Of course, the freedom we obtained on December 16, 1971 was the result of nine months of fighting. But the story of the Bengalis of suffering tyranny and oppression has continued through the ages.
History indicates that at different times foreign invaders came to resourceful Bengal and ruled this territory. The description of Bengal by various historians, rulers and travelers claims that this territory is teeming with resources. Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan traveler who visited Bengal in AD 1346, called Bengal “a hell of plenty.”
In the 17th century in Bargis, the Marathi invaders came to this land and plundered the resources on a large scale. In addition, the inhabitants of this territory suffered the full brunt of the oppression of the Bargis. One can just guess how they caused panic among people when a mother used to stop her baby from crying by saying that if he didn’t stop the Bargis would come. Even among children, the Bargis were a name for panic.
Over the ages, the Bengalis expected that once they were released. The nation was really lucky because the greatest leader like Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born in this land. He was such a leader who sacrificed his entire life to emancipate the Bengalis from hundreds of years of tyranny and oppression.
There may be many leaders who dreamed of a separate territory for the people of East Pakistan and there may be some who made gestures and signs at that time, but none were able to give shape to their dreams. But it was only Bangabandhu who materialized the dream of the Bengalis and became the architect of the nation. He is the greatest Bengali for a thousand years and the father of the nation. He had immensity at his heart with all the human qualities that created everlasting bonds with a huge population.
Bangabandhu was a charismatic leader and this quality made people bond. His attractive personal quality has made him an iconic leader before the global community. Cuban renaissance leader Fidel Castro has aptly described Bangabandhu as a charismatic leader. In his opinion, he said: “I did not see the Himalayas but I saw Sheikh Mujib. In personality and courage, this man is the Himalayas.
Bangabandhu has never compromised with any injustice which has put him in enormous suffering throughout his life. Throughout his life, he fought for the political, economic and cultural emancipation of peoples and never thought of his personal happiness. The vision of this great leader only served humanity, regardless of their caste and beliefs, which made him a man of extraordinary sensitivity. His proactive social conscience and supreme dedication to politics have made him an undisputed leader of Bangladesh.
After the end of British colonial rule in this subcontinent in 1947, Pakistan and India were born as two separate countries. The partition of the two countries was mainly based on religion. Pakistan had two wings and Bangladesh was part of East Pakistan. Since the creation of Pakistan, the inhabitants of this territory have suffered another episode of repression and subjugation from its western counterpart. The clairvoyant Bangabandhu realized that Pakistan could never speak of the interests of the majority Bengalis.
West Pakistanis’ malice worsened when they tried to wrest the mother tongue of the Bengalis. Protests have spread among the mass population of East Pakistan against this decision. The young Bangabandhu and his many supporters strongly protested against the decision of the leaders of West Pakistan to impose Urdu as the official language of Pakistan. It is true that we obtained our right to speak Bengali in 1952 by sacrificing the lives of many heroic sons of this land. But could we stop the antagonistic attitudes of West Pakistan? Certainly not, the rather endless tortures and the different types of misdeeds against the Bengalis have gradually diminished.
After the death of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took over the leadership of the Awami League. In 1966, Bangabandhu proposed the historic six-point claims at the head of the Awami League. The six points were the freedom charter for the Bengalis. It was a comprehensive roadmap for the emancipation of the people of East Pakistan. Political analysts have said that after the partition of 1947, politicians in different neighborhoods raised certain questions at different times, but our freedom architect Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came up with six points which all combined into one platform. Mainly, the six-point demand bridged the gap with the demand for autonomy.
The six points became so popular among the Bengalis, but as soon as it turned into a strong movement and made the Bengalis aware of their rights, Bangabandhu was sent to jail accusing him of Agartala Conspiracy Case.
Meanwhile, people from all walks of life had been energized by the charismatic essence of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The entire nation demonstrated to release Bangabandhu from the trial. In a short time, the popular mass movement gained momentum. To avoid the impending civil war, the Ayub government withdrew the case and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released. Over time, Cheikh Mujib was not only a leader but an existence of the Bengalis.
The capital popularity of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave the Awami League 167 seats out of the 169 seats allocated to East Pakistan in the 1970 general election, while the People’s Party led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto won 81 of the 144 seats. The Awami League of Bangabandhu got the mandate from the majority people, but they were not allowed to form the government. Instead, Ayub’s government launched a conspiracy against Bangabandhu and his people.
Bangabandhu was clearly aware that without walking the path of strife, the nation would never achieve its freedom. On March 7, 1971, Bangabandhu gave a historic speech at Maidan Racecourse in front of thousands of people. This speech was a turning point. Through his speech, he alluded to the responsibilities of the nation for their liberation.
The great speaker Bangabndhu with his charismatic ability inspired the Bengalis by infusing them with patriotic feelings. Implicitly, he not only advised people to go into the liberation war, but also gave a comprehensive directive which helped people achieve freedom in a relatively short time.
However, Bangabandhu endured prison terms of around 12 years during the 23 years of Pakistani rule to claim the rights of the people of Bangladesh and to materialize the dream of the Bengalis that they would see for years. He not only emancipated the Bengalis from injustice and oppressions, after giving independence to the nation, he worked tirelessly to change the fortunes of the people. He wanted to make Bangladesh “Sonar Bangla”. But his assassination along with members of his family on August 15, 1975 brought the darkest episode in Bengali life.
Bangabandhu is not physically with us but his presence in the nation will be felt through the ages. His ideology and vision will continue to regenerate in the hearts of every Bengladeshi. Anandashankar Ray rightly wrote: “As long as Padma, Meghna, Gouri, Jamuna continue, your fulfillment will also live on, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. ”
The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also a researcher at the IBS. E-mail: [email protected]