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bangabandhu-300x220[1]Come November, Bangladesh’s divided soul is even more cleaved apart as people remember. The events of 1975 make many feel sad, angry, celebratory and conflicted to cite a few emotions. People mourn the killing of Sheikh Mujib and his family, have no feelings for the killers and are glad they were hanged yet are relived that the BKSAL regime with its autocracy, end of free media and the general mismanagement of the era ended. Their relief is mixed with a sense of guilt. People mourn the death of the leader and the family but few mourn the politics of that era.

* * *

Couple of years ago after the caretaker government regime was installed, I began to ask some of the involved people about 1975. I conducted a series of interviews but never got around to do the piece I had wanted to. But the information gathered was interesting and I mention a few in my journey to understand the 1975 transition.

* * *

There are several positions on 1975 and like many things in Bangladesh, most are partisan views. What however most people agree upon is that the situation in 1975 was grim and the AL regime wasn’t popular. Some say, that BKSAL had potentials but that within the context of 1975, it’s misunderstood. It’s not a robust defence to make but most arguments say that nothing merited the kind of extreme responses that resulted. Most agree that the steps were extreme and insist it’s not Sheikh Mujib who was responsible but the sycophants surrounding him who did all the bad things. Nobody cheers his and his family’s death.

* * *

Rather than limit it to August 1975, it makes more sense to stretch the lens over the entire 1975, from August to November. There were several parties involved in the events and their identity and characters range from far Right to far Left. Khandaker Mushtaq and his group formed the Rightist bloc, a fact that becomes clearer if one is familiar with the history of Mujibnagar politics of 1971.

Mushtaq was in touch with the US through his representatives — Zahirul Qaiyum, an MP from Comilla and a few others — peddling an anti-Communist line to gain US support. Two things must be stated in this connection. One, there is no evidence that Mushtaq was about to form a confederacy with Pakistan by giving up on Sheikh Mujib and his cause of freedom. The state department archives mention no such conversation or project. Two, the US backed off supporting the Mushtaq contact after Indian intelligence was tipped off and they put an end to Mushtaq’s travel plans and the US began to question the value of this contact as well.

Mushtaq was very miffed by Tajuddin’s takeover as the PM of Mujibnagar in April 1971, which he as the senior most AL leader thought was his right. Sheikh Moni was another contestant who even tried to shut down the April broadcast of Tajuddin Ahmed. Mushtaq was supported in India by the Rightist lobby inside the Indian government and bureaucracy and I had interviewed several of them for my BBC series on the history of 1971.

Mushtaq came together with a band of very disgruntled officers and deed was done in August 1975. Nobody has as yet given any evidence about the exact involvement of each other in the plan.

It was sold to the public as anti-Mujib-anti-BKSAL given the mood of times as anti-Indian.

* * *

What people have said to me is that Ziaur Rahman was also a very disgruntled man and he wanted change. Was this a coup he was planning like the one we had? Those in favour and those against him say the opposite. That Zia was a patriot and he wanted to end one-party rule and give democracy to his people.

Those who opposed him say that Zia was a scheming plotter, openly talking about seizing power. A senior lawyer who was once an AL state minister and well known in professional politics told me that in pre-coup days, Sheikh Mujib was paranoid including about Zia. Even he was taken to task for attending a party where army officers including Zia attended. If so why Sheikh Mujib didn’t take protective measures remains a mystery.

* * *

I have been told that after the August 1975 coup, a number of army officers in fact prevented the group of Faruk-Rashid from taking over many vantage points inside the city and that it prevented many khakis unhappy with Mujib from joining this group. The mainstream army was certainly unhappy with the August takeover but not by a takeover itself. Of the lot, Brigadier Shafayet Jamil with General Khaled Musharraf decided to act. There are contrary reports about Zia’s involvement but Khaled Musharraf was not about to give up leadership just because Zia was reluctant. They mounted a coup on Nov 4 which lasted from nearly three days till Taher’s coup took over.

Several people have told me about a curious connection. They say that Khaleda Musharraf who had many Leftist radicals as his friends contacted Md Toaha of the Bangladesh Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) for support. Toaha apparently went to his party members for support who said that, anti-Indian feeling was high and any anti Mushtaq action would be read as pro-Indian so they refused support.

I had heard this in 1975 and also heard this the last time I went asking. If so, the BCP (M-L) leaders were right because although Khaled Musharrf wasn’t pro-Indian, his coup was read as such and helped gather the emotions that created the environment for his ouster and death.

