The month that snatched away the greatest wealth of Bangladesh is the month of August. It was the month of August 1975, on 15th that the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman got killed at the hands of those who did not support the Independence of Bangladesh. We were all in Pakistan till 26th of March 1971, but we became independent on 16th December in 1971 with the surrender of occupation army after 9 months of armed struggle. The Mukti Bahini and the Indian army expedite the defeat of the occupation army. Three million people had to be sacrificed in the War of Liberation of Bangladesh. A few thousand of Indian army personnel also sacrificed their lives to liberate Bangladesh.
Since 1947, East Pakistan and its Bangalee population was virtually the slave of the west and a tyrannical rule was imposed on them, they decided to be out of Pakistan with their independent identity, their language, tradition and culture. It was not merely the independence of a piece of land of 55000 sq. miles; it was the emancipation of people and emergence of a nation from the clutches of Pakistani subjugation.
The thunderous voice of only one person of Bangladesh intensified the movement. The Pakistan military junta considered Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib as their arch enemy. They opined that Sheikh Mujib was the first who decided to break away from Pakistan as he strongly felt that the so-called Pakistan as an independent country for the Muslim population of the subcontinent failed to accommodate all the Muslims. Lord Mountbatten in connivance with Congress divided the Indian subcontinent unevenly. The leaders of Bengal including Sheikh Mujib, Hossain Shahid Suhurawardy, Sher-e-Bangla, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das could not accept the division based on two nation theory. The very purpose of the division of the subcontinent into Pakistan and Hindustan was nothing but a political hoax. The tragedy is that it was the people of east Bengal who voted for Pakistan, but the Muslims of East Pakistan (Bengal) had been ignored the citizens of Pakistan.
That was exactly what Pakistan was for the Bangalee Hindus and Muslims. It was through the language movement that the people of east could feel that they are in a different Pakistan. The declaration by Pak Governor General that `Urdu and Urdu shall be the only state language of Pakistan infuriated the Bangalees so much so that they started negation not only Urdu as state language but also the very concept of Pakistan as well. The people of East Pakistan could realize that the Pak ruler want to snatch away their mother tongue jut to destroy theiridentity. The people of East Pakistan vehemently protested and, took to the street and shed blood to realize their demand to speak in Bangla. The west lost the confidence of the east. The feeling of the people of Bengal was that as if they were under sub colonized military junta of Pakistan.
This was the reality that inspired the leader of the Bangalees to think seriously about the fate of Pakistan. Disparity in all forms and repression and suppressions were the result of Sheikh Mujib’s six-point programme popularly known as Magna Carta of the Bangalees. It flared the people of the east to such an extent that at one stage in March, 1971 that they decided to be ruled by Sheikh Mujib and Sheikh Mujib alone. No other person was there other than Mujib who had been thinking in terms of putting the last nail to the coffin of Pakistan. The movement of the six-point programme ensured the victory of Bangalees in 1970 election securing 167 seats out of 169. Through this election Sheikh Mujib became the only mouthpiece of Bengal. There was round table talk in which Sheikh Mujib categorically declared not to budge an inch from his six-point. The Pakistan military junta decided to launch a crackdown on the unarmed innocent Bangalees on 25th of March. The mass scale killing of Bangalees prompted Bangabandhu to declare the independence of Bangladesh on the early hour of 26th March 1971. Since then we are an independent and free country. Bangladesh really became free and sovereign country on 16th December 1971 with the surrender of the occupying forces.
Bangabandhu returned to independent Bangladesh to fulfil the desire of his people and started reconstruction of the war-ravaged country and settled the displaced people due to war. Within three and half years, he succeeded in rebuilding a war-torn economy. The 1972 Constitution was framed, the 1973 election was held and the first parliamentary form of government was formed 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. He brought back everything to normalcy and declared his second revolution programme and the consequence was his brutal killing by the agents of Pakistan. A few perverted army personnel gunned him down and almost his entire family in his residence at Road no 32, Dhanmondi putting an end to the forward march of Bangladesh under its most charismatic leader.
Why did they kill him? They did not succeed to hang Sheikh Mujib when he was in Pak prison on charges of act of treason. But the Pakistan and their foreign cohort USA could not accept the defeat in 1971. They decided to take retaliation of their defeat. Immediately after the independence they started conspiracy again to destabilize Bangladesh and make it a neo-Pakistan. They patronized the reactionary and counter-revolutionary forces to destabilize the country and assigned some ambitious army officials to kill Bangabandhu. As a part of their evil and well-orchestrated design they succeeded to kill Bangabandhu on 15 August 1975.
What a cataract of disaster had fallen on the people of Bangladesh on 15th August 1971 could be guessed through the negative emergence that took place since then. The Constitution was communalized and an overall change was brought in the principle of state governance. Democracy and socialism were rejected to establish a rapidly growing affluent society of hundreds in place only 22 families during 23 years of Pakistan. The country fell into retrogression with the destruction of all that had been earned as a result of independence and the Joy Bangla slogan rejected and the Bangalee nationalism replaced by Bangladeshi nationalism.
Two rulers ruled for 15 years till 1996 when Sheikh Hasina came to power following 21 years of ceaseless struggle. She entered into the politics of Bangladesh in 1981 soon after her return to the country following the assassination of Bangabandhu. Since returning to power in 2009, Hasina has been ruling Bangladesh for nearly 11 years taking the country to a new height through her farsightedness and bold steps on the socio-economic front.
Hasina’s commitment to fulfill the desire of her father is so resolute that she is ready to sacrifice her life if required. It is because of her honesty, courage, determination and devotion that Bangladesh has been able to attain the prestigious position in the comity of nations. Her outstanding performance in climate change, reduction of poverty, empowerment of women, containment of terrorism, humanitarian approach to global issues, including the Rohingya refugees, has consolidated her position as a statesman.
Bangladesh is fortunate to get a leader like Sheikh Hasina to lead its people. The country moves forward under her able leadership to be one of the most accomplished state of the world. It is under her leadership that Bangladesh has earned global acclaim for its robust economic growth that saw it’s graduation to a middle income country shedding the tag of least developed one. But that is just an important milestone before Bangladesh travels many more miles to a greater height.
Dr S A Malek is the former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and columnist