Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, the wife of Sheikh Muzibur Rahman, rose to prominence owing to her own calibre and wit. She not only managed her family in absence of Bangabandhu but also inspired him on different occasions and counselled him as well from time to time. Today, on the occasion of her 90th birth anniversary, let’s take a glimpse into her life in brief.
She was born in Tungipara, Gopalganj in 1930. Her nickname was Renu. Her father and mother died when she was five years old. She was paternal cousin of her husband Sheikh Muzibur Rahman. When Begum Fazilatunnesa was only three and Sheikh Mujib was 13, their marriage had been fixed by elders in the family. Renu was only 8 years old when she was married to her husband in 1938. Sheikh Muzibur Rahman was eighteen years old at the time of their marriage. The couple later gave birth to two daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, as well as three sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel. Fazilatunnesa Mujib was under house arrest during the liberation war of Bangladesh until 17 December.
On 15 August 1975, a group of army officers attacked the presidential residence with tanks and assassinated Mujib, his family and personal staff. Only her daughters Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Sheikh Rehana, who were visiting West Germany, escaped. They were banned from returning to Bangladesh. Others killed included her 10-year-old son Sheikh Russel, two other sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal, daughters-in-law Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal, brother Abdur Rab Serniabat and brother-in-law Sheikh Abu Naser, nephew Sheikh Fazlul Haque Mani and his wife Arzoo Moni. The coup was planned by disgruntled Awami League colleagues and military officers, which included Mujib's colleague and former confidant Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, who became his immediate successor.
Mujib's death plunged the nation into many years of political turmoil. The coup leaders were soon overthrown and a series of counter-coups and political assassinations paralysed the country for a while.
Bangabandhu Memorial Trust in partnership with Malaysian hospital chain KPJ Healthcare built the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Memorial KPJ Specialised Hospital and Nursing College in her memory. The hospital was inaugurated by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. A dormitory in Eden college has been named after her. Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Hall is a female dorm in Rajshahi University. Govt. Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila College is located in Tangail.