The procession at Dhaka University which his brother, an MP from the Awami League helped to organise was possibly the last sentence of his death sentence.

Toaha and his party went on to offer unconditional support to Zia after his takeover arguing that this was necessary to keep India and the Awami League away. They paid a price for this collaboration and soon disappeared entirely from political history

* * *

Of all the participants of power takeover, few are as charismatic as Col Taher. He was like Zia and Khaled Musharraf, an iconic figure of the war who lost his leg in the last days of the struggle. Taher teamed up with the JSD cadres and worked together with Inu and others to get the soldiers involved in a Marxist takeover. For a few brief hours it worked and the NCO driven attempt which included annihilating many officers became a success and even the national radio passed on to rebel hands. But for all the Marxist rhetoric, Zia, lodged in jail by Khaled had become the great hero to the soldiers and by the end of next morning, he was out. Zia, the hero of the soldiers and civilians took over and Taher was in jail.

Taher has been seen by many eyes including romantic ones and the image of a one-legged war hero of impeccable reputation who delivers a Marxist revolution overnight is a hugely attractive scenario. His death by his own hands as many claims and his final letter to Lutfa, his wife describing his belief has added to the legend.

But history is full of such great failures and at the end of the day, it was Zia, freed by Taher and the rebellious soldiers who won. The soldiers wanted him and not the retired officer Taher. Zia was the imagined bulwark against Khaled who was imagined as a pro-Indian because he dislodged Khandker Mushtaq, the anti-Indian who had dislodged Sheikh Mujib, the perceived pro-Indian.

* * *

1975 is full of shadows, real and imagined and many conspiracies from many sides. It was full of people deciding to act on their own leaving the people aside. Sheikh Mujib himself did this by imposing BKSAL and it was followed by the army factions who for reasons of their own tried a takeover. Even, Sirajul Alam Khan, the once Awami League leader of the party’s Marxist group who founded the JSD had always preferred to deal with history through conspiracies considering it as pro-people.

Nobody will buy such argument anymore. None of the 1975 combos have ever worked no matter how patriotic and the idea of killing class enemies as a solution to the class question has been discredited in more places including Cambodia and Ethiopia.

* * *

I interviewed a gentleman who was near the top of the Rakkhi Bahini leadership in 1975 and was once posted abroad after the coup mess was over. I asked him, why he didn’t intervene from Savar when Sheikh Mujib was killed. He said, “We could have attacked and held off the army for two days and that would have been enough for the Indians to intervene. But I had been to India as a freedom fighter and didn’t think well of them. If they came, they would never leave I thought. So I didn’t order the troops to move.”

* * *

So it seems it was not just about the death of an individual or his family who was killed but a wide range of politics, local and international that happened and led to the situation. It’s the worst phase in Bangladesh politics because at no time were the people of Bangladesh so absent in matters that concerned them. The idea that military delivers freedom, revolution and liberation has been proven wrong every time.

But it’s not just the military who acted in total disregard for public opinion and participation but the politicians and the conspirators who by definition believed they knew what was good for others. It’s the arrogance of having and wanting power perhaps.

In the end, all have been cast into the proverbial dustbin of history. Only the people remain but they have like the residents of Macondo lived for so long in solitude that nobody has ever given them a second chance.


Afsan Chowdhury is a journalist and researcher

Afsan Chowdhuryis a bdnews24.com columnist.

21 Responses to “What really happened in 1975?”

  1. Melus Haque

    We musn’t forget the devastation caused by the Rakkhi Bahini. They had slain thousands of innocent victims who happened to pass by the force’s way. My dad told me once that he had witnessed a middle-aged man being harassed by the “troops” merely because of his relatively long hair. The civillian was then hung on a pole with his hair…until he gave in…

    Mujib’s force has indeed proven to be ineffective — they couldn’t save the founder himself from being assassinated…what a pity!

  2. Anwarullah Khan

    Some readers like Sanjeeb Hossain seems fixated on Col. Taher and appear keener to prove he was the greatest man there was than understanding the situation and history of that period. I think Afsan Chowdhury’s article is not about individuals in history like Sheikh Mujib, Zia or Taher but the general political conditions that led to the situation. I couldn’t understand why Sanjeeb thought A. Chowdhury says that Zia delivered democracy when he clearly says that no military leader ever delivers anything and that obviously includes Zia. Chowdhury has been more critical of Zia in his previous articles so maybe Sanjeeb needs to calm down a bit and read what is written not conjecture what isn’t there.
    It’s quite possible that Zia conspired to kill Mujib and evidence exists in books and elsewhere but Afsan Chowdhury has not denied that. If I have understood he has built his piece on the interviews he has done.

