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The Execution of Captain Abdul Mazed: An Account Or Compilation Of Who Said What On Reaction To Tragic End Of His Life – OpEd

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It was the midnight of April 11, 2020, at the start of the morrow. He whom millions of Bangladeshi nationals consider to be one of August 15, 1975 heroes was hanged to death, but they cannot speak up due to the severely authoritarian oppression and repression unleashed on them for about twelve years by the Hasina regime. Captain Mazed was also one of the fascist Hasina Wazed’s nearly a dozen judicial murders of nationally well-known political and military figures, let alone hundreds of thousands of extrajudicial killings, forced abductions, impious imprisonments and unlawful lawsuits, all combined. 

International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been protesting against such death sentences. “Amnesty International is urging the Government of Bangladesh to ensure that the accused are not sentenced to death as this would violate their most fundamental right, the right to life. Amnesty International opposes the imposition of the death penalty at all times and considers it to be an ultimate form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment” (www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/160000/asa130021997en.pdf).  According to Amnesty International, which campaigns worldwide for abolishing the death penalty, “at the end of 2018, 106 countries had abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes, and 142 countries constituting more than two-thirds of all the countries in the world, had abolished the death penalty in law or practice (https://adpan.org/2020/04/13/bangladesh-execution-during-covid-pandemic/).

Segregated from the people of Bangladesh, as all fascists are/were from their own people – a segregation reflected in her reportedly somewhat chilly married life with Dr M A Wazed — and then her chopping off her poor husband’s last name as the last part of her name after his death (so that she now prefers to be called simply Sheikh Hasina) — Hasina Wazed has similarly axed the Bangladeshi nation of 160 million or more from belonging to one nationhood. She has deeply cut and clipped and crippled the nation into two unequal halves with her small minority ganged and glued together through her gross misuse and abuse of power with the help of all state apparatuses, especially the loony lackeys in her police force and the jaundiced, one-eyed dajjals in her judiciary. The result is a country awfully divided and abominably turned into a dark and dreadful and fearsome and frightening police and prison state.

Captain Mazed’s execution is the latest in a savage judicial murder series/serial by the lawless and ruthless regime of Hasina Wazed. Such murders already took the lives of a number of well-known political figures and elite military officers – the former for their political role or hardly any role or no role at all back in 1971 and the latter for their role in the midnight of August 14/15, 1975 when, by all records and registers of the time, they had no other choice but to kill her father Sheikh Mujib and other family members, probably more out of circumstantial factors than actually deliberately intended. Whatever the reasons, the soldiers on the scene were hailed by the whole country in an unprecedented euphoria of support at the relief from the tightening and suffocating repressive rule of Sheikh Mujib. As Dr Abid Bahar of Canada says in a comment after Captain Mazed’s execution, “The soldiers killed the dictator Mujib, whose deputy Khandokar Mustaque Ahmad led the coup against him for his killing of the infant democracy in the newly emerged country.” 

Immediately after or within a couple of days of Captain Mazed’s execution, comments from the people against the injustice poured in. Qamruddin Chowdhury of the USA prays for the departed soul saying, “Inna lillahi wainna ilaihi rajeoun. May Allah swt forgive his sins and grant him Jannatul Ferdous for liberating the country as a freedom fighter in 1971 and again in 1975 from the Feraoun (Mujib). Captain Razzak Syed of Australia is of the view that Mujib deserved the death he died for his proud and arrogant attitude. He was the cause of death of the millions of innocent people.

Formidable political campaigner Zoglul Hosain of the UK thinks, “Captain Mazed was a hero, who participated in the glorious army-people uprisings of 15 August and 7 November 1975, which saved Bangladesh from the fascist BAKSAL horrors, and the plunders and heinous conspiracies of the Indian hegemonists. It is only the lackeys of fascists and hegemonists, who dance with the news of Capt. Mazed’s hanging. Mujib was a downright fascist and so is his daughter, Hasina. People will fight fascism and hegemonism; they will win! Let the fascist dogs bark as the caravan moves on.”  

