Let our mourning be our inspiration
Martin Luther King Jr has said: “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” These words are very true because a great leader is born as a blessing for a nation from the creator. Not all leaders are born with the great quality of leadership.
Only a few leaders get this divine and unique quality. These people have charismatic charms which can be perceived as lighthouses spreading light to the people. There are so many leaders in this world who have given birth to new nations by giving their people the taste of independence. Our Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is such a name.
Undoubtedly, he was the greatest leader who liberated our people from a quagmire. Indeed, he was the people’s friend. The title “Bangabandhu” suits none but him.
An indomitable spirit
Moreover, there were other leaders who wanted to liberate our nation from the then Pakistani militants, but they did not succeed. Bangabandhu, being a rebel and benevolent persona, not only dreamt of a sovereign country, but also worked with his heart and soul to fulfill all his dreams. His thunderous utterance “keo dabay rakhte parba na” -- we are indomitable -- still gives its listeners adrenaline rushes. Truly, his name and our Liberation War are inseparable.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s passion for politics has been reflected in his autobiographies. His concern about misery gave birth to his political ideologies. He used to feel everything intensely. His leadership qualities bloomed when he started to realize the agony of the Bengali people.
We all know that he came from a middle class family, and because of his active participation he was sentenced to jail several times. He witnessed the political turmoil of his time, besides the historic World War II and the famine of 1943.
Our renowned professor, Humayun Azad, once penned: “Sheikh Mujib’s physical appearance was large, his head always raised high and his figure clearly visible to everybody.” In 1971, he was such an illuminating persona that because of his striking appearance, others’ appearances were overshadowed. Netaji Subhas Chandra and our AK Fazlul Haque were his inspiration.
While studying in Kolkata, he involved himself with the Muslim League. It was really a disappointment that though Pakistan was separated from British rule, it failed to experience any significant progress. Then East Pakistan was tortured and neglected in every sector.
Involvement with politics
In 1948, when Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liakat Ali declared that “Urdu and only Urdu will be the state language of Pakistan,” the whole nation burst into aggression. And at that moment, Bangabandhu started dreaming about an independent and sovereign country.
He began participating in numerous movements and protests and, as a result, his studentship was cancelled. Just after the Language Movement, Bangabandhu became a potential political leader. Later, in the provincial election, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected as the youngest minister of the country.
From 1963, Bangabandhu took over the responsibility of the Awami League, and all the movements started under the leadership of Bangabandhu. In 1966, the historic Six Point movement came. The Six Point Movement was spearheaded by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which called for greater autonomy for East Pakistan.
The movement’s main agenda was to realize the six demands put forward by a coalition of Bengali nationalist political parties in 1966, to end the perceived exploitation of East Pakistan by West Pakistani rulers. It is considered a milestone on the road to Bangladesh’s independence.
However, the Six Point demand was not granted, and the rulers arrested the Father of the Nation on May 8. On June 17, Sheikh Mujib was transferred from Dhaka Central Jail to Kurmitola Cantonment. The Pakistani government framed Mujib in the Agartala Conspiracy Case in 1968. This case was framed by the Pakistan government during the Ayub regime against Awami League Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, some in-service and ex-service army personnel, and high government officials.
They were accused of involvement in a conspiracy to secede East Pakistan with the help of the government of India. In 1969, the masses protested to free their leader through the Mass Uprising. Our leader became free from all allegations and was invited to a round table discussion. Still, the Six Point demands were not accepted.
On March 25, 1969 Ayub Khan handed over power to Yahya Khan. General Yahya Khan assured that democratic rule would be established, and with that view, made arrangements for the 1970 election. The Awami League, led by Bangabandhu, won the majority of the votes.
The Pakistani rulers could not accept the fact that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would serve as the prime minister. On that note, a pre-organized meeting with the newly elected candidates was cancelled. As a result, the Bengali people became furious once again.
Later, the Pakistani rulers conducted the most heinous massacre in history to annihilate Bengalis on March 25, 1971. Bangabandhu was arrested on that night.
Under his leadership, the Bengalis fought for nine long months, shedding their blood. Eventually, Bangladesh became independent on December 16, 1971. Bangabandhu had been imprisoned the whole time. Nobody knew if he was alive or not. Still, in his absence, the Bengalis fought heart and soul in accordance with his instructions.
After independence, Bangabandhu became free from prison in Pakistan and joined as the prime minister of independent Bangladesh on January 12, 1972. Then he decided to form the constitution of independent Bangladesh.
In the election held on March 7, 1973 according to the constitution, Bangabandhu’s Awami League won a landslide victory and established the system of electing a government for a tenure of five years. According to the fourth amendment of 1975, he converted the ruling system to a government run by a president.
With his extraordinary leadership, within three years Bangabandhu managed to fulfill the rehabilitation tasks in war-torn Bangladesh. He established political stability and worked for economic reformation. He had a vision for the development of Bangladesh. He stated in the Algerian assembly: “The world is divided into two halves, the oppressed and the oppressors, I am with the oppressed.
”He believed that his nation would be a Golden Bengal and that there was no alternative to education, research, and creativity. In his book, Amar Dekha Nayachin, he stated the inequity perceived in the spheres of our country. Thus, he always wanted to build an equal and unbiased nation.
All his dreams were shattered on August 15, 1975. Some traitors took his and all his family members’ lives except his two daughters’. A promising politician who had dedicated his whole life to serving his nation was killed so brutally that the people of our country still lament.
And on this very day of August we all mourn. This loss will never be compensated because he was the greatest Bengali of all time. Whenever I think of this day, my soul cries, and I remember Walt Whitman’s poem --
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
There will be no rebirth of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman but his ideology and ethics will enlighten us towards building a prosperous nation. We need to enhance more expertise in the education and IT sectors. Thanks to our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is following the vision of her father. But we need to be more supportive and help her build a nation her father dreamt of.
Our mourning should be our strength and inspiration. Only then will Bangabandhu’s departed spirit be satisfied.
Md Sazzad Hossain, an ICT expert, is a director of Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited and member of University Grants Commission