It’s Bangabandhu, not Zia HC rules Sheikh Mujib declared independence

In a watershed judgment, the High Court yesterday ruled that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, not Ziaur Rahman, proclaimed the republic’s independence on March 26, 1971. The proclamation was relayed by Kalurghat Betar Kendra (radio centre) in Chittagong the following day, it added. Observers say the judgment will help end the long, bitter wrangle over a significant episode of the country’s independence history.

The unwanted debate over a settled issue began after the assassination of Ziaur Rahman in 1981 with his party BNP claiming he was the proclaimer of independence, not Bangabandhu. The HC bench comprised of Justice ABM Khairul Haque and Justice Mamtazuddin Ahmed yesterday dismissed that claim, which had befuddled many over the Liberation War history. It also ordered cancellation of second edition of the third instalment of 15-volume war documents that portray Zia as the declarer of independence. The Liberation War affairs ministry brought out the publications during the BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government in June 2004. The court said the government could take actions against those who sought to rewrite history. In the judgment containing several rulings and observations, it directed the administration to confiscate the books presenting Zia as proclaimer of independence. It also ordered the government to ensure that textbooks at all levels and for all mediums have the facts about the independence struggle.

The HC gave its verdict after reviewing all relevant documents, books, newspapers published at home and abroad in March 1971, and arguments of the lawyers. It directed the Attorney General’s Office and the petitioner to send a copy of the judgment to the education ministry.

The debate had the nation deeply split for nearly three decades, much to success of those relentlessly trying to warp the young minds. The most damaging was inclusion of distorted history in the textbooks. The judgment, first of its kind, came in response to a writ petition filed by freedom fighter MA Salam. Salam filed the petition as public interest litigation (PIL) on April 19, seeking court directives to stop distortion of history. Later, Wing Commander (retd) Hamidullah Khan, a freedom fighter and BNP leader, became party to the case, opposing the petition. Former chief of army staff Lt Gen (retd) Harun-ar-Rashid endorsed the petition and became involved in the proceedings on behalf of the Sector Commanders Forum. The court completed hearing last month.


The High Court bench observed that the Proclamation of Independence published on April 10, 1971, states beyond doubt that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made the declaration of independence. The Proclamation is protected by article 150 of the constitution and thus cannot be changed at will, it added. The court also declared illegal and unconstitutional the publications of the third volume of the books titled ‘Swadhinata Juddho: Dalilpatra’ (The Liberation War of Bangladesh: Documents). It directed the government to confiscate the books painting late president Ziaur Rahman as declarer of independence. Besides, it wants the government to stop sale, distribution and reprint of the books at home and abroad. The bench said the government might take initiative to bring to trial those involved in attempts to establish an untrue version of the Liberation War. It observed that the persons responsible have in fact committed an offence against the nation and the constitution.

The committee formed by the BNP-led alliance government to write and print history of the Liberation War had recommended that Ziaur Rahman be declared as the independence proclaimer in place of Bangabandhu, without having any authentic documents at its disposal. The court, however, said Zia had a valuable contribution to the independence war, and that he never claimed in his lifetime to be the proclaimer. Additional Attorney General M Enayetur Rahim, petitioner’s counsel Manzil Murshid, and Muntasir Mamun, a professor of history at Dhaka University, were present at the court during delivery of the judgment. They hailed the judgment as an epoch-making event. Talking to The Daily Star, they hope it would help restore the authenticated narrative of the Liberation War.


Originally, the information ministry compiled and published the documentary evidence of the Liberation War in 15 parts in 1982. Edited by Hasan Hafizur Rahman, those were reprinted in 2003. The Liberation War affairs ministry, set up during the BNP alliance regime, changed some of the facts in the second edition published in 2004. It deleted the first document of the third part that contained Declaration of Independence made in the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and broadcast from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra on March 26, 1971. Instead, it included a document stating that Major Ziaur Rahman first declared independence from ‘Biplobi Betar Kendra [Chittagong]’ on March 27, wherein he claimed to be the ‘provisional president and commander-in-chief of the liberation army’. The second document of the third part stated that Zia made another declaration on March 28 from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, this time on behalf of Mujib. In the first edition, the date was March 27. As the second edition caused an outcry, officials told The Daily Star, the then secretary Dr Mahbubul Alam had asked to stop selling the volume published under a Tk 5-crore project. Following his verbal orders, officials withdrew thousands of copies from the press.


According to the petition, the government on February 13, 1979, constituted an authentication committee for writing and printing history of the Liberation War. Dr Mofizullah Kabir was the committee chairman and Hasan Hafizur Rahman member-secretary. The books published by this committee in November 1982 were reprinted in December 2003. Both editions said Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence on March 26, 1971. Besides, the petitioner says, the fact was recognised in the Proclamation of Independence. The Liberation War affairs ministry on approval of the then prime minister Khaleda Zia formed a committee to reprint the 15-volume books. Rejaul Karim, Prof M Moniruzzaman Mia, Prof Emazuddin Ahmed, Barrister Moinul Hossain, Dr Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, Prof Sirajul Islam, Prof KM Mohsin, Prof Abul Kalam Monjur Morshed and Prof Jasim Uddin Ahmed were members of the committee. In June 2004, the committee published the books giving an inaccurate report of the declaration of independence. During hearing of the petition, the court assigned Barrister M Amir-Ul Islam, one of those involved in framing the Proclamation of Independence, as amicus curiae (friend of the court) on the issue

Author : Julfikar Ali Manik and Ashutosh Sarkar?

Bangabandhu The generator of Bangalee nationalism


BANGABANDHU SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN DEDICATED his life to establishing a democratic, peaceful and exploitation-free society called “Sonar Bangla” – Golden Bengal. He sacrificed his life to liberate the Bangalee nation, which had been groaning under the colonial and imperialist yoke for nearly 1,000 years. He is the founding father of the Bangalee nation, generator of Bangalee nationalism and creator of the sovereign state of Bangladesh.

