Bangabandhu and Independence of Bangladesh
Pranab Kumar Panday :
The birth of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a history in the context of Bangladesh as the emergence of the country as an independent state would not have been possible, at least in 1971, without his birth. That is why, he has become an inseparable part of our history. The whole nation was guided by strong, dedicated and visionary leadership of Bangabandhu to fight for the liberation of our country.
We all know that the honour of the 'Father of the Nation' is bestowed on a person only when his contribution is recognized as extraordinary in the process of the formation of a nation. The contribution of these champions in the process of Liberation War of any country is seen as instrumental in the birth of their nations. Bangabandhu was awarded with the honorific 'Father of the Nation' of Bangladesh for his lifelong struggle and leadership for the freedom of the country like other leaders (Peter I of Russia, Sun Yat-sen of China, Sir Henry Parkes of Australia, Mahatma Gandhi of India, and Mustafa Kamal of Turkey) who also received the recognition of the 'Father of the Nation' in their respective country.
It is no denying the fact that Bangabandhu was the real Architect of our country as he had a great contribution in the whole journey of liberation that started in 1952 through Language Movement and followed through the democratic movement of 1962, the Six-Point Program of 1966, the Mass Movement of 1969, the enviable Victory of the election of 1970 and more importantly the Liberation War of 1971. As a matter of fact, the demand for autonomy was crystallized by the Six-Point program of Bangabandhu. This program led the foundation for the mass movement in 1969 that contributed the Awami League to gain the landslide electoral victory in the first ever general election in 1970. For his steadfast leadership in these movements, he will remain alive in the heart of millions of Bengali.
Sensing the smell of conspiracy of the Pakistani Junta in summoning the session of the Parliament and handing over power after the electoral win of 1970, Bangabandhu delivered the historic 7 March speech seldom delivered by politicians. Although it was not based on a written script, it was an informative one as it incorporated all possible facts. It was such a logical and poetic address that inspired millions of Bangladeshis to sacrifice their lives for the Independence of the country. Bangabandhu spoke in such a way that created an emotional inspiration among the people of the country. If we listen to this speech today (even after 48 years) we feel the same emotional attachment. Thus, the 7 March speech was rightly compared by many with Abraham Lincoln's 'Gettysburg address' and Martin Luther King Junior's 'I have a Dream' speech. To be honest, it was the foundation of the Declaration of the Independence of the country.
This speech was delivered in such an important time when the tension between the then East Pakistan and the powerful political and military establishment of West Pakistan was mounted sky high centring on the issue of autonomy. In the face of continuous conspiracy of the West Pakistani military ruler, Bangabandhu provided a guideline for the country and instructed the countrymen to prepare for the civil disobedience movement in the province by saying 'prottekye ghore ghore durgo gorye tolo" (prepare every house as a fortress). Being inspired by the poetic speech of the leader, the people of East Pakistan started raising their voice through chanting the slogan like 'Sob Kothar Shesh Kotha, Bangladesher Swadhinota" (The final word is the Independence of Bangladesh), and ('Bir Bangalee Ostro Dhoro, Bangladesh Swadhin Koro' (Brave Bangalee, Take Up Arms to Make Bangladesh Free). He concluded his speech by saying that "Rokto Jokhon Diyechhi, Rokto Aro Debo, E Desher Manushke Mukto Kore Chharbo Insha-Allah" (Since we have shed blood, we shall shed much until, by the Grace of Almighty, we will make people free).
Since after his 7th March speech, Bangabandhu was seriously thinking about the destination of our Liberation War, although it was started as a defensive war. His formal declaration was spearheaded by Yahya's decision to carry out the army crackdown in the night of March 25. As soon as he received the news of the crackdown, Bangabandhu instructed his close associates to continue the armed struggle from hiding. On that particular night Bangabandhu was very decisive about taking the most important decision of his life which was the Declaration of the Independence of Bangladesh. The message of independence was dictated by Bangabandhu to a faithful person at the central Telegraph office for its circulation all over the country. The message of Independence that contained "the Pakistan army has attacked police lines at Rajarbagh and East Pakistan Rifles Headquarters at Pilkhana at midnight. Gather strength to resist and prepare for a war of Independence. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman" (quoted from Robert Payne's book entitled 'Massacre') was received by Awami League leader M. A. Hannan in Chittagong and some local Awami League leaders in Cumilla and Brahmanbaria.
Many of us in Bangladesh have tried to claim that many people dreamt of having an independent Bangladesh. It might be true as Maulana Bhashani had also spoken about Bangladesh in open forums. But, they failed to provide a sketch of Independence, which Bangabandhu did. As a leader, he had an extra quality that was related to the motivation of the people. Crossing all the boundaries he came out as an obdurate leader in the country. While commenting on the leadership role of Bangabandhu, Cuba's Fidel Castro once noted in 1973 that "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." Thus, through his achievements, he has become a real political hero whose contribution cannot be compared with other political leaders.
Earlier we have experienced that many attempts were taken by different political groups to obliterate the contribution of Bangabandhu from the history of Bangladesh. But, their attempts were never successful as his contribution is ingrained in the hearts of millions of Bangladeshis. He placed himself in such a height that it is very difficult to touch him. Thus, he would be remembered by the millions of Bangladeshis as long as Bangladesh would remain active in the World map as an independent country.
(The writer is a Professor, Public Administration, Rajshahi, University).