Vol. 5 Num 50 Fri. July 16, 2004  
Letters to Editor

Tampering with history

As with most of your excellent editorials, I could not help agreeing with this one written on July 12th (Tampering with History). I think your call for an immediate cessation of this suicidal trend that the BNP seems so adept in introducing to our politics at regular intervals is a right one, but I guess the damage has already been done. I really do not know how the BNP can backtrack on this one. The AL has already started setting into motion what it is capable of; using this un-political action by the BNP to put a gridlock on the country and the economy. With the AL having come back to Parliament and with the two major parties talking on the ways to end the culture of hartals, this act of the BNP was highly injudicious from the point of timing.

However, now that the damage is done, there is a lot to be said about this matter of proclamation of independence that has not thus far been written correctly. While the AL was in power, the interpretation that it gave to this important and critical phase of our history was grossly one sided where all credit was given for everything about our liberation to Bangabandhu and by that token to the Awami League. Bangabandhu has been shown as the great dreamer of our independence movement, as the great architect who not only visualised but led us through every stage of this step-by-step movement for independence, starting with the Language Movement in 1952 to the movements in the 60s; to the students' upheaval in 1969 and finally, to our war of liberation even though for the last named stage he chose for himself the prison rather than being with the people to fight with them. It seems like he was convinced that if he gave a Declaration of Independence, that would be enough for the people to fight and win independence and he could spend his time incarcerated.

The AL's presentation of history is fictitious to say the least; too wishy washy to stand any real scrutiny. Just for thought, Bangabandhu was through out his political life a nationalist while an outspoken and charismatic leader of the rights of the people of East Pakistan.

The truth of 1971 is that it was a people's war where leadership was given by the heroes like Major Zia, Khaled Mosharaff and the rest who fought with Bangabandhu as the unquestioned leader, for he gave us the courage to demand our rights.


I was a 30 year old young man when the Pakistan army pounced on the people of East Pakistan on the night of 25 March, 1971.

Massacre in Dhaka city went on for two nights and one day under the cover of curfew. Curfew was relaxed for a few hours on the morning of 27th March, '71. I went out of my residence to do some essential shopping. A shopkeeper whispered to me to go home and listen to Chittagong Radio Station. I came back and switched on my radio to Chittagong . There a young Major Ziaur Rahman was fervently announcing on behalf of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the independence of Bangladesh and pleading to people of East Pakistan to join the war of liberation. He also sought recognition of Bangladesh and help from friendly countries. I have heard these announcements several times and at no stage Major Ziaur Rahman had omitted the name of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The sound still ring in my ears. In 1971, the history had unfolded in front of my eyes and many others of my age group. Historians cannot bluff us.

I feel deeply saddened to see the history of Bangladesh Liberation War being distorted and a controversy on the subject is raging since the restoration of democracy. I firmly believe people who distort history can also distort their own background. They are no historians. A nation that cannot write its history correctly cannot move forward. We are belittling ourselves in the comity of nations. It's a shame.

Ziauddin Ahmed, On e-mail


It should not be a surprise that the BNP is trying to distort the true history of our Liberation War. This cynical ploy is going on for quite a long time. Actually, this fight between the Awami League and the BNP regarding the Liberation War has reached such a proportion that one can write an epic novel on this subject.

Let's be very clear on one issue. Distortion of history was possible in pre historic periods. In this world of computers, internet, and free information it is practically impossible to distort history for long. BNP might succeed for some time but the truth will remain somewhere hidden and it will come out. True distortion of history happens when one fact of life could be erased forever from the face of the earth. Is it really possible these days? Think 500 years from now. Do you really think whatever the BNP is doing to make Ziaur Rahman, a Major in the army at that time, the true hero of our Liberation War will succeed? Somewhere, in some place the fact that Sheikh Mujib is the true hero will be kept and that fact will be restored.

I believe that Internet has made life for those plotters difficult. Once something is added on the Internet, none has the power to completely destroy that. As I believe Internet will, in some form or another, be part of human civilisation from now on, no true history can be destroyed. The lesson of saying all these is for the BNP to stop doing what it is doing.

Bangladesh is a story of failure and will always remain like this. It is no argument that give Bangladesh 200 years and it will become another US. If a nation cannot figure out its true history of birth even after 30 years of existence, no amount of years will suffice. What's the implication of challenging someone's father?

I must say at the end that I don't believe in calling someone Father of the Nation, but I have no problem in calling Sheikh Mujibur Rahman a real hero of our Liberation War. Zia's story begins much later.

Nayeem Mano, Lubbock, US


The AL is levelling allegations against the ruling party that it is trying to rewrite the history by naming the late president Zia as declarer of independence, sidelining the role of Sk. Mujib. The Liberation war is a watershed in the history of Bangladesh and there are people who truly feel the significance and importance of this event. It is also true that the overuse of this issue on political ground and uncountable allegations and counter allegations has made the new generation repulsive to it. In fact, they are more interested about a VJ in MTV than the role of a leader during the liberation war, as there is BNP version and an AL version of it. Japan was ravaged by the World War-II. Today it has become an economic superpower and look eye to eye to its former adversary.

Will we go on harping on those old issues or learn something from Japan?

Sumon, Dhaka


The ruling alliance doesn't recognise him as the father of the nation but still Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is undoubtedly the architect of independent Bangladesh. He has been selected as the greatest Bengalee of all times by the majority of the BBC audience.

His contribution for this country can never be undermined . History of Bangladesh without the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is simply unthinkable.

But some of his deeds and decisions after the liberation war must have invited widespread criticism. Most devastating was his decision to award amnesty to all war criminals. The families of those who were abducted and killed by those rajakars could not accept it. The kids and relatives of those martyrs now question as to who authorised Sheikh Shaheb to forgive them? Since none of his family members or relatives were in the victims list, our leader could not probably read the depth of the wounds that was being carried by millions of people. To add to our misery, those rajakars were rehabilitated.

Thirty-three years after the liberation war, sitting in the heaven looking down toward his dearest motherland what Sheikh Mujibur Rahman finds? What is the state of his country now? Can he recognise that white bearded gentleman through the glass of a posh car with a national flag flattering on the car's flag stand? How does he feel when fundamentalists give out death warrants to teachers of Dhaka university? How he feels about the Robin Hood biscope of so-called Bangla Bhai? How did he feel when his daughter went to get a few drops of blessings from the then Amir of the Jamaat for the election, after the fall of the autocratic government?

Romeo Ahmed, Central Road, Dhanmondi, Dhaka