Premature retirement was the ‘justice’ we got from the President

Under Presidential order no 9, eight army officers had been compulsorily retired including Maj. Nur and my self.

Some time end July 1974 at one evening I was having a party at my residence at Comilla on some occasion. Most of the invited guests had already arrived. It was drizzling out side. Huda Bhabi had already arrived. But Col. Huda that is our Brigade Commander was yet to turn up. He arrived rather late. He was unusually quiet and took his seat at a corner. Ever jovial Huda Bhai, why is he so quiet? It is abnormal. I went upto him and asked,

"Sir what’s wrong?"

" No nothing much."

He said and picked up his drink to lighten the atmosphere. Nimmi was busy attending the guests. Suddenly Huda Bhai called Nimmi and made her sit beside him.

"Well Nimmi, say you get some news that makes your lovely well organized home topsy turvey. Some one snatches away your happiness. Then what will you do?"

Nimmi was surprised and tried to understand Huda Bhai with a closer look and said,

"What happened Huda Bhai? I just can not understand what you are saying. Please tell what’s wrong?" I also joined them at that point of time.

"Dalim did you receive any news from Dhaka?" Huda Bhai asked.

"Nothing Sir. If there were anything important I would have known. Well, now Huda Bhai please tell us clearly what has happened". I requested.

"Something absurd has happened. Under Presidential order No. 9, 8 army officers have been compulsorily retired. You and Major Nur are also included". It was such unexpected news that I took sometime to digest it. Nimmi looked puzzled. I said to her,

"Take it easy. Hold yourself. Don’t spoil the party. Let it be over then we shall see. Be brave and a good host ok?"

A lady after all and that too very soft hearted. But she some how managed everything that evening boldly. The guests could not understand what had happened in between. Huda Bhabi also knew nothing about it. The party went as usual and the guests left one by one. It was Nimmi Huda Bhai and I. Bhabi was told about the news. She was shocked and broke down. She was extremely affectionate to us. Nimmi could not hold herself any more. She also broke into tears. Huda Bhai and I were trying to console them.

Huda Bhai said,

"Please hold yourselves. This is not the end of the world. God is great. Don’t cry."

He then told,

"Tomorrow I shall go to Dhaka with you and see Bangabandhu. Nimmi you also come along".

There was a call coming from Dhaka. It was Nur.

"Sir we have been sacked. We need your presence here as soon as possible".

"Huda Bhai and I shall be coming tomorrow". I drooped the phone.

Next day everyone within Comilla Brigade came to know about this. Col. Huda held an conference of the brigade officers in the morning. He said in the conference,

"I can assure you all, that I personally will do everything possible to redress this gross injustice". After the conference we came over to Dhaka. The situation at the army headquarters was explosive. Maj. Gen. Shafiullah was not in his office. He was reported sick. I went straight to Maj. Gen. Zia’s office to see him. As I entered he came forward and embraced me with all his warmth, a man of few words. He said,

"Have faith in Allah. He does every thing for the better. I am sure many more heads will roll".

"Perhaps that would be the case." I said.

"Let me know if I need to do anything. Please do not hesitate. My doors will always remain open for you as ever".

"Sir, you are our only hope. Take care. Future can only say what is there in our common destiny". I said before leaving. I picked up the written order from the MS branch and came out from the army headquarters.

In the evening Col. Huda took me to Road No. 32. Every thing and everyone there was so familiar. But the occation was slightly different today. Rehana, Kamal and others looked somewhat uneasy and embarrassed. I wanted to normalize the situation. I inquired from Khamal about his marriage and said,

"Shall I get an invitation?" He felt shy and replied,

"What do say Boss. I shall go myself to invite you and Nimmi. Without you there will be no marriage". Rahana arranged usual tea and snacks. Col. Huda was observing every thing silently. Sheikh Saheb arrived. We were called at his favorite room on the 2nd Floor. After exchange of greetings Col. Huda started,

"Sir after such an injustice I have no desire to serve". He took out his resignation letter from his pocket and placed it in front of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

"The other copy will reach you soon through proper channel".

Sheikh Saheb said calmly,

"You people see everything from one angle. You don’t think about me at all. At one side my party and on the otherside they. What I should do? My hands are tight. I can not go without my party". Then he looked at me and said,

"You and Nur, see me tomorrow".

