Asordid chapter in the post-liberation history of Bangladesh concluded at midnight on Sunday, and paradoxically enough in the centenary year of its founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Abdul Majed, a former military captain, was hanged on 12 April ~ close to a month after Mujib’s birth centenary, for his involvement in the coup and the attendant killings at Mujib’s Dhaka residence on 15 August 1975.
He was involved too in the murder of four of the country’s top leaders inside a high-security jail on November 3 in the same year. Yet Majed’s absence from Bangladesh had been a mystery for the past 45 years, most astonishingly the fact that he had been living in Kolkata since 1997.
Equipped with a law on extradition, he would have been extradited long ago. But as it turns out, the terms of extradition are yet to attain fruition. And this applies as much to the trans-border militants, rapists (like the one involved in the Park Street outrage), and coup leaders.
If Kolkata was a safe haven for one of Mujib’s killers for 23 years, it confirms the Intelligence failure on either side of the eastern flank. Arrested at Mirpur in Bangladesh on 7 April, Majed had secretly returned to Bangladesh on 15 March from Kolkata.
Palpably, there was a cloak of secrecy in his movements, one that neither the Intelligence network in Bangladesh nor India had been able to fathom, irrespective of the dispensations across the border, whether helmed by President Ziaur Rahman, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party or the Awami League, now led by Mujib’s daughter, Begum Hasina. Majed was directly involved in Mujib’s assassination.
After the coup, Majed was attached to General Ziaur Rahman, the army chief and subsequent President. It is quite another story that Ziaur was himself killed by an army officer in 1982, in itself a testament to the machinations within the Bangladesh military post-liberation, specifically the conflict of interests between the “liberators” ~ those who participated in the liberation struggle ~ and the “repatriates”, those who were with the Pakistan army during the turbulent phase of 1971 (March to December).
According to the Bangladesh Home Minister, Asaduzzaman Khan, Ziaur had rewarded Mujib’s killers with plum diplomatic postings. Captain Majed was sent to Libya via Bangkok along with others involved in the killing. He was also posted at Bangladesh’s diplomatic mission in Senegal, and upon retirement from the Army, had worked for the Bangladeshi government in various ministries.
It is pretty obvious that his activities were tacitly condoned by Begum Khaleda Zia’s BNP government. Small wonder Mujib’s killers were in the service of the Bangladesh government, both in Dhaka and abroad. Abdul Majed, a Captain in 1975, has met his nemesis after 45 years. It is hard not to wonder whether he was one of the soldiers opposed to liberation. So too were Generals Ziaur Rahman and Hussein Mohammad Ershad.