The plan of state life as well as the picture of collective life that satisfies the rest of Indians outside Bengal cannot capture the imagination of this imaginative community. It cannot remain happy with that ideology, that picture and that plan of statecraft. Deep into its mist-covered subconsciousness, a greater ideology, a more complete plan and a more beautiful picture have started to take shape and form. In the near future, that great ideology, that complete plan and that beautiful picture will manifest themselves. And with that the Bengalis will taste a new life. The great day will come when the Bengalis will become pathfinders of truth, beauty and an ideal way of life and guide not only the Indians and the Easterners but also the people across the globe. The Bengalis are awaiting that mahamanav (great man), who will guide them to such a glorious life and like the mythical Bhagirath will create the confluence of Bhavganga. (S. Wajid Ali, Bengalis of the Future; my translation)
Undoubtedly, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the much anticipated mahamanav who materialized the confluence of Bhavganga. In other words, he unified the various strands, sects, sections and factions of the Bengalis into the confluence of nationhood. He gave shape to the ideology of nationhood for the Bengalis in 1971, which S. Wajid Ali had envisioned a few decades earlier. In the process, the Bengalis emerged as the pathfinders of a new way of life and the rest of the world was supposed to take lessons and offer a standing ovation to a brave new nation. However, the height of glory that the Bengalis touched would soon to be proved delusional with the brutal murder of the Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujib roughly four years into their national independence. A pall of shame enshrouded the whole nation when the maker and shaper of Bangladesh lost his life, along with all his family members save for two, in the hands of his people on August 15, 1975.
But, what enabled such a barbaric act to happen is a matter of extensive research into the history of this country and the Awami League, the political situation of the contemporary world and many other factors. M.R. Akhtar Mukul– the host of the popular program titled Charampatra aired regularly on Swadhin Bangla Radio Station, a freedom fighter, veteran journalist and government official– wrote a historic book titled Mujiber Rakta Lal (Mujib’s Blood is Red) on the occasion of the first anniversary of Mujib’s death. The book went through further editions with new materials and insights added each time. The fifth and last edition published in 2000 is the current version, and it sheds light on a variety of issues pertaining to the condemnable tragedy the founder of Bangladesh had to embrace. This article will glean its ideas mainly from this book.
According to Akhtar Mukul, Sheikh Mujib was a victim to a whole host of conspiracies hatched by a multiplicity of people and forces motivated by their group or state interests. The rightist factions of the Awami League, many members of which infiltrated into the party and rose through the ranks towards the end of the sixties kept on conspiring against the secular-socialist ideology of the party. These are the very people with Mushtaq Ahmad, Taheruddin Thakur and Mahbubul Alam Chashi at the helm, who tried heart and soul to create a rift in the Mujibnagar government and squash the ongoing liberation war to forge a loose confederation of Pakistan. As their evil design was upset by the prudent and timely intervention of the wartime prime minister Tajuddin Ahmad, they had to wait for an opportune moment to exact their revenge on the pro-Bangladesh leadership. It came in the form of the Mujib assassination and the subsequent killings of four national leaders and other patriots later. The rehabilitated officials and staffers from the defeated administration– many of whom got promotions and other perks thanks to the generosity of Sheikh Mujib and also via the subtle conspiracy by a vested quarter–were hell-bent on undermining the achievement of the liberation war. Ambitious and malicious elements in the armed forces looked for an opportunity to take Bangladesh back to its pre-1971 state. Corrupt and opportunist segments of the ruling Awami League and the bureaucracy added flame to the fire of public resentment emanated from maladministration, assassinations, famine, etc. Left-leaning extremist outfits were running rampant across the country. Confusion was created among the armed forces about the role of the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini, composed mainly of civilian freedom fighters. The agents and spies of the defeated Pakistan remained up and doing to discredit the new regime. Part of the media played a diabolical role in running propaganda against the incumbent regime and its leader Bangabandhu. Many collaborators of the Pakistan Army got rehabilitated in society and rewarded with positions of power as the opportunistic elements in the ruling party and beyond were united while the patriotic segments were divided over opinion and ideology.
The most unfortunate event was the adroitness with which a drive was wedged between Sheikh Mujib and Tajuddin Ahmad. In the process, Sheikh was getting increasingly isolated and losing his grip over the party, administration and statecraft.
International powers and their intelligence agencies are thought to be behind the rapidly worsening situation in post-liberation war Bangladesh. Even rightist elements in India, Pakistan, the USA and elsewhere colluded with their Bangladeshi counterparts to whom Bangabandhu and his nationalist supporters were massive enemies. The imperial powers and their local clients tried to devastate our struggle for national liberation. They tried everything up their sleeves to confuse our freedom fighters and the Mujibnagar administration. They hated the nationalism of the Awami League and saw in Mujib a great enemy of imperialism. Interestingly, Fidel Castro– a great admirer of Mujib and lover of Bangladesh– forewarned Mujib of his imminent death at the hands of conspirators. Like Allende of Chile, Mujib too would die and Bangabandhu had that apprehension much ahead of the August 15 tragedy. So, the claim that Mujib was murdered by a tiny group of young army officers is not the whole truth but a speck of it.
To wrap up, the August 15 tragedy is the epitome of conspiracy against the bedrock upon which Bangladesh was founded. It was not just against Mujib the man but Mujib the “foremost standard-bearer of Bengali nationalism” in S.A. Karim’s words. The elements of the darkness tried to airbrush Sheikh Mujib out of history.
But, Mujib is becoming increasingly brighter as right-minded people across the world are researching the man and his mission and vision. On this mournful occasion, let me reaffirm my conviction that Bangabandhu’s dream of a golden Bangladesh will be materialized in the near future.
The author teaches English at Central Women’s University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org