As Bangladesh kicks off its celebration of Mujib Year, officially termed as “Mujib Borsho,” to commemorate the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, people from all walks of live have come together to show their respect and love for the architect of independent Bangladesh in different arts and forms.
One of them is Namir Haque, an eighth-grader from SFX Greenherald Intl School in Dhaka, who has written an article to celebrate the life and achievements of Bangabandhu and the history of Bangladesh.
The article has been given below:
The year was 1943, an aspiring and highly motivated student had made his residence at Room no. 24 of Baker Hostel, located at 8th Smith Lane of Kolkata, West Bengal. Who would have thought at that point of time, that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a student of Islamia College was going to be one of the most revered figures in the history of the entire Indian subcontinent, changing the tides of River History for the betterment of the nearly 64 million people.
It was Wednesday the 17th of March, in the tranquil village of Tungipara in Gopalganj district (in the Bengal province of contemporary British India), a boy had been born to Sheikh Lutfar Rahman and Begum Sayera Khatun. Pertaining to Bengali Muslim culture, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was named after his father. Although Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the third child in his biological family, to us, the youth of Bangladesh He is the first and most esteemed of a great descent of venerated leaders.
When Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was still in school, AK Fazlul Huq (contemporary Chief Minister of Bengal) came to visit Gopalganj Missionary School in 1938. The leader in Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is said to have gained potential from a very young age, as he was given the responsibility of arranging a presentation to impress the Chief Minister, about the depressing state of the region (Madaripur-Gopalganj). Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became proactively involved in politics when he joined the ‘All India Muslim Students Federation’ in 1940.
On 24th March 1948, even though having known that the majority of the populace of East Pakistan (modern-day Bangladesh) were Bengali speakers, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Governor-General, Pakistan) announced that “Urdu and Urdu alone” was to be the official state language of East Pakistan. Hearing this the people of East Pakistan broke out in revolt, to protest the illogical claims made by Jinnah and his government. For the first time in his life, the Quaid-e-Azam faced a challenge to his diktat. Students of all ages, from Dhaka College, Dhaka University, and surrounding areas protested this decree enforced by Jinnah’s government. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his Awami Muslim League were at the forefront of the ‘Bengali Language Movement’. A question often arises amongst young ones; “Why did we sacrifice so many lives for our Mother Language?” Whenever asked this question, I always reply as follows: “In my humble opinion, ever since a newborn baby is born, he hears his parents talk to him in a particular language (Bengali in our cases). It is called our mother tongue as it is the language we use on a daily basis, for all informal and formal work. Therefore, I feel that it is a necessity for us to have our basic human rights, and express ourselves in the language of our choice.”
‘All Party State Language Action Committee ’ was formed on 11th March 1950, with Kazi Golam Mahboob as the convener. After the death of Governor-General Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the assassination of Liaqat Ali Khan in 1951, the Language movement took a serious turn for the worse.
After 3 years of mass protest and resistance by the Bengalis of East Pakistan, the last straw came when Khawaja Nazimuddin, then prime minister of Pakistan, announced in Dhaka on January 26 1952, that Urdu would be the state language of Pakistan. Martial law(Section 144) had been enforced by General Ayub Khan, and the students of Dhaka University, Medical College and adjacent areas. Thousands of students, men and women were massacred and mercilessly killed by West Pakistani military personnel.
In these times of catastrophe, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman remained composed and unruffled and constantly monitoring the situation in the terrible days that followed, from jail; Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was among one of the first detainees of the Language Movement (11th March, 1948).
1971 Liberation War
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had announced his notable ‘Six Point Movement’ on 5th February 1966. It may be noted that Sheikh Mujibur Rahmad had tried to announce his ‘Six Points’ at the conference of Pakistan’s opposition leaders, then meeting in Lahore, yet due to pressure from the aforementioned leaders he had to announce these in Lahore. Yet he was falsely convicted with “treason” and was taken into custody.
