can be said that we are kind of sure that disaster is ahead. Almost everyone joined the tide of mass movement that was flowing at this time. Everyone wanted to play a role. Those of us who were in government service and at the same time were country-conscious citizens, in particular, continue to discuss what role we should play in the current situation. 

“After discussion we come to some decisions and consensus. Everyone understands that the impending disaster is something unimaginable and understands that there is a purpose behind this conspiracy -- it is to put an end to the movement for the rights of the Bengalis. Non- cooperation or resistance must be done in any way. 

“The crisis of the country and the nation is so intense that there is no room for public-private impressions. We continue to review the course of events. It is easy to assume that the preparation phase has reached its climax. Weapons have arrived in MV Swat. It seemed to me that something terrible was about to happen. When the army killed people in Joydevpur, Chatgaon, and a few other places, it became clear which way the incident was taking. 

“In view of this situation, I left for my village home Tangail on the 23rd. There are talks with leaders of different levels. On the 24th my sister-in-law left Dhaka and told us that Dhaka has now become a scary city. On the 25th the discussion broke down. We came to know about the incident in Dhaka on the 26th. After hearing about this incident, various political leaders came together and all together decided on the next program. It was declared that Bangladesh is independent and we will fight for this independence.” (Bangladesh Liberation War Documents, Volume 15) 

Enayetullah Khan is Editor-in-Chief of UNB, Dhaka Courier, and Chairman of WildTeam.

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