Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the history virtually repeated the Karbala tragedy in Bangladesh on August 15, 1975 with Ziaur Rahman being the key shadow man behind the carnage plot.
"There is a strange similarity between the August 15 massacre and Karbala tragedy. . . The August 15 carnage always reminds us of the Karbala incident," she told a National Mourning Day discussion that coincided with the Ashura tragedy of Muharram 10 in Arabic calendar.
She said assassins had killed Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) grandson and Imam of the Muslim community Hazrat Hossain (RA) in Karbala while "another Karbala tragedy happened in Bangladesh through brutal killing of Bangabandhu and most of his family members in 1975".
Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, however, mentioned that women and children were not killed in the Karbala incident but in Bangladesh the assassins did not spare the women and children.
She said the minor children and women were gunned down in Bangabandhu's 32 Dhanmondi house and the abodes of his political aides and relatives in Minto Road on the fateful night of August 15.
The premier made the comments as she addressed a discussion through a videoconference from her official Ganabhaban residence here this morning while Dhaka north and south city units jointly organised the function followed by special prayers.
Secretaries concerned to the premier accompanied Sheikh Hasina as she joined the event through virtual media from Ganabhaban.
Awami League's central leaders and leader and workers of two Dhaka city units joined the discussion on the 45th martyrdom anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the central office of the party at Bangabandhu Avenue here.
The premier paid her rich tributes to Imam Hossain as well saying "on that day (of 10th Muharram in 680 AD) Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), the grandson of our great Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), was brutally killed in the Karbala Maidan because he was in the path of just".
Dhaka North City AL President Sheikh Bazlur Rahman presided over the discussion, while Dhaka South City AL General Secretray Humayun Kabir moderated the function.
At the outset of the meeting, a minute's silence was observed as a mark of profound respect to the memories of Bangabandhu and other martyrs of the August 15 carnage.
Sheikh Hasina said the Father of the Nation's killers in their words and in media interviews confessed that they drew Ziaur Rahman's blessings and all kinds of support in carrying out the carnage.
She said Bangabandhu cabinet's senior member and the then commerce minister Khandaker Moshtaq as well was completely involved in the plot to be remembered in history as a betrayer as he Moshtaq declared himself as the president of Bangladesh soon after the carnage.
The premier said Zia had earned Khandaker Moshtaq's trust and that is why he made him the army chief removing General Safiullah.
"As long as Khandaker Moshtaque was in Bangabhaban, Zia frequently visited there and maintained contact and held meetings with Bangabandhu's killers . . . the involvement of Zia in Bangabandhu's killing is now clear before the people with these evidence," she said.
The prime minister said the killers – Faruk, Rashid, Noor, Huda, Shahriar, Mosleuddin, Rashed, Pasha, Khairuzzaman – and some such army officers brutally killed Bangabandhu on August 15 in 1975.
"I don't know what a heinous frenzy of joy they (killers) got by killing the Father of the Nation …what they got through this assassination and from whom they got such a big courage?" she questioned.
Sheikh Hasina, also the elder daughter of Bangabandhu, questioned further: "What was the offence of the Father of the Nation?"
"Was it his offence that he brought independence of a nation and gave it the scope of getting self-identity. Was it his offence he wanted to give the people economic freedom and present a better life?" she said.
The prime minister said Bangabandhu had huge contributions in creating the state named Pakistan. "He (Bangabandhu) made struggles and joined the movement under the leadership of Hussain Shaheed Surwardhy for establishing Pakistan," she said.
"But it was seen after the establishment of Pakistan that the Bangalees were exploited and deprived and he started struggles to free the Bangalees from exploitation and deprivation and this struggle was initiated in 1948 when the conspiracies began to snatch our mother tongue," she said.
The prime minister said the Father of the Nation suffered jail time and again. "Why he made so much sacrifice in his life? It was only for the people of Bangladesh and its people," she said.
The AL president said numerous leaders and activists of the party made struggles and sacrificed their lives responding to the call of the Father of the Nation. "They were tortured in various ways, but they were not derailed from the ideology and they moved forward with a goal," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu had taken every step in a planned way to attain this goal. "He advanced step by step and repeatedly raised the demand of the Bangalees," she said.
The premier pointed out that Bangabandhu joined processions for hungry people and he was expelled from Dhaka University while going to join a movement for its class four employees.
"But he didn't look at himself nor compromised with principles and ideology as he continued working for the people and their welfare," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said he placed the historic six-point demand and it got huge popularity among the freedom-loving people as they realized that their freedom was sown in the six-point demand.
The prime minister said the Father of the Nation declared independence at the moment when the Pakistan military launched attacks on the Bangalees on the night of March 25 in 1971.
"Earlier, in his March 7 speech Bangabandhu gave directives to the nation on how to take preparation for waging guerrilla war and the Bangalee nation complied with the instructions word by word," she said.
