Vol. 5 Num 568 Sat. December 31, 2005  

Lest We Forget
Comrade Moni Singh
His life at the beginning of Liberation War

A fighter for the cause of common man, in particular the workers and peasants, Comrade Moni Singh was rated as a legend even in his lifetime.

Comrade Moni Singh led an underground life for about 20 years only to be arrested in 1967. In his biographical notes Comrade Moni Singh mentioned this incident as a sheer mistake of his own and, therefore, he himself shouldered the responsibility. Of course he would not agree to shift the blame on to others.

Comrade Moni Singh was released on 22 February, 1969. The NAP's Motia Chowdhury was also released the same day. He went to Munir Hosain Lane where Satyen Sen was living, in the family of Karim and Hena.

A few days later, a young man came to see Comrade Moni Singh. He said he had been sent by Jadu Miah who wanted to talk to Comrade Moni Singh, at least for five minutes. At one stage Comrade Moni Singh was informed that a 'coup" might take place. But Comrade Moni Singh said that he did not bother if it was rightist or leftist. "I shall not go underground," he firmly said. He rushed to Prof. Muzaffar Ahmed to ask him about coup. Prof. Muzaffar telephoned Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Sheikh Mujib was not aware of any such coup but Prof. Muzaffar was found rather disturbed.

The same night Prof. Muzaffar telephoned me to know if I knew anything about the coup. I said in Rawalpindi I heard about it, but on return I did not hear anything. The next day Motia Chowdhury and Comrade Moni Singh decided to go to Chittagong to attend a meeting in Meerersarai. The Principal of Nazimuddin College invited Motia and Moni Singh to tea. During the talks a government official, broke the news of promulgation of martial law. He advised us to go to a village and two days later we took a car for Dhaka.

Comrade Moni Singh described a number of events in this connection. He said, "I was working underground on the instruction of the Party. I was asked to attend a dinner throw by a person known to me from the days of 1969 upheavals. There were two more persons, Gyan Chakrabarty and Mohammad Farhad. We were looking for a rickshaw. We got one. Some time later our rickshaw was hit by a baby taxi. We raised a hue and cry. There were four persons dressed in lungi and tupi appeared on the scene. They were from the IB, I was sure about it. They asked us to go to police station with them. I challenged them asking why must I go with them? No body is here who is wanted. They replied by saying, you are coming with us. That's the order.

'I was taken to the Lalbagh police station. Officers asked me on various issue. But I must admit none of them misbehaved with me. Journalist Fayez Ahmed showed up at one point. He saw me as an arrested person. Fayez Ahmed would break the news of our arrest. As a result it would be known the next morning. However, Habib and I were housed at separate places'.

Comrade Moni Singh said 'In my message I said that on the night of my arrest I saw our rickshaw on my left. Another rickshaw was standing on the right. Farhad and Gyan Chakrabarty occupied the rickshaw waiting on the right. This rickshaw puller stopped after some time and refused to proceed. Chakrabarty and Farhad failed to persuade the rickshaw puller. They had to take another rickshaw 'Police was bent on arresting me', said Moni Singh. They did not bother for others. The gentleman who invited Moni Singh was an IB man.

Comrade Moni Sing said, ' I was transferred to Jessore from Dhaka and from there to Rajshahi central jail. In Rajshahi central jail I heard the historic March 7 speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I sent a telegram to Bangabandhu from Rajshahi jail, but the jail authorities did not pass it on the ground that the jail staff were also observing non-cooperation.

In those days gossip among the prisoners was a very hot subject. One day jet planes flew over the jail building. There were reports of jail breaking in different jails. A few jail breakers were killed while they were trying to flee.

Top jail officers were not visiting jail even on our request. Prisoners were not staying inside the wards. No one was honouring lock-up.

Comrade Moni Singh, Deben Sikder and some others talked to the DIG, Prison. They pointed out to the jail bosses that they could not throw the prisoners in the jaws of death.

Those who were holding talks with the DIG, were confronted by the prisoners. The DIG sought time up to next morning. Comrade Moni Singh, Deven Sikder and other were waiting for the morning.

Prisoners who used to address Comrade Moni Singh as 'Kaka Babu' wanted to know what the prisoners would do when there would be air raids. Comrade Moni Singh replied, 'They should go inside the rooms or halls. They did not agree to get inside the rooms and halls.

On that night at around 11 PM a night guard came to Comrade Moni Singh and said 'Kaka Babu, EPR asked the jailer to release the prisoners. But the jailer did not agree. EPR said if the prisoners go out they would not stop them.'

After hearing this, Comrade Moni Singh became worried. He stood up and asked the student prisoners to get up. He said to them, 'we shall have to get out today.' Jail break started and there was virtually none to ask them to stop. The prisoners broke open the backyards wall and started going out without any hindrance. Comrade Moni Singh and his men followed the others.

Those who came out of the broken wall of the jail found a large number of people on the riverside. These people helped those who came from the jail area. Deben Sikder took a separate road. Comrade Moni Singh and his followers from the Rajshahi central jail got a big size boat to cross the river. They went to the other bank of the river which was Indian territory.

On the other side of the river Comrade Moni Singh enjoyed hospitality of a doctor who was a former MLA. The doctor wanted to know about the destination of Comrade Moni Singh. Comrade Moni Singh frankly told them that he was in need of some cash money which he would repay. The hosts said 'no problem money would be available'. Comrade Moni Singh also was very glad to know that only a day after he would see his wife Anima at Agartala. Agartala served as the main capital city between India and Bangladesh.

Comrade Moni Singh was able to regroup the political forces scattered in Agartala and elsewhere. He played a vital role in founding the Gonoprajatantri Bangladesh Government on April 10, 1971.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (then in Pakistan jail) was named the president, Syed Nazrul Islam Vice President and Tajuddin Ahmed Prime Minister. Other Members of the Cabinet included Captain Mansur Ali, Kamaruzzaman and Khandakar Mustaq Ahmed. Professor Yusuf Ali administered the oath of office. Colonel Osmani was appointed Chief of the Army.

Bengali members elected to the Pakistan National Assembly and East Pakistan Provincial Assembly were named as Members of the Gonoprojatantri Bangladesh Assembly. Its headquarters was based in Mujib Nagar.

Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani of NAP (Bhashani), Comrade Moni Singh of CPB and Professor Muzaffar Ahmed of NAP (Muzaffar) were members of the Advisory Council. All the three leaders were based in Calcutta at that time. The Bangladesh liberation forces fought a heroic war for nine months and won on 16 December 1971.