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23 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Sheikh Mujib and Bangladesh

By Imrul Hoque
Sheikh Mujib and Bangladesh

When the brave people of Bangladesh took part in the Liberation War, Mujib was their spirit; when they won with flying colours, Mujib was their spirit; and as I am writing this article, Mujib is also my spirit. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them _ thus wrote William Shakespeare in his drama ‘Twelfth Night’ (act II, scene v). In the context of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did not find greatness by chance; rather, he achieved greatness through his dedication and determination. For achieving that greatness, he had to spend 4,682 days in prison, and overcome threats of death sentences.

After seizing power in France in a 1799 coup d’état, Napoleon Bonaparte had confidently declared: “France has more need of me, than I have need of France.”  Similarly, Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is such an integral part of the history of Bangladesh that this country still has need of him.  

Whenever Bangla was threatened, whenever Bangalees were attacked and whenever Bangladesh was endangered, Sheikh Mujib emerged as a torchbearer. Sheikh Mujib is so intensely related to Bangladesh that whenever the history of Bangladesh’s independence is discussed, his name inevitably appears. And whenever Sheikh Mujib is discussed, the emergence of Bangladesh invariably appears.

Sheikh Mujib was always vigilant about the tradition and existence of Bangla. When East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan, Sheikh Mujib vehemently opposed the move in the constituent assembly on August 25, 1956. He asserted, without ifs and buts: “Bangla has a history of its own. Bangla has a tradition of its own. You can change it only after the people have been consulted.”

Sheikh Mujib even named our country Bangladesh. In a speech delivered to mark the death anniversary of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy on December 5, 1969, Sheikh Mujib remarked: “There was an attempt to eradicate Bangla from the map of this country. Except ‘Bay of Bengal’, the expression ‘Bengal’ is rarely found.… Therefore, from today, I am declaring, on behalf of the people, the eastern province of Pakistan as ‘Bangladesh’, instead of ‘East Pakistan’.”

On the fateful night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistan army resorted to massacring the common people of Bangladesh. The army also conducted an operation under the code name ‘Operation Big Bird’ that night to arrest Sheikh Mujib from his residence. Upon arresting him, one Major Jaffar declared through wireless, as Siddiq Salik wrote in his book ‘Witness to Surrender’: “Big bird in the cage; others not in their nest….over.” The Pakistan army thought ensnaring Sheikh Mujib would lead to the demise of Bangladesh. But alas! Their cage was so brittle that it crumbled to pieces within nine months, and the big bird was again freed, and he charmed a new nation through his melody.

A popular proverb goes like this: I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. Sheikh Mujib was a lion. The incendiary leadership of a charismatic lion like Mujib enchanted the oppressed Bangalees so much so that they fought valiantly with whatever they had, and ultimately, achieved independence in only 266 days.

Sheikh Mujib was greatly enlightened by the philosophy of Bengal. As interviewed by ABC News of Australia in 1972, Bangabandhu did not believe in vengeance; rather, he believed in the philosophy of every Bangalee, which is love, love and love. Such solemn philosophy of Bangalees added a new dimension to his political activism and made his efforts meaningful.

Sheikh Mujib wrote in his personal notebook on March 5, 1973: “As a man, what concerns mankind, concerns me. As a Bangalee, I am deeply involved in all that concerns Bangalees. This abiding involvement is born of and nourished by love, enduring love, which gives meaning to my politics and to my very being.”

Thus, Sheikh Mujib is deeply attached to eternal Bangla and golden Bangladesh n

The writer is a student of Economics

at University of Dhaka.

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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.

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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