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The Role Of Bangabandhu In The Time Of Disaster

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01st-Apr-2020       
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Md. Hasan Khan Ph.d :
It's a blessing that, we have got the greatest of all Bengalis Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as our leader. We got freedom, a flag and a country under his leadership. If he was not born, then we would still be a dominated and oppressed nation. He was a politician for this country's labours. He used to think their weal and woe as his own. For this, every citizens of this country gave a place in their heart for him.
In his political life, he dealt with disasters and epidemics like famine. When there is a crisis in people lives, he come forward and stands with the country peoples. In 1943, a terrible famine happened. That time, Bangabandhu was a member of state Muslim League council. Millions of people came to city from villages for this crisis. As the British confiscated all the goods, the dwelling people didn't have any food, clothes and no home to stay.
That time, the merchants have stocked all the goods. The rice which sold for ten takas was sold for forty takas. For this there was a crisis in everywhere. Everyday people died on streets. As he wrote in his autobiography, 'A mother was lying dead and a child was sucking her breast. Dogs and peoples are fighting for foods from dustbin. A mother gown away, leaving her children on street. Some even tried to sell their children and no one agreed to buy them.' (OsomaptoAttojiboni, p.g. 18)
At this situation Bangabandhu came forward to serve the famine suffers. He had opened some kitchen to serve them day and night. He became sick due to excessive work and pressure.
In 1953, the country faces food problem. That time, Bangabandhu was the general secretary of East Pakistan's Awami Muslim League. When the problem has become worsen in some of the districts, he demanded a solution from the concerns in national dailies. Bangabandhu realized that food has to be given high priority. If the country is not self-sufficient in food, then the country won't move forward. That time, many people were involved in impolitic with the food crisis.
Bangabandhu stated that, 'We have to give more priority to food above politics. Due tothe food crisis which happened in some of the districts of East Bengal, the government should tackle this by supplying free food, give enough beans and cow loans with easy conditions to the sufferers and arrange medical camps to the suffered areas.'
Next year, Bangabandhu gave public speech on account to a permanent solution of food crisis. But the government did not give any permanent solutions to the food crisis. For this, many people died. In May of 1956, a movement called 'Bhukha Michhil' happened on demand of food. Many people were injured when police raided the procession. Then Bangabandhu criticized the government for this act.
He said, 'The food crisis has become worsen. Every day we get news of death. But this government is not taking any measures to handle it. On the contrary, the government is making statement blaming the Bhukha Michhil.'
Bangabandhu strongly protested and condemned it. That month, he directed the district Awami League secretaries to send him a report on the food needs and problems of the district. Later, when the famine prevention committee was formed, Bangabandhu served as a secretary of the committee.
Bangabandhu went to Chittagong, when it was devastated by the cyclone in1963. Later, efforts were taken to assist the victims of the cyclone from the East Pakistan Relief Committee. The committee went to different districts to collect support. Bangabandhu also went to various places to collect fund.
Floods are one of the oldest problems in our country. Floods kill and destroy resources every year. When the 1965 flood occurred, the Independence Day was forthcoming.
Bangabandhu said, "Independence Day has come to us again in a usual way. But we cannot welcome the day with a cheerfully when the atmosphere has a gust of wind with the tears of millions of flood victims."
Bangabandhu said that the government has not taken any fruitful initiatives despite the fact that people are deprived of billions of resources in floods every year. This is a failure of this government. Bangabandhu also visited the flooded areas that year and pressured the government to take strong steps to control the flood.
On May 11 of 1965, a severe cyclone happened and Bangabandhu got injured himself. Many regions were affected. Bangabandhu sought the cooperation of all in the face of the disaster. Because the storm was terrible than last 10 years.
On that time, Bangabandhu said, 'About 80 percent of the tin houses, about 100 percent of the wood houses were destroyed and 70 percent of the cattle were killed due to the cyclone." Countless people have been killed in the storm.' (Source: Daily Ittefaq, May 23).
Bangabandhu appealed for tax and rent waiver until the necessary allocation and change of circumstances to deal with the disaster. Bangabandhu himself got involved in dealing with the situation. Thus, in every natural or human disaster, Bangabandhu stood beside the common peoples.
When Bangabandhu returned home in the 1972 and saw the country devastated. The Pakistani soldiers destroyed everything and they have all gone. He was keen on restructuring Bangladesh as he addressed his return home speech. Therefore, he sought the cooperation of the people and the world, saying, "My appeal to all the states of the world ... I have no roads, no ferries, no food, my people are homeless, proletariat, my people are beggars. You should help my people. I want your help for humanity's sake. I want help from all the countries of the world. Recognize my country. Give the UN relief ... there is no way, you have to give. I and we won't like to lose. We don't know how to lose.'
With the cooperation of the people and the world, Bangabandhu became involved in the task of forming the country very quickly. He repaired the roadways and pay attention to food.
In 1957, he said at a public meeting that, "Last year after the independence of the country, about 7-8 million metric tons of food have been brought from abroad. First, we had to serve the villages. 1 crore taka relief has been given to the people of Bengal. All that was owed, including interest, was waived. The salt tax has been waived. During the last election, I said that the rent of 24 bighas of land would be waived. The rent of 25 bighas of land has been waived.
Before the war, Bangladesh was plundered by a severe cyclone. Bangabandhu has been relentless in his struggle to build a new country. In the year of 1973, he gave a speech at Rajbari public meeting, "Cyclone took place in 1970 then there was a war of 1971. And for six months of 1972, there was no water, people could not produce crops. This year, I have to buy food from abroad for around 2.5 billion takas. Bangladesh's foreign currency has taken. Where to go? Where do I get it? Who will give? How do I bring it? I need a ship, a truck. About 300 rail bridges were destroyed, 298 were repaired. The 300 km of long road was destroyed and the road has been repaired completely.'
Due to Bangabandhu's right initiative, the war-torn Bangladesh recovered in a short time. But he could not finish the construction of Sonar Bangla because of the treasonous assassins. His daughter, Sheikh Hasina, is completing his unfinished work.
The current world is at a critical moment because of the Coronavirus. The virus has also been infected in Bangladesh. As Bangabandhu was with the people in all the disasters, the leader Sheikh Hasina is also with us in this disaster. Let us obey her instructions, cooperate with the government and be aware. Then we will be protected from corona infection very quickly Inshallah.
Earlier, Sheikh Hasina, Bangabandhu's daughter, stood with the common people when a disaster hit Bangladesh while she was a Prime Minister. She has appeared in many places and inquired about the victims. She pulled the distressed peoples to her arms.
This time, the Awami League government of Sheikh Hasina, is very committed to prevent the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Like all the world, educational institutions have already been closed as part of the fight against the spread of the virus. All kinds of gatherings and public meetings have also been closed. In addition, the government-private office-court has been ordered to close. Every district has been instructed to provide food for the poor, so as not to starve them to scarcity of food. Besides, the medical unit of the Ganabhaban is always ready for the services of the victims of Corona virus. Medical kits and doctors' protective cloths were brought from abroad. The ruling Awami League government is calling everyone to take precautions to prevent the virus. All these initiatives by the government to prevent Coronavirus are admirable.
Let us unite and help the government to prevent this pandemic. As the joint effort has helped to create the golden Bengal of Bangabandhu, it will also help to fight against the Coronavirus, Inshallah.
Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu.
(Md. Hasan Khan, Ph.D; An Awami League leader and Columnist)

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