DU hands over 15 August 1975's citation to Sheikh Hasina 38 years later

Vice-Chancellor Dr. Abdul Matin Chowdhury receives the shocking news

In the early morning of 15 August 1975 the teachers and students of Dhaka University (DU) were waiting impatiently for the moment when they will give a hearty reception to their beloved leader and recently appointed university Chancellor Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The University was all set to present their Chancellor with a wooden-framed citation preparedby Vice-Chancellor Dr. Abdul Matin Chowdhury and small gift items of a citation casket, one silver-made crest and a crest with DU monogram at a convocation.

But euphoria turned to utter shock and disbelief when Dr. Matin Chowdhury received a phone telling him Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had been killed along with members of his family by bunch of disgruntled army officers.

Everything came to a halt in DU campus. The call had wrecked all arrangements and people were left speechless by the sudden and brutal assassination.

It was early in the morning. Dr. Matin was taking bed tea. I asked him why the people were not coming by that time. Suddenly the phone rang. Matin picked the receiver. He asked me to switch on the television. As I switched on the television, we heard 'I am Major Dalim speaking.' I was standing there, and then I just sat down. Matin was voiceless, perplexed. He uttered "What should I do now?".

We were cleaning our house for the last few days and decorating everything with utmost care. I made arrangements to entertain by offering food on a silver plate. But everything stopped.

An emotion-choked Razia Matin on receiving the shocking news from husband Dr. Matin Chowdhury

Following President Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed's clampdown on Sheikh Mujib loyalist, Dr. Abdul Matin Chowdhury was arrested and jailed for 17 months. Nevertheless, whilst other 'supporters' were switching allegiance to suit the political climate, Dr. Matin Chowdhury remained loyal to Sheikh Mujib and later founded the 'Bangabandhu Parishad' (Bangabandhu Union) and became its founding chairman.

Missing citation discovered 34 years later

Following the mayhem that prevailed after Sheikh Mujib's killing and Dr. Abdul Matin Chowdhury's arrest, the Dhaka University citation got lost in the process.

However, on 2 December 2009, a retired deputy registrar, Amir Hossain, discovered the citation at the registrar's building while he was searching for his personal documents. Amir found the wooden-framed citation in a pile of files inside a steel almirah (cabinet) of the adminstrative building and the crests and casket were found in a safe at the registrar's office. He handed it over to Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dr. AAMS Arefin two days later. Thus an opportunity came again to honour the deceased powerful leader.

Daughter Sheikh Hasina collects citation and gifts on dad's behalf

On 17 August 2013, nearly four years after it was discovered, the Dhaka University authorities handed over the historic citation to PM Sheikh Hasina. DU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique handed over the citation along with the gift items to the Prime Minister at a simple but an emotion-filled ambience at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi.

Prof Arefin Siddique delivered the welcome address and read out the citation finally which was supposed to be read out by Dr. Abdul Matin Chowdhury at the 15 August 1975 convocation. Many notable personalities from the university attended the ceremony. Missing from the guest list was Sheikh Rehana who was abroad at the time.

Speaking on the occasion, Sheikh Hasina thanked DU for carefully preserving the citation and the gift items through adverse situations for the last 38 years. She informed them that the citation and items would be handed over to the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum so the people 'could know the real history of the country'.

I have no language to speak for the way the university authorities preserved carefully the citation for long 38 years.

The next generation will have to know the true history of emergence and independence of Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina thanks Du in an emotion-charged voice,

Killers get death penalty - 5 out of 12 hanged

For over 21 years, the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the others was not investigated and no one was brought to trial for their involvement in the killings. However, that was all about to change in 1996 when Awami League under Sheikh Hasina came to power.

Five of the twelve majors accused of killing were arrested. After a lengthy court trial, which was temporarily halted for few years when the BNP came to power, finally in 2009 they were found guilty of the killing and received death sentences. Thus on 28 January 2010 Syed Farook Rahman, Sultan Shariar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, A. K. M. Mohiuddin and Mohiuddin Ahmed were hanged in Dhaka Central Jail where ironically they were alleged to have killed the char netas (four MPs) of the Mujibnagar government.

Six of the seven wanted criminals, including Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Shariful Huq Dalim and Nur Chowdhury, are still absconding whilst the seventh, Abdul Aziz Pasha, is believed to have died of natural causes in Zimbabwe.