Accused[ edit ] The government of Pakistan brought charges against 35 political personalities including three eminent civil servants officials under civil law. Abdur Rauf. Alam displayed great bravery and chased the would-be assassins; for this Alam was awarded the Sitara-e-Basalat , the highest award for bravery in action during peacetime. In all, 1, Bengalis were arrested in connection with the plot in Later on 18 January, the Department implicated Sheikh Mujib as well. He and others were arrested on 9 May , and were subsequently released, only to be arrested later.
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In these forty years, much debate has ensued about the way the case changed the course of Bengali history and transformed the nature of politics and geography in South Asia, especially in the context of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
There remains the opinion of those who have believed that the case effectively hastened the fall of the military regime of Field Marshal Ayub Khan. There are yet others who have held fast to the idea that when the Pakistan government decided to go ahead with the case and in fact gave formal shape to it, the state of Pakistan, by nature fragile, took an inexorable step toward decline in its eastern province. There is, briefly, a whole range of interpretations regarding the contributions the Agartala case made to the growth of Bengali nationalism between and the eventual rise of the free state of Bangladesh in But, of course, following the Language Movement of and the electoral triumph of the United Front in , Bengali nationalism became a well-seeded affair.
The Tagore centenary celebrations of were, given the background of the s, a pointed step forward in what was yet an evolutionary nationalism. But nothing was as substantive or as motivational as the Agartala Conspiracy Case in directing Bengalis across the board towards new political dimensions altogether. The Pakistanis, true to form, sought to involve their arch enemies, the Indians, in the sordid tale as they tried to forge an argument in their own defence. Early in January , in its attempt to prove that Delhi was indeed engaged in the conspiracy to have East Pakistan secede from the rest of Pakistan and turn itself into an independent state, it expelled an Indian diplomat, P.
Ojha, from Dhaka. That did not much help the Ayub Khan regime, for the Indian government stayed studiously clear of everything Pakistan was doing to build a case for itself. The first hint of something going on in the Pakistani establishment came in December , with reports of junior level Bengali officers of the Pakistan army, air force and navy being taken into custody by the government. It was not until January 6, , that an official statement about the arrests would come from the ruling circles in Rawalpindi.
Altogether, about fifteen hundred Bengalis were placed under arrest by the authorities on charges of conspiracy to bring about the dismemberment of Pakistan. But, as yet, no formal charges were filed against any individuals, for the good reason that Pakistani military intelligence was frantically going around trying to convince a large number of those detained to turn approver and testify in court against those who would be formally charged with the crime.
On January,18, matters became somewhat clearer. The Pakistan government informed the country that thirty-five individuals had been charged with conspiracy to break up Pakistan and turn East Pakistan into an independent state with assistance from the Indian government. The implication was clear: Mujib had spearheaded the conspiracy.
In stark terms, one of the more prominent of Bengali politicians had engaged in subterfuge and conspiracy to destroy the unity of the state of Pakistan! But, at that point, one needed to go back to In that year of hope for Bengalis and growing apprehension for West Pakistan, Ayub Khan had warned that those who were propagating the Six Point program of regional autonomy would be handled through the language of weapons.
In early January , subtle hints were being dropped about the imminent employment of such language. The Pakistan government went full-scale into a campaign to discredit those it had taken into custody. And a particular aspect of the campaign was an obvious move to finish off Sheikh Mujibur Rahman or bring his career to an end through convicting him as a traitor to the state of Pakistan.
To what extent the Agartala case was a misconceived one is a truth that was later to come from an Ayub loyalist. As the campaign for the general elections progressed, Khan Abdus Sabur, a Bengali and minister for communications in the Ayub government, told the media that he had advised his leader back in against preparing and proceeding with the case against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The trial of the Agartala case accused began in the Dhaka cantonment on June 19, , before a special tribunal comprising Justice S.
A galaxy of lawyers was on hand to defend the accused. Sir Thomas was, however, compelled to go back because of his constant tailing by Pakistani intelligence. Among other lawyers for the defence was Khan Bahadur Mohammad Ismail. The proceedings of the trial were presented in detail through the print media, which perhaps was one particular reason why the Bengalis of East Pakistan began to develop the notion that the whole show was aimed at humiliating not just Mujib but also an entire people.
Such feelings gained ground when quite a few government witnesses turned hostile and told the tribunal that they had been physically and psychologically tortured into becoming approvers in the case.
And then came the death in custody of one accused, Sergeant Zahurul Haq, on February 15, For a while, the idea of Mujib going to the Rawalpindi talks on parole was bandied about, until Mujib decided to ask for a withdrawal of the case and the unconditional release of all detainees. But all this was in early , when Ayub Khan faced problems on the West Pakistan front as well.
Having imprisoned Khan Abdul Wali Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in November , he was now on the back foot trying to have them freed without any loss to his dignity. The Agartala case marked the rise, in meteoric manner, of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the spokesman of the Bengalis. His courage of conviction where his principles were concerned and an abundance of self-confidence were made clear in the early stages of the trial.
On the opening day of the trial, Mujib spotted before him, a few feet away, a journalist he knew well. He called out his name, only to find the journalist not responding, obviously out of fear of all those intelligence agents present in the room.
Mujib persisted. Bhashani threatened to lead a crowd of Bengalis into Dhaka cantonment if Mujib was not freed. An angry mob pounced on the residential quarters of Justice S. Rahman, who quickly flew off to West Pakistan. Events moved at unprecedented speed after that. On February 22, , Vice Admiral A. The next day, a million-strong crowd roared its approval when Tofail Ahmed, then a leading student leader, proposed honouring Mujib as Bangabandhu, friend of Bengal.
On February 24, he flew off to Rawalpindi to argue the case for the Six Points. On December 5 of that year, at a meeting to remember Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Bangabandhu would inform Bengalis that henceforth East Pakistan would be known as Bangladesh.
It was light unto the future. A nation was coming of age. A leader had arrived.
Agartala Conspiracy Case
February The Agartala Conspiracy Case President Ayub Khan hatched a nefarious plan of quelling the growing movement for the 6-point programme. In January , a false case infamously known as the Agartala Conspiracy Case was filed and 35 Bangalee civil and military officers were accused of treason and conspiracy against the state of Pakistan. The case caused a great turbulence in East Pakistan. The student community started a united movement against the Ayub regime. They defied the section imposed by the police, broke the barricades put by the East Pakistan Rifles and came out to the streets in thousands. A mass-upsurge took place; the Pakistani rulers ordered shooting in different places. Law and order situation worsened to such an extent that the rebellious mob took control of all important points in the Dhaka city.
Agartala Conspiracy Case forty years on
Edit The case was filed in early , and implicated Sheikh Mujib and others in conspiring with India against the stability of Pakistan. The case is officially called State vs. Abdur Rauf. It was during this time that an officer of the East Bengal Regiment, by the name of Rauf ur Rahman an officer who later showed great cowardice in war who was in league with the conspirators made an attempt on the life of Lt Col Alam.
They were accused of involvement in a conspiracy to secede the East wing from Pakistan with the help of the government of India. The petitis principii in the petition was that the conspiracy was concocted between the Indian party and the accused persons at Agartala city of Tripura in India. The case was thus called Agartala Conspiracy Case. However, the Pakistan government was compelled to withdraw the case in the face of a mass movement in East Pakistan. Since the inception of Pakistan, the people of East Pakistan were deprived of their legitimate rights in all spheres. Consequently, a general resentment against the Pakistani rulers brewed among the people of East Pakistan. The demand for autonomy as placed through the six-point programme of the Awami League chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman thus received the spontaneous support of the people of East Pakistan.