Ex-diplomat: Bangabandhu binned US envoy’s warning of impending coup

সম্পাদনা/লেখক: ইফতেখার মোহাম্মদ

The records and reports published previously suggested Bangabandhu had twice ignored India’s alert against the bloody putsch

A former US diplomat has said the then US ambassador in Dhaka conveyed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of an impending coup in line with a State Department decision despite speculations about the role of that powerful country’s intelligence agency at that time.

“I remember the discussion (among state department officials) of whether we had an ethical responsibility to warn Sheikh Mujib about the danger to his life” Stephen Eisenbraun of Bangladesh desk at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research said in an interview years after the carnage.

He said the officials in the state- department in the Washington DC came to a conclusion “yes, we did have that responsibility” and Ambassador Davis Eugene Boster was asked to convey the Bangladesh founder of the possible threat on his life.

Eisenbraun said the envoy went in to Bangabandhu probably in late July or early August of 1975 with some drafted talking points.

“Anyway, the essence of what Boster was instructed to say was, we hear many threats of a coup and threats of violence against you. He did not name names. He merely warned Mujib to be careful,” the official recalled.

Eisenbraun added: “As my memory has it, Mujib was casual about it (threat) and said, do not worry, I know my people; they love me and everything is under control”.

Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) that gathers world’s largest collection of US diplomatic oral history carried his interview where Eisenbraun said within years after Bangladesh independence “plots of coups developed, even threats to Mujib’s life”.

“People in Bangladesh would whisper this (plot) to the embassy. This reporting was coming back to Washington so steadily that it became clear that this is not idle chatter. Sheikh Mujib’s life seemed in danger,” the ex-US Foreign Service official recalled.

ADST researcher Charles Stuart Kennedy took the interview in December 2004 when Eisenbraun recalled that the carnage took place on the last day of his assignment on the Bangladesh desk and “it was Friday, August 15, 1975.”

He claimed that “the Americans were caught as much by surprise almost as much as the Bangladeshis” as the deadly coup killed the Bangladesh leader along with most of his family members.

“It was a horrible massacre, where renegade mid-career army officers had come to his house in the middle of the night and shot him and his wife and all the children, probably well over a dozen people,” commented Eisenbraun though in his long interview critically analyzing the situation of that period.

He said the coup plotters murdered everybody with automatic weapons and “it seemed not so different from the killing of the royal family in Russia in 1918”.

However, Eisenbraun tended to emphasis a fact that “the actual perpetrators, the majors who did it, were not necessarily the ones we had been hearing about in the days before the coup”.

“It is my understanding from working on the desk in 1975 that the Americans did warn Sheikh Mujib, as I described; but that they were surprised by the people who actually carried out the coup and the assassination,” he said.

Eisenbraun recalled he went to his office that morning to “absolute hubbub” as there was frenzied activity as such a terrible activity took place in Bangladesh capital few hours ago.

“Believe me, it was a shock on the desk that day,” he said.

‘These are my own children and they will not harm me’

The records and reports published previously suggested Bangabandhu had twice ignored India’s alert against the bloody putsch, saying the plotters were his “own children” who will not harm him.

Over seven months before the “Bangabandhu” was assassinated along with most of his family members in the August 15, 1975 carnage, a former top Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) official had met him here to warn him against the conspirators.

“These are my own children and they will not harm me,” the Bangladesh leader had told Rameshwar Nath Kao, founder of the India’s external intelligence agency, who meet him in December, 1974 with the approval of the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

According to Asoka Raina’s “Inside R&AW” as Bangabandhu dismissed the concern with a wave of his hand, Kao insisted the Indian information was reliable and he would send him more details of the plot.

Kao subsequently sent a senior RAW officer to Dhaka in March, 1975 who gave him exact details of the units and ranks of the serving and dismissed officers who were hatching the plot to overthrow his post-independence government.

“But again, he (Bangabandhu) was not convinced,” Raina wrote.

Source: Dhaka Tribune, August 14th, 2020 ( Link )

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