November has become synonymous with tragedy in our collective life.

Today, we recall some of our best men we lost to conspiracy forty four years ago. We recall the courage they brought into their conduct of the war for a free Bangladesh in 1971. The murder of the four Mujibnagar leaders in the supposed security of prison by those who assassinated Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family earlier is a shame we cannot grow out of. They were among the brightest of men who guided us through the difficult days of the War of Liberation. Inspired by Bangabandhu's ideals and the principles of democracy, Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, M. Mansoor Ali and A.H.M. Quamruzzaman shaped and presided over a guerrilla struggle that in the end laid the Pakistani occupation forces low.

And yet these four brave, honest men were murdered in this free country on 3 November 1975. But that was not the end of the story. Just as the nation thought sanity was about to return through the change-over on 3 November, despite the tragedy of the jail killings, the country was pushed back into a darkness from which it would not emerge for a very long time. On 7 November, the murder of General Khaled Musharraf and two of his colleagues marked the beginning of an era of political revisionism. On that dark day, the nation watched in shock as a bunch of rowdy soldiers pushed the country back to a stage from which we had come out in 1971.

On that day of dark infamy, the old wartime cry of Joi Bangla was consigned to the woods by the new votaries of a communalistic nationhood. Secular politics was sent packing. The republic had slipped into the hands of its internal enemies, the saboteurs who had so long lain low. All these years on, a full and conclusive inquiry is still awaited into their deaths.

3 and 7 November 1975 remain a blot on the nation's conscience. The curse of extra-constitutional rule, a legacy carried over from Pakistan, had descended on Bangladesh. The dark deeds perpetrated on those two days would have their ramifications, on that day and in subsequent years. The viciousness of the two days pushed the country into deeper levels of darkness. It was infamy the nation lived through. In essence, it was the first step in the distortion of history. It inaugurated the process of a mutation of the State into little pockets of tribalism.

We bow in profound respect to the memory of the four national leaders and the patriotic soldiers who were martyred on 3 and 7 November 1975. A wounded Bangladesh still goes through searing pain.

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