Bangladesh 1975: Setting the Clock Back

Bangladesh 1975: Setting the Clock Back

CRI hosted an evidence-based insightful discussion titled ‘Bangladesh 1975: Setting the Clock Back’ on August 20, 2020 on the ramifi­cations of the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with his family and colleagues during the early hours of August 15, 1975.

Investigative journalist Lawrence Lifschultz, author of ‘The Colonel Who Would Not Repent’ Salil Tripathi, professor of geography and former pro-vice chancellor of Dhaka University Dr. Nasreen Ahmed, economist Dr. Mohammed Farashuddin, journalist Syed Badrul Ahsan joined the virtual event as discussant. Journalist Zafar Sobhan moderated the discussion.

Lifschultz, who was the South Asia correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review when the massacre of Bangabandhu’s family took place on August 15, 1975, recounted the days during the discussion.

“The men who were behind, they wouldn’t have moved without Ziaur Rahman’s backing. Ziaur Rahman would move with America’s backing. That needs further investigation.” -Lawrence Lifschultz

Lifschultz suggested that the whole episode requires further investigation. He lauded the judicial process of holding those involved accountable and acknowledged it as a big step forward.

Salil Tripathi, now the visiting scholar at New York University had interviewed Colonel Faruque Rahman, one of the self-confessed assassins of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Salil interviewed him when he came to Bangladesh for the first time in 1986 as a young reporter.

“In 1986, I had just finished my graduate studies in the US and I was back in India and came to Bangladesh essentially to figure out what was going on and what went wrong that was my question and why a country which started the trajectory of democracy, secularism and liberalism ended up having essentially one party state leading to the assassination of Sheikh Mujib, jail killing, coups and counter coups?” -Salil Tripathi

Salil, while vividly recollecting his first encounter with Faruque, said, he had noticed no repentance in Faruque during the interview. Salil was surprised at his sheer ruthless confidence during the interview.

Dr. Mohammed Farahsduddin, a former Bangladesh Bank governor who had served as Bangabandhu’s private secretary, said that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had been taking Bangladesh forward on the right path despite overwhelming odds. But the military rulers choked the people’s voices.

Dr. Nasreen Ahmad, former pro-vice chancellor of Dhaka University, said the killing of Bangabandhu left the nation in state of shock and hopelessness.

“…We couldn’t get organized to demand justice. On the contrary, we had to feed the next generation false history. The entire environment was full of betrayal and double-dealings.” -Dr. Nasreen Ahmad

Dr. Nasreen Ahmad brought a number of anecdotes of the darkest hours of Bengali nation.

Besides, the discussants shed light on the immediate aftermath of the assassination, its impact on nation and political landscape of Bangladesh. How the rest of the 1970s changed the political landscape forever, who are the key elements of the brutality, how Bangladesh’s founding principles were disregarded and how a generation grew up knowing false history of the emergence of Bangladesh, were discussed during the event.


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