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    


Details of  our valued contributors for whom we can make this resourceful site for all Bangladeshis and others around the world.


Syed Rezwan Ali (Bir Protik)

Syed Rezwan Ali (Bir Protik)
Vice Charimen, ICRS (International Crime Reporters’ Society)
126/1/A, Shenpara Parbota, Mirpur-10, Dhaka-1216, Bangladesh

Syed Rezwan Ali is one out of few Bangladeshi soldiers to escape and to hijack an aircraft from Karachi, Pakistan to India in order to defect from the Pakistan Air Force and join the Liberation movement of Bangladesh in 1971. Syed Rezwan Ali, the ex-Bangladesh Air Force official who has fought against Pakistani enemy forces during the Liberation war and for his bravery and devoted participation in liberation war, he has been awarded with Bir Protik (Symbol of Bravery or Idol of Courage) is the fourth highest gallantry award in Bangladesh . Syed Rezwan Ali was in the front row of sector 8 under the direct command of Sector Commander Major Abu Osman Chowdury and Major M A Manzur.

This award was declared on 15 December 1973. A total of 426 people have received the award so far, all for their actions during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971.

We are grateful to him for his extraordinary support and direct co-operation of providing stories, articles, stills & videos with authenticated liberation war materials, without those we won’t be able to create such significant project of Bangabandhu, Bangladesh & Beyond…

REFERENCE : Bangladesh Gazette Notification No. 8/25/D-1/72-1378 Dated 15th December 1973.


Md Serajul Haque

MD Serajul Haq
Famous & Popular Educator in Amboula, Paisarhat, Barisal

Mr. Serajul Haque, The valiant freedom fighter of Bangladesh is one out of few repute war hero who has fought against Pakistani forces during 1971. His contribution towards freedom of Bangladesh is known to all in Barisal Division of Bangladesh. We are grateful to him for his extraordinary support of making this remarkable project. He fought under Sector 9 with Major M A Jalil, Major MA Manzur & Major Joynal Abedin during Liberation War.

The valiant freedom fighter of Bangladesh is one out of few repute war hero who has fought against Pakistani forces during 1971. His contribution towards freedom of Bangladesh is known to all in Barisal Division of Bangladesh. We are grateful to him for his extraordinary support of making this remarkable project. He fought under Sector 9 with Major M A Jalil, Major MA Manzur & Major Joynal Abedin during Liberation War.

Gazi Hafizur Rahman LIKU

Gazi Hafizur Rahman LIKU
Assignment Officer To The Hon’ble Prime Minister of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh
Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Mr. Gazi Hafijur Rahman has contributed us with valuable guidance and materials of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, His father was a fellow to our father of the Nation. we have collected rare footage and stills of our Bangabandhu through him which has made a positive impact on our work towards Bangabandhu, Bangladesh & Beyond…



Biography : Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Biography : Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Some of the biographers of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman have said that he was the most astonishing and much talked about leader in South East Asia. In an age of military coup d’etat he attained power through elections and mass upsurge; in an age of decline of democracy he firmly established democracy in one of the countries of Asia and in an age of “Strong Men” he spurned the opportunity of becoming a dictator and instead chose to become the elected Prime Minister. The way he turned a nonviolent non-cooperation movement of unarmed masses into an armed struggle that successfully brought into reality the liberation of a new nation and the creation of a new state in barely ten months will remain a wonder of history.

Sheikh Mujibur RahmanMarch 7, 1971 was a day of supreme test in his life. The leaders of the military junta of Pakistan were on that day eagerly waiting to trap him. A contingent of heavily armed Pakistani troops was poised near the Suhrawardy Uddyan to wait for an order to start massacre the people on the plea of suppressing a revolt that Bangabandhu was about to declare against Pakistan at the meeting he was going to address there.

In fact, the entire Bangladesh was then in a state of revolt. The sudden postponement of the scheduled session of the newly elected National Assembly and the reluctance of the military leaders to transfer power to the elected representatives of the people had driven the people to desperation and they were seeking the opportunity to break away from the Pakistani colonial rule. Nearly two million freedom-loving people who assembled at the Suhrawardy Uddyan that day had but one wish, only one demand : “Bangabandhu, declare independence; give us the command for the battle for national liberation.”

