Bangabandhu: The luminary of our nation

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Published on August 17, 2020
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Professor Dr Md Sazzad Hossain 

Martin Luther King Jr. has said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” These words are very true because a great leader is born as a blessing for a nation from the creator. Not all the leaders are born with great quality of leadership. Only a few of the leaders get this divine and unique quality. These people have some charismatic charms in them which are perceived as a lighthouse spreading light to the people. There are so many leaders in this world who have given birth to new nations by giving the taste of independence to people. Our father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is such a name. Undoubtedly he was the greatest leader who liberated our people from the quagmire. Indeed he was the people's friend. The title "Bangabandhu" suits none but him. 

Moreover, other leaders wanted to liberate our nation from the then Pakistani militants but they could not succeed. Bangabandhu, being a rebel and benevolent persona not only dreamt of a sovereign country but also worked heart and soul to fulfil all his dreams. His thunderous utterance 'keo dabay rakhte parba na’-we are indomitable, still gives an adrenaline rush. Truly, his name and our liberation war are inseparable.  

How passionate Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was for politics has been reflected in his autobiographies. His concern about the miseries has given birth to his political ideologies. He used to feel everything intensely. His leadership qualities bloomed when he started to realize the agony of Bengali people. We all know that he came from a middle-class family and because of his active participation he was sentenced several times. He witnessed the political turmoil of his time, besides the historic World War-II and famine of 1943.

Our renowned professor, Humayun Azad penned once, “Sheikh Mujib’s physical appearance was large, his head always raised high and his figure visible to everybody. In 1971, he was such an illuminating persona that because of his striking appearance, others' appearance became overshadowed. Netaji Subhas Chandra and our A K Fazlul Haque were his inspiration. 

While studying in Kolkata he involved himself in the Muslim League. It was a sheer disappointment that though Pakistan was separated from British rule, it didn’t experience any significant progress in any prospect. The then East Pakistan was tortured and neglected in every sector. 

In 1948, when Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Liakat Ali declared that “Urdu and only Urdu will be the state language of Pakistan”, the whole nation burst into aggression. And at that moment Bangabandhu started dreaming about an independent and sovereign country. He started participating in numerous movements and protests and as a result, his studentship was cancelled. Just afterwards the language movement, Bangabandhu became a potential political leader. Later, in the provincial election, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected as the youngest minister of the country.  

From 1963 Bangabandhu took the responsibility of Awami league and all the movements started under the leadership of Bangabandhu. In 1966 the historic six-point movement came. The six-point movement was spearheaded by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which called for greater autonomy for East Pakistan. The movement's main agenda was to realize the six demands put forward by a coalition of Bengali nationalist political parties in 1966, to end the perceived exploitation of East Pakistan by the West Pakistani rulers. It is considered a milestone on the road to Bangladesh's independence.

However, the six-point demand was not granted and the rulers arrested the Father of the Nation on 8th May. In 17th June Sheikh Mujib was transferred from Dhaka Central Jail to Kurmitola Cantonment. Then the Pakistani government framed Agartala Conspiracy Case in 1968.  This case was framed by the Pakistan Government during the Ayub regime against Awami League chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, some in-service and ex-service army personnel and high government officials. They were accused of involvement in a conspiracy to secede East Pakistan with the help of the government of India. In 1969, the mass protested to free their leader through Mass Uprising. Our leader became free from all allegations and was invited to a round table discussion. Still, the six-point demands were not accepted.

On 25 March 1969, Ayub Khan handed over the power to Yahya Khan. General Yahya Khan assured to establish democratic rule and with that view made arrangements for the 1970 election. The Awami League led by Bangabandhu won the majority of the votes. The Pakistani rulers could not accept the fact that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would serve as the Prime Minister. On that note, a pre-organised meeting with the newly elected candidates was cancelled. As a result, the Bengali people became furious once again. Later, the Pakistani rulers conducted the most heinous massacre in history to annihilate the Bengalis on 25 March 1971. Bangabandhu was arrested on that night. However, before he was arrested, Bangabandhu declared the independence of Bangladesh. Under his leadership, the Bengalis fought for long nine months shedding their blood. Eventually, Bangladesh became independent on 16 December 1971. Bangabandhu was imprisoned the whole time. Nobody knew if he was alive or not. Still, in his absence, the Bengalis fought heart and soul following his instructions. 

After independence, Bangabandhu became free from prison in Pakistan and joined as the Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh on 12 January 1972. Then he decided to form the constitution of independent Bangladesh. In the election held on 7 March 1973 according to the constitution, Bangabandhu’s Awami League won a landslide victory and he established the system of electing a government for a tenure of five years. According to the 4th amendment of 1975, he converted the ruling system to a government-run by a president. With his extraordinary leadership within 3 years, Bangabandhu managed to fulfil the rehabilitation tasks in war-torn Bangladesh. He established political stability and worked for economic reformation. He was far-sighted for the development of Bangladesh. He stated in Algerian Assembly, “The world is divided into two halves, the oppressed and the oppressors, I am with the oppressed.” 

He believed that his nation would be Golden Bengal and there is no alternative to education, research, and creativity. In his book, “Amar Dekha Nayachin”, he stated the inequity perceived in spheres of our country. Thus he always wanted to build an equal and unbiased nation.

All his dreams were scattered on 15th August 1975. Some traitors took his and all his family members’ lives except his two daughters’. A promising politician who dedicated his whole life to serve his nation was killed so brutally that people of our country still lament. And on this very day of August we all mourn. This loss will never be compensated because he was the greatest Bengali of all time. Whenever I think of this day, my soul cries and I remember Walt Whitman’s poem—

     O, Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

                        But O heart! heart! heart!

                           O the bleeding drops of red,

                              Where on the deck my Captain lies,

                                 Fallen cold and dead.

There will be no rebirth of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman but his ideology and ethics will enlighten us towards building a prosperous nation. We need to enhance more expertise in education and IT sector. Thanks to our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is following the vision of her father. But we need to be more supportive and help her build a nation her father dreamt of. Our mourning should be our strength and inspiration. Only then Bangabandhu's departed spirit would be satisfied.

Writer: ICT expert, Director of Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited and member of University Grants Commission