15 August 1975: Nephew Fazlul Haque Moni and his 7-months pregnant wife also murdered

A third group of 25-30 army men led by Risaldar Muslehuddin surrounded Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni's house on 170 on Road 13/1 in Dhanmondi, about 1.5 miles (2km) away from Sheikh Mujib's home.

The attack on Sheikh Moni's house was brief and devastating - lasting 4 - 6 minutes according to journalist (later newspaper editor) Mahfuz Anam who lived across the Dhanmondi Lake at that time and had a clear view of Sheikh Moni's house.

Carrying sten gun and Chinese rifle, 8 - 10 officers in black uniform went up to the first floor. Moni went downstairs to pick up the day's newspaper as he did regularly early each morning before getting ready for the day ahead. As he was coming up the stairs, the officers exchanged words with Sheikh Moni. Apparently, Muslehuddin said "You are under arrest".

At the point, Moni's sister-in-law Fatema Selim, wife of his younger brother Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, noticedthe commotion. She woke her husband up and told him that some strangers were behaving badly with his elder brother. So Sheikh Selim went downstairs. After a brief tussle, he fell down.

Moni's wife, Begum Shamsunnessa Arzoo Moni (also spelt Arju Moni) who was seven months pregnant, also came down. At that moment, the officers opened brush fire from downstairs. Before the killers could fire at her husband, Arzoo jumped in front of him in an attempt to save him from the Risaldar's bullet. She took all the bullets except two which pierced through Sheikh Moni. Having fell on the ground, Sheikh Selim survived the shooting as the bullets were aimed upward at his brother.

Thus, just like his mama (maternal uncle) Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Moni's life too ended on the staircase of his house.

Their two sons, 5-year-old Sheikh Fazle Shams Porosh and less-than-4-year-old Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, were still in the bedroom next to the scene. The shooting woke them up and they began screaming with fear. Fatema grabbed the two children and hid in another room, holding them tightly to her chest to prevent their screams being heard while simultaneously providing them with protection and comfort.

However, unlike their attack on Sheikh Mujib's residence, the killers did not go much inside Sheikh Moni's house, sparing the two children their life - for now.

Having accompolished their task, the officers reported that Sheikh Moni was killed and then proceeded to attack Sheikh Mujib.

I saw what happened.

Early that morning I was awakened by the sound of firing. I got up. My room was on the side of the lake. I ventured out to the boundary wall. I saw troops enter Sheikh Moni's house. I heard plenty of firing, followed by screaming. I heard shots - some random, some from sub-machine guns. I saw the troops leave the house.

It was all over in four to six minutes. I could hear the people inside groaning; it continued for some time.

Mahfuz Anam, then a young reporter at the Bangladesh Times

The attack on Sheikh Moni was brief and devastating. Apparently he was a light sleeper and when Risaldar Muslehuddin and his men drove up to the house in two army trunks, Moni quickly jumped out of his bed. Seeing the troops he called out to inquire whether they had been assigned to guard him. Muslehuddin asked Moni to come out and when he did he tried to grab hold of him. At this point Moni's wife, who was seven months pregnant, jumped in front of her husband to protect him. Both were killed by a single burst from a sten gun. No other person was touched. Mission accompolished. Muslehuddin and his men drove to Mujib's house.

Anthony Mascarenhas

  • Begum Arzoo Moni (1947 - 1975) Wife of Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni. She sat MSS exams in Political Science in Dhaka University in 1975. Believed to have been pregnant at the time of murder.

Family's last ditch attempt to save the two fatally wounded

Moni's close aide Mohammad Shahabuddin, who was on the ground floor, went upstairs and saw Moni and his wife Arzoo lying on the floor in a critical condition. Moni's parents, younger sister Sheikh Rekha and brother Sheikh Selim were beside them sobbing.

Sheikh Maruf, younger brother of Moni, turned up there. Arzoo cried to Selim for help and asked him to save them and their two sons Porosh and Taposh.

