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HT This Day: Jan 9, 1972 – Mujib is free, flown to London

HT This Day: Jan 9, 1972 – Mujib is free, flown to London

Says Bangla Desh a reality  No pledge to Bhutto on links with Pak  AP LONDON- Sheikh Mujibur Rehman to- day proclaimed Bangla Desh as an unchallengeable reality and called for world recognition and the admission of his country to the United Nations.  Sheikh Mujib, freed by Pakistan President Z. A. Bhutto and flown to London early today, told a news conference that he had been kept in a condemned cell under sentence of death by hanging during his nine-month imprisonment in Pakistan.  Speaking in a vigorous voice and showing no signs of ill-health, the 51-year-old Bangapita said he had given no promise to Mr Bhutto that Bangla Desh would maintain any link with Pakistan.  Scores of elated Bengalis clustered outside the plush Claridges Hotel as Sheikh Mujib held his news conference in the ballroom against a background of ornate wall mirrors and under the glare of television lights.  First question  One of the first questions he was asked was: Why did you come to London instead of flying to Dacca?  I was a prisoner, the Sheikh said. It was the Pakistan Governments will, not mine.  The Sheikh said the duration of his stay had not yet been decided, but he hoped to meet British Prime Minister Edward Heath before leaving.  The officials later announced that Sheikh Mujib would meet Mr Heath in the evening.  The Sheikh told the newsmen Mr Bhutto had asked him to consider keeping links between Bangla Desh and Pakistan.  Merciless killings  I told him I could not say anything about this until I returned to my people, he said.  Sheikh Mujib was introduced to newsmen as our beloved leader, the free President of the free people of an independent sovereign State.  The Sheikh, wearing dark tunic, style suit, immediately paid a tribute to the sacred memory of millions of martyrs who gave their lives in the struggle to establish Bangla Desh.  Sheikh Mujib said Pakistani troops, which tried to hold down he aspirations of Bangla Desh, had been guilty of merciless Killings.  Then he added: If Hitler had been alive today, he would have men ashamed.  Sheikh Mujib would not be trawn into any direct criticism of Mr Bhutto.  I wish him good luck, he said.  The Sheikh expressed good wishes to India, the Soviet Union, Poland, Great Britain, France and also those freedom loving people all over the world, including those of the United States. In calling for world recognition of Bangla Desh the Bangapita said: I appeal to all citizens of the world to help my hungry millions.  Sheikh Mujib was asked if he had been physically ill-treated or tortured during his imprisonment.  He replied that he had been held in a condemned cell in solitary confinement in a desert jail with no visitors, no letters and no contact with the outside world. – Mock trial  Sheikh Mujib said that he underwent a mock trial but refused to defend himself when the hearing was halfway through. The Pakistani authorities then appointed a counsel to defend him, he said.  It was a court-martial of a civilian he said. They wanted to hang me.  He said the Bhutto regime, which replaced the Government of former President Yahya Khan, who had ordered Sheikh Mujibs arrest, refused to carry out the sentence.  He said he knew about the India-Pakistan war only because of an air-raid blackout in the area of his prison. And he knew nothing of the victory of the freedom fighters until Mr Bhutto told him, Sheikh Mujib added.  I am a free man now but I was cut off from the whole world, the Sheikh said.  He told the newsmen that after the mock trial I was mentally ready to die.  The day I went to jail I didnt know whether I was to live or not. But I knew that Banda Desh would be liberated. he said.  The Sheikh was asked what would be his attitude to the United States in view of Washingtons support for Pakistan in the conflict with India.  Triumphant shot  The Sheikh ducked the question by replying : I was in prison and I do not know many things yet. I will have to disccuss this with my people when I go to Dacca.  Old acquaintances of the Sheikh said he appeared thinner than they remembered him, but still full of spirit despite his ordeal.  He rounded off the news conference saying that he was tired after the flight from Rawalpindi. He then raised his voice in a triumphant shout of Jai Bangla.  Outside the hotel more of his supporters were gathering by the minute, hugging each other and shouting the same victory slogan.  Reuter adds:  The Sheikh declared : I cannot wait a single moment to return to my people.  He said he hoped to return to Dacca tomorrow or the day after. In a voice quivering with emotion, Sheikh Mujib told reporters : No people have had to pay as high a price in human life and suffering as the people of Bangla Desh.  He arrived at the Press conference 20 minute late and greeted the newsmen with Jai Bangla.  Today, he said, I celebrate the unbounded joy of freedom in a liberation struggle,  Officials of the Bangla Desh mission indicated that it was felt a breathing space was needed before the Sheikhs return to Dacca. They said as many as a million people would come to the airport to see him.  I have nothing against the people of West Pakistan in spite of the way in which they behaved. When they arrested me, they arrested my children too and interned them and my house was burnt.  He said Bangle Desh had been exploited for hundreds of years and that Britain bore some responsibility for this although the British Government had always been good to him personally.  Loses 42 lb  Bangla Desh officials said Sheikh Mujib appeared to have lost about 42 lb. (19 kg) in weight.  Asked about reports that the Bangla Desh Government intended nationalising banking, insurance and foreign trade, Sheikh Mujib said such action was implicit in the manifesto of his Awami League which won the Pakistan elections of December, 1970.  He added that he had great confidence in what his colleagues were doing in Bangla Desh.  Sheikh Mujib said : I am not going to lose my freedom again in any war. Im ready to co-operate with anyone.  He said Pakistan had played a dirty game and there should be some sort of trial for the mass murders.  But now that my people are liberated I have nothing against the people of West Pakistan. I wish Mr Bhutto success and good luck.  .

world-news 2022-01-09 hindustantimes