Sheikh Russel was the youngest child of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Today is Sheikh Russel’s 55th birth anniversary. Russel, also brother of Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, was born on October 18, 1964 at Bangabandhu Bhaban located on house no. 677, road no 32 of Dhanmondi residential area in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. The house is located on the bank of Dhanmondi Lake. Russel’s two eyes were full of infinite surprise. He had natural simplicity and innate quality to attract others. He had been passing days with the affection and love of his parents and elder brothers and sisters. One of his elder sisters, Sheikh Rehana in one of her writings said, ‘(Russel) was much younger than me. In birthdays, we presented toys or some other gifts to him. Mother cooked some special item at home and fed us. Russel was the youngest of two sisters and three brothers. Accordingly, he was the cherished treasure of all. …Russel was born in late night. I was sleeping at that time. My second aunt called me, ‘Get up quickly, you have a brother’. Russel was like a doll . What a beautiful smile ! But he used to cry also. His school name was Sheikh Risaluddin. Hasu apa sung song, recited poetry by taking him on her lap. Brother Kamal and Jamal had also taken him on the lap. I also took him with apprehension of dropping from the lap. When Russel was born at that time Bangabandhu was not at Dhaka. He had been to Chattogram for partisan work. Immediate after knowing the message of birth of the baby, he rushed to Dhaka. Bangabandhu was happy to see the newly born baby. He took him on his lap and gave the name Russel. Close persons of Bangabandhu family, said that there was a cause for keeping the name Russel. British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell was favorite writer of Bangabandhu. Apart from some other writers’ works during his prison life Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman used to read Russel’s works.
Russel had been growing up in a liberal environment. Slowly but surely he had been growing up and extending the horizon of his known world. Besides, as the youngest member of family he had the special privilege to all other members. Like all people, he had also dreams. The morning sun and the evening star sent him the messages, which are not known to us. Every member of Bangabandhu family had cordial love and affection for Russel, because he was the youngest child of the folks. When Bangabandhu stayed at home, many people including party leaders and workers used to visit his residence. They also treasured the youngest son of Bangabandhu, but it was noticed that Russel got disturbed. He (Russel) liked to stay alone on his own. He liked to play with the houseboys of the family. Cow and chicken were his favorite animals. Family members and close persons of Bangabandhu family noticed that fried egg with sugar was the favorite dish of Russel. He (Russel) was very intelligent and a quiet boy. He always used to share food with others. But, he could not easily mix with others. Another thing is that he did not like to learn continuously from one tutor. Thus, very often tutor had to be changed. Yet, Gitali Dasgupta had been able to sustain for long time as his tutor. The verbal sparring and playful banter relationship between two brothers Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel was really starting to ratchet up some interesting tension. In a writing Nasrin Ahmed mentioned that Jamal irritates Russel to no end with him complaints to his mother, Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib. Mother was the only person where Russel had been used to put his undue liberty or demand and complains and blames against others.
An innocent child of 11 years, Sheikh Russel was brutally killed along with most of his family members, including his father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, on August 15, 1975. when he was a student of class IV at University Laboratory School. The killing operation at the residence of Father of the Nation, elected President Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was led by Major A.K.M. Mohiuddin Ahmed. Major Bazlul Huda was placed in the team as he was the Adjutant to the First Field Artillery regiment, which was guarding the home of the President. The team also included Major S.H.M.B Noor Chowdhury. Captain Abul Bashar who was in charge of the guards has served under Major Dalim. Some of the guards were killed defending the residence after the mutineers tried to force their way in the residence. Sheikh Kamal was injured defending the residence, he was executed by Captain Huda after the attackers had crossed into the compound. Bangabandhu asked “what do you want?” to the mutineers. It was Major Noor and Captain Huda who shot Bangabandhu as he was coming down the stairs. Bangabandhu’s son Sheikh Jamal, Jamal’s wife Rosy, Sheikh Kamal’s wife Sultana Kamal, Bangabandhu ‘s wife Sheikh Fazilatunnesa were taken to the bathroom on the first floor. They were shot there by Major Abdul Aziz Pasha and Risaldar Moslemuddin shot and killed all of them inside the bathroom. Major Faruque promoted Captain Huda to Major and Subedar Major Abdul Wahab Joardar to Lieutenant on the spot. Faruque had arrived and left on a tank. Colonel Jamil Uddin Ahmad, military secretary to the President, was killed on the way to Bangabandhu Bhaban after he was called by Bangabandhu.
The guards had surrendered after a brief firefight and were lined up outside the house. Major Noor shot Sheikh Nasser, the brother of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in the reception area bathroom. Major Pasha ordered a Havilder to kill Sheikh Russel, who was crying for his mother. Witness reported soldiers looting the house. A dead policeman was seen at the entrance. Major Huda went to Sher Shah road at Mohammadpur to order 10 coffins from carpenters. Major Huda also removed the bodies the next day through an army escort.
Why such a little angel had to be the prey of killers ? It was unthinkable. In that age a human being used to be the king in his or her own kingdom, Russel’s life ended at the age of only 11 years. Renowned nuclear scientist Dr. M. A. Wazed Miah has given a stunning description of August 15, 1975 killing in his writing. Wazed Miah said, ‘… Russel had run and took shelter in the row of houseboys. Long time houseboy Abdur Rahman Roma had caught the hand of Russel. After a while a soldier took Russel from Roma. At that time Russel was crying and saying, ‘’by the mercy of Allah, don’t kill me. I would be the houseboy at your residence after being grown up. My Hasu Apa has been at Germany with Dulabhai.
I earnestly request you, please send me to Hasu Apa and Dula Bhai at Germany.’ Then that soldier had hidden Russel in the security-box of the main gate. After half an hour a major saw Russel there and took him to the first floor to shoot him.’
Those who have son or brother or grandson like Russel, put him in Russel’s place, then many of you would be able to understand, why we during our student life in 1976-1981 demanded repeal of indemnity law and capital punishment for the killers of Bangabandhu, his youngest son Russel and all other family members.
Professor Arun Kumar Goswami, Department of Political Science and Director, South Asian Study Circle, Jagannath University
Independent 18 October, 2019 link