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Monday, June 7, 2010

“Murder, Mayhem and Politics in Bangladesh”

Source: Asian Tribune.

Book Review

Rajen Thakur – Reporting from Dhaka for Asian Tribune
Dhaka, 31 May 2010 (
Rabindranath _Tivedi.JPG
Rabindranath Trivedi
The book titled “Murder, Mayhem and Politics in Bangladesh” by Rabindranath Trivedi ,a retired Additional secretary ,Government of Bangladesh, is a socio-politico development between the periods of 1946 and 2008 in East Bengal turned Bangladesh, covering issues during Pakistani era, Minority Politics and Parliamentary Elections , Birth of Bangladesh by fire and Involvement of USA, UN , CHINA, USSR and Indian Government, Army and BSF in Bangladesh Liberation war, Minority Exodus & Politics, Development of Political Environment after August 1975 .

“In 1971, Bangladesh evoked sympathy and support from a great majority of people throughout the world. Whether it was expressed through statements or resolution from the British MPs or by an offer from Andre Malraux to drive tank into the battle on the side of the Bangalee freedom fighters, everyone seems to empathize with the people of Bangladesh. The surrender of the Pakistan army on December 16, 1971 symbolized a transfer of power from the military to the people. Hopes were rekindled of a new economic order which would serve the needs of the rural poor. This hope was encouraged by the absence of powerful elites. Bangladesh was rid of most of the military and of the powerful economic groups which were from West Pakistan .

‘The Awami league Government headed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib had enjoyed almost unparalleled popular support, confirmed by an early general election held in 1973. It committed itself to a programme aimed at achieving socialism through the democratic process, reflecting the popular expectation of basic economic change which would alter the elite- dominated and elite-centred economic system which had existed till that time. “It was then when the economic front marked an improving trend and bumper harvests were being brought in that a “military coup” took place.

”The Coup of August on 15, 1975 in which president Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, founder of nation-state of Bangladesh, and his family members were assassinated, shows how easy it really was to change a government by such means. The events of the three months following the coup, especially the power struggle in the week of November 3, 1975 and killing of four national leaders Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Mansur Ali and A H M Kamaruzzamn in jail, have also shown that it is easier to change a government than to establish and maintain an effective administration. “The assassins of Sheikh Mujib claimed responsibility for these killings; their leader asserted to the press in Bangkok that the murder of the four men had to take place because they were “the only possible civilian challengers to the new military rulers.”

“The Chief Justice, who had been inducted as President after the second coup, declared that the army as a whole was not responsible for the murder of the four ministers, but that this was the act of certain criminal elements. A Judicial Commission of Inquiry had been set up. According to the Report of an Amnesty International Mission led by Sean Macbride in 1977, “ the delegates learned unofficially that the Commission of Inquiry set up to inquire into an incident on the night of November 2/3, 1975, in which four of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s closest associates were killed inside Dacca Central Jail, had not been allowed to convene.” To date, the Commission has not functioned and, according to some reports, it has been dissolved. Indeed, some of those involved in the killing were given diplomatic posts , which they continue to hold.

The killing had all the elements aimed at reversing the expected course of the new country, which won independence from Pakistan after a bloody nine-month-long war in 1971 with the promise of secular democracy in a country where Muslims formed an overwhelming majority. Following great change in Dhaka after August 1975, the state turned authoritarian and for fifteen years (1975-90) military regimes ruled the country, tampered the Constitution, protect the war crime Razakars as well those killers of August and November1975 by allowing them diplomatic posting and party politics.

It is needless to say that Vested Property Act is a law against the spirit of the Constitution of Bangladesh. The Act has violated the fundamental rights of a class of people guaranteed in the Constitution of Bangladesh: Those discriminatory laws and post seventy-five constitutional amendments not only hurt the feelings of the minorities severely, their confidence on Bangladesh state machinery have been dwindled; they have been effectively transformed into second class citizens. As a result the minority community, a very much-advanced component of our population, is unable to contribute to country’s development activities. In Bangladesh, over the 36 years, no government has initiated any committee or commission relating to issues prevailing in the minorities in Bangladesh. The Hindus in Bangladesh participated in the Liberation War of Bangladesh with the expectation that in the newly liberated country they would enjoy equal status and rights along with the majority Muslim community. But in practice, the persecution of the minorities continued even after independence in 1971.

