A Shameful & Black Chapter in Bangladesh's History

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Published on August 14, 2021
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Hiren Pandit:

The most disgraceful tragedy in the history of Bangladesh was the cruellest assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, architect of Bangladesh, father of the nation, the charismatic leader of the liberation war. Bangabandhu struggled throughout his life for his people and made them united to throw out the restraints of Pakistani oppression and led them towards independence. His stirring speech on March 7, 1971, before one of the largest audiences in history, made the Bengalis prepare for the eventual Independence War. He was ready to stake everything for freedom: "The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle now is the struggle for our independence."

Bangabandhu started dreaming about an independent and sovereign country in 1947. He began participating in numerous movements and protests and, as a result, his studentship was canceled. 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.

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 following his instructions. Beyond nine-month active fighting and struggle, people, in general, had to sacrifice much more. Almost every family suffered in many ways. Massacre, abduction, rape, brutality, destroying houses and infrastructure, seizing wealth, and mass-refugee living are features of the sufferings of the horror war. A further vital sacrifice was made on December 14, 1971, when many outstanding scholars and professionals were killed by the Pakistani military in collaboration with in-country war criminals just two days before the victory came. People, in general, were jobless for months, even after winning. So, economic depression crossed the border. And rebuilding the family was as difficult as that of the state. Despite the fact of defeating the enemy, people looked gloomy due to having the pain of the cost and seeing a devastating post-war environment.

The hope and happiness suddenly returned on 10 January 1972 when the father of the nation and founder president Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to the country via London and New Delhi from the Pakistan jail. Since then, the leader was trying hard to rebuild the state and to strengthen the governance in a distressing environment.

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. Bangabandhu stated that the world is divided into two halves, the oppressed and the oppressors, he was with the oppressed. All his dreams were shattered on August 15, 1975. Some traitors took his and all his family members' lives except his two daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana. Other people killed in the attack were Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, wife of Mujib, who was killed upstairs; Sheikh Nasser, younger brother of Mujib, who was killed in a lavatory; several servants of Mujib, who were also killed in lavatories; Sheikh Jamal, the second son of Mujib and an army officer; ten-year-old Sheikh Russel, the youngest son of Mujib; and two daughters-in-law of Mujib Sultana Kamal, Rosy Jamal and Colonel Jamil Uddin Ahmed, the chief security officer who came forward to save Bangabandhu's life. Two other groups of soldiers killed Sheikh Fazlul Haque Mani, Mujib's nephew and a leader of the Awami League along with his pregnant wife, Arzu Moni in Dhanmondi, and Abdur Rab Serniabat, Mujib's brother-in-law a minister of the government and thirteen of his family members on Mintu Road.

The assassination of Bangabandhu and his family on August 15 is one of the most heinous, barbaric, and brutal killings in the history of world human civilization. But it wasn't just murder. There was also a conspiracy to silence forever the progress of a newly independent nation. 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. After the assassination of Bangabandhu, the four principles of the war of liberation - secularism, Bengali nationalism, democracy, and socialism - were violated. The occupiers of state power trampled on the spirit and values of independence and took Bangladesh in the opposite direction to that Pakistani ideology. Once again, the military dictatorship is sitting on the shoulders of the Bengalis.

The steps taken by Bangabandhu for the economic liberation of the nation were stopped. The politics of military coups, counter-coups, assassinations, and conspiracies began in the country. One military dictatorship after another began to change. At the same time, under the umbrella of military dictators, defeated anti-independence groups, extremist communal and fundamentalist militant groups emerged in the country. Identified freedom fighters are politically rehabilitated.

The events of that fateful night continue to haunt us to this day, and no doubt will continue to remind us how there are those even among our people who can and will go against the very fundamental values upon which our nation was built. But we take this day not only to mourn the loss of the man who founded this great nation, but also to recall the vision he had for Bangladesh -- a country that stands as a beacon of progress, of development, of peaceful co-existence, and democratic values. It is, to a great extent, this vision that has carried us forward as a nation and as a people, and every time we have deviated from it, we have found ourselves in darkness and chaos. As such, let us take this opportunity to remember the great man that Bangabandhu was, who united a people with his legendary statesmanship and oratory, and guided them towards sovereignty, which we would otherwise have never tasted.

Who knows where Bangladesh would be now if he had not been taken away from us so suddenly and so cruelly, leaving us a people without the torch to light the path forward? It was Bangabandhu's vision and philosophy that paved the way to the prosperous Bangladesh we now have. Let us never forget this and let us as a people work together to build a nation truly worthy of Bangabandhu's memory, the nation that he dreamed of, and the nation that he promised us. Bangabandhu's legacy is inextricable from the history of Bangladesh, he stood as a symbol of hope and unity. He was the father of the Nation and will continue to be a guiding light for all Bangladeshis, into the future and onward.

Writer: Research Fellow, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio & Communication (BNNRC)

Source: Daily Asian Age