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17 March, 2019 10:43:41 AM


Father and liberator

To liberate Bangladesh and recover its lost identity Sheikh Mujib first declared his historic six points and started a movement
Abdul Gaffar choudhury
Father and liberator

Rabindranath Tagore in his later life wrote a famous song. In that song he said, 'O Liberator, your forgiveness and mercy would forever remain a support in our long, long journey'. This song was not dedicated to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But whenever I go to Tungi Para and stand in front of the mausoleum of that great leader this thought comes to my mind that the song was written for Bangabandhu. A nation almost lost its identity and its language and culture were constantly under attack. A man known as Sheikh Mujib restored its real identity as Bengali, liberated the people from foreign rule, and created an independent nation state. This has happened in other parts of the world also, especially in Africa. Western powers after invading many countries in Africa changed their names and disgraced their identity.
A British Lord, Cecil Rhodes after occupying an African country renamed it after his name as Rhodesia. After long struggle North Rhodesia achieved independence and immediately changed it to its African name, Zimbabwe. Some other African countries followed suit. After the creation of Pakistan by dividing India the non-Bengali rulers of Pakistan followed the same colonial policy towards East Bengal, which was a part of the undivided Bengal during British rule. Pakistan constituted of several provinces-East Bengal, West Punjab, Sindh and former North-western provinces etc. But the Pakistani authority did not change the name of other provinces or its people, except the name of East Bengal and its inhabitants. Though the people of East Bengal were larger in number than West Pakistan's whole population the Pakistan government decreed that the name of all the other provinces would not be altered but the name of East Bengal would be altered to East or Mashrequi Pakistan and the people would be known as East Pakistani not Bengali.

After abolishing the Bengali identity of the people of East Bengal, Pakistan's onslaught started against Bangla language and culture. They even tried to ban Tagore songs, Lalon Geeti and some  Nazrul Geeti also. Sheikh Mujib was a young man then. He stood against not only the political repression of Pakistan's non-Bengali rulers but also their heinous cultural aggression against Bangla and Bengali people. After a long, long struggle against the political and cultural aggression of the non-Bengali Pakistani rulers for political and cultural autonomy, the people of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh realized that they needed full liberation from the clutches of Pakistan, which is a communal and theocratic country not a democratic one.

To liberate Bangladesh and recover its lost identity Sheikh Mujib first declared his historic six points and started a movement with his other comrades. A huge meeting was held in Paltan Maidan Dhaka in support of the 6 points movement where Sheikh Mujib declared, 'From today this country will be known as Bangladesh, not as East Pakistan, and we will be known as Bengalis, not East Pakistanis'. The whole Bangladesh was jubilant to hear this declaration. There was an outcry against this declaration in West Pakistan. A Jamaat leader, probably named Mia Mohammad Tofail, attacked Bangabandhu vehemently and said, 'The Muslims cannot believe on geographical nationality. The Muslims of the whole world are one nation'. Jamaat's declaration was supported by two Dhaka dailies- Azad and Morning News (now defunct).

Immediately a rejoinder came from Bangabandhu 'If the Muslims all over the world are one nation on the basis of religion then why there are so many independent Muslim countries in the Middle-east? These are Saudi, Iraqi, Jordanians, Egyptian, Turkish and others. They are of the same religion and almost all of them are Arabic speaking. Then why there are so many countries and why cannot these Muslims travel each other's counties without passport and visa?' Bangabandhu further said that our Prophet (Pbuh) also did not oppose geographical or language-based nationalism. Most of the times when he made a treaty with foreign countries he used his name as Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al Arabi Al Meccai. He did not even use Prophet of Allah with his name. He did not only identify himself as an Arab but also a citizen of Mecca. This clearly indicates what Islam thinks about nationalism.

How Sheikh Mujib became the greatest leader of the history of Bengal? His identification was whole with Bangladesh, its language and culture and it was deep rooted in the soil of Bangladesh. A famous journalist of the London Sunday Observer Cyril Dann, came to visit Dhaka on the eve of Bangabandhu's non-violence, non-cooperation movement. After coming back to London, he wrote a long column in The Sunday Observer, where he described Bangabandhu as a poet of politics. He said that Sheikh Mujib was perhaps the only leader who was 100% Bengali in his demeanour. He could mesmerize people with his thunderous voice and he fought not only for independence but to restore Bengali nationhood and created a nation state for them.

Pakistan's military junta headed by two Generals- Ayub and Yahya tried to kill him and remove his name from the politics of the country. In the mid-60s Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested and charged with treason. The case was known as Agartala conspiracy case. But there was mass uprising in the-then East Pakistan and the dictator Ayub was forced to release him withdrawing the conspiracy case. The second time, after his landslide victory in 1971 General Yahya put him into prison and tried to hang him in a Kangaroo court trial. Before his arrest he declared the independence of Bangladesh and the war started. After the war Bangabandhu returned to Bangladesh which was then a people's republic. The country was established with the fundamental ideals of democracy, socialism, secularism and nationalism. His regime survived only three and a half years and he was killed in a counter revolution.

But his ideals did not die with him. It survived under the leadership of his eldest daughter Sheikh Hasina. For long 21 years the country was misruled and its ideals were under attack. After a mass movement and a long struggle democracy was reinstated under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. The country achieved progress in all sectors especially in the economic front. Bangabandhu was re-established as the Father of the nation and the liberator of the country, whose centenary birthday will be observed next year in 2020. Where ever the Bengali people live in the world they are making themselves ready to observe this historic day with pomp and glory. Man is mortal but ideals are immortal. Bangabandhu will live and guide Bangladesh for many generations to come. I am proud to be a man of the Mujib era.

London, Thursday 14 March, 2019


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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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