The brave soldiers of August 15 and November 7 became an arch enemy of Mujib’s and now Hasina’s party Awami League and had to stay away from its wrath whenever it came to power. The party under Hasina Wazed, especially since 2009, turned highly ugly, horribly authoritarian and infamously fascistic, as it was at the time of Sheikh Mujib in early 1970s, now certainly far, far worse. After many years of living in lonely exile in India, Captain Mazed surfaced somewhere in Bangladesh, sometime in March/April 2020, as mysteriously as the BNP leader Salahuddin Ahmad did in India some years ago (www.amadershomoy.com/bn/2020/04/14/1120690.htmlমাজেদের পলাতক জীবন ও গ্রেপ্তার, সবই রহস্যঘেরা!).      

It is obvious that Mazed was secretly followed and seized by government sponsored elements on both sides of the border. 

[Similar mystery surrounds the reappearance of the abducted Farhad Mazhar, a first-rate intellectual, and also the young Hummam, son of the judicially murdered and a fascinating political leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, and grandson of the more famous Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, the family being an illustrious one hailing from Chittagong and making a great name all over the pre-1971 united Pakistan and then in Bangladesh (www.eurasiareview.com/06022020-salahuddin-quader-chowdhury-remembering-a-fascinating-bangladesh-political-personality-four-years-after-the-nation-saw-him-executed-oped/). Allegedly, it is a similar conspiracy shrouded in mystery that lies behind the BDR massacre of 25/26 February 2009 and other Jamaat and Hefajote related mass bloodsheds that took place since.] 

Hasina Wazed, with the support of her new-found love and savior and protector India, has had the August 15 heroes hanged, one after another. She did it by means of a show trial, not taken in good faith or at face value by critics and the larger community, who look at the tribunal proceedings with doubt and disbelief as they look at its vapid, vacuous and vaunted “international” character with dismay and distrust. While Hasina (sheltered and provided for in 1971 by the mercy and bounty of her then-loved and now, in a betrayal, hated Pakistan) had the 15 August men of valor executed, she took Inu and Motia and many others, most shockingly, into her confidence lavishing favors after favors upon them and thus betraying with the blood of her own father. As Mujib’s bitter and brutal enemies, they publicly demanded and celebrated his downfall.

Anyways, there is one military officer called R Chowdhury of the USA, who comments, after Mazed’s death, that “Some zealots seem to issue a fatwa that a few circumstantial deaths on August 15, 1975 were haram, but the millions of killings and deaths by Mujib during his 44 months (BAKSAL-I) were halal ! So are (halal) the thousands committed under the present Hasina regime (BAKSAL-II).” 

Following the news of Captain Mazed’s execution, Zoglul Hosain goes elegantly eloquent saying:  “ক্যাপ্টেন আবদুল মাজেদের ফাঁসি কার্যকর হয়েছে শনিবার, ১১ এপ্রিল ২০২০, দিবাগত রাত ১২টা ১ মিনিটে। ভারতীয় আধিপত্যবাদের সেবাদাস ফ্যাসিবাদী হাসিনা সরকার আরেকটি বিচারিক হত্যা করল। তাদের নরপশু পাণ্ডারা ক্যাপ্টেন মাজেদের কবরে পর্যন্ত হামলা চালিয়েছে। জনমনে তার বিরূপ প্রতিক্রিয়া হয়েছে। সামাজিক মাধ্যমে সমালোচনার ঝড় বয়ে গেছে। কারণ গৌরবময় ১৫ আগস্ট ও ৭ নভেম্বর ১৯৭৫-এর সেনা-জনতার অভ্যুত্থান ছিল ব্যাপক জনগণ ও ব্যাপক সেনাবাহিনী কর্তৃক সমর্থিত। আমরা ক্যাপ্টেন মাজেদের মাগফিরাত কামনা করেছি এবং তার পরিবার পরিজনের প্রতি জানিয়েছি সহানুভূতি ও শুভ কামনা। 

 “মুজিবের হত্যার তাণ্ডব ও দুঃশাসনের দোজখ আমরা দেখেছি। এখন হাসিনার হত্যার তাণ্ডব ও দুঃশাসনের দোজখে আরও একজন বীরের জীবনাবসান হোল। ফ্যাসিবাদীরা ও আদধিপত্যবাদীরা বোঝেনা ফাঁসির মঞ্চ দিয়ে উপনিবেশবাদীরা স্বাধীনতার সংগ্রামকে দমন করতে পারেনি। আজও ফাঁসির মঞ্চ দিয়ে ফ্যাসিবাদ ও আধিপত্যবাদের বিরুদ্ধে জনগণের সংগ্রামকে স্তব্ধ করা যাবে না। জনগণ অবশ্যই স্বাধীনতা, গণতন্ত্র, সুবিচার, মানবাধিকার ও সুষম উন্নয়ন প্রতিষ্ঠা করবেন। হাসিনা সরকার নিক্ষিপ্ত হবে আবর্জনা স্তূপে। 