Sheikh Hasina recalled that their Dhanmondi-32 house was attacked by the Pakistani occupation forces at the moment when the Father of the Nation declared independence. "Subsequently, Bangabandhu was arrested by the Pakistan army and was taken to Pakistan where he was detained in jail," she said.
The prime minister said Bangabandhu never spoke to anybody except journalist David Frost about the pain and sorrow he suffered during his stay in jail in Pakistan.
"He (Bangabandhu) talked some words with David Frost in an interview and we knew from him (Frost) that Bangabandhu was hit by rifle butt in his back from the head to leg," she said.
The prime minister said Bangabandhu lost 40 pounds of weight staying at the Pakistan jail during the Liberation War and when she returned home on January 10 after independence, he was seen lean and thin.
"Remaining at that state, he knew that the country will become independent and he didn't lose a little bit of mental strength," she said, adding the Father the Nation risked his life and bore all pains for Bangladesh's independence and the freedom its people.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu moved ahead bearing with all sorrows and pains and he didn't accept any condition in exchange for his release.
The prime minister said when the Father of the Nation was released from the jail, he went to London first and made his comments there.
Sheikh Hasina said after returning home Bangabandhu took the charge of the war-ravaged country and in his January 10 speech, he announced in which ideology and way the country will be run and he also unveiled the outline of the entire country.
She said the Father of the Nation had laid the foundation of all things and he enacted all necessary laws to bring smiles on the faces of the common people by meeting their basic needs including foods, housing and healthcare.
The prime minister said Bangladesh got membership of all international organisations during the Bangabandhu government. "Any country could not earn so much achievements within such a short time and it was possible due to the leadership of Bangabandhu," she said.
Taking a swipe at a section of people who always question about existence of democracy, the prime minister said how those who grabbed power by suspending and violating constitution and promulgating marshal law could give democracy.
Pointing to military rulers who grabbed power after 1975, she said Ziaur Rahman and HM Ershad did the same things that Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan did.
"Democracy was in words, was it there practically during that time? Those who grabbed power through marshal law couldn't give democracy" she said.
The AL president said after grabbing power, Ziaur Rahman killed numerous leaders and activists of the Awami League. "Coups took place one after another during Zia's rule and he killed thousands of freedom fighter army officers through it," she added.
Sheikh Hasina said in this way Zia had established a reign of killing in the country. "Zia rewarded Bangabandhu's killers by appointing them in Bangladesh missions abroad and where was democracy (at that time)?" she questioned.
The premier said there are many intellectuals and learned people who search for democracy. "Did they do it when emergency was imposed or military dictator grabbed power ?" she added.
"They get taste of democracy when such (unelected) governments assume power," she said, adding their character is to make sycophants and those grab power in this way hire sycophants.
Sheikh Hasina added that these people are always ready to be used by the unelected governments. "When the true democratic system exists they've no value. It's the main aim of a government to meet the basic needs of the people and it's possible for a democratic government," she said
The premier said the people of the country realised for the first time that the government is their servant and it works for public welfare when Awami League came to power in 1996 after 21 years.
"Bangladesh Awami League is founded by Bangabandhu and we work with his ideology," she said.
Stressing the need for constituting ideology-based organisations, the AL chief asked the party leaders not to allow the infiltrators to Bangladesh Awami League (AL) saying that the party is to face a bad image due to their misdeeds.
"When any (party) remains in power, some people come in (join the party) from different sides. Joining the party, they resort to different incidents and misdeeds. The party is to take responsibility of those," she said.
The prime minister said this is why she earlier warned the party leaders and activists not to allow those who come from the political parties founded by the military dictators and those who are linked with war criminals.
"Because, if they come in, they harm the party and resort to such incidents and kill our good leaders and activists. The incidents surface as infightings. But when it is unearthed, these are found as the occurrences done by those who came in suddenly and took place in the party," she added.
Sheikh Hasina said they (infiltrators) behave so nicely that many party leaders take them (in their fold) for strengthening their groups. "Bringing them in such a way is very harmful for us," she added.
She said that Bangladesh Awami League is the only party in Bangladesh, which is well-organised up to grassroots level having a huge supporters and public support.
About the coronavirus pandemic, the premier said not only Bangladesh, the economy of all countries got stalled due to the deadly virus. "Despite the coronavirus outbreak, we have been able to continue our work. As a result, the reserve of the remittance (foreign exchange) has increased to 39 billion dollars," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is continuing providing various kinds of incentives so that the people get rid of poverty.
"We've announced various stimulus packages so that our agriculture, industries, trade and commerce run smoothly … we've given incentives equivalent to four percent of GDP to keep the wheels of our economic activities operative," she said.
The prime minister reiterated her call to the people including party leaders and activists to comply with health codes properly to protect themselves from the transmission of conoravirus.
She thanked the party leaders and workers as well as government and non-government organisations for standing beside the people during the coronavirus situation.