    I think the part that is fresh is the public perception India had on Bangladeshi events. I didn’t know this part.

    On one side the heroes and on the other, the people.

    • M. Sanjeeb Hossain

      Hello and thank you for your observations. I hope you don’t mind but I shall try and address the issues raised by you and Shafiq Alam in one post. After reading what you said, I really began to ask myself, have I really been fixated on one particular person, i.e. Taher? Yes, it may ‘seem’ so from my earlier comment. But that’s just not ‘it’. It’s really not about ‘holding’ anyone’s bag for me. Unlike others, I do not hold a sketchy/neutral stance over the ’75 chain of events. It’s so easy to be neutral. Yet, Aroj Ali Matubbar once said that the ‘truth’ is never neutral, it always takes a side.

      I agree with you all the way when you say, its ‘… not about individuals in history … but the general political conditions that led to the situation’. But we must also remember that it is individuals who one by one group together to form a ‘political condition’. Nonetheless, yes, we really do need to critically evaluate the political conditions of the ‘70s. And that’s where I humbly submit that Afsan Chowdhury didn’t really do a good job. To me (I’m fully aware that I may be wrong) not denying Zia’s role in Bangabandhu’s murder (which he did) and proactively mentioning such an important fact in his essay (which he did not) are two completely different things. As regards what Zia did and did not deliver, what I was really asking was whether Chowdhury thought if all our sorrows ended with Bangabandhu’s demise. If we look back, Zia enjoyed power for a significant number of years immediately after 1975 or am I just imagining that? Yet referring to the political era of Bangabandhu he writes, ‘People mourn the death of the leader and the family but few mourn the politics of that era.’ It’s as if, everything was okay right after that. It wasn’t, it got worse. Let me point it out for you Sir, where Mr. Chowdhury writes, ‘ people … are glad they were hanged yet are relived that the BKSAL regime with its autocracy, end of free media and the general mismanagement of the era ended.’ You see, it didn’t end … If I’m wrong, please tell me how I’m wrong.

      I think it’s a bit unfair of you to say, ‘On one side the heroes and on the other, the people’. The irony is, men like Bangabandhu, Khaled, Zia, Taher and countless freedom fighters worked hand in hand in 1971 to deliver our freedom (this includes the freedom to argue like the way we are doing right now). So what I’m essentially trying to say here is, heroes can be on the side of the people. They are not always alienated or detached from the people.

      Yes I agree, we really need to understand the ‘politics’ of the ‘70s in order to understand its consequences. What dissatisfies me is that Mr. Chowdhury totally ignores the fact that Taher was not just a ‘military man’. As someone who has read about Taher’s politics (I have also read about his counterparts like Zia and Khaled Musharraf) I’ve reached the conclusion that his ‘politics’ was qualitatively more ‘populist’ and closer to the people.

      It would be naive to think that the way Taher reacted and implemented his views was without flaws. I do not belong to that group of people. If we must, then let us criticise and evaluate ‘how’ he did what he did, rather than conveniently put him into a group of hoe-hum Generals fighting for power (yes, I speak of the days when 1971 was long gone). I think it’s extremely important that Afsan Chowdhury has correctly identified that resorting to the military for answers to our problems is not the solution. If he can make me intelligent enough to understand that (which he has), I think it’s fair to ask of him to deconstruct the political ideologies of those individuals who created the early and mid ’70s. If Afsan Chowdhury/you/I/we can do that, I believe we will be able to understand that period of time better. Let us not put people into a category called ‘military-bad’. It’s just too simplistic. We expect Mr. Chowdhury to fare better than that.

