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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Because he did not stop for death

An exposition of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s journey towards immortality

Update : 17 Mar 2024, 02:32 PM

As March 17 approached, debates on the greatest Bengali of all time began to flare up. As we ponder the inquiries, the name Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman first pops into my mind. Despite being the perpetrator, political opponents are sometimes hesitant to acknowledge his legacy, yet even according to the BBC, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is arguably the greatest Bengali of all time. His brilliance extends beyond Bangladesh and even embraces West Bengal. Undoubtedly, he developed a reputation as Bangabandhu, "the friend of Bengal," thanks to his acts of charity, concession, compassion, and affection.

Politically, Bangabandhu believed in mankind's unconditional affection. He became an advocate for ordinary people, operating as a conscience for the world. His comments crystallized how Bangabandhu saw himself -- as a human and a Bengali. Bangabandhu's declaration of self-identity reveals the three main tenets of his philosophy: Love, peace, and freedom.

Bangabandhu had an immense degree of affection for his country and the inhabitants that lived there. Concern for his people was paramount to him. David Frost, a British television journalist, asked Bangabandhu, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" in an interview that took place on January 18, 1972. He answered, "My greatest strength is my love for my people; my biggest weakness is that I love them too much." 

Over the course of his whole life, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman battled relentlessly for the protection of human rights not only in his territory but also beyond the border. Interestingly, historians are still puzzled as to how he achieved Bangladesh's independence through democratic processes. Indeed, he made a remarkable and well-known attempt to bring the advantages of freedom to the oppressed and impoverished by employing democracy. 

Despite spending the better part of his life in politics, the father of the nation never held any executive office in pursuit of creating change. He battled against undemocratic and colonial regimes for over seven years under the British and for twenty-four years under Pakistan to protect the cultural, political, and economic rights of the Bengalis. 

Looking back on his long fights and his 3.5 years as a leader of an independent Bangladesh, we find an extraordinary man who influenced the lives of countless people, not only Bengalis but everyone. Bangabandhu was devoted to achieving a narrow range of political goals and principles. His efforts promoted a philosophy of freedom, love, and peace to the forefront of our consciousness and the globe at large. 

The foundation for his philosophical convictions was his love for the people and the country, which he backed up with his extraordinary courage, honesty, and sincerity. Instead of looking to Marx or Mao for political and social change, he put his faith in his own ideas. Bangabandhu said it unambiguously that he would build a socialist society in Bangladesh that would safeguard democracy, social justice, and personal freedoms; he would not import socialism from elsewhere. The aim was to bring about positive social change by establishing an efficient and democratic socialist system. Later, this philosophy was termed as "Mujibbad."

If we look at his early years, it may be evident that his empathy for the downtrodden was apparent at a young age. He spent his whole political and administrative career advocating for the poor and oppressed people of the nation. Throughout his time, from being a student to his role as head of the state, he has always prioritized the needs of ordinary citizens beyond their freedom. 

MujibSpeech

In 1937, while he was a youngster, he formed the "Muslim Service Association" with the support of his teacher, Kazi Abdul Hamid. Assisting low-income kids was their primary objective. Thus, he would visit each family in the neighbourhood to collect rice. In his incomplete autobiography, he said that they would go door-to-door on Sundays with bags of rice and that the money from selling this rice would cover the expenses of books, examinations, and other necessities for the poor boys. 

Again, an additional intelligence report dated July 13, 1947, mentioned Sheikh Mujib as the leader of the "Economic Liberation Movement." He spearheaded an effort to ensure that low-income people could afford food, clothing, schooling, and healthcare. 

Additionally, it should be mentioned that Bangabandhu was sacrificed once again after his admission to Dhaka University. That is, in 1949, he was kicked out of Dhaka University for leading a strike that demanded higher wages from lower-ranking employees. Afterward, he was given the bond studentship. Nonetheless, Bangabandhu disagreed. 

In Bangladesh, being a student at Dhaka University has always been highly esteemed. Dhaka University was everyone's wildest dream. However, Bangabandhu felt confident in his faith and leadership abilities; thus, he refrained from putting up a bond to reclaim studentship at this university. 

Needless to say, Bangabandhu firmly believed what he did and spoke. When he stepped down as Minister of the Interior and became Party Chairman in 1957, he was a paragon of sacrificial politics. This demonstrates not just his altruism but also his patriotism, determination, and character as a politician. 

It needs to be mentioned that the founding father spent 4,675 days in jail for refusing to compromise on human rights and democracy. He might have risen to a prominent position and lived a lavish life if he had given in to the temptation of the Pakistani leadership. In today's world, the prospect of a prejudice-free society where individuals are prepared to give their lives for the sake of others seems far-fetched. 

He made his famous statement on January 11, 1971, when he said, "To the land and to the soil of the country, I am in politics because I love it." That's why he jeopardized his life on a daily basis for over 13 years inside jail while simultaneously advocating for the privileges of the impoverished. His conviction and courage in championing human rights were unshakeable. He willingly sacrificed himself for the betterment of others. 

It goes without saying that Bangabandhu dedicated his whole life to standing up for the downtrodden. His selfless acts ensured that the agricultural labourers and underprivileged people of Bangladesh would never again find themselves on the outside of society. He had a tender heart and sympathized with their feelings. 

Bangabandhu was unparalleled as an international leader, thinker, and advocate. He was the most charitable man in history, and his love for others exceeded even his devotion to his own children and spouse.

As Professor Abdur Razzaq expressed, “Regardless of how broadly one can define patriotism, it is clear that Bangabandhu loved his own country just as much as he loved the nation of Bangladesh.”

Notable traits of Bangabandhu include unwavering moral convictions, honesty, empathy, and a love for humanity. His life and legacy will never run out of topics for exploration. However, I would like to shed some light on Bangabandhu's compassion and sensitivity. 

Bangabandhu was able to carry out a great deal in a relatively brief amount of time despite the complicated nature of the undertaking because his leadership was creative and loving. Restoring the war-ravaged infrastructure and reopening schools and hospitals were just a couple of the numerous aspects of the national administration in which Bangabandhu was engaged. Tragically, this wonderful man was assassinated shortly after bringing his country out of subjugation, robbing his countrymen of the opportunity to rebuild and achieve economic independence. His time on earth was snuffed out by a gunshot, but his legacy continues to live forward with remembrance.


 

Sauid Ahmed Khan is a freelance contributor.

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