'Ziaur threatened me with 25 yrs in jail if I did not comply with proposal'


By Sumi Khan

Dhaka, Aug 15 (IANS): Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid said on Saturday that following the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the then military officer Ziaur Rahman had proposed to him to become a Minister and even issued a threat along with it.

"Ziaur proposed to me to be a Minister through Colonel Mahfuzur Rahman. At the same time, he also threatened to throw me in jail for 25 years if I did not comply," the President said in an interview to Bangladesh Television (BTV) on National Mourning Day.

He said the Bangabandhu should have been warned about the movements of the then Director of Forces Intelligence (DFI) before August 15 , 1975.

Hamid was elected as the youngest member of the Pakistan National Assembly from Mymensingh-17 constituency in the 1970 election.

He was elected from Kishoreganj-5 constituency in the first general election of the country on March 7, 1973. He was also elected an MP in the parliamentary election in 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and the national polls of 2008.

Hamid, who has been involved in politics since his student days, mentioned various times that he met Bangabandhu for the first time in 1974.

Recalling the last time he spoke to Bangabandhu in private, Hamid said, "I used to visit the cantonment from the MP hostel in 1974-75. From there the DGFI office was very close. I used to observe the behaviour of many of them with my brother-in-law Masum. I didn't like it. Repeatedly it seemed like something bad was going to happen. But I could never imagine that they would kill Rahman."

Sharing that he had warned Bangabandhu before August 15, 1975, Hamid said, "As far as I remember, I went to Ganobhaban on the afternoon of August 11, 1975. The then Minister Korban Ali was also present there. I told Bangabandhu,that I had informed the DGFI office about the issues and said that I did not like their behaviour but with a confident smile Bangabandhu replied, 'Yes, there was a little trouble, everything is fine now. No worries'."

Giving details of the night of Bangabandhu's assassination, Hamid said, "On the night of August 14, I heard multiple noises before going to bed at 3-4 o'clock. I thought there was rejoicing in Dhaka University, crackers were exploding. Khandaker Nurul Islam (Member of Parliament of Rajbarri) from the next room came around 8 a.m. and knocked on the door. As I opened the door, he said 'disaster'. He ran and fetched the radio."

Highlighting the aftermath, he said, "I couldn't hear the next words. My ears were locked... with dizziness. It was hard to believe that they killed my leader, my Bangabandhu, the father of the nation."

The President said, "I officially protested against the assassination of Bangabandhu at a open ground meeting held on February 21, 1976 in Kishoreganj. I just blasted out, No dictatorship has survived since Hitler-Mussolini, nor will it last in this country. It seems that I was arrested a few days later for this crime. Inside the jail, Ziaur Rahman sent a proposal to become a minister through Colonel Mahfuzur Rahman. It was said that if I did not accept the offer, I would have to spend 25 years in jail."

Abdul Hamid said, "I turned down the offer because I could not betray Bangabandhu's blood. I wanted to hold on to his ideals as a soldier of Bangabandhu for the rest of my life."

  

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