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15 August, 2019 10:42:28 AM
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Fifteenth August: A forgotten story of resistance

Before rushing to Bangabhaban on that unforgettable morning I telephoned many freedom fighter officers to discuss the catastrophic situation
MUSA SADIK
Fifteenth August: A forgotten story of resistance

At six in the morning of August 15, 1975 Pronodit Borua, an artiste of Swadhin Bangla Betar, began to pound the gate of my government quarters at Azimpur Colony. The moment I opened the door he was screening by saying “Bangabandhu is dead. Switched on radio.” The banging and screening were so frightful. The radio was by now switched on. The radio was beaming the voice of Major Dalim “This is Major Dalim on the air. Sheikh Mujib, the Mir Jafar of Bengal, has been assassinated. Sheikh Mujib the Mir Jafar of Bangla has been assassinated. The government of Sheikh Mujib the Mir Jafar has been ousted. A curfew has been clamped all over the country including the city of Dhaka”.
Before rushing to Bangabhaban on that unforgettable morning I telephoned many Freedom Fighter officers to discuss the catastrophic situation. Information secretary of the Mujibnagar Government Anwarul Huq used to reside at Gulshan. I had the closest professional relationship with him and during the liberation war he was the inspiration behind many of my very daring ventures. He told me: “Contact SP Mahbub. If he can build up some resistance from the side of the police and students, the people will join in droves”.
Failing to contact SP Mahbub, Bir Bikram, I tried to contact other Awami League Leaders but despite many repeated attempts was terribly frustrating. Then Pronodit-Da told me he had the the unclassified phone number in Sheikh Kamal’s bedroom (Virtually that was Sultana Kamal Khuku’s telephone unknown to all officers of T&T except Chairman. Since he was her Music teacher Sultana Kamal Khuku wife of Sheikh Kamal gave him this unclassified number). He saw me frantically dialling all the numbers of Bangabandhu’s residence that were available in the telephone directory. I then told him: “Why didn’t you give me this number before? He replied: “Brother, my head is reeling. I was in the Engineering University Hall. In my sleep I heard someone shout that Bangabandhu has been murdered. On hearing that I rushed to you in a stupefied state.” By then I dialled the unclassified number of Sheikh Kamal (Regrettably I don’t remember that number after all these years and Pronodit Da is no more). After three rings someone at the other end said “Hello”. I answered: “This is a friend of Sheikh Kamal speaking. How is Kamal? From the other end came a reply in chaste Urdu “Bohot Achchha. Aap Koun?” I said, “I am a friend of his. Why is the sound of gunshots coming from around their house?” the man said again in chaste Urdu, “Nothing. Crackers are exploding. These people are celebrating. Who are you? From where are you speaking? Give me your telephone number, give me...” At quarter-to-seven in the morning at Bangabandhu’s house at Road 32 voice of a man speaking chaste Urdu! I was fully convinced that whoever might have attacked Bangabandhu’s house, Pak troops must be among them. Pronodit-Da who had pressed his ear to the receiver said: “Musa, this is the voice of a Pakistani soldier. By then my temper rose and I told him in English, “Why are you speaking in Urdu? Are you Pakistani army?” He thundered, “I am your father. What’s your address, bastard?”

After hearing chaste Urdu from the murderers in Bangabandhu’s house and suffering from the abusive term ‘bastard’ flung at me I was left in no doubt that whoever the assassins were, they had acted in liaison with Pak military and not acted alone.

In an early morning of August 15, I called overseas Trunk Supervisor on his phone number 242729. I asked him to connect me right now with the Principal Secretary of the Government Mr. Ruhul Quddus in London.

I got connection in 5 minutes. My mama asked me by using his name to call all Secretaries and convey them his message not to attend any program of killers, particularly Oath-Taking ceremony of killer Moshtaq in Bangabhaban.