“১৫ আগস্ট ১৯৭৫ তিনি [Captain Mazed) কি করেছিলেন তা কোন কাগজে পেলাম না। দু’একটা কাগজে লিখেছে, “১৯৯৭ সালের ১৫ জানুয়ারি সিআইডি এ মামলায় ২০ জনকে অভিযুক্ত করে মুখ্য মহানগর হাকিমের আদালতে চার্জশিট দাখিল করে” বা অনুরূপ কিছু, কিন্তু চার্জ সম্বন্ধে কিছু আলোচনা করে নি, হয়তো তথ্যের অভাবে। আদালতে চার্জশিটে কি আছে তা আমার জানা নেই। ১৫ আগস্ট ও ৭ নভেম্বর ১৯৭৫-এর সেনা-জনতা অভ্যুত্থান ছিল গৌরবজনক। এরপর জিয়া সরকার দেশের মুখে হাসি ফুটিয়েছিলেন। এই অভ্যুত্থানদুটিতে যারা অংশ নিয়েছেন তারা বীর। ক্যাপ্টেন মাজেদ ছিলেন তেমনি একজন বীর। আমরা তার মাগফেরাত কামনা করি ও তার পরিবার পরিজনদেরকে জানাই সমবেদনা ও শুভ কামনা। 

“The fascist puppet Hasina regime perpetrated 3 massacres (on BDR, Jamaat and Hefazat), indiscriminate killings, abductions, judicial murders, terror, tyranny, torture, oppression, repression, massive imprisonment, extortion, plunder, reckless corruption, etc. and above all it has sold out national interest and surrendered sovereignty to India. But the people will persist in their struggle for freedom, democracy, justice, human rights and harmonious development. ক্যাপ্টেন মাজেদের ফাঁসির প্রতিক্রিয়ায় নীচের ভিডিওটি সামাজিক মাধ্যমে সঞ্চালিত হয়েছে। ভিডিওর বক্তা মোফাসসিলইসলাম, আইনজীবী ও আইন শিক্ষক। তিনি ফ্যাসিবাদী মুজিব ও ফ্যাসিবাদী হাসিনাকে নিয়ে তীব্র, তীক্ষ্ণ মন্তব্য করেছেন ও মনের পুঞ্জীভূত ক্ষোভ প্রকাশ করেছেন। নীচে ভিডিওটি দেখুনঃ ক্যাপ্টেন মাজেদের ফাঁসি ! শেখ হাসিনাকে বলছি ! 

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2533057636798115&id=594258104011421?sfnsn=mo&d=n&vh=e

An unsurpassably excellent and exemplary medical practitioner, Dr Fatima Ashrafi of Australia expresses her reaction like this: “Very sad. How can they kill people so indiscriminately? Why are the murderers of 57 army officers not punished or all the rapists moving freely – murderers of Abrar Fahad, Nusrat?”

Eminent scholar Dr Taj Hashmi of Canada/USA observes, “I am dead against killing an innocent soul, especially, if it’s extrajudicial. But as people around me were dancing in front of the radio set on the morning of 15th August 1975, I couldn’t be happier. He had to be killed, otherwise Bangladesh by 1990, until the disintegration of the Soviet Union, would have become a real basket case, an Animal Farm or 1984. While people celebrated the Mujib killing, people in millions cried after hearing the sad news of the killing of the brave and resolute Zia. I am an eyewitness. And, NOT pro-Pakistani but decorated freedom fighters killed MujIb and his family. And a freedom fighter like Col Taher wanted his body to be thrown away into the Bay of Bengal. WHY SO?”

Dr Zainul Abedin of the USA (formerly a journalist in Bangladesh) adds, “It was like Mujib’s own ribs—freedom fighters–sprung out to kill him, because he caused, through paramilitary forces and famine, the killing of more than a million people, mostly the poor and his critics across the country! Now, Hasina proved to be crueler than Covid-19! … Her Joy-Bangla culture has become a Curse for Bangladesh (from Mujib thru’ Hasina to something/someone next)!”        

