None can kill Bangabandhu’s ideology
‘Standing on execution podium, I will shout I am Bengali, Bangla is my mother tongue, Bangladesh is my motherland,’ these lines were uttered by a great leader whose name will always be remembered in the history.
Though several politicians were born in different nations, some of them are extracts, some are pages and some are chapters. But only a few can become the history himself. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a name who created the history of Bangladesh himself. The great leader was born and raised in the soil of Bengal history just to become the visage of the history.
An eerie silence engulfed the entire nation on the 15th day of this month in 1975, as the nation along with the rest of the world witnessed the cruellest and bloodiest political massacre of contemporary history. A journey to backwardness started since the assassination, which continued at least for 21 years. It is the greatest tragedy in our history that Bangabandhu, to whom we owe so much for the independence of Bangladesh, was brutally killed. His anti-political allies and some misguided army personnel were involved in the shocking, horrific and gruesome killings.
The self-confessed killers of the August 15, 1975 carnage did not only assassinate Bangabandhu but also killed some 16 members of his family, friends and relatives including his wife Begum Fazilanunnessa Mujib, sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russell, daughters-in-law Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal, brother Sheikh Naser, brother-in-law Abdur Rab Serniabat, nephew and journalist Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni, his pregnant wife Arzoo Moni and Colonel Jamil.
A pall of gloom descended and a sense of deep hatred spread among the people in Bangladesh and around the world following the gruesome assassination of Bangabandhu and most of his family members by a gang of some disgruntled overambitious army officers in a military putsch on the fateful night.
World leaders including former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, noted Bangalee intellectuals such as litterateur Nirad C Chawdhury and prestigious dailies such as the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph, in strongest words, condemned the heinous killing of Bangabandhu terming the dreadful killing as an ‘irreparable loss to millions of people of Bangladesh’.
August, since then has become the month of mourning for every citizen in Bangladesh. August was the month when the glorious history of Bangladesh was covered with red blood from shameful betrayal and treasury, and the blood was from no one else but the father of our nation Bangabandhu. The spirit of Liberation War was collapsed and chaos reigned after the killing.
Bangabandhu was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He struggled hard and made great sacrifices to rise to eminence and become the Father of the Nation of the newly created state of Bangladesh in 1971. The story of his life, the triumphs and the tragedies thus intermingle with that of the creation of Bangladesh.
From the Language Movement in 1952 to the Liberation War in 1971, Bangabandhu proved himself as an excellent leader with wonderful political wisdom. Bangabandhu called a public meeting at Suhrawardy Uddyan on March 7, 1971 and declared: ‘The struggle this time is for our freedom; the struggle this time is for independence. Joy Bangla (Victory to Bangladesh).’ Implicitly, it was a proclamation of independence. His speech of March 7 was an extraordinary paradigm of superb oratory that transformed a sleeping nation into a fighting power. He called for a nonviolent non-cooperation movement. All civilian government offices in Bangladesh started to operate under his instructions. Bangabandhu thus became the de facto ruler of Bangladesh.
In the 18-minute historic speech, Bangabandhu vividly portrayed the injustice we had to go through in the last 23 years. He depicted the political history and condition of the Bengalee, building protest in every houses, attacking the enemies using guerrilla style and afterwards announced to start fighting from every houses, to show the intolerance towards injustice, to fight the enemy with whatever they belong.
In his book on Liberation War ‘Ferrari Diary’ (1978), renowned intellectual and popular writer Alauddin Al-Azad has extolled the Bangabandhu’s historic speech stating, ‘The speech of Sheikh Mujib is a notable document in the history of democracy, greater than the Gettysburg Address on the civil war by the 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln and one of the tenth best political speeches of all time. It is not just a speech rather an awakening call that inspired millions of people to fight for their rights. The speech was a natural phenomenon to raise a nation’s concern from the core of their hearts.’
From March 1971 to January 10, 1972, Bangabandhu had to languish in Pakistan jail. The people of the country did not even know whether he is alive or dead. After Bangabandhu’s Homecoming on January 10, it seemed that our Liberation War and Independence had finally been achieved.
After arriving at Racecourse Ground, ‘the poet of politics’ burst into tears like children standing in front of microphone. He asked Biswakabi Rabindranath Tagore to observe that Bengalees had become humans on that day as Rabindranath Tagore in his poem wrote, ‘O Dear mother of seven crore children, you’ve kept us as Bengalees but did not make us good human beings.’ He urged world to cooperate newly born Bangladesh to surmount its damaged infrastructure and fractured economy caused by Pakistan regime’s injustice and Liberation War. He advised people to come forward and do their duties as an independent citizen of the country. He declared once again Bangladesh would be free from oppression. An inseparable part of the freedom is to assure basic rights for its citizens. It was his strategy to think about the future and securing the present. He even made Bangladesh a proud member of The United Nations where he represented Bangladesh in the world. He never forgot the lives that were sacrificed and women who went through physical abuse during the war.
The best compliment to Bangabandhu was perhaps paid by Fidel Castro of Cuba at the Non-Aligned Summit in Algiers in 1973. Embracing Bangabandhu he remarked: ‘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.’
Lord Fenner Brockway, pioneer of the British Humanist Movement, admired Bangabandhu saying Sheikhh Mujib is a great leader like American leader George Washington, Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi and Irish leader George De’ Valera.
Due to Bangabandhu's strong diplomatic efforts, Bangladesh obtained recognition of 116 key countries. Besides, Bangladesh got the membership of the UN, the Commonwealth, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and some other international bodies. The Asian Peace Conference was held in Dhaka on May 23 in 1973 under the auspices of World Peace Council where Bangabandhu was conferred ‘Joliot Curie Award’.
According to a book named ‘Etihasher Mohanayak Bangabandhu’ (Great Hero of History) published by Bangladesh Awami League, the goal of Bangabandhu's foreign policy was to uphold peaceful coexistence, establish friendly ties with all and go after non-aligned approach.
Whenever he addressed the international forums like the UN, NAM, Commonwealth or the OIC, Bangabandhu declared in fiery voice his non-aligned foreign policy. Bangabandhu delivered his historic speech in Bangla at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 25 in 1974 where he highlighted the main characteristics of his foreign policy. Alive or not, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman indeed stands tall like the Himalayas along with other great world leaders who created history.
The murder of Bangabandhu was a heinous crime that an independent mind can never accept and the people spirited with Liberation War always demanded capital punishment for criminals who were associated with the gruesome killings. Bangabandhu’s eldest child Sheikh Hasina returned Bangladesh in 1981. The Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government ensured justice punishing the criminals over killing of Bangabandhu and his family members. The endeavour of Bangabandhu was to ensure food, shelter and a developed lifestyle for his people. We should work together converting our deep shock into resolution to serve Bangladesh free from corruption and build a developed nation to fulfil the dream once our great leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had dreamt of.
Sheikh Khalilur Rahman is a journalist; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org