New Age Islam Special Correspondent
07 May 2020
The arrest of two convicted assassins of the founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in quick succession in April this year poses some serious questions before the security agencies of India, and the government of West Bengal in particular. A former Captain of Bangladesh army, Abdul Majid who had stayed in Kolkata for 23 years after being convicted by a court in Bangladesh for his participation in the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the early hours of 15 August 1975 was executed. He had fled Bangladesh in 1996 before the court delivered its judgement in 1998. He hid in different districts of West Bengal before settling down in Kolkata with his wife 30 years junior to him. Probably, he had sensed that he can no more hide from the eyes of security agencies and left India in February without telling his wife and reached Bangladesh in mid-March. He was arrested in Dhaka on 8 April, 2020 and executed there.
Soon after Majed's arrest, another convict Risaldar Moslehuddin was arrested from Bongaon, a border town in West Bengal. He was known there as a seller of Unani and Ayurvedic medicine. He was also one of the twelve members of the hit squad of the Bangladesh army that had killed Mujibur Rahman and his other family members and was awarded death sentence. He was executed soon after his arrest.
Before fleeing to India, Abdul Majed had served in important positions in the government of Bangladesh under the army. He served as the Deputy Secretary and went on to become the Director of the National Savings Department. He also served in the Bangladesh embassy in Senegal. The assassins were honoured by the Bangladesh army but their fortunes crashed after the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's daughter Sheikh Hasina came to power and the trials against the killers of the founder began in 1996. Anticipating death, Abdul Majed and Moslehuddin escaped to India and took shelter in West Bengal which shares its orders with Bangladesh.
Abdul Majed, 73, had assumed the alias Ahmad Ali. He managed to get a passport and Adhar Card and did the job of a teacher. Ten years ago, when he was around 63, he married a poor girl named Zareena from Uluberia to win the trust of the society. But he never told his wife anything about his past and his family. He used to speak less to people.
Five of the convicts had already been executed in 2010 while one convict died in Zimbabwe. Now the total number of executed assasins is seven. The Bangladesh government believes that one convict is still hiding in the US and another in Canada. The Bangladesh government has no clue about where the remaining two are hiding. Are they hiding in India like Abdul Majed and Moslehuddin?
Moslehuddin was arrested soon after Abdul Majed was arrested. This gives strength to the speculation that Moslehuddin was arrested on leads given by Abdul Majed. This also means that despite living in different parts of West Bengal the two fugitives were in touch and knew about each other. The CCTV footage shows that when Abdul Majed left Kolkata, four people followed him. Who were they? Were they his local contacts who had been providing him support and had advised him to leave the country because they thought the intelligence was closing in on him and if he is caught in India his ideological colleagues in the country will land in trouble?
Abdul Majed had a valid passport according to news reports but when he was arrested in Dhaka or Mirpur in April, his passport did not bear immigration stamp. This means he crossed the border illegally? Who helped him?
Ten years ago, an acquaintance of Abdul Majed arranged his marriage to Zareena though he was very old then. This was obviously done to present him as a family man to the society.
Why did the two consider West Bengal safe? The answer is not difficult to find. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was loyal to India because India had provided military support to his fight for Independence. He advocated a pro-India foreign policy. Therefore, the pro-Pakistan elements in Bangladesh Army organised the coup against Bangabandhu and after killing him captured power and adopted a pro-Pakistan foreign policy.
The land of Bangladesh was used for subversive activities against India. Jamaat Islamic that supported Pakistani army during the genocide of Bengalis rose to power. They even joined the government led by Khaleda Zia. Abdul Qader Mullah, Delwar Hussain Sayeedi, Abdul Majed, Moslehuddin and other pro-Pakistan activists and killers enjoyed impunity and privileges under the army rule and in the government of Khaleda Zia. ULFA was allowed to operate from Bangladesh against India.
However, after coming to power, Sheikh Hasina started the trials against the assassins of Sheikh Mujib in 1996 and War Crimes Tribunal was set up in 2011 to try the people involved in mass killings during 1971. Then they realised that the land of Bangladesh was not going to be safe for them any longer. So, they decided to escape. Since West Bengal was easy to reach and there were still sympathisers in the country, people like Abdul Majed crossed over to West Bengal. The fact that the likes of Abdul Majed had sympathisers in the state is evident from the mass protests held in West Bengal after the judgement of the International War Crimes Tribunal in February 2013 awarding death and life sentences to Abdul QaderMolla known in Bangladesh as the Butcher of Mirpur, Delwar Hossein Sayeedi and his aides, A news report on the protest published in Swarajyamag.com on 24 November 2015 is reproduced here to show why Abdul Majed and Moslehuddin chose West Bengal and stayed safely here for about 23 years.
"In early February 2013, a contentious crowd filled with members of a coalition of Islamic organisations like the All Bengal Youth Federation, the SunnatulJamat, the Madrasa Student Union and the Welfare Party of India gathered in Kolkata from all over the state of West Bengal to oppose the death sentence given to war criminal Delwar Hussain Sayeedi. These groups led by eminent Muslim leaders such as Syed Md Noorhr Rahman Barkati, Shahi Imam Tipu Sultan Masjid ( a supporter of TMC) went as far as issuing threats to block future visits of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina."
That two convicted killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman are still at large is a cause of concern both for Bangladesh and India. India and Bangladesh have co-operated each other in the fight against terrorism. Bangladesh had handed over ULFA leaders to India while India has been giving intelligence inputs to Bangladesh and has handed over its most wanted criminals like Abdul Majed and Moslehuddin. Intelligence agencies should work harder to break the pro-Pakistan Nexus which shows sympathy to the extremists of Bangladesh and supports and provides shelter and logistics to criminals like Abdul Majed and Moslehuddin.