How the NYT took stock of the events

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Following their initial report that contained little analysis on the putsch of August 15, 1975, the New York Times took stock of the events in a subsequent report a week after the events. It contains some revealing reportage. Here reproduced in full:

Authoritative sources said today that the young officers who led the coup against Sheik Mujibur Rahman killed him and more than 20 members of his family and political associates, then lost out during a showdown with the new leader and went back to their barracks.

[The new Foreign Minister of Bangladesh; in an interview, depicted his country as striving for stability while trying to feed and clothe some 80 million people for whom day‐to‐day existence is a struggle. Page 3.]

According to authoritative foreign and Bengali sources, the coup began at about dawn Aug. 15 when a truckload’ of troops started firing into the home of Sheik Moni, nephew of Sheik Mujib and editor of The Bangladesh ‘Times. Sheik Moni and his wife were slain in a barrage of small‐arms fire.

At about the same time, a mile away in the Dhanmondi residential area, troops attacked Sheik Mujib's house, raking it with bullets. Apparently artillery also was used. One errant shell killed about a dozen people, the sources said.

Believed slain with Sheik Mujib were his wife, two sons, Kamal and Jamal, their brides of a few months, and the President's youngest son, Russell, aged 12, who had been named for Bertrand Russell, the philosopher.

Also killed were Sheik Mujib's brother, Sheik Nasser from Khulna, and Brig. Shaukat Jamil Choudhury, who had recently been switched from his post as Sheik Mujib's military secretary to military intelligence.

The sources said at least 16 persons in the house were killed.

“If they had not killed the Sheik,” said a Government official, “the coup would have been finished in 12 hours.”

Brother‐in‐Law Killed

Firing at a third house killed Sheik Mujib's brother‐in‐law, Abdul Rab Sernayabat, Minister of. Flood Control. His wife and at least two children were also reported killed.

Four hours after the killings the young officers who led the coup went to Mr. Mushtaque Ahmed, Sheik Mujib's Commerce Minister, to offer him the post of President. Bengali sources said that other ministers were brought to Bangla Bhavan, seat of government in Dacca, to take new jobs, although most had already been in the Mujib cabinet.

According to one source, Hindu minister, Phani Majumdar, cried: “Don't shoot me, I am a sick man” when he saw troops at his home. They had to assure him they had come to take him to Bangla Bhavan to join the cabinet.

Government sources said that the 12 to 20 officers who had entrenched themselves firmly in the forefront of the revolution had finally agreed to retreat from their positions of leadership while Mr. Mushtaque Ahmed's civilian regime prepared to deal with the corruption it attributed to Sheik Mujib's regime.

“There are no conditions,” the Government sources said, about the pullback by the young majors, “but of course they can come back anytime.”

The majors reportedly still control major communications points, and Russian‐made tanks of the Bengal Lancers are in the streets.

The new regime took five days to organize after the sudden assassinations. A martiallaw regime was empowered to set up tribunals and punish offenders, and the Government said it would use those powers to fight corruption.

In recounting the Government's first accomplishments, The Bangladesh Observer said President Mushtaque Ahmed had dismissed Ghazi Golem Mustapha, an aide of Sheik Mujib and head of the Bangladesh Red Cross. He was accused of theft of aid funds.

The Government newspaper said that the new regime would harass no one “for reasons of political opinion, inclination, actions,” adding, “There has been no single arrest so far on that ground.”

The editorial appeared to be an attempt to combat what one Bengali executive called a “sense of terror” that gripped the country following the coup.

“There was total collapse,” he said. “Whatever anyone said, we did with complete obedience. There is a perpetuation of fear.”

The Government still appeared stunned by the killings of the first day. Sheik Mujib's body lay in his residence for nearly 12 hours “because nobody knew what to do,” a Bengali source recalled.

  • How the NYT took stock of the events

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