Friday, May 24, 2019 | ePaper
When the Sun eclipsed
Professor Anwarul Karim, PhD
Bangabandhu is dead. Long live Bangabandhu. Every year, August 15 appears as the darkest and blackest spot in the history of Bangladesh, nay the civilized world, following the treacherous and brutal killing of Bangabandhu and his family by a section of condemned army personnel who were not loyal to Bangladesh. No word can measure the depth of their crime, their betrayal to the new nation, nay to the whole humanity. No punishment was sufficient for them. It was the darkest chapter in the history of Bangladesh and it eclipsed our freedom Sun. Bangladesh weeps every time when August 15 knocks at the doors of Bangladeshi people, be they are insiders or outsiders, be they Muslims Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Tribals or belong to any other religion . For the last 43 years, the people of Bangladesh and also of those, who, this way or that had shared their roots in Bangladesh, have been experiencing such kind of unbearable pangs of sufferings and also are they forced to bear the brunt of the scourge of Allah for the heinous crime which these sinners committed to the blessed and the noblest of creatures Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Man, whom the world recognized as the bravest of the men, who sacrificed his life to the cause of his own men and country, he loved until he was brutally killed on 15 August, 1975. He could not understand that such a crime could happen by his own men and his trust was so deep on his people that he lived almost unguarded in his home without fear. Bangabandhu passed sleepless nights in the Pakistan prison in West Pakistan when he was taken there. He, it was who, always cared for his people and made ceaseless efforts to give his people the three 'S'-security, succor and success. Pakistan looted out the wealth of the then East Pakistan and made her people dependant on them for food and other things. Urdu became the state language of East Pakistan and as a result, it denied jobs to the people of East Pakistan because of their ignorance of Urdu language. People then had no way out than to fight for their mother tongue and at the cost of their lives they forced the Pakistani criminals to admit 'Bangla' as one of the state languages. And finally, there came the victory under the leadership of Bangabandhu. The Eastern wing of Pakistan regained Bangladesh and also recovered her lost glory. A brave new nation emerged as a single country that fought for their mother tongue 'Bangla'. No nation ever fought for their mother tongue in the history of the world. Bangla today has been recognized by the UNESCO and the 21st February has been accepted as the International Mother language Day, an honor which no other countries could ever have.
But alas! The person who leaped at the hot Sun of freedom for his people to keep was killed by a group of 'scoundrels' and 'monsters' to satisfy the conspirators against the humanity. The whole world was taken aback and deeply shocked when the news of the cruel killing of Bangabandhu, and the members of his family including his wife, and children reached them. His two daughters, Sheikh Hasina, presently the Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh and her sister Sheikh Rehana, were then away from the country and thus were saved. Allah saved them from the atrocity and brutal killing. The whole world looked dumb and motionless when the news came to them as a big blow. It was worse than a heinous bombshell and it caught everybody unaware and perplexed. Never such inhuman killing ever happened anywhere in the world. Political killings are not uncommon in the world history but such an inhuman killing of Bangabandhu and his family members is a crime the world never heard of or ever witnessed. Bangabandhu could never think or imagine that his own people would kill him. He trusted his men so much that it was not only beyond his or anybody's imagination that such unholy and unwonted inhuman killing could take place on the soil of Bangladesh where millions of people, men and women bravely shed their blood for him and for the country, who they loved and cared most for the sake of country's freedom against Pakistani Army junta.
Bangabandhu was fearless even when the killers, the green eyed demons and monsters in the shape of human being as of army', entered his compound. He heard shots of gunfire but could not even guess that his son, Sheikh Kamal was gunned down in the ground floor. He came out of his room only to be shot at from a point blank range and fell down dead. Thus Bangabandhu, the 'Poet of Politics', an honor that adorned him internationally, so heroically breathed his last on the soil he was born and made it free from the Pakistani Junta getting killed by his own men, who were never loyal to him or to the nation! A 'shame' that the country still bears with a deep sense of a very sad, sensitive and pathetic heart. The blood which was shed on the premises of Bangabandhu's residence shall remain there till the world ends. The blood which still has been oozing out would continue to do so till the world is doomed. It is most unfortunate that Bangladesh could not protect her greatest son of the soil, Bangabandhu, who risked death a number of times and plucked the Sun of freedom for his people met such an ending of his glorious birth!
