Bangabandhu and Bangladesh

Dr M R Khan  

The greatest Bengali of the past thousand years, sculptor of Ban­gladesh, Father of the Nation, supreme com­mand of the Liberation War, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born in an aristocratic and noble Muslim family on 17th March, 1920 at the village of Tungipara under the present district of Gopalganj. His father’s name is Sheikh Lutfar Rahman and his mother’s name is Sheikh Sayera Khatun. On the occasion of Bangabandhu’s “Akika” (a ceremony of naming a new born Muslim child), his maternal grandfather Sheikh Abdul Majid gave him the name Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But Bangabandhu’s parents called him by the nickname “Khoka” 

The Bangabandhu spent his childhood by playing with natural objects and beauty. He would enjoy the charm of beauty of flora and fauna. He was charmed by loveliness of natural trees, plants and creepers. He was so impressed by the good look of nature and its beauty that sometimes he was beside himself with joy and ecstasy. Because of his extraordinary attraction and love for natural phenomenon, sometimes, he would besmear his body with sand and dust and jump into river water. Sometimes he would get  drenched with mud water, sometimes he would go for a wander around the village to see nests of tailorbirds; sometimes he would  enjoy seeing how kingfishers caught fish from under water. Again, sometimes he would roam in search of nests of cuckoos and melodious sweet notes of Doel (magpie robin of Bangladesh). He did it because he felt a special aesthetic attraction for the beautiful creatures of nature.                                                                                   

From his boyhood, he was very philanthropic and altruistic by nature, and was a great friend to the needy and the poor. Students at that time usually would go to school on foot through rain and sun, and it was very tough and strenuous on their part to attend the school on foot through rain and scorching rays of the sun without any umbrella. This miserable condition of the poor students who did not have any umbrella gave him much pain. He tried to help the poor students and minimize their sufferings. And with this end in view, he very often gave his own umbrella to the students who did not have any. For his beneficent acts, the family needed to buy for him a few umbrellas every month. 

He was so humane that he could not put up with the privation and distress of the poor people. In this connection, an event of Bangaban­dhu needs to be mentioned here:

Once upon a time Bangabandhu’s mother was standing under a mango tree waiting for her Khoka to come. After a short while, she espied or sighted that Khoka was coming with his body wrapped in a wrapper. Later, the reason was discovered that he did not have his trouser and Punjabi on. It is because he gave his wearing dress to a needy and poor boy who had a very shabby and worn out dress on.

Bangabandhu started his study at Gimadanga Primary School when he was 7 (seven) years old. After that he got himself admitted into Gopalganj High School at his 9 (nine) He passed the Entrance Examination in 1942 from Gopalganj High School. And then for higher study, he left his school for Islamia College in Kolkata. From that college, he obtained the B.A degree in 1947. And then after the partition of Pakistan and India, he got himself admitted into the Law Department of the University of Dhaka. At that time the employees of 3rd and 4th classes of Dhaka University were on strike for realizing their demands. The generous Bangabandhu expressed his solidarity with the employees and supported their legitimate demands very strongly. The university authorities could not take it in good spirit, rather they became furious with him, and then at the front of the Vice Chancellor’s residence, police arrested him on the charge that he joined the sit-down strike and instigated the employees to continue the strike. However, a 

few days later, he was  released  from jail. On 3rd January 1968, the Agartala Conspiracy Case was filed by the Pakistan regime of Ayub Khan against 35 officers including Sheikh Mujib as an accused no 1. Later, the Pakistan regime under pressure of mass movement was compelled to release him on 22nd February 1969. On 23rd February about 10 lakhs of people including students, leaders, and people from all walks of life gathered at the then Race Course Maiden and the “Central Students’ Struggle  Council” arranged a hearty reception for Sheikh Mujib . In that hearty reception, the title ‘Bangabandhu.’ was formally conferred on Sheikh Mujib.

Later on, political scenario gradually changed. Ayub khan resigned and Yahya took over the charge. Thereafter, a new episode began in the life of Bangabandhu with the participation in election held on 7th December, 1970.  In the election, Bangabandhu came out victorious with the great majority of 98% votes. But in spite of overwhelming and strong majority, blood-thirsty dictator Yahya hatched a deep-rooted conspiracy. He started to dilly-dally and shilly-shally to hand over the powers to the elected leaders. He plotted a conspiracy to annihilate the entire Bengali nation. Sensing the sinister motive of Yahya, Bangabandhu called a meeting on the 7th March, 1971 at the Race Course Maiden where there was a large and vast meeting.  Bangabandhu made a clarion call to the large gathering for independence and said, “The struggle this time is the struggle for our liberation. The struggle this time is the struggle for our independence.” Actually at the call of Bangabandhu, the non-cooperation movement started from 7th March, 1971 and continued till 25th March 1971. 

Thereafter, on the black night of 25th of March 1971, the barbaric and brutish soldiers of Pakistan indiscriminately killed unarmed Bangalee men, women and children. They captured Bangabandhu from his residence, took him to West Pakistan and put him in a lock-up there. Liberation war started in full swing and continued for about 9 (nine) months. During the Liberation War of 1971, 30 lakh of people embraced martyrdom and about 2 lakh of women were raped, tortured, outraged of modesty, and the county was ravaged by the marauding barbaric soldiers. Bangabandhu was confined in a lock-up in West Pakistan. His grave was dug by the lock-up to bury him there. But dauntless, heroic, brave and valiant Bangabandhu did not give in nor did he yield to any fear or favour of the Pakistan Army.

To be continued

The writer is a former Joint Secretary to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and regular contributor to Bangladesh Post.