According to the daring and decorated freedom fighter Col R Chowdhury: “I believe killing does not solve a problem. All deaths are regretted. But what happened on August 15, 1975 was not a killing event. It was a military coup, a successful one. A successful coup becomes a revolution and accepted in the system all over the world. One may try to negate a reality by brute force or sheer ignorance, but that does not alter the facts or history.” He goes on to say: “I am not aware how the 22 deaths, in all targets, took place that day. Captain Abdur Razzak Syed of Australia gave a version of action at Mujib’s house, related by an escaped household employee [see below]. I read Major Bazlul Huda’s version in the book written by Colonel M A Hamid. Major Huda was at 32 Dhanmondi that morning. His accounts more or less corroborate the story of the household employee. Below is Huda’s statement. One may believe whatever one wants–I am not insisting on any version– but would like to highlight a few facts:

“The Mujib trial asserted that a ‘handful of Majors’ staged the ‘killing.’ Okay. What did the rest of the military do? A brigade plus in Dhaka–the Engineers, the Ordnaces, the Supply Units, the Signals, the Military Police, the Medics, all the officers and men at the Army HQs? What about the Air Force and its jets? The Navy HQs? The BDR? The Police? The Ansars? The Rakkhi Bahini at Savar? A full-fledged Army Division in Savar, only few minutes away? The combined strength of at least 50,000 uniformed men? Why did they remain silent? Did anyone put a gun at each other’s head? If they wanted, they could have smashed those young officers and 400-500 men that were in action that day in minutes. They did not. Why?

“The real story was different. Everybody was supportive of the August 15 coup, irrespective of whether he/she was part of it or not. It was admitted by Army Chief K M Safiullah to the Daily Star subsequently. Within two hours, all the chiefs–Army, Navy, Air Force, BDR, Police, Rakkhi Bahini, Ansar–rushed to the new President (Mushtaque) to express their support and allegiance. Their statements were in national hookup. Also, it was the Awami League–all of them Mujib’s close associates–that formed the post-Mujib cabinet, not by those “handful of Majors.”

“On the other hand, not an Innalillahi was heard from any mouth at the death of Mujib, no tears were seen, no protest registered anywhere in the country. And you know what the favorite writer Humayun Ahmed said: streets were full of celebrations at the death of Mujib. In fact, the whole country celebrated. Nobody was there to do the final rituals for Mujib. Only18 people could be huddled in Tungipara with great difficulty. Again, no gun was pointed at any head. 

“Why then hanging those Captains and Major alone? Why not the entire military which supported them? Why not the whole nation which celebrated Mujib’s fall?

“We may flood the country with crocodile tears today for Mujib and his family members, who unfortunately lost their lives that day. But there was none to do shed any tears that day. To understand Augsut 15, one needs to go back to the time and Mujib’s rule in 1972-75. I am not trying to justify the death, but want to point out the reality of the time. Here is an excerpt from a book by Lt Colonel M A Hamid who was a batch mate of Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman. In his book, Three Army Coups and What Has Been Left Unsaid, Col Hamid gives the details of what Major Huda told him on the strength of being an eye-witness on the scene of operation lending support to all those accounts that put the blame for the bloodshed squarely on the Mujib family members and their rough and haughty behavior towards the military officers present there (see লে: কর্নেল (অব:) এম এ হামিদ পিএসসি / তিনটি সেনা অভ্যুত্থান ও কিছু না বলা কথা ॥ [ শিখা প্রকাশনী – ফেব্রুয়ারি, ২০০৩ । পৃ: ২৫-২৮, originally published 1996]. Col Chowdhury further claims, “Almost all the narratives on the subject corroborate what Major Huda or Mujib’s cook/houseboy said. Those in trial proceedings are a different story.” 

[According to Chowdhury, “Col Hamid was sore because he could not rise above Lt Col. But his book was well received. In the view of Dr Zainul Abedin, “Col. Hamid’s daughter was my colleague in 1990s. I didn’t find her appreciative of BNP, nor of Zia, though she got the job at that time. She was a married lady. A few times I asked her about her father’s apparently anti-Zia attitude. She used to remain reticent.] In this context, Dr Abedin thinks that “Col. Hamid’s statement about the 32 Dhanmondi killings might be correct. The attacks from inside the house (maybe by Kamal-Jamal) led to the unexpected killings!” 

