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Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s days spent in Pakistan jail and Anar Khan

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's days spent in Pakistan jail

Rehan Fazal

In 2015, a Pakistani TV program ‘Naqta Nazar’ aired an interview with former police officer Raja Anar Khan in which he admitted that he was imprisoned in Faisalabad Jail as a prisoner to keep an eye on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. kept

At that time, Anar Khan was a young police inspector in the Special Branch.

Anar Khan said that Sheikh Mujeeb asked me, “What crime have you been sentenced for?” I lied to them that I have been arrested for kidnapping a girl. Another prisoner, Khawaja Ayub, was given the responsibility of cooking for Mujib, and Mujib was always supplied with tobacco for cigars.

At night, Raja Anar Khan used to sleep outside Sheikh Mujib’s cell. In the morning, he used to open the lock of Sheikh Mujib’s cupboard. He used to call Sheikh Mujib as Baba.

Raja Anar Khan said, “When the war between India and Pakistan started, the military government decided to send both of us to Mianwali Jail.”

He said that Sheikh Mujib was made to sit in a car which was so full of mattresses and blankets that there was hardly any space left for the Sheikh to sit. The side windows of the car were deliberately covered with mud so that no one would know who was sitting inside?’

On the way, Sheikh Mujib asked why so many troops were seen on the streets, to which Raja Anar Khan replied that military exercises were taking place.

Indira Gandhi’s letter for the release of Mujibur Rahman

On 13 May 1971, Indira Gandhi sent a letter to US President Richard Nixon through Lakshmi Kant Jha, India’s ambassador to the US, expressing her concern over Sheikh Mujib’s imprisonment.

On August 11, he again wrote to Nixon expressing his concern over Yahya Khan’s statement that he was going to try Sheikh Mujib in a military court without any legal assistance from abroad. will

Along with this, he appealed to 23 heads of state of the world to use their influence to save Sheikh Mujib’s life.

BZ Khusro, author of the book ‘Myths and Facts – Bangladesh Liberation War’ writes that ‘American intelligence sources believed that Yahya was against Mujib’s execution. His senior military advisers had warned him that the death sentence for Mujeeb would tarnish Pakistan’s image in the world.

Nixon did not want to do anything that would embarrass Yahya. So he asked Joseph Forland, the American ambassador to Pakistan, to speak to the general in a personal capacity.

According to BZ, Yahya told Jose Forland that if Mujeeb’s mercy plea comes to him, he will not act on it until a civilian government takes over. Be assured that I will not kill this man, though I believe him to be a traitor.’

Air raid shelter in Mianwali Jail

During Sheikh Mujib’s stay in the Mianwali Jail itself, an air raid shelter in the shape of the English letter ‘L’ was built in which mattresses and blankets were also arranged. Later on his arrival in Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman told people that his grave had been dug in the prison where he was likely to be buried after his murder.

Anar Khan said that there is no such thing. “Sheikh Mujib was probably trying to get the sympathies of the people by saying this.”

It was true that Sheikh Mujib was not provided with any newspaper, radio or television during his stay in jail but was given books to read. Later, Mujib also admitted to an Italian journalist, Oriana Fallacci, that he had books available for him to read in prison.

Syed Badrul Hasan writes in his biography of Sheikh Mujib that “on December 6, Mujibur Rahman was sentenced to death by a military court amid the cessation of hostilities.” But after the war, Yahya Khan handed over power to Bhutto. Bhutto spoke to him that evening. Addressing the people of Pakistan, he said that “At present, East Pakistan is occupied by the enemy, but soon we will get it back in the interest of our brothers”. By brothers he meant Bengalis living in East Pakistan.

When Mujeeb was taken to Sahala Guest House

After Pakistan’s defeat, Sheikh Mujib was taken by helicopter to Sahala Guest House near Islamabad. Raja Anar Khan and Jail Superintendent Sheikh Abdul Rahman also went with him. Later, Altaf Gohar, who was the Information Secretary of former Pakistan President Ayub Khan, was also detained in the same guest house room where Sheikh Mujib once stayed.