      Thanks as always,

      M. Sanjeeb Hossain

    • Abid Bahar

      A clash between people’s rule vs. hero worshipping

      Research shows Rashid wanted a total annihilation of the Mujib dynasty but Zia didn’t allow it causing Rashid’s anger against Zia as well. It is true that Zia knew about the plot to kill Mujib but didn’t stop it. For Zia was about to be transferred to East Germany as the Bangladesh ambassador ending his career abruptly which like many people under Mujib’s short misrule annoyed Zia (once a Mujib devotee). Osmani was also not happy with Mujib.
      Despite all the unfortunate deaths due to the ‘discontinuity’ in Sheikh dynasty, instead of Taher’s people’s sepoy-army rule, in Bangladesh the multiparty democracy was restored and also the market economy revived surprisingly by a man like some military leaders in USA politics (Isnhower) and UK (Churchill) who came from military background but listened to people, that the country needed democracy. In this universal system, Hasina was also allowed to join as the opposition leader. President Zia also established a democratic opposition political party.
      Contrary to these gains, certain mews media promotes Zia as a dictator simply for his military background implying him as if he was similar to Pakistan’s General Zia.
      Truly from its birth, this infant nation’s history has appeared as the history of a river of blood. People thought the country came first. To them no one owns the country, except its people (democracy); abiding by this formula, the river of blood continues to flow. These are signs of the nation’s decay. Unfortunately, like the AL, BNP is also following the hero-worshipping of Zia.

  3. shafiq alam

    Kudos to Afsan Chowdhury for another marvellous piece. He seems quite unconcerned about whom he makes angry or happy. Are we really reading a person who doesn’t take sides? He’s such an unusual voice in our media.

    Most of us have read the history of 1975 as personal narratives, either pro-Sheikh Mujib, pro-Zia or pro-Taher, etc. but few have tried to put the politics in that perspective. Afsan’s writings seem to say that history is not a celebration of conspiracies but description of event as it happened. All the names, whether it’s the founder Sheikh Mujib or tin pots like Zia, Taher or Khaled Musharraf all end up in the same place. Only the people remain.

    Keep writing even if we don’t like hearing what you say once in a while. Though I think many readers will be uncomfortable with a writer who doesn’t hold anyone’s bag.

  4. Assghar

    Some famous quotes by Bangabandhu Seikh Mujib:

    – “Eibarer songram, swadhonotar songram”
    – March 1971

    – “Ei durbhikhey onek lok mara geche, ami ki korum?”
    (During Famine in 1974)

    – “Amar kombol ta kothay?”
    (Gazi Golam Mostafa, the relief minister, a relative of Mujib was renowned for corruption)

    – “Amar daine chor, bame chor, samne chor, pichone chor, sobdikei chor”
    (Bhasani said in reply, “Mujib, ainay takaiya jare dekhos, seo chor”

    – “Kothay aaj sei Siraj Sikder?”
    (After Siraj Sikder was allegedly killed by Rakhi Bahini)

  5. M Sanjeeb Hossain

    Dear Afsan Chowdhury,

    Yet again, your article promotes something which I understand and prescribe to. Yes, the military does not deliver freedom, revolution and liberation.

    Yet, in your mass of criticism against the military and military figures, you seem to spare Zia in the final picture in the most subtle manner. Let me point out exactly where:

    1) You wrote, ‘ … People … have no feelings for the killers and are glad they were hanged yet are relived that the BKSAL regime with its autocracy, end of free media and the general mismanagement of the era ended.’ Are you seriously promoting that with the end of Bangabandhu era, Bangladesh entered a democratic era in place of autocracy, a free media and most importantly there were end of mismanagement? You must be joking! The lives of people did not change with the murder of Bangabandhu, it got worse.

    2) How is it that you so conveniently evade mentioning Zia’s involvement in the plot to murder Bangabandhu? Let me enlighten you with this youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI_h3ROZUEU And to add to that how is it that you totally ignored the results of Lawrence Lifscultz’s investigation into 1975 which revealed the involvement of Moshtaque, certain factions in the US administration and Zia in Bangabandhu’s murder? Please help me understand.

    3) You wrote, ‘ … For a few brief hours it worked and the NCO driven attempt which included annihilating many officers became a success and even the national radio passed on to rebel hands.’ Well at this point it seems to me that you have been totally misinformed. Many officers annihilated on November 7, 1975. It was Taher’s strictest orders to the Revolutionary Soldiers Organisation (who you refer to as NCOs) that killings were not an option. He enforced this order despite the fact that many jawans indeed wanted to kill, even Zia (yes, even Zia) because they no longer wished to be the pawns of generals fighting for power. Are you unaware that Moshtaque was also trying to take control on the night of November 7? In fact he even made his way to the radio station before eventually being kicked out by Taher. In fact it was Mostaque’s killer officers who were principally responsible for the casualties of November 7. What strikes me even more is that you promote the ‘mis-facts’ of NCOs annihilating many officers under Taher’s leadership, yet you completely ignore Zia’s killing spree in the jails of Bangladesh where he hung thousands of jawans without a proper trial. Why so much love for Zia, Mr. Chowdhury? Oh right, he gave you ‘democracy’, a ‘free media’ and what it was, right, ‘management’!

