Amid reports by Bangladesh agencies of a regime change plot involving a ‘ Major Power’ that seems to have failed , the United States has started the process of sending back Rashed Chowdhury.
Rashed is the self-proclaimed Killer of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and this gesture may be an attempt by Washington to placate Dhaka and allay suspicions over a current plot.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen says Bangladesh had urged the United States several times to send back Rashed Chowdhury, who had managed political asylum in US.
A formal request was made to US Ambassador in Bangladesh Earl R Miller at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2019 .
Momen said that the US bring back their convicted fugitives from other countries – so Bangladesh was well within its rights to get Rashed back to face a death sentence.
US media reports seem to suggest that American protection could be revoked for Rashed.
US Attorney General Bill Barr has set a July 31 deadline for all parties for their final response on thevissue.
Fifteen years ago, the US had granted asylum to Chowdhury, A former Bangladesh Army officer.
Late last month, Attorney General William Barr quietly reopened a prolonged case spanning four decades and two continents, said a report in POLITICO, an American online portal .
The report says the timing of Barr’s move is inscrutable. The legal team for the military officer—wanted by Bangladesh’s government for decades—says it suspects foul play, fearing that if the U.S. deports him, he will certainly be executed.
POLITICO came up with a report supporting the killer”s asylum indicating that Rashed Chowdhury might lose his current protection and deportation from the US.
And there’s no question it welcomes Barr’s move, said the report based on exclusive interviews and legal documents.
POLITICO headlined, “He thought he had asylum. Now, he could face a death sentence-Rashed Chowdhury was a bit player in a years-old coup. His home country wants him back. And now, his fate is in William Barr’s hands.”
“For almost 15 years, the case was closed. But now, thanks to Barr, it’s back. And immigration lawyers say the move sends a chilling message to people who have received asylum in the U.S. It signals, they argue, that even after years of successful legal battles, any protection could still be revoked out of the blue.”-report mentioned.
Following the US lead , Momen said, Bangladesh wanted to bring back the fugitive self- proclaimed killer Rashed who had been convicted already by a court under a free judicial trial .
Earlier, Dr Momen during his meeting with US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo raised the issue of Chowdhury’s extradition strongly and sought US support to send the killer back to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh founding father Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman was killed along with most of his family members on August 15 in 1975 at his home in a military coup.
Only two family members survived the assassination of Bangabandhu – Sheikh Hasina, the incumbent prime minister, and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana, who were in Germany ,on the day the killings took place.
18 members of his family including Mrs Mujib- Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, three sons — Captain Sheikh Kamal, Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal and 10-year-old Sheikh Russel, two daughters-in-law Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal, brother Sheikh Naser, peasant leader Abdur Rab Serniabat, youth leader Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moni and his wife Arzu Moni, Baby Serniabat, Sukanta Babu, Arif and Abdul Nayeem Khan Rintu, were, among others, killed on that fateful night.
Military Secretary Brigadier General Jamil was also killed. Several members of a family in the capital’s Mohammadpur area were killed by artillery shells fired by the killers the same day.
The investigation into the deaths was stopped through an Indemnity Ordinance by the then dictator president and acting Army Chief Maj General Ziaur Rahman, which saved the self-proclaimed killers from facing justice.
The ordinance was abrogated in November 1996 when the Awami League returned to power, paving the way to bringing the killers to justice.
After a lengthy trial, the court convicted 12 suspects and awarded them the death penalty in 2010. Five were hanged on Jan 28, 2010, one died of natural causes and 6 more – Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haque Dalim, M Rashed Chowdhury, SHMB Noor Chowdhury are absconding. Rashed Chowdhury is hiding IN the US and Noor Chowdhury is living in Canada.
The year-long birth centenary of Bangabandhu has been celebrated from March 17 this year. The government has pushed the US and the Canadian administrations to send both convicts back..
The Foreign Minister said that earlier the USA had deported Mohiuddin Ahmed, another convicted killer of Bangabandhu, to Bangladesh.
ON 12 April this year Majed, another convicted killer of Mujibur Rahman was hanged after midnight in Dhaka.
A joint covert operation by the intelligence agencies of India and Bangladesh led to his arrest in Kolkata, where he has been hiding for years and had even married locally.
Momen said it was the ‘ biggest gift for Bangladesh from India,this year.’
” We were very lucky that India responded to our application with firm and positive action.’, Momen said.
The Indians have also been trying to track down Risaldar Mosleuddin, who personally shot Bangabandhu.
Intelligence sources and senior politicians point to the role of Zia and his army colleagues in the assassination conspiracy, which was encouraged and financed by Pakistani generals and the Inter-Services Intelligence AGENCY ISI with US support .
These forces , smarting under their defeat and humiliation in the Liberation war of Bangladesh on 1971, avenged their military defeat by massacring the Mujib family.
Zia, trained under the Pakistani army, had imbibed its ethos and instincts. Military coups were part of its DNA. This led Zia to anchor the country’s nationalism in Islamic and anti-Indian terms, as opposed to the secular values of the War of Liberation, espoused by Bangabandhu and his colleagues in the Awami League.
General Hussein Muhammad Ershad, Zia’s successor as the army chief, who later served as the president of the country, amended the Constitution of Bangladesh to make ‘Islam’ the State religion of Bangladesh.
In 1977, soon after the assassination of Mujib and 4 senior Awami League leaders, the country came under the military dictatorship of General Ziaur Rahman, the then army chief, after he ousted President Khondoker Mostaq Ahmad.
Zia was a reluctant “freedom fighter” and deserted the Pakistan army only when he realised that Pakistan’s defeat was inevitable.
He, however, unmasked himself exposing his real face after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sk Mujib.
As soon as he grabbed àpower, he offered to let Bangabandhu’s assassins escape, rewarding some of them with plum diplomatic postings.
He permitted the war criminals of 1971 ,the leaders of Jamat e Islam the auxiliary force of the Pakistan army in the genocide, to return.
Whereas Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had banned these organisations, and declared them war criminals after Bangladesh’s war of liberation on 1972.
Zia passed an ‘Indemnity law’ in 1975, granting amnesty to those who were part of the assassination conspiracy (The indemnity law was revoked when Sheikh Hasina came to power in 1996).
Zia also allowed many to form political parties and contest elections in the 1980s. He patronised pro-Pakistan politicians and organisations.
With other politicians, he cobbled together the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), whose leadership passed on to his widow, Khaleda Zia, after army personnel, in a coup attempt, assassinated him in 1981.
Khaleda Zia, in coalition with Pakistan financed war criminal Islamist Party Jamat E Islam, served as the country’s prime minister for two terms. During her rule, Bangladesh-India ties had hit rock bottom.