Browning's Poetry : The Patriot
Below, I quote a poem, entitled 'The Patriot', written by Robert Browning, a Victorian poet. The poem, one may note, has points of apparent similarities in some cases with Bangabandhu and his killing by his enemies who are taken as traitors to the country.
It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.
The air broke into a mist with bells,
The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.
Had I said, "Good folk, mere noise repels---
But give me your sun from yonder skies!"
They had answered, "And afterward, what else?"
Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
To give it my loving friends to keep!
Naught man could do, have I left undone:
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.
There's nobody on the house-tops now---
Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
At the Shambles' Gate---or, better yet,
By the very scaffold's foot, I trow.
I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year's misdeeds.
Thus I entered, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
"Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
"Me?"---God might question; now instead,
'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.
I remember I had been working in the Kushtia College as a teacher in the department of English. far as back as 1962. The aforesaid poem was included in an English text, named 'The Magic Casement.' The poem speaks of a person who fought for freedom of his country and was given an unprecedented rousing reception. But within one year, things looked completely changed. He was falsely charged with misdeeds and was killed by his own men. The Poem speaks of his utmost sincerity and dedication to the cause of the country .Browning speaks referring God that He accepted him with all His love and blessings and condemned people who killed him for not properly understanding him. And the Patriot is safe with God.
We have no knowledge about Browning's 'The Patriot' whom the poet paid tribute for giving them the victory and freedom and finally was killed by his own men in misconception. However, the poem reminds us of a great person who gave his people the freedom and a new born Nation and later was killed along with the members of his family by a group of misguided army personnel who was instigated by the conspirators both from within and outside the country. He was no less a person than Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of Bangladesh nation.
He was also a victim of conspiracy by Pakistan at the Agartala case. After that he won the unprecedented absolute victory in the national election during Pakistani period, ruled by Army junta, headed by General Yahya Khan. But he could not form the government because of conspiracy by the President General Yahya Khan and Z.A. Bhutto, the PPP leader. The Pakistani Army Junta then let loose a reign of terror in Dhaka and elsewhere killing people on the fateful night of 25, 1971.An undeclared war was thrust upon the then East Pakistan and Bangabandhu declared independence of Bangladesh on March 26, 1971. Later, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested and was taken to the prison in West Pakistan with the obvious intention to kill him but could not do so because of the international pressure. Bangladesh got freedom after a 9-month long war of liberation in which 3 million people were killed. But such a leader was killed by a group of Army personnel for reasons known only to them.
Background : Lahore Resolution and aftermath
Pakistan was created on the basis of two nation theory. Both the Congress and the Muslim League accepted it. In 1940 Muhammad Zafrullah Khan and A K Fazlul Huq drafted the Lahore resolution along with others. AK Fazlul Huq, the then Prime Minister of Bengal presented it before the members of All India Muslim League on the occasion of its three-day general session in Lahore on 22-24 March 1940. The resolution called for independent states in eastern zone and northwestern zones.
That geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of India should be grouped to constitute 'independent states' in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the President of All India Muslim League adopted the resolution with the consent of others and it was known as Pakistan resolution when subsequently the word 'Pakistan' was incorporated into it.
Partition of Bengal : 1905
During the British, Bengal was partitioned in1905 because of less development in various fields including education. The British considered the Hindus and West Bengal under development program. Although Bengal was united before 1905 and it was headed by the Muslims like AK Fazlul Huq, Nazimuddin and H.S.Suhrawardy, West Bengal had all attention of the British and they developed Kolkata and other areas with industrialization. East Bengal was Muslim populated and initially they did not cooperate with the British. The attitude was changed and Muslims realized their faults and started cooperating with the British. The British divided Bengal for administrative and development purposes. And for six years they made lot of progress. Meanwhile, the Hindus protested and Bengal once again was united. In 1905 Muslim League was formed and the leaders could understand the politics of Hindus and the demand for Pakistan was finally realized. But Pakistan betrayed the cause when the country was separated. The Muslims of Bengal, who were searching for an identity throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century's, finally found it in the Lahore Resolution. The Lahore Resolution gave them a sense of nationhood. Henceforth the dominant theme in Muslim politics was not complaint against Hindu injustice, but a demand for separate political existence.
