There are people one works with who do not create any impression. They are just the run of the mill type individuals. One forgets them once they are separated. But then there are a few, very few perhaps, whom you never forget, whom you love to remember and respect, for things done by them in the call of duty. Or even otherwise. Likewise there are dates you remember and the events associated with them—good, bad, indifferent or whatever. In this recapitulation I want to write about an extraordinary, courageous, bold and brave person who had set the rare example of laying down his life for trying to do his assigned duty. He was a handsome, amiable, friendly, extremely gregarious individual. He had a smiling face and pleasing personality. He had a high sense of dignity, honour. To him duty was first and it was last. He proved this in the small hours of morning of August 15, 1975, by sacrificing his life while trying to save that of our great leader, the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The house of Bangabandhu was under siege by a group of dismissed and highly ambitious military officials since the preceding night. Tanks were rolling and there was a near war situation in road 32 where the house was located and where Bangabandhu lived. On hearing gun shots and explosions Bangabandhu tried to call the Army chief and his military secretary, Brigadier General Jamil Uddin Ahmed, Bir Uttam, a colonel then he was under orders of transfer as the Director General, Forces Intelligence. But he was still with the President on the 15th. On getting the sos, Col. Jamil who lived in the buildings adjacent to Gonobhaban in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka, rushed down the stairs and pulled the jeep out of the garage. He tried to call one of the private secretaries of Bangabandhu, but the phone did not respond. He pulled the transport out and drove straight to Dhanmandi in the small hours of morning. A patriot, brave soldier, freedom fighter was responding to what would be his last call to duty!
On reaching the entry point of road 32 (where Sentur restaurant is located now) he found the area barricaded. There were many armed people. He asked one of them what was going on? He replied: Sir, you go back. We are on a special mission here”. Col. Jamil was outraged at this insolence and shouted: Get the hell out of here or….”. He could not complete the sentence. A hail of bullets fired from the gun of one of those rebels had felled him to the soil he loved and adored so much. He died on the spot at around 5 a.m. Another martyr of freedom. His body was later taken to the house of Khaled Musharraf for the funeral. I have not known of a second individual who had laid down his life for Bangabandhu on that fateful night/morning. Bangabandhu was not very security conscious. He would often say: Who would kill me in Bangladesh? And yet killed he was on the 15th of August, 1975, by a group of misguided and criminal military officers. Brigadier Jamil will go down in history as the only one who had tried to prevent the carnage and the disaster that befell Bangladesh on that night.
I worked with Col. Jamil in 1974, for a brief period, before I left for the US in the Fall of 1974. I found him a kind, compassionate, humane and caring person. He would go round our offices, share jokes, have tea. There was a permanent smile on his face. He was kind to the junior staff. He got along with everybody in that sensitive office, where in 1974 he was the only non civilian officer. He enjoyed the full trust and affection of Bangabandhu and his colleagues in the PMO.
Col. Jamil had been posted as the Director General, Forces Intelligence, and was about to join his new assignment. But, alas, that did not happen. He gave his life for Bangabandhu on the 15th of August, 1975, along with Bangabandhu and 24 others. Such a tragedy is rare in history. Perhaps the Czar of Russia and his family were the only other example. The killers had a well honed blue print and they executed it to perfection. Suddenly, Jamil became an unexpected obstruction in their hell bound way. And they saw to it that he is removed for ever. In the process they made him unforgettable, if not immortal. In history he will remain as a super example of loyalty, duty and courage. As one privileged to know and work with him I will always think of him as the best of human beings. He remains unforgettable and unconquered. May his soul rest in eternal peace. May there never be another 15th of August ever.
The author was the Executive Chairman, Board of Investment.