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Department of Criminology University of Dhaka Editorial Writing on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Metrist

Department of Criminology University of Dhaka

Editorial Writing on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Metrist of Politics

@Ashif Hassan

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

The Metrist of Politics

There have been mesmerizing figures from the dawn of agricultural revolution in the pages of history; from Abraham Lincoln to Vladimir Lenin. But it can be said without any doubt that Mujib is one of the prominent stars of politics; not only a rabble-rousing, charismatic leader who galvanized nationalist struggle but also proved his excellency to lead a nation and to alleviate a country from war-torn despondency. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; the architect and the father of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, was a Bengali nationalist politician, the founder of the country and also the pater of the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh. He headed the Awami league’ a nationalist political party, became the first president, the prime minister of the country and later the Chairman of Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BaKSAL). He was popularly known as the Sheikh Mujib and with the honorary title of Bangabandhu(Friend of Bengal) given by the student's leader of the hitherto East Pakistan Tofail Ahmed. Because of his tenacity and sagacious leadership and charismatic influence, Bangladesh was born in 1971 but the life of this architect of the new nation was cut short in a military Coup d’état in the pre-dawn hours of August 15, 1975. But nonetheless, he never failed to inspire the people of Bangladesh even after his demise. In him, the people of Bangladesh intuit a true leader who suffered jail terms for about twelve years during the 23 years of Pakistani rule. 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 Bengal. It was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who held the existence of Bengali and established a nation with the cost of 9 months bloodshed. It was light unto the future. A nation was coming of age. A leader had arrived.

Personal Life & Education:

Mujibur Rahman was born in Tungipara, a village of Gopalganj District on 17 March 1920, during the period of British colonization of India. His father was Sheikh Lutfur Rahman, a serestadar (court clerk) of Gopalganj civil court. He was the third child of his six siblings. He passed his Matriculation exam from Gopalganj Missionary School in 1942 and Intermediate from Islamia College. Later he got himself admitted at the University of Dhaka in the Department of Law. He got married with Sheikh Fazilatunnesa at the age of 22 years. Together they had two daughtersSheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehanaand three sonsSheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal, and Sheikh Rasel.

Political Life:

The political life of Sheikh Mujib can be divided into 3 sectors: his involvement in the pre-independence period of the Indian subcontinent, involvement in the Pakistan period and involvement in the post-liberation period of Bangladesh. As an advocate of socialism, Mujib rose to the ranks of the Awami League and grew inside the East Pakistani politics as a charismatic, eloquent and forceful orator.

In 1940 he joined the ‘All India Muslim Students Federation’ and started his political activity. In 1943, he joined Bengal Muslim league in affiliation with Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (Fifth prime minister of Pakistan). He completed his B.A. degree in 1947 on the same year when the partition of India was conducted. His political activities for separating the countries based on ‘Two race theory’ (A political ideology indicating that the primary identity and unifying denominator of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent is their religion, rather than their language or ethnicity, and therefore Indian Hindus and Muslims are two distinct nations) was very prominent. In his unfinished autobiography, ‘Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Unfinished Memoirs’ which was written during the period of life behind the jail bars, he reminisced the excruciating dynamics of the Partition, the proliferated disillusionment of the people of the East Pakistan with the jurisdiction from the west, the formation of the Awami League, and the concerted movement against the imposition of Urdu as the state language by establishing Bangla, which eventually sowed the seeds of the struggle of liberation war. Depicting Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy as the follower western democracy and Liaquat Ali Khan as a mischievous politician, Mujibur Rahman expressed the true saga of the colonial legacy that was becoming an obstacle for the development of Pakistan.

After the partition of India, he established East Pakistan Muslim Students' League in Pakistan and promoted socialism as a solution for the mass problem. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman protested against the discriminatory implementation of Urdu as the only national language by the rulers of Pakistan when the majority of East Pakistan speaks Bangla as their mother tongue. He also organized a movement to secure the rights of the fourth class employees at Dhaka University. For both of the incident, he got arrested. He launched hunger strikes to ensure the rights of others and for this, he had to spend a lot of time behind the jail. After the creation of East Pakistan Awami Muslim Leaguein 1949, he left his previous league and joined with Huseyn Suhrawardy and Maulana Bhasani which is the predecessor of his future league a.k.a. Awami League. During the days of language movement in 1952, Mujib took especial steps by issuing an instruction to launch a massive protest against Pakistan although he was confined in the jail. In the newly formed league, Mujibur Rahman served as a joint secretary, general secretary, minister of agriculture and parliament member of Pakistan. During the development of discrimination from the west wing of Pakistan, he organized a political body named, Swadhin Bangal Biplobi Parishad in 1961 to oppose the regime of Ayub Khan who was the hitherto military dictator. In 1966, Mujib proclaimed a 6-point plan titled Our Charter of Survival at a national conference of opposition political parties at Lahore, which included creating a federation for Pakistan on the basis of Lahore Resolution, Creating federal Government which