My father spent nearly half his life behind bars and yet with extraordinary courage and conviction he withstood numerous trials and tribulations during the long period of his political struggle. During his imprisonment, he stood face to face with death on at least two occasions, but never for a moment did he waver.

As a daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I heard many tales about him from my grandfather and grandmother. He was born on Mar. 17, 1920 in Tungipara, in what was then the British Raj. During the naming ceremony my great-grandfather predicted that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would be a world-famous name.

My father grew up rural – amid rivers, trees, birdsong. He flourished in the free atmosphere inspired by his grandparents. He swam in the river, played in the fields, bathed in the rains, caught fish and watched out for birds’ nests. He was lanky, yet played football. He liked to eat plain rice, fish, vegetables, milk, bananas and sweets. His care and concern for classmates, friends and others was well-known. He gave away his tiffin to the hungry, clothes to the naked, books to the needy and other personal belongings to the poor. One day, my grandfather told me, he gave his clothes to a poor boy and came home in his shawl.

At the age of 7, he began his schooling, though an eye ailment forced a four-year break from his studies. He married at the age of 11 when my mother was 3. He demonstrated leadership from the beginning. Once in 1939, he led classmates to demand repair of the school’s roof – just when the premier of then undivided Bengal happened to be in town. Despite a deep involvement in politics, in 1946 he obtained a BA.

Bangabandhu The generator

Bangabandhu was blessed from boyhood with leadership, indomitable courage and great political acumen. He played an active role in controlling communal riots during the India-Pakistan partition. He risked his life for the cause of truth and justice. He rose in protest in 1948 against the declaration of Urdu as the state language of Pakistan and was arrested the following year. He pioneered the movement to establish Bangla as the state language. In 1966, he launched a six-point program for the emancipation of Bangalees. In 1969, my father was acclaimed Bangabandhu, Friend of Bengal. His greatest strength (and weakness) was his “love for the people.” He is an essential part of the emotional existence of all Bangalees.

The appearance of Bangladesh on the world map in 1971 was the culmination of a long-suppressed national urge. On Mar. 7, 1971, my father addressed a mammoth public meeting in Dhaka and declared: “The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation, the struggle now is the struggle for Independence.” He sent a wireless message, moments after a crackdown by the Pakistani army, declaring the Independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of Mar. 26. The world knows he courted arrest – and yet Bangabandhu emerged as the unquestioned leader of a newborn country.

Once in power, my father pursued a non-aligned, independent foreign policy based on peaceful coexistence. Its basic tenet: “Friendship to all, malice to none.” He advocated world peace and declared his support for all freedom struggles. He supported the concept of a “Zone of Peace” in the Indian Ocean. In 1974, he was awarded the Julio Curie Prize for his devotion to the cause of peace.

But at a time when Bangladesh was emerging as an advocate for oppressed nations, his foes assassinated him on Aug. 15, 1975. My mother and three brothers were also killed. Even my younger brother Sheikh Russel, who was then nine, was not spared. The only survivors were my younger sister Sheikh Rehana and myself; we were on a trip to Germany.

Consequently, the political ideals for which Bangladesh sacrificed three million of her finest sons and daughters were trampled, and Bangladesh became a puppet in the hands of imperialism and autocracy. By assassinating Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the conspirators wanted to stop the country’s march to freedom, democracy, peace and development. The process of law and justice were not permitted to take their course; human rights were violated. It is, therefore, the solemn responsibility of freedom- and peace-loving people to help ensure the trial of the plotters and killers of this great leader, my father.

Author : Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is the prime minister of Bangladesh.

Raising A Child On The Spectrum

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive and debilitating childhood syndrome. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that has no known cause or cure although many viable theories exist. ASD affects how a child develops his/her ability to learn from its environment, be it in the area of language, gross motor behaviour (such as running or walking up steps), fine motor (like writing or holding a pencil), daily living skills ( like using the toilet, buttoning their shirt), and in their ability to interact with others. Although there are some well known indicators of autism, each child’s presentation of the disorder is unique.

Therefore it is recommended that the treatment strategy should be planned according to the needs of the child and the family. Autism occurs when the normal development of the brain is affected for some yet unknown reason, and the brain does not develop within the normal parameters. Hence adaptive behaviours are not acquired adequately and the child does not learn to acquire age appropriate behaviours, such as, making eye contact, responding to their name when called and learning to communicate both verbally and or nonverbally. In this vacuum of learning through observation, many behaviours and mannerisms appropriate in children in the first year or two continue to remain even to adulthood. That is why an early detection, followed by treatment that encompasses all the areas, is of utmost importance. In many cases with early detection and appropriate intervention starting as early as 1-3 years of age can achieve normal developmental milestones. It is equally important that treatment plans include strategies that use the child’s strengths and interests to deal with their areas of weakness.

A positive intervention strategy needs to first and foremost target the ASD child’s ability to communicate with his/her caregivers. Hence language skills need to be assessed: both what the child understands and is able to speak. A child with ASD frequently has weak muscles in their hands and fingers, or they are hypersensitive to textures, which leads to an inability to learn the simple activity of using a spoon or a pencil. Difficulties controlling their impulses, a tendency to express their angst in a physical manner, are all behaviours typical of a toddler. Most children as they grow older learn to replace these behaviours with verbal expressions which the child with ASD does not have.

Therefore it is also of the utmost importance to teach the parents strategies on how to handle these meltdowns, or use rewards to change socially inappropriate behaviours. Even as much as 10 years ago, it was believed that a majority of children with ASD were also functioning significantly below the average range of intelligence. Latest research has indicated otherwise. Current measures of intellectual functioning such as the Wechsler, Binet and Reynolds are not designed to take into account certain areas of significant weakness seen in ASD children. Which is why they should not be viewed as an overall indicator of intellectual functioning, but rather as measure of their strengths and weaknesses. Many children with mild autism and Asperger’s Syndrome can achieve high levels of intellectual success. We have authors, poets, scientists, artists who are all within the spectrum.

