National, Front Page

Jail killing day today

Killers of 4 national leaders still at large

Published : 02 Nov 2021 10:05 PM | Updated : 03 Nov 2021 01:00 PM

Even after 45 years of the killings of the four national leaders, who played crucial roles during the War of Liberation in 1971, and 16 years after the court handed down the punishment, 10 out of 11 convicts remain still at large.  

The four national leaders, Syed Nazrul Islam, who was the acting President of the then Mujibnagar government, its Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmad, Captain M Mansur Ali, who was the Prime Minister of the first government under presidential form in Bangladesh, and AHM Quamruzzaman, another key member of the Mujibnagar government, were assassinated in the then Dhaka Central Jail on November 3 in 1975. 

The ruling Awami League has chalked out various programmes to commemorate the day and also remember the great national leaders. 

According to sources, except for Captain Abdul Majed, one of the 11 convicted killers of the four national leaders, all the 10 other convicted killers are now at large.

Majed, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the jail killing case, was arrested on April 7 this year after decades of abstention. Four days after his arrest, Majed, also a convicted killer of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was executed in connection with Bangabandhu murder case.

Other than Majed, not much progress has been made in arresting the rest of the convicts.

It is believed that all the convicts are hiding abroad, and the government has so far traced the whereabouts of only two -- Rashed Chowdhury staying in the USA and Noor Chowdhury staying in Canada -- but has failed to bring them back due to some legal tangles.

Against this backdrop, the nation is observing the 45th anniversary of Jail Killing Day today to mourn the death of four leading figures of the Liberation War.

According to the first information, five army personnel, wearing Khaki uniforms and carrying STEN guns and SLRs (self-loading rifles), arrived at the erstwhile Dhaka Central Jail around 4:00am on November 3, 1975.

The five, including one who introduced himself as Captain Muslemuddin, attached to the Bangabhaban, entered the jail and killed all four leaders, says the FIR.

The leaders had been put behind bars soon after the August 15, 1975, bloodbath that claimed the lives of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members.

The four leaders, who led the Liberation War in 1971 after Bangabandhu's detention by the Pakistan army, were shot dead following repeated bayonet charges inside the jail.

A day after the jail killing, Kazi Abdul Awal, the then deputy inspector general (prisons), filed the FIR with Lalbagh Police Station.

ABM Fazlul Karim, the then OC of the police station, was tasked with the investigation and he visited the scene where a magistrate made an inquest report of the bodies. Later, a postmortem report was prepared and the OC collected evidence from the spot of the killings.

However, the infamous Indemnity Ordinance blocked the investigation and the trial for about 21 years until officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) reopened the probe on August 18, 1996.

In 2004, a trial court handed punishments to 11 perpetrators including Abdul Majed for the killings.

The government could not even trace eight of the 10, despite making efforts through diplomatic channels, intelligence agencies and Interpol to bring the fugitives back home.

On several occasions, Law Minister Anisul Huq said that the government was planning to set up a commission to identify all those behind the killings of Bangabandhu and the four leaders.

He said that the government had already taken legal steps and engaged with the US and the Canadian governments to bring back Rashed and Noor to execute the Supreme Court verdict against them.

The law minister also reiterated the government's pledge that it would constitute a commission.

Attorney General AM Amin Uddin said the government has been facing some legal complexities in bringing the fugitive killers of the four national leaders back to the country.

However, the government has been trying to bring them back to the country, he said.

Amin Uddin, also the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said the killers had assassinated the four national leaders in the Dhaka Central Jail, the most guarded place, with the approval of the then autocratic government.

The killing of the four national leaders is one of the most heinous and inhuman incidents in the country, the attorney general added.

The Supreme Court in its judgment in the jail killing case observed that the assassination of the four national leaders was the result of a criminal conspiracy.

The accused could not have carried out the killings unless very powerful state machinery was involved in the conspiracy, the then chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha said in the verdict.

The apex court on April 30, 2013, upheld a Dhaka court's verdict that awarded death sentences to three former army personnel and life imprisonment to eight other people for killing the four national leaders.

The three convicts handed capital punishment are; Muslemuddin, Marfat Ali Shah and Abdul Hashem Mridha.

The eight jailed for life are Khondaker Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haq Dalim, Noor Chowdhury, Rashed Chowdhury, Ahmed Shariful Hossain, Abdul Majed, Kismat Hasem and Nazmul Hossain.

Four other accused -- Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda and AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed -- were executed in the Bangabandhu murder case in 2010.

The following year, the SC exempted the four from charges of killing the national leaders as they had been executed.

Earlier, in August 2008, the High Court had upheld the capital punishment to Muslemuddin and acquitted Marfat, Hashem, Farooq, Shahriar, Mohiuddin and Bazlul Huda in the jail killing case.

Barrister Abdullah Al Mamun, the state defense lawyer appointed by the SC for Marfat and Hashem, yesterday told this correspondent that he did not know the whereabouts of the two accused.

"Marfat Ali Shah, Abdul Hashem Mridha and their relatives have never communicated with me," he added.

Related Topics