15 August 1975: Brother-in-law Serniabat & family killed, including 4-year-old grandson

Not far from Sheikh Mujib's house, the Serniabats and Sheikh Moni were also under attack.

Major Dalim's killer team of Major Shahriar Rashid, Major Aziz Pasha, Captain Majed and Captain Nurul Huda got to Abdur Rab Serniabats' residence on 27 Minto Road at about 5.15am. There was only a police guard at the gate and probably to frighten him off the troops started shooting. The gunfire awakened the household. Abul Hasnat Abdullah, the Cabinet Minister's 30-year-old son, looked out of his bedroom window and saw soldiers in black uniforms shooting at the house. Grabbing the sten gun he always kept with him, Hasnat ran down to the first floor to awaken his father. Abdur Rab Serniabat was already on the telephone trying to call Sheikh Mujib for help and alert him of the attack. The line was busy. When he tried again he managed to get through.

Father told Bangabandhu our house was being attacked by miscreants. My father told him to send help. At that moment I could hear someone shouting from the other end of the line. My father listened, He was shocked by what he heard. I got the impression that he had been informed that miscreants were also attacking Bangabandhu. My father didn't say another word. He put the phone down and sat on the bed. He just looked at me without talking.

Abul Hasnat Abdullah recalls his dad's last conversation

Hasnat went to a window and began shooting at the troops.

I just pulled the trigger and emptied the magazine. When the bullets were finished I ran upstairs to the store to get some more bullets.

Abul Hasnat,

The action saved his life. Moments later troops stormed the residence. They went up to the first floor and broke the door. The troops then burst into the bedroom and killed Serniabat where he sat.

Meanwhile Hasnat was in the loft desperately trying to break open the trunk where he kept spare magazines for his sten gun. As he tried to break the lock he could hear firing and the sound of boots approaching on the stairs. Leaving his gun on the floor Hasnat jumped and tried to squeeze himself through the skylight hoping he could escape onto the roof. He couldn't get through. So he jumped down and sat on the floor of the loft waiting for the men to come and kill him. Nothing happened.

In a 20-minute long massacre that followed, the army officials rounded up all the residents they could find at the drawing room on the ground floor and shot them in cold blood. Hasnat could hear shouts and occasional burst of gunfire. After a while the commotion died down and he could hear troops stomping out into the road. Hasnat waited a long time till everything was silent. Then very carefully he crept downstairs. He found the drawing room covered with blood, bodies and broken furniture. His wife Shahanara Begum, mother Amena Begum, brother Abul Khair Serniabat, 20-year-old sister Beauty, sister Rina Serniabat and domestic helps Rana, Rafiqul Islam, Lalit Das and Golam Mahmud were badly wounded and bleeding. His two young daughters, uninjured, were sobbing behind a sofa where they had hidden during the massacre. Lying dead on the floor were his 4-year-old son Sukanto Abdullah Babu, 13//15-year-old sister Baby Serniabat and his 11-year-old brother Arif, the family ayahs (maids) Potka and Laxmir Ma and his cousin Shahidul Islam Serniabat. The latter wore a big moustache and looked a lot like Hasnat. Evidently the attackers had mistaken him for Serniabat's son and killed him. Of the 10 friends who had come along with the family from Barisal for the wedding of Sheikh Mujib's niece four days earlier, one (Abdur Nayeem Khan alias Rintu) was killed and five wounded. Abul Hasnat Abdullah later slipped out of the house and escaped to India.

  • Shahid Serniabat (1940 - 1975) Nephew of Abdur Rab Serniabat. Correspondent of 'Dainik Bangla' newspaper in Barisal.
  • Baby Serniabat (1960 - 1975) Youngest daughter of Abdur Rab Serniabat. A class-nine student of Laboratory High School in Dhaka University.
  • Arif Serniabat (1964 - 1975) Youngest son of Abdur Rab Serniabat. A class-four student of Laboratory High School in Dhaka University.
  • Sukanto Abdullah Babu (1971 - 1975) Grandson of Abdur Rab Serniabat and son of Abul Hasnat Abdullah and Shahanara Begum. Was only four when murdered. Born in Gauranadi, Barisal.
  • Abdul Nayeem Khan (aka Rintu) (1957 - 1975) A promising artiste and friend of Abdur Rab Serniabat's son who was killed during 15 August 1975 massacre along with Sheikh Mujib and his family. Son of late Abdul Khaleque Khan, founder chairman of Opsonin Group. Cousin of Amir Hossain Amu. Came to Dhaka from Barisal leading a cultural group to perform at a function during that tragic day.

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 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. Carrying sten gun and Chinese rifle, eight to ten of them in black uniform went up to the first floor and got down after firing shots. Moni's wife, Begum Arzoo Moni (also spelt Arju Moni) who was seven months pregnant, jumped in front of her husband, in an attempt to save him from the Risaldar's bullet.

Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, one of the three survivors of the August mayhem, will never forget the dawn of 15 August 1975.

Taposh, who was around four years old at that time, was sleeping in his room with his brother when he heard his father’s footsteps in the stairs.

Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moni, one of the organisers of the Liberation War was going downstairs to pick up "the day’s newspaper or a book", Taposh could not quite recall.

As he reached the landing space of the stairs, a bunch of killers led by Risaldar Moslehuddin got hold of him. Moni, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s nephew, was told to walk ahead. "You are under arrest," said the Risaldar.

"Meanwhile, my mother came down," says Taposh, "Before the killers fired at my father, in an attempt to save him, my mother came before the gun and both were shot." She was seven-months pregnant at the time of the killing.

The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

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 Fazlul Karim 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 - Sheikh Fazle Shams Porosh and 4-year-old Sheikh Fazle Noor 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 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, young reporter at the Bangladesh Times. He lived across the Dhanmandi Lake, and had a clear view of Sheikh Moni’s house.

Killers return to kill Porosh and Taposh

Following the barbaric murder of their parent, Porosh and Taposh were taken to a safe house by one of their aunt, Fatema Selim. Within few hours, the killers returned looking for Moni's two sons that they had just orphaned.

Taposh grew up to become a barrister and 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