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8 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman : a visionary

The overwhelming majority of the people of Bangladesh were taken in by the magical power of Sheikh Mujib, and they were ready to sacrifice their lives for him
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur 
Rahman : a visionary

Bangabandhu is the architect of the independence of Bangladesh. He had the monumental courage and personality to mobilise a nation to fight for a just cause. Bangabandhu was a real epitome of bravery, both in the physical and moral sense. The historic Six Point Program, an explicit embodiment of Bengali nationalism was unfurled at Lahore, the heart of Punjab by Bangabandhu. In Lahore, the bastion of arrogant Punjabi power, Bangabandhu displayed admirable physical and moral courage during the course of a public meeting in 1970 that he was addressing.

 It so happened that his speech was being purposely interrupted by some Muslim League-Jamaat hirelings. When these elements did not stop even after being cautioned, Bangabandhu shouted at them, asserting that he had not come to Lahore to seek votes as he had plenty of them in his place, and that they either listen to him or disappear from the meeting area. No Bengali had ever publicly ventured to rebuke the power-obsessed high nosed Punjabis in such a raw manner.

When Bangabandhu, the poet of politics spoke, it had an electrifying effect on the Bengalis whose spirit soared immeasurably in heightened expectations. Their support for their leader was total as evidenced in the historic landslide electoral victory of the nationalist causes in 1970. When the time came for tough talks across the table, Bangabandhu did not wilt. In fact, the cabal of Pakistani army generals that accompanied General Yahiya Khan for the meeting in March 1971 were awed and surprised by the gutsy presentation and forceful manner of Bangabandhu.

The post-partition scenario in Pakistan did not witness much of a change. The military-civil bureaucracy conspired with the business oligarchy and the landed gentry to protect their vested interests. People's emancipation did not figure seriously in the politician's scheme of things. It was in these circumstances that Bangabandhu could galvanise a somnolent people to unprecedented political activism for achieving real freedom.

Bangabandhu was gifted with extraordinary organisational acumen and had the inkling of the brutality of the Pakistani military junta. Accordingly, he exhorted the people for an imminent armed struggle. His historic 7th March speech bears an eloquent testimony to that. Precariously positioned as he was in the extremely demanding tumultuous days of March 1971, Bangabandhu as a constitutional politician acted with supreme forbearance.

During the nine-months of genocide, armed struggles and untold sufferings, Sheikh Mujib's name resonated ceaselessly in the hearts of millions of Bengalis, not only within the geographical boundaries of Bangladesh, but all over the world, and he remained a demigod to the people of Bangladesh. In the words of General Rao Forman Ali, “Ninety percent of the people of Bangladesh were taken in by the magical power of Sheikh Mujib, and they were ready to sacrifice their lives for the creation of Bangladesh”. Sheikh Mujib was not a revolutionary guerrilla leader like Che Guevara or Mao Zedong; the source of his strength did not come from the barrel of the gun, rather, from the mandate and trust of his people. He rose to such a stature in the eyes of his people that he realised that it would have been cowardly if he sought shelter in a safe haven, leaving his people in the midst of death, destruction and genocide.

Moreover, while he was in the enemy's custody, there were worldwide demands for his release and pressure on the Pakistani junta to come to a political solution through dialogue with the elected leader. In November, even US President Richard Nixon, an unblinking ally of Yahya, in order to rescue his friend from the impending catastrophe, asked Henry Kissinger if it would be wise for him to advise Yahiya to have a dialogue with Sheikh Mujib. Kissinger's response was, “That would be absolutely suicidal for him, Mr. President. He will be overthrown the next day”. So a Mujib in the enemy's custody proved to be a thousand times stronger than a free Mujib fleeing to a neighbouring country, which happened to be the arch enemy of his former country. This decision once again highlighted Bangabandhu's vision, which, as the words scripted by the 17th century Irish writer Jonathan Swift, “is the art of seeing what is invisible to others”.

Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujib was a pragmatic politician. In the Pakistan state, he appeared as the undaunted advocate of the Bengali interests from the start. The general elections of December 1070 made Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the sole spokesman of East Pakistan. The people gave him the absolute mandate in favour of the six-point doctrine.

However, the election results were a big surprise for both the rivals, and to some extent, the friends of the Awami League. In the words of General Fazal Muqueem Khan, “The election results have placed the President on the horns of dilemma. The scheme of things he has worked in his mind, with aid and advice of his advisors, has been shattered. He had to make a fresh plan”.

The election results formed the core basis of our formal and legal declaration of independence on April 10, 1971. To justify transition from six-point to one point, it used seven “whereas” clauses to declare: “We the elected representative of the people of Bangladesh…declare Bangladesh to be a sovereign Republic and thereby confirming duly made declaration of independence already made by Bangabandhu on March 26, 1971”.

On March 31, 1971, the Indian Parliament passed a resolution pledging sympathy and support for the people of East Bengal in their struggle for the transfer of power to their legally-elected representatives.

In 1973, at the nonaligned summit in Algiers, Bangabandhu visited Fidel Castro. Embracing Mujib, he remarked, "I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas."

Bangabandhu throughout his life struggled for the suppressed humanity. He fought against imperialism to establish the rights of the have-nots. He always spoke in favour of the farmers, workers and day labourers. He was the real friend of the poor. World Peace Council awarded him the World Peace Medal for his extra-ordinary contribution for the depressed people of the world on May 23, 1973 and from "Bangabandhu" he became a universal friend. And consequently he made his place among all world famous leaders.  

All these he could win by virtue of his courage, honesty integrity and power of political will.   

Bangabandhu could never be cowered into submission. The trappings of power did not allure him and he remained a solid rock in the shifting sands. It is time once again to gratefully remember and pay homage to the great patriarch.

    The writer is a freelancer



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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