If somebody asks me why did I choose Awami League (AL) as the political party to join as early as in 1953 when I was a student of class IX, the answer would be --- it was because of attraction for a person known as Mujib bhai. When I listened to him first he was delivering a speech at Fakirhat, an upazila of Bagerhat now district and then a sub-division. He (Mujib) went there as part of his campaign for the 1954 general election. The chief guest was Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, the inspiration of Mujib bhai. He held him in a very high esteem throughout his life as his leader.
Sheikh Mujib was the first speaker. He did not speak more than 15 minutes but he impressed the young listeners so much that for quite a good number of days the people of the area kept talking about the speech of Sheikh Mujib. The subject he dealt with did really charm youths like me. While back from the meeting my mother asked me about Sheikh Mujib’s speech. I told her what I felt. It was that inspiring speech that drove me much more than before. It was in 1957 when I was a student of F. H Hall I used to visit frequently the house of Sheikh Mujib. I used to visit Alfa Insurance Co. office at Dainfa building at Bangabandhu Avenue (the then Jinaah Avenue) to meet him. He contacted me to do some specific job relating to the student politics of Dhaka University. In the Alfa Insurance office I found Tajuddin Ahmed, Shah Moazzem Hossain, K. M. Obaidur Rahman to talk to Sheikh Mujib.
During 60’s I was a student of Dhaka Medical College residing at Kalabagan. I was seriously involved in politics during the basic democracy election. When I was a 5th year student of Dhaka Medical College I could not appear at the exam as there was an arrest warrant against me due to my participation in the doctors’ strike.
Bangabandhu asked to me to be a member of the governing body of Eden College from Kalabagan. I was given some specific role to play in the basic democracy election of 1964 against Ayub Khan. Since the opposition lost the election, I became victim to political vengeance. Two ministers -- Mohammad Khaja Askari and Kazi Quader -- came to my residence at Kalabagan and asked me to join them. They tried to allure me by offering a plot in Dhanmondi and a chamber in New Market or going abroad for higher education. I refused their offer. Kazi Qader got furious and threatened me to face the dire consequence. The next day I just informed all that happened at my Kalabagan residence to Bangabandhu. He (Bangabandhu) advised me to be away from Dhaka city for some days.
My life was at risk. At least twice I was attacked by Muslim League hoodlums. In one incident the goons surrounded me at Mirpur Mazar Road where I had a chamber for evening practice. I had another chamber at Kalabagan where I used to sit in the morning. The incident took place when I was at my Mirpur chamber in the evening. A group of Biharis with lethal weapons surrounded my chamber. I was told by a Bengali bus driver that your chamber has been surrounded by the hoodlums and you should leave immediately before they attack you. He asked me to get on board a bus and accordingly I did it. They drove straight from Mirpur to Kalabagan without any stops. Next day I went to my leader and narrated the incident. Bangabandhu asked me to leave Dhaka at once and to meet Awami League leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz at Khulna. Accordingly I went to Khulna carrying a letter of Bangabandhu. I reached Khulna and went to Hadis Park where a meeting of Awami League was going on. I handed over the letter to Sheikh Abdul Aziz on the podium. But in utter surprise Mr. Aziz seemed to be angered and asked me why did I decide to come to Khulna leaving Dhaka, the main center of politics. I came back to Dhaka and let the leader know about it. He then closed his eyes for sometimes and then asked me to go to Rajbari where I stayed for long 12 years till I got elected as Member of Parliament. I felt why I was sent to Rajbari by Bangabandhu. Many things happened during this long 12 years. During six-point movement I was at Rajbari and I was the convener of Democratic Action Committee (DAC) and also the convener of six-point implementation committee at Rajbari. Many leaders of Awami League left and joined the convention of Muslim League. It was during the war of liberation that those persons were identified as the followers of K.M Obaidur Rahman who ordered them not to have armed training. But we started training since 3rd March of 1971 secretly. The followers of Obaidur Rahman did not join the war at Goalanda on 21 April although it was the most important local war even after the formation of Mujb Nagar Sarker. Earlier, the Pak army failed to land on 7 April and 11 April due to strong resistance by the freedom fighters, EPR, Police, Ansars and civilians. On 21 April, 30 members of EPR with large amount of arms and ammunition including HMG, LMG, RCL, revolvers, guns, 350 freedom fighters, 300 police and innumerable number of civilians were engaged in severe battle with the Pak army. The Faridpur district Awami League leaders did show little interest to join the war. MP Kazi Hedayet with all his supporters left for India with almost all the student league. None of them got training in India or participate in the war of liberation and came back three months after the country was liberated. In fact both MP and MNA had little participation in the war. I had to do the job along with Fakir Abdul Jabbar, Dulu, Prof Pankaj, Abdus Sattar, Baku Chowdhury, Akkas Mia, Bachu Master and others. Before that probably on 31st March or 1st of April I got a telephone call from Kusthia to help them with forces and arms and ammunition as they were going to attack the army. I along with Dr AKM Aszad and 120 freedom fighters with arms went to Kushthia to fight the army. Those two wars—one in Kusthia and another one in Goalanda are probably the most important war in entire Bangladesh.
What happened in March 26th and 27th following the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu on 26th March? We all had been waiting at my chamber with nearly 2 thousand people around 1pm. We got a telegram with declaration of independence. At once I along with hundreds of local leaders and people took to the street and paraded the thoroughfares calling upon people to join liberation war as Bangabandhu declared independence. All of us should join war. Unfortunately none of the elected representatives was there. Even the Awami League office was found to close all the day.
Dr S A Malek is former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and columnist.