Mujib-killers were extended state patronage
Earlier, on April 12 the Bangladesh government executed former Army officer Capt Abdul Majed. Another self-confessed Mujib-killer Abdul Majed was hiding in India and other places since 1996 to escape justice for his crime in Bangladesh. Despite the threat of deadly novel corona pandemic, hundreds of people had gathered in the midnight in front of Dhaka Central Jail on the day Majed was hanged.
Ever since the days of Bangladesh’s first military dictator-cum-BNP founder Gen Ziaur Rahman up to the Khaleda Zia regime, the killers of the country’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was assassinated on August 15, 1975, enjoyed various state facilities and patronage.
Indemnity Ordinance was promulgated granting the murderers immunity from prosecution and protection under cloak of law.
Freedom Party, founded by Lt Col Rashid, a self-confessed Mujib killer, was not only allowed to participate in the parliamentary elections in February1996, Rashid’s victory was also ensured through various electoral malpractices. Prior to this, during the regime of Gen Zia and Gen Ershad, the Mujib killers were rehabilitated and many of them joined politics. In 2001, during Khaleda Zia’s second term as Prime Minister, names of the self confessed Mujib killers were withdrawn from the Interpol red notice.
Earlier, in response to the Awami League government’s appeal in 1997 seeking Interpol assistance in locating and arresting the Mujib killers, the international police organization issued a red corner notice against 15 Mujib killers then hiding abroad.
Subsequently five of the killers namely Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Mahiuddin Ahmed (Artillery), Bazlul Huda and Lancer Mahiuddin Ahmed were arrested.
But the process initiated by the Sheikh Hasina government in 1997 was not carried forward when Khaleda Zia assumed power in 2001. After taking over the reigns of the government Khaleda Zia refrained from seeking renewal of the Interpol red corner notice and allowed it to expire.
A cell, set up by the Awami League government in Foreign Ministry during Sheikh Hasina’s rule from 1996-2001 to collect information about the Mujib killers hiding in foreign countries, was closed as the BNP government came to power. The process was however revived when Sheikh Hasina took over the mantle in 2009 for the second time.
Army officers associated with the killing of Sheikh Mujib were given diplomatic job in various Bangladeshi mission abroad in 1976 by Gen Ziaur Rahman. Subsequently all of them were inducted in Foreign Service cadre in 1980.
Gen Ershad followed the policies of his predecessor. After Khaleda Zia took over as Prime Minister in 1991 following the ouster of Ershad’s autocratic rule she continued with the same policies as her government was virtually an extension of Ziaur Rahman and Ershad’s military rule.
Killer-Majors (a term used for the Mujib killers) continued to enjoy all the government facilities, foreign postings and promotions as Foreign Service cadre officers. One of them, namely Maj (retd) Khairuzzaman, who was dismissed from service in 1996 by the Awami League government, was subsequently reinstated as soon as the BNP led government was installed in 2001. He subsequently became Additional Secretary in Foreign Ministry.
Another Mujib killer, Aziz Pasha, whose services at Bangladesh mission in Zimbabwe were terminated in 1996 by the Awami League government, was subsequently given premature retirement with all post retirement facilities by the BNP government. Pasha, however, died in Zimbabwe in 2002.
Right from Gen Ziaur Rahman’s time down to his wife Khaleda Zia’s rule, jib killers including Lt Col Shariful Haque Dalim, Lt Col AM Rashid Chowdhury, Lt Col SHMB Nur Chowdhury, Lt Col Aziz Pasha and Capt Abdul Majed held diplomatic assignments abroad. Lt Col Shariful Haque Dalim held diplomatic positions in Hong Kong, China and Kenya; Lt Col Aziz Pasha in Algeria and Zimbabwe; Maj Bazlul Huda in Pakistan and Thailand; Lt Col AM Rashed Chowdhury in Saudi Arabia and Japan and Lt Col SHMB Nur Chowdhury in Pakistan.
During the regime of Gen Ershad, two Mujib killers Maj Bazlul Huda and Maj Shahriar Rashid returned to Bangladesh and formed a political party ‘Progotishil Ganatantrik Shakti’.
At around the same time Lt Col Rashid and Lt Col Farooq also returned to Dhaka to set up business with a view to settle down permanently. They formed ‘Freedom Party’. Lt Col Farooq was even encouraged to contest the Presidential election in 1986 to give a democratic façade to the Army rule.
In the controversial parliamentary elections held in 1988, Freedom Party was allowed to participate and the killer Maj Bazlul Huda was given an opportunity to sit in the parliament as an MP. There was a repetition of this when the Khaleda Zia regime created opportunities for another self confessed Mujib killer and Freedom Party leader Lt Col Rashid to enter the parliament as a member in the elections held on February 15, 1996.
It was Sheikh Hasina who initiated the process to bring the Mujib killers to justice.
On January 27, 2010 after completing all legal formalities that included nullifying Indemnity Ordinance that gave the killers immunity from prosecution, five Mujib killers including AKM Mahiuddin Ahmed, Bazlul Huda, Sultan Shahriar Rashid, Farooq Rahman and Mahiuddin Ahmed were executed in compliance of Supreme Court judgment. One Mujib killer Aziz Pasha died in Zimbabwe. Now, after the hanging of Capt Abdul Majed on April 12, 2020 Risaldar Moslem Uddin is one of the remaining five convicts at large along with Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haque Dalim, M Rashed Clowdhury and SHMB Nur Chowdhury. The government is now making relentless efforts to bring the remaining Mujib killers to justice. It is only then that the nation will be freed of the stigma as the country is observing the year 2020 as ‘Mujib Barsho’.