After being released from a Pakistani prison on January 8, 1972, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was unable to contact his family until the following day. Over the phone from London, his first words to them were “Are you all alive?”
According to the conversation originally published in the Ittefaq, his family were indeed alive and were in turn in a state of disbelief that he had been freed. It was only after extensive persuasion that Mujib’s parents began to accept their son’s miraculous release.
Amid the tears of joy from family members, there was one who was particularly excited to speak to the Father of the Nation. Sheikh Russel, Mujib’s seven-year-old son, needed to hear his father confirm his release himself.
Sheikh Russel said: “Abba, did they release you? When will you come back?”
“They (the Pakistani authorities) have caused us much pain. But we are all well now,” the child told his father.
Bangabandhu also spoke with his wife Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib on the day. During the conversation, Fazilatunnesa grew visibly emotional at the thought of Mujib finally coming home.
When speaking to then Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s compassion was demonstrated as he first asked about his people.
He said: ““Hello Tajuddin. Now I am surrounded by journalists. What do I say to them? How are my beloved country men? Did the Pakistani military kill my people?”
In his response, Tajuddin informed Bangabandhu of the millions of Bangladeshis killed in nine months of grueling war, and how people from all walks of life united to snatch their freedom.
“The people still love and trust their leader,” Tajuddin said.
Earlier on January 8, then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi spoke to Bangabandhu upon his release.
“We are grateful to you for leading the people of Bangladesh through the War of Liberation,” she said.