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Dhaka Tribune

Sheikh Sharhan Naser Tonmoy: Raised in a mindset that we can be killed anytime

When you attack the entire family, then it’s a political genocide, says Sheikh Tonmoy 

Update : 15 Aug 2022, 08:57 PM

Sheikh Sharhan Naser Tonmoy best known as Sheikh Tonmoy says that the third generation of Bangabandhu’s family was brought up in a mindset that they might also be killed anytime like the rest of the family members of the Father of the Nation. Tonmoy, a ruling party lawmaker from Bagerhat-2 declines to term Bangabandhu’s killing an assassination. His father, Sheikh Helal Uddin, a cousin of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was also a member of parliament. A third-generation member of Bangabandhu’s family, Tonmoy shared his thoughts on the August 15 killing during an interview with Dhaka Tribune’s Ali Asif Shawon.

As a third-generation member of the Bangabandhu family how do you see him and his family members being killed on August 15, 1975?

Sheikh Tonmoy: The August 15 killing is a killing of the spirit of independence, the killing of a newborn country, Bangladesh. It was an attempt to kill the ideology of Bangladesh which we got from our war of independence. Now people term it an assassination, there are a lot of assassinations in history but it was not an assassination, it was like a selective killing. Sheikh Kamal received more bullet shots after he said that he was the son of Bangabandhu. We have never seen this type of killing in any other place in the world.

What are the adversities that you faced following August 15?

I have learned the history from my grandmother, usually my father never wanted to discuss the matter with us. My grandfather Sheikh Abu Naser, the only younger brother of Bangabandhu, was also killed that night. We did not feel any impact of the killing on us directly like Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina or her sister Sheikh Rehana but there were some indirect impacts.

When we were being raised as the third generation, the second generation had already suffered a lot. Our school classmates were not friendly with us. We faced problems during school admission despite having merits. That’s why I was sent to a boarding school in India in my childhood and then came back to Dhaka. Our struggle is a process, like a journey. Still, we are on this journey. Post-August 15 is a cruel reality for us. It’s a reality we could not push aside.

What is your take on the killers who are currently living abroad?

Between 1975 and 1996, the process of trying the killers was stopped by an indemnity ordinance. Then the process started in 1996. In 2008, when Awami League came to power, some of the culprits were punished. Still, some masterminds of the plot are living abroad. The government is trying to bring them back.

Do you consider the killing on August 15 as genocide?

Of course, it is genocide. When you attack the entire family, then it’s genocide, it’s a political genocide. Not only genocide, but it was also a preplanned genocide. During the war, conflicting parties wipe out an entire village. But here a family was massacred.

As a young parliamentarian, what is your point of view on the young generation who are not fond of politics?

I was also not in favor of politics. Because of this politics, Bangabandhu was killed. The father of a nation was killed. Just imagine, you are killing a man, with most of his family members, just because he is opposing your ideas. Disliking doesn’t mean killing a family’s 18 persons overnight. Those who were not at Bangabandhu’s residence on August 15 were traced down and killed in the following two days. My grandmother was in Khulna, my father was studying at the cadet college then. Killers traced down my father in the cadet college. It means they wanted to eliminate each and every person in the family. They wanted to finish the bloodline but by the grace of Allah, two daughters of Bangabandhu were unharmed. They made several attacks on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina later, such as the grenade attack of August 21 in 2004. In reality, the struggle is still there. We have been raised in a mindset that, anytime we might be killed.

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