• Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022
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Bangabandhu’s grand return to DU was ruined by assassination

  • Published at 10:38 pm August 13th, 2021
Bangabandhu shekh mujibur rahman
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Photo courtesy: Rafiqur Rahman

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was expelled from the university in 1949, only to become its chancellor in independent Bangladesh later

On this day in 1975, the then vice chancellor of Dhaka University met with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and briefed him about the details of his programs at the university for the following day, August 15.

Bangabandhu was set to visit Dhaka University as “the first chancellor visiting the university in its 54 years of history” – returning to the institution, once he was expelled from, since he voiced his support for the underpaid employees.

Sheikh Mujib had enrolled at the university’s law department in 1948. On March 26, 1949, the DU executive council expelled him and four other students on charges of “instigating” a movement launched by grade IV employees demanding a raise in salaries and allowances.

Then a second-year student, Mujib had extended his support for the demonstrating staff of the university to realize their demands.

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The DU authorities would withdraw the expulsion 61 years later, on August 14, 2010.

The photo shows the front page of the special feature in Dainik Bangla to commemorate Bangabandhu's return to Dhaka University Collected

For August 15, 1975, the university authorities had planned an elaborate reception at the Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) to hold a special convocation.

A special supplement, titled “Dacca University: A special supplement on the occasion of the August visit of the president and the chancellor” was published.

Then vice-president Syed Nazrul Islam and prime minister M Monsur Ali were supposed to accompany Bangabandhu during his visit.

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The entire campus took a festive look ahead of Bangabandhu’s visit, with colourful decorations put up to welcome the sitting president.

Bangabandhu’s eldest son, youth leader of the university Sheikh Kamal, had led the team that decorated the campus to welcome the Father of the Nation.

A 12-foot statue of Bangabandhu’s smiling face, two archways each 12 feet in length and two murals of the national leader beside the Arts Building were erected.

Sheikh Sadi in his “Bangabandhu Obhidhan” book writes: “The plan was that Bangabandhu would visit Jagannath Hall first and then go to the Central Shaheed Minar. Afterwards, he was supposed to go to the TSC and attend a program there.”

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According to the Daily Ittefaq edition published on August 15, 1975, Bangabandhu was also supposed to visit the University Laboratory School and the physics department. He was scheduled to place wreaths at a graveyard of martyrs located in the area adjacent to the university central mosque.

After attending the program at the TSC, Bangabandhu was also supposed to visit the museum of the sociology department at the university, as Sheikh Kamal was studying there.

Just a day before the event, two bombs were blasted in the university area. The first one exploded on the library premises and the other near the science faculty.

Those were “Nikhil Bombs”, made and blasted by Ganabahini of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), Sheikh Sadi says in the book.

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The press note issued by the Home Ministry at the time said: “The bombs blasted in the university area were very powerful, and it is impossible to make such bombs without experts. These types of bombs are only seen in the arsenal of the armies. The police suspect it is the work of JSD, Ganabahini or a pro-Chinese left group.”

After learning of the blasts, Awami Jubo League activists became angry and several top leaders of the organization, including Sheikh Fazlul Haque Mani, Abdur Razzaq and Kazi Firoz Rashid, met with Bangabandhu at 11:30pm, a few hours before the assassination of the great leader along with most of his family members.

Bangabandhu instructed Mani and other Jubo League activists to remain calm.

Another notable incident took place on the day – the crash of an Indian helicopter in Noakhali.

Mohiuddin Ahmad in his book “Bela Obela: Bangladesh 1972-1975” quotes Bangabandhu’s assistant press secretary Mahbub Talukdar: “I was busy making a draft of Bangabandhu’s speech, which he will deliver at the Dhaka University program. At one point, we received the news of an Indian helicopter crash. Press secretary Toab Khan was discussing the matter with the Indian High Commission officials.”