Professor Dr. Anwarul Karim :
Bangabandhu is dead. Long live Bangabandhu. Every year August 15 appears as the darkest moment in the history of Bangladesh, nay the civilized world, following the treacherous and brutal killing of Bangabandhu and his family by a section of condemned army personnel. No words can measure their crime, their betrayal to the nation, nay to the whole humanity. No punishment was sufficient for them. It was the darkest chapter for the world. Bangladesh weeps every time as the blackest day knocks at each of the doors of Bangladeshi people, be they are insiders or they are outsiders. Since forty three years we have been bearing the brunt of the scourge of Allah for the heinous crime which was committed by the so called Bangladeshis against the Man who, the world recognized as the bravest of the men who sacrificed his life to the cause of his own men, he loved until he was brutally killed on Aug.15, 1975. He could never think of such a crime that could ever happen by his own men and his trust was so much on his people that he lived almost unguarded in his home without fear. Nawab Sirajuddowla was also killed by his own men when they caught him while fleeing. But the Nawab did not make any such big sacrifice as of Sheikh Mujib who passed sleepless nights for giving his people security, succor and success.
The whole world was shocked when the news of the cruel killing of Bangabandhu and his wife, their children and also his relations reached. His two daughters, Sheikh Hasina, presently the Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh and her sister Sheikh Rehana. were then away from the country and thus were saved. Allah saved them from the atrocity and brutal killing. The whole world looked dumb and motionless-the news came to them as a big blow, worse than a heinous bombshell and it caught them unaware and perplexed. Never such inhuman killing happened anywhere in the world. Political killings are not uncommon in the world history but such an inhuman killing including the youngest one of the families, Sheikh Russell is a crime the world never heard of or ever witnessed. Bangabandhu could never think or imagine that his own people would kill him. He trusted his men so much that it was not only beyond his or anybody's imagination that such things could take place on the soil of Bangladesh where millions of people, men and women bravely accepted death because of him, who they loved and cared most for the sake of country's freedom against Pakistani army junta.
Bangabandhu was fearless even when the killers, the green eyed demons and monsters in the shape of human being as of army, entered his compound. He heard shots of gunfire but could not even guess that his son, Sheikh Kamal was gunned down in the ground floor. He came out of his room only to be shot at from a point blank range and fell down dead.
Bangabandhu was totally unconcerned and reportedly phoned his men including Colonel Jamil and the Chief of Army Staff, General Shafiullah before he was murdered with the members of his family. Such was his trust. Thus the poet of politics was killed! A shame that the 'perfume of Arabia' cannot wipe out. The blood which still has been oozing out and would continue to do so till the world is doomed. It is most unfortunate that Bangladesh could not protect Bangabandhu from his own men and for whom he plucked the hottest sun and the most coveted freedom for his people.
He faced death a number of times for his people, he loved and cared, more particularly, when he was falsely charged with 'treason' against the country by Pakistani government for his involvement in Agartala Conspiracy and jailed as condemned prisoner and also when he was picked up by the shameless Pakistani army on March 25th, 1971 as he declared war against Pakistan publicly in a meeting at Ramna Race Course (now Suhrawardy Udyan (garden) on March 7, 1971. The stage was then actually set and the moment was psychological for a final showdown to topple the anti people government and also to earn the liberty for his people.
It is quite surprising that the troops were moving at late night towards Dhaka with the war tanks and other army vehicles and none in the army, air force and navy including the Chief of the Army Staff had any knowledge about the army movement on the streets and they did not know anything of the coup. What did the intelligence of both the army and the police do? M.H. Khan in his memoirs hinted on some of the points and those could be seriously perused and also could be taken into considerations. The passive role of the top of the people in the army at that time makes them questionable. Bangabandhu was thus betrayed by his own men who sucked the country's milk for life, procured at the cost of 3 millions of sacred lives who shed their blood for freedom under the leadership of Bangabandhu, the father of the nation. May Allah grant Bangabandhu eternal peace in the after world.
