Zia barred Int’l Commission’s enquiry into Bangabandhu assassination

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DHAKA, Aug 10, 2018 (BSS) – The international probe body formed in London to investigate the brutal assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members and the subsequent killing of the four national leaders was barred from entering Bangladesh on January in 1981.

The enquiry commission, with British jurist Sir Thomas Williams Q.C, MP, as the chief, was formed on September 18 in 1980. But it was not allowed to visit Bangladesh by the then government headed by General Ziaur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The formation of the commission has been mentioned in the book entitled “Bangabandhu Murder: Facts and Documents”, authored by Professor Abu Sayeed.

Prof Sayeed wrote in his book that the initiative of the jurists commission aimed to investigate the circumstances which had “impeded the normal processes of law and justice,” failed to work because the then government did not want to do it.

The committee was formed following an appeal by the two surviving children of Bangabandhu – current Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana, Captain Mansur Ali’s son Dr Mohammad Selim and Syed Nazrul Islam’s son Syed Ashraful Islam, public administration minister and AL presidium member.

After examining the documents and evidence, the probe commission reached a conclusion saying that the killings were carried out by a group of the disgruntled retired and in-service armed forces’ personnel, the book reads.

Bangladesh’s founding father and President Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated along with most of his family members on the fateful night on August 15 in 1975.

Meanwhile, four national leaders — Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain M Mansur Ali and AHM Quamaruzzaman — were gunned down by some disgruntled army officers inside Dhaka Central Jail on November 3 in the same year.

The enquiry committee mentioned that army officers involved in the massacre could be identified as they left Bangladesh for Bangkok on November 3, 1975 following the jail killings, earlier that night. They were Lieutenant Colonel Faruq, Lt Col Abdur Rashid and Major Shariful Haque Dalim.

The probe body also took cognizance of the interview of the self-confessed killer Col Faruq in the London-based “Sunday Times” where he openly bragged about his involvement in the killing of Bangabandhu, his family members and the four national leaders on August 30, 1976.

The international enquiry committee’s other members were Jeffrey Thomas and Solicitor Abrow Rose. The first meeting of the commission was held in a committee room of the House of Commons in London on September 18, 1980. After the meeting, a statement was issued to the press announcing its formation.

It was told that the commission was not allowed entry into Bangladesh on January 13 in 1981 as the then High Commission of Bangladesh in London did not issue visa without any reason, according to the document.

The denial convinced the commission that the legal process would not be allowed to take its own course and that the government was responsible for it.

According to the report, the commission was set up amid concerns felt in many quarters in Bangladesh, and in the international community, at the failure to bring their murderers to justice.

The other members of the committee were Jeffrey Thomas, QC MP, and Aubrey Rose, who acted as secretary.

However, the trial process of Bangabandhu’s murder started 21 years after the gruesome carnage, when the Awami League was elected to power in 1996.

Five individuals convicted of murdering Bangabandhu were hanged in 2010. The masterminds of the assassination were Col Faruque , Lt Col Abdur Rashid and Major Shahriful Haque Dalim.

Meanwhile, 12 army officers involved in the assassinations were rewarded with jobs in diplomatic missions abroad in 1977 when Ziaur Rahman came to power through a military coup.

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