Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Yahya Khan
The conspiracy then started to prevent the transfer of power. The session of the newly elected National Assembly was scheduled for March 3, 1971. By an order on March 1, General Yahya postponed this session which had a deep repercussions and entire Bangladesh burst into flames of political upheaval. The historic non-cooperation movement began and for all practical purposes, Bangabandhu took over the civil administration of Bangladesh into his own hands. The military junta, however, began to increase the strength of its armed forces in Bangladesh secretly and to kill innocent Bengalis at different places.
Yahya Khan came to Dhaka by the middle of March, 1971, but Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and other leaders came a few days later to have talks with Bangabandhu. When everybody was feeling that the talks were going to be successful, Yahya Khan stealthily left Dhaka in the evening of March 25 and the barbarous genocide throughout Bangladesh began from that midnight. Bangabandhu was arrested at midnight of March 25 and was flown to the western wing, but before his arrest he formally declared independence of Bangladesh and issued instructions to all Bangladeshis, including those in the armed forces and in the police to take up arms to drive out the Pakistani occupation forces.
For nine long months from March 1971 to January 1972 Bangabandhu was confined in a death-cell in the Pakistani prison. His countrymen did not even know if he was dead or alive. Still, stirred by his inspiration, the nation threw itself heart and soul into the thick of the liberation war and by the middle of December the whole of Bangladesh was cleared of the occupation forces. Freed from the Pakistan's prison, Bangabandhu came back home on January 10, 1972 and stepped down from the President ship and took up the responsibility as the Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh on January 12, 1972.
Immediately he took steps for the formulation of the Constitution of the country and to place it before the Constituent Assembly. After the passage of the Constitution on November 4, 1972, his party won an overwhelming majority in the elections held on 7 March 1973 and took up the responsibility of running the administration of the country for another five-year term. After the fourth amendment of the constitution on 25 January 1975 (changing the form of Government from the Parliamentary to the Presidential system), Bangabandhu entered upon the office of the President of Bangladesh. Within three years of independence, he put the war ravaged country along the path of political stability and economic reconstruction.
Although simple at heart, Sheikh Mujib was a man of cool nerves and of great strength of mind. Under his charismatic leadership, the country soon began moving on to the road to progress and the people found their long-cherished hopes and aspirations being gradually realised. But at this crucial juncture his life was cut short by an anti-liberation reactionary force on 15 August 1975. He along with all the members (excluding two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana who were abroad) of his family were brutally assassinated by this splinter group of armed forces. In killing the father of the Nation, the conspirators ended a most glorious chapter in the history of Bangladesh, but they could not end the great leader's finest legacy - the rejuvenated Bengali nation. The state philosophy of the Father of the nation Bangabandhu was based on four pillars: Nationalism, Democracy, Socialism and Secularism. His foreign policy opened up new horizons of peace, cooperation and nonalignment throughout Asia.
Statesmen of many countries of Asia countries were his personal friends. He was awarded Julio Curie Peace Prize for his being a symbol of world peace and cooperation. In the eyes of the people in the third world, he is the harbinger of peace and development in Asia. Analysis shows Bangladesh was not built in a day. For centuries it existed as an idea and an ideal in the unfulfilled dream of the ancient heroes of Bengal who carried it to their graves.
Bangabandhu, who inherited this legacy, reared and nourished the dream into a strong and abiding passion and gave the passion a shape, that is, the map of Bangladesh, which was engraved on his heart. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was taller than the average Bangalee, and spoke in a vibrant voice. But what special power gave him the magnetic qualities of drawing a mass of seventy-five million people to him? This question stirred the minds of many people at home and abroad. He was not educated abroad nor was he born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Yet, he was as dear to the educated Bangladesh's compatriots as to the illiterate and half-educated masses.
He inspired the intelligentsia and the working classes alike. He did not climb to leadership overnight. It has been a slow and steady process. He attained his enviable eminence the hard way. He began as a humble worker at the bottom rung. He arduously climbed to the position of a national leader and rose to the very pinnacle as the Father of the Nation. Whoever has once come in contact with him has admitted that his personality, a mingling of gentle and stern qualities, had an uncanny magical attraction. He was as simple as a child yet unbending in courage; as strong as steel when necessary. Coupled with this was his incomparable strength of mind and steadfast devotion to his own ideals.
He was a nationalist in character, a democrat in behavior, a socialist in belief and a secularist by conviction. He was not a mere individual, but in fact an institution, a movement, a revolution and an upsurge. He is the architect of the nation. He is the essence of epic poetry and he is history. Thi
s history goes back a thousand years and that is why, contemporary history has recognized him as the greatest Bengali of the past thousand years.
The future will call him the superman of eternal time. And he will live in luminosity reminiscent of a bright star, in historic legends. He shows the path to the Bengali nation and his dreams are the basis of the existence of a nation. A remembrance of him is the culture and society that Bengalis have sketched for themselves. His possibilities the promises thrown forth by him are the fountain-spring of the civilized existence of Bengalis. He is a father and friend to the masses of Bangladesh.
(To be continued…)
The writer is an independent political observer who writes on politics, political and human-centered figures, current and international affairs.
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