It was reported by the media that two millions of the people attended the historic public meeting addressed by Bangabandhu on the occasion of March 7, 1971 at the Race Course. The meeting was organized in protest against the treacherous decision by General Yahya when he suspended the National Assembly until March 25, 1971 to prevent Bangabandhu from forming the government. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman secured the absolute majority in the national election held in 1970, the unique position that none ever occupied before Bangabandhu. General Yahya earlier promised in the Dhaka Airport that Sheikh Mujib would be the next Prime Minister and the newly elected National Assembly would be convened on March 3, 1971. The betrayal of truth by General Yahya Khan caused a severe violence in several cities and districts and innocent people were killed by Pakistani army. And Bangabandhu had no way out other than to speak to the people in a public meeting for mass upsurge.
In the meeting Bangabandhu said: "Today, I appear before you with a heavy heart. You know everything and understand as well. We tried our best with our lives. But the painful matter is that today, in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur, the streets are dyed red with the blood of our brethren. Today the people of Bangladesh want freedom, the people of Bangladesh want to survive, and the people of Bangladesh want to have their rights. What wrong did we do?" He also gave several directives for a civil disobedience movement, instructing the people to the following :
1. People should not pay taxes;
2. Government servants should take orders only from him;
3. The secretariat, government and semi-government offices, and courts in East Pakistan should observe strikes, with necessary exemptions announced from time to time;
4. Only local and inter-district telephone lines should function;
5. Railways and ports could continue to function, but their workers should not co-operate if the Pakistani army repressed the people of East Pakistan.
The speech lasted about 19 minutes and Bangabandhu concluded with the words, "Our struggle, this time, is the struggle for our freedom. Our struggle, this time, is the struggle for our independence. Joy Bangla!" It was a kind of a de facto declaration of Bangladesh's independence. Bangabandhu became the uncrowned ruler of the country and no country ever enjoyed such a parallel position as of Bangladesh in the history of the world. East Pakistan became the de facto Bangladesh until she won the 9-month War of Liberation against Pakistan on December 16, 1971 and the country became a sovereign State with effect from March 26, 1971 as declared by Bangabandhu.
Such a man as of Bangabandhu, hailed from a place which was known in the past as the Kingdom of Gangaridae that covered the whole of the southwest region of the present Bangladesh. The capital of Gangaridae was located at a place, known as Kotalipara, presently an Upozila under Gopalganj district. The history of Greece recorded a story that Alexander, the Great feared to invade Bengal for fear of Gangaridae. What is more interesting that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh was born in Tungipara village under Kotalipara Upozila.And the country was liberated from Pakistan under his leadership. It is indeed a strange coincidence!
The people of Bangladesh, both old and young, fought for nine months in the War of Liberation against Pakistan for oppressive and tyrannical rule; Famine broke out. People suffered immensely for food and succor. Many people died of starvation. They now look dull, timid, moribund and insipid because of loss of severe hemoglobin. They cannot fight any more. They need sleep like Tennyson's 'Lotus Eater' who after a great fight against the Trojan, have lost all their energy and now needed only rest and sleep. This has added to a continued and prolonged mental agony following failures in economic activities. Life is no more easy for them.
"Most weary seemed the sea, weary the oar,
Weary the wandering fields of barren foam'
There is thus a melancholy strain, a languid air and a tired eyelid upon tired eyes:
Our hearts and spirits wholly
To the influence of mild minded melancholy'
And thus finally comes the yell,
'As when a soul lament, which hath been blest,
Desiring what is mingled with past years
In yearnings that can never be expressed
By sighs or groans or tears."
Under such circumstances, Ulysses continued hammering and finally led them to their country of heroic souls with rejuvenated vigor, telling them the truth of life:
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive to seek, to find and not to yield."
Such clarion call was made by Bangabandhu on March 7, 1971 when East Pakistan under his leadership was almost at war with Pakistani army junta and the country was liberated after a 9-month war on December 16, 1971. Again, as the crisis begins, we hear the same voice inspiring Bangladesh from the grave to his people. Bangabandhu had been the Ulysses of modern Bangladesh. Bangladesh will certainly 'push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows'. Bangladesh will overcome all her odds and will come out victorious in her last fight for life.