will control Defense and Foreign affairs, allowing separate but exchangeable currency for the two province, power of Taxation and Revenue revenue collection, separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings and East Pakistan having a separate military or paramilitary force including Navy Headquarter. After the declaration of six-point movement, West Pakistan started to detect Sheikh Mujib as a separatist rebel and for this, he was charged for Agartala Conspiracy Case in a military court but later he was released in the face of mounting pressure and agitation from the people of East Pakistan. In 1970, a major cyclone costed serious damage to the east wing of Pakistan but due to the ineffective response from the west wing serious outrage emerged against the central government. On the following year, Pakistan’s general election was also held and Awami league won the majority under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib but opposition from the west wing tried to develop conspiracy which led to a massive outcry in the east wing. Sheikh Mujib on the 7 th march of 1971 called for the independence of Bangladesh with the condition that if the west wing denies providing the legal rights. The response was a massive military crackdown on the civilians of the east wing aka ‘Operation Searchlight’ which is also known as one of the heinous genocides of the history. On the night of the genocide, Mujib got arrested by the military but before he was removed from the province he declared the official announcement of the independence. The declaration led to final battle cry for the Bangle people and they fought back against the military junta for 9 months of a bloodbath. The war had cost the life of over 3 million peoples among them most of were Bengali civilians. On December 16, 1971, Pakistani military surrendered in front of the combined force of ‘Muktibahini’ and Indian Army and Mujibur Rahman got released from Pakistan on 8th January 1972. He returned to Bangladesh, a newly independent country under his leadership and received one of heartiest welcome in the history. Millions of people cried in emotion and a phrase started to echo through the air, ‘The leader is back…The leader is Back!’ With an emotional voice, Mujib responded to the massive crowd and promised to devote himself to develop a new country with the help from everyone. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman kept his promise although it was not easy to stand up a war-torn country out of poverty and famine until he was brutally killed by some misguided military personnel following by a massive a putsch.

Leadership and Early Movement:

The leadership skill of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman developed at a very early age. When he was a student of high school he arranged a protest for the removal of a teacher for is inept behavior. After joining the Law Department of University of Dhaka he became politically active and new thinking took roots in his mind. He launched the protest for the equal rights of fourth grades employees and got arrested and also got disqualified from the university. In response, he declared, “I did not come to the university to bow my head to injustice.” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was one of the prominent leaders of the language movement of 1952. He was pushed behind the bars for instigating such movement but took the leadership of the movement from inside the jail. It was his dynamic leadership and courageous steps which made people of East Pakistan to keep faith in him and later this faith became the energy for the long battle. Mujibur

Rahman became a symbol of hope, a sign of freedom for the eastern wing of Pakistan. Under his charismatic leadership and bold stride, Awami league launched the 6 point movement which was also a treaty for culminating discrimination. The mesmerizing polarity of 1970’s election made it clear for the central government of Pakistan that how popular Sheikh Mujib is to his people. His declaration of freedom in 1971 was hypnotizing enough to lead 70 million people to engage in civil disobedience and later a courageous guerrilla warfare which led to the freedom for his fellow Bengali man.

Affection for the People:

After the independence of Bangladesh, Shiekh Mujibur Rahman was interviewed by British journalist David Frost once and there he said that he loves his countryman more than his family members. After 40 years of that interview, the same journalist interviewed his daughter Sheikh Hasina who is also the current prime minister of Bangladesh. In that interview, Sheikh Hasina played the previous interview of his father and with an emotional voice she expressed that, her father loved his countryman more than his family and she is very proud of it. Everybody understands the depth of such remarks as truly all the countryman believed that Mujibur Rahman loves his country more than his life even the very opposition panel of Mujibur Rahman during the wartime. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman often said that My greatest strength is the love for my people; my greatest weakness is that I love them too much.The tragedy is very unfortunate because his weakness later cost his life at the very crucial period of Bangladesh. On 10 th January, 1971, when he first touched the independent country that he fought for his whole life, he expressed his emotion by expressing that, when he was in jail he said to the oppressor leader that he doesn’t have any objection if they kill him but after his death he requested to return the carrion to his fellow countryman. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman never wanted to hold the power for his own benefits. Instead, when he was offered to be the prime minister of Pakistan, he denied and said that I don't want the prime ministership. We want to establish the right of the people of this country.” It was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, not as a person but something much bigger which made people to believe that there is something more than meets the eyes. It was his vastness of morality in which the 70 million people found the true sense of nationalism, a unity, bondage of kinship. His love and affection knew no bounds for his people and he was ready to die for them and as well as they were ready to sacrifice their life for him.

Virtues and Personality:

A man of vitality and vehemence, Mujib became the political Gandhi of the Bengalis, symbolizing their hopes and voicing their grievances. And to do that Mujibur Rahman had to hold varieties of personal virtues which included both boldness and etiquette. It was his characteristic vastness which attracted everyone. Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro once said, “I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas.He was also very witty. In a conversation with Saudi Kind, Mujib remarked that I am also a

Sheikh but I am poor Sheikh! Out of an enormous number of personal attributes, five significant dominant personality factors can be identified from his characteristics: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. All these traits were blended with the essence of fire and ice and he knew where to be soft and where to be impenetrable. He addressed his enemy as his brothers but also made it clear that if they break the norms of justice then he and his countryman will hit back really hard. These entire idiosyncrasies made him Sheikh Mujib himself of that time and nonetheless to compare.

