November 7 is a dark day in our history. On this day in 1975, Zia murdered Maj Gen Khaled Mosharraf Bir Uttam, commander of Sector 2 and chief of “K” Force in the Liberation War. The killers also murdered many other army officers, including Lt Col ATM Haider Bir Uttam and Col Nazmul Huda Bir Bikram.
They captured state power through these murders and became involved in an attempt to destroy the principles and the spirit of the Liberation War and take the country back to the evils of the Pakistan era. This day marks the beginning of a dark chapter in our country and our national lives.
In mid-August, 1947, India and Pakistan were formed as the British rule came to an end. This part of Bengal became a part of Pakistan. Because of social and economic deprivation, the hesitant Bangalis soon started looking for a way out. It was right at that time that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took initiatives to unite the nation against the Pakistani ill-rule. With this aim, he gave birth to the Awami League (Awami Muslim League) and took the responsibility on his shoulder of carrying the nation forwards.
For this, he had to struggle for 24 years and be the leader in the Liberation War. In this struggle, he had, alongside him, some dedicated colleagues who gave leadership to the liberation movement and the war in his absence. They included political leaders, activists, and high-ranked military and civil officials. The name of Maj Gen Khaled Mosharraf, a brave soldier and our nation’s pride, features among them. He was the only Bangali army officer who kept regular contact with Bangabandhu while still in service in the Pakistan Army, and later inspired the other Bangali soldiers according to Bangabandhu’s directives.
In early March 1971, my father Maj Gen Khaled Mosharraf was transferred to the 4th East Bengal Regiment in the then East Pakistan from West Pakistan. He served as deputy chief of the 4th East Bengal Regiment in Comilla from March 20 to March 25, 1971.
Before March 25, this regiment was ordered to move from Comilla to Brahmanbaria. It was at that time that he first smelled conspiracy and set up a temporary camp in Brahmanbaria. Soon after he heard the news about the events of March 25 and Bangabandhu’s proclamation of independence on March 26, he held the Pakistani chief as prisoner, took the responsibility of the entire regiment, and started making preparations for a possible war. He faced the Pakistanis with courage and gallantry.
His skills, qualifications, and bravery kept on bringing him one leadership duty after another. Initially, he led armed battles as the commander of Sector 2. Later, as the commander of “K” Force, he successfully conducted guerrilla warfare. As a result, among all the sector commanders, his success was widely publicised locally and internationally. He was hit by a bullet on the battlefield in 1971 and carried that bullet in him the rest of his life. Because of his sharp military knowledge, Maj Gen Khaled Mosharraf was able to form a guerrilla force. His soldiers quickly approached Dhaka and hoisted Bangladesh flags in the capital. He was also present during the surrender of the Pakistan army on December 16. The “K” Force and Maj Gen Khaled Mosharraf has the biggest claim to its success. The “K” Force was always formidable on the battlefield.
After independence, as a freedom fighter and an army officer inspired by the spirit of the Liberation War, Khaled Mosharraf dedicated himself to the humongous task of building the golden Bengal of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s dreams. Immediately after Bangabandhu and his family were brutally killed on August 15, 1975, Khaled Mosharraf, then the chief of general staff of the army, made a decision to topple the illegal Mostaq government.
On November 3, 1975, under his leadership, the Bangladesh Army brought an end to the illegal rule of Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, the mastermind behind the Bangabandhu killing. At that time, he was accompanied by a group of immensely courageous officers and jawans. He freed Bangabhaban from the evil occupation of the killers Faruq-Rashid-Dalim.
It was also him who brought back the chain-of-command in the Bangladesh Army. Mostaq made Ziaur Rahman the army chief as reward for being involved in the killing of Bangabandhu. Ziaur Rahman started directly helping the killers after getting the post. He took one heinous step after another to destroy the principles and spirit of the Liberation War. The criminals, who led the brutal murder of the four national leaders in Dhaka Central Jail on November 2, upon Mostaq’s orders, also got shelter from Ziaur Rahman.
It is confirmed that the then deputy army chief Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman was actively involved with the conspiracies of November 7. The Biplobi Shoinik Shangstha (the revolutionary soldier’s organisation) distributed leaflets inside Dhaka Cantonment at night on November 5, 1975, giving rise to chaos.
As a consequence, in the name of the so-called uprising of people and soldiers on November 7, 1975, many brave freedom fighters in the army, including Maj Gen Khaled Mosharraf, were killed with bullets and bayonets upon Ziaur Rahman’s orders. In the same way, through one murder after another, Zia took over state power on November 7, 1975. Soon after taking over state power, he began his politics of murders, abduction and bloodshed. The army officers, general soldiers, and leaders and activists, who believed in the ideologies of Bangabandhu, were the victims.
Even before the war began, Ziaur Rahman’s activities and behaviour were not in favour of the Bangalis. On March 26, even after Bangabandhu proclaimed independence, he went to bring arms and ammunitions for the Pakistan army from a ship at Chittagong Port. These arms and ammo were used in killing Bangalis and freedom fighters.
When others tried to stop him from doing that, he became angry. Later, he had to be held at gunpoint and forced to read out the proclamation of independence from the Kalurghat radio station as the senior-most official present there. At the time, the Liberation War had already begun.
Right after joining the Liberation War, Zia became involved in plotting various conspiracies. He tried to take over and become the chief of the freedom force. But Maj Gen Khaled Mosharraf Bir Uttam foiled his attempts. Zia came up with another plot on July 11, 1971, in the meeting of sector commanders at 8 Theatre Road in Kolkata. In that meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed, Maj Zia proposed to form a war council. Eventually, Khaled Mosharraf’s intervention foiled their conspiracy to form a war council to sideline the Mujibnagar government in exile.
That proposal was basically an expression of no confidence against Col Osmani, the commander of the liberation army. For most of the war, Zia himself stayed at the headquarters of the interim government and sent his co-fighters to the battlefield. By staying at the headquarters, he kept an eye on the activities of Col Osmani. And for this, at least twice, Zia had been withheld from giving battlefield command.
Army officers, general soldiers, and the leaders and activists inspired by Bangabandhu’s principles became victims of Zia’s politics. His plan was to kill all these leaders and activists to make the pro-Liberation War force weak and turn independent Bangladesh into a minion of Pakistan. That was why, right after occupying state power in 1975, he made the anti-liberation Razakar and al-Badr members partners in the government and gradually rehabilitated them as part of his long-term conspiracy to turn Bangladesh into Pakistan again. Four decades have passed since those gallant commanders, including Maj Gen Khaled Mosharraf, were killed. Will we ever see justice for their murders? I want to press forward the demand for trial of the murders of everyone who strongly stood against those who killed Bangabandhu. These trials should be held for the sake of the nation.
He, who was destined to lay his life down to liberate the motherland, ended up getting killed in the hands of anti-revolutionary and anti-liberation forces, on the very land he fought for freedom. It is unfortunate for the entire nation that the murderer of this man has not been tried, although 39 years have passed. Insh’allah, Sheikh Hasina will ensure justice for the murders of all the freedom fighters, including Khaled Mosharraf, just like she ensured justice for the Bangabandhu killing, jail killings, war crimes, and the Pilkhana carnage.
The dreams of all those who were brutally killed on November 7, including Khaled Mosharraf, will be fulfilled only if their killers can be brought to justice and the spirit of the Liberation War and Bangabandhu’s principles can be established in an independent and sovereign Bangladesh.