The dastardly brutal killing of the 15th August, 1975 resulting in the death of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members, including his 10-year-old son Sheikh Russel shocked the entire globe. The man who sacrificed his life and dedicated it for the cause of his people had to die at the hands of his own people whom he loved too much, even much more than his own children.
If one goes to explain the reason behind his death, one would find that such killings are not unusual in history. Many public leaders of outstanding ability who were unafraid of the vested quarters died in similar ways.
The simple question is who killed Bangabandhu and why? The answer is not difficult to guess. Jamaat, Muslim League and Shibir cliques, which opposed the creation of independent Bangladesh, engaged the killers, some of whom were disgruntled and dismissed soldiers from the army and some were in service. In fact, the army as a whole did not stage the coup or even endorsed it. But those who were in the command of the army and police immediately after the killing extended their support to the illegal regime of Khondaker Mostaq.
What was Bangbandhu’s fault? The answer is obvious. It was because he created Bangladesh, transformed Islamic East Pakistan into an independent secular country and framed a secular constitution for Bangladesh rejecting religion-based constitution of Pakistan.
The Muslim League, Jamaat and other reactionary forces opposed the six-point programme of Sheikh Mujib and his movement for regional autonomy. They felt long before the War of Liberation in 1971 that the movement for autonomy was a movement for isolation of East Pakistan. Even the Language Movement of 1952 in their judgment was a movement against the solidarity of Pakistan sponsored by India.
They supported the fact that Pakistan was created based on the theme that the Muslims of the sub-continent required a separate land for their identity. They thought that if the Hindus get a separate land for themselves then why not the Muslims? In fact, it was the religion that was used as an instrument to dismember the sub-continent and the British rulers worked out their own strategy. Finally that was made into a reality. As a result, the subcontinent was dismembered and thousands of Hindus and Muslims had to sacrifice their lives.
The Muslims of the then East Pakistan supported the proposal under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The leaders of Bengal like Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq, Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, Desh Bandhu Chittaranjan Das and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did not like the division in the way it was done by Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi. In 1940 Lahore resolution, a different concept was mooted out. It was Jinnah, Ballab Bhai Patel and their English cohorts who hastened the division making the two countries -- Pakistan and Hindustan.
East Pakistan, a land nearly 1200 miles away from the West having different language, culture and heritage, became the major part of Pakistan. The Pakistani rulers since its inception began to exploit the people of the east. They behaved as if they are the masters and Bangalees are the slaves. This attitude of the ruling class widened disparity forcing the Bangalees to raise demand for regional autonomy. It was great leader Sheikh Mujib who took the lead to realise this demand.
The onslaught on the Bangalees during the Language Movement made it abundantly clear how the Pak rulers wanted to subjugate Bangladesh. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the then Governor General of Pakistan, declared in 1948 that ‘Urdu should be the only state language of Pakistan’. The Bangalee youths unitedly opposed and shouted ‘No’. That ‘No’ in fact negated Pakistan in the long run. The Pakistani rulers described the protesters as Indian agents working against the solidarity of Pakistan. Against this backdrop of gross disparity between east and west, the then leader of the Bangalees Sheikh Mujib launched his six-point movement against the Pakistani oppression and finally became successful in isolating East Pakistan as an independent state liberating the Bangalees from the clutches of Pakistan rulers.
Sheikh Mujib, the most forward-looking personality of the east, left no stone unturned in realising his demand for regional autonomy. The language movement of 1952, the six- and eleven-point movements of 1966 and 1969 and the Agartala Conspiracy Case led to the mass upsurge of 1969 and Sheikh Mujib emerged as Bangabandhu after he got release from the Agartala Conspiracy Case. Bangabandhu compelled Yahya Khan to hold general election in 1970. The Awami League led by Bangabandhu won the general election by a landslide. He categorically declared that he would not change his six-point demand.
Despite the fact that he became the leader of the majority party, he declined to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Pak ruler rejected his proposal and started taking preparation for a full scale war against East Pakistan. It was on the 25th March of 1971 that they really started a war against Bangalees who were absolutely unarmed. Bangabandhu declared the independence of Bangladesh in the early hours on 26 March.
The armed struggle to liberate the country started. Mujib was taken to West Pakistan. He was imprisoned there for nine months. In the meantime revolutionary government was formed under the leadership of Tajuddin Ahmed with the cooperation of Indian government and the nine-month armed struggle liberated Bangladesh on the 16th December 1971, the day when the occupation army was compelled to surrender.
Now the killing of Bangabandhu was not an ordinary event. The man, who wanted to liberate his people against interest of the imperialist, should not have felt so secure as to be in his unprotected house with a few policemen at the gate.
The imperialists did not forgive the nationalist leader who rose to the occasion to emancipate his people from the subjugation of the semi-colonial rulers of Pakistan. The dismemberment of Pakistan was not the only reason to eliminate Sheikh Mujib. The real causes were the policies and the programme perused by Sheikh Mujib in the newly independent country.
The emergence of a nationalist leader like Sheikh Mujib in South Asia was not acceptable to them i.e., the then political atmosphere in Bangladesh was not acceptable to them. Since the Indo-Soviet axis aided the creation of Bangladesh, the newly independent country became a target of imperialists. They were then not happy with the policy of Indo-Soviet axis. They did not like the influence of India in South Asian affair. Bangladesh in their opinion became a client state of India.
For them Pakistan as a member of Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) was more useful than India. So when East Pakistan became secular nation state with Sheikh Mujib as its leader, they continued their support to Pakistan ignoring the birth of Bangladesh.
The imperialist forces wanted to kill Sheikh Mujib. They have succeeded in killing Bangabandhu, but failed to turn Bangladesh into neo-Pakistan. The daughter of Sheikh Mujib is now ruling Bangladesh in a different way. India is not an enemy state to Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina knows how to deal with its neighbor and the rest of the globe. Sheikh Hasina has adopted such a foreign policy that neither west nor the east is antagonistic to her.
Bangladesh maintains friendly relationship with all other countries of the globe. It has progressed so tremendously and in such a short time that Sheikh Hasina is now a leader of the globe. Her leadership in national politics has made her indispensible. Bangladesh is now really an important country in the globe. It is no longer a basket without its bottom. It has already developed into a middle-income country with a promise to rise to a developed country by 2041. Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of the founding father is its captain.
The writer is former Political Adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, General Secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and Columnist