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Zia was man behind August 15 carnage: Historians

DHAKA, Aug 5, 2014 (BSS) - Ziaur Rahman knew about the plot to kill Bangabandhu. Zia was informed about it five months before the incident by Faruq Rahman. Ziaur Rahman was the deputy chief of staff of the Bangladesh Army then. And Faruq was one of the main conspirators behind the killing.

Later, Faruq Rahman told eminent writer and journalist, Anthony Mascarenhas, about it, while Mascarenhas was writing a book on post-Liberation Bangladesh politics, "A Legacy of Blood".

Earlier, Mascarenhas had shot to fame with his book "The Rape of Bangladesh" in mid-1971. The book was the first one of its kind and was instrumental in galvanizing global public opinion in favor of Bangladesh.

Mascarenhas writes, "On March 20, 1975 Faruq informed Zia about his plans. In response Zia said, "If you want to do it, go ahead. But I will not be able to join you."

As soon as Faruq had left his office, Zia instructed his Aide-de-Camp (ADC), not to allow this major into his office again.

But when Mascarenhas raised the issue with Zia, when he went to interview him, Zia neither confirmed nor rejected the charge.

About the issue, another author, Golam Murshid in his "Muktijuddho -o- Tar-Por" (The Liberation War and its Aftermath) says, Zia knew about the conspiracy five months back before the incident happened. But he did not inform the chief of staff or the president about it. He failed to carry out his responsibility. In that sense, he cannot shirk vicarious responsibility for the killing of Bangabandhu," he remarks.

Similarly, Lawrence Lifschultz, a US journalist, feels that General Ziaur Rahman was the key "shadow man" behind the brutal killings of August 15, 1975. Lifschultz, as the South Asia correspondent of the Hong-Kong based magazine, Far Eastern Economic Review, in the '70s, extensively covered the numerous military coup d',tats in Bangladesh that occurred during the period.

In 2012, in an interview on the eve of the National Mourning Day, he said, "I assume, in future, a lot more will be known about Zia's involvement in the August 15th carnage. Currently, my hunch is that Zia was the key man in the August massacres."

The US journalist further said Zia was the key shadow man. If he had opposed to the coup d',tat, he could have stopped it. That was his constitutional obligation.

Besides, the "Sunrise" newspaper of UK in its Volume 2, Number 1 and 2 of September 1977 and in the "Guardian", August 15, 1979 Lifschultz writes, quoting the insurgent officers that Zia had foreknowledge of the coup d',tat.

In the Sunday Times of May 30, 1976 one of the insurgents and killer of Bangabandhu, Major Faruq says, "In accepting the jobs offered (to) them, Mr. Moshtaque and General Zia endorsed our business for change."

A L Khatib in his book "Who Killed Mujib"? (Bikash Publishing House, New Delhi, 1981) writes about it extensively. The circumstantial evidence of the military top brass in the killings of August 15, 1975 is also evident from "Keesing's Contemporary Archives".

Golam Morshed writes, "Zia could have stopped the rebel majors. But he did not. On the contrary, as reward for their crimes they were given lucrative diplomatic postings abroad. And that was not all: Zia reintroduced the Indemnity Ordinance. Moshtaque had earlier cancelled it on October 26, 1975 after introducing it a month ago, in September 26, 1975. But Zia by an ordinance on April 23, 1977 Zia revived Moshtaque's defunct ordinance. And after winning the election in 1979, he incorporated the Indemnity Ordinance into the Constitution."

Regarding the matter Keesing's Archives say, " On November 9, 1975 General Zia dissolved the Judicial Commission set up to inquire into the murder of four ministers in the Dhaka Central jail."