The kidnapping episode generated strong reaction within army
The next day after the fateful night I was called at the army head quarter.
As I reached I came to know that the Chief had asked for me. But before I could see the Chief Maj Gen. Ziaur Rahman called me. Major Hafeez was then the PS Cord to DCAS. It was he who informed me that the Boss was looking for me. I went to see the Gen. Zia in his office. He wanted to know all the details that had happened last night. I narrated everything to him. He himself attended that marriage. After hearing everything he said quite angrily,
"Well it is totally unethical and punishable crime. All right lets see what Chief has got to say."
As I came out Maj. Hafeez took me to his room. Maj. Nur Choudhury was also there. Maj. Hafeez told,
"Dalim whatever has happened to you and Bhabi last night is no longer a matter of your concern only, entire armys dignity and honour is also related to this. We have contacted the other brigades in different cantonments. They also hold similar views and share our sentiments. This has got to be sorted out right and proper. What justice Sheikh Mujib would do? It is we who will place our demands to the Prime Minister through Maj. Gen. Shafiullah. The Prime Minister will have to concede to our demands. What are going to be our demands that have also been decided unanimously. You just listen what Maj. Gen. Shafiullah has to say. Then we shall do whatever necessary."
All in all there was a charged atmosphere prevailing among the young officers at the AHQ. There came in the ADC to the Chief and said Chief was waiting to see me. I went to see the Chief. As I stepped into his room and wished he asked me to take my seat. We were sitting face to face.
" How are you? How is Nimmi?" He inquired.
"We are fine Sir". I replied.
"Look Dalim the Prime Minister himself expressed his deep sorrows and regrets last night for the unfortunate incident. I myself also feel sorry personally for the whole affair. Sheikh Saheb is very close to you as well. As he wanted that you should forgive Gazi, dont you think he expects that you will fulfill his wish being so close to him? He would be very happy it you do so, I can tell you that." Maj. Gen. Shafiullah said.
"Sir, I respect him a lot for various reasons. This is also true that family-wise we are close. Above and all he and his family members love us both. But I can not compromise on principles. I made it very clear last night to the Prime Minister in your presence. Didnt I? And I shall stand to that up to the last". I replied.
"Well then that is upto you". Maj. Gen. Shafiullah looked disappointed.
"Thank you Sir". I said at last before coming out.
Outside I found almost all the officers of the AHQ had gathered in front of the Chiefs office. They asked me what did the Chief said. I told them all about our conversations. Every one became despondent and angry. Some one asked the ADC,
"Go and call him out here, we would like to talk to him". The Chief was conveyed accordingly and he came out from his office. He was surround by the officers. The Chief looked a bit nervous. He said,
" Tell me what you all want to Say".
"Sir, the incident that has taken place not only concern Maj. Dalim and his lady wife. When the army is deployed to maintain law and order and to recover illegal arms, how come Gazi and his armed thugs dare to kidnap one of our officer and his wife on gunpoint with a plan to kill them? It is not only illegal it has also compromised the dignity and honour of the whole army. We cant take if lying. It has got to be sorted out right and proper". One of the officers spoke out.
"Well the Prime Minister is personally very sorry about the whole affairs".
"This is not enough". Some one interrupted the Chief.
"Now Sir, you being our commander and leader, have to shoulder your responsibilities to uphold the honour and dignity of this army. We have three demands:
1. The Prime Minister must immediately releave Gazi from all official posts and he alongwith his gunmen have to be apprehended to the army to initiate appropriate legal action agaisnt the culprits.
2. The Prime Minister must allow the national media to carry this news for public consumption.
3. As Gazi belongs to the Awami League, Sheikh Mujib as the party head must appologize to Maj. Dalim and his lady wife publicly.
You have to take these demands to the Prime Minister, and within next 24 hours he has to fulfil our demands. Should you fail to convince him then you have no right to come back and sit on your chair. You shall be considered not fit enough to lead this army". Said Maj. Nur Choudhury.
Maj. Gen. Shafiullah was in pink and blues. He was completely at loss. He tried to say something. But before he could start. Liutenant Shamshar Mobin Choudhary Bir Bikram a valient freedom fighter who was seriosly injured in the liberation war just opened his belt and threw it to the Chief and said,
"We serve the army for our pride, honor and dignity. If that is not there then I do not want to serve this army any longer". At this all the officers cried out,
"Sir, you got to restore our lost honor and dignity. We appeal to you. Please try to understand the gravity of the problem and be one of us."
Meanwhile Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman had already come out from his office hearing the agitating voices outside. None of us had noticed him. Suddanly we heard his heavy voice,
"Boys be quite! Listen here. I have understood the problem and your demands are just. Shafiullah you must go with the demands to the Prime Minister amd make him understand the gravity of the problem".