In the words of Captain Razzak Syed, “From my memory, everyone was pissed off with Kamal’s ruthless and arrogant behaviour, Mujib didn’t bother to correct him, sometimes I laugh if Kamal would have been alive today then public would have killed him for rapes and robbery, I have seen Kamal very closely and his behaviour towards people around him. Jamal wasn’t that bad but Russel had similar attitude at his age. … So far I know from my sources, no one planned to kill Mujib, it was Kamal’s aggressive and arrogant behaviour that led to the death of the whole family and the family members that lived nearby. My very good friends were very close to Russel and that’s how we became friends and had earned the privilege to ride bikes with Russel; he was riding Muppets gifted by Gazi Golam Mustafa on his birthday. I was living at my brother’s house on road no.32 which wasn’t very far from Sheikh Mujib’s house. I heard the true story from the mouth of the Master Chef of SM, because he knew our family was very close to SM, so he took shelter in our place and later he was escorted to a safe place of his choice. 

“As per his statement, Army officers didn’t shoot at anyone (he couldn’t name the officers). They asked SM to follow them to Army Barracks to mitigate some disputes. Mujib threatened them and scolded them for disturbing him in the middle of the night. Subsequently, SM started verbal abuse and at one point Kamal opened fired at the Army vehicle on the drive way, he was the first to use gun, followed by his wife Sultana holding gun and pointing towards the officers around SM, then officers asked her to put the gun down but instead she shot at them and the killing started. Then the Chef tried to find Russel and his mum, but SM’s wife was shot down and he heard someone saying ‘Don’t spare any of his roots, otherwise they will be the curse for the nation’. Then the Chef ran for his life, jumped through the rear wall and escaped through Road #33 and ended in our house. So the conclusion is, it’s SM’s rotten son that caused the death of his family. Unfortunately, till today the nation is misguided.”

To Dr Abid Bahar’s question, “Why Mujib stored guns in his house?  Why his civilian children possessed gun when he asked his countrymen to surrender arms to him on behalf of the state?,” Capt Razzak Syed replies, “Don’t you know Mujib’s family was above the law? I didn’t hear or I am not making stories, whenever I passed Kamal’s car, whether the car parked on their driveway or in Abahani Club, there were either one or two stengun openly kept on the back seat of his car. Allah (SWT) knows how many were in his car boot or their house. Also people don’t know, as you entered his house, on the left hand side, the building named ‘Saira Manzil’, Mujib’s house physician used to live there, their two sons Adil and Imran who were students at Residential Model School were very nice boys and we were good friends. After Mujib’s death I didn’t see them, I have been told by other friends that on the next day they left for Pakistan. Till today I couldn’t trace them, who must have witnessed the event very closely.” [Most of the above views as led by Capt Razzak Syed and Col R Chowdhury have also been covered in: Chapter 7: Forty-Eight Questions for the Fantastically Fascistic Sheikh Hasina, pp. 143-168, in the book, Bangladesh Divided: Political and Literary Reflections on a Corrupt Police and Prison State, https://www.peterlang.com/view/title/70059]

As soon as she heard about the tragic end of Captain Mazed’s life at the gallows, well-know writer and blogger Nazma Mustafa comments: জিয়া হত্যাসহ এদের ধ্বংস করে মানুষের ভিতরে বাবা পূজার সূত্রপাত হয়েছে ১৯৯৬ থেকেই। ঐ এজেন্ডা নিয়ে হাসিনা ভারত থেকে আগত। যদি সরকারের দোষী হন বা কোন কপটতার শিকার হন, এরা জীবন দিয়ে ভেবেছিলেন দেশটি উদ্ধার করে গেলেন। আজ মরার সaময়ও মৃত্যুর আগে দেখে গেলেন দেশ চরম মুত্যুকূপ হয়ে পুনরায় পরাধীনতার শিকল পরে আছে। হাসিনা ভারতের এজেন্ডায় এসব করছেন সেদিন থেকে। তাই তার বাবার ক্ষমার পরও এসব বিতর্কীত মরণ। কেন তার বাবা সময় মত অপরাধীর শাস্তি না দিয়ে এখন নির্দোষকে কতল করছেন। এটি অনেক তথ্যসূত্রে প্রমাণিত সত্য। প্যারোল আর প্রাণভিক্ষার দুর্দশা কত প্রতারণাপূর্ণ! ধড়িবাজ বলাতে চায় নির্দোষকে বলতে হবে আমি দোষী। বাস্তবে তাকে পুরষ্কৃত করার কথা, তিনি যদি জড়িত থাকেন তবে মানবতার জন্য এ মরণে তার পুরষ্কার পাওনা। এটি তার জন্য নির্ধারিত, ওটি মুছার সাধ্য কারো নেই। এ রকম মরণে যাদের মনে শেলের মত বিঁধবে, তারাই সাক্ষ্যদাতা হয়ে রইবে, ঐ কষ্টই তার জন্য দোয়া হয়ে জমবে। আল্লাহ সুক্ষ বিচারক। আমরা নিশ্চিত, বালি পরিমাণ অবিচার সেখানে হবে না। হতাশার কিছু নেই। পূণ্যবানরা আনন্দ করুক, সকল ব্যর্থতা দুর্বৃত্তের, অসতের, লুটেরাদের জমা। এরা বাচলে গাজি মরলে শহিদ। সবদিকেই তারা অফুরান পাওনার দাবিদার। গুরুজনেরা বলেছেন, মানুষের আত্মার কান্না আল্লাহ কবুল করে, ফিরিয়ে দেয় না। আপনারা প্রাণভরে এদের জন্য দোয়া করেন। এরাই ছিলেন এ জাতীর সূর্যসন্তান। আপনাদের দোয়া কখনোই ব্যর্থ হবে না। আপনারাও নিজের লাভের জন্য কষ্ট পাচ্ছেন এমন না, আল্লাহ বলে রেখেছে একে অন্যের জন্য দোয়া করবে। এর অনেক মূল্য, যার মূল্য এ সরকার কোনদিনও বুঝবে না। আল্লাহ আমাদের অন্তরের দোয়া কবুল করুক। (nazmamustafa.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/মুক্তিযোদ্ধা-ক্যাপ্টেন-ম/).

Sadly, heroic Captain Mazed has been hanged by the repressive and ruthless Hasina regime. There is a reflection on the punishment with never a forgiveness extended to the men of 15 August in pp. 300-302, Chapter 8: Let’s Follow the Example of Mujib’s Clemency and Compassion, and Not Set One of Cruel Otherization in the book, www.amazon.com/Bangladesh-Political-Literary-Reflections-Divided/dp/1433146134 published January 2018. What the author writes in a moderate ‘give-and-take’ approach with the intention of bringing the two conflicting sides together, not divide and push them further apart. The message of the whole passage is to stress the importance of pardon and forgiveness, not executing the men of 15 August. He makes it clear why Hasina should have forgiven them. The pardon and reconciliation issues are his main point, which is missing from both the political and academic discourses and narratives available on the subject matter. The fascist Hasina and her Hindu Indian hegemonic mentors would not listen to rational or humanitarian calls.The passage in question goes as follows:

“Another way to go about the matter was the South African style of Truth and Reconciliation through a process of confession, apology, and financial compensation. “To avoid violence, stabilize and unite the nation, and attract investment in the economy,” writes the Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, “Mandela appointed a racially integrated cabinet, visited the widow of one of the top apartheid leaders, and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that would clear the air and permit moving forward” (https://hbr.org/2013/02/great-leaders-know-when-to/). Journalist and Human Rights Activist William Nicholas Gomes also wrote about the need to search for Truth and Reconciliation in Bangladesh in reference to the “judicial murder” of Abdul Quader Mollah on December 12, 2013 and the others that followed (www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/27/searching-for-truth-and-reconciliation-in-bangladesh/).

“In conclusion, one may argue that Sheikh Hasina could also have pardoned the army officers who killed her family members, including her parents. She could be kind, merciful, magnanimous, bountiful, and forgiving to grant amnesty and commute their death sentences. After all, many other convicted criminals have been released by her government. Mercy is a divine quality–perhaps the highest and greatest quality supremely appropriate and befitting in the context of a powerful giver like her as a prime minister, in possession of that opportunity to dispense mercy. She could rise to a heroic level in consideration of the following:

