Looking Back at History
Monday March 09 2009 18:24:21 PM BDT
By R Chowdhury, USA
Lt Col Mohammad Ziauddin, Dhaka’s first Brigade Commander and one of Bangladesh’s brightest officers, wrote a small article titled “Hidden Pride of Freedom Fighters”. It was prominently published in the front page in the Holiday on August 20, 1972. The article dealt with the demoralized state of the freedom fighters (FFs) due to a sorry state of the nation, a nation they fought and gave blood to liberate from the Pakistani occupants. He also challenged then government to tell the people what the 25-year secret pact with India contained, hinting Bangladesh subjugated itself to be a kind of vassal state to its big neighbor.
It was a bombshell to the Awami League government. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was in Moscow on a medical trip, but the news reached him immediately. Everybody waited for him to return and deal with the matter. Army chief Col (later Major General) Safiullah was praying “Ya Nafsi” at every breath.
When Sheikh Mujib returned home, Ziuddin was summoned and asked to apologize; and everything would be forgiven and forgotten. A proud Ziauddin declined. He was dismissed from service unceremoniously. Out of frustration, Ziauddin joined Siraj Sikdar’s Sarbohara Party. Later, however, he fell out on ideological question and lived a secluded life, only to surface after August 15, 1975. Poor Safiullah was in tears while taking drubbing in plentiful from the ‘king’.
That was the frustration of freedom fighters in August 1972. In the next 3 years, Bangladesh went through far more difficulties and miseries. It saw the creation of a draconian Rakhi Bahini, experienced the enforcement of a rigid Emergency order, had to endure a one-party rule of BAKSAL, succumbed to a one-man dictatorship through 4th constitutional amendment, witnessed the loss of half a million lives in a man-made famine, a highly corruptive political and administrative machinery made Bangladesh the ‘International Basket Case’. These are a few of the achievements of the “Golden Period” of Sheikh Mujubur Rahman, we fondly call Bangabandhu.
Those who know Ziauddin will recall his principled mind. A Sargoda Public School product, he was one of the few officers who defected Pakistan Army in the west and took the hazardous journey through India to reach the liberation war front in the east. His defection team included Major M A Manzur and family (later Major General, and killed in Chittagong following the assassination of President Ziaur Rahman), Major Abu Taher (later Lt Col and hanged after the Sepoy-Janata Revolution on November 7, 1975) and Capt Ghani Patwari (Later Col). Reportedly, Ziauddin did not accept any Indian money as salary or uniform during the war, except which was necessary for survival.
I recalled the story of Ziuddin to remind some of our FFs that they seemed to have lost their pride and orientation. If Bangladesh were to favor the dictates of one neighbor, what was wrong with the other? Why did they have to shed so much blood to get rid of the Pakistanis in 1971?
They remember how the big neighbor came in open arms to welcome them and provide everything they needed to continue their war of independence in 1971. That support was inevitable and the Mukti Bahini certainly felt grateful about it. After the independence, when Sheikh Mujub and the Awami leadership were euphoric in praise of India, Maulana Bhasani cautioned, “It was India who should be grateful to us, not the other way around”. India should check its balance sheet what it gained in the war in 1971 and in the creation of Bangladesh.
After the surrender of Pakistanis on December 16, 1971, Indians were taking away all the Pakistani arms and military equipment, most of them very sophisticated and acquired from the US and China. It appeared odd to a smalltime freedom fighter, a captain, somewhere in Sylhet. He told an Indian colonel that those weapons now belonged to Bangladesh. The colonel replied: firstly, Bangladesh didn’t need any arm forces, and secondly, India would be there to help should there be any need.
The captain thought the colonel said that in jest. He responded that Mukti Bahini was grateful to India for the support it provided to it during the war, and that Bangladesh would not like to remain dependent on India for its defensive needs for ever. Indian colonel did not seem to like the remarks of the young captain, and replied, “Let the politicians bother about that. I am doing my duty only”. He continued his work of taking inventory of the Pakistani armament.
Major M A Jalil, Barisal area Sector Commander, tried to stop the Indians from taking away Pakistani surrendered armaments and equipments. He was arrested and court-martialed by the new Bangladesh government on some flimsy charges. Jalil perhaps violated the terms of the 25-year friendship treaty with India.
Some may argue that Indian subjugation is preferable because it is big, strong, powerful, economically better, technologically advanced and surrounds us from all sides, including from the sea. Is that what our FFs thought when they fought for an independent Bangladesh? If so, then why this hide-n-seek game? Let them openly declare Bangladesh the 29th state of India, the thing RAW has been toiling on for the past few decades.
This is not the question to a coterie of our FFs alone. This applies to our so called intellectuals, journalist, artists, politicians and others who think that our future and salvation lies in the lap of our big neighbor. They perhaps find nothing wrong to get overt and covert pecuniary installments to work for the RAW even that meant going against the interest of Bangladesh. Forget the waters of Gages and 53 other rivers, don’t bother about the ongoing construction of barrages and dams across our borders, forget Talpatti, forget Berubari, forget the oil-drilling rights, forget the artificially created CHT problem, forget the Bangabhumi issue, forget the wire fencing along the border, forget BSF killings and encroachments, forget your security, ignore all its routine interferences in our internal matters. Let the people suffer and go to hell, as long as they get the money and a VIP treatment abroad, fine enough! These are our sold out patriots and the supposed sole authority and spokesmen for Bangladesh!! We need to watch them and their designs.