Partition of India in 1947
The British divided the sub-continent into Pakistan and Indian dominion on the basis of two nation theory, duly agreed upon, by the two contesting parties, Congress and Muslim League. Pakistan had two wings, the eastern zone ( East Bengal) was named East Pakistan and the western zone as West Pakistan.
Disparity between East and West Pakistan : Exploitation mechanism
But immediately after independence , Pakistan faced crisis as the leaders of West Pakistan tried to dominate over East Pakistan. Urdu was made the State Language of Pakistan ignoring Bangla which was the language of the majority people of Pakistan. The people of East Pakistan were denied their rights to the job market for not knowing 'Urdu'. The heavy influx of Urdu speaking Indian Muslims to East Pakistan deprived the local Bengali people from getting government jobs. Exploitation of East Pakistan thus commenced since then. East Pakistan fought for 'Bangla' and after a good deal of bloodshed in 1952, East Pakistan earned Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan.
Karachi was made the capital of Pakistan and it gave West Pakistan a great impetus for development in different sphere. Although Dhaka was made the second capital, there was no significant development. All the offices of the Central Government were located in the West including the headquarters of the army, navy, air force and the military academies. Head offices of the public and other important establishments, such as, State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan International Airlines, National Bank of Pakistan, Insurance .Companies, Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation, National Shipping Corporation, Foreign Missions and Agencies were situated in West Pakistan. Leaders of West Pakistan cheated East Pakistan economically, politically and culturally. No development was made in the field of industry. Large number of industries was established in West Pakistan against very few in East Pakistan. Defence sector was fully dominated by West Pakistan. Generals were made from among the West Pakistanis. It was a blow to the people of East Pakistan.
In the field of industries the percentage of investments in West and East Pakistan was roughly 75% and 25% respectively.
The Six-Point proposal of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib
In the absence of leaders like H.S. Suhrawardy, Sher- e- Bangla AK Fazlul Huq and Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, it was Sheikh Mujbur Rahman who took the leadership of East Pakistan and subsequently presented the Six-Point proposal to Pakistani leaders. The Six Point proposals are shown below.
1. The Constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense based on the Lahore Resolution, and the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a Legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise. The federal government should deal with only two subjects: Defence and Foreign Affairs, and all other residual subjects should be vested in the federating states.
2.. Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced; or if this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate Banking. Reserve should be established and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East Pakistan.
4. The power of taxation and revenue collection should be vested in the federating units and the federal centre would have no such power. The federation would be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures.
5. There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings; the foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.
6. East Pakistan should have a separate military or paramilitary force, and Navy headquarters should be in East Pakistan.
It was a kind of milestone for East Pakistan and Bangabandhu, the title, Sheikh Mujib received from the people was fully justified as he it was who spearheaded the movement for Bengali nationalism.
Rejection of the Six-point proposal by the West Pakistani leaders
Leaders of West Pakistan rejected the proposal considering it as an work that would help separate the country. Pro-government leaders termed Sheikh Mujib as a secessionist. In fact, the historic Six-Point formula became the "Charter of Freedom" for self-determination of East Pakistani people. Indeed, it was the turning point in Pakistan politics as the Six-Point plan had envisaged a federal form of government based on Lahore Resolution.
General Election in Pakistan
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Leader of Awami League secured absolute majority against all other parties including Z.A. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party. Awami League secured 160 seats in the National Assembly and 298 of the 310 seats in the Provincial Assembly of East Pakistan while ZA Bhutto got 81 seats.
The Historic March 7, 1971 meeting at Race Course
Pakistan, more particularly the West Pakistani Leaders further betrayed the cause of East Pakistan as President General Yahya did not inaugurate the newly formed National Assembly in order to avoid Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from forming the Government. This caused great unrest in East Pakistan and it forced Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib to call a public meeting and that soon escalated into a war that led to the formation of the independent state of Bangladesh.