  • She was not going to get her family members back anyway; and somehow she may have come to terms with her painful loss over the long years.
  • The perpetrators committed a crime at the direct instigation of the inside as well as outside elements (without which they would not have dared to do what they did). The other key players, both from within the AL and without, including the foreign hands, were able to get away with their complicity in the crime without being brought to justice or having to pay any price.
  • Prior to August 15, those men had a clean record and did not have a criminal background. They were not terrorists or serial killers. They may have been partly motivated to resort to their act of cruel assassination by the state of tremendous political unrest existing in Bangladesh at that time. It seems the overall political, social, and economic situation, instead of being a deterring discouragement, acted like a catalyst to drive them to that fateful night with the result that there was no protest from any corner, not even from within the AL, either out of (loud or tacit) approval or cowardice. 
  • The perpetrators suffered long in the dark lonely cells for years and paid the price that way. Languishing in jail for so many years was no less than the capital punishment hanging over their head so long.
  • Ms Hasina saw that justice was done, more than once, with the death sentences upheld by the highest court of the land again and again; and,
  • Not only did she get the fullest amount of judicial justice in the court of law but also she got to the helm of power herself.

“That the assassins were handed down capital punishment did not mean it had to be carried out on the gallows. The verdict itself must have brought some closure, however uneasy, and some consolation, as much as possible in this life. Hanging those men may have brought some more closure but it did not necessarily bring the full and complete closure to the whole saga, anyway. That is impossible on earth. So why not spare them the remaining years they would have lived and allow them a quiet exit, like Khandoker Mushtaque Ahmed had his, from the turbulent scene they themselves once created? The officers were already old and weak and sick and frail and dying. I’m sure they were chastened and subdued and exhausted with an unbearable bundle of sad reflections on Bangladesh’s past long before they walked the gallows to die a violent death. Sheikh Hasina could give them a chance to retire into a remorseful private life to ruefully and dolefully reflect on the eventful past the way Shakespeare’s old and imbecile King Lear contemplates to do before he breathes his last with the dead body of his daughter Cordelia in her hands.

“Finally, humans always like, long, and aspire to do an act of mercy, charity, and kindness in the hope that the icy hand of death ever ready to touch them in their last moment would be less icy and that it would let their souls rest in more heavenly peace than they would otherwise deserve! In the fine article of a somewhat but not entirely different note, “Great Leaders Know When to Forgive,” which is quoted from above, Professor Kanter correlates between business and politics and refers to how Nelson Mandela and General Douglas MacArthur were wise to forgive their opponents and oppressors, and shun the idea of revenge, which they found to be neither justice nor strategy. Echoing Sir Francis Bacon on “Revenge” (quoted towards the end of the Conclusion chapter in the book), Kanter writes:

‘Leaders must be firm and foster accountability, but they also must know when to forgive past wrongs in the service of building a brighter future. One of the most courageous acts of leadership is to forgo the temptation to take revenge on those on the other side of an issue or those who opposed the leader’s rise to power. Instead of settling scores, great leaders make gestures of reconciliation that heal wounds and get on with business. This is essential for turnarounds or to prevent mergers from turning into rebellions against acquirers who act like conquering armies… Anger and blame are unproductive emotions that tie up energy in destroying rather than creating. Those whose main motivation is to settle scores and get payback — to obstruct rather than construct — are on the wrong side of history. Their legacy is not rebuilding, but rubble. From (ahem) members of Congress to leaders in any turnaround situation, it’s a lesson worth remembering: Taking revenge can destroy countries, companies, and relationships. Forgiveness can rebuild them (https://hbr.org/2013/02/great-leaders-know-when-to/).’

“As pain, loss, and suffering not only alternate with but are also, however humanly bitter and undesirable they may be, truer, more lasting, and more purifying than pleasure, profit, gain, and happiness, what is higher, more ennobling, more glorious, and more triumphant than revenge and “eye for an eye” tactic is reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, and unity.”

* Apart from his other books and numerous articles on literature and culture, Q M Jalal Khan is the author of Bangladesh: Political and Literary Reflections on a Divided Country (www.amazon.com/Bangladesh-Political-Literary-Reflections-Divided/dp/1433146134, published January 2018) and Bangladesh Divided: Political and Literary Reflections on a Corrupt Police and Prison State (www.amazon.com/Bangladesh-Divided-Political-Literary-Reflections/dp/1433165961, published July 2019). His recent political work, “Sheikh Hasina’s Brutal BNP-Phobia and Her Scandalous “Midnight” Power Grab Through Reckless “S/Election” Rigging With an All-Time High Record of Humongous White-Collar Corruption” has just appeared in Sabria Chowdhury Balland (ed), Bangladesh: A Suffering People Under State Terrorism, https://www.peterlang.com/view/title/72422. Recently, he has published several other political articles on online venues.