Many adults with autism are successful in their various careers and are contributing members of society. A supportive family, early and appropriate intervention targeting their areas of weakness has enabled them to succeed at home, in school and society as a whole. A mother raising her child with special needs has to be braver and stronger than the average parent. Things that most of us as parents take for granted, such as seeing that first smile, our child reaching their arms out to be picked up, hearing their first words, are not what these mothers are rewarded with. Children who have autism get mesmerized by a flickering light or the changing shades on the window. They tend to shy away from people because we overwhelm them. All our changing expressions, tones of voice, facial movements that we inadvertently emulate during a conversation are almost too much information for their brain to process simultaneously.

Therefore, from only a few months of age children with autism shy away and are unable to process and integrate average conversational behaviour. Soon this behaviour of attending to the various aspects of a conversation disappears from their normal repertoire of responses. Thus from a very young age they stop learning how to conduct conversational behaviour and hence do not acquire this typical developmental milestone. So in order to behave like the average child, the child with ASD has to be taught to recognize the varying facial expressions, changing tones, and respond back in a similar manner.

ASD affects not only how the child experiences the world around them but also how their families function in society. These children are beautiful, intelligent, creative and talented. They are not crazy or handicapped. They deserve our compassion, our understanding, our respect and our help. We as a developing nation need to create an environment where there is acceptance and tolerance for differences. All children are miracles from God. I would go so far as to say that how we as Bangladeshis treat our children with special needs is a reflection on how we are going to advance as a nation. A nation that does not help and respect our most vulnerable members is a society that is destined to be unsuccessful.

Author :  Sheikh Hasina’s daughter Saima Hossain Putul

Source: www.bdnews24.com, September 15, 2010

Bloodbath on Road 32

Even after 35 years of the gruesome massacre on Road 32, the event needs to be retold for the nation to know the brutality with which the killers swung into accomplishing a mission — annihilating Bangabandhu and his family.

The reprint of the story based on interviews of the survivors and their accounts at the court during the trial of the killings was thought to be worth it for the detail it speaks of.


It was not dawn yet. A false dawn spread its pale light across the sky. At House 677 of Road 32 in Dhanmondi, it was time to change guards while everybody was still in deep sleep: President Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, wife Begum Mujib, sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russell, daughters-in-law, and brother Sheikh Naser.

Bangabandhu’s personal assistant AFM Mohitul Islam was on night duty, but he hit the bed around one in the morning. Suddenly the phone rang and he sleepily picked up the receiver. At the other end was the President himself. The clock was about to strike five.

“Get the police control room,” Bangabandhu ordered Mohitul. Mujib just got the message that his brother-in-law Abdur Rab Serniabat’s house was under attack.

Mohitul dialled the police but the line did not get through. He then tried to reach the Ganobhaban exchange. Somebody picked up the phone at the other end but would not speak.

Mujib was impatient and asked him why he did not contact the police control room. Shakily, Mohitul gave the President the bad news — he cannot reach anybody.

Irritated, Bangabandhu took away the telephone receiver from Mohitul.

“This is President Sheikh Mujib speaking,” he thundered.

Just then a hail of bullets slammed Mohitul’s office room and shattered the windowpanes.

Bangabandhu had little idea that the assassination mission had started. Little did he know he would not live to see the false dawn turning into a morning darker than night.


It was also in this false dawn that Havildar Md Quddus Sikder along with seven other guards were hoisting the national flag to the tune of bugle at Bangabandhu’s residence. It was time for the guard changeover. Then he heard gunshots coming from the lakeside.

The guards immediately took position behind the boundary wall. They were baffled and were still looking for bullets to retaliate when some army men in black and khaki uniform thundered into the house through the gate.

“Put your hands up,” they shouted at the guards. The tragedy showed its first signs.

Inside Mohitul’s office, Bangabandhu stepped beside a table and pulled Mohitul to the ground. Right then house help Abdul brought Bangabandhu’s punjabi and glasses from the first floor. The president quickly put them on and came out into the veranda.

He shouted at the sentries.

“There have been firings all around. What are you doing?”

And off he went to the upper floor where his wife, sons Russell, Jamal and wife Parvin Jamal Rosy and brother Sheikh Abu Naser were sleeping. He did not realise this would be his last meeting with his family.


House help Rama was sleeping on the veranda in front of Bangabandhu’s bedroom. It was around five in the morning. Suddenly the door opened and Begum Mujib emerged.

“Criminals have attacked Serniabat’s residence,” she said.

Rama sprang up from his sleep. He ran down in panic and went outside the front gate and saw some army men advancing toward the House 677 with weapons raised and firing bullets in the air. An unknown fear gripped him. The immediate person he thought of informing about this impending peril was Sheikh Kamal, Bangabandhu’s elder son.

He again entered the house and ran up to the second floor where Kamal and his wife Sultana were staying. He woke Kamal up and somehow blurted out that the army had attacked their house.

Kamal quickly put on his trousers and a shirt and ran to the ground floor. Rama took Kamal’s wife Sultana to the first floor where the rest of the family was sleeping.

Rama also woke up Jamal who put on a shirt and trousers and went to his mother’s room. His wife followed him there.

All hell broke loose outside as bullets pinged and whizzed around. He heard somebody groaning downstairs. Little did he know that his brother Kamal was getting mutilated by those stinging bullets.


Mohitul saw Kamal coming down to the ground floor. He stood on the veranda and roared: “Army and police members, please come with me.” He was trying to locate the sentries.

Just then the killers appeared — three to four army men in khaki and black fatigues. Automatic weapons held at waist level in front of them. They stopped right in front of Kamal. Mohitul and Nurul Islam, a police officer, stood dumbfounded behind Kamal.