In the meeting Bangabandhu said: "Today, I appear before you with a heavy heart. You know everything and understand as well. We tried our best with our lives. But the painful matter is that today, in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur, the streets are dyed red with the blood of our brethren. Today the people of Bangladesh want freedom, the people of Bangladesh want to survive, and the people of Bangladesh want to have their rights. What wrong did we do?" The speech lasted about 19 minutes and Bangabandhu concluded with the words, "Our struggle, this time, is the struggle for our freedom. Our struggle, this time, is the struggle for our independence. Joy Bangla!" It was a kind of a de facto Declaration of Bangladesh's Independence. Bangabandhu became the uncrowned ruler of the country and no country ever enjoyed such a parallel position as of Bangladesh in the history of the world.
Return of Bangabandhu to Free Bangladesh
Pakistan dramatically made him free. Reuters reported from Rawalpindi that on January 8, 1972 a special PIA aircraft moved to an undisclosed destination with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman aboard. Finally he landed in London from Pakistan. Radio Pakistan made a broadcast that President Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto saw him off at the airport. After his arrival in London Bangabandhu made contact with Dhaka and talked to Syed Nazrul Islam, the Acting Pesident and Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed.
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi spoke to Bangabandhu from Lucknow over telephone. Bangabandhu boarded a British Airways special plane in London and landed in New Delhi on way to Dhaka. He expressed his gratitude to Indira Gandhi and the people of India for their all out supports to Bangladesh in the War of Liberation.
Withdrawal of Indian Army from Bangladeshi soil
India helped the freedom fighters of Bangladesh to fight back the Pakistani Army Junta. And as the country won the victory, Bangabandhu thought it proper to ask for withdrawal of Indian army, an action that showed what political acumen, Bangabandhu had and Indira Gandhi later admitted that she lost to Bangabandhu's diplomacy in one of her books, My Truth by Indira Gandhi,January17, 2013 (Amazon).
In New Delhi Airport while talking to Indira Gandhi Bangabandhu asked for the immediate withdrawal of Indian troops from Bangladesh. "Very much on the day, when will you want it," replied Mrs. Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister. Bangabandhu appreciated her deeply and said, 'Immediately when I arrive at Dhaka'. Mrs. Indira Gandhi agreed. And Indian Army started withdrawing from the day Bangabandhu came to Dhaka. Bangabandhu landed in Dhaka on January 10, 1972. In her book, My Truth, Indira Gandhi expressed that she was also unhappy because Sheikh Mujib joined OIC summit. She also wanted to help Bangladesh rebuild her economy by providing the ICS officers, but Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did not accept it. He used his own Civil Service officers.
Rousing reception to Bangabandhu
The whole country burst into tumultuous joy and jubilation as Bangabandhu arrived at Dhaka Airport. All roads led to Dhaka Airport. And it was people and people all the way and not a space was left vacant. All the house-tops along the roads were full of people, men, women and children who wanted to have a glimpse of Bangabandhu when he had been passing through the Airport road. The world never had witnessed such type of unprecedented rousing reception accorded to Bangabandhu with roaring sound of a thunderous 'Joy Bangla slogan' that echoed the whole earth and sky. Bangabandhu was in an open Microbus and millions of jubilant
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crowd and the freedom fighters were on the either side of the microbus as Bangabandhu smilingly passed through waving hands to the free citizens of the new born Nation, Bangladesh. It was a gala day. All were in tears of joy including Bangabandhu. It was Bangabandhu who declared on Marc7, 1971 at the Racecourse Maidan before millions of people attending the meeting, "As we have been able to shed our blood for our freedom struggle, we are certain, the victory is ours". Bangabandhu's declaration came true. Pakistan had to release him from the Pakistani jail.
