Aminul Islam :
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is an inseparable name that always goes with the Independence of Bangladesh and realization of lawful rights of the people of this country or, in other words, their movements for economic, political and cultural freedom. The whole period of our over twenty three-year long attachment with Pakistan passed with anxiety and discomfort. The name of Bangabandhu has been written in golden letters with each of the movements-struggles and achievements of this period -- for self-rule, Parliamentary democracy, secular society, equidistribution of national resources.
In his historical public address of 7th March, 1971 at Rescourse maidan of Dhaka, Bangabandhu described the tyranny and oppressions of Pakistani rulers over the people of Bengal in this way: "The history of the past twenty three years has been the history of a persecution of the people of Bengal, a history of the blood of the people of Bengal. This history of the past twenty three years has been one of the agonising cries of men and women. The history of Bengal has been a history where the people of this land have made crimson the streets and highways of this land with their blood." He also said: "We gave blood in 1952. In 1954, we won the elections and yet were not permitted to exercise power. In 1958, Ayub Khan imposed Martial Law and kept the nation in a state of slavery for ten long years. On 7 June 1966, as they rose in support of the Six-Point movement, the sons of my land were mown down in gunfire. When Yahya Khan took over once Ayub Khan fell in the fury of the movement of 1969, he promised that he would give us a Constitution, give us Democracy. We put our faith on him. And then history moved a long way, the elections took place."
In 1970, in the first ever general election held in Pakistan, Bangladesh Awami League under the leadership of Bangabandhu attained majority in the national Parliament. But Pakistani authority began to play different tricks against handing over power to the elected representatives. The first session of the national assembly that was supposed to meet on March 3, 1971 was arbitrarily and illegally postponed for an indefinite period by General Yahya just two days ahead of the scheduled date. There were protests everywhere in East Bengal against this, demonstrations were made. On March 2, the flag of Bangladesh was hoisted first at the Dhaka University Campus, and then at the Paltan Ground on the following day. The 17 -minute speech delivered at Racecourse maidan by Bangabandhu on March 7, after a countrywide whole week of strike, is an ever-memorable speech in the human history. The speech invigorated everyone whosoever had heard it, inspired them and made them determined for the ultimate sacrifice for the country.
Standing in front of lakhs of protesting people, Bangabandhu in his 7th March speech reflected the expectation of the crowd : "Today the people of Bengal desire emancipation, the people of Bengal wish to live, the people of Bengal demand that their rights be acknowledged." He said, if another bullet is fired, if any more of the people are murdered, it is my directive to all of you: turn every house into a fortress, resist the enemy with everything you have." He announced for the Pakistani rulers and military forces loyal towards them : "You cannot keep seventy five million people in bondage. Now that we have learnt to die, no power on earth can keep us in subjugation." Then he told his own people : in every village, every neighbourhood, set up Sangram Parishad under the leadership of the Awami League. "And be prepared with whatever you have. Remember: Having mastered the lesson of sacrifice, we shall give more blood. God Willing, we shall free the people of this land. The struggle this time is a struggle for emancipation. The struggle this time is a struggle for independence."
Up to March 25, it was Bangabandhu who was the real governor of Bangladesh. The Government House and the Cantonments were the only exceptions. Offices, court houses, educational institutions, banks, transport systems -- all were running or kept stopped with Bangabandhu's instructions only. Bangabandhu was taken to Pakistan custody arrested at the night past the day of March 25. On the eve of the incident, that is, at the early hours of March 26, he managed to send through EPR a radio message to his countrymen urging to combat Pakistani attacks and declaring the Independence of Bangladesh. The proclamation of Independence by Bangabandhu was as follow :
"This may be my last message, from today Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh wherever you might be and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your fight must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh and final victory is achieveds."
After this, Bangabandhu's proclamation of Independence was also approved and supported in the official proclamation by Mujibnagar Government on 10 April. People from all walks of life of this land joined in to combat Pakistani raiders from the very beginning of the war. Peasants joined leaving their ploughs, workers joined leaving their tools, students joined leaving the books and women came out disregarding family ties. Middle-income group people of different professions came out -- doctors, engineers, teachers, bureaucrats, artistes, journalists. They took up training on weapons operating and on guerilla warfare. Shadhin Bangla radio center spread fiery words to inspire the freedom fighters; overseas Bangalis started lobbying for international support and collecting fund for the war.
After nine and a half months of captivity in the prison of Pakistan, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned home on 10 January 1972. Now the country is independent, Bangladesh is proud with its own politico-cultural identity. Mujib, the guide of freedom of the Bangali nation, informed his commitment of another freedom -- economic freedom. In his first speech delivered in his own independent country Bangabandhu pronounced to the people: "My request from today, my orders and directives as a brother, not as a leader, not as the President or Prime Minister -- I am your brother, you are my brothers. This Independence will be futile unless my people of Bengal can have square meals. This Independence will remain incomplete if our mothers and sisters do not have cloths to wear. This Independence will bear no fruit if the youth do not have jobs, do not have work." He expressed hope : "This Bangladesh will grow anew. The people of Bangladesh will have smiles on their faces, they will have frolics in their life, they will breathe the fresh air and have square meals -- this has been the worship and longing in my life."
In this way, Bangabandhu became the great savior of Bangalis through creating longing for freedom, making movement for it, giving right directives for achieving it and making overall political, cultural and economic emancipation of the nation a success. A dignified independent and sovereign nation is emerged under his farsighted leadership.
Translation : Munshi Jalal Uddin