Freedom fighter commander Major Haider pulling Pakistan General AAK Niazi by his hand to the
surrender ceremony on 16 December 1971.
Bangladesh’s history of deprivations, injustice, discrimination and torment that the nation had to go through at the hands of Pakistan is still glaringly inscribed in our minds. For this reason, fighting for independence was the only choice for Bangladesh.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wrote in his Unfinished Memoirs “As a man, what concerns mankind concerns me. As a Bengalee, I am deeply involved in all that concerns Bengalis. This abiding involvement is born of and nourished by love, enduring love, which gives meaning to my politics and to my very being.”Bangladesh would not have been created if Bangabandhu was not born.
Bangabandhu’s ideology and political thoughts are clearly reflected in the above words. Bangabandhu was top to bottom a Bengali and he was a humanist too. His Bengali nationalism was buttressed with humanitarian principles. Bangabandhu promoted the rights of all nations. He sought the freedom of Bengalis through his six-point movement. At the same time he sought autonomy for the people of Balochistan, Sindh and Pakhtun. Bangabandhu believed in upholding global humanity.
Bangabandhu led Bengalis through all the major upheavals of history including the Language Movement of 1952, the Six-Point Movement of 1966, the Mass Uprising of 1969 and ultimately the Liberation War of 1971. The glorious Liberation War was fought at the clarion call of Bangabandhu. Three million people gave their lives for Bangladesh’s independence.
Bangabandhu’s humanity was emanated in his historic 7th March speech. He said, “All Hindus, Muslims, Bengalis, non Bengalis living in this country are my brothers. It is your duty to protect them.”
Bangabandhu united all patriots to fight for the freedom of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu expressed his pledge towards Bengali nationalism while speaking in the United Nations in 1974. He said, “At the end I would like to put forward my confidence on mankind’s ability to overcome all hurdles and to do insurmountable things.” Through this speech Bangabandhu’s ideology consisting of nationalism and humanism became familiar to the whole world. There was no space for communalism and religious bigotry in Bangabandhu’s political views.
However, some people are still trying to misinterpret Bangabandhu’s ideals through time. Some people want to portray Bangabandhu as a rightist leader while some other people want to present Bangabandhu as a leftist politician. In fact Bangabandhu was a centrist and a pure socialist. Bangabandhu was uncompromising and iron-willed regarding the rights of Bengalis. Moreover, Bangabandhu fought fiercely all his life for the welfare of general masses. He struggled in an unflinching manner for democracy too.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman followed the path of secular and non-communal politics all his life. He hated communalism. He deplored the misuse of religion in state mechanism. He witnessed in Pakistan’s politics how religion was used for tormenting people. Bangabandhu wrote in his Unfinished Memoirs “I view people as human beings. In my political ideology I equally honor Muslims, Hindus, Christians and other religious believers. All are human beings in my judgement.”
Bangabandhu also thought about cooperation from the world’s superpowers. He said in the Non Aligned Movement Summit in Algiers in 1974, “The world today is divided into two parts—oppressors and the oppressed. I am on the side of the oppressed people.”
Democracy occupies a huge part of Bangabandhu’s political philosophy. The autocratic regime of Pakistan disappointed and enraged him. Absence of democracy stands for making people and the ruling authorities antagonists to each other. Democracy is a vital part of statecraft. Lack of democracy spoils social understanding and harmony. Lack of democracy also destroys the cultural unity of a nation. For this reason Bangabandhu all the time laid emphasis on democracy besides independence.
Bangabandhu said, “There may be many political parties in a democratic state. It is quite normal.” Bangabandhu fought all his life to establish democracy. He fought for establishing the lingual rights of the people of East Bengal. There was adherence to democracy in all the striving in Bangabandhu’s life.
Bangabandhu also knew that freedom of speech is an indispensable part of democracy. Bangabandhu was an adherent of the western form of democracy. At the same time he believed in struggling for the betterment of downtrodden people. The establishment of independent Bangladesh free of poverty and hunger was Bangabandhu’s dream. He worked relentlessly all his life to build up a Sonar Bangla (Golden Bengal) where progressive thoughts, secularism, democracy, socialism and equality will prevail. We will have to comply with Bangabandhu’s ideals which consist of Bengali nationalism, democracy, secularism and socialism. Communal platforms do not like Bangabandhu. Some people blamed Bangabandhu for opposing Islam but that is wrong. Bangabandhu unwaveringly continued his bold efforts for the wellbeing of the country’s people. Leaving Bangabandhu’s ideology is like going back to the dilapidated plight that Pakistan is still suffering from.
The killers of Bangabandhu wanted to run Bangladesh on the pathway of Pakistan after his assassination. Bangabandhu was assassinated to kill Bangladesh ideologically. Mostaq, Zia, Ershad and their associates wanted to turn Bangladesh into a communal state. Such evil stratagems are still going on. Financial plundering began after Bangabandhu was killed. Dirty money and muscle power began to run the state. Bangabandhu was against all these inauspicious phenomena.
Everyone will have to realize the circumstances that led to the Liberation War of 1971. We all should execute strong initiatives to establish democracy, socio-economic justice and secularism on the basis of non-communal, philanthropic politics. We will have to work diligently to build up a prosperous and democratic Bangladesh which was dreamt by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Joy Bangla. Joy Bangabandhu. Long live Bangladesh.
I feel proud that I was directly involved in the Liberation War of 1971 as a freedom fighter. The Pakistan Army surrendered to the joint command of Bangladesh and India led by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora. My commander Major Haider pulled Pakistani General AAK Niazi by his hand to the surrender ceremony on 16 December 1971.
While concluding, I would like to congratulate The Asian Age on the newspaper’s successful accomplishment of ten years in publications. I believe the spirit of 1971 and the ideology of Bangabandhu will be sustained by the patriotic masses across Bangladesh.
AKM Shameem Chowdhuri is a freedom fighter, Advisory Editor to The Asian Age and former Principal Information Officer (PIO) of the Bangladesh government.