After Independence, Bangabandhu was made free because of pressure of world leaders. On his return, he devoted his time to the rebuilding of war-torn Bangladesh. He had to feed the teeming millions of hungry people. The world leaders came to his help.
I recollect, Bangabandhu suddenly visited Kushtia sometime in 1973 and I interviewed him as a correspondent of the Bangladesh Observer at Kushtia Circuit House regarding Rakkhi Bahini which he disbanded and asked if he had any intention to get them involved as a regular army. He said in the negative. "What shall I do with such a big army? I cannot feed them and more over I have big neighbors around me and I am to live with them peacefully." he said. I understand how great he was as he took initiative to get the country free from Indian army although he knew that the Indian army had helped Bangladesh get freedom. Bangabandhu was out and out non-communal as he had Islamic spirit in him and attended OIC meeting as the head of a sovereign State and he it was who established Islamic Foundation Bangladesh. Bangabandhu was a close associate of H.S. Suhrawardy from his student life. Suhrawardy wanted a sovereign united Bangladesh where Hindu and Muslims would live together without fear. He was supported by Sarat Chandra Bose, Desh Bandhu Chittaranjan Das and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Sher -e-Bangla A K Fazlul Haque also proposed at the Lahore meeting in 1940 for an independent sovereign state for eastern provinces. Bangabandhu had the same dream as of his great leader HS Suhrawardy.
It sounds queer that such a great man as of Bangabandhu would be killed by his own men and the mystery of his death could not be solved even after 42 years of our Independence. Such a heinous crime needs to be unfolded or exposed as it is very much vital for the existence of the country. Such traitors are still larking within and outside the country. The massacre of Bangabandhu's family may be termed as the most tragic of all of all human tragedies of all time since the beginning of civilization. The nation must stand united to find out the truth and the whole truth.
We sincerely mourn the tragic massacre of Bangabandhu's family and share the pangs of suffering along with the Honorable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina and the members of her family who are alive. We urge upon her to take initiative with international support to unfold the mystery of Bangabandhu's treacherous and cruelest heinous murder. The whole nation is with her.
The Newsweek Magazine dedicated its cover page on April 5, 1971 to Bangabandhu and described him as a 'Poet of Politics.' The world thus recognized Bangabandhu not only as the greatest son of the soil but also as the world leader who had no parallel for his supreme sacrifice to the cause of his people.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was one who was the most celebrated of all leaders in the world in respect of dynamic leadership and courage. In 1973 in a meeting of the non-aligned Summit, held in Algiers, Cuba's Fidel Castro 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 experience of witnessing the Himalayas."
Not only Castro, the world leaders who somehow came close to Bangabandhu, spoke so high of him that these had no parallel. The leader of the British humanist movement Late Lord Fenner Brockway once remarked, "In a sense Sheikh Mujib (father of the Bengali nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) is a great leader more than what George Washington had been, Mahatma Gandhi and De Valera." Ved Marwah, the former Governor of Manipur and Jharkhand once said while recollecting his memory with Bangabandhu, " I have met many charismatic personalities during my service career, including Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and many world leaders , but I must say that among them he ( Sheikh Mujib) was the most charismatic personality I had ever met." He further disclosed while recalling Bangabandhu's historic meeting with late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in New Delhi Airport, "Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by nature was a reserved person. But this occasion was an exception. I had not seen a bigger smile on her face. She was smiling and prancing like a young girl. One could see an immediate personal rapport had developed between the two."
On hearing the news of Bangabandhu's assassination, former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson wrote to a Bengali journalist, 'This is surely a supreme national tragedy for you. For me, it is a personal tragedy of immense dimensions".
Leaders of different states, including heads of the government, have remembered the uncompromising and charismatic leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with 'deep respect', calling Mujib a great visionary statesman of international stature.
(The writer is Folklorist of national and international repute. Pro-VC, Northern University Bangladesh)