It was early hours of August 15, 1975, the blackest chapter of the nation’s history.
“I’m President Sheikh Mujib. What do you want? Where do you want to take me?”- These were Bangabandhu’s last words while assailants sprayed the burst of bullets in response, according to eyewitness Abdur Rahman Sheikh Rama, a domestic aide at 32 Dhanmondi.
Rama was in his early teenage years during the country’s worst carnage that killed Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members.
He virtually hid himself for years thereafter and during the delayed Bangabandhu Murder Trial, decades later, Rama appeared as a key-prosecution witness in the court to describe what he saw on the early morning of August 15.
He is now a grown up man in his late 50s but emotion and a sense of horror still chases him as he revisited the event of the day while talking to this BSS correspondent in 2023.
The assailants began their killing spree first gunning down Bangabandhu’s eldest son and Liberation War veteran Captain Sheikh Kamal on the downstairs of the house.
The bloodthirsty killers’ wrath was not pacified until they killed the other members of the family including 10-year-old Sheikh Russell.
Rama said he started staying at the residence since 1969 and continued to stay with Bangabandhu’s family until the August 15 carnage when he was sleeping with another domestic staff Md Selim aka Abdul at the veranda outside Bangabandhu’s room.
“I still cannot stay steady whenever the horrific scene reappears in my mind . . . the darkest memory of my life,” he said adding that the execution of some of the August 15 killers, however, partly soothed him.
Rama recalled as the assailants were approaching the house creating loud noises, Begum Mujib asked him to go downstairs to see what happened and “I went down, came out of main gate and saw some army personnel approaching Bangabandhu’s house”.
“Then I came back to the house and found Bangabandhu coming down in his lungi and sando-genji (nightwear),” Rama said adding that at that point the killers announced their emergence with volley of gunshots and firing artillery shells.
He recalled that as soon as the guards of Bangabandhu’s house started hoisting the national flag at 5:30 am, the assassins started their attack directly from the south.
“When I ran upstairs, I saw Begum Mujib was scared and rushing around. Then I went to the second floor and woke up Sheikh Kamal vai and his wife Sultana Kamal,” Rama said.
Sheikh Kamal then quickly went to ground floor wearing a shirt and trousers and Sultana Kamal went down to first floor and woke up Sheikh Jamal and his wife Rosy Jamal.
“Then they quickly went to Begum Mujib’s room,” Rama went on saying.
Meanwhile, Begum Mujib sent Bangabandhu his punjabi and spectacles through domestic aide Abdul and after a while, when the firing stopped, Bangabandhu took the punjabi and glasses from him.
Rama said he now believes Bangabandhu quickly grasped the situation and kept calling to different places.
He recalled traumatized Sheikh Russell was initially kept in the queue in front of the house along with the staff when he hugged Rama and then Bangabandhu’s personal aide Mohitul Islam and said, “Brother, will they also kill me?”
In reply, Mohitul said “no brother, they will not kill you” and then Russell wanted to go to his mother.
One of the killers sacked lieutenant colonel Aziz Pasha asked a soldier to take him to the first floor where he too was shot dead.
According to records and evidence brought before the trial court two killers sacked major Bazlul Huda and sacked lieutenant colonel Noor Chowdhury gunned Bangabandhu down on the stairs of the house.
Huda was exposed to gallows after trial in absentia following his extradition from Thailand while Noor Chowdhury took refuge in Canada as diplomatic and legal efforts are underway to bring him back home to face the justice.