Arrested immediately after Sheikh Mujib's assassination

15 August 1975: Sheikh Mujib and family killed and Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed takes over

On 15 August 1975 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family and an army officer were murdered in a military coup by young army officers led by Major Syed Farook Rahman and Major Khandaker Abdur Rashid.

Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed, a prominent member of Mujibnagar Shorkar and Minister of Foreign Trade and Commerce in Sheikh Mujib's Cabinet, was sworn in as the new President on the same day as the massacre.

21 political figures arrested and jailed, including char neta

In a further attempt to nullify any potential threat arising from pro-Mujib supporters, by 23 August 1975, only 8 days after Sheikh Mujib and his family were killed, the four national leaders were arrested along with 17 other political figures and jailed in Dhaka Central Jail.

Many top and mid-level Awami League leaders, lawmakers of the country, and student leaders fled the country and went into hiding. Some were detained and tortured or forced to back the new regime.

Among those arrested was Information Minister Korban Ali. Abdus Samad Azad (first Foreign Minister), Zillur Rahman (later President of Bangladesh), Tofail Ahmed (political secretary to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman), and Abdur Razzaq (student leader of BAKSAL) were detained in early September.

Razzaq was kept in Comilla jail and Tofail in Mymensingh jail. Elsewhere Abdul Hamid (later Speaker of Parliament) was held in Mymensingh then Rajshahi jail where Awami League leaders Abdul Jalil and Sarder Amzad Hossain were detained.

The killers took me to a radio station several times. They mounted pressure on me to make statements on the radio in support of the new government. They tortured me as I refused to do their bidding every time.

Tofail claims he was tortured several times and threatened with death if he didn't back Moshtaque government

One of the very few to escape punishment at the time was the then Foreign Minister Dr. Kamal Hossain who was abroad at that time. He did not return to the country for a long time.

Syed Nazrul Islam ignores President Moshtaque's phone calls

After the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed tried to contact Syed Nazrul Islam several times. But Syed Nazrul ignored him. He got his wife to tell Moshtaque on the phone that he was not home.

Mushtaq Ahmad warned us that if my father failed to negotiate with him, then his life would be in danger.

Major General Syed Shafayetul Islam, son of Syed Nazrul

Syed Nazrul Islam was arrested and taken to Dhaka Central Jail. He was held at Cell No. 1 along with Tajuddin Ahmad, Asabul Haque, and Korban Ali.

In September family members of Tajuddin Ahmad and Muhammad Mansur Ali were permitted to see them, but Syed Nazrul Islam's family did not get that permission.

Tajuddin Ahmad house arrested for 1 whole week

15 August 1975: Tajuddin Ahmad's home encircled by army officers "to save them"

The firing at Sheikh Mujib's Dhanmondi house had woken Tajuddin Ahmad and his family who lived nearby in Hare Road, Ramna, less than 2 miles away. They ran and went up on the roof to see where the shootings were coming from.

Suddenly firings erupted like 1971 [Liberation War].

Daughter Simeen Hussain 'Rimi'

Soon telephone calls started coming from various places. Tajuddin also tried to ring some places. But nobody was available on the phone. His wife Zohra insisted that he should go to the next house and see what happens. Zohra knew the situation wasn't right.

But Tajuddin somehow was unwilling to leave his home without first understanding what was going on. After sometime they heard Major Dalim's announcement on the radio regarding the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

After hearing that my father became a bit disorientated. He said "Perhaps, before his death, Mujib bhai couldn’t figure out who was his friend, and who was his enemy."

Rimi recalls Tajuddin Ahmad heartbreaking reaction to Sheikh Mujib's death announcement

Zohra advised her husband that if he wanted to do anything for the country he should flee once again as it's likely to be raided. But Tajuddin questioned why would they harm him if he was no longer in the cabinet?

This man who was so wise and had so much depth, how could he so easily say "Why should they harm me!"?

Syeda Zohra Tajuddin

One of the family's servant boy came running and informed Tajuddin that the house was surrounded by soldiers. A Captain Shahid entered the house and told them that nobody could leave or enter the house.

I remember, a Captain Shahid say "From now on nobody leaves the home and nobody enters".

My dad immediately said "Call it a house arrest!"

The soldier replied "Whatever you think. Where's your telephone?"

