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Life of Bangabandhu: A timeline

  • Published at 01:06 am March 17th, 2020

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is assassinated by a handful of army renegades in the early hours of August 15, 1975

1920

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is born in the village of Tungipara under the then Gopalganj Subdivision (now District) of then Faridpur District on March 17, 1920. His father Sheikh Lutfar Rahman and his mother Sheikh Sayera Khatun had four daughters and two sons. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was their third child. His parents used to adoringly call him "Khoka".

1927

At the age of seven in 1927, Sheikh Mujib begins his schooling at Gimadanga Primary School. At nine, he was admitted to class three at Gopalgonj Public School. Subsequently, he was admitted to Gopalgonj Missionary School. Before becoming active in student politics, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had an affinity toward sports and a special love for football. A talented football player, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman spent his adolescent years playing in competitive tournaments, where he received awards for his outstanding performances.

1932/1933

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman marries Sheikh Fazilatunnesa (Renu). Together they had two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, and three sons, Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel.

1942

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman passes the Matriculation examination from Gopalganj Missionary School. The same year, he is admitted to Islamia College (currently Maulana Azad College), Kolkata. 

1943


Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is elected councillor of All India Muslim League from Bengal. He served in this position till the partition of India in 1947.

1946

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is elected General Secretary of Islamia College Students Union uncontested. on August 16, 1946, during the communal riots of Calcutta (now Kolkata) known as ‘The Great Calcutta Killing,’ he helps maintain peace and communal harmony, saving the lives of many a members of both the Hindu and Muslim communities.

1947

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman joins Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy’s move for a United Independent Bengal as a third free state along with India and Pakistan. However, the move was aborted and subsequently became the foundation of the Father of the Nation’s vision for an independent Bangladesh. Unlike many others, he did not rush to East Pakistan immediately after the partition, instead staying in Calcutta for a few weeks and joining Mahatma Gandhi’s Peace Mission along with his political mentor Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.

1948

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is admitted to the Department of Law at the University of Dhaka. He founds the East Pakistan Muslim Students’ League, the first opposition student organization in Pakistan, on January 4. 

He rose in spontaneous protest on February 23, when Chief Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin declared in the Constituent Assembly that the people of East Pakistan must accept Urdu as their state language. Sheikh Mujib immediately plunged himself in overt activities to build a strong movement against the Muslim League’s resolve to make Urdu the only state language of Pakistan. 

On March 2, a meeting held at Fazlul Huq Muslim Hall approved a resolution placed by Sheikh Mujib to form an All-Party State Language Action Committee. He was arrested along with some political workers on March 11, while they were picketing in front of secretariat building in observance of the `State Language Bangla Day.’ The student community of the country became restive following his arrest. In the face of overpowering student protests, the Muslim League government was forced to release Sheikh Mujib and other student leaders on March 15.

1949

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman extends his support to a movement of the Class 4 employees of the University of Dhaka, aimed at realizing their rights and job security. He is arrested on April 19 from the Vice-Chancellor’s residence, where he along with some students had assembled for a demonstration. On June 23, the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League (present Awami League) is founded and he is elected as joint secretary whilst in prison.

1952

On January 26, then Prime Minister of Pakistan Khawaja Nazimuddin declares at a public meeting in the Paltan Maidan that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan. While in captivity, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stays in constant touch with those waging the movement to realize Bangla as one of the state languages. He issues key directives to make the movement a success even from the confines of his prison. 

On February 16, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman starts a hunger strike that lasts 11 days. He is released on February 27. On February 21, agitated students came out on strike in order to press their demand to make Bangla one of the state languages of Pakistan, in defiance of a curfew enforced by the authorities. Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar, Shafiur and many others are martyred when police fire on a rally. In a statement released from jail, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman expresses deep sorrow for those who lost their lives and protests against the unjust police firing through a hunger strike. The same year, he visits China to attend the World Peace Conference, where he delivers a resounding speech in Bangla, taking the cause of the Mother Language Movement to a global audience.

1953

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is elected General Secretary of Awami Muslim League at its council meeting and continues to gain prominence as a Bengali leader.

