In search of peace

The priority was to avert confrontation and blood shed. After talking to the troops I was confident that the bloody confrontation could be averted.

I quickly got into my uniform and took my escort, wireless operator and set out from Banga Bhaban. First I went to Mrs. Moazzem Hossain’s residence at Azimpur. Maj. Nur was there. I picked him up after explaining everything about the latest developments. After hearing every thing Maj. Nur said, "Only way a terrible bloodshed can be stopped is by establishing direct contact with Maj. Hafeez, Cap. Iqbal and Brig. Khaled. There is no other way". I fully agreed with what Maj. Nur had said. Both of us decided to go around the city to see the situation on ground before moving to the cantonment. We went to the residence of Prof. Abdur Razzak at the Fuller Road in the Versity area. Mahua my sister and Litu my brother in law used to live there. The aim was to get some civilian clothing. We woke them up. Explained everything in short and got some cloths of Litu. Mahua asked where was Nimmi? I said that she had left Banga Bhaban for some safer place on my insistence. I asked Mahua to alert all the close ones and then said good bye to Mahua and Litu. We started going around the city. University area, Pilkhana, New market, 2nd Capital, Airport, Rampura, Industrial area, TV station, Police line, no where we could see anything unusual. We could only see the check posts those were manned by our troops. We saw the tanks those were deployed at the strategic locations around the city. After a whirl wind going around we came to the Radio station. In the control room Maj. Shahriar was talking with some one over the phone. Seeing us he shortened his conversation and had asked how was every thing? We said all that we saw. Maj. Shahriar also said, that he has also got similar information from various sources.

But for some unknown reasons the Savar booster station was not functioning. There was some problem there, he said. This is affecting both TV and Radio transmissions. I then told Maj. Shahriar that Nur and I were going to the cantonment to avert any bloody confrontation so that the ‘neighbor’ does not get any opportunity to interfere. Before coming to the Radio we went to one of my aunti Biva Fuppu’s house at Shonatangor. I wanted to make some important calls from that house. But unfortunately the phone was out of order. So my uncle Mr. Iman Ali, a police officer took me to the house of one of his colleague close by. I made the calls from that house. I could contact some leaders of the Sena Parishad. Most of them were not much aware about the happenings. I explained the situation and asked them to remain vigilent and prepared against any counter revolutionary activities, which might be on the offing. Then I tried to contact Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman. But from the dialing tone I realized that his phones were not functioning. Major Shahriar also said that inspite of repeated attempts he could not get through to Maj. Gen. Zia. From the Radio station we started off for the cantonment. After we crossed the Airport we found two trucks mounted with troops standing on the roadside in front of the gate of the cantonment. They were from Bengal Regiment. I asked the contingent commander why they were here? The Subedar shaib said, "Tomorrow some pro-BKSAL demonstrations are expected. So we have been ordered to take up positions around the Airport to maintain law and order". From his answer I realized that Brig. Khaled & co did not disclose the main purpose of their deployment fearing reprisal from the troops. The troops have not been told about the reactionary coup de’tat. They were scared to tell them that Maj Gen. Zia was placed under custody and the move was against the popular government of Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed. They had to hide the facts because they knew that majority of the troops would have not supported any move against the present regime. My self-confidence grew and I felt completely reassured after talking to the troops at the gate. The bloody confrontation could be averted. First I went to Brig. Khaled’s residence. He is not home. He was in the army headquarters. From there we went to AHQ. No one was there. The whole of AHQ was dead asleep other then the duty officer and his staffs and guards. From there we went to Maj. Hafeez’s residence. He was not home. Capt Iqbal was also not available. Col. Shaffat Jamil was not found at the residence. Nothing untowards could be seen out side the Chief’s residence as well. Then we went to 46 Brigade headquarters. None of them were there. From there as we reached the gate of 2 Fd. Regt Arty we noticed some activities. We were told that 4 Bengal has deployed their troops and RR (recoilless riffles) facing 2 Fd Regt Arty after midnight. This has created commotion in the Regiment. They were also taking up counter measures. Both these units were located opposite to each other. Any impulsive move could erupt an explosion. I called the leading members of the Sena Parishad and explained the situation. I asked them not to be agitated and remain calm against all provocation. But they should remain vigilant. I also told them that I was going to meet Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat to sort out the problem. I also assured them that all provocative actions by the 4 Bengal would stop once I talked to Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat. From 2Fd Regt Arty I and Nur went to the 4 Bengal headquarters. As we entered through the gate we could see lot of activities going on there. All were very busy. The soldiers were lined up in battle dress. As we got down I found Capt Kabir. A SMG slung to his shoulder, he was moving around like a fly. I asked him where were Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat?