Mohitul recognised Major Bazlul Huda in khaki uniform. He had met him before. Without a warning, Huda shot Kamal first in the leg. Kamal jumped to Mohitul’s side by the reception room.

“Tell them I am Sheikh Mujib’s son Sheikh Kamal.”

“Don’t shoot him,” Mohitul pleaded. “He is Sheikh Kamal. Sheikh Mujib’s son.”

The killers could not care less. Guns blazed again and bullets bored through Kamal again. He fell dead.


Kamal was only the first small game for the killers. They were looking for the giant. They asked some soldiers to keep watch on Mohitul and the police officer who also suffered a bullet wound in the leg.

In heavy steps they hurried to the first floor where their main target lived. After some time, Mohitul heard the loud voice of Bangabandhu. Gunshots rang out. Mohitul did not know what was happening up there. All he could do is hope that Bangabandhu was not hurt.

But Havildar Quddus saw the terrible event playing out before his eyes.

He was detained from the moment the killers had gone inside the residence boundary. Now they ordered him to follow them to the first floor. He numbly obeyed.

As Huda and Nur stepped on the landing of the staircase, Major Mohiuddin and his soldiers appeared at the top. With them was Bangabandhu. They were coming down.

Quddus was just behind Huda and Nur. Nur said something in English that he could not understand. To this, Major Mohiuddin and his men moved to the side.

“What do you want?” Bangabandhu asked.

Nobody answered.

Suddenly, Huda and Nur pulled the triggers and bullets from their Sten guns rained down on Bangabandhu.

The president collapsed on the stairs, silently, and died and blood flowed first around the landing and then down the stairs. He was still holding his favourite tobacco pipe in one hand and a matchbox in the other.

Mohiuddin, Nur, Huda and others went down and out of the gate through the south side of the house.

For them, the mission was accomplished.


Rama saw Bangabandhu dying in a hail of bullets. He was walking behind the group of Mohiuddin who brought the president out of his room. The killing over, the army men ordered Rama to get lost.

Trembling and feeling weak in his knees, Rama slipped into the bathroom of Begum Mujib’s room. Sultana Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and his wife Rosy, Sheikh Russell and Sheikh Naser were all holed up there. Naser was bleeding from his hand.

Rama told Begum Mujib that Bangabandhu had been killed.

Just then the killers returned and kept knocking on the door. The soldiers were too impatient to wait. They fired on the door. A terrifying moment of noise, cordite, flying bullets and splinters.

Then Begum Mujib softly said, “If we will have to die, let’s die together.” And she opened the door and begged for the lives of her family members.

The army men then herded Sheikh Naser, Sheikh Russell, Begum Mujib and Rama towards the stairs.

Begum Mujib stopped as she saw Bangabandhu lying in a pool of blood on the stairs. She broke into tears and said: “I won’t go further. Kill me here.”

The killers took Begum Mujib back into her room. Quddus then witnessed another most terrible thing that was to haunt him for the rest of his life. Major Aziz Pasha and Risaldar Muslemuddin started firing from their Sten guns. Begum Mujib, Sheikh Jamal, his wife Rosy, and Kamal’s wife Sultana stumbled on the ground with bullets in their bodies.


The killers took Naser, Russell and Rama to the ground floor and made them stand in a line beside Mohitul.

Sheikh Naser pleaded: “I am not into politics, I do business for a living.”

Mohitul heard an army officer telling Naser, “We won’t hurt you. Take your seat in that room.”

He took Naser into the bathroom attached to Mohitul’s office and opened fire.

Mohitul could hear Sheikh Naser begging for water. One of the army men winked at another, “Go and give him some water.”

Then the other army person went inside the bathroom and shot Naser again.


The most horrifying thing happened next. The killers went up and came down with Russell, Bangabandhu’s 10-year-old son — bewildered and devastated. He first held Rama close and then Mohitul.

“Bhaiya (brother), Will they kill me too?” the child asked.

“No Bhaiya, they won’t kill you,” Mohitul said. He had no idea what was next.

An army man in khaki uniform wrenched Russell away from Mohitul. The child wanted to go back to his mother.

“Take him to his mother,” Major Pasha ordered an army havildar.

The havildar with a mischievous smile held Russell by his hand and took him to the first floor. Russell was wailing. Then came another burst of gunshots.

A little later, Major Farooq Rahman met Bazlul Huda at the gate.

“All are finished,” Huda announced.

