Bangabandhu: Portrait of a patriot15 August 2022
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :
Bangabandhu is the architect of independent Bangladesh. He had the towering courage and personality. Bangabandhu was a real epitome of courage, both in the physical and moral sense. The historic Six Point Program, an explicit embodiment of Bengali nationalism was unfurled at Lahore, the heart of Punjab by Bangabandhu. In Lahore, the bastion of arrogant Punjabi power, Bangabandhu displayed admirable physical and moral courage during the course of a public meeting in 1970 that he was addressing. It so happened that his speech was being purposely interrupted by some Muslim League-Jamaat hirelings. When these elements did not stop even after being cautioned, Bangabandhu shouted at them, asserting that he had not come to Lahore to seek votes as he had plenty of them in his place, and that they either listen to him or disappear from the meeting area. No Bengali had ever publicly ventured to rebuke the power-obsessed high-nosed Punjabis in such a raw manner.
When Bangabandhu, the poet of politics spoke, it had an electrifying effect on the Bengalis whose spirit soared immeasurably in heightened expectations. Their support for their leader was total as evidenced in the historic landslide electoral victory of the nationalist causes in 1970. When the time came for tough talks across the table, Bangabandhu did not wilt. In fact, the cabal of Pakistani army generals that accompanied General Yahiya Khan for the meeting in March 1971 was awed and surprised by the gutsy presentation and forceful manner of Bangabandhu. The post-partition scenario in Pakistan did not witness much of a change. The military-civil bureaucracy conspired with the business oligarchy and the landed gentry to protect their vested interests. People's emancipation did not figure seriously in the politician's scheme of things. It was in these circumstances that Bangabandhu could galvanize a somnolent people to unprecedented political activism for achieving real freedom. Bangabandhu was gifted with extraordinary organizational acumen and had the linking of the brutality of the Pakistani military junta. Accordingly, he exhorted the people for an imminent armed struggle. His historic 7th March speech bears an eloquent testimony to that. Precariously positioned as he was in the extremely demanding tumultuous days of March 1971, Bangabandhu as a constitutional politician acted with supreme forbearance. During the nine-months of genocide, armed struggles and untold sufferings, Sheikh Mujib's name resonated ceaselessly in the hearts of millions of Bengalis, not only within the geographical boundaries of Bangladesh, but all over the world, and he remained a demigod to the people of Bangladesh. In the words of General Rao Forman Ali, "Ninety percent of the people of Bangladesh were taken in by the magical power of Sheikh Mujib, and they were ready to sacrifice their lives for the creation of Bangladesh". Sheikh Mujib was not a revolutionary guerrilla leader like Che Guevara or Mao Zedong; the source of his strength did not come from the barrel of the gun, rather, from the mandate and trust of his people. He rose to such a stature in the eyes of his people that he realized that it would have been cowardly if he sought shelter in a safe haven, leaving his people in the midst of death, destruction and genocide.
In 1960s when Bengalis of erstwhile East Pakistan were subjected to the most humiliating treatment, it would be no exaggeration to state that they were experiencing the tribulations of a colonized people. In an atmosphere of all-pervasive fear and subjugation, it was Bangabandhu who confronted the mighty Field Marshal Ayub Khan and showed the guts to forcefully advocate the rights of fellow Bengalis. During the trial of the so-called Agartala Conspiracy Case in Dhaka Cantonment, Bangabandhu took to task the rogue Pakistani army personnel and cautioned them to behave. He did not agree to participate in the Round Table Conference as a prisoner. The 1960s were, in fact, a time when all Bengalis could justifiably take pride in their courageous manner that drew sustenance from Bangabandhu's defiant disposition.
On March 31, 1971, the Indian Parliament passed a resolution pledging sympathy and support for the people of East Bengal in their struggle for the transfer of power to their legally elected representatives. In 1973, at the nonaligned summit in Algiers, Bangabandhu visited Fidel Castro. Embracing Mujib, he 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 the experience of witnessing the Himalayas."
Bangabandhu throughout his life struggled for the suppressed humanity. He fought against imperialism to establish the rights of the have-nots. He always spoke in favor of the farmers, workers and day laborers. He was the real friend of the poor. World Peace Council awarded him the World Peace Medal for his extra-ordinary contribution for the depressed people of the world on May 23, 1973 and from "Bangabandhu" he became a universal friend. And consequently he belonged to the category of all world famous leaders. All these he could win by virtue of his courage, honesty integrity and power of political will. Bangabandhu could never be cowered into submission. The trappings of power did not allure him and he remained a solid rock in the shifting sands. It is time once again to gratefully remember and pay homage to the great patriarch.
Sheik Mujib, the father of the nation, is the torchbearer of peace, prosperity and piousness. We must follow his teachings, ideals and philosophy of life. He was awarded with "Julio Curie world peace Medal". It was the recognition of this great man towards humanity, struggle against imperialism and expansionists. To establish peace and tranquility, we must follow the long cherished desire, leadership and worldwide relationship of the father of the nation. Sheikh Mujib was a great visionary and mission oriented leader. His greatness and personality as a man must be honored out and out by all Bengalese irrespective of caste, creed and religion. If we carry forward the ideals and dreams of Bangabondhu, we could be able to achieve a real nation with its dignity to other world. So it is our responsibility to implement every dream of the father of the nation. And only then our country will achieve its millennium development goal within the targeted time.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a visionary leader. His dream was not only to achieve independence but the economic emancipation of the country. When he took the initiative for reconstruction of happier, poverty and hunger free Bangladesh, conspiracy and blue print by anti independent and liberation force started secretly against Bangabandhu. And finally August 15, 1975 the killing mission brutally finished the life of this great man. The killers also killed his family members. By these sorts of heinous killing, they wanted to fade away Bangabandhu's name from history, but their mission was not successful by killing him, rather Bangabandhu was made immortal and a historic icon.
(The writer is former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar & VDP).