From the Tejgaon Airport, Bangabandhu was taken in a procession to the Race Course Ground (now Suhrawardy Udyan). It took two and a half hours to pass this road because of the people. All through the road Bangabandhu waved his hands to the waiting crowd. Bangabandhu's voice was chocked repeatedly in passion. He told the millions of waiting people with full of unbounded emotion at the Race course ground in the following words:
"While imprisoned in Pakistani jail, no news of the world could reach me. But I had firm confidence that the struggle of the people of Bangla would succeed and my country would definitely be freed. An order was issued to hang me and even a grave was dug for me. I did not think that I would be able to come back and meet you again. However, there was a strong belief in my mind that I am a Muslim and my death is only in the hands of Almighty Allah. The mercy of Allah was on me and you had offered prayer. So, I have been able to return to you again on the soil of my homeland. This is my return to light from darkness."
Reconstruction of the war-torn country by Bangabandhu
Bangabandhu immediately engaged himself in rebuilding the famine-torn country. The whole country was ravaged by the Pakistani army. Buildings were razed to the ground so much so that the death and damage were worst than My Lai in Vietnam. The massacre of Bangladesh which was committed by Pakistani Army Junta against the unarmed civilians of the then East Pakistan and present Bangladesh, was the most horrific incidents of gross human violence. The entire country was left ravaged by the war. Dead bodies men, women, children were left on the streets only to be devoured by dogs and animals. There were only hunger, hardship, and consternation all around. Indian Army left Bangladesh. Freedom fighters surrendered arms. Rakkhi Bahini was disbanded. Bangobandhu asked now defunct CSPs who joined freedom struggle to take over the administration of the country under his command. He arranged food for the hungry people. His orders were carried out to the letter. The country moved towards progress with a restructured economy.
Bangabandhu joins OIC Summit as the Head of Sovereign Bangladesh
Bangabandhu then attended an OIC Conference in Lahore Pakistan. Between 22-24 February 1974. Pakistan recognized the former or ex-Eastern Pakistan as the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Initially Pakistan did not invite Bangladesh to attend the OIC summit. It was due to the pressure of several Heads of Muslim States in the world, Pakistan had no way out than to invite Bangladesh and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to join the OIC summit. Bangabandhu had both far-sight and fore-sight. Bangladesh was a sovereign Muslim country. Naturally she had the right to join the OIC summit. The greatness of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was that he did not declare Bangladesh as a Muslim state constitutionally. During his time Bangladesh was a secular Socialist country. The same ideology has been continuing since then. In all programs of the country verses from The Quran, The Geeta, The Tripitok and the Bible were recited.
Bangabandhu as World Leader and 'Poet of Politics'
The Newsweek Magazine dedicated its cover page on April 5, 1971 to Bangabandhu and described him as a 'Poet of Politics' after he delivered his historic speech in Dhaka on March 7, 1971. The world was spell bound when Bangabandhu delivered speech roaring with the heroism of a Royal Bengal Tiger. In 1973 in a meeting of the Non-Aligned Summit, held in Algiers, Cuba's President, Fidel Castro 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 experience of witnessing the Himalayas."
Not only Castro, the world leaders who somehow came close to Bangabandhu, spoke so high of him that these had no parallel. The leader of the British humanist movement Late Lord Fenner Brockway once remarked, "In a sense Sheikh Mujib (father of the Bengali nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a great leader than George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi and De Valera.
Such a person, Could he be killed? And that too by a group of disgruntled and disdained army personnel! Who gained by his killing?
A mystery, thus, still shrouds over the massacre of Bangabandhu's family and this may be termed as the greatest of all human tragedies of all time since the beginning of civilization.
On hearing the news of Bangabandhu's assassination, former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson wrote to a Bengali journalist, 'This is surely a supreme national tragedy for you. For me, it is a personal tragedy of immense dimensions.
Many Heads of States, top leaders and Journalists of the world mourned the killing of Bangabandhu.
The massacre of Bangabandhu's family may be termed as the most tragic of all human tragedies of all time. The nation must stand united to defend the country against all odds. We sincerely mourn the tragic massacre of Bangabandhu's family and share the pangs of sufferings along with the Honorable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina.
(The writer is a former Visiting Scholar, Divinity School, Harvard University, USA and Pro -Vice Chancellor, Northern University Bangladesh.