The assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family in August 1975 will forever be a dark chapter of the Bengali nation. Some of his killers have been tried and properly executed. Some others remain fugitive. The notorious Indemnity Ordinance now belongs in the past. The vacuum of leadership was set in, back in 1975, through the murder of the Father of the Nation and later on four national leaders.
We know in August 1947, the British colonial power partitioned India into two states on the basis of communalism, in line with Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s argument that Muslims and Hindus constituted two separate nations. The result was monumental tragedy. Two million people — Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs — perished in the process of the division. Another 20 million moved from one place to another to get shelter.
We also know on 9 August, 1971 the Yahya Khan junta announced that imprisoned Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would be tried by a special military tribunal in camera. The trial commenced two days later, on 11 August, with Bangabandhu facing charges of waging war against the state of Pakistan. Ayab Khan wrote in his book that when Bangabandhu had been brought to the military court he said, ” I am not denying the charge, you can do whatever you like, Joy Bangla”. This type of bold and brave statement is rare in the history of the world. But then circumstances had changed.
On August 10, 1971 the Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, sent messages to head of the governments wherein she mentioned how the “government and people of India as well as press and parliamen were greatly perturbed by the reported statement of President Yahya Khan that he is going to start secret military trial of Mujibur Rahman without affording him any foreign legal assistance.” She concluded by appealing to head of governments to exercise their influence with President Yahya Khan to “take a realistic view in the larger interest of peace and stability of this region.”
He had firm commitment on some values. He was ready to sacrifice his life to establish those values for the people. He had no illusion for power. Even as the roundtable conference was going on in Rawalpindi in 1969, President Ayub Khan suggested that Mujib should take charge as Pakistan’s prime minister. After election in 1970 Yahya Khan also announced that Mujib would be the future PM of Pakistan.
It was all in character for Bangabandhu. He never flinched from doing or saying anything he thought was right. In December 1969, he declared on Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy’s death anniversary, that this part will be known as Bangladesh. One hardly needed proof that Mujib had come a long way. His dedication to the causes he believed was complete and without ambiguity. His disillusionment with Pakistan having taken a firm shape by the early 1960s, he knew which path he needed to take. And he took it resolutely. There was little room in him for second thoughts.
Bangabandhu knew international support especially Indian support is necessary to achieve the goal. He discussed with Shashank Banerjee, officer of Indian High Commission of Dhaka, in December 1962 and handed over a later to Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru. Later on, he went to Agortola in 1963 and met with Congress leader Sachindralal Singh to know the reaction of Nehru regarding his plan. He also met with Mrs. Indira Gandhi in London and discussed regarding his plan and cooperation in 1965.
The six-point demand launched by Bangabandhu in 1966 crystallized people’s demand for autonomy and later on turned into a mass upsurge in ’69 which led to the landslide victory for Awami League in the first-ever general election of the country in 1970. Several army officers tried to liberate Bangladesh under his leadership that led to Agaotola conspiracy case in 1968 by Pakistan government but they were released by mass upsurge in 1969. He went to London and discussed training and other assistance with persons concerned of India in 1970. That’s why he told the leaders to cross the border and to take necessary action. Before his arrest he declared Independence of Bangladesh on the first hour of 26 March, 1971.
7 March, 1971 remains as a part of the Bengali history, for everything it pointed to, for the clear set of guidelines he left for his people to follow in the event of his absence. An entire war of national liberation was shaped and waged in his name.
It was these guidelines that Bengalis worked on for nine months. His words, his image, his idealism served for the armed struggle of independence. Mukti Bahini and Mitra Bahini jointly liberated Bangladesh on 16 December, 1971. On 10 January when he returned to Bangladesh, he said that Bangladesh would be an ideal state. Based on values of liberation war, a secular democratic constitution was established. 3 million people sacrificed their lives and 10 million took shelter in India. Nation state Bangladesh has proved that Jinnah’s two nation theory based on communalism is not correct. Bangabandhu’s government reconstructed the destroyed establishments and rehabilited the displaced people. He had dream and vision and gave direction for development in all sectors.
The country was being stabilized and before his death GDP growth for 74-75 fiscal year was 7.8%. He formed BAKSAL to bring all sections on one platform and to fulfill the basic needs such as food, shelter, education, health of the downtrodden in a shortest possible time. After his death, undemocratic and fundamentalist forces changed the basic principles of the constitutions and tried to reestablished Pakistan idea. It is this great man, this embodiment of freedom; we lost on 15 August 1975.
Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina came back to Bangladesh in May 1981 and took the leadership of AL. In 1996 election, she came to power after a long struggle against undemocratic and communal forces. She again came to power in 2008 and it is being continued. Bangladesh is doing remarkable progress in agricultural, industry, energy, education, science and technology under her leadership Bangladesh has over performed Pakistan and most of developing countries in GDP, GDP per capita, education, health and other sectors. Bangladesh will be a rich country in 2041.
It may be mentioned according to IMF, in GDP Pakistan’s position is 43rd and Bangladesh position is 41st. By the 15th amendments of the constitution and following the Supreme Court verdict four basic principles of the liberation war have been included in the constitution.There are still some dissimilarities in the constitution and we hope this will removed and democratic institutions will be developed. Nation state Bangladesh is more dynamic and powerful than Pakistan based on communalism.
PM Sheikh Hasina said recently in a meeting that Bangabandhu had liberated the country for ensuring political, economical, social and cultural freedom of the Bangalee nation. “Bangabandhu had wanted the people to be freed from poverty and them to get better life, live beautifully and move keeping their head high,” She adding that she would be working till her final breath for realizing the dream of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. “I have no fear of death for working to make Bangladesh a prosperous country as Bangabandhu once dreamt of. I vowed to work until my last breath to realize the unfulfilled dream of the Father of the Nation,”
The writer Dr N C Bhowmik is an academic, former ambassador, leader-student action committee 71 and freedom fighter.
Source: Daily Asian Age, 08 August 2019 link