For city-dwellers the dawn of 3rd November 1975 was like no other. They awoke to the sound of air force fighters screeching through the clear blue sky.
As everybody switched on to their radios they found it off air. Apparently the planes had hit the radio transmission station at Savar, first thing in the morning, as it was occupied by "adversarial forces".
An eerie silence fell across the country.
Consequently all sorts of speculation and rumors flew around. To add fuel to fire, Reuters ran a report that said Tajuddin Ahmed had sent a letter from prison to the Indian prime minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, to send in troops in support of Brigadier Khaled Mosharraf, Chief of General Staff and second in order of the Bangladesh Army then.
The Reuters' correspondent in Dhaka then, Atiqul Alam, who initially claimed he "had" the letter, when contacted refused to comment.
"Alam had his reasons. He spent six months in prison after Liberation for his collaboration with the Pakistan Army", Anthony Mascarenhas writes in his "Legacy of Blood."
But the damage had been done. The rumor spread like wild fire as panic gripped Dhaka and beyond. When the news reached Dhaka Cantonment the tension was palpable. While the power-game unfolded those left out whispered in small groups, everywhere.
Nobody knew what was happening as the quartet of newspapers that were published then was also heavily censored.
The first "uncensored" news to filter through was BBC. At 8:00pm its Bangla service said that the "August majors" were in exile in Bangkok. They also interviewed one of them, Faruq Rahman, who said that they were given safe passage by the government and that their stay abroad was also paid for by the administration.
The BBC also said that Khondoker Moshtaque Ahmed, the usurper, had survived yet another coup attempt.
The news about Moshtaque proved to be false, later.
Tension had been brewing in the army soon after August 15, 1975 as the Formation Commanders refused to accept the supremacy of the "August majors."
Things had reached a peak by end-October as the chief of army staff, Major General, later temporary Lieutenant General, Ziaur Rahman played both sides. And "Papa Tiger" General Ataul Gani Osmani, the chief of staff during the Liberation War and now the defense advisor to the president lost his temper.
More importantly what everybody missed out and was to know 36 hours later was that Rashid had ordered and Moshtaque had endorsed the killing of four imprisoned political leaders Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain Mansur Ali and A H M Kamruzzaman, inside the Dhaka Central Jail almost as soon as they knew that forces loyal to the Formation Commanders had taken over.
The Commanders reasserted authority at 2:00am and the jail killings took place at 4:00am. Evidently it was planned a couple of months back as a contingency as Lawrence Lifschultz and Mascarenhas discovered later.