The country lost its glory, fame and image and what not after the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation and greatest Bengali of all time on 15th August, 1975. The great leader made 7.5 crore Bengali free from sub-colonial rule of the Pakistan, at the cost of 24 years of his volatile life, 14 years in jail facing the gallows. His offence was he talked for his people i.e., the Bengalis. He fought for their rights and disparities throughout his whole life. The man was Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, the hero of the War of Liberation and best Bengalis of all times ever born in deltaic region. He used to get satisfaction to identify himself as Bengali. And by Bengalis he meant all the people living in the delta irrespective of caste and creed—the Muslims, the Hindus, the Christians and the Buddhists. To him all people talking in Bengali and practicing the culture of Bengal constitute one nation i.e., Bengali. He regarded all people equal and fought for their liberty. It was just after the creation of Pakistan on the basis of religion in 1947 that provoked communalism. The Bengali leaders including Hussain Shahid Suhurawardy, Sher-e-Bangla A K Fazlul Huq, Sharat Bosu, Sheikh Mujib could not accept the division of Bengal during creation of Pakistan in line with the formula of Leord Mountbatten and Radcliff in connivance with Congress. The partition was not made on the basis of Lahore resolution. The Bengali leaders were in favour of united Bengal for the betterment of the Bengalis. Sheikh Mujib felt that Bengalis would have no benefit with the creation of Pakistan. So, he crossed the border of India and organized the Muslims saying that the Pakistan has been created not for the Bengalis, but for the West Pakistanis. He then used to vow her demand for the people of Bangladesh. He started talking about disparity and exploitation.
The onslaught on the Bangalis during the language movement made it abundantly clear how the Pak rulers wanted to subjugate them. Jinnah, the then Governor General of Pakistan, declared in 1948 that `Urdu should be the only state language of Pakistan.’ The Bangali youths unitedly opposed and shouted ‘No’. That ‘No’ in fact negated Pakistan in the long run. The Pakistani rulers termed the protesters as Indian agents working against the solidarity of Pakistan. Against this backdrop of gross disparity between the East and the West, the then leader of the Bangalis Sheikh Mujib launched his six-point movement against the Pakistani oppression and suppression and finally succeeded in carving out an independent state of Bangladesh.
Sheikh Mujib, the most charismatic personality of the East, left no stone unturned in realizing his demand for regional autonomy. The language movement of 1952, the six and eleven-point movements of 1966 and 1969, the Agartala Conspiracy Case, led to the mass upsurge of 1969 and Sheikh Mujib emerged as Bangabandhu after he was discharged from the Agartala Conspiracy Case. Bangabandhu compelled Yahya Khan to hold general election in 1970. His Awami League won a landslide victory in the general election securing 167 seats out of 169 becoming the only leader to face the East. He categorically declared that he would not change his six-point demand. Despite the fact that he became the leader of the majority party, he declined to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Pak ruler rejected his proposal and started making preparations for a full-scale war against East Pakistan. It was on the night of 25th March of 1971 that they started the war against unarmed Bangalees. Bangabandhu declared independence of Bangladesh in the early hours on 26th March and the armed struggle to liberate the country started. Mujib was taken to West Pakistan and imprisoned there for nine months. In the meantime, the provisional Bangladesh government was formed under the leadership of Tajuddin Ahmed with the cooperation of the Indian government and the nine-month armed struggle liberated Bangladesh on 16th December 1971, the day when the occupation army was compelled to surrender.
Bangabandhu returned to independent Bangladesh to fulfill the desire of his people and started reconstruction of the war-ravaged country and rebuilding the lives of trauma-scarred men, women and children. Within three and half years, he succeeded in rebuilding a war-ravaged economy. The 1972 Constitution was framed, the 1973 election was held and the first parliamentary form of government was established in Bangladesh. The country had been ruled that way with all pledges practiced by a parliamentary democracy but the enemies of the people created such an anarchic situation that Bangabandhu had to act in a different way. He had to be tough to bring the situation under control. When everything was brought back to normalcy and Bangabandhu declared his second revolution programme, he was assassinated by the agents of Pakistan.
The killing of Bangabandhu was not an ordinary event. The man who wanted to liberate his people against interest of the imperialists should not have felt so secure as to be in his unprotected house with just a few policemen at the gate. The imperialists did not forgive the nationalist leader who rose to the occasion to emancipate his people from the subjugation of sub-colonial rule of Pakistan. The dismemberment of Pakistan was not the only reason to eliminate Sheikh Mujib. The real causes were the policies and the programme pursued by Sheikh Mujib in the newly-independent Bangladesh.
The emergence of a nationalist leader like Sheikh Mujib in South Asia was not acceptable to them and the then prevailing political atmosphere in Bangladesh was not palatable to them. Since the Indo-Soviet axis aided the creation of Bangladesh, the newly-independent country became a target of imperialist forces who were then not happy with the policies of the Indo-Soviet axis. They did not like the influence of India in South Asian affairs. Bangladesh, in their opinion, became a subservient state of India. For them, Pakistan as a member of Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), was more useful than India and Bangladesh. So when Bangladesh became a secular nation state with Sheikh Mujib as its leader, they continued their support to Pakistan. The imperialist forces conspired to kill Sheikh Mujib. They succeeded in eliminating Bangabandhu but failed to turn Bangladesh into a neo-Pakistan. The daughter of Sheikh Mujib is now ruling Bangladesh in a different way. India is not an enemy state to Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina knows how to deal with its neighbor and the rest of the globe. Sheikh Hasina has adopted a foreign policy that has not alienated either the West or the East. Bangladesh maintains normal relation with all countries. It has made remarkable progress in a short time. Sheikh Hasina’s leadership in the national politics has made her indispensable. Bangladesh is now really an important country in the globe and is no longer a bottomless basket. It has already developed into a middle-income country with a promise to rise to a developed country by 2041.
The writer is the President of Bangabandhu Parishad, Advisory Council member of Awami League, former Political Adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament and Columnist