Shahabuddin, Selim and Maruf took Sheikh Moni and Arzoo to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital but were unable to save them. The doctors pronounced both of them dead.

I was only less than 4 years old. I don't remember clearly any moment with my mum and dad. But I have one painful memory: I remember my dad's dead body. When my dad's body was being taken away, there was a lot of blood on the floor, I remember that.

It was not until I was old enough that I realised this was part of my history. Prior to that, I used to think may be it was all a dream / fantasy. It was only when I heard from various people that I realised this was factual and represented my dad's last memory.

Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh 's final memory of his dead father

Killers make multiple attempts over several years to kill Porosh and Taposh

Following the massacre, Sheikh Selim and Sheikh Maruf escaped to India along with other members of their family. But their mother, Sheikh Mujib's elder sister, Asia Khatun stayed behind with her two grandchildren Porosh and Taposh in Bangladesh. For the next 3 - 4 years, she would hide in various family and friend's houses with the orphaned children. They would stay as long as they could and only move to new location to avoid capture.

For their part, the killers would attack any houses which they suspected housed Sheikh Mujib's remaining clan. Among this was the house of Abul Kalam Azad. They fired at his home and shot one bullet at his chest. He still carries the scar of the bullet even today.

Ultimately, the climate within Bangladesh proved too dangerous for the children. They eventually escaped to India with the intention of meeting up with their exiled aunty Sheikh Hasina. Leading them through this eventful and scary journey was their elderly grandmother Asia and 13-year-old aunty Rekha.

While hiding in a remote location in Brahmanbaria area with the intention of crossing border into India, the four family members had to make a quick escape from the family providing them with shelter. This family had promised to help them cross the border but they taking too long to help them to escape. Asia suspected something wasn't right. The family were in fact thinking of handing them over to the authorities in exchange for handsome reward. So Asia escaped with her daughter and grandchildren with their shelter providers in close pursuit. Finally, they escaped and crossed into India where the Border Security Forces (BSF) found them hidden in a jungle.

On one hand my parents were killed along with Sheikh Mujib and other family members. My remaining family members like Sheikh Hasina, Sheikh Rehana, paternal uncles and maternal uncles were all abroad, seeking shelter in India. There were no male relatives in Bangladesh. We had no mum and dad. No certainty about our future. At any point we could be murdered.

We had dark clouds over us.

Our only saviour was our dadi [paternal grandmother Asia Khatun]. By then our dada [paternal grandfather] was elderly and he took shelter in one accommodation. It was our dadi who would hide with us in various locations. She held our hand and guided and protected us during this long war to save our lives.

...Our dadi had witnessed from early on her younger brother [Sheikh Mujib] struggle through political circle. So she was very astute. And having lost her younger brother, his whole family, her own son [Sheikh Moni], and grandchildren all in one day, she still held the hand of us two brothers and battled through everything.

Barrister Taposh on the bravery of his grandmother Asia Khatun, Sheikh Mujib's elder sister

Barrister Taposh survives another assassination attempt in 2009

One of Arzoo's favourite song to sing to her little boys was 'Kukon shuna, boli shuno' (Listen to me my golden child) sang by Anjuman Ara Begum for the film 'Shontan' (Child). In the song the mother motivates her children to grow up to be 'a [good, honourable] human'. True to the lyrics, Taposh grew up to become a barrister. He started his primary education in Kolkata, India, where they were seeking shelter. But this was brief. They returned to Bangladesh in 1979 but maintained a low profile for many years.

Taposh survived another assassination attempt in 2009 led by Major Helal and four army captains who believed that the Awami League lawmaker had a hand in the BDR mutiny. The five officers were later sentenced to five years in prison by a court-martial.

Even though I was a mere toddler at that time I knew what I had lost.

I won't be able to tell you what I feel. Parents are a person's biggest assets. I miss them in every step of my life's successes and failures, achievements and defeats.

Taposh still bears the trauma of his loss of parent

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