Maj. Gen. Shafiullah thus got rescued. He some how uttered,
"I am going to see the Prime Minister right away".
Within a few minutes he left for the Gono Bhaban. It was lunchtime, so we all also left after him for lunch.
One thing needs to be mentioned here. When this incident took place Col. Ershed, later general and the President of the Republic was posted in the headquarters as the Adjutant General. In one of the conferance of the PSOs Gen. Shafiullah asked him,
"Ershed what do you say about the demands of the young officers?"
"Sir, I think the officers demands are quite legitimate. Such a thing could happen to anyone of us, you or me. Where army is deployed to maintain law and order and in anti miscreant drive, it will not be proper to treat this matter in isolation. It is definitely a question of honor and dignity of the entire army. And you being the Chief has to make this point clear to the PM and advise him to restore the lost honor of the army by accepting the demands". We were quite surprised hearing about Col. Ersheds reply, because he was a repatriated officer. We really did not expect such a bold reply from Col. Ershed who other wise was quite unassuming. This it proves that many of the repatriated officers were also nationalist and upright patriots. From that day we had changed our impression about Col. Ershad.
In the evening the Chief returned from the Gono Bhaban after whole daylong meeting. Around 8 p.m. he called some of us at the Shena Bhaban. Brigadier Khaled Mosharaff and Col. Shaffat Jamil were also present.
As we settled down. The chief started,
"I have conveyed your demands to Bangabandhu. He has asked for time.
"As the Prime Minister has asked for time we have to give him time". Col. Shaffat Jamil butted in. Brigadier Khaled was sitting quiet.
"Sir when you say your demand, do you mean that there is a difference between you and us? The demands were given on behalf of the entire army. Then should we take it that the senior lots are not with us?" He was unnerved. Brigadier Khaled replied on behalf of Gen. Shafiullah,
"Boys dont have wrong impression. We are ofcourse all together. We can not be different on this issue".
One of us said, "we apprehend that the Prime Minister will not concede to our demands. Firstly, he wants to buy time to defuze the issue.
Secondly, he is taking time to consolidate his own position. We want to know clearly from you what should be done if he finally refuses to accept our demands". All three of them sat quietly without giving any answer.
"Well Sir, if you dont have any idea what to do next, in that case we shall think what needs to be done." Said one of us.
This is how our discussions ended.
We came out from the Shena Bhaban and sat for a meeting to discuss our next course of action in the residence of one of our colleague at Aziz Palli. We were also talking to the other outlying brigades. At about 11 Oclock we got a message that Gen. Shafiullahs private white Datsun was moving out of the cantonment towards the city. There were two persons in civies inside the car. Immediately order was passed to one young officer to follow the car with a motor cycle, about 12 p.m. the officer returned and reported the two passengers were Maj. Gen. Shafiullah and Col. Shaffat Jamil. They went straight to Road No. 32, Around 2 p.m. we got the information that Rakkhi Bahini movement have started and they were taking up position at the vantage points in the city. Two and two makes four. The equation was clear. Maj. Gen. Shafuullah and Col Shaffat Jamil two most loyal officers went up to Sheikh Mujib incognitos. And must have reported about our meeting at the Shena Bhaban and as a result Sheikh Mujib has ordered Rakkhi Bahini to move and take up positions as a precautionary measure to face any eventualities.
What a Unique example of idol worshipping! Around 2:30 p.m. we received information that units at the border have noticed abnormal movements of the Indian forces across the border. That means Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is not depending on the JRB alone for his security but has also sought assistance from the forces across the border under the friendship treaty to crush any possible upsurge or revolt in the army. Some of us then decided to go around the city. As we went around we saw all the information that we received so far were correct to the letters. It also became clear to us that most of the officers who rose from the rank of major to general overnight at the mercy of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ware all sold out characters. Of course, there were a few exceptions. Maj Gen. Ziaur Rahman was one of them. It was most disgusting to know about the weaknesses of those spineless senior officers. Next morning Gen. Shafiullah was called to the Gono Bhaban again. He returned around 11 a.m. and called for me. He was looking more self-assuring than yesterday.
"Well Dalim, the Prime Minister has asked for time. Meanwhile I shall order a court of inquiry on this matter just for the official record". He said.
How strange! Gazi Golam Mustafa committed the offense and a court of inquiry is going to be ordered against me. I thought myself.
"After you are through with the court of inquiry you may go back to Comilla". The Chief said.
"Yes Sir", I replied and came out from his office. After finishing with the court of inquiry I returned to Comilla as ordered.