Author – Inam Ahmed & Julfikar Ali Manik

Political Profile of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Political Profile of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born in a respectable Muslim family on 17 March 1920, in Tungipara village under the then Gopalganj subdivision (at present district) of Faridpur district. He was the third child among four daughters and two sons of Sheikh Lutfar Rahman and Siara Begum. His parents used to call him Khoka out of affection. Bongobondhu spent his childhood in Tungipara.
At the age of seven, Bongobondhu began his schooling at Gimadanga primary school. At nine, he was admitted to class three at Gopalganj public school. Subsequently, he was transferred to a local missionary school.
Bongobondhu was forced to go for a break of study when, at the age of fourteen, one of his eyes had to be operated on.
Bongobondhu returned to school after a break of four years caused by the severity of the eye operation.
At eighteen, Mujib married Begum Fazilatnnesa. They subsequently became the happy parents of two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, and three sons, Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel. All the sons were to be killed along with their parents on 15 August 1975.
Bongobondhu’s political career was effectively inaugurated while he was a student at Gopalganj missionary school. He led a group of students to demand that the cracked roof of the school be repaired when Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Huq, Prime Minister of undivided Bengal, came to visit the school along with Husein Shaheed Suhrawardy, later chief minister of Bangla and even later prime minister of Pakistan.
Sheikh Mujib joined the Nikhil Bharat Muslim Chhatra Federation (All India Muslim Students Federation). He was elected to a one-year term.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman passed the Entrance (currently Secondary School Certificate) Examination. He then took admission as an intermediate student in the Humanities faculty of Calcutta Islamia College, where he had lodgings at Baker Hostel. That same year Bangabandhu got actively involved with the movement for the creation of Pakistan.
Sheikh Mujib’s busy and active political career took off in the literal sense with his election as a councilor of the Muslim League.
Bangabandhu took part in the conference of the All Bengal Muslim Students League held in Kushtia, where he played an important role. He was also elected secretary of Faridpur District Association, a Calcutta-based organization of the residents of Faridpur.
Sheikh Mujib was elected General Secretary of Islamia College Students Union.
Bangabandhu obtained Bachelor of Arts degree from Islamia College under Calcutta University. When communal riots broke out in the wake of the partition of India and the birth of Pakistan, Bangabandhu played a pioneering role in protecting Muslims and trying to contain the violence.
Bangabandhu took admission in he Law Department of Dhaka University. He founded the Muslim Students League on 4 January. He rose in spontaneous protest on 23rd February when Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin in his speech at the Legislative Assembly declared : “The people of East Pakistan will accept Urdu as their state language.”
Khwaja Nazimuddin’s remarks touched off a storm of protest across the country. Sheikh Mujib immediately plunged into hectic activities to build a strong movement against the Muslim League’s premeditated, heinous design to make Urdu the only state language of Pakistan. He established contracts with students and political leaders. On 2 March, a meeting of the workers of different political parties was held to chart the course of the movement against the Muslim League on the language issue. The meeting held at Fazlul Huq Hall approved desolation placed by Bangabandhu to form an All-Part State League age Action Council.
The Action Council called for a general strike on 11 March to register its protest against the conspiracy of the Muslim League against Bangla. On 11 March, Bangabandhu was arrested along with some colleagues while the were holding a demonstration in front of the Secretariat building. The student community of the country rose in protest following the arrest of Bangabandhu. In the face of the strong student movement the Muslim League government was forced to release Bangabandhu and other student leaders on 15 march. Following his release, the All-Party State Language Action Council held a public rally at Dhaka University Bat Tala on 16 March. Bangabandhu presided over the rally, which were soon sets upon by the police.
To protest the police action Bangabandhu immediately announced a countrywide student strike for 17 March. Later, on 19 May, Bangabandhu led a movement in support of the Dhaka University Class Four employees struggling to redress the injustice done to them by their employers. Mujib was arrested again on 11 September.
Sheikh Mujib was released from jail on 21 January. Bangabandhu extended his support to a strike called by the Class Four employees of Dhaka University to press home their various demands. The university authorities illogically imposed a fine on him for leading the movement of the employees. He rejected the unjust order. Eventually, the anti-Muslim League candidate Shamsul Huq won a by-election in Tangail on 26 April, Mujib was arrested for staging a sit-in strike before the vice-chancellor’s residence. When the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League was formed on 23 June, Bangabandhu was elected its joint secretary despite his incarceration. He was released in late June. Immediately after his release, he began organizing an agitation against the prevailing food crisis. In September he was detained for violating Section 144. Later, however, he was freed.
He raised the demand for Chief Minister Nurul Amin’s resignation at a meeting of the Awami Muslim League in October. Immediately afterward, he was arrested again alone with Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani for leading a delegation to Liaquat Ali Khan. That was towards the end of October.
On the first of January, the Awami Muslim League brought out an anti-famine procession in Dhaka on the occasion of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s visit to the province. Once again Bangabandhu was arrested and jailed, this time for two years, for leading the demonstration.
On 26 January, Khwaja Nazimuddin declared that Urdu would be the state language of Pakistan. Though still in jail, Bangabandhu managed to play a leading role in organizing a protest against this announcement. From prison he sent out a call to the State Language Action Council to obverse 21 February as Demand Day for releasing political prisoners and making Bangla the state language. He began a hunger strike on 14 February. On 21 February the student community violated Section 144 and brought out a procession in Dhaka to demand the recognition of Bangla as the state language. Police opened fire, killing in the process Salam, Barkat, Rafique, Jabbar and Shafiur, who thus became martyrs of the Language Movement. In a statement from jail, Bangabandhu condemned the police firing and registered his strong protest. He was on hunger strike for 13 consecutive days. He was moved from Dhaka central jail to Faridpur Jail to prevent him from making contact with the organizers of the movement. He was released from jail on 26 February.
On 9 July, Mujib was elected general secretary of East Pakistan Awami League at this council session. Efforts were made to forge unity among Moulana Bhashani, A.K. Fazlul Huq and Shaheed Suhrawardy with the objective of taking on the Muslim League at the general elections. To achieve this goal, a special council session of the party was called on 14 November, when a resolution to form the Jukta Front (United Front) was approved.
The first general elections were held on 10 March. The United Front won 223 seas out of a total of 237, including 143 captured by the Awami League. Bangabandhu swept the Gopalganj constituency, defeating the powerful Muslim League leader Wahiduzzaman by a margin of 13,000 votes. On 15 May, Bangabandhu was given charge of the ministry of agriculture and forests when the new provincial government was formed. On 29 May, the central government arbitrarily dismissed the United Front ministry. Bangabandhu was again arrested once he landed at Dhaka airport after a flight from Karachi on 30 May. He was freed on 23 December.
Bangabandhu was elected a member of the legislative assembly on 5th June. The Awami League held a public meeting at Paltan Maidan on 17th June where it put forward a 21-point program demanding autonomy for East Pakistan. On 23rd June the Working Council of the Awami League decided that this members would resign from the legislative assembly if autonomy was not granted to East Pakistan.
On 25ht August Bangabandhu told Pakistan’s assembly in Karachi:
On 21st October the party dropped the word ‘Muslim’ from its name at a special council of the Bangladesh Awami Muslim League, making the party a truly modern and secular one. Bangabandhu was reelected General secretary of the party.
On 3 February, Awami League leaders, during a meeting with the Chief Minister, demanded that the subject of provincial autonomy be included in the draft constitution. On 14 July, the Awami League at a meeting adopted a resolution opposing the representation of the military in the administration. The resolution was moved by Bangabandhu. On 4 September an anti-famine procession was brought out under the leadership of Bangabandhu defying Section 144. At least three persons were killed when police opened fire on the procession in Chawkbazar area. On 16 September, Bangabandhu jointed the coalition government, assuming he charge of Industries, Commerce, Labor, Anti-Corruption and Village Aid Ministry.
On 30 May, Bangabandhu resigned from the cabinet in response to a resolution of the party to strengthen the organization by working for it full-time. On 7 August, he went on an official tour of China and the Soviet Union.
Pakistan’s President, Major General Iskandar Mirza, and the chief of Pakistan’s army Genera Ayub Khan, imposed martial law on 7 October and banned politics. Bangabandhu was arrested on 11 October. Thereafter, he was continuously harassed through one false case after another. Released from prison after 14 months, he was arrested again at the jail gate.
Bangabandhu was released from jail after he won a writ petition in the High Court. Then he started underground political activities against the martial law regime and dictator Ayub Khan. During this period he set up an underground organization called “Swadhin Bangal Biplobi Parishad” or Independent Bangla Revolutionary Council, comprising outstanding student leaders in order to work for the independence of Bangladesh.
Once again Bangabandhu was arrested under the Public Security Act on 6 February. He was freed on 18 June following the withdrawal of the four-year-long martial law on 2 June. On 25 June, Bangabandhu joined other national leaders to protest the measures introduced by Ayub Khan. On 5 July he addressed a public rally at Paltan Maid an where he bitterly criticized Ayub Khan. He went to Lahore on 24 September and joined forces with Shaheed Suhrawardy to form the National Democratic Front, an alliance of the opposition parties. He spent the entire month of October traveling across the whole of Bengal along with Shaheed Suhrawardy to drum up public support for the United Front.
Sheikh Mujib went to London for consultations with Suhrawardy, who was there for medical treatment. On 5 December, Suhrawardy died in Beirut.
The Awami League was revitalized on 25 January at a meeting held at Bangabandhu’s residence. The meeting adopted a resolution to demand the introduction of parliamentary democracy on the basis of adult franchise in response to public sentiment. The meeting elected Maulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish as party president and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib as general secretary. On 11 March, an All-Party Action Council was formed. Bangabandhu led a committee to resist communal riots. Following the riots he took the initiative to start a vigorous anti-Ayub movement. Bangabandhu was arrested 14 days before the presidential election.
The government charged Sheikh Mujib with sedition and making objectionable statements. He was sentenced to a one-year jail term. He was later released on an order of the High Court.
On 5 February, a national conference of the opposition parities was held in Lahore. Bangabandhu placed his historic 6-point demand before the select committee of the conference. The 6-point demand was a palpable charter of freedom of the Bengalee nation. On the first day of March, Bangabandhu was elected president of the Awami League. Following his election, he launched a campaign to obtain enthusiastic support for the 6-point demand. He toured the entire country. During his tour he was arrested by the police and detained variously at Sylhet, Mymensingh and Dhaka several times. During the first quarter of the year he was arrested eight times. On 8 May, he was attested again after his speech at a rally of jute mill workers in Narayanganj. A countrywide strike was observed on 7 June to demand the release of Bangabandhu and other political prisoners. Police opened fire during the strike and killed a number of workers in Dhaka, Narayanganj and Tongi.
The Pakistan government instituted the notorious Agartala conspiracy case against Bangabandhu and 34 Bengalee military and CSP officers. Sheikh Mujib was named accused number one in the case that charged the arrested persons with conspiring to bring about the secession of East Pakistan from the rest of Pakistan. The accused were kept detained inside Dhaka Cantonment. Demonstrations started throughout the province to demand the release of Bangabandhu and the other co-accused in the Agartala conspiracy case. The trial of the accused began on 19 June inside Dhaka Cantonment amidst tight security.
The Central Students Action Council was formed on 5 January to press for the acceptance of the 11-point demand that included the 6-point demand of Bangabandhu. The council initiated a countrywide student agitation to force the government to withdraw the Agartala conspiracy case and release Bangabandhu. The agitation gradually developed into a mass movement. After months of protests, violations of Section 144 and curfews, firing by the police and the EPR and a number of casualties, the movement peaked into an unprecedented mass upsurge that forced Ayub Khan to convene a round-table conference of political leaders and announce Bangabandhu’s release on parole. On 22 February, the central government bowed to the continued mass protests and free Bangabandhu and the other co-accused. The conspiracy case was withdrawn. The Central Student Action Council arranged a reception in honor of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 23 February at the racecourse (Suhrawardy Uddyan). At this meeting of one million people, Mujib was publicly acclaimed as Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal). In his speech on the occasion, Bangabandhu pledged his total support to the 11-point demand of the student.
On 26 February, Bangabandhu joined the round-table conference called by Ayub Khan in Rawalpindi. At the conference Bangabandhu placed the 6-point demand of his party and the 11-point demand of the students and said: “To end the people’s anger there is no alternative to the acceptance of the 6-point and 11-point demand and the granting of regional autonomy”. When the Pakistani politicians and rulers rejected his demand he left the conference on 13 March. The next day he returned to Dhaka. On 25 March, Gen. Yahya Khan seized power and imposed martial law. On 25 October, Bangabandhu went to London on a three-week organizational tour. On 5 December, Bangabandhu declared at a discussion meeting held to observe the death anniversary of Shaheed Suhrawardy that henceforth East Pakistan would be called Bangladesh. He added: “There was a time when all efforts were made to erase the word ‘Bangla’ from this land and its map. The existence of the word ‘Bangla’ was found nowhere except in the term Bay of Bangal. I on behalf of Pakistan announce today that this land will be called ‘Bangladesh’ instead of ‘East Pakistan.’
Bangabandhu was re-elected President of the Awami League on 6 January. The Awami League at a meeting of the Working committee on 1 April decided to take part in the general elections scheduled for later that year. On 7 June, Bangabandhu addressed a public meeting at the racecourse ground and urged the people to elect his party on the issue of the 6-point demand. On 17 October, Bangabandhu selected the boat as his party’s election symbol and launched his campaign through an election rally at Dhaka’s Dholai Khal. On 28 October, he addressed the nation over radio and television and called upon the people to elect his party’s candidates to implement the 6-point demand. When a mighty cyclone storm hit the coastal belt of Bangladesh, killing at lest one million people, Bangabandhu suspended his election campaign and rushed to the aid of the helpless people in the affected areas. He strongly condemned the Pakistani rulers indifference to the cyclone victims and protested against it. He called on the international community to help the people affected by the cyclone. In the general elections held on 7 December, the Awami League gained an absolute majority. The Awami League secured 167 out of 169 National Assembly seats in the then East Pakistan and gained 305 out of 310 seats in the Provincial Assembly.
On 3 January, Bangabandhu conducted the oath of the people’s elected representatives at a meeting at the Race Course ground. The Awami League members took the oath to frame a constitution on the basis of the 6-point demand and pledged to remain loyal to the people who had elected them. On 5 January, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, the leader of the majority party, the People’s Part, in the then West Pakistan, announced his readiness to form a coalition government at the centre with the Awami League. Bangabandhu was chosen as the leader of his party’s parliamentary part at a meeting of the National Assembly members elected from his party. On 27 January, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto arrived in Dhaka for talks with Bangabandhu. The talks collapsed after three days of deliberations. In an announcement on 13 February, President Yahya Khan summoned the National Assembly to convince in Dhaka on 3 March. On 15 February, Bhutto announced that he would boycott the session and demanded that power be handed over to the majority parties in East Pakistan and West Pakistan. In a statement on 16 February, Bangabandhu bitterly criticized the demand of Bhutto and said, “The demand of Bhutto sahib is totally illogical. Power has to be handed over to the only majority party, the Awami League. The people of East Bengal are now the masters of power.”
On 1 March, Yahya Khan abruptly postponed the National Assembly session, prompting a storm of protest and throughout Bangladesh. Bangabandhu called an emergency meeting of the working committee of the Awami League, which called a countrywide hartal for 3 March. After the hartal was successfully observed, Bangabandhu called on the President to immediately transfer power to his party.
On 7 March, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed a mammoth public rally at the Race Course ground, where he declared:
He advised the people to prepare themselves for a guerilla war against the enemy. He asked the people to start a total non-cooperation movement against the government of Yahya Khan. There were ineffectual orders from Yahya Khan on the one hand, while the nation, on the other hand, received directives from Bangabandhu’s Road 32 residence. The entire nation carried out Bangabandhu’s instructions. Ever organization, including government offices, banks, insurance companies, schools, colleges, mills and factories obeyed Bangabandhu’s directives. The response of the people of Bangladesh to Bangabandhu’s call was unparalleled in history. It was Bangabandhu who conducted the administration of an independent Bangladesh from March 7 to March 25.
On 16 March, Yahya Khan came to Dhaka for talks with Bangabandhu on the transfer of power. Bhutto also came a few days later to Dhaka for talks. The Mujib-Yahya-Bhutto talks continued until 24 March. Yahya Khan left Dhaka in the evening of 25 March in secrecy. On the night of 25 March, the Pakistan army cracked down on the innocent unarmed Bangalees. They attacked Dhaka University, the Peelkhana Headquarters of the then East Pakistan Rifles and the Rajarbagh Police Headquarters.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman read out a wireless message, moments after the crackdown began, declaring the independence of Bangladesh as 25 March gave way to 26 March. His declaration was transmitted over wireless to the country:
He called upon all sections of people, including Bangalee military and civilian personnel, students, workers and peasants, to join the resistance against the occupation Pakistan army. This message of Bangabandhu was immediately disseminated throughout the country through radio equipment under special arrangements. The same night jawans and officers in Chittagong, Comilla and Jessore cantonments put up resistance to the Pakistan army after receiving this message. Bangabandhu’s declaration was broadcast by Chittagong Radio station. The Pakistan army arrested Bangabandhu from his Dhanmondi residence at 1-10 A.m. and whisked him away to Dhaka cantonment. On 26 March he was flown to Pakistan as a prisoner. The same day, General Yahya Khan, in a broadcast banned the Awami League and called Bangabandhu a traitor.
On 26 March, M.A Hannan, an Awami League leader in Chittagong, read out Bangabandhu’s declaration of dependence over Chittagong radio. On 10 April, The Provisional Democratic Government of Bangladesh was formed with Bangabandhu as President.
The revolutionary government took the oath of office on 17 April at the Amrakanan of Baidyanathtala in Meherpur, which is now known as Mujibnagar. Bangabandhu was elected President, Syed Nazrul Islam acting President and Tajuddin Ahmed Prime Minister. The Liberation War ended on 16 December when the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered at the historic racecourse ground accepting defeat in the glorious was led by the revolutionary government in exile. Bangladesh were finally free.
Earlier, between August and September of 1971, the Pakistani junta held a secret trial of Bangabandhu inside Lyallpur jail in Pakistan. He was sentenced to death. The freedom-loving people of the world demanded absolute security of Bangabandhu’s life. Once Bangladesh was liberated, the Bangladesh government demanded that Bangabandhu be released immediately and unconditionally. A number of countries, including India and the Soviet Union, and various international organizations urged the release of Bangabandhu. Pakistan had no right to hold Bangabandhu, who was the architect of Bangladesh. In the meantime, Bangladesh had been recognized by many countries of the world.
The Pakistan government freed Bangabandhu on 8 January 1972. Bangabandhu was seen off at Rawalpindi by Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, by now Pakistan’s president the same day Bangabandhu left for London en route to Dhaka. In London, British Prime Minister Edward Heath met him. On his way back home from London Bangabandhu had a stop-over in New Delhi, where he was received by Indian President V. V. Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
A memorable reception was accorded to Bangabandhu when the Father of the Nation reached Dhaka on 10 January. From the airport he drove straight to the Racecourse Ground where he made a tearful address before the country. On 12 January, Bangabandhu became Bangladesh’s Prime Minister. On 6 February he traveled to India at the invitation of the Indian government. After twenty-four years the Dhaka University authorities rescinded his expulsion order and accorded him the University’s life membership.
On 1 March he went to the Soviet union on an official visit. The allied Indian army left Dhaka on 17 March at the request of Bangabandhu. On 1 Ma he announced a raise in the salary of class three and four employees of the government. On 30 July Bangabandhu underwent a gall bladder operation in London. From there he went to Geneva. On 10 October the World Peace Council conferred the Julio Curie award on him. On 4 November, Bangabandhu announced that the first general election in Bangladesh would be held on 7 March, 1973. On 15 December, Bangabandhu’s government announced the provision of according state awards to the freedom fighters. On the first anniversary of liberation the constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was framed.
Among the important achievements of the Bangabandhu government:
The reorganization of the administrative system, framing of the constitution, rehabilitation of one crore people, restoration and development of communication system, expansion of education, supply of free books to students upto class V and at low price to students upto class VIII, effective ban on all anti-Islamic and anti-social activities like gambling, horse races, drinking of liquor, establishment of Islamic Foundation, reorganization of Madrasa Board, establishment of 11,000 primary schools, nationalization of 40,000 primary schools, establishment of women’s rehabilitation centre for the welfare of distressed women, Freedom Fighters Welfare Trust, waiving tax upto 25 bighas of land, distribution of agricultural inputs among farmers free of cost or at nominal price, nationalization of banks and insurance companies abandoned by the Pakistanis and 580 industrial nits, employment to thousands of workers and employees, construction of Ghorasal fertilizer factory, primary work of Ashuganj complex and establishment of other new industrial units and reopening of the closed industries. Thus Bangabandhu successfully built an infrastructure for the economy to lead the country towards progress and prosperity. Another landmark achievement of the Bangabandhu government was to gain recognition of almost all countries of the world and the United Nations membership in a short period of time.
The Awami League secured 293 out of the 300 Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) seats in the first general elections. On 3 September, the Awami League, CPB and NAP formed Oikya Front (United Front). On 6 September, Bangabandhu traveled to Algeria to attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit conference.
The People’s Republic of Bangladesh was accorded membership of the United Nations. On 24 September, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed the UN General Assembly in Bengali.
On 25 January, the country switched over to the presidential system of governance and Bangabandhu took over as President of the republic. On 24 February, Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League, comprising all the political parties of the country, was launched. On 25 February, Bangabandhu called upon all political parties and leaders to join this national party. He felt the need for making Bangladesh a self-reliant nation by reducing dependence on foreign aid. So he overhauled the economic policies to achieve the goal of self-reliance, He launched the Second Revolution to make independence meaningful and ensure food, clothing, shelter, medicare, education and work to the people. The objectives of the revolution were: elimination of corruption, boosting production in mills, factories and fields, population control and establishment of national unity.
Bangabandhu received an unprecedented response to his call to achieve economic freedom by uniting the entire nation. The economy started picking up rapidly within a short time. Production increased. Smuggling stopped. The prices of essentials came down to within the purchasing capacity of the common man. Imbued with new hope, the people untidily marched forward to extend the benefits of independence to ever doorstep. But that condition did not last long.
In the pre-dawn hours of 15 August, the noblest and the greatest of Bengalees in a thousand years, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of Bangladesh and the Father of the Nation, was assassinated by a handful of ambitious and treacherous military officers. On that day, Bangabandhu’s wife, a noble woman, Begum Fazilatunnessa; his eldest son, freedom fighter Sheikh Kamal; second son Lt. Sheikh Jamal; youngest son Sheikh Russel; tow daughters-in-law Sultana kamal and Rosy kamal; Bangabandhu’s brother Sheikh Naser; brother-in-law and agriculture minister Abdur Rab Serniabat and his daugher baby Serniabat; Arif Serniabat, grand son Sukanto Abdullah and nephew Shahid Serniabat Bangabandhu’s nephew, youth leader and journalist Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni and his pregnant wife Arzoo Moni; Bangabandhu’s security officer Brig. Jamil and a 14-year-old boy Rintoo were killed. In all the killers slaughtered 16 members and relatives of Bangabandhu’s family.
Martial law was imposed in the country after the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Democracy was done away with and basic rights were snatched away. Thus began the politics of killing, coups and conspiracy. The people’s rights to food and vote were taken away.
There is international provision to hold trial of killers to protect human rights in the world. But unfortunately in Bangladesh, a law was enacted under a martial law ordinance exempting the self-confessed killers of Bangabandhu from any trial. Having captured power illegally through a military coup, Gen. Ziaur Rahman spoiled the sanctity of the constitution by incorporating the notorious Indemnity Ordinance in the Fifth Amendment to the constitution. He rewarded the killers by providing them with jobs in Bangladesh diplomatic missions abroad. The people are suffering from lack of security as the killers, instead of being punished, have been rewarded. The Indemnity Ordinance, which is opposed to basic human rights, has to be repealed and the killers punished to restore rule of law in the country. The indemnity Ordinance was repealed by parliament only after the Awami League led by Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina returned to power in 1996.
August 15, 1975, is the blackest day in Bangladesh’s national life. The nation observes this day as National Mourning Day.
Source :
POET OF POLITICS, FATHER OF THE NATION BANGABANDHU SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN Published by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Trust, Bangabandhu Bhaban, Road-32, Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka-1205, Bangladesh.