Originally Published 2013-04-01 00:00:00 Published on Apr 01, 2013
While there was no question of any rapprochement between Bangladesh and Pakistan, there are Muslim diehard elements in Bangladesh who draw their inspiration from Pakistan. These elements aim to strike at the very basic concept of Bangladesh.
A peep into Sheikh Mujib's assassination
President Pranab Mukherjee was recently on a state visit to Dhaka. Bangladesh is witnessing turbulent times with clashes between nationalists and Jamaat elements who had links with anti-Bangladesh forces, manipulated by Pakistan.

The President-s visit reminds me of my own visit to Bangladesh in 1972 as Security Adviser to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. It may be recalled that after Partition, Pakistan consisted of two wings - West and East Pakistan - which later emerged as Bangladesh.

In the elections held in 1970, Mujibur Rehman and his party emerged as winners which were not acceptable to diehard elements like Z A Bhutto. After a brief incarceration in Pakistan, Mujibur Rehman was released but sent to the UK as a neutral destination. Immediately thereafter Mujibur Rehman flew to Delhi where he was given a rousing reception with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi herself receiving him at the foot of the ladder. Mujibur Rehman expressed his gratitude to Indira Gandhi for India-s support to the cause of Bangladesh and flew off to Dhaka in the same plane. His arrival in Dhaka witnessed a massive reception from Bangladeshis.

Indira Gandhi-s senior adviser DP Dar was sent to Dhaka as observer of Bangladesh affairs while JN Dixit, a senior Foreign Service officer, was sent as CDA to Dhaka. Soon after a request came to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from Mujibur Rehman for sparing the services of a senior officer of the Intelligence Bureau to look into the security arrangements for himself in Bangladesh and suggest the necessary recommendations. I was chosen for this job.

I arrived in Dhaka on January 21, 1972, and stayed there for a week interacting with senior officers of the Bangladesh security establishment and also visited the residence and office of Mujibur Rehman. The Bangabandhu, as he was reverentially called by the Bangladeshis, preferred to stay at his own residence at Dhanmandi, a middle class area of Dhaka. His family members stayed with him in the same house and Mujibur Rehman-s wife cooking food for her husband. There was a state guest house with sufficient space and security arrangements such as adequate fencing, etc, and this would have been a better and safer place for the President and his family to stay.

When President Mujibur Rehman set out on a visit to the countryside by road and I travelled in the motorcade observing the security arrangements made at various places where he was stopped and requested to address them. There was total chaos in the arrangements and he was literally mobbed everywhere. President Mujibur Rehman travelled up to Tangail, about 75 miles north of Dhaka, where he accepted the surrender of arms by Tiger Siddiqui, who was one of the Mukti Bahini heroes of Bangladesh liberation movement and had fought the Pakistani forces in 1971.

President Mujib made a visit to Calcutta in February 1972 where a massive public reception awaited him at the maidan. It was one of the largest gatherings in Calcutta-s history. Indira Gandhi was with Mujib on the rostrum and she was dressed in the traditional Bengali garad saree. She also spoke in Bengali in which she was proficient because of her education at Santiniketan during her younger days.

Later, I met Mujibur Rehman in the Calcutta Raj Bhavan and discussed with him for nearly half an hour, on the essentials of my security scheme which had already been given to him. An important recommendation was that he should shift from his ancestral house in Dhanmandi and move into the state guest house. He dismissed the suggestion out of hand. He said that the guest house was notorious as Yahya Khan, Pakistan-s erstwhile military ruler, used to do all sorts of undesirable acts during his official visits and that he would not move out of his own Dhanmandi residence. I said that he should at least look for a spacious house with ample frontage and distance from the road to enable the construction of certain security structures and positioning of the inner and outer cordons. He dismissed this suggestion also and said, "Who would think of causing me any harm."

I found myself talking to an overconfident leader living in an unreal world. No doubt, the Bangabandhu had nothing to fear from his own people at this time.

In June 1972, Mujibur Rehman fell ill and needed surgery. His family members decided to go to London and India offered an Air India plane to ferry him. I was chosen to accompany him to London and I remained there during his medical treatment and returned with him a few days later.

But dark clouds were forming above his head and conspiracies were occurring in the Dhaka cantonment, which Mujibur Rehman was unaware of. My security scheme was given personally to Majib and a copy was sent later officially to the Ministry of External Affairs. These were of no consequence.

In August 1975 the tragic massacre of Sheikh Mujib and his entire family in his own Dhanmandi residence was perpetrated by a section of the Bangladesh Army. It was a great tragedy, waiting to happen.

The emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation was a historic inevitability. Dr Kissinger his memoirs, "The White House Years", published in 1979, has given a detailed account of the India-Pakistan crisis of 1971 as Nixon and he himself viewed it. He believed that it was the beginning of a liberation movement of Bangladeshis. But President Nixon held India responsible for the crisis in East Pakistan which eventually resulted in the war and the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation. Dr Kissinger himself had viewed the emergence of Bangladesh as a visionary and thinker, which he was. He wrote, "Bangladesh was in effect East Bengal, separated only by religion from India-s most fractious and most separatist state of West Bengal. They shared language, tradition, culture and, above all, a volatile national character. Whether it turned nationalist or radical, Bangladesh would emerge as an independent nation". Dr Kissinger went on to say that the Muslim heritage between Bangladesh and Pakistan might eventually lead to a rapprochement with Pakistan, which did not happen.

While there was no question of any rapprochement between Bangladesh and Pakistan, there are Muslim diehard elements in Bangladesh who draw their inspiration from Pakistan. These elements aim to strike at the very basic concept of Bangladesh. A Bangladesh tribunal had sentenced Jamaat Vice-President Delawar Hossain Sayedee to death and assistance to Pakistani troops in the genocide during the Bangladesh war. The more rabid elements of Jamaat, who were described as Razakkars during the liberation days, even vandalised the Shaheed Minar which symbolised the Bangladesh liberation war.

During the visit of Pranab Mukherjee, these Jamaat elements resorted to violence in the streets and the army had to be called out for putting down the violence. Begum Khaleda, the leader of the opposition party BNP, was known to be sympathetic with the Jamaat elements. She cancelled her appointment with President Pranab Mukherjee, even though it was fixed on her own request. This act of Begum Khaleda was condemned by the Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni as an ungracious act on the part of a former Prime Minister. By and large, however, President Pranab Mukherjee-s visit went off successfully.

(The writer is an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation and a former Governor of UP and West Bengal)

Courtesy : The Tribune

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