The forms of oppression upon the minorities both physically and psychologically are manifold:

1. Constitutionally, minorities have been downgraded by adopting 5th and 8th amendment to the Constitution, and made them a second class citizens in the People’s Republic;

2. Economically, they have been crippled through discriminatory laws and practices; they have been made non-entity in different civil services including, army and police (below 2%) and non-government services;

3. Politically, they have been segregated and alienated from the mainstream and become a ‘vote-bank’ and a subject of humiliation; They are totally deprived of the privileges of participation in the top positions of government and the state;

4. In the field of education they have been victim of communalism and Culturally and socially, they along with place of warship and women are insecure;

Their ancestral properties including Devuttur properties have been made Enemy turned vested, though High Court declare those laws illegal;

As a policy of the discriminatory policies, combined with land grabbing; looting, arson, rape, murder and attack on religious institutions of the Hindus with the collusion of the certain political parties, if not instigation, of the government agencies, there have been a continuous migration of minorities from Bangladesh, decline of Hindu population in terms of natural growth does not justify that there is no exodus.

Following a mass upsurge that overthrew the military regime of Ershad in 1990 and ushered in democratically elected governments, in 1991, 1996 and 2001, all held under caretaker governments.

The darkness deepened further in the form of the Indemnity Ordinance, which was introduced in September 1975 and then given constitutional legitimacy by Fifth Amendment in April 1979, to protect the killers of Bangabandhu and obstruct justice. Moreover, no government took initiatives to ensure justice to the killing of the country’s founding father and first president until Awami League came to power in 1996 under the leadership of his daughter Sheikh Hasina. The cries and the demands for justice and trial of the killers of 1975 fell into deaf ears.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, by allowing the case to be heard and tried in a normal court of law, has marked a place in history for herself.Thirty-four years after the Bangladesh Supreme Court (Appellate Division) on November 19, 2009 upheld the death sentence on five of his killers, paving the way for their walk to the gallows after a trial that dragged on for 13 years.

Shame only went up in intensity and dimension when Bangladesh's first military dictator, General Ziaur Rahman, made sure that Parliament, elected under his patronage in February 1979, ratified the ordinance and incorporated it in the Fifth Amendment to the constitution. And the second? It was in the mischief of the killers making their way to Dhaka central jail on November 3 1975, barely three months after Bangabandhu's assassination, and shooting the four leaders of the Mujibnagar government dead.

The Awami League, party of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, now led by his daughter Sheikh Hasina, and its allies has won close to 80 per cent of the seats in December 2008. Leading lights of the BNP and its coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami, which made every effort to take the country in the direction of an Islamic state, in which the minorities are discriminated against as a matter of state policy, bit the dust”.

All these comments, ideas, and articles have been placed in the Eight Chapter and inspired me to write this book.“The Murder Mayhem and Politics in Bangladesh”. The Ninth Chapter – a post-script is the development of maiden visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister to India in January 2010 and The Supreme Court verdict: killers to walk to Gallows; and The Constitution to get back on 1972 Track have been incorporated(Press Digest),.

Moreover, I had the occasion to witness the turning point of history while I was posted to Mujibnagar in 1971, Jatiya Sansad in 1975 and lastly at Bangabhaban in August 1975. So, it is not a compilation of articles or thesis prepared by compilation of facts only from published books and guided by an authority on the subject in the university. This is more than that, a synopsized of my reminiscences and articles published in 1971 to the year of 2008 . The responsibility for all the statements, factual or otherwise, entirely rests with the author.

It is said, ‘Behind every book is the man, behind the man is the race, and behind the race is the social and natural environment, whose influence is unconsciously reflected. Therefore, essentially author’s work is a “Minority’s voice’ that was never heard before in Bangladesh.

This book will provide a searching story of the author and a masterly review of the palace clique around the Bangabhaban in August 1975 and its tutored application in the body politic of Bangladesh. It is compulsively readable, immensely informative and an invaluable possession to any reader and institution. (Author)
Rabindranath Trivedi, is a retired Additional Secretary (OSD),GoB, former Press Secretary to the President (1999-2001) and Additional Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh (1997-1998), freedom fighter, author and columnist Cell:+88-01720808810 Tel: +88-02-7119977e-mail:

For Book Contact Publisher : Kakoli Prokashani , 38/4 Banglabazar, Dhaka-1100 Cell : 01917041611

The Murder Mayhem and Politics in Bangladesh”. - By Rabindranath Trivedi ISBN: 984-70133-0406-7 Page-864 Price: Taka 800/- US$ 25/=

Distributors: UK : Sangeeta Limited , 22 Brick Lane, London USA : Muktadhara, 37-69, 2Nd Floor 74st Jackson Height, New York, NY-11372 Canada : Anyamela 300 Danforth Ave (1st Floor Suite,203), Toronto.

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