President M Abdul Hamid said after the brutal assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the then military ruler Ziaur Rahman proposed him to become a minister.
"Zia proposed 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 with the proposal," the president reminisced about Bangabandhu and the aftermath of his killing in a recorded interview given to the state-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) on National Mourning Day.
Referring to the proposal of Ziaur Rahman, the head of the state said he officially protested the barbaric assassination of Bangabandhu by attending a discussion on February 21 in 1976 in Kishoreganj.
"In my speech, I said 'no dictatorship from Hitler-Mussolini to others could have survived and none (autocracy) will survive in our country also,'" the president added.
"A few days later of my remark, I was arrested," the head of the state, who was then student leader-cum-young parliamentarian, recounted, hinting miserable sufferings he endured in the name of imprisonment.
Recalling his memories with the Father of the Nation in an emotion chocked voice, Abdul Hamid said, "I was in the MP hostel on that fateful night of August, and I heard multiple noises before going to my bed at about 3-4 am on the night. I thought that the Dhaka University was rejoicing and firecrackers were exploding."
The president went on saying: "It was about 7 am . . . Khandaker Nurul Islam, an MP of Rajbari who was staying beside my room, knocked at my door and subsequently conveyed the bad news. After a while he came to me with a radio which was telecasting killer Major Dalim's announcement of assassinating Bangabandhu."
Abdul 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 in 1973. He was also elected MP in third parliament election in 1986, fifth parliament election in 1991, seventh parliament polls in 1996, eighth parliament election in 2001 and the national polls last of 2008.
The president, who was involved in politics since his student life, also mentioned many memories with the greatest Bangalee of nation Bangabandhu.
He said being a new Member of Parliament, he got Bangabandhu's cooperation to get his first car.
Referring to pre-15 August overall situation, the veteran politician and close associate of the greatest Bangalee of thousand years Bangabandhu, said, "It seemed that something bad would happen. And I met Bangabandhu at the Ganabhaban in the afternoon of August 11, 1975."
He continued: "Bangabandhu asked me to wait . . . Later in the evening he went for walking in the Ganabhaban garden. I was with him. I talked to him privately and informed him what I came to know from an intelligence agency. But Bangabandhu replied with a smiling face – 'There was a little trouble . . . Everything is now fine. Don't worry'."
Being reassured, Abdul Hamid said, he came back and it was his last meeting with Bangabandhu. "And now I understand that nothing was right then. The assailants were ready to dye their black hands with the red blood of our Father of the Nation," he said.
After hearing the news on the Radio, "I left the MP hostel wearing a sandal and went to Farmgate on foot and from there to one of my relatives' house at Mohakhali. After some days, I went to Kishoreganj," the president mentioned.
He said he turned down the offer of Zia as he did not betray with Bangabandhu's blood. "In my whole life, I tried to uphold Bangabandhu's ideals as a solider of him. As a result, now I have been able to be the President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Right now there is nothing left in my life," he said with satisfaction.
Urging all to come forward to materialize the dream of the Father of the Nation, the president said, "I just want that the ideals of Bangabandhu be alive among generations to generations as Bangabandhu has immense contributions to our national history. He led the nation to each and every movement and struggled to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of people. Bangabandhu had to endure inhuman torture including imprisonment most of his life-time".
He advised the new and future generation to know about Bangabandhu and the actual history of country's Liberation War and heritages to become the worthy citizens.
"Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is not only a name now . . . He is an institution, a timeless history and an entity. Bangabandhu is not with us but he has left a political philosophy, policy and ideology which will show a path of light from generation to generation on the way to progress and development, "the president observed.
Terming Bangladesh now a 'role model' of development and progress in the world, Abdul Hamid said the country, under the efficient and charismatic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the worthy daughter of Bangabandhu, is moving towards development and progress in all sectors like trade, investment ,social, cultural, science and technology.
On the birth centenary of Bangabandhu, the country is on the verge of becoming a "Sonar Bangla" of his dream, he said, adding Bangabandhu has given freedom and her daughter is leading us to establish building a hunger and poverty free country.
About the pandemic COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the president said the whole world is currently facing a serious crisis and it is very urgent to ensure mutual cooperation and adherence to hygiene rules all time.
He asked all to take lesson from the then Muslim Seba Samity formed by Bangabandhu in his student life to provide humanitarian aids to the affected people during the natural and man-made disasters, including the Hindu-Muslim Riots in 1947.
The president prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls of Bangabandhu and all other martyrs of August 15.