Reaching Bangabhaban at 10.30am I started calling all of them them and requested Abdul Mannan, APS to President to do me some help. He warned me and said, “Musa vai, Cabinet Secretary H. T Imam by reaching here at 9.30 am called all Secretaries over Red telephone and by using the name of Dalim-Farooq-Rashid commanded all of them to come to Bangabhaban otherwise the Army will go to their house. And if they go, they can massacre their families, like the families of traitor at Dhanmondi.”

In an early morning of August 15, I called overseas Trunk Supervisor on his phone number 242729. I asked him to connect me right now with the Principal Secretary of the Government Mr. Ruhul Quddus in London. I got connection in 5 minutes. My mama asked me by using his name to call all Secretaries and convey them his message not to attend any program of killers, particularly Oath-Taking ceremony of killer Moshtaq in Bangabhaban.

Reaching Bangabhaban at 10.30am I started calling all of them them and requested Abdul Mannan, APS to President to do me some help. He warned me and said, “Musa vai, Cabinet Secretary H. T Imam by reaching here at 9.30 am called all Secretaries over Red telephone and by using the name of Dalim-Farooq-Rashid commanded all of them to come to Bangabhaban otherwise the Army will go to their house. And if they go, they can massacre their families, like the families of traitor at Dhanmondi.”

I and Mr. Mannan belong to West Bengal and we had a very secret relationship and professional understanding since 1972. We used to exchange all secrets in between us, we trusted each other like close friends. But the attitude of his non-cooperation made me surprised! I told him, “Government of Bangabndhu still alive. Vice President Syed Nazrul Islam Sir would be the President automatically and run the Government of Bangabandhu.”

At that point of time I got connected over phone with CGS Gen Khaled Mosharraf. COD to CGS Major Hossain connected me with him. We knew each other very closely since 1971. He was one of our best war heroes. I used to give his lot of coverage from Swadhin Bangla Betar as “War Correspondent”. He used to love my like anything. He also advised me to leave Bangabhaban along with all other Officers, so that killers can’t claim that Civil Officers also supported the killing of Bangabandhu.

On the other side, Gen Latif, DG of DGFI submitted report in 1977 that Mr. Musa was responsible for distributing leaflets on August 29, 1975 in Dhaka cantonment. (Freedom-Fighter Officers congratulated the sharpness of their memory box in their heads.) On the opportunity of 1977 coup, they brought charge against me “Mr. Musa said coup is successful and President Zaiur Rahman is dead. It’s a good news. Let us celebrate it.”

Abdus Sobhan, Deputy Secretary issued letter to me on 24/10/1977 to explain my anti-state conspiracy activities and derogatory remarks about the Head of State. But meanwhile DGFI started searching me everywhere. (Editor of Daily News Today, Mr. Reaz Uddin Ahmed used to ask me even today “how you have escaped death?”) They also reached Bangabhaban. Mr. Noor Mohammad, CSP (enjoyed lot of blessings of my mama), Principal Secretary to President saved me by giving Tk 10,000/- from cashier of Bangabhaban and forced me to leave Bangabhaban within 2/3 minutes from the gate of Ittefaq and instructed me to cross the border before sun set. I left Bangabhaban in rocket speed, and following his instruction, crossed the border of Comilla at dead of night and reached India. Thus I survived, otherwise the charge they brought against me, contained only one punishment i.e. death sentence. Thus I walked out the door of martyrdom second time in my life. It was during liberation war on Thursday, December 02, 1971, I was caught by Pakistan Army at Chachra, Sector 8, tortured, bayoneted and left me unconscious among dead bodies. Sudden Artillery Shell of the Allied Forces there forced Pak Army to retreat hurriedly and advanced Bengal Regiment under command of Capt Nazmul Huda, who later rescued me with another one and placed us in Indian field hospital. Thus, I survived from the door of martyrdom first time in my life in 1971. In this connection Prime Minister Taj Uddin Sir had left a report in his file in the Ministry of Defense in 1971.