He later wrote, “I was sleeping in the same bed and using the same blankets that Mujeeb once used.” The jailer went out and showed me the peanuts that Mujib used to eat during his stay there.

One day the jailer said that Mujeeb almost went mad in Mianwali jail and started banging his head against the wall. He was shouting loudly to introduce me to Yahya Khan. I can stop the massacre in Dhaka’. Jailer Abdul Rehman told this to General Pirzada but Mujib was not allowed to meet Yahya.

Bhutto’s meeting with Sheikh Mujib

After becoming President, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to meet Sheikh Mujib at Sahala Guest House on 27th December 1971. During this meeting, Anar Khan was listening to the conversation of Bhutto and Mujeeb standing behind the curtain. By the way, this conversation was taped.

In Bhutto’s biography ‘Pakistan’s Zulfi Bhutto: His Life and Times’, author Stanley Wilpert mentions these tapes. Mujeeb started the conversation by saying how did you get here? Bhutto replied, I am now the President and Chief Marshal of Pakistan, I am a law administrator.

Sheikh Mujeeb said, I am happy to know this but tell me what is the situation of Bengal? I’m very worried about there.’

When Bhutto told Mujib that Dhaka was occupied by Indian forces, Mujib said, ‘They have killed us, you let me go to Dhaka, you have to promise me that if the Indians put me in jail, You have to fight my battles.’

Bhutto promised: ‘Mujib we will fight together.’

‘Mujeeb brother, is there any possibility that we can still be together?’

Stanley Wolpert then writes ‘Mujib knew he was dealing with a shrewd man like Bhutto. He also knew that his every word was being taped. He said let me go to Dhaka and take care of things. Believe me, I never wanted the Indian Army to reach there.’

Bhutto said that I have full faith in you, that is why I have decided to release you. Then Bhutto told Mujeeb his heartfelt wish, Mujeeb brother, is there any possibility that we can still be together? Talk to my people in Dhaka and then tell about it.’

Mujeeb was offered to become the prime minister

After that, Sheikh Mujib remained in a state of uncertainty for 11 days. During this time, Bhutto met him several times.

Stanley Wilpert writes that “Bhutto reminded Mujeeb that in our meeting on the 27th, you had agreed to do two or three things together.” Defence, foreign affairs and currency, Mujeeb quickly replied, but for that you will have to allow me to go to Dhaka first.

“Bhutto played another trick and said that you can take the position of president, prime minister… I will retire from politics.”

Bhutto wanted to introduce Mujib to the Shah of Iran

Former Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Kamal Hussain while talking to me told another detail of this ongoing consultation between Sheikh Mujib and Bhutto.

Kamal said that ‘Bhutto kept pushing for some kind of relationship with Pakistan until the last minute. On the day Sheikh was to be released and he was going to London, Bhutto asked him to stay one more day. will The next day the Shah of Iran was coming and he wanted to meet him.

Kamal says, “Sheikhs understood that they wanted to put pressure on them from the Shah of Iran.” He said that he did not accept Bhutto’s proposal. If they want, they can send them back to jail.

Later in January 1971, Sheikh Mujib gave an interview to Newsweek magazine in which he said that Yahya Khan wanted to kill him on the day Bangladesh came into being, but Bhutto saved him by saying that if that happened, India would has taken the lives of 93 thousand Pakistanis. Prisoners of war will be in danger.

On the night of 7 January 1972, Bhutto himself went to see Mujib and Kamal Hussain at Chaklala Airport in Rawalpindi. Bhutto bade farewell to Mujeeb without saying a word and Mujeeb also quickly climbed the steps of the plane without looking back.

Mujeeb presented a book written by Dostoevsky to Raja Anar Khan

Before leaving, Sheikh Mujeeb presented Dostoevsky’s book ‘Crime and Punishment’ to Raja Anar Khan, who was with him in jail. When Anar Khan gave an interview to a Pakistani TV channel, he also showed the book he received from Sheikh Mujib.