    4) Finally, you wrote, ‘… But history is full of such great failures and at the end of the day, it was Zia, freed by Taher and the rebellious soldiers who won. …’ I’m really beginning to question the apparent goodness you represent Mr. Chowdhury. May I humbly ask, how many of the 11-point demands of the rebellious soldiers did Zia implement? Apart from abolishing the ‘batman system’, none. Yet you still think the rebellious soldiers won? Do you not know that it was Zia who betrayed the essence of the uprising of November 7 led by Taher and eventually hanged Taher and the remaining rebellious soldiers? I’m talking about the goal of building a classless army where officers and sepoys would work shoulder to shoulder. I ask you, where/when did the rebellious soldiers win? They didn’t Mr. Chowdhury.

    We need answers Mr. Chowdhury. A man who sacrificed a body part for the birth of Bangladesh (yes, I’m referring to Taher), a man who gave up a comfortable life in the army just to engage himself in the battle of building a classless society will not be thrown into what you call ‘the proverbial dustbin of history’. Let me lay it straight for you. If you want to promote your biased agenda you can continue to do so. That’s your sweet will. But do keep in mind, it will then be you who will be thrown into the proverbial dustbin of history, in the nick of time. We readers are not stupid.

    Thanks as always,

    M Sanjeeb Hossain

    • Aninda Rahman

      Waiting for the writer’s reply. But overall, I think he has not been able to see beyond 75, which is in this case very crucial in the understanding of the events discussed. Zia, in the article, seemed to be a reluctant good soul who was only ‘compelled’ to take power.

  6. Abid Bahar

    When Mujib the non-intellectual populist leader, once a fierce fighter for democracy in 1975 established the one-party BKSAL system, closed the opposition newspapers and had extrajudicial killings of his opponents by his Rakkhi Bahini, there at the mountain top of the Bangabhaban some Bangladeshis saw the dripping of a small stream of a river of blood.

    Today the river of blood still flows and will perhaps continue to flow until AL stop seeing the Bengalis as better friends than the fellow Bangladeshi citizens from the opposition parties.

    • Somnath GuhaRoy

      I thought that most of the Bangladeshi population – except for some Santhals, Khasias, Jayantias, Chakmas, Larmas, etc., are Bangalis. Isn’t it so?

  7. Golam Arshad

    A tragic episode expressed with profound excellence. Keep up the good work!

  8. QA Ibn Masud

    1975 is not about people in black and white but people in shades of grey. Major Zia, Col. Taher and Khaled Musharraf are all people of the shades. So was Bangabandhu’s regime.

  9. Syed Ali Afzal

    At least it confirms what we (who had families and other more real existence in the army than those who now talk about it) knew all along that the killing of army officers was started by Taher and not by Zia.

    • M. Sanjeeb Hossain

      Dear Syed Ali Afzal,

      I’d likely to humbly suggest that you do not know for sure whether those ‘who now talk about it’ do not come from an army family. So let us not assume things.

      Furthermore, I’d like to digress on a point you raised about who started the killings in the Bangladesh Army. If I have to seriously consider as to who to point our finger at as the one who started it all, it would be the Col. Faruk-Rashid gang (acting with Khandkar Mushtaq) who killed the first army officer on the dark night of August 15, 1975. The person killed was Colonel Jamil. That is an undisputed fact.

      The parties who continued the killings were essentially no different during November 1975. Here again we see the same killer officers acting under the orders of Khandkar Mushtaq killing other army officers, the goal being to sabotage the uprising of soldiers led by Taher. For instance, Khaled Musharraf was killed by a Captain Jalil and Asad, who were certainly not Taher’s men. I can suggest a book by Colonel Hamid where he confirmed this.

      Finally, it was Zia who took killings to a whole new level who started off by killing his saviour Taher and went on a killing rampage executing hundreds of army personnel who did not see eye to eye with him. A recent book by a Daily Star journalist discloses a list of men from our defence forces who were executed in 1977.

      My conclusion therefore from all this is that Taher was not a killer, so the question of him starting it does not arise. I say this as someone who is ‘now talking about it’ and also as someone who has/had families or a more real existence in the army.

