Independence Day 2020
Bangabandhu and Glorious
Professor Anwarul Karim,PhD :
Each year March 26, the Independence Day of Bangladesh reappears with the memory of Bangabandhu, who was born in March 17, 1920, became the 'Poet of Politics' for his unique and unparalleled speech on March 7, 1971 and taking command of East Pakistan for making it a free Bangladesh from the hands of the Pakistan army junta, a Charisma, the world never had experienced. Bangabandhu was the leader who snatched away the power from the Army, who had been illegally ruling the country and it was the 9 month fight that forced the Pakistani army to surrender to the Allied Foree under Joint Command admitting a humiliating defeat. Never in the history of the world had such thing happened.
Backdrops of our Independence : Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia
The Daily Ittefaq of Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia was a source of inspiration and also a power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in his fight against the corrupt and misrule of the Muslim League Government of Pakistan throughout his life. Initially Manik Mia was with the Muslim League, but later he came close to Surhawardy and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. H. S. Suhrawardy founded a Newspaper known as the Ittehad in India during the British period. Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia joined this paper as an Office Secretary. It was his first experience with Newspaper. After the great Divide which created Pakistan on the basis of the Two Nation Theory Bangabandhu returned from India and joined active politics. The first issue was about the State Language. The Governor General of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared Urdu as the only State Language of Pakistan in a public meeting at Ramna Race Course ground when he first came to East Pakistan in his official visit. This had been well protected by the student leaders of Dhaka University. Sheikh Mujib was a part of it. Initially The Ittefaq was a weekly paper and it was founded by Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani in 1950. Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia was the Founder Editor of the Daily Ittefaq. Sirajuddin Hussain was its News Editor. Sirajuddin Hussain was a class mate to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Since then The Ittefaq was always with the Awami League and the Krishak Proja Party of AK Fazlul Huq. The paper was the mouthpiece of the Jukta Front during the provincial election against the Muslim League in 1954. It played a great role in the victory of the Jukta Front. In fact, Manik Mia and his Newspaper were a great source of power to the Awami League. In 1969 Manik Mia died in West Pakistan and after Independence Bangabandhu named a big road near the present Parliament House as Manik Mia Avenue to pay tribute to Manik Mia in recognition of his contribution to the Freedom Movement of Bangladesh. Tofazzal Hossain was senior to Bangabandhu by almost 9 years and for this Bangabandhu always addressed him as 'Manik Bhai'. Manik Mia was not directly involved in politics and was never in the mainstream politics. But his writing with his pen name as 'Musafir' in the Ittefaq guided Bangabandhu and his Awami League. He suffered a lot facing trials for writing against Pakistan government. After his death, it was Sirajuddin Hossain who worked for Manik Mia. In fact, The Ittefaq was then the Newspaper of Awami League, and opposition. Manik Mia was the pioneer in the world of Newspapers in East Pakistan and a legend, a torch bearer for the Newspapers in the then East Pakistan.
Manik Mia led a life of a statesman where his knowledge formed the foundation of his work -- something he was not willing to compromise at any cost. His contribution and the role of Ittefaq in achieving Independence are undeniable. Manik Mia is a legend in the history of Bangladesh's media. He is a torchbearer who has paved the way for the true path of journalism.
Proclamation of Independence
The speech Bangabandhu made on March 7, 1971 at the Racecourse ground, presently Suhrawardy Udyan was retaliation against the gross injustice made by the Army government for not allowing Bangabandhu to form the government. In his speech Bangabandhu made a declaration that this time it was the fight for Independence. However on March 25, 1971mid-nights he made March 26 as the Day for Bangladesh Independence before he was arrested by the Pakistani Army. In view of this, the Awami League formed the Mujibnagar Government as the lawful elected government because of the fact that Awami League secured the absolute majority in the Provincial election.
And then the Proclamation for Independence was announced at Badyanathtala, known as Mujibnagar.The Proclamation of Independence of Bangladesh was read out to all by Professor Yusuf Ali of Dinajpur at Mujibnagar in presence of a huge gathering including foreign journalists. The Mujibnagar government was then formed accordingly with Syed Nazrul Islam as the Acting President on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Tajuddin Ahmed as the Prime Minister and others as the members of his Cabinet.
Bangabandhu dreamt of making Bangladesh, a solvent nation among the contemporary world.He wanted to give his people a secured life, free from hunger and poverty. He wanted to make Bangladesh a Socialist country, but not in the line with the Communists like China or Soviet Russia or any other countries like Cuba or Poland. As far as it was understood, he wanted to introduce Islamic Socialistic pattern. On his return from OIC in 1972 he founded Islamic Foundation and this he did with a view to the fulfillment of his ideals he cherished. But certainly it had nothing political in it. He had no intention of making Islam as the State religion. He had a liberal view about religion. He wanted to make Bangladesh a Secular state where people belonging to different race, religion and culture would have a free play in their way of life to make Bangladesh a non-communal country. Language shall be the basis of culture.