Signing it, Sheikh Mujib wrote: ‘In the long war between lies and truth, lies win first, but truth wins later.’

In 1974, when Mujibur Rahman came to Lahore to attend the Islamic Summit, he inquired about Raja Anar Khan and expressed his desire to meet him. But Anar Khan did not go to meet him. He was afraid that the government of Pakistan would not like this and he would be harassed later in case of this meeting.

Arrival of Sheikh Mujib in London

On the morning of January 8, 1971, Sheikh Mujib’s plane arrived at Heathrow Airport. This was incredible news for a Bengali diplomat, MM Raza Al Karim, who had resigned from the Pakistani Foreign Service and was currently living in London. He took out his old mini-car and sped towards Heathrow Airport.

Controlling his rapid breathing, when he reached the VIP lounge of Heathrow Airport, he saw Sheikh Mujib smoking a cigar there.

Along with Dr. Kamal Hussain and Sheikh Mujeeb, some Pakistani officers were also present there. As soon as these officials saw Karim, they saluted Sheikh Mujeeb and left without saying anything.

Syed Badrul Hasan writes in his book ‘Baghi Se Bani Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’ that ‘Sheikh Mujib’s life came to life when he saw the Bengali diplomat Raza Al Karim in the VIP lounge, he angrily questioned him. felt His first question was “Is it true that Bangladesh is now an independent country?”

Ahsan writes that the British government had sent a Rolls-Royce car to the airport for Sheikh Mujib, but Mujib arrived at the hotel in a small car. By afternoon, Mujeeb met British Prime Minister Edward Heath and Leader of the Opposition Harold Wilson. Called Dhaka for the first time after being arrested by the Pakistani army and spoke to his family.

He writes that “hundreds of journalists were present at his press conference in Syria, when one journalist asked him why he decided to come to London instead of going directly to Dhaka, Sheikh’s answer was that this decision was made by Bhutto.” What was it?’

Sheikh Mujib’s speech in Bengali in Delhi

After staying in London for two days, Sheikh Mujib left for Dhaka on the evening of January 9. For this, the British government gave him his plane.

On the way, he stopped at New Delhi for a few hours to thank Indira Gandhi.

Dr. Kamal Hussain recalls that ‘at that time the President of India, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, her entire cabinet, the heads of the three armed forces and the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Siddharth Shankar Roy Sheikh, were at the Delhi airport to receive him. were It felt like a family reunion.

In a public meeting at the military cantonment grounds, Mujeeb thanked the people of India for helping the Bangladesh struggle.

Sheikh Mujib began his speech in English. But Indira Gandhi, who was on the stage at that time, requested her to speak in Bengali.

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Unparalleled reception in Dhaka

When Sheikh Mujib arrived in Dhaka after a two-hour stay in Delhi, nearly a million people were there to welcome him at the Dhaka airport.

Sheikh Mujib, who had lost a lot of weight after nine months in a Pakistani jail, swept his long hair back with his right hand and Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed stepped forward and took his leader in his arms.

Tears flowed from both eyes. Mujeeb proceeded to the race course ground in an open truck. There was so much crowd all around that it took three hours for the truck to cover the two kilometer long route.

When Mujeeb cried in front of the crowd

Sheikh Mujib wept in front of a crowd of millions at the race course ground, recalling the sacrifices of his countrymen against the Pakistani army. He recalled the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore and said, “You once complained that the people of Bengal have remained only Bengalis and have not yet become true human beings.”

“Come back, O great poet,” said Sheikh Mujib, “and see how your Bengalis have turned into the wonderful human beings you once imagined.”

During this speech he also remembered the promise made to Bhutto in which he said that he would ask his people and tell them what the future relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan would be.

Addressing Bhutto, he said that the relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan will remain the same as between two independent countries.