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Jail Killing Day: Remembering Syed Nazrul Islam

03 November 2022


M A Latif :
Shaheed Syed Nazrul Islam, one of the architects of independent Bangladesh, is a veteran leader whose patriotism, martyrdom and glowing political life will remain eternal and indelible in our history. Born in 1925 at Jashodal under Kishoreganj district, Sayed Nazrul Islam was called by the nickname Golap Mia. His father's name is Sayed Abdur Raich and that of his mother is Nurunnesa Khatun Rupa. After completing his primary education in Kishoreganj, he matriculated in the first division from Mymensingh Zilla School in 1941 and passed higher secondary level in the first division from Mymensingh Anandmahan College in 1943. Later he completed MA in first class from the Department of History at Dhaka University.
Syed Nazrul Islam is a name that involuntarily comes after the name of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the history of the emergence of independent Bangladesh. The people of the country together with Kishoreganj always feel proud for his heroic and glorious role. On March 24, 1948, Muhammad Ali Jinnah met a delegation of the Rastrabhasa Sangram Parishad (a movement for establishing Bangla) at the then residence of chief secretary Aziz Ahmed. Syed Nazrul Islam, the then vice-president and student leader of Sir Salimullah Muslim Hall, was also present in that meeting among the members of that very council. After completing his study at Dhaka University in 1948, he joined the service as an income tax officer next year. In 1951, he quit his job and joined Anandmahan College in Mymensingh as a teacher of History.
After a couple of years, he left teaching and joined the bar in Mymensingh and got involved in Awami League and was subsequently elected president of Mymensingh district Awami League in1957. On March 8, 1964, he was elected the senior vice-president of the central committee of the Awami League in the council session. On May 8, 1966; he assumed the responsibility of the acting president of the Awami League Central Committee. In 1970, he was elected a member of the National Assembly from Mymensingh-17 constituency.
When the liberation war started, he left the country on17 April, 1971and sheltered in India. An independent government was formed in the disarmament of Baidyanathala in Meherpur, a peripheral area of India, by appointing Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman as President and Syed Nazrul Islam as Vice - President. While Bangabandhu was imprisoned in Pakistan, Syed Nazrul played an imperative role in the liberation war during the interim president in Bangabandhu's absence.
After the victory on December 16, 1971, the government in exile of Bangladesh was shifted from Mujibnagar to Dhaka on December 22. Bangabandhu was released from prison in Pakistan and returned to form the new cabinet of the People's Republic of Bangladesh on 12 January 1972 where Syed Nazrul Islam assumed the charge of Ministry of Industry in the cabinet. He also had an important role in drafting the constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh as a member of the constitution drafting committee. On April 9, 1972, he was elected the assistant leader of the Awami League Parliamentary Party. He remained in this position till March 6, 1973. He was then elected as a member of the National Parliament in the polls on March 7, 1973. On March 12, 1973, he was elected as the leader of the Awami League Parliamentary Party for the second time. He was engaged in this duty till August 14, 1975. On January 25, 1975, when a presidential government was formed instead of a parliamentary one through the fourth amendment of the constitution, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected president and Syed Nazrul Islam as deputy president.
When father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated on August 15, 1975, Syed Nazrul Islam and three other national leaders (Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain Mansur Ali, A H M Quamruzzaman) were arrested on August 23. Syed Nazrul Islam was brutally murdered along with the three other leaders mentioned above on November 3, 1975 in Dhaka Central Jail.
Syed Nazrul Islam was an idealistic and liberal democratic politician. He was one of the pioneers who raised his voice to establish Bangla as the national language in the 1940s and in the movement for the development of Bengali nationality during 1960s and 1970s. As a loyal ally of Bangabandhu, he was always involved in democratic politics and struggle for the welfare of the common people and the development of the country. His eldest son late Syed Ashraful Islam was an elected member of the parliament from Kishoreganj-Hossainpur constituency and another daughter of his Dr. Syeda Zakia Noor Lipi is now serving as a member of parliament in the same constituency.
The people of independent Bangladesh will never forget the contributions of national leader Syed Nazrul Islam. When Bangabandhu was sent to jail repeatedly during the six-point movement in the 1960s, Syed Nazrul Islam led the party boldly as the acting president. After the elections in 1970, Bangabandhu was elected the leader of the national council while Syed Nazrul Islam was the deputy leader.
At the time of parliamentary government formed in January 1972, Bangabandhu was the Prime Minister and leader of the parliament while Syed Nazrul was made the deputy leader. And when the presidential government was introduced, Bangabandhu was the President while Syed Nazrul Islam was the deputy president. Syed Nazrul's political life, idealistic philosophy, non-communal spirit, indomitable tolerance and democratic practices and love for the people of the country will forever shine in the history of our existence.

(The writer is a Senior Journalist. Translated from Bangla by Badrul Huda Sohel, Assistant Professor and Chairman Dept. of English, Ishakha International Univertsity).

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