Bangabandhu called my mama to London at around 10 pm Bangladesh time on August 13 and requested him to come back quickly. He expressed his flastration and said, “Many things are going wrong here. Some dangerous may happen in Bangladesh. You remember, we had been together during Agartala affairs. But Subedar Amir Hossain betrayed us and we had to face death sentence. I am seeing now lot of Subedar Amir Hossain around me. I am not feeling well. I need you beside me to face them. You come within 2/3 days. Let us face all the conspirators. They are doing conspiracy against Bangladesh. Some foreign powers are also with them. I request you to catch next flight. You have done so much for Bangladesh. Again you are to do and take the leadership of administration and help me to find those conspirators.”

My mama assured him to come back quickly. Bangabandhu 2nd time called him on August 14 Bangladesh time at around 11 pm and clearly directed him to return within day or two and said clearly, “I shall not accept any delay. If you love me and Bangladesh, just fly tomorrow. Don’t delay for a single day. Remember we don’t have time in our hand.” This time after talking to mama he also talked to my mami Mrs Hamida Quddus (still alive. May Allah bless her with long life) and told her, “You all come back quickly. But if you can’t come right now, send him (Mr Quddus) tomorrow or day after. I need him beside me badly.”

After talking with Bangabandhu my mama asked mami to take full preparations to go to Dhaka and he will leave London by catching next flight within a day or two. He commented, “In absence of Tajuddin Shaheb the conspirators got total walk-over to hatch the conspiracy. He is our Pandit Birbal to Bangabandhu. To save Bangabandhu and Bangladesh, we are to bring him back again as his right hand trusted comrade.”

In 1994, State Minister of Defence Prof Nurul Islam gave me an interview in his house at Jamal Khan road in Chittagong. He said, “On 4 or 5 August when Professor Nurul Islam was in a meeting with the then Defence Secretary Mr. Mujibul Haque and the Deputy Chief of Army General Zia about an infantry brigade formation, he received a call from Bangabandhu on his red telephone. About this he recounted, “While the meeting among the three of us going on Bangabandhu telephoned me on the red telephone. Bangabandhu informed me that he was appointing General Shafiullah for another term as Chief and that a gazette notification would be printed on that day. As the telephone was received when the meeting with them was in progress, General Zia asked me, ‘Sir, is it a call from Bangabandhu?’ I said ‘Yes, it was from Bangabandhu’. General Zia again asked, ‘Sir, did he communicate his decision to grant one more term to General Shafiullah?”

Mr Islam said, “Yes.” Hearing this General Zia was very much upset and angry. He asked from me a white sheet of paper and wrote down his resignation in his own hand in English and handed it over to me and rose to leave. I asked Zia to hold patience and to give me one or two days’ time to let me see what I could do for him. Then Zia, slightly angered and depressed, saluted me and left.

Professor Nurul Islam then narrated the later incident. “After discussion with Bangabandhu I summoned Zia. I phoned him and asked him to come to my office soon. Within an hour and half he turned up before me, in a state of great flurry. I told Zia, “I requested Bangabandhu and he has honoured my request. You work with us during the current month for re-building the structure for a new brigade. We hope to be able to complete the task of forming the new brigade within this time-frame. I will accept your resignation effective from September 1. You remain with us and wait for that. Bangabandhu loves you like his son and is full of admiration for you. He will do for you something big and befitting your dignity.” General Zia after hearing this stood up from the chair in front of me, saluted me and said, “Sir, I am really grateful to you. You have rescued me from the humiliation. Sir, I shall pay you back the debt one day. Please tell Bangabandhu I am the General who is always ready to sacrifice my life for him.

At this stage his voice was choked. By pointing with his left hand he bade me to sit down. After a few minutes struggle he was able to hold back his sobs. Then he placed his hand upon his chest, drew deep breaths and said, “By no stretch of the imagination could I realise that the Zia who sprang up from the chair and saluted me on hearing that his resignation was not accepted had started from that moment the countdown of his conspiracy of killing.....?”

War Correspondent of Swadhin Bangla Betar,

Former Secretary, Government of Bangladesh

(Email: infomusabd@gmail.com, web: www.musabd.com)

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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