      Thanks as always,


  10. Sumon Rahman

    Such an eloquent picture of 1975 with such a few strokes! Awesome!!

    On a different note, I was trying to re-imagine the shocking experience of the pauperized rural poor throughout the 1970s, on their inescapable and helpless Dhaka-coming during this prolonged turmoil you mentioned. While people at “Macondo” were left abandoned in their solitudes, the more unfortunate of them had to find a city like Dhaka as an asylum! And what an asylum it was in the midst of a series of assassinations, coups and counter-coups, in an absolutely malfunctioned capital city of a state!

  11. Rubo

    A very good article by Afsan Chowdhury. The events of 1975 are still a mystery to many of us. It was the power play that took the lives of our valiant freedom fighters in 1975. Though the most ruthless one won the battle, he also had to meet the same fate few years later. Will we ever know the truth about why and who conspired to kill Bangbandhu, four national leaders, Khaled Mushharraf ,Col Taher, General Zia , General Monzur? They all had played glorious roles during our Liberation War. But we seem to be too reluctant to unfold those mysteries and leave some truths for our future generations.

  12. Mozammel

    The doctrine of necessity is the mother of history.
    Bangladesh was a baby state and it did not get a good caregiver rather some emotional and sentimental leaders who loved the country so much that they failed to detect those who were sucking the baby’s fresh blood like Dracula or a devil incarnated.
    If those devils could be identified and prevented from causing harm to the baby state the situation would have been different.
    The national hero was so right to shout at a meeting “Devils, I am looking for my blanket. Where is it?”
    Many will claim it to be natural for a baby state. But these people accept all events as natural and ultimately the doctrine of necessity becomes established.
    Now if the doctrine of necessity is replaced by doctrine of change, the events could have been prevented.
    Certainly, I believe this is never applicable to the doctrine of truth. The truth always remains the truth.
    The ‘75 events took place because there was a mixture of all doctrines in function.
    It would have been better if a system could be adopted to change everything/replace everyone.
    This November 7, there was a meeting in Dhaka and the police gave permission to both Awami League and BNP to carry out their programmes by blocking roads, making the people facing unnecessary hazards in the name of politics.
    The people have realised that existing politics won’t be able to offer them any benefit but would rather increase their hardships in some way or other.
    Under the umbrella of politics, some rotten apples are amassing wealth and sucking the blood of the poor.
    This should be changed.
    I am tempted to ask the police whether it was the right thing to give political parties permission to block roads.
    Change the doctrine of old concept because by virtue of a legal order it is already illegal to organise any gathering blocking the roads.
    Again I reiterate that Bangladesh is geographically a country surrounded by another country and it is a transit state.

  13. Golam Arshad

    Afsan, you have portrayed in the prismatic effect of the painful saga — “The Enigmatic Tragic Drama of 1975”. It is an irony! Too many shades blurred the “The vicious cohorts” and left the nation to swallow the “The bitter pill of an anti-hero” which stifled the dismayed monument of Brutus into parried SHAME! My friend Caeser was assassinated at the pulpit of sanctified Templeton of Democracy, the Will of The People to the Romans of Disgrace!

    Keep up the good work!

  14. MBI Munshi

    It would seem that even in 1975 the majority of the elites were anti-Indian including many within the AL. The killings of 1975 were essentially a reaction against a pro-Indian agenda. Afsan Chowdhury makes the interesting observation that during this bloody period between ‘1975-1982 at no time were the people of Bangladesh so absent in matters that concerned them.’ Up till 1975 there is probably an obvious and justifiable explanation for this anomaly. The country had just witnessed a devastating war; hundreds of thousands had died from famine in 1973-1974 and the people were cowed down by the atrocities of Rakkhi Bahini. Under these circumstances only the army could have reacted against perceived injustices inflicted upon the people and the country. The people gave their vote of approval of the actions by not staging protests against the deaths. The people did express utter disgust with the killing of Ziaur Rahman when they came out on to the streets during his burial. During the entire history of Bangladesh the people have never shown such massive and spontaneous support for any leader. So in other words, Afsan Chowdhury is partially wrong. In 1975, people chose to be absent but when Zia was assassinated they had no reservation in showing their feelings for the slain leader and disgust at his murderers.

  15. hasina

    Your writings are like breath of fresh air. Unorthodox to the core yet so very informative. We need more journalists like you who can actually make people think instead of being partisan in their views. Indeed, I have learned much about 1975 as I was not in Bangladesh at the time.

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