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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

August: A month of excruciating tragedy

The ghosts of the past still haunt the nation

Update : 09 Aug 2023, 10:31 AM

In the annals of Bangladesh's history, the month of August has been marred by two tragic incidents that have left an indelible mark on the nation. The events that unfolded on August 15, 1975 and on August 12, 2004 continue to be a painful reminder of the devastating consequences of negative politics. 

 

On the dark night of August 15, 1975 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, suffered a brutal assassination, along with the tragic loss of most of his family members. The perpetrators behind this heinous act were a group of military personnel, aided by political elites. This brutal act sent shockwaves across the country and plunged Bangladesh into a period of political turmoil and instability. The loss of Bangabandhu, a visionary leader and an ardent advocate for independence, left a void that the nation is still trying to fill to this day.

 

Amidst the tumultuous events of August 15, 1975, two of his daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, were fortuitously overseas, sparing them from the harrowing ordeal that unfolded back home. Sheikh Hasina, who was visiting Germany at the time, and Sheikh Rehana, who was in the UK, were spared from the devastating fate that befell their family back home in Bangladesh. Their survival became a beacon of hope for the nation during those dark days, as they carried the legacy of their father forward, becoming significant political figures in their own right and continuing the work of their father to build a democratic and prosperous Bangladesh. Their unwavering resilience and unwavering determination have been instrumental in shaping the nation's trajectory, as they tirelessly strive to foster positive change and foster development.

 

Nearly three decades later, on August 21, 2004, Bangladesh experienced another tragic incident: A state-sponsored grenade attack targeted at a meeting of the Awami League. The attack was intended to assassinate Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the party and the daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Though Sheikh Hasina survived, fortunately, due to the human chain formed by the leaders, the assault resulted in the loss of lives of innocent civilians and party members, leaving the country in mourning once again.

Therefore, August 21 marked a tragic day in Bangladesh's history. The innocent family members of political leaders and supporters who lost their lives that day endured unimaginable suffering and heartache. The pain and grief they experienced left a void in the lives of their loved ones and the entire nation. Equally heartbreaking are the wounded survivors who still carry the physical and emotional scars of the attack. Many of them bear the painful remnants of the grenade's sprinter embedded in their bodies, a constant reminder of the horrifying events they endured.

The pain is a reflection of the deep wounds that continue to afflict them emotionally. These survivors and the families of those lost continue to be a testament to the resilience of the Bangladeshi people, as they courageously persevere in their pursuit of justice and healing, standing firm against the scourge of violence and negative politics. Their strength and determination inspire the nation to stand united against such acts of brutality, ensuring that such tragedies are never repeated in Bangladesh's history.

Both of these tragedies were fueled by the dark undercurrents of negative politics. These incidents stand as stark reminders of the destructive impact of political animosity and the dire consequences of resorting to violence in pursuit of power. The mastermind behind the August 21 strategy devised a nefarious plan to obliterate political opposition from the country's political landscape. 

While Bangladesh has made significant strides in its development and progress over the years under Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League government, these events serve as poignant reminders of the importance of fostering a culture of tolerance, understanding, and democratic discourse. Embracing the principles of democracy and upholding the rule of law is paramount for all political parties, as it necessitates prioritizing the nation's welfare over personal and party interests.

Remembering the tragedies of August is crucial for the people of Bangladesh as it serves as a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of negative politics and violence. Reflecting on these dark chapters in the nation's history helps instil a collective sense of responsibility to prevent such incidents from recurring. By commemorating the lives lost and the suffering endured by the victims and their families, Bangladesh can honour their memory and strive for a more peaceful and democratic future.

Allowing the supporters of August tragedies to come to power would risk perpetuating a cycle of violence and instability. Leaders and parties associated with such events have shown a willingness to resort to extreme measures to achieve their goals, undermining the principles of democracy and threatening the nation's stability. Allowing them to gain power could jeopardize the hard-earned progress made by Bangladesh over the years and hinder the pursuit of prosperity and social harmony.

As the nation commemorates these tragic events throughout the month of August, it is an opportunity for introspection and a call for unity among all Bangladeshis. Together, the people must strive to build a peaceful and prosperous future, free from the shadows of the past and the spectre of bad politics. Let us remember the victims of these tragedies and honour their memory by working towards a Bangladesh that stands strong, united, and committed to democratic principles.

The people of Bangladesh must unite against any attempts to manipulate history and glorify those responsible for the August tragedies. Instead, they should support leaders and parties committed to upholding democratic values, promoting inclusivity, and fostering a peaceful and progressive society. 

By learning from the past and choosing a path of reconciliation, accountability, and justice, Bangladesh can move forward, ensuring that the sacrifices of those who suffered in the August tragedies were not in vain and securing a better future for generations to come.

In this month of August, as the nation reflects on its history, may we find the strength to learn from the past and march forward together, embracing peace, harmony, and progress for generations to come.

Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.

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