Zia’s role in blocking Bangabandhu murder investigation proves his connection to the killing: HPM Sheikh Hasina
- Published on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 11:50
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said Ziaur Rahman's role in blocking a British investigation into the assassination of Bangabandhu proves that he connived in the 1975 killings.
She recalled the background and incidents to put the blame on Bangladesh's first military ruler Zia for the murders at a programme organised by the Awami League on Wednesday to mark National Mourning Day.
British jurists, who set up the first enquiry into the murder of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and four national leaders, were barred from entering Bangladesh in January of 1981.
General Zia who went to found the BNP was then the president of Bangladesh.
"My question is - if Ziaur Rahman was innocent, if he was not involved with the killers, he would have let the investigation continue. But he did not even let the British MPs enter Bangladesh or investigate," Hasina said.
Bangladesh's founding father and first President Bangabandhu was killed along with most of his family members on Aug 15, 1975.
Among his children, Hasina and Sheikh Rehana survived the carnage as they were in Europe at that time.
Four national leaders -- Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, M Mansur Ali, and AHM Qamaruzzaman – were shot dead during detention inside Dhaka Central Jail on Nov 3, 1975.
Britain formed a Commission of Jurists aimed to investigate the circumstances that had “impeded the normal processes of law and justice from having taken their course in these cases”.
Their preliminary report was published on Mar 20, 1982, a copy of which is obtained by the bdnews24.com.
The report concludes that the processes of law and justice have not been permitted to take their course following the murders.
After the Aug 15 tragedy, Zia became the centre of power in Bangladesh. Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed took over power first and made Zia army chief. General Zia later replaced Mushtaque.
The Awami League blames Zia for the assassination of Bangabandhu, alleging that he had links with the killers. But the BNP says Zia was only an army officer and it was Awami League leader Mushtaque who had made all the moves including the declaration of martial law.
Hasina said, "The killers carried out the assassinations in a planned way. It was a huge conspiracy. It's unfortunate that killer Mushtaque was involved with the conspiracy and Ziaur Rahman was the accomplice of the killer, Mushtaque."
"Killer Mushtaque proclaimed himself president and made Ziaur Rahman the army chief immediately. This proves how close they were," she said.
Hasina, the President of the Awami League, said those who had opposed Bangladesh's independence during the 1971 Liberation War took power after Bangabandhu's assassination.
She also blamed Zia for harbouring the anti-Bangladesh elements along with the killers of Bangabandhu.
"Ziaur Rahman awarded them jobs in several embassies. He stopped war crimes trial, freed the convicts, and put them in power after grabbing it illegally," she said.
"I saw that game of rewarding the killers repeatedly. Some built organisations with the killers. A so-called progressive party was formed with Barrister Mainul Hosein, killers Huda, Shahriar (Bazlul Huda and Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan). He (Zia) started doing politics using these killers.
"Mainul Hosein, sitting at the Ittefaq, had these killers form a political party. Ziaur Rahman awarded them the posts of prime minister, ministers and advisers," she said.
Hasina also criticised former military dictator HM Ershad, who is now the prime minister's special envoy, for harbouring the killers of Bangabandhu.
"General Ershad allowed killers Rashid, Faruque (Abdur Rashid, Syed Faruque Rahman) to form the Freedom Party and made a candidate for president's post. Khaleda Zia held the Feb 15 (1996) election without any voter and made killers Rashid, Major Huda members of the opposition in parliament," she said.
"But no one asks whether the nation cannot hate those who killed the Father of the Nation, my mother, the children, and those who rewarded the killers.
"Won't the people hate them? Will they continue to lead in the country's politics? Will there always be conspiracies to bring them to power again and again? Why?" she asked.
Hasina also spoke about obstacles to trying the killers of Bangabandhu.
"I couldn't even seek justice. My right to justice was snatched away," she said.
Returning to power in 1996 after 21 years of the assassination of Bangabandhu, the Awami League repealed the Indemnity Ordinance, which had barred the trial of his killers.
"The BNP called a general strike on the day of the verdict so that the judge cannot go to the court. My question is - why did the BNP call the strike if they were innocent?" Hasina asked.
The sentences could not be executed after the BNP returned to power in 2001.
Five individuals convicted of murdering Bangabandhu were hanged in 2010 when the Awami League regained power. They are Syed Faruque Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, Mohiuddin Ahmed and AKM Mohiuddin.
"What should we call those who reward the killers?" Hasina asked.
The prime minister also spoke about the Supreme Court observation that "No nation - no country is made of or by one person", which the Awami League leaders criticise 'as a vague reference to Bangabandhu's role in the Liberation War'.
The Appellate Division led by Chief Justice SK Sinha made the observation in the verdict scrapping the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.
"Some try to say that not a single person freed the country or led the struggle for freedom. The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu had not only led the nation, but he also had organised the people, for which he had resigned from the cabinet. He had inspired the people to seek freedom," Hasina said.
"He was arrested when he proclaimed independence. Not only this, the then president of Pakistan, Yahya Khan, blamed only one person in his speech, and that is Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Haven't the people, who are now saying that no single person liberated the country, read Yahya Khan's speech?" she asked.
Hasina continued: "It's also true that no one can do anything alone. But he needed to organise and inspire the people for this. And the people followed his instructions in every step of the way to free this country."
"Now we simply listen. It may be not the right time to answer everything."