A deep-rooted conspiracy against Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his beloved Bangladesh hatched by local and international protagonists culminated in the murder of the country’s founding father in 1975. Through the adoption of the new constitution, Bangabandhu gave a clear message to the world that the new state is not going to pursue the Pakistan-era religion-based politics and capitalist economic policy.
Bangabandhu wanted to embark on nation-building work without wasting any time. On his own initiative, the new nation got its constitution in less than a year of its liberation – much less time than India and Pakistan took after their independence from the British Raj. The constitution adopted socialism and secularism as two of the four cardinal and fundamental principles of the republic with the other two being nationalism and democracy.
It is because of his proclivity for secularism and socialism, Bangabandhu invited the wrath and extreme annoyance of both the Islamic and capitalist blocs, which were against the Bengalis’ struggle for self-determination from Pakistan’s domination and the birth of Bangladesh.
The Islamic bloc, for whom Pakistan was a key player, and pro-Pakistani force inside Bangladesh mistook Bangabandhu’s policy of ‘secularism’ for ‘absence of religion.’ The secularism he meant was to understand merely the absence of state-religion. It was to understand inclusion, not exclusion of religion from the state. Bangabandhu wanted to ensure that no one feels ignored and is subjected to discrimination on the ground of religion; he rather wanted to create a sense of belonging among the people of the country irrespective of their religion, caste and creed.
On another front, the capitalist bloc took Bangladesh’s adoption of the principle of socialism as the emergence of a new socialist state and an emerging threat to capitalism. The understanding that the lot of the people could not be changed without the socialisation of property prompted Bangabandhu to be inclined to socialism.
The fifth column and power-hungry sections in the country – both in military and politics – joined hands with the international conspirators, who were out to eliminate Bangabandhu. The irony is that almost all of them were very close to Bangabandhu and were holding important positions under his administration. Their brutality was so unmatched that they did not limit their heinous act to the assassination of Bangabandhu only; they killed almost his entire family and many of his kin on the fateful night and his close political associates and national leaders -- Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Mansur Ali, and AHM Quamruzzaman -- later only to ensure that no one is left in his family and party to take over. They did not even spare Bangabandhu’s youngest son, nine-year-old Sheikh Russel, other minors and women, including Bangamata Fazilatunnesa Mujib.
One of the main aims of killing Bangabandhu was to drag the new state back to the Pakistan-era legacy of religion-centric politics and military supremacy that Bangladesh got rid of through the sacrifice of around three million lives in the nine-month Liberation War. And Bangladesh faced the consequences; it had to go through a reverse journey after the pro-Pakistan force took over. They started using Islam as a strong trump card only to arouse religious sentiment among the majority Muslim population -- not in the interests of the country, but only to serve their own interests.
They changed the very spirit of the Constitution by inserting a few religion-biased phrases, but the nation hardly saw them following the true Islamic teachings in their personal or family life.
Their indulgence to the so-called Islamist force gave rise to militancy and fanaticism to such an extent that the state machinery later found it hard to bridle the menace.
The country had to bear the militancy-induced stigma until Sheikh Hasina, Bangabandhu’s able daughter who survived the August 15 carnage along with her sister Sheikh Rehana who stayed abroad on that fateful night, returned to power and handled the menace with an iron hand.
- Shiabur Rahman is the executive editor of Bangladesh Post. He can be reached by email -- firstname.lastname@example.org