1954

The first elections in East Bengal are held on March 10. The United Front wins 223 seats out of 237 Muslim reserved seats. The Awami Muslim League alone obtains 143 seats. Sheikh Mujib wins the election in Gopalganj constituency and takes oath on May 15 as minister for Co-operative and Agricultural Development in the new provincial government. 

The central government arbitrarily dismisses the United Front cabinet on May 30, and as Bangabandhu landed in Dhaka from Karachi the same day he is immediately arrested. He is released on December 23.

1955

Under the leadership of General Secretary Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Awami Muslim League is renamed Awami League, dropping the word ‘Muslim’ to open the doors of the party to all, regardless of religion. The decision is made at the council session of the party from October 21-23. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is once again elected General Secretary of the party at the council.

1956

In September, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman joins the provincial Awami League government headed by Khan Ataur Rahman as a minister. He remains in the position for 9 months. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman voluntarily resigns from the Cabinet on May 30, 1957 in order to continue as General Secretary of the party and build the organization as a platform for the Bengalis.

1957

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is re-elected as general secretary of the party at its council meeting held from June 13-14. From June 24 to July 13, he visits China on an official tour.

1958

On October 7, Major General Iskander Mirza takes power as president of the country, imposing martial law and banning all political activities. Three weeks later, he is toppled by Army Chief General Ayub Khan and ousted from the country. On October 11, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is arrested. Thereafter, he is continuously accused in false cases. He is released from prison after fourteen months, but is arrested again immediately at the jail gate.

1961

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is released from jail after the High Court declares his detention unlawful. He sets up an underground network called `Swadhin Bangla Biplobi Parishad’ (Revolutionary Council for Independent Bangladesh) with leading student leaders in order to work for the independence of Bangladesh.

1962

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is again arrested by the Ayub government on February 6. He is freed on June 18, following after the four-year-long decree of martial law is lifted on June 2. He travels to Lahore on September 24 and forms the National Democratic Front (NDF) with Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and other opposition parties.

1964

On January 25, a special meeting of party leaders, including presidents and secretaries of district committees, iss held at Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Dhanmondi 32 residence. In this meeting, the decision to leave the National Democratic Front (NDF) and revive the activities of the Awami League is taken. At its council meeting from March 6-8, proposals on the right of the general people of the country to vote and elect their own parliamentary government are accepted. In the same meeting, Maulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman are elected President and General Secretary, respectively. 

As a communal riot had broken out in East Pakistan, a strong Riot Resistance Committee was formed under the initiative of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He calls on the people to stand up and resist communal forces. After the riots, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman takes the initiative to prepare for a united movement against then Pakistani military dictator General Ayub Khan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is arrested 14 days before the 1965 presidential election.

1965

The Pakistani government charges Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with sedition for making allegedly objectionable statements. He is sentenced to one-year imprisonment and released by an order of the High Court.

1966

On February 5, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman presents his historic six-point program known as the `Charter of freedom of the Bengali nation’. It drew the roadmap for the independence of Bangladesh under the garb of greater autonomy. The program hit hard at the roots of Pakistani colonial rule over the Bengalis. 

In the council meeting held from March 18-20, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is elected president of Awami League. He travels far and wide in order to gain support for his 6-Point program and is arrested 8 times during the campaign. After the final arrest by the regime on May 8, 1966, he is imprisoned for nearly three years.

1968

On January 3, the Ayub government files the Agartala Conspiracy Case against a number of Bengalis (Politicians, members of the Army, Navy and Air Force, Civil Servants etc.). Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is shown as arrested on January 18, while already in jail, and named as the prime accused. Along with him, 34 others are charged with forced secession of East Bengal with the assistance of India. A mass movement spreads across the country demanding the release of all the accused including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. On June 19, the trial of the accused begins at Dhaka Kurmitola Cantonment with intense security and scrutiny.

1969

The Agartala Conspiracy Case results in a nationwide student movement and mass uprising demanding the withdrawal of the case and the release of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Under pressure from the public, the Ayub Khan government is forced to withdraw the Agartala Conspiracy Case and release Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and others on February 22. 

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is given the title 'Bangabandhu' at a mammoth public meeting organized by the Central Student Action Committee at the Racecourse Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan) on February 23. At a meeting held on December 5 to observe the death anniversary of Shaheed Suhrawardy, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declares that East Pakistan would be called Bangladesh from then on.