Bangabandhu's Bangladesh Krisak Sramik Awami League ( BKSAL) was formed to give vent to his feeling of creating a social and economic system that would help build a welfare society. His long political career identified a power structure that so long centered in the hands of Capitalist blocks, the wealthier section of the country. Bangabandhu had always a dream of empowering the common people, the farmers and working class, who, he thought to be the mainstay of country's socio-economic strength. It is for this he wanted to change the system of education making it mass oriented and universal. The 1972 Constitution adopted the following : The State shall adopt effective measures for the purpose of -
(a) establishing a uniform, mass oriented and universal system of education and extending free and compulsory education to all children to such stage as may be determined by law;
(b) relating education to the needs of society and producing properly trained and motivated citizens to serve those needs;
(c) removing illiteracy within such time as may be determined by law.
He always looked for one and unitary education system that would look for the interest of all and sundry.
A valiant fighter of all time
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a valiant Patriot of all time and of all ages. There was none like in the contemporary world. He was the lone fighter for his people after the demise of H.S. Suhrawardy, Sher-e Bangla AK Fazlul Huq and Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani. But unfortunately he was assassinated with the members of his family when he was working for rebuilding the country and saving his people from imminent flood and famine.
We know about Nelson Mandela (1918 - 2013). He was senior to Bangabandhu by two years. He was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and political leader who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative Democratic election. But Mandela was occasionally denounced by vested quarters as a Communist terrorist.
Martin Luther King Jr (1929 - 1968) was one of America's most influential Civil Rights activists. His passionate, but non-violent protests, helped to raise awareness of racial inequalities in America, leading to significant political change. Martin Luther King was also an eloquent orator who captured the imagination and hearts of people, both black and white. However, his opposition to the Vietnam War did not endear him to the Johnson administration; he also began receiving increased scrutiny from the authorities. On April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. It was one day after he had delivered his final speech 'I've Been to the Mountaintop.'
Both Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King knew Bangabandhu personally. Nelson Mandela greatly honored him for being the singularly one who fought against communalism and became the leader of the humanity.
Martin Luther King also knew Bangabandhu personally and shared his experience as a fighter to establish a nation above all distinctions of race, religion or color.
Fidel Alejandro Castro (13 August 1926 - 25 November 2016) was a Cuban Communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers from 1976 to 2008. A Marxist-Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011.
"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".-Castro said in 1973. Fidel Castro made this historic comment embracing Bangabandhu at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Algiers, the Algerian capital, in 1973.
Bangabandhu fought almost singlehanded with the Pakistani Army who usurped power from the democratic government on the one hand and with the corrupt West Pakistan leaders on the other. The greatest contribution of Bangabandhu was the creation of Bangladesh on the basis of Mother Language through a 9-month long war of liberation in which three million people were killed. The world recognized and greeted Bangabandhu as a unique leader and the 'Poet of Politics' who saved his people from annihilation by the Army. The world also recognized and honored Bangla as the Mother Language and celebrating the 21st February as the International Mother Language day. The Two Nation Theory which gave birth to communalism lay buried on the soil of Bangladesh. Humanity is thus saved and protected. Bangabandhu thus became a world leader.
Initially, Bangabandhu did not want any secession from Pakistan. People of West Pakistan supported him in the National Assembly Election. His party Awami League got 169 seats out of the total 300 seats in the National Assembly. It was the highest number of seats in the National Assembly Election. PPP of Z.A Bhutto got 81 seats only. Bangabandhu was supposed to form the government. Had he been allowed to form the government, things would have been different. But the corrupt leaders of West Pakistan and the Army junta did not allow him to do that. It actually helped Bangabandhu in a different way. He became free from the charge of breaking Pakistan. He proved that it was the Army and the corrupt West Pakistani leaders who destroyed Pakistan. Bangabandhu's leadership, his courage, his love for the people and dedication to the cause of the country made him a unique leader in the world and none equaled him till this day. His speech on March 7, 1971 had the strength of crushing any kind of power on that day and it was thus unparalleled and unique in the history of the world. UNESCO recognized it as a world heritage. Bangabandhu was made the 'Poet of Politics.' This honor was spontaneous.
Mandela was then living and he too had the experience of sharing Bangabandhu's glory as a leader. Martin Luther King also had seen the role played by Bangabandhu as long as he lived. He died in 1968. Castro eulogized him as one as great as the Himalayas. Such was Bangabandhu; such was he who never cared for his personal gains. He fought against the false nationalism for the truth and the whole truth --Man is above all.
