Department of State

 

AIRGRAM SECRET A-259

 

 

TO       : Department of State

INFO   : RAWALPINDI, KARACHI, LAHORE, PESHAWAR

FROM : AmConGcn DACCA DATE: 12 March 1968

SUBJECT : An Exercise in Conspiracy: A Resume'

REF     : Dacca's A-349 of May 2, 1966 and A-133 of November 21, 1967

 

PROLOGUE

 

Late on the evening of December 8, Mirza Rameez said good night to his girl friend on a dark Chittagong side street before hurrying home to his wife. He appeared to be worried and it was clear he had been drinking heavily. He had been drinking heavily for three months. Rameez was a frightened man. For some time he had been aware that he was being followed by the Special Branch; and a friend had told him earlier in the week that he had heard that the police would arrest Rameez "and his friends" before the end of the week. He thought of fleeing, but he had no money and had nowhere to run. Four hours later at 3:00 AM, December 9, the secret police knocked on his door.

 

Early on the morning of December 9, an ex-college teacher was roused by a frightened young man, one of his former students. The young man told his former professor that the police were arresting his friends "for a political plot" and that they were looking for him. He asked what he should do. The teacher told him that if he did not want to be arrested he should go "underground". The young man was clearly puzzled. He had no idea of how one goes underground. His associates and the men of his political party had not considered that their plot might be discovered; hence they had made no preparation for flight. Besides, the young man added, "only the communists go underground".

On December 22, a once bouyant young man now in virtually a catatonic trance after two weeks of intermittent torture, mumbled to a young Dacca attorney that "he had not meant to talk", dumbly begging his fellow Bengali's forgiveness.

 

The young Bengalis were quieter than usual at the Dacca and Chittagong Clubs. Eid was quieter this year. Fear was in the air. Men were afraid to pass more than the barest of greetings. Once argumentative chaps endured the taunts of Punjabi and non­Bengali members. No one knew who were the informers.

 

In the quiet pre-dawn hours of a morning in early January, army troops armed with submachine guns and rifles removed a slight manacled man from the Dacca

Central Jail where he had been locked up for almost two years. Word of his removal passed through the city b} the "bazar telegraph"-"The army has taken Mujib"-but no one knew where.

 

Several law students met at a room at Dacca U's Iqbal Hall and asked themselves what could they do about the army's seizing Mujib. The old means of protest-mass meetings and demonstrations-seemed somehow inadequate; but no one could suggest alternate tactics and some of the boys were afraid. Some "old boys" (graduates) now in the Awami League and teachers had been sympathetic, but had offered little help. `Better lie low for awhile", they had been told. Still they had to make some protest: "We Bengalis can't take this lying down".

 

Bewilderment, frustration, and fear again beset the young educated Bengal; and hatred of the Rawalpindi eaablishment was germinating in still more Bengali breasts.

 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of some low-key investigation, numerous conversation, and cross checks, in Dacca and in Chittagong, we conclude that an indeterminate number of Bengali civil and military personnel, lower echelon politicians, and businessman were scheming and talking for at least two years about overthrowing the Government in East Pakistan and establishing an independent East Pakistan state. Some of the alleged conspirators whose background we are familiar with are malcontent: and personality problems. The plotting itself reflected naivete and inexperience. The plot was nowhere near consumation when it was broken apart by the arrests last December. Indian involvement, if any, in the scheming was probably confined to the supply of some money to some of the would-be conspirators.

 

We conclude also that there existed no assassination plot against President Ayub during his December visit to East Pakistan.

 

GOP security - agencies probably learned of the scheming through the loose­mouthed talk of an unstable ex-Pakistan Air Force officer, Mirza M. Rameez, who ` until December was Chittagong District Manager of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The Special Branch of the East Pakistan Police had Rameez under surveillance for several month, prior to his arrest on December 8.

 

Irrespective of how amateurish the plotting may have been, the fact that it existed is significant. The traditional Bengali animosity toward the West Pakistani-dominated Central Government ha, now been joined by extra-legal activity. The legacy of the conspiracy and the consequences of the prospective military trials could widen the gulf of mistrust between the two provinces. Moreover, if Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is ' dragged into a public trial for obvious political reasons without a convincing case against him he could he enshrined as a martyr to the cause of Bengal autonomy.

 

 

 

Source: The American Papers – Secret and Confidential India.Pakistan. Bangladesh Documents 1965-1973, The University Press Limited, p.247