Life, Work and Philosophy | Daily News
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Birth Centenary

Life, Work and Philosophy

Workers at a garment factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh. Women make up the overwhelming majority of the workforce in Bangladesh’s garment industry.
Workers at a garment factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh. Women make up the overwhelming majority of the workforce in Bangladesh’s garment industry.
Part 2  
From 1949 to 1952, Bangabandhu was jailed three times. Pakistan government arrested only Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman a number of times along with the forbidden leaders of Communist Party but not any other party leaders. It is understood from the report of Pakistan Detective Force that since 1947 they used to secretly follow Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Every single movement and speech was reported. From history, it’s evident that they targeted Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. They demanded Bangabandhu’s unofficial separation from Muslim League immediately after Pakistan’s creation. Still, in reality, Bangabandhu and his leader Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy were mentally segregated from Muslim League before the establishment of Pakistan.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman 
Father of the Nation in Bangladesh

With the association of Congress leader Sharat Bose, they suggested forming an independent state namely Greater Bengal (Bangladesh, West Bengal, some parts of Tripura, Assam and Bihar) without adding Eastern Bengal to India or Pakistan. They went ahead focusing on it. Abul Hashim was also a leader of the Greater Bengal Movement. But later, he leaned towards religion-based politics. At that time, Suhrawardy didn’t go back to Pakistan. So, naturally, Sheikh Mujib being Suhrawardy’s right hand, became the representative of Greater Bengal Movement in Eastern Bengal. Sheikh Mujib was one of the leaders who were against adding East Bengal to Pakistan after the communal riot. Consequently, Pakistan considered him as their archenemy from the very beginning. For not being scared and not giving any attention to government’s anger and hostility, Bangabandhu was gradually shifted to the centre of politics. And, this crucial decision taken by Bangabandhu from jail during the language movement of 1952 served as a milestone in the politics of East Bengal.

The government imposed section 144 in Dhaka University campus on February 21 so that the students couldn’t bring out any procession. The students’ leaders were ready to violate the section imposed on them. Still, Awami Muslim League leaders were not in favour of breaking section 144 till February 20. They thought that the government would soon declare the national election. Any spur-of-the-moment decision like violating section 144 could be a good cause for government in shifting the schedule of the election. But, this time Bangabandhu instructed the students from prison as the Joint Secretary of Awami Muslim League to violate section 144. The instruction of Bangabandhu protected Awami Muslim League from the compromising politics. It helped to get an exposure as a more prominent political wing in 1954. That day, if Awami League had not violated section 144, they would have encountered the mass condemnation and the mass people wouldn’t be able to establish the demand of language as a critical point. But this issue brought the downfall of Muslim League. On that day, Bangabandhu’s political integrity, and uncompromising attitude, above all, farsightedness and visionary leadership played a vital role.

General Secretary of Awami League and 54’s election

Bangabandhu came into the centre of politics quickly through political farsightedness, the accuracy of decisions and of course, tremendous hard work. In 1953, he was elected General Secretary of Awami Muslim League. Having been chaired, two crucial issues appeared: Election of 1954 and forming the coalition focusing the election. In 1953, the election of 1954 was declared in Pakistan. Within the declaration of election, the Chief Minister of undivided Bengal, Sher-E-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Haque expressed his candidature relinquishing his duty as Attorney General. Fazlul Haque’s declaration of joining in the election added a new dimension to the politics of East Bengal. If his Krishok Proja Party and Awami Muslim League participated in the election separately, the Muslim League would gain the victory. So, forming a coalition was the supreme priority at that time. Apart from this, after reviewing Bangabandhu’s whole political life, it is clear that he didn’t prefer encountering two conflicts at the same time. All the time, his strategy was marking the enemy first and then bringing all others in the status quo to vanquish the foe.

Bangabandhu not only played a prominent role in forming a coalition with A. K. Fazlul Haque during 54’s election, but he also created the Democratic Action Committee (DAC) against the Pakistani autocratic ruler. Even when he was the undisputed leader of Bengal, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formed a three-party United Front bringing the like-minded people together. Things to ponder here, his party Awami League still pursues his principles. His daughter Sheikh Hasina is continuing the leadership of the country for the fourth term. In 1954’s election, the way Bangabandhu played a vital role in building a coalition, following the same, he and his leader Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy passed hectic days focusing on sorting out the candidates for election as well as for election campaign. He visited numerous areas of Bengal sometimes on foot, sometimes by boat or launch. For many days, he slept in launch and passed many nights at Awami League office. People enjoyed the benefit of his hard work through the result of that election; United Front secured 223 seats while the Muslim League managed to have nine seats only.

Placement in the first Cabinet and breakthrough

After 54’s election, Sher-E-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Haque didn’t play fair. Consequently, no adequate and stable government was formed in East Bengal then. Rather scarcity of food which was predominant during the Muslim League period appeared. Demanding food security, Bangabandhu started a vigorous agitation inside and outside the Parliament. While attending a procession demanding food, he got injured in Sadarghat, Dhaka. Despite being injured, he kept standing on the street carrying another wounded person on his shoulder.

After 54’s election through 21 points, Awami Muslim League pulled themselves out from religion-based politics. But if various stages of history are re-evaluated, it becomes clear that during 1949 and 1956 Bangabandhu almost single-handedly pulled economic demands into the primary concern of Awami Muslim League’s politics. Prior to that, in 1952, he brought language-based nationalism which was the crucial dominant factor during 54’s election. His party still succeeds this ideology of Bangabandhu under the supervision of his daughter. However, the Krishak Praja Party failed to run the government. On September 6, 1956, Awami League formed the provincial government. And Bangabandhu took oath as the youngest minister of that government. The commerce, labour, industry, town and rural development and social welfare bureau were under his supervision. At that time, he served eight months as a Minister. In 1957’s Kagmari Conference of Awami League, it was decided that a person can’t be a minister and also a party’s leader at the same time. He instantly left the ministry and decided to be in the party’s leadership. This decision of Bangabandhu was ground-breaking, and marked by a breadth of vision, a high sincerity and a deep democratic sympathy.