The Father of the Nation spoke in a calm and restrained language. It was more like a sacred hymn than a speech spellbinding two million people. His historic declaration in the meeting on that day was : “Our struggle this time is for freedom. Our struggle this time is for independence”. This was the declaration of independence for Bangladeshis, for their liberation struggle. But he did not give the Pakistani military rulers the opportunity to use their arms. He foiled their carefully laid scheme. In the same speech he took care to put forward four proposals for the solution of the problem in a constitutional way and kept the door open for negotiations.

He was taller than the average Bangalee, had the same dark complexion and spoke in a vibrant voice. But what special power gave him the magnetic qualities of drawing a mass of seventy-five million people to him? This question stirred the minds of many people at home and abroad. He was not educated abroad nor was he born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Yet he was as dear to the educated Bangladeshi compatriots as to the illiterate and half-educated masses. He inspired the intelligentsia and the working classes alike. He did not climb to leadership overnight. It has been a slow and steady process. He attained his enviable eminence the hard way. He began as an humble worker at the bottom rung. He arduously climbed to the position of a national leader and rose to the very pinnacle as the Father of the Nation.

He was born in a middle class Bangalee family and his political leadership arose out of the aims and aspirations of the ordinary Bangalee. He was inseparably linked with the hopes and aspirations, the joys and sorrows, the travails and triumphs of these ordinary people. He spoke their language. He gave voice to their hopes and aspirations. Year after year he spent the best days of his youth behind the prison bars. That is why his power was the power of the people.

Whoever has once come in contact with him has admitted that his personality, a mingling of gentle and stern qualities, had an uncanny magical attraction. He is as simple as a child yet unbending in courage; as strong as steel when necessary. Coupled with this was his incomparable strength of mind and steadfast devotion to his own ideals. He was a nationalist in character, a democrat in behavior, a socialist in belief and a secularist by conviction.

Bangabandbu had to move forward step by step in his struggle. He had to change the tactics and the slogans of the movement several times. It can thus be said that though the period of direct struggle for freedom was only nine months, the indirect period of this struggle spread over 25 years. This 25-year period can be divided into several stages. These are : (a) organizational stage of the democratic movement; (b) movement against BPC or Basic Principles Committee’s report; (c) language movement; (d) forging of electoral unity and the victory of the democratic United Front; (e) military rule; (f) movement against the military rule; (g) movement for autonomy; (h) the historic Six-Point movement; (i) electoral victory and the non-cooperation movement; and j) armed liberation struggle.

Bangabandhu has been closely associated with every phase of this 25-year long struggle for freedom and independence. Bangladesh and Bangabandhu have, therefore, become inseparable. We cannot speak of one without the other.

While still adolescent, he took his first political lesson from Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, a leading political personality of the then Bangladesh. It was in Faridpur that Young Suhrawardy and adolescent Sheikh Mujib came to know each other. Both of them were attracted to each other from that first acquaintance. Adolescent Mujib grew up under the gathering gloom of the storm-tossed politics of the sub-continent and the Second World War. He witnessed the ravages of war and the stark realities of the 1943 famine and the epidemics in which about five million people lost their lives. The miserable plight of the people under colonial rule turned him into a rebel.

He passed his matriculation examination in 1942. His studies had been interrupted for about four years due to an attack of beriberi. He got acquainted with the revolutionary activities of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose during the Hallwell Monument movement in Calcutta. Suhrawardy’s staunchly logical approach and Subhash Bose’s spirit of dedication influenced him immensely. He was influenced by another great leader, “Sher-e-Bangla” A.K. Fazlul Huq and his political philosophy of the plain fare (“dal-bhat”) for all. At that very early stage he realised that in a poor exploited country political programmes must be complimentary to economic programmes.

