Location Algiers, capital city of Algeria. World leaders gathered there in 1973 to join the Non-aligned Summit. Bangladesh joined the Summit under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the Nation. The world has already known a new visionary leader whose physical stature was immense, voice redolent of thunder and a rare personality with amazing charisma. The world has already known that he was not only a leader of his people. His Bengali nationalism was the new emergence of Bengali civilization and culture. Sheikh Mujib is the hero of the Bengalis, in the past and in the times, that are. He was himself an Institution, a movement and a revolution. In the Summit was present another revolutionary world leader, Fidel Castro of Cuba. When Castro met Bangabandhu at the summit, he embraced him and said, “I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas.” What a compliment from a world leader like Castro for one of the greatest sons of all the time, Bangabandhu, friend of Bengal, a true friend, guide and pathfinder of his own people. In August 1971, TIME magazine wrote about Bangabandhu, “A man of vitality and vehemence, Mujib became the political Gandhi of the Bengalis, symbolizing their hopes and voicing their grievances. Not even Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, drew the million-strong throngs that Mujib has attracted in Dacca. Nor, for that matter, has any subcontinent politician since Gandhi’s day spent so much time behind bars for his political beliefs’’. “Saluting an icon of democracy, a towering personality and a great friend of India, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,’’wrote Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India on his tweet after paying homage to the Bangladesh’s founding father at 32 Number in Dhanmondi, Dhaka.
But the unprecedented popularity of Bangabandhu within and beyond Bangladesh, his emergence as a world leader, his thoughts, ideology for a free, independent, golden Bengal, a democratic and secular Bangladesh could not make some vested quarters and individuals happy, who from the very beginning of the Liberation War in 1971 continued hatching conspiracies to overthrow him from power. There were insiders who joined in such conspiracy to overthrow Bangabandhu. Among them the most notorious was, Khandaker Mustaque Ahmed, who was the Foreign Minister in Tajuddin Ahmed’s Liberation War time Cabinet in 1971. Khandaker Mustaque was a mole within Awami League and within the Cabinet of Bangabandhu. He became the President after the killing of Bangabandhu on 15 August 1975. But the traitor Mustaque was not the lone player in the dirty game. Conspirators within the Army, powerful foreign powers and Pakistan, which never accepted the emergence and existence of Bangladesh joined in hands together, to defame Bangabandhu and his government with the goal of overthrowing him from power. Khandaker Mustaque’s conspiracy dated back from the time of Liberation War. Reports are there that he (Mustaque) contacted the US Consul General George Griffin in Calcutta and sent a message that if the US could arrange the release of Bangabandhu from Pakistan, he would try to convince the Mujibnagar government to call off the Liberation War and go for a federation with Pakistan. Griffin who had doubts in Mustaque’s credibility, was later declared persona nongrata in India and the conspirators later used Mustaque successfully to unseat and kill Sheikh Mujib. However, the main conspiracy to kill Bangabandhu was reported to have been hatched by a group of disgruntled army officers including Khandaker Abdur Rashid (a close relative of Khandaker Mustaque), Farookh Rahman, Shariful Hoque Dalim and others. All of them had earlier defected from the Pakistani Army and later according to reports, became clear that they were in fact, the 5th columnists working in disguise for Pakistan. There was also reported involvement of a few senior repatriates who were unhappy as the army who had joined the Liberation War were given two years of seniority in job.
The conspiracies led to the brutal and heinous killings in the world history where the father of the Nation was gunned down, where his whole family members minus two young girls (Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana) were killed, including the 10-year old innocent child, Sheikh Rasel. Bangabandhu was killed and that too most brutally by the military, in association with several invisible collaborators. It’s indeed a dark chapter in the history of Bangladesh when the father of the nation was eliminated by a section of his own countrymen whom he loved and fought to give them freedom and a fresh lease of life from the hostilities of Pakistan. Never in a history of recent times, world has witnessed such a betrayal and treason by a group of his own people.
Bangabandhu was in the process of building up his infant nation inculcating secular ideals with progressive ideas and the new nation was marching forward towards new dimensions when his life was prematurely snuffed out. The perpetrators of his murder, most foul, were against secularism, liberty and democracy. It’s largely perceived that the blue print of his assassination, aided by military might with tanks and artillery, was principally conceived and executed by extraneous forces who did not want Bangladesh become a secular state. Pakistan can never escape the responsibility of its destructive role in run up to the liberation of Bangladesh. History will never spare Pakistan. According to the Political Secretary of Bangabandