Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Early Life:
Born on March 17, 1920 at Tungipara in Gopalgonj district, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the third child of Sheikh Lutfur Rahman and Saira Begum. He studied at the Islamia College and graduated from Dhaka University. At 18, Mujib married Fazilatunnesa. They became happy parents of two daughters and three sons.

Beginning of an Epic Journey:
Mujib joined All India Muslim Students Federation in 1940 and in 1943, switched to Bengal Muslim League where he came close to Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. While at Dhaka University, he founded the East Pakistan Muslim Students’ League.

Language Movement
Mujib led students’ strikes and protests when the language discourse of Pakistan first emerged in 1948 and remained active to organize the movements which culminated on February 21, 1952.

Climbing Steps of Politics
He left Muslim League to join Suhrawardy and Maulana Bhashani to form the Awami Muslim League. He became the first Joint Secretary of the party and then the General Secretary in 1953. In the elections of 1954, Mujib was elected at the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly and became the Agricultural Minister. In 1956, he joined a second coalition government as the Commerce and Industries Minister.

Six Point Demand:
In 1963, Sheikh Mujib became the President of Awami Muslim League after the death of Suhrawardy. He strongly opposed Ayub Khan’s basic democracy. He proclaimed a 6-point demand seeking autonomy of East Pakistan at the national conference of opposition political parties in Lahore in 1966.

Agartala Conspiracy Case
Afraid of public support for Mujib’s 6-point demand, the then Pakistani government arrested him in the Agartala conspiracy case but was forced to release him amidst massive public unrest. On December 5, 1969, he declared that East Pakistan would henceforth be called Bangladesh.

Elections of 1970
In the general elections of Pakistan in 1970, Awami League won a massive majority under Mujib’s Leadership. His party swooped in all but two of East Pakistan's quota of seats in the National Assembly. The West Pakistani rulers however were completely against Mujib’s demand for greater autonomy.

March 07 Speech
The then Pak President Yahya Khan delayed the national assembly to bar Awami League from forming the provincial government. In a historic speech at the Racecourse Ground in Dhaka on March 7, 1971, Mujib called for the independence of Bangladesh. Yahya Khan declared martial law, banned Awami League and ordered arrest of Sheikh Mujib.

Genocide and Independence of Bangladesh
On the night of March 25, 1971, Pak army launched operation searchlight and started large scale genocide of the innocent Bengalis. Sheikh Mujib was arrested and taken to Pakistan. Before that, Mujib declared the independence of Bangladesh and asked the people to create resistance against the occupying Pak army.

New Country Gets First Govt.
On March 17, 1971, the first government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formed and Mujib was made the President of the country in his absence. Soon after that, Muktibahini, the freedom fighters’ force was formed and it started putting up strong resistance against the Pak army.

Victory at Last
After nine months of bloody war which killed over 3 millions of Bengalis, the Pak army surrendered to the allied forces of Muktibahini and Indian army. A new nation is born- Bangladesh. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned home on January 10, 1972 and took the charge of reconstructing the war-torn country.

Reconstruction Begins
Mujib focused on humanitarian and development assistance from the international community to reconstruct the country. In a bid to bring political stability which was prerequisite to its economic improvement, he introduced one-party rule. All political parties came under one umbrella of identity known as BAKSAL.

Assassination:
On the night of August 15, 1975, a group of wayward army officers assassinated Mujib and all of his family members except the two daughters. This brutal assassination not only put an indelible smudge in the newborn nation’s history, but led the country into a political vacuum. Democracy started fading away and the reconstruction process suffered a major setback.

Sheikh Hasina

Sheikh Hasina - 2009Sheikh Haisna was born on September 28, 1947 at Tungipara in Gopalganj district. She was the eldest of five children of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangamata Begum Fazilatunnesa. In 1968, Hasina was married to eminent nuclear scientist M Wazed Miah. Together they have one son and a daughter.

Sheikh Hasina was in the then West Germany with her younger sister Sheikh Rehana on the fateful night of August 15, 1975 when Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with the remaining members of his family was brutally assassinated.  She was forced to live in exile in London and Delhi for the next six years.

Hasina was elected the President of Bangladesh Awami League in 1981 in her absence and returned home on May 17 the same year. She was the first to raise the voice against the autocratic regime of military ruler H.M. Ershad. Under her leadership, Awami League spearheaded the movement for democracy which brought about the fall of Ershad in 1991.

Through the parliamentary elections of 1991, Awami League emerged as the largest opposition party in Bangladesh.  As the opposition leader, she was always vocal against the tyranny of the BNP government. Her tireless contribution to the movement against the government’s misrule forced BNP to dissolve parliament and call for early elections.

Awami League secured a massive victory in the elections on 12 June, 1996, and formed the government. Sheikh Hasina became the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. One of the major achievements of her government was the signing of CHT Peace Accord which ended a decades-long ethnic insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Another significant achievement was the signing of Ganges Water sharing treaty with India.

In one of the most controversial elections in the country’s history, BNP-led four party alliance won majority of the parliamentary seats in 2001 and Hasina became the opposition leader for the second time. Despite several assassination attempts including the grenade attack on August 21, 2004, she remained vocal against the misrule of the alliance government.

After the two year-long democratic vacuum created by what known as 1/11 interim government, the people of Bangladesh voted Awami League-led grand alliance to power with a landslide victory in the general elections on December 29, 2008. Sheikh Hasina once again became the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the second time, ushering in a new era of democracy in the country.

In recognition of her leadership excellence and intellectual finesses, Sheikh Hasina has been conferred with-

  • Honorary Doctor of Laws by the Waseda University of Japan
  • Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in Liberal Arts by University of Abertay Dundee, UK
  • Honorary Degree of Desikottama by Visva-Bharati University of West Bengal, India
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws, by the Australian National University
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the Bridgeport University, USA
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Paul Haris Fellowship by the Rotary International
  • UNESCO's Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize, 1998
  • M K Gandhi Award, 1998
  • Mother Teresa Award, 1998 and 2006
  • Pearl S. Buck Award by Randolph Macon Women's College of USA, 1999
  • CERES Medal, 1999
  • UN Award for MDG achievement (child mortality), 2010
  • Indira Gandhi Peace Prize, 2009
  • South-South Award, 2011
  • UN Award for MDG Achievement, 2013
  • Rotary Peace Prize, 2013
  • Tree of Peace, 2014
  • ICT Sustainable Development Award, 2015
  • Champions of the Earth, 2015
  • Agent of Change Award, 2016
  • Planet 50-50 Champion, 2016

Activities

A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image.

Joy Bangla Joy Bangabandhu
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