Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is not just a name, it's a history. He was born on 17 March one hundred years back at Tungipara in Gopalganj. The little boy who was born on 17 March 1920 afterwards became an iconic figure known to the whole world. Bangabandhu became the greatest of all Bengalis with the passage of time.
March is an eventful month in the life of the people of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born on 17 March 1920. Bangabandhu conducted a strike demanding Bengali as the state language of East Pakistan on 11 March 1948. The non-cooperation movement began on 1st March 1971.
The patriotic students and masses of Bangladesh declared Bangabandhu as the father of the nation on 3rd March 1971. Bangabandhu gave one of the greatest speeches of the world's history on 7 March 1971.
Pakistan Army carried out the most heinous genocide on the people of Bangladesh on 25th March 1971. The independence of Bangladesh was declared by Bangabandhu on 26 March 1971. Bangabandhu became the symbol of the country's struggle and hope through his love for the country's people.
Bangabandhu spent around 13 years of his life inside prison while fighting for securing the rights of the country's people. Bangabandhu is another name for Bangladesh. Bangladesh would not have been created if Bangabandhu was not born. People of Bangladesh enthusiastically celebrated the birth centenary of Bangabandhu on 17 March 2020. Bangabandhu emboldened the ordinary masses of Bangladesh to fight for independence.
Bangabandhu led us during all the upheavals including the Language Movement of 1952, the non-cooperation movement of 1969, the general election of 1970 in which Awami League gained a landslide victory and the Liberation War of 1971.
Nelson Mandela once said, "It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails." I visited South Africa in 2012 and saw the prison cell on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. A grave was dug in front of the jail in Pakistan where Bangabandhu was imprisoned. Bangabandhu was given two choices-either the grave or the post of Prime Minister.
Bangabandhu chose the grave and told the jail authorities to send his dead body to Bangladesh if he was executed. This was the height of Bangabandhu's patriotism. Bangabandhu said on 4th March 1971, "No nation could ever achieve independence without making the highest sacrifice." Similarly Nelson Mandela once said, "Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people."
Bangabandhu also said, "My greatest strength is I love my people. My greatest weakness is I love them too much." Bangabandhu's autobiographic books Unfinished Memoirs and Prison Diary (Karagarer Rojnamcha) bear evidences of the struggle Bangabandhu did all his life for the betterment of his countrymen.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the bridgework between Bangladesh's past, present and future. Bangabandhu led us all the way from darkness to light. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman struggled all his life for the welfare of the people of Bangladesh. Bangladesh gained independence through the uncompromising leadership of Bangabandhu.
Bangabandhu led a very simple life. Plain living and high thinking defined Bangabandhu. He always envisioned a Golden Bengal free of poverty, hunger and discrimination. Bangabandhu said while speaking to journalist David Frost, "I feel for my country and my people more than my family." Bangabandhu placed Bengalis and Bangladesh above everything else.
He was a towering leader of the downtrodden people of the whole world. Bangabandhu can be compared with timeless leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Ho Chi Minh, Kamal Ataturk and Marshal Tito. Bangabandhu extended his support for all legitimate agitations across the globe.
The greatest tragedy in Bangladesh's history hit the country when Bangabandhu with most of his family members were assassinated on 15 August 1975. Bangabandhu's 7th March speech has been recognized by UNESCO as one of the greatest political discourses in history.
Bangabandhu's 7th March speech was the source of our inspiration. The people of Bangladesh fought fiercely during 1971 being encouraged by Bangabandhu. Bangabandhu came back to Bangladesh on 10 January 1972. He was accorded a spontaneous and mind-blowing ovation by the people of Bangladesh.
The first constitution of Bangladesh was formulated under the guardianship of Bangabandhu. Bangabandhu secured Bangladesh's membership in the United Nations and some other international organizations. A journalist asked Bangabandhu in London, "Bangladesh has been rendered to relics." Bangabandhu answered, "I will transform these relics into a fertile, poverty-free, hunger-free and prosperous Golden Bengal." Bangabandhu worked hard to establish Bangladesh as a self-sufficient country through administrative and socio-economic reforms.
I travelled abroad with Bangabandhu. I saw how much the leaders of different countries honored Bangabandhu. Heads of states of 32 countries attended the Commonwealth Summit of 1973. Bangabandhu was the prime attraction in that summit. In the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Algiers, Bangabandhu asserted, "The world is divided into two parts-the oppressors and the oppressed. I am on the side of the oppressed masses." Bangabandhu once said while speaking to journalists, "I will come back to Bengal."
We will have to abide by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's ideology all the way ahead. We should love Bangladesh the way Bangabandhu loved the country. Everyone should work with patriotism to drive the country forward.
The writer is an eminent politician
and Member of Parliament,
Awami League, Bhola 1
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