"They are all here Sir". Capt Kabir replied. While I was talking to Capt.Kabir I saw Capt. Naser of Lancers approaching. He came forward and said, "Well come Sir well come", and extended his hands for a shake.

Nur and I both were slightly perplexed. As he was shaking he said, "Sir we can not achieve any thing by Mushtaq or Maj. Gen Zia. They both are useless. That is why we want their removal. I am sure both of you would be with us". I interrupted, "Where is Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat"? "They are both here. Maj. Hafeez and Capt. Iqbal are also here Sir". Capt. Naser informed. "Naser do me a favour. Please go and tell Hafeez I would like to talk to him". I asked him.

"I am going Sir. Please wait in the Adjutant’s office". Capt. Naser left to look for Maj Hafeez.

As we entered the adjutant’s office we found Lt. Col. Aminul Haq Bu and Lt. Munirul Islam choudhury (Later Brigadier and Lieutenant Colonel respectively) were sitting in despair.

"What is the matter Sir, why are you here"? I asked Lt.Col Aminul Haq.

"You can well understand being the Commanding Officer, what does it mean to be here in this condition". He replied.

We could understand. Both of them, the Commanding Officer and the Adjutant of 4 Bengal were disarmed and kept in that state, as they were not considered trustworthy. Soon after came Maj. Hafeez and Capt Iqbal. They took Nur and me to another room.

"What have you done Hafeez? How could you both do such a sad thing? I asked Hafeez. "Why do you say it is a sad thing? Mushtaq and Zia both are incapable to implement our program. You are quite aware of this, then why are you not accepting this"? Maj. Hafeez charged me. "They are betraying our revolution. We have to discard them. The Parliament of AWAMI-BKSALITES has to be dissolved. We hope you all would join us to strengthen our hands." Said Maj. Hafeez.

"Look Hafeez! I had accepted before and I am doing it now that implementations of our program are not proceeding at the desired speed. And for this President Mushtaq and Maj. Gen. Zia’s go-slow policy is greatly responsible. But for that such an impulsive move cannot be acceptable to us. But then you have already made the damage. Now please listen carefully why we are here. We have come here to ensure that a blood bath does not take place. Lets go to Brig. Khaled and Col. Shaffat and talk it out how to salvage the situation from this unfortunate impasse."

"All right let’s go". Said Maj Hafeez. As we came out we found Brig Khaled, col Shaffat, Capt Naser, Brig. Moinul Hussain, Brig. Nuruzzaman of JRB, Col. Rauf, Lt.Col. Malek were all standing under a mango grove infront of the office block. They were discussing something. As we approached they stopped their discussion. I saluted Brig. Khaled. He extended his hand for a shake and said, "Well come! well come! I knew that you two would definitely come". Before he could proceed any further I said, "Khaled Bhai finally you have done it".

"What have I done? It’s not my doing. Believe you me Dalim it was they who did it, these young officers. They think Zia can’t deliver anything. They think he will do nothing to achieve the goals of the 15th August Revolution and he is also incapable to promote the interest of the army as the Chief. Therefore they want a change". Said Brig. Khaled very innocently. "And that is why this crisis has been created so that you can take over to provide more efficient leadership? Is that correct?" I asked.

"No, not at all. I don’t want to be the Chief. Believe you me". Said Brig. Khaled to prove his innocence.

Some one butted in, "We don’t mind to accept Brig. Khaled’s leadership".

"Come on keep quite". Brig. Khaled muted that voice.

"Anyway Sir, I and Nur have come to ensure that there is no blood bath. We have asked Lt. Col. Rashid and Lt. Col. Farooq not to move any troops or the tanks. While coming we saw commotion at 2Fd Regt, generated due to some provocative act on part of 4 Bengal. Please ask 4 Bengal to stand down and remove their RRs which have been deployed facing 2Fd Regt Anty". Brig. Khaled ordered Col. Shaffat to stand down 4 Bengal immediately. Meanwhile, day has dawned unnoticed.