Bangabandhu before the Liberation..The Road to Independence

Products and information pervade our times. As we are lost in their all-consuming presence and wide ramifications, there is still, room for remembrance of a leader who, even after 28 years of his death, has simultaneously been at the receiving end of eulogy and criticism.

Though the image of the man still stands tall, as his public persona is still something to be vied with, the facts behind the making of the leader has been made turbid by subsequent military juntas who rode power in independent Bangladesh. Attempts were made to put a veil on the history of independence and its leader. After he was brutally murdered on August 15, 1975 by a section of highly ambitious and conspiratorial faction of the army, his legacy was deliberately distorted along with history of this nation. Even after democracy was restored in the 90s, the facts were never allowed to surface. SWM strives to piece together the shattered saga of an extraordinary man who still remains the most revered leader of this nation.

After 32 years of independence, history remains a puzzle to a nation that relies too much on word of mouth. Official history, too, has been tampered with. In this context the political life of the leader, who first earned the epithet of ‘Bangabandhu’ in 1969 and ‘the Father of the Nation’ after the liberation, is often seen as a chapter only to be read by the loyal supporters of his party.

During the 23 years of Pakistan rule, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman spent twelve years in jail and ten years under close surveillance. Rulers of Pakistan saw him as a leader, who with his charisma and conviction could stir the masses, which he did. Under his charismatic leadership the Bangali people of the former East Pakistan became united as never before and collectively plunged themselves into a movement that later transformed itself to our armed struggle for independence.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born on 17 March 1920 in the village Tungipara under Gopalgonj district, then a Sub-division in the Faridpur district. His father, Sheikh Lutfur Rahman was a serestadar in the civil court of Gopalganj. His mother’s name was Shahara Khatun. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s initiation to politics began in the Gopalgonj Missionary School, from where he obtained his matriculation in 1942. It was in this school ground that he met Hussain Shahid Suhrawardy and A.K. Fazlul Haque when they came for a visit. Sheikh Mujib had the opportunity to talk to Suhrawardy for the first time, a man who would later become his mentor.

In 1942, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman got admission in the Islamia College in Calcutta. Soon he was to become enmeshed in politics. He started out as an activist of the Student League of Bengal Provincial Muslim League remaining an elected member of All-India Muslim League Council from 1943 onward. There were two factions in Muslim League of Bengal, one was steered by Surhwardy and Abul Hashim and the other by Akram Khan and Khaja Nazimuddin. Mujibur Rahman had become an activist and a supporter of the former. He and the other activists of this faction were often referred to as the Hashemites.

From Islamia College, now called the Moulana Azad College, Mujib obtained his IA in 1944. It was a tumultuous time. The Second World War was ending and on the Azad Hind Fouze Day a youth died near the Baker Hostel, where Mujibur Rahman used to reside. During this time his involvement with politics had intensified. In 1944, he was elected general secretary of the Islamia College Student Union. In 1946, because of his active participation in politics, he could not sit for BA examinations. In the same year the Muslim League sent him to the Faridpur district to campaign for the party in the general elections. The Surhwardy and Hashem faction of the Muslim League won 116 seats in the 119 seats allocated for Muslims. It was an unprecedented victory. Mujib, proved to be an organiser par excellence in this election.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with HS Suhrawardy in Rajshai, 1954.

M.R. Akhter Mukul is of the opinion that it was Surhwardy who taught Mujib the tactics of parliamentary politics. And it was from Moulana Bhashani that he picked up his speech making expertise–the emotionally charged, inspiring delivery of his political address. Both had a strong influence in his political career.

After partition of British India in 1947, and having passed his BA from Islamia College, he came to Dhaka and got himself admitted to the University here.

He was a student of law, but he could not complete his study as he was expelled from the university in early 1949 after being charged with ‘inciting the fourth-class employees’ towards agitation. In 1948 under the leadership of Maulana Bhashani and Suhrawardy East Pakistan Awami Muslim League was formed. He was elected one of the joint secretaries of the newly formed party although he was then interned in Faridpur jail. He was one of the leaders behind the formation of the Muslim Students League in 1948. His contribution in the Language Movement of 1952 was also significant. He was one of the first few leaders of the language movement to serve a jail sentence. In 1953, he was elected general secretary of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League, a post that he held till 1966, the year he became the president of the party.

As an advocate of the rights of the Bangali people, Mujibur Rahman was unrelenting from the very beginning. He always gave voice to issues that had related to economic, social and cultural rights of the Bangalis and to the rising discrimination between the two wings of Pakistan.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, for the first time, was elected a member of East Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1954. It was the year of the rise of people of East Bengal. The United Front (UF), formed by the unity of three leaders- AK Fazlul Huq, Moulana Bhashani and Shaheed Suhrawardy, and all other smaller opposition parties, dealt a death blow to the ruling Muslim League in the election for provincial legislative. The 21-point programme, written by Abul Mansur Ahmad, which articulated the aspirations of the people of the East Bengal created a landslide for the United Front giving it practically all the seats. The Muslim League never recovered from this electoral debacle.
The skirmishing among factions of the UF and all sorts of conspiracies on the part of the West Pakistan authority prevent the United Front from remaining in power dashed all hopes for democracy in Pakistan. On May 19, 1954 the Pak-American defence treaty was signed, and right after that, the United Front government was arbitrarily dismissed and the centre-imposed governor’s rule was put in place. Many leaders were sent to jail including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

In the following year, after the dismissal of the United Front government and after Sher-e-Bangla Fazlul Haq broke away from the UF and had secured a place in the centre as the foreign minister, the name Awami Muslim League was changed to Awami League. The decision to omit the word ‘Muslim’ was a sign of departure from the religious oriented politics to a more secular politics.
Mujib entered national parliamentary politics in 1956. He was also a member of the Pakistan Second Constituent Assembly-cum-Legislature from 1955 to 1958. He resigned from the cabinet of Ataur Rahman Khan (1956-58), in which he was the provincial commerce minister, to devote himself to building up the party from the grass root level. His single minded activities to develop the party made a very popular party figure. It also made him a target of the Ayub which jailed him at regular intervals.

It was during his grassroots party activism that Sheikh Mujib developed his own political profile. Although generally under the shadow of his mentor Shaheed Suhrawardy, he started articulating bold, if not radical views on the future of East Pakistan. However he followed his mentor blindly when CENTO and SEATO treaties were signed by Pakistan. For this action a split was created between Suhrawady and Bhashani; in the eyes of left-leaning politicians of East Bengal, Mujib became a part of the pro-American axis. In spite of this, Mujib could be seen as having a left-of-centre political inclination.

As time passed Sheikh Mujib developed extraordinary skill in understanding peoples’ psyche and articulating them in the most effective manner. “He understood his own people, he spoke their ‘language’ and as a leader he was an antidote to the armchair politics practiced by many leaders of that period”, says poet and political analyst Farhad Mazhar.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman takes oath as minister in the Jukta Front cabinet before Chief Minister AK Fazlul Huq on May 15, 1954.

It was Moulana Bhashani who, in his famous Kagmari council session in 1957, hinted at the idea of an independent nation for the Bangalis if Pakistan continued its politics hegemony and oppressing the Bangalis. But the nation had to wait till 1966 to see a strong surge of opinion in favour of self-rule and then later for independence. Sheikh Mujib who had a tremendous sense of timing realised the right moment for articulating the aspiration of the Bangali people for self rule. In 1966, he announced his famous six-point programme at a meeting in Lahore with General Ayub Khan who had taken over power in Pakistan through an army coup in 1958. This, in his own words, was ‘our (Bangalis’) charter of survival’. The six-point programme catapulted Sheikh Mujib into the forefront of national politics united the people of East Pakistan behind a clear cut and easily understood political programme.

As a politician, Mujib always preferred the democratic path to achieve his political goals. He was not a revolutionary in the conventional sense of the term and was always committed to mass movement as a method of political activism. He never propagated the violent overthrow of established regimes however autocratic. As his activism became more vigorous and his mass appeal became stronger and more widespread, the Pakistani regime became more and more oppressive against him. He was frequently arrested and kept interned for longer and longer periods.

1960s was a seminal decade for the Bangalis as well as for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Although he had spent most of the Ayub era behind bars, Mujib and his Awami League were instrumental in putting up a resistance against the autocracy from the start when Ayub took power in 1958. After the death of giants like Fazlul Haque and Surhwardy respectively in 1961 and 1963, a new era began that saw the rise of a younger generation of politicians. Journalist Ataus Samad gives salience to this, “After the death of Suhrawardy it was Sheikh Shaheb who was responsible for the revival of the Awami League,” he points out. He explains that Sheikh Mujib and Moulana Bhashani are the leaders who spent more than eleven years in roaming around East Bengal, getting to know people at the grass-roots. This he thinks had an effect in how they evolved as mass leaders and how they behaved in the political arena. Although, Samad remarks, in later life Mujib could not rise above party interest.

The Hindu-Muslim riot of 1964 stoked by the then governor Munaim Khan, and the 17 day-long Pak-India war of 1965, were turning points in the political life of the Bangalis. It was during the war that the people of the East Pakistan suddenly became aware of the vulnerability of their position. The army that was being raised with their tax money appeared solely to be geared to protect the western region. Suddenly to the issues of economic, social and cultural autonomy, the issue of defence also became attached.

After Mujib’s six-point programme, the idea of self-rule started to gain a new vigour and unprecedented momentum. As Sheikh Mujib’s popularity rose, the Pakistan’s army government became increasingly desperate. It tried to stop him through frequent imprisonment and other types of oppression. When nothing worked they launched a new attack that of ‘conspiracy against sovereignty of the nation’. A case was instituted that Mujib had conspired with India to dismember Pakistan. As the Agartala Conspiracy case, as it became popularly known, went to trial public support for Mujib’s popularity rose sky high. By then Mujib’s identity was established as the unrelenting champion of the Bangalis, and as the man who unified his people and made them a courageous lot. All this made him the unquestioned leader of his people. Mujib popularity shot up so high that Ayub Khan was forced to withdraw the Agartala Conspiracy case, in the face of united student’s movement under the 11 point charter, and invited him to a ’roundtable conference’ in Islamabad. This military dictator’s surrender to public will further established Mujib’s pre-eminent position as the supreme leader of the Bangalis.

“Ebarer sangram amader shadhinoter sangram”—–The historic address at the Race Course ground, March 7, 1971.

In the round table meeting, Mujib was not willing to make any concessions on his six-point demands. The meeting failed to produce any result. After two weeks, on March 24, 1969, Ayub was forced to step down. Army chief, General Yahya Khan took over power in a bloodless coup.

Then came the general election of 1970. December 9 was the day of elections, and the army stood guard while the electorate gave a huge mandate in favour of Awami League. Without competing in the West Wing of Pakistan, AL secured 167 seats. This was the historical achievement of the pro-self-rule people led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Mujib was successful in making the Bangalis speak with one voice and that was a voice for their economic, social and cultural emancipation.

The historic address of March 7, 1971, in the then racecourse (now the Suhrawardy Udyan), by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a clarion call for an independent Bangladesh.

Farhad Mazhar believes that Mujib was a believer in the parliamentary system, and in his address to the public, he never clearly proclaimed independence although it was, at that time, taken as a call for independence; he did not ask the people outright to take up the gun, but he did imply it in a very emotional way.

He fought for a democratic form of government, yet he knew that independence was the only way. Although the student leaders of various parties had been calling for independence since March 2, he kept on trying to at find a peaceful solution through a legal procedure. The dialogue he continued with general Yehya and Bhutto is proof of this. The effort failed, as Mujib did not compromise the interest of the Bengali people.

Leaders of West Pakistan came to Dhaka to talk, but when the talk was on the verge of collapse, they left for west Pakistan leaving the Bengali people to face a genocidal crack down by the Pak military on the night of March 25. Sheikh Mujib was arrested on the same night from his Dhanmondi residence and kept incarcerated at the Dhaka cantonment until he was flown to West Pakistan to be tried on charges of sedition. Farhad Mazhar lauds his action at this critical moment. His courage to wait in his own home without knowing his fate was exemplary.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did not physically participate in the armed struggle for the Liberation of Bangladesh. But in every freedom fighter’s lips his name resonated and with every heartbeat they felt his presence. The massive sea of people who welcomed him back on 10th. January 1972 when he was released from Pakistani prison proved how much the people, of now independent Bangladesh really loved and revered him.

 Author : Mustafa Zaman

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The day Bangabandhu came home

The day Bangabandhu came home

THE crowds began converging in front of Tejgaon airport at dawn. By early morning, the place was dense with people — young and middle aged, with a smattering of the aged — come to welcome the founding father of the new state of Bangladesh, back home from ten months of captivity in Pakistan. It was January10, 1972. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was flying home from London, whence he had been flown by the Pakistan authorities a couple of days earlier.

The whole of Bangladesh was in celebratory mode on the day, indeed had been since news had first come in of Bangabandhu’s arrival at London’s Heathrow airport from Rawalpindi. On January 8, though, when Bengalis first heard of their leader’s departure from Pakistan, a certain kind of panic and a sense of apprehension set in about his safety. That was again natural, for ever since his arrest by the Pakistan army in the early hours of March 26, 1971, he had not been seen in public.

He had been flown to the then West Pakistan and placed in solitary confinement in Lyallpur jail. In Bangladesh, the genocide organised by the military regime of Yahya Khan was well underway, thanks to the ruthless Tikka Khan. In the nine months between March and December of the year, 3,000,000 Bengalis were murdered and 200,000 Bengali women were raped by the soldiers of the Pakistan army.

No one in occupied Bangladesh knew if Mujib was dead or alive. The first indication that he had not been put to death came on August 9, when state-owned Radio Pakistan put it about that the Bengali leader would be placed on trial on August 11 on charges of treason before a military tribunal whose proceedings would be conducted in camera. The eminent Pakistani lawyer A.K. Brohi, it was revealed, would be Mujib’ defence counsel. In the subsequent weeks, Yahya Khan made quite a few references, all derogatory, to Bangabandhu in the course of some media interviews.

By late November, as was to be known later, the tribunal had found Bangabandhu guilty of treason, with the very likely possibility of the judgement soon leading to his execution. But then came the Indian entry into the war between Bengalis and Pakistanis on December 3, prompted by Pakistani air force jets striking Indian cities on the border with West Pakistan. By December 16, all was over for Pakistan, as Bangladesh stood liberated through the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who took over as Pakistan’s new president from Yahya Khan on December 20, ordered the placing of Bangabandhu, who had triumphed over him at the general elections of a year earlier, under house arrest on December 22. On December 27, Bhutto turned up at the rest house where Mujib had been placed on his orders. It was the first meeting between the two men after the abortive political negotiations in Dhaka in March.

Bhutto’s goal was clearly to extract promises from Bangladesh’s leader about some form of links between Pakistan and its now free eastern province. Mujib did not oblige him.

On January 3, 1972, addressing a public rally in Karachi, Bhutto rhetorically asked his audience if they would permit him to free Mujib. The crowd roared its approval. As the night deepened on January 8, Bhutto accompanied Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Rawalpindi’s Chaklala airport. Mujib was being freed, along with his constitutional adviser Kamal Hossain and family (Hossain had been arrested in early April 1971 and placed under detention in West Pakistan). Senior officers of the Pakistan military accompanied Bangladesh’s founder on the special PIA flight taking him to London.

Bangabandhu was received at Heathrow by officials of the British Foreign Office as well as the senior-most Bengali diplomat of the time, M.M. Rezaul Karim, and other members of the Bangladesh mission in London. Soon after his arrival, he called on British Prime Minister Edward Heath and opposition leader Harold Wilson. He called his family in Dhaka and also spoke to Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed on the phone. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi called him and greeted him on his release from imprisonment. In the evening of January 8, Bangabandhu addressed a packed news conference at Claridge’s hotel and paid tributes to his nation on attaining victory in an “epic war of liberation.”

Bangladesh’s president, for that was the position Bangabandhu occupied as a result of a decision by the provisional government at Mujibnagar on April 17, 1971, left London late the next day on a special aircraft put at his disposal by the British government. The next morning, January10, he broke journey in New Delhi, where he was warmly welcomed by President V.V. Giri, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, members of the Indian cabinet, and civil and military officials. He addressed a public rally thanking Indians for their support to Bangladesh’s liberation struggle. And then he took off, this time for home.

He arrived in Dhaka at 1.40 in the afternoon to a rapturous welcome from his people. The truck carrying him, in the company of Bangladesh’s government leaders, to the Race Course took nearly three hours to reach its destination. At the Race Course, Bangabandhu broke down in tears as he paid tribute to the millions who had sacrificed their lives for freedom.

He was happy his Golden Bengal was finally free, happy that Bengalis had emerged free of Pakistan. It was twilight when he and the million strong crowd made their way home after what been a dramatic day.

Source : The Daily Star

Bangabandhu’s General Amnesty Declaration: Documentary Evidences and Relevant Stories

A clip from the Dainik Bangla

Whenever the issue of trial of war-crimes is raised, the killers and collaborators now turned politicians are seen to treat Bangabandhu with great respect. The Al-Badar leaders say, ‘it was he who resolved the issue by declaring general mercy, so it is meaningless to discuss this issue and give much importance now. Their political allies and intellectuals sing the same song, in addition to this more horrible and fabricated stories are added. Their absurdities know no bounds. Across generations they have spread rumors like: Bangabandhu enjoying a meal (Khichuri) with top-collaborator Shah Azizur Rahman at Comilla Cantonment, he went to the Jail with his own car and received Khan A Sabur at the Jail-gate. These are the stories which have been used to wash the brains of our generation. Common people treat these with their utmost ignorance and we are habituated to listen to them.

For my personal interest, I have studied the issue of the controversial General Mercy. To start with the only document I could find was a old paper-cutting of New York Times, where in a few sentences it was said that some 30 thousand collaborators had been freed including the imprisoned Governor Malik along with some of his helpers.

Such a big incidence, what an important decision! Would not there be an official document at least? After searching for it long, I could not recover anything from the known persons working on trial of war-crimes issue or from collectors, who have been documenting our freedom-fight. The general mercy was a Presidential order; so it should be included in the government Gazette. It must be in the Annual Lawyers’ guide. I could not find it in any of the records. The authorities do not archive many documents of 1973/74 anymore. Files and documents are vanished. A Lawyer of the Supreme Court accuses ex president Ziaur Rahman directly as he himself had built the Shishu Park (children’s park) to hide the memorial of surrender of Pakistan Forces. Similarly he himself had given the order of burning all the records of war-criminals into ashes. There is nothing in the Bar council Library now.

My only support was a few lines. Bangabandhu declared general mercy, this is right; but he did not forgive the killers, rapists and plunderers. the question now is where is my proof? Those who raise this question do not provide anything; even those accused as war-criminals exonerated by this general mercy do not provide any document too; then? On November 30 in 1973 Bangabandhu made this declaration. A press-note was supposed to be published in the newspapers on the following day. I started searching for those papers. And Jisan emerged as my rescuer.

I started working with some dedicated youths after I had joined Daily Adhinayak (yet to be published). These youths have the ability to play any serious role in the field of literature and cultural activism – Jisan is one of them. I gave the responsibility to two persons to collect the news in archived newspapers published after this declaration had been made. When Ajit Das entered the National Archive, he was deterred with a new requirement, an approval from Home Ministry to get to the documents. At Bangla Academy, Jisan faced the same sort of hindrance. Prior to this, he had failed to enter PIB archives too.

What follows here supersedes any Spy thriller-story. With an expired Library Card, Jisan entered the Underground Archive of Dhaka University. He found the expected newspapers with the help of some known staffs enduring the mosquito bites. However, some student leaders got interested in Jisan’s adventurous works. They even took his interview (read cross-examination). These student-leaders have only memorized their respected leaders’ names and lack knowledge about their leader’s history and deeds. So they became feeble before the smartness of Jisan. With trembling hands, he shot photos of the newspaper articles with his Samsung Mobile. He could take the required snaps just before the charge of the battery depleted. When he had handed me over the photos from his mobile via blue-tooth, he said: “Pial vai, give me another four days. I will transcribe each line and come back”.

I suppressed my utmost wish of hugging him in pleasure. With a subdued excitement I came back home. With the photos and clippings I started my works and could not bear waiting for another two days. I zoomed the photos in and out to understand what was written; and then transcribed that myself. The decision of uploading the clippings in You-tube was taken much earlier. I selected the photos finally, made AVI files using converter and then gave it a complete shape by making it a bit slow using the movie-maker and adjusting its brightness.

Achieving this would have been impossible if Jisan was not with me. In this age of free flow of Information, I will forever remember his active role in finding the historical data for a Bangla Blog with my gratitude. Let us see now what it was in the Declaration of General Mercy; what it was written in its coverage; who they released.

Report on General Mercy Declaration: The Doinik Bangla, December 01, 1973

Heading: General Mercy Declaration on Punished Prisoners under Collaborator Act

Sub-heading: Bangabandhu’s urge to the persons received mercy for the engagement of Country’s Betterment: No Mercy for the Killers and Rapists.
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has declared a general mercy for the convicted and punished prisoners under the Collaborator Act. Persons who have been imprisoned under the Collaborator Ordinance (Special Tribunal) 1972, against whom there is a warrant or those who are wanted and those who have been punished will be imposed this general mercy and soon they will be freed. Yet those who have killed people, raped and set fire or caused to damage people’s homestead with explosives or convicted for damaging water-transport whatsoever will not be considered under this act. A Governmental press-note issued on Friday night last says this General Mercy.

Prime Minister Shaikh Mujibur Rahman says, Government has declared this general mercy for the people arrested and convicted under Collaborator Act so that people from all corners can enjoy the Victory Day 16th December together indiscriminately and take oath to build our country. Bangabandhu has ordered the Home Ministry to take necessary steps so that these persons can get released from Jail soon and join the victory festival coming on 16th December. The persons freed are urged to be united with spirit of victory and are requested to take the responsibility of working as a safe-guard for our independence.

While speaking in the declaration ceremony, Bangabandhu says, all will forget their bitter past and leave their previous activity and start working in unison and establish an unequal instance of patriotism, he believes and hopes.

Bangabandhu says, through much blood, sorrows and sufferings, tears and tortures we have achieved our independence. At any cost we have to preserve this independence.’ He hopes that this Independence Day will open a new horizon of peace, happiness, prosperity and welfare.

Prime Minister says, some people, in association with invaded force, opposed against our freedom fight. They were arrested under the Collaborator Act. Among them many are familiar persons. As they were associated with Pakistani Force and helped them technically, people of Bangladesh suffered an indescribable miseries.

Bangabandhu says, these people have been arrested and imprisoned for long. He thinks that they are repented deeply. They are certainly remorseful for their pas activities. He hopes, after they have been freed, they will forget their past misdeeds, work with a new oath for building our nation and establish a new instance of patriotism. Yesterday the press-note issued from the Home Ministry is as follows:

Press-note: Prior to this, Government has considered the matter of Mercy of those who have been arrested under Collaborator Ordinance 1972(Special Tribunal) PO No-8, 1972, or have been convicted and paid their sufferings; government is making the new declaration in this regard:

1. Except the fields of crimes and persons described in the article no: 2

a) The persons arrested and convicted under the Criminal Act Section 401 of 1898 are being given released and, if there is no complain under any rule or act, except this order, under the general mercy, they will be freed from jail soon.

b) According to this order all cases under trial in any special tribunal or in special magistrate will be withdrawn. If there are no other cases against them pending, they will be freed from jail under this general mercy.

c) According to this Act, all cases filed against any person and the inquiry will be withdrawn and if he is not convicted otherwise under any acts whatsoever will be freed from jail. According to this act all warrants, summons or any notice served against him to crock his assets will be withdrawn. In that case the persons have to be free from other cases. If any proceedings are completed in absence of the persons and if he remains still absent, he will be freed from jail only when he surrenders and beg mercy and declares his loyalty, only then this general mercy will be eligible for him.

2. Persons convicted under the section 302(Killing), section 304, 376(rape), 435(cause damage by using bullet or explosives), Section 436(Burn Homesteads), and Section 448(set fire in water transport or explosion), According to the Criminal Act will not be considered under this act.


Banglar Bani or Ittefaq are equally same at their reports which will be seen in the video footage. There is other surprising news in the Donik Bangla on the same issue: regarding of being set free of Shah Azizur Rahman who later would be the Prime Minister of Bangladesh in the hand of Zia and of Sarsina’s Peer Shaheb who would be given the Independence Medal during Ershad regime. It said: According to an especial order made by the Bangladesh government, PDP Leader Shah Azizur Rahman and Sarsina’s Peer Shaheb have been released. Due to the cause of collaborating with Pakistani invaded forces they were arrested. .

It has been cleared that high profile collaborator like Governor Malik and Shah Aziz were not handed outside the Dhaka Central Jail. After they had been arrested, they had been there before they were freed. So there is no way to believe this story that Bangabandhu called him from jail and together he ate khichuri with him. This is altogether false.


On December3, in the Daily Ittefaq came the follow-up of the news of the decision of General Mercy where all people welcomed the decision. There was an important news. Home Minister Advocate Abdul Malek Ukil clarified the about the persons had been arrested under Collaborator Act. Under the Heading: Total Number of People arrested under Collaborator Act were 37 thousand 4hundred and 71 seventy-one, it had been written that on the perspective of declaring the mercy,

Yesterday while conversing with journalists, Home Minister Mr. Malek Ukil says this. He says, after the list of the persons arrested under Collaborator act verified with the order of general mercy, he has given approval to free all persons arrested under its jurisdiction. He says, according to the Collaborator Act number of total convicted persons is 37 thousand 4 hundred and 71 among which. Among these people, cases against 2,848 persons have been settled of 752 persons have been convicted and 2096 have been released. He says, in a newspaper the number of arrestees under collaborator act is 86 thousand which is not true; rather it is exaggerated. Home Minister says, many student leaders arrested and convicted under this act will get released. He says, life-imprisonment awarded former Governor East Pakistan M A Malek will get released along with his cabinet members. The persons among others will get released are Dr. Kazi Din Mohammad, Dr. Hasan Jaman, Dr. Sazzad Hossain, Dr. Mohor Ali(All are Collaborators and University Teachers) and Khan A Sabur. Home Minister says, persons freed will get back their properties and enjoy all facilities given to a citizen. The story that Bangabandhu himself went to receive Khan A Sabur has been solved through this news.

Finally, I am quoting the speech given by Bangabandhu broadcast and telecast on Radio and Television on 15December: after the revolution we did not kill those who were arrested and convicted as the enemies of liberation; rather we have forgiven them. We do not believe in the policy of jealousy and revenge. Consequently, those who were arrested and convicted under the Collaborator act have been shown a general mercy. They have been given all sorts of civic facilities as they would have enjoyed before. I believe, if persons misguided by others and followed the path of jealousy are repented will also be given same opportunity to build this nation.

Many things have come in consequence of the perspective of general mercy declaration. Those issues have been discussed and published. But the main thing I have not gotten as reference in any winterers’ writing. If this writing meets up that deficiency, my endeavor will be fruitful. Mine personal notion is, after the General Mercy Declaration had been made, Collaborator Ordinance was a bit mended, which is called amendment. But even after this, why it is not present in the gazette will always be an illusion.

Source: Doinik Bangla, Doinik Ittefaq, Doinik Banglar Bani and Bangladesh Observer. News Clippings have been used in the footage.

Courtesy: Ikram Neoaz Faraji Jisan

NOTE: The whole write-up is a translation of a blog post by Mr Safaet Hossain and his team translated the content from the Bengali blog post into English (edited by Rezwan).

Omi Rahman Pial is a well-known figure in Bengali Blog-sphere. He is also an historian of Bangladesh Liberation War and an activist demanding the trial of war criminals

Bangabandhu’s long shadow on History


Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a tall man for a Bangali but his larger than life image in history is not because of his physical size, it is because of his giant-like ability to mould events and his unique success is creating new reality in the form of an independent country.  Thus when he was tragically cut down along with his family members on this day in 1975, instead of being forgotten or diminished his memory has risen continuously, now containing the tragic aura of his death and creating for all Bangalis a timeless national myth.  In a survey of BBC listeners he was described as the Greatest Bangali of all times, even surpassing such legend as Rabindranath Thakur.

Death is common and inevitable; we all will succumb to it in one way or another.  But the truly great surpasses physical annihilation precisely because they manage to etch their presence in our collective psyche so powerfully that physical absence does not make them forgotten or invisible.  Bangabandhu etched in our minds a dream of Nationhood and then made  it  a reality through undaunted struggles lasting for a decade.  Through his life’s work he turned our diffuse aspiration for autonomy into a vibrant and inevitable struggle for National Freedom.  No death can ever make his work forgotten.

To me the awesome power of what he had managed to accomplish came long after I left Bangladesh .  In Bangladesh through the endless drama of unfolding events seen from close proximity I did not have a good perspective of the grand sweep of history that made our nation.  But after leaving Bangladesh in 1979, long after Bangabandhu had been killed I encountered the power of his presence in New York in front of the UN plaza one afternoon.  I remember standing there and witnessing the flag of Bangladesh fluttering in the wind.  But that flag resplendant in the green and red is also not what made me realize the role of Bangabandhu.  What made me realize the uniqueness of our Nationhood and his role in it is when I witnessed all afternoon processions after processions of diverse would-be nationalities coming to UN plaza and putting up the case of their own Nationhood.  Large masses of humanity, Kurds, Basques, Tamils, Palestinians, people who aspire for Nationhood, but perhaps would have hard time ever getting it,  congregated in front of  the UN and  showed their passionate wish in speeches, festoons, and through plain anguish on their faces.  I watched them intently for a few hours and suddenly it dawned on me how lucky we were that we have been blessed with those unique events in 1970 and 1971 that culminated in what even five years before, in 1965  would have been considered impossible.

To be sure at an abstract level Bangali Nationhood has been a  fuzzy poetic dream of many great Bangalis.  Rabindranath spoke about Bangladesh but never really saw it outside the map of India ; Netaji, though a great Bangali only thought in the context of United India; Shyamaprasad-  Fazlul Haque alliance was only a short dream and Suhrawardy-Sharat Basu proposal for united Bangla was only a proposed confederation.  It took  twenty plus years of tortuous journey through the dream of Pakistan for the audacious Bangali dream of complete and unquestionalble nationhood to emerge.   It took unique events of 1952 and then 1969 to mature it.  It took visionaries such as Sirajul Alam Khan to nurture it through days of adversity.  It transformed Awami League from a electoral party of Pakistan nurtured by Mr. Suhrawardy into an agent of National Liberation.  And through all these events it was the powerful persona of Bangabandhu that galvanized it, shaped it and propelled it in the direction of total and uncompromising nationhood.  It was a psychological transformation of stopping to  think about a province with autonomy, into thinking of a Nation.  And that audacity of dream was delivered by the win of Awami League in the National elections of 1970.  It was a grand strike where the volatile feeling of cultural awakening mixed with powerful electoral win and through blood and fire suddenly converted a whole population into a custodian of a true Nation.  It was a unique event in the history of South Asia and probably the most important event in the lives of Bangla speaking people.

Many years ago while describing India ’s independence Pandit Nehru wrote

 “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”

For us, that historic utterance was in Bangabandhu’s voice in Ramna in March 1971

 “The struggle this time is one of Independence ”.

Today let us remember him through those pronouncements that electrified the Bangali Nation.  For every day that Bangladesh lives we pay tribute to this great son of our soil, who through his passionate courage, and indomitable energy, harnessed the aspiration of our timeless yearning of nationhood and turned it into reality.

The events of 1975, tragic though they are will never tarnish or weaken the name of Bangabandhu.  He has made his mark on history itself; where his long shadow will display his presence for untold years to come.

Author : Abed Chaudhury