The television cameraman could not believe his eyes: the body of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, president of the republic and Father of the Nation, lay on the staircase stained with blood, which had dried up by then.
In the bedroom there were lifeless bodies scattered all around. Bangamata Fazilatunnesa, her two sons, and two newly-wed daughters-in-law were among them. And that of Sheikh Kamal, the eldest son, was lying downstairs, hours after the massacre took place at dawn on 15 August 1975.
This was the horrific scene narrated in a documentary later by Ziaul Hoque, the senior cameraperson of the state-owned Bangladesh Television. He had been picked up by armed persons and ordered to take photos of their misdeeds at Bangabandhu's residence on Road 32 in the capital's Dhanmondi. It was the most heinous act in Bangladesh's political history.
The lion's voice of the Architect of Independence was silenced on this day 47 years ago in the same simple house that had been the epicentre of the mass movement leading to the 1971 War of Independence. The same house, where he had flown the first national flag and made the final proclamation of independence four years earlier, saw his bullet-riddled body collapsing down the staircase.
What did the killers – some disgruntled soldiers – want?
They were part of a deep-rooted plan to reverse the course of the nation, its history, the very fundamentals of Bangalee nationhood, the spirit of the War of Liberation.
Two of the killers later boasted in an interview with a foreign television channel about how the coup had been plotted and whom they had contacted beforehand.
"If he had remained alive it would have been very difficult for us to control the situation," Abdur Rashid, then a lieutenant colonel, said when asked why they had to kill Mujib.
Asked if they had someone to put in his place, another killer Farook Rahman, also an army officer then, said, "The first obvious choice was Gen Zia." He said he had met Zia on 20 March 1975, nearly five months before the killing of Bangabandhu, and sought his "support and leadership."
"Gen Zia said: 'I am a senior officer, so I can't be involved in such things. If you junior officers do.., go ahead'," Farook said in the TV interview.
Rashid told the television channel that he had met Khondker Mushtaq Ahmed even the day before the assassination and discussed the plot "to remove Mujib by force which may lead to the killing".
Khondker Mushtaq became president after Bangabandhu's murder, Gen Zia was made the army chief and later seized power as president. Many of the army officers involved in the assassination were rewarded with jobs at Bangladesh missions abroad.
The national slogan, Joy Bangla, that had imbued millions with the spirit of liberation and Bangalee nationalism during the War of Liberation, was soon replaced by Bangladesh Zindabad, the national broadcasting media – television and radio – were renamed in a way similar to those in Pakistan. That was the beginning of an era which was in stark contrast with the core values of Bangalee nationalism, indeed with the basic principles of the constitution, including secularism.
The trend continued for the next two decades until Sheikh Hasina, elder of Bangabandhu's two surviving daughters, formed an Awami League government in 1996 and took over as prime minister.
Twenty-one years after the assassinations of August 1975, the trial process of the assassins began, which again dragged on for years due to a change of government. Finally, in 2009, after long 34 years of the gruesome murders, the highest court in the land confirmed the sentence of death passed on 12 convicted former army officers. Six of the killers were hanged and of the other remaining fugitives, one died abroad.
Two of them are known to have been staying in the USA and Canada, and years of initiatives to bring them back home to face justice have not seen any result so far. The whereabouts of the other fugitive killers are not known.
Law Minister Anisul Huq on Sunday said a commission would be formed to unmask the "conspirators" behind the assassination of Bangabandhu.
"Wonder why they killed my father, mother, brothers!"
Recalling the brutal murder of her family members on the night of 15 August 1975, Sheikh Hasina said, "I wonder why they killed my father, mother and brothers! What was their fault?"
She was speaking at a meeting with Awami League organising secretaries from eight divisions at Gonobhaban on Sunday.
She maintained that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tried to establish a pro-people administration and decentralise power to the grassroots people.
"It seems that whoever wants to play a role in developing people's lives in this country must have to face a disaster. This is reality," she said, UNB reports.
She further said it is very unfortunate that vested quarters started to hatch conspiracies whenever people of the country started to live a better life.
She emphasised strengthening her party and its activities and remaining beside the people as it always did in the past.
She said military rulers Ziaur Rahman and HM Ershad, and former prime minister Khaleda Zia patronised and awarded the killers of Bangabandhu and granted them immunity from any court trial.