Following the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975, the country fell into the hands of those who were anti-people and anti-independence. General Zia was the architect of their evil politics. He was a registered freedom fighter with no commitment to the constitution and the people. It is said that Khandaker Mushtaque was the leader of the counter revolution of 1975, but the fact is on behalf of his international mentors, General Zia committed the coup d’état. The policy pursued by Zia was to mislead the country and its people betraying the cause of revolution of 1971 and the second revolution of 1974 through amendment of the constitution.
Zia knew it well that since he was behind the killing of Bangabandhu, the pro-liberation forces would not support him and they would not follow his design to lead the country towards making a neo-Pakistan in collaboration with Jamaat and Muslim League. So Zia decided to pick up persons from different anti-liberation political parties and institutions to form a party called BNP. The first person was Ghulam Azam, number one arch rival of Awami League and freedom struggle. He brought back him in the country and gave him citizenship and helped him in all possible ways to reorganize Jamaat. The veteran Muslim League and NAP Bhashani leaders also got his support to reorganize them.
The programme of Zia started with the negation of Joy Bangla slogan, changing the morality and defaming the constitution to destroy its basic character. He took initiative to scrap “BAKSAL” incorporated in the constitution and alter the state principles – democracy, socialism, nationalism and secularism through amendment of the constitution. Zia had little respect for the people’s vote and democratic rights. What impelled him was to work out his programme at any cost.
Zia conspired to annihilate the freedom fighters within the army. So he did brutally kill few hundreds freedom fighters in the name of so called trial within the jail. Then he targeted the pro-liberation officers to remove them from the state administration. He also killed the Awami League stalwarts and supporters. Several hundred officers were terminated from job. He killed Awami League leaders and workers in thousands and compelled many others to leave the country.
Then he began his reforms. He altered the policy of administration introduced by Bangabandhu. He pursued a kind of policy that denied the freedom struggle and its objectives. Although thoroughly politically corrupt, Zia could build his image as an honest ruler. Zia ruled the country for six and half years. His successor Begum Khaleda Zia also governed in the same way ignoring the interest of the common people. Zia’s directives were the law of the country.
He selected the candidates for so-called mock election. Zia administered the country by the army personnel who had no respect for the people. Ershad ruled for nine years and Khaleda for 10 years. In fact Zia, Ershad and Khaleda misled the country during their 21 years rule. They had no sympathy and respect for the people. They could not carry forward the country towards development and progress as they had no commitment to the people and the country as well.
Sheikh Hasina returned home on May 17, 1981, six years after her stay in foreign country following the assassination of Bangabandhu. She and her sister Sheikh Rehana escaped the carnage of 15th August, 1975 simply because they had been staying with noted nuclear scientist Dr Wazed Miah in Germany. God probably saved them to be the substitute of Bangabandhu and complete the unfinished task of Bangabandhu who was brutally killed by his own people. What a pity, the leader who led the nation for long 23 years through the arduous struggle and liberated the country could not stay in power more than 3 and half years.
The most important event that preceded the return of Sheikh Hasina was the holding of Special Council Session of Awami League in hotel Eden in 1981 in which Sheikh Hasina was elected to the presidency of the Awami League in place of her father. The support in favour of Sheikh Hasina was so vast and spontaneous that the opponents did not dare oppose the resolution and supported it. Hence, the resolution was passed unanimously.
Sheikh Hasina had to face anti-liberation elements and also her own party betrayers. Despite all the odds Sheikh Hasina demonstrated outstanding courage to deal with her party stalwarts and the opponents. Still she has been fighting in both the front. The opposition has lost ground to stand on firm footing. Sheikh Hasina is safe still and the conspirators have been conspiring. If Mushtaque could kill Bangabandhu, being a close associate of him why there could not be one who has been preparing to kill Sheikh Hasina as well.
We know how many times the opponents tried to kill Hasina. With all threats on her head, she has been governing the country once from 1996-2001 and again from 2009 to till today. The return of Bangabandhu from Pakistan imprisonment on January 10, 1972 did really consolidate independence and sovereignty and the return of Sheikh Hasina on May 17, 1981 from India did save Bangladesh from the clutches of anti-liberation enemies of independence. The 1975 episode and the 21 years rule by dictators and their stooges destroyed all that the nation earned out of liberation war. It is Sheikh Hasina who, since her entry into the politics of Bangladesh, ceaselessly fought against the military dictators, the pseudo democratic and reactionary forces, the fundamentalist and the terrorists to take Bangladesh in its present position. We are at the height of glory because of Sheikh Hasina.
It is because of Sheikh Hasina that the values earned as result of war of liberation have been restored. It is because of her that we are not only self-sufficient in food grains but even capable to export. The per capita income is now over $2227, GDP was 8.13 before start of Covid-19 pandemic. The electricity generation capacity increased to over 24,000 MW. Bangladesh is a country that distributes 35 crore books to primary schools students on the first day of January each year. The rate of literacy increased to 72 per cent. The improvement in the health sector is tremendous. The life expectancy is now over 72 years. Child and maternal mortality have reduced significantly. Our leader Sheikh Hasina has been conferred 39 awards by the international communities.
Bangladesh is now a country of one of the fastest growing economy. Survey conducted by global lending and financial organisations forecast that Bangladesh’s position would be 25th or 26th by 2030 in the global economy. It would not be impossible to build `Sonar Bangla’ as dreamt by her father Bangabandhu if Sheikh Hasina continues to remain in power.
Dr S A Malek is the former Political Adviser to the Prime Minister, Member of Parliament, Secretary General of Bangabandhu Parishad and Columnist