Ideology and Beliefs:

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a preacher of socialism and democracy. The motivation for an independent country was much more rushed from a socialist perspective and equality. It was Mujibur Rahman and his six-point movement which later developed as the core direction for developing a constitution. He included democracy, socialism, nationalism and secularism as the core principle of the nation and fundamental aim of the State to realize through the democratic process of a socialist society, free from exploitation a society in which the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedom, equality and justice of political, economic & social will be secured for all citizens. He was guided by the illumination of equality and for that purpose, he named the new nation as ‘People’s republic of Bangladesh’ instead of Democratic Republic because he knew that majority and open democracy sometimes withdraw the rights of the minority. The government of Mujibur Rahman was facing a serious challenge to control the economy of the newly inborn country with the curse of famine and uncontrolled population. Rehabilitation of the refugee was also a major concern for the government as there were 10 million people who flew away during the wartime. Mujibir Rahman focused on emphasizing on Agriculture and Cottage industry to be the savior of the downward economy and he was successful to some extent. Later he introduced the Bangladesh road to socialism by creating BaKSAL and his revolutionary economic theory of ‘Second Revolution’. Mujib understood that, for a newly independent country, capitalism and freestyle democracy was destroying its core of economy especially smuggling of the goods in the border area and political insurgency was on its verge. Second Revolution was a political hypothesis included a series of reforms in the three pillars of a state: administrative, judiciary and legislative system. The second revolution began with the endorsement of the fourth amendment of the constitution in 1975. Major ideological changes included: the presidential form of government, one-party system, reorganized administrative structure, compulsory multipurpose village level cooperatives and controlled civil liberties. Main objectives of the second revolution were to weed out corruption, to increase production in agriculture and industry, to control population growth, to foster national unity. However, the value of such vicissitudes was dismantled after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family.

Assassination:

On the pre-dawn of 15 th August 1975, some misguided military junior officers took the matter on their own hands and killed 26 members and close allies of Rahman family including the president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman himself following a military coup. It was the day of 15 th August, when the people of Bangladesh faced the greatest loss of its entire history and grievance emerged more than Achilles heel for the country. It is not still clear what were the logics behind the assassination of this great leader but multiple reasons can be pointed out. After the independence of the newly ingrained country, there was a major conflict between the military officers who joined the liberation war and who didn’t. For the newly divided country, it was clear that some didn’t cherish the new essence of independence with a feeling of hatred that the country will be controlled by its new savior India. Failure of the economy and controversial policy created an environment to raise frown upon the countries future outcome and these were propagated by the anti-liberation entities. On a interview, one of the terminators of this brutal assassination, Lieutenant Colonel Khondokar Abdur Roshid (Rtd.) who is living in Canada with the help of political asylum said that Bangladesh was getting involved in such policies with India which was not effective for the country’s future i.e. (taking away of machinery by the Indian soldiers, distribution of fake money, uneven foreign policy etc.). Another killer, Syed Faruque Rahman said that, after the independence, Mujibur Rahman became a tarnished leader and that is why it was necessary to kill him. In the book ‘Ekattorer Mukti Juddho’ Colonel Safayat Jamil pointed out that, major culprit behind the assassination was the senior military officer and second in command Major General Ziaur Rahman who later also became the president of Bangladesh. He ignited the coup by motivating the junior officer to do something to change the condition. It is necessary to mention that his political ideology of the second revolution made him a villain in the eyes of some ambitious officials who couldn’t see the benefit of such changes. Other reasons include the conspiracy of USA from the Nixon government as the USA always feared the emergence of a socialist country is against it free trade capitalism of America. The WikiLeaks and the book Blood Telegram’ written by Gary J. Bass does point out the involvement of the USA in the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The hitherto political parties also influenced to mark Mujibur as a negative entity for the country which influenced the military junior officials to initiate the carnage. Though Pakistan surrendered after 16 th December of 1971 and came to an agreement, their inter-service intelligence was always vigilant to create a conspiracy against Bangladesh. The great leader, on the other hand, trusted his fellow countryman so inherently that he didn’t keep any military personnel for his protection as he always said, “No Bangladeshi can initiate a bullet on my chest.” Alas! Mujibur Rahman effectuated every expectation that is possible as a political leader but his countryman turned the table down with an attempt to remove him and his family from the history of Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is not just a name for any Bangladeshi! It is an accumulation of emotions, a word to express Bengali nationalism. He was the central political figure in the struggle for independence in Bangladesh. His legacy remains perpetual, unfluctuating and it will remain the same as long as the country exists. He was the architect of the democracy and he made it possible to emerge as an independent nation in the topographical

depiction of the world. From the protest of a young boy in a high school ensuring justice to the declaration of independence in 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibir Rahman will always remain in the history as the savior of his fellow countryman, an enthralling leader, a caring family man, a loving father and most importantly a true patriot.