Col. Huda was virtually in tears while talking to Sheikh Saheb.

Next day the Chief called me at his office. Chief ordered me not to go back to Comilla. Nimmi should be sent alone to wind up. Col. Huda strongly protested this decision. But Maj. Gen. Shafiullah did not change his order. He does not want to take any chance. He apprehended something untoward might happen if I am allowed to go back to Comilla.

In this way I was denied even a customary fare well from the army which I raised as one of the pioneers. I had no other choice but to stay back at Dhaka. Huda Bhai went back to Comilla alongwith Nimmi and Khallamma, my mother in law.

As I was not allowed to go back to Comilla, the officers and the troops at Comilla burst into rage. One day two trucks load of troops from Comilla camedown to our house at Malibagh. They came to take me along for attending the fare well ceremonies that were being arranged. It was a sincere emotional appeal.

However, I some how could finally convince them that it would not be correct to go with them in this way violating the order. Before they left they said,

"Sir, where ever you are, please remember that we are always with you. Never forget this. If need be give a call and we shall brush aside all the hurdles and stand beside you."

They are my comrades in arms from the days of liberation war. From there we came a longway together sharing every moment of our sorrows and happiness. As a commander I was so fortunate to get such a honor and trust from my fellow colleagues and my beloved troops. What more I could expect? There were many generals and high ranking officers in the army. But I wonder how many of them could be proud of such trust and honour. I was so deeply touched and moved that joyful tears rolled down my checks automatically. I thought although an abrupt end was brought to my carrier that short life of mine as a soldier was a complete success. Not only from Comilla I started receiving visitors from other cantonments as well. My dear colleagues, well wishers and troops came individually and in-groups to express sympathy and solidarity.

Every one had the same question why such an injustice? Why such an unfair decision? I replied to all,

"Every thing is possible for an fascist government. They just get blind with power and forget that nothing is in their hands. Everything happens according to the wishes of Allah. Whatever he does that is for good. I have that faith. Those transgressors who misuse the power given to them shall definitely be punished by Allah Sobhanatalla".

Our country is small. The armed forces are even smaller. In the army everyone almost knows every one. The troops are well aware about the efficiency, capabilities and characters of each officer. They give institutional respect to all but to win over their hearts and earn their sincere respect and loyalty is another matter. Only the tested officers could earn such respect and loyalty. As a matter of principle I always valued earned respect more than the imposed one. Off late Sheikh Hasina in an interview given to Aminul Haq Badsha at London for the BBC world service Bengali programme had said that as her father allowed Bangladesh army to be formed, the majors could become generals. It is a significant statement she made. It is true many of those who became generals from major were not fit to be generals. But even then why they were made generals? This was done to ensure that Bangladesh army remains weak under those incompetent generals, and at the same time to turn the army into his personal Bahini, a tool of repression through those useless generals. But that was his empty dream. Those weak charactered ‘yes men’ generals could not have any influence on the patriotic section of the army.

Nimmi and my mother in law went to Comilla to wind up. Starting from the Brigade Commander every body was helpful so they faced no problem. They packed up our belongings and arranged them to be sent by road. They were supposed to come back by air. But the field intelligence unit at Comilla gathered that Awami League thugs had planed to kidnap Nimmi from the airport.

With this information the Brigade Commander took all necessary measures and had deployed army at the airport. Col. Huda himself escorted Nimmi upto the plane and stayed there until the flight took off.

This is how my army carrier was brought to an end.

Maj. Rafiq in his book ‘Bangladesh, Shamarik Shashan O Gonotrantrer Shankat’ while narrating the unpleasant incident at the Ladies Club created by Gazi Gulam Mustafa and about our retirement wrote, "At the residence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Major Dalim showed his wounds of liberation war on his arm and shoulder and said, ‘when we fought for the independence where were your goongs?’ Sheikh Mujib calmed down both parties with a promise to do justice meanwhile a commotion was created in the Dhaka cantonment due to the harassment caused to Major Dalim and his wife. But for this unpleasant event Major Dalim and Maj Nur were retired from the army. This was a small issue but it generated latent dissatisfaction within every tier of the army. Major Dalim was very popular and hightly respected among the ordinary soldiers and his colleagues".