1970

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Awami League president, urges his countrymen to elect Awami League candidates on the basis of their 6-point demand in the country’s first general elections held on December 7 (National Assembly), and December 17 (Provincial Assembly), barring a few seats in the cyclone affected coastal areas in the south. He chose 'boat' as the party’s symbol to represent Awami League and the nation's hope. 

After a million people die in a catastrophic cyclone in the coastal areas on November 12, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman suspends the election campaign and rushes to the affected areas. Awami League achieved an absolute majority in the general elections on December 7, winning 167 (including 7 women reserved seats) out of the 169 seats of the National Assembly in East Pakistan and 298 seats (including 10 women reserved seats) of the 310 seats of the Provincial Assembly of East Pakistan.

1971

Following General Yahya khan’s postponement of the National Assembly session on March 1, only two days before the session was due to take place, Bengalis from all walks of life take to the streets in massive demonstrations. From March 1 onward, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is virtually running East Pakistan as its de-facto head of government. 

On March 7, in his historic speech before millions of people at the Racecourse Maidan, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman calls on his fellow countrymen to take all out preparation for the War of Liberation. Pakistan President General Yahya Khan visits Dhaka and holds a series of meetings with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from March 16- 24, but no resolution can be reached. 

At midnight on March 25, the Pakistan army launches its heinous campaign of genocide against unarmed Bengalis. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaims the Independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of March 26. Right after the proclamation, he is arrested and taken to a Pakistani prison. 

On April 10, the first government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is formed and Bangabandhu is elected President by the constituent assembly. Syed Nazrul Islam is elected Vice President and acting president in the absence of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, while Tajuddin Ahmed is elected prime minister. The leaders take their oaths of office on April 17 at a famous mango garden (Amrakanan) of Baidyanathtala in Meherpur, now known as Mujibnagar. 

After nine months of bloody war, Bangladesh is liberated with the surrender of the Pakistani occupation army on December 16, 1971. In August and September, the Pakistan Junta held a secret trial of Bangabandhu and sentenced him to death. People of the world are enraged and demanded the security of the President of Bangladesh. 

On December 27, the Bangladesh government seeks Bangabandhu's immediate and unconditional release.

1972

Under immense international pressure, the Government of Pakistan is forced to release Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on January 8. On that very day, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman travels to London on his way to Dhaka. There, at a crowded press conference in his hotel, he spoke to the world press. On January 9, he meets then British Prime Minister Edward Heath. 

Prior to returning to Dhaka, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stopped over at Delhi, where Indian President VV Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi welcomed him. When the Father of the Nation reached Dhaka on January 10, millions of jubilant citizens welcomed him with open arms. He went straight from the airport to the Race Course Maidan now renamed Suhrawardy Udyan, where he addressed the people of independent Bangladesh for the first time. 

On January 12, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman takes charge as Prime Minister of the Bangladesh government and begins the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country. Within three-and-a-half years, Bangabandhu laid the foundations of the new Republic by, putting into effect several measures, including rehabilitation of 10 million Bengali refugees, withdrawal of all allied forces within 3 months of victory, formation of the constituent assembly & a constitution for the new state within 10 months, recognition of Bangladesh by more than a hundred states. He also ensured Bangladesh’s membership to important international bodies including the Commonwealth of Nations, United Nations, NAM, and OIC, as well as the enactment of International Crimes Tribunal Laws.

1973

Led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Awami League secures 293 seats out of 300 in the Parliament in the first general elections in an independent Bangladesh on March 7. The World Peace Council awards the Julio Curie Peace Prize to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for his contribution to world peace on May 23. On September 6, Bangabandhu sets off to Algeria to participate in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit. On the sidelines of the summit, he holds bilateral talks with many world leaders.

1974

Bangladesh receives world recognition by becoming the 136th member of the United Nations on September 17. On September 25, at the 29th General Assembly of the United Nations, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivers the first ever Bangla speech at the UN.

1975

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is assassinated by a handful of army renegades in the early hours of August 15, as part of a larger national and international political conspiracy hatched by anti-liberation forces. They conspirators murdered in cold blood every member of his family except his daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, who by fortune alone were abroad at that time.

Note: Information and photos courtesy of National Implementation Committee for Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's 100's anniversary celebration