After the mass uprising of 1969 against the military dictatorship of Ayub Khan, the President, General Agha Yahya Khan had been obliged to hold the General Elections; in which Bangabandhu’s ‘Awami League’ had won with a single majority. However, the ruling leaders of Pakistan, namely President Yahya Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (of Pakistan People’s Party) amongst other leaders had organised secretive and reserved meetings, without the presence of Bangladeshi leaders such as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Tajuddin Ahmed (post-war; First President and Prime Minister, respectively). After General Yahya Khan had come into office, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other political leaders of the time, had respectfully asked President Yahya Khan to hold assemblies with the leaders of East Pakistan. Before the first session of Yahya Khan’s government in East Pakistan which was to be held on the 3rd of March 1971, but suddenly, without any formal application, Yahya Khan declared that the assembly was postponed (until further notice).
In my opinion, the aftermath of hearing of this appalling conspiracy was that the people of East Pakistan had protested and rose out in revolt, with slogans such as, “Joy Bangla”, “Bir Bangali Astro Dhara”, and “Jago Jago Bangali Jago”
On 7th March 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had made his 18-minute long, fiery and world-renowned speech at Ramna Race Course (modern-day Suhrawardy Udyan); addressing the demoralized, despondent yet infuriated and aggravated people of Bangladesh. This speech had been given recognition by UNESCO as ‘International Memory of the World’ on 30th October 2017.
In the dusty, darkness of night on Thursday, the 25th, Pakistani military generals had commenced ‘Operation Searchlight’; at least 40,000 bloodthirsty, armed militia personnel aided by cavalry, artillery bombardment and ‘Air Superiority Vehicles’ had descended an inferno of bloodbath upon the capital city of Dhaka at first, and later the other 6 divisional cities of Bangladesh. The priority targets of this mission were political and student leaders, activists, teachers and scholars, and the aim was to diminish and dishearten the nationalistic ideals of the disregarded Bangladeshi people. Maj. Generals Rao Farman Ali and Khadim Hussain Raja drew up plans on the 25th of March. Lt. General Tikka Khan, aptly nicknamed the “Butcher of Bengal” was given charge of the execution.
“Kill 3 million of them, the rest will eat out of our hands” - Yahya Khan to generals at Pakistani military meet, 1971
In my perspective, the people of Bangladesh had had enough of the ‘imperialistic’ reign of the Pakistani leaders. The entire populace of the largest river delta in Asia (Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta) had unanimously taken up arms to repel the military personnel.
The Sunday Times reported the death toll to be 20,000 in Dhaka city alone. Military officers competed with each other over the number of confirmed kills.
According to Time Magazine’s report: 60,000 were killed in the first 24 hours Roughly 42 people were killed per minute, put that into perspective with the death toll in WWII, which is estimated at 70 million, 11 million people were killed every year. Roughly 22.2 people per minute.
At 12.20 am on 26th March, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had sent a telegram, which goes as follows:
“This may be my last message. From today Bangladeshi is independent.”
After 9 months of extreme bloodshed and war between the Pakistani Military and Mukti Bahini (Indian army personnel + Bangladeshi trained freedom fighters); on 16th December 1971, Lt. General Amir Khan Niazi, had formally signed the ‘Instrument of Surrender’. Over 93,000 Pakistani troops had yielded, making it one of the biggest surrenders since WWII.
We had won! But at immense sacrifice... A new nation had been born with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the First President and Tajuddin Ahmed as the First Prime Minister.
However, this victory was sweet, yet lasted for much less time...
On 15th August 1975, as part of a Military Coup D’etats, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his entire family had been mercilessly massacred by the people whom he had trusted and confided to the most. This incident always reminds me of the assassination of a certain Roman emperor (who had, in my personal opinion, shared similarity with Sheikh Mujib), called ‘The Uncrowned King of Rome’, Julius Caesar.
Therefore, on this Day, the 17th of March, we Bangladeshis all around the globe pay homage to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. A leader whose ideals and characters, selfless love for his country, thoughts that were a century ahead of his current time, have made him one of the best, in my own opinion, the greatest leader of the past two centuries. Even as a young man, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had always contemplated the prospect of an Independent, Golden Bangladesh, where people of all races, religions and backgrounds mutually coexisted peacefully.
Especially to us, the youth (‘golden generation’ as Sheikh Mujib liked to call us) He is an extraordinary inspiration. Studying about* Bangabandhu’s history has added fuel to the patriotic flames burning in our hearts.
The writer is a Class VIII student of SFX Greenherald Intl School in Dhaka.