The conference held in Kagmari evidenced one thing that to debilitate the nationalistic movement of East Bengal plotting was on. Maulana Bhashani on that day willingly fell into the trap of plotters. One more thing is worth mentioning here, in 1955 Awami League took another huge decision of discarding the term Muslim from Awami Muslim League.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the leader behind it. However, while Bangabandhu was holding the chair of General Secretary, the tricks of plotters were not successful. Though they were finally able to split Awami League, its core leadership remained in the hand of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a complete nationalist leader and revolutionary of economic emancipation.

And what Bangabandhuin between his 8-month ministerial was scripted through the statement of the writer, journalist and politician Abul Monsur Ahmed, “Both Ataur Rahman and Mujibur Rahman are idealistic patriots. Through their skilled oversight, Awami League’s cabinet did fairly well in a single year. Establishment of newer industrial sight such as Fenchugonj Fertilizer Factory, WAPDA, IWTA, Film Corporation, Jute Marketing Corporation and dockyard of Khulna and Narayanganj continued.” If one tracks back, it would be visible that execution of development works was under those ministries which was supervised by Bangabandhu.

Enactment of Military Dictatorship and Bangabandhu

In October 1958, Eskander Mirza enforced military rule. But Ayub Khan ultimately seized power as a central character. On October 7, military rule was enforced, Bangabandhu got detained on October 12. In the first round of this detainment, Bangabandhu was released after one year. Most of the period of Ayub Khan’s regime, Bangabandhu passed behind bars out of fabricated allegations. Almost all the influential leaders except Bangabandhu undertook to Ayub Khan that they will not be involved with politics. Instead, Bangabandhu accepted imprisonment. Bangabandhu reached to newer height through this rigidity against military rule. General public of the country found Bangabandhu as their future leader.

Suhrawardy’s physical condition was deteriorating and he was gradually depending on Bangabandhu. On the other hand, Maulana Bhashani followed ‘Don’t disturb Ayub policy’ from the beginning. Every time Bangabandhu was released from the prison, even during martial law, he strongly criticised the Ayub government and got detained again. At this point in 1962, he formed the National Democratic Front. Owing to the lack of determination and compromising attitude of most of the leaders of the front, Bangabandhu couldn’t march forward any further. So, after the death of Suhrawardy, Bangabandhu didn’t continue Awami League with the front; rather he revived it under the negative reflection of many senior leaders of Awami League. Bangabandhu restarted Awami League nominating Maulana Abdur Rashid Tarqabageesh as the president of the party and kept himself as General Secretary.

This time they had to form a combined opposition party again. Ayub Khan arranged a presidential election through his fundamental democracy. The sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Fatema Jinnah was nominated as candidate from the combined opposition party on that time. It was well known to all that Ayub Khan would end up as winner in this shameful election.

Nevertheless, Bangabandhu moved the entire East Bengal, sometimes accompanying Fatema Jinnah and sometimes his own party leaders and activists. Through his election speech, he’d been able to present this truth to the people of East Pakistan– people of East Pakistan are unprotected and victims of exploitation and deprivation. Though Ayub Khan snatched the victory in the election, Bangabandhu successfully reached his political goal. In other words, by this time, he established a ground for his six-point demand. If Bangabandhu’s political life is carefully analysed, it is clear that he didn’t engage without creating the ground.

Six-Point Movement

Six-point movement is the primary exposure of Bangabandhu’s dream of creating Bengali nationalism and economic emancipation. He brought forward a Six-point programme on February 5, 1966, in Lahore of Pakistan. This proposition was a complete demand for autonomy.

In its first point, it’s true that a newer Pakistan is proposed to be coordinated giving complete autonomy to every state according to Lahore Resolution; in the third point, the proposition of separate currency for every state or the proposition of Reserve Bank was demanded. In the fourth point, state’s right to levy taxes and revenues on its own; the fifth point highlighted on foreign trade; and the sixth point urged to have the power to form para militia which establishes every single state as an independent state. For heading towards independence sojourning in an already independent state structure, six-point demand was a well thought political programme.

Bangabandhu composed these in such a way that anyone would describe it as a demand for autonomy. But the military government of Pakistan understood that Bangabandhu effectively evoked the Bengali nationalistic individuality and aspirations. Through the six-point programme, he brought forward the issue of separate economy and identity. After this, there was no way of unity focusing on mere religion. In consideration of the preceding, Bangabandhu was not only popular politically but also consolidated his position in the party. On February 5, the six-point programme was presented, and he was elected President of Awami League in the Council on March 1.

The Pakistan government then took the ultimate principle. From that period, wherever Bangabandhu presented the six-point programme, they kept arresting him. Afterwards, on May 8, they brought him to solitary confinement after arresting. During his imprisonment, they filed Agartala Conspiracy Case accusing him and 34 Bengali Army and CSP Officers. The accusation claimed that with the association of India, they attempted to make East Pakistan independent. This case of sedition was prosecuted in a special court. The primary intent of this case was getting legal permission to kill Bangabandhu. Besides, they did not leave the illegal methods to kill him. In the book “Karagarer Rojnamcha (Prison Diary)”, it’s written that Bangabandhu was frequently told to go outside from a confined house of Cantonment in such a way as if he was attempting to flee away and then they could shoot him.

To be continued