Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Bangabandhu: An immortal ideal

Bangabandhu: An immortal ideal

Murder is never the solution. Murder is the most heinous conscious act. An ideal cannot be destroyed by killing. On the early morning of 15 August 1975, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the Bengali nation, the architect of the country and the best Bengali of the millennium, was assassinated at his residence by some ambitious derailed officers of the army. They killed 16 of his family members and relatives. Which is a scandalous black chapter of history.

However, in my view, Bangabandhu was not killed, the independent country was killed that day. Even if this great magician of the Bengali awakening is physically destroyed, his ideals cannot die. Can't be. In this 50th year of independence, I would like to remind the younger generation of those who loved the country and its people more than their own lives. He spoke of social emancipation, the successor of which is this nation. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born on 17 March 1920 in Tungipara of Gopalganj district. He was different since childhood. The history of loving people dates back to his childhood. On the night of August 15, he was also fearless in the face of machine guns. While facing the assassins he asked, “What do you want? Where will you take me?”

The Awami League is in power today. I hear from the opposition today that they are soldiers of Bangabandhu's ideology. Many identify or prefer to be identified as Bangabandhu's soldiers to get party titles. However, the question remains as to how much Bangabandhu's ideology is being implemented. What was the political ideology of Bangabandhu, what was his politics, which we are cherishing?

The year was 1940. Sheikh Mujib joined the All India Muslim Students Federation and was elected councilor of the Bengal Muslim Students Federation for a year. He was appointed secretary of the Gopalganj Muslim Defense Committee. Passing SSC in 1942, Bangabandhu became actively involved in the Pakistan movement that year. In 1943, he became involved in active politics and was elected a councilor of the Muslim League. In 1948, Bangabandhu was elected General Secretary (GS) of Islamia College Students' Parliament.

He joined the law department of Dhaka University in 1948 and founded the Muslim Chhatra League on 4th January.

When Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin announced in the Legislative Assembly on 23rd February that the people of East Pakistan would accept Urdu as the state language, Bangabandhu immediately protested.

On March 2, a meeting of activists of various political parties was held with the aim of organising a movement against the Muslim League over the language issue. In this meeting, held at Fazlul Haque Muslim Hall, Bangabandhu's proposal 'All-Party State Language Struggle Council' was formed.

Bangabandhu was arrested along with his colleagues while protesting in front of the Secretariat on March 11 during a strike demanding Bengali as state language. The Muslim League government was forced to release the arrested student leaders including Bangabandhu under the pressure of the student movement. Bangabandhu was released on 15th March. He was arrested again on 11th September in Faridpur for protesting against the cordon system.

Sheikh Mujib was released from prison on 21 January 1949. He was arrested again on April 19 for staging a sit-in in front of the Vice Chancellor's residence. The East Pakistan Awami Muslim League was formed on 23rd June and Bangabandhu was elected joint secretary of the party while in jail. He was released in late July. He was arrested again in September for violating Section 144 and later released. The Awami Muslim League staged a hunger strike on the occasion of the arrival of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested on 14th October for leading the procession. This time he was kept in jail for more than two years.

On 26 January 1952, Khwaja Nazimuddin declared, “Urdu will be the state language of Pakistan.” In protest, Bangabandhu called upon the Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad to observe February 21 as the day of release of political prisoners and demand for making Bengali the state language. On 14th February Bangabandhu started a hunger strike in the jail demanding this. On 21st February, the students violated Section 144 and took out a procession demanding Bangla as the state language. Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Shafiur and many others were martyred when police fired on the procession. In a statement from jail, Bangabandhu strongly condemned the police firing on the student procession. He continued his fast for 16 consecutive days. He was transferred from Dhaka Jail to Faridpur Jail for keeping in touch with the protesters. He was released from Faridpur Jail on 26th February. In the first general election on 10 March 1954, Bangabandhu defeated Wahiduzzaman, an influential leader of the Muslim League, in the Gopalganj constituency by 13,000 votes. On May 15, Bangabandhu became the Minister of Agriculture and Forests in the provincial government. On May 30, the central government dismissed the United Front cabinet. On May 30, Bangabandhu returned to Dhaka from Karachi and was arrested. He was released on 23rd December. The cabinet was canceled.

On 5 February 1966, Bangabandhu presented a historic six-point demand to the selection committee on the subject of the National Conference of Opposition Parties in Lahore. The proposed six points were the certificate of liberation of the Bengali nation. Bangabandhu was arrested eight times in the first three months of 1966. On 7th January 1970, Bangabandhu was re-elected President of the Awami League. The decision to participate in the elections was taken at the meeting of the Awami League Executive Council on 1st April. At a public meeting at Racecourse Maidan on June 7, Bangabandhu called upon the people to elect the Awami League on the six-point issue. The Awami League won an absolute majority in the general elections on 7th December.

On March 7, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared to the crowd at the racecourse, “This time the struggle is for our liberation, this time the struggle is for freedom. Joy Bangla.” In his historic speech, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called upon the Bengali nation to break the shackles and declared, “As we have given blood, we will give more blood. Yet, we will release the people of this country. InshaAllah. Everyone build forts from house to house! We have to deal with the enemy with whatever we have!” He urged all to prepare for guerrilla warfare against the enemy. His speech is admirable in the history of the world today. Bangabandhu called for a non-cooperation movement against the government of Yahya Khan. Yahya left Dhaka in the evening after the talks failed on 25th March. On the night of March 25, the Pakistan army attacked the innocent unarmed Bengalis. Bangabandhu declared the independence of Bangladesh on March 26 at 12:20 am.

August 15 comes with all the history before it. People may die, but ideals do not die. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the Bengali nation, the best Bengali of all time, held a philosophy of human liberation. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not just a person, he is an immortal ideal and inspiration. He is a heroic symbol of freedom and victory. We will move forward with motivation from his ideals.


Gopal Odikari, Journalist and columnist