He completed his college education in Calcutta. His sojourn to the prisons began in his teens. He first spent six days in a prison for participating in a political movement. While he was a student in Calcutta, he moved the natural eddies of the political movements of the subcontinent and got himself associated with the Muslim League and the Pakistan movement. But soon after the creation of Pakistan and the partition of Bengal in 1947, he realised that his people had not attained real independence. What had happened was a change of masters. Bangladesh would have to make preparations for independence movement a second time.

He graduated in the same year and came to develop a deep acquaintance with the works of Bernard Shaw. Karl Marx and Rabindranath Tagore. The horizon of his thought process began to expand from that time. He realised that Bangladesh was a geographical unit and its geographical nationalism was separate; its economic, political and cultural characters were also completely different from those of the western part of Pakistan. Over and above, linguistic differences and a physical distance of about 1,500 miles between them made the two parts of Pakistan totally separate from each other.

He could, therefore, realize that by keeping the two areas under the forced bonds of one state structure in the name of religious nationalism, rigid political control and economic exploitation would be perpetrated on the eastern part. This would come as a matter of course because the central capital and the economic and military headquarters of Pakistan had all been set up in the western part.

The new realization and political thinking took roots in his mind as early as 1948. He was then a student in the Law faculty of Dhaka University. A movement was launched that very year on the demand to make Bengali one of the state languages of Pakistan. In fact, this movement can be termed as the first stirrings of the movement of an independent Bangladesh. This demand for cultural freedom gradually led to the demand for national independence. During that language movement, Bangabandhu was arrested on March 11, 1948. During the blood-drenched language movement of 1952 also he was pushed behind the bars and took up leadership of the movement from inside the jail.

Bangabandhu was also in the forefront of the movement against the killing of policemen by the army in Dhaka in 1948. He was imprisoned for lending his support to the strike movement of the lower grade employees of Dhaka University. He was expelled from the University even before he came out of the prison.

In 1950, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan of Pakistan announced the Basic Principles Committee’s report for framing a constitution. This report manipulated to turn the majority of Bangladesh into a minority through subterfuges, and to make Urdu the state language. There was a spontaneous countrywide upsurge in Bangladesh against this report and the Bangabandhu was at its forefront.

Bangabandhu was elected Joint Secretary of the newly formed political organization, the Awami League. Previously he had been the leader of the progressive students’ organization, the Chhatra League. In 1953 he was elected General Secretary of the Awami League.

Elections to the then Provincial Assembly of Bangladesh was held in 1954. A democratic electoral alliance-the United Front-against the ruling Muslim League was forged during that election. The 21 -point demand of the United Front included full regional autonomy for Bangladesh and making of Bengali one of the state languages.

The United Front won the elections on the basis of the 21 -point programme and Bangabandhu was elected member of the Provincial Assembly. He joined the Huq Cabinet of the United Front as its youngest Minister. The anti-people ruling clique of Pakistan dissolved this Cabinet soon and the Bangabandhu was thrown into prison.

In 1955 he was elected member of the second Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. He was again appointed a Minister when the Awami League formed the Provincial Cabinet in 1956. But he voluntarily left the Cabinet in July 1957 in order to devote himself fully to the task of reorganizing the party.

General Ayub Khan staged a military coup in Pakistan in 1958 and the Bangabandhu was arrested on various charges and innumerable cases were framed against him. He got back his freedom after 14 months of solitary confinement but was re-arrested in February 1962.


The Bangabandhu revived the Awami League after the death of Mr. H.S. Suhrawardy in 1963. By that time the military Junta had lifted the ban on political parties. Thus the Awami League began its constitutional struggle under the leadership of the Bangabandhu to realize the demand for self-determination of the Bangalees.

The Bangabandhu placed his historic Six-Point programme at a political conference in Lahore in 1966. This programme called for a federal state structure for Pakistan and full autonomy for Bangladesh with a parliamentary democratic system. The Six- Point programme became so popular in a short while that it was turned into the Charter of Freedom for the Bangladeshis or their Magna Carta. The Army Junta of Pakistan threatened to use the language of weapons against the Six-Point movement and the Bangabandhu was arrested under the Defence Rules on May 8, 1966. The powerful mass upsurge that burst forth throughout Bangladesh in protest against this arrest of the Bangabandhu came to be known as June Movement.

On June 17, 1968 he was removed from Dhaka Central Jail to Kurmitola Cantonment and was charged with conspiring to make Bangladesh independent with the help of India. This case is known as the Agartala Conspiracy case. He was the No. 1 accused in the case. While the trial was in progress in the court of a military tribunal the administration of the military junta collapsed as a consequence of a great mass upsurge in Bangladesh at the beginning of 1969.

As a result, he was released together with all the other co-accused. The case was withdrawn and the Bangabandhu was invited to a Round Table Conference at the capital of Pakistan. At this conference President Ayub Khan requested Bangabandhu to accept the Prime Ministership of Pakistan. Bangabandhu rejected the offer and remained firm in his demand for the acceptance of his Six-Point programme.

President Ayub Khan stepped down from power on March 25, 1969 and General Yahya Khan took over the leadership of the army junta, Apprehending a new movement in Bangladesh he promised to re-establish democratic rule in Pakistan and made arrangements for holding the first general elections in December, 1970. Under the leadership of the Bangabandhu. the Awami League won an absolute majority in the elections. The military junta was unnerved by the results of the elections. The conspiracy then started to prevent the transfer of power. The session of the newly elected National Assembly was scheduled for March 3, 1971. By an order on March 1, General Yahya postponed this session.

It acted like a spark to the powder keg; entire Bangladesh burst into flames of political upheaval. The historic non-cooperation movement began. For all practical purposes Bangabandhu took over the civil -administration of Bangladesh. The military junta however began to increase the strength of its armed forces in Bangladesh secretly and to kill innocent Bangalees at different places.

Yahya Khan came to Dhaka by the middle of March to have talks with Bangabandhu. Mr. Zulflqar Ali Bhutto and other leaders also came a few days later. When everybody was feeling that the talks were going to be successful Yahya Khan stealthily left Dhaka in the evening of March 25. The barbarous genocide throughout Bangladesh began from that midnight.

Bangabandhu was arrested at midnight of March 25 and was flown to the western wing. But before he was arrested, he formally declared independence of Bangladesh and issued instructions to all Bangladeshis, including those in the armed forces and in the police to take up arms to drive out the Pakistani occupation forces.

For ten long months from March 1971 to January 1972 Bangabandhu was confined in a death-cell in the Pakistani prison. His countrymen did not even know if he was dead or alive. Still, stirred by his inspiration, the nation threw itself heart and soul into the hick of the liberation war and by the middle of December the whole of Bangladesh was cleared of the occupation forces.

Freed from the Pakistani prison, the Bangabandhu came back home on January 10, 1972 and stepped down from the Presidentship and took up the responsibility as the Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh on 12 January 1972. Immediately he took steps for the formulation of the Constitution of the country and to place it before the Constituent Assembly. After the passage of the Constitution on 4 November 1972, his party won an overwhelming majority in the elections held on 7 March 1973 and took up the responsibility of running the administration of the country for another five-year term. After the fourth amendment of the constitution on 25 January 1975 (changing the form of Government from the Parliamentary to the Presidential system), the Bangabandhu entered upon the office of the President of Bangladesh. Within three years of independence he put the war-ravaged country along the path of political stability and economic reconstruction. On 15 August 1975, he along with all the members (excluding two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana who were abroad) of his family were brutally assassinated by a splinter group of armed forces.

The Bangabandhu is the Father of the Nation. His state philosophy has four pillars: Nationalism, Democracy, Socialism and Secularism. His foreign policy opened up new horizons of peace, cooperation and non-alignment throughout Asia. He visited many countries of Asia and Europe including China and the Soviet Union. Statesmen of many countries of Asia countries were his personal friends. He was awarded Julio Curie Peace Prize for his being a symbol of world peace and cooperation. In the eyes of the people in the third world, he is the harbinger of peace and development in Asia.