Media Friendly Bangabandhu

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Published on August 26, 2021
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Hiren Pandit:

Bangabandhu was born in a remote river-shaded village of Tungipara in Gopalganj. He was the main attraction of the Bengali nation since 1947. The history of the liberation of the Bengali nation has revolved around him. The communication strategy has played an important role in the way in which the young Sheikh Mujib Mujibur Rahman has gradually become the liberator and architect of the Bengali nation. As the leader of the Awami League, he had close contact with the newspapers and journalists of the country.

After completion of his high school education in 1942, when the young Sheikh Mujib went to study at Islamia College in Calcutta, he became directly involved in student politics. But his goal was to do politics on a national scale in the future. So, he built himself on the ideals of the legendary leader of undivided Bengal, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. As a young leader, Sheikh Mujib became popular. From this time his journey to the newspaper office began. In the office of the Daily Azad in Kolkata, the journalist used to hang out with his friends from time to time. Bangabandhu was a media friend since then. The location of the journalist and newspaper office was close to his heart. He believed that the role of media in all the movements and struggles of Bangladesh and the great liberation war was unforgettable. The great leader hailed the contribution of newspapers and electronic media during the liberation war, the language movement and other movements.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a media friend since his student days. He had many friends among the journalists. His immortal creation gratefully expresses his deep interest and faith in the media. Because the role of media in all the movements and struggles of Bangladesh and the great liberation war was infinite. This great leader termed the newspapers and electronic media during the liberation war as 'mass media and not just news media.
Throughout his life, Bangabandhu spoke of freedom of expression. Talking about the importance of media Bangabandhu mentioned in his memories that, "my father used to keep a newspaper; Anandabazar, Basumati, Azad, Masik Mohammadi, and Saugat. He then spoke about the media politics of East Bengal at that time and the history of the steps taken by the leaders of this section for the welfare of the people at that time.

Young Mujib was involved in the politics of the Muslim League in his life in Kolkata, so he often had to go to the newspaper office with the press release of the Muslim League. At one point he realised that the daily Azad, edited by Maulana Akram Khan, supported the reactionary group of the Muslim League. So, in January 1948, with the financial support of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, they published the daily Ittihad. The editor of this magazine was Abul Mansur Ahmed. The magazine caught everyone's attention at that time with a completely new look as a modern magazine. Sheikh Mujib himself worked tirelessly to market the magazine. He has also been a responsible consultant in the management of the newspaper.

Even after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the paper was published in Kolkata. Sheikh Mujib worked in the Dhaka office of the newspaper and arranged for its widespread promotion by appointing an agent in East Bengal. But the government of Khwaja Nazimuddin banned the publication of this newspaper in East Bengal as it was published from Kolkata. When the Awami Muslim League was established in 1949, the weekly Ittefaq was published as the spokes-paper of the party. Maulana Bhasani was the editor, Yar Mohammad Khan was the publisher, but Tofazzal Hossain (Manik Miah) was in charge of running the magazine. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy used to finance the newspaper.

Before the election of the United Front, in 1954, Ittefaq was transformed from a weekly to a daily. And Tofazzal Hossain (Manik Miah) was elected editor. In 1955, Section 92 (a) was introduced in East Bengal, arresting political leaders and closing their offices. The daily Ittefaq was also closed at that time. While meeting imprisoned Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Tofazzal Hossain said that he would not publish the paper anymore and was going to Karachi for a job. Sheikh Mujib requested him that day “you will not go. When you leave, no one will be able to run Ittefaq.” Tofazzal Hossain informed him the next day that he was not going to Karachi.

Tofazzal Hossain had a deep relationship with Sheikh Mujib. At the request of Sheikh Mujib, Suhrawardy first involved him with the daily Ittefaq and gave him the responsibility of administration and control of the newspaper. When Sheikh Mujib raised his historic six-point demand in 1966, the Daily Ittefaq shattered the power of the Pakistani general by building public opinion in its favour.

During the anti-Ayub movement in 1969, the newspapers of this country played a courageous role. In particular, the court reporting of the Agartala conspiracy case against Sheikh Mujib, which was started on charges of treason, was continuously published in daily newspapers. On the one hand, the student and mass movement, the demand to withdraw the Agartala conspiracy case, and on the other hand, the processions and rallies began every day across East Pakistan to demand the release of political prisoners. General Ayub was compelled to accept all the demands. At that time, the newspapers, in their news, columns, and editorials, accurately portrayed the exploitation, torture, and discrimination of the ruling class of Pakistan. Later, during the election of 1970 and the non-cooperation movement of 1971, the dailies also played a responsible role. They printed all the decisions, instructions, statements, and speeches of Sheikh Mujib in large type on the first page with pictures. It is said that the newspapers have made an important contribution in motivating the people and building the public mind, they have given full support to the leadership of Sheikh Mujib.
Since Sheikh Mujib's historic speech on March 7, no one has raised any question on the establishment of the Bengali nation and the independence of Bangladesh. The whole nation became one. Sheikh Mujib was the undisputed leader. The daily newspapers acknowledged his leadership.

However, from the night of March 25, 1971, to December 16, 1971, newspapers were forced to publish under the direction of the Pakistani military. With the news of the surrender of the Pakistani troops on 16 December and the victory of the freedom fighters, they again played a courageous role as before. On 10 January 1972, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's historic return to his homeland was described by the newspapers as 'that great man comes'.

After independence, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ruled the country for only three and a half years as Prime Minister and President. In that short time, he laid the foundation for a war-torn Bangladesh in exchange for the blood of 3 million martyrs and the disrespect of two hundred thousand women.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the first to protect the freedom of speech of journalists. Bangabandhu has played an important role in strengthening the media. And he was the first person in the history of independent and sovereign Bangladesh to work for the media. And he also arranged salary allowances for journalists, freedom of the press, and national recognition of the media. In a word, Bangladesh and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the poet of politics is the ultimate emancipation whose spirit soared immeasurably in heightened expectations.

Writer: Research Fellow, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication

Source: The Daily Sun