In fact, Bangabandhu had no parallel. I wish I could speak like Poet Wordsworth as he did to Milton :
Mujib! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
Bangladesh hath need of thee:
We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
The historic speech that Bangabandhu made on March 7, 1971, had the glory of the aforesaid poem. In fact, we feel his absence and deeply we owe to him, the wonderful gift, Bangladesh he had so lovingly given to us to keep. We remember him with love and gratitude :
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart' (Wordsworth)
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time. (Henry Longfellow)
Had Bangabandhu been living today he would have made Bangladesh not only an ideal nation of humanity where race and religion would never have been conflicting, where poor would never have been deceived or exploited by the rich. The man behind the plough would have been the decision maker and where equality and fraternity could reign supreme in making Bangladesh a world power.
People were always by his side as Bangabandhu also did never leave them in moments of crisis. A few other things, however, corroborate a little with Bangabandhu, such as the love of his people; and the heroic and rousing reception given to him by his countrymen after he returned home being released from Pakistani prison following international pressure to Pakistan.
The dark period that consists of the British rule, the colonization of the subcontinent and its continuation in Pakistan period in regard to East Pakistan is also considered as an Era of Darkness. British looted the wealth of India and Pakistan did the same making East Pakistan a colony to West Pakistan.
Bangabandhu, unparalleled world leader and emergence of Bangladesh
The freedom struggle beginning with the Language Movement and other issues and finally the Great War of Liberation and the return of the Patriot, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Bangabandhu, his rousing reception and his dreams of making Bangladesh in line with the Golden Bengal of the past with no hungry generation and a country that would be ruled by the people of the soil, the farmers and the workers without any class or caste distinction.
Bangabandhu is thus a name in the world. He was a brave, outshining and unparalleled leader who excelled everybody of his time. On occasions, Bangabandhu appeared to me as the Netaji of Bangladesh so far as the struggle for Freedom is concerned.
Netaji and Bangabandhu have points of similarities. Both suffered equally in prisons. Both were betrayed by friends and trusted persons. Both met deaths following conspiracies. But Bangabandhu finally could successfully lead his country to the coveted Freedom against Pakistan. Bangabandhu thus outshines him in regard to the ultimate goal in the emergence of Bangladesh. And here, Bangabandhu becomes a kind of a Superhuman to his people.
Bangabandhu was a Rebel and irresistible. He was inspired by the Poet Nazrul.
His March 7, 1971 speech at Racecourse ground in Dhaka was a revolutionary one. He won the National Election of Pakistan in1970 securing the highest number of votes to form the government centrally. Awami league got 169 seats out of 300 whereas PPP of Z.A. Bhutto got 81 seats. In the provincial election in East Pakistan, Awami League secured the absolute majority. General Yahya Khan and Z.A. Bhutto made a conspiracy and delayed the session of National Assembly. The Army junta of General Yahya Khan tried to stop protest movements in East Pakistan by gun shots. A lot of people were killed. This forced Bangabandhu to call a public meeting directly against the Army government.
The Poet of Politics roared like the Royal Bengal Tiger and at once took the command of the country in his own hand and declared that henceforth everybody must follow his instruction. All offices, industries institutions must stop functioning. Banks would remain open to make payment to the officers concerned, their salary etc. And declared, "â€¦.. This time our struggle is for Freedom". Bangabandhu challenged the Pakistan Army Government and asked them to get back to the barracks :
Bangabandhu became the Rebel of Kazi Nazrul Islam in Bangladesh :
Say: High is my head!
Looking at my head
Is cast down the great Himalayan peak!
Pakistan army let loose a reign of terror throughout East Pakistan. Bangabandhu was taken to custody. This infuriated the people of Bangladesh. The Liberation War started. And finally we achieved Victory-Independent Sovereign Bangladesh.
The poet Sukanta Bhattacharya looked for this day. His dreams came true with the dreams of Bangabandhu. The forecast Sukanta once made, became a reality :
mvevm, evsjvâ€¡`k, G câ€¦w_ex
AevK ZvwKâ€¡q iq :
RÂ¡â€¡j cyâ€¡o-gâ€¡i QviLvi
Zey gv_v â€¡bvqvevi bq|
The world is amazed!
Fired, burned, died and destroyed
But never gave up! (Collected)
Such was the dream Bangabandhu and Netaji had. Both are thus the great and heroic.
(Professor Dr. Anwarul Karim is presently the Executive Director, Bangabandhu Research Center, Northern University Bangladesh, a former Visiting Scholar, Divinity School, Harvard University (1985), Principal (Retd), Kushtia Government College, Vice Chancellor (In-charge) Islamic University,Hony. Chairman Bangladesh Institute of Folklore and Community Development (BIFCID) and Founder Director, Lalon Academy,Kushtia. E-mail:dranwar.karim@gmail,com)