The telephone was just next to the table where they were standing. He saw the telephone, pulled out the wires so there would be no telephone line.

Captain Shahid house arrest Tajuddin Ahmad and breaks their telephone line

That night Major Dalim came by the house to check on everything.

Tajuddin asked "Dalim, what is happening? What are you doing?"

He said "Don't worry. The army is here to save you, that's why they've encircled your house, just in case someone tries to kill you."

Tajuddin didn't believe him. He said "Dalim, tell me clearly. Don't say these things. I can understand [exactly] what you've come to do."

Major Dalim hides the true motive from Tajuddin Ahmad

22 August 1975: Tajuddin taken away by police "for ever"

On 22 August 1975, exactly a week after being house arrested and a day before Shab-e-Barat (Muslim festival of 'Night of Fate'), the army was still encircling the house. Around 7.30 am the house calling bell rang. It was the police. They came to arrest Tajuddin Ahmad.

They [the police] said "Sir, you have to come with us."

He [Tajuddin] asked "Should I go just like this or do you want me to take some clothes?"

They replied "Yes, that would be better [to bring some clothes]. May be in a small briefcase."

When they were going away, I asked him "When will they release you?"

He replied "Take it for ever!"

Zohra and Tajuddin's last moment together in their house

Family visit Tajuddin in Dhaka Central Jail after more than a month

After one or two days the family learnt Tajuddin had been arrested by Special Powers Act and jailed in Dhaka Central Jail (known as 'Dhaka Kendro Karighar' in Bangladesh). After more than a month, the family went to meet him for the first time in jail.

Among the jail inmates was Mahbubuddin Ahmed, the police official who aided Tajuddin Ahmad and Barrister Amirul Islam to flee from Bangladesh into India in 1971.

Mahbubuddin was sent to jail on 17 August 1975. He developed a very close relationship with Tajuddin Ahmad during those days. Tajuddin had made a garden inside the jail which he would clean up with a spud day after day. Some time Mahbubuddin would join him. Tajuddin would tell him that he suspected Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed's regime would not keep them alive.

He used to say one thing, "The government that has now come in power will not keep us alive. Because if we're alive it'll be difficult for them."

Mahbubuddin Ahmed, ex-police officer

Prime Minister Muhammad Mansur Ali tricked into coming out from hiding, then jailed

22 August 1975: Jailed after refusing to join President Moshtaque's cabinet

According to Mansur Ali's eldest son Dr. Mohammad Selim, when his dad heard the news of Sheikh Mujib's murder on the radio he immediately telephoned Army Chief of Staff General Shafiullah, his deputy Ziaur Rahman and Air Force Chief A. K. Khandaker and ordered them to take action against the murderers, who were positioned at Sheikh Mujib's Dhanmondi house. However, the officials took no action. Fearing repercussion, Prime Minister Mansur Ali went into hiding that same day. But K. M. Obaidur Rahman and Shah Moazzem convinced his sons that their dad would be safe and bought him out from his hiding. Mansur Ali was house arrested on 16 August 1975. President Moshtaque then offered Mansur Ali the opportunity to become Prime Minister in his government which Mansur Ali bluntly refused. He was then arrested on 22 August 1975 and put in jail along with his other colleagues.

On 17 August 1975, he was taken to Bangabhaban and was offered the post of Prime Minister. But my father Syed Mansur Ali declined the offer at Mushtaq's face.

Younger son, and former Home Minister, Mohammad Nasim on how how his dad Mansur Ali refused to join the 'illegitimate government' of Khandaker Moshtaque

A. H. M. Kamruzzaman arrested a day after Shab-e-Barat (Muslim festival of 'Night of Fate')

24 August 1975: Taken from home after refusing to join Moshtaque's cabinet

Upon hearing the fateful news of Sheikh Mujib's murder, A. H. M. Kamruzzaman, then Minister of Industries, took shelter in a different house with his family. But he was given assurance that it was safe to return home. But this was a lie. When Kamruzzaman refused President Moshtaque's offer to join his government he was subsequently arrested from his home.

The day after Shab-e-barat, they took Abba. They told us that he was being taken for interrogation and in a very casual manner they said, "We shall return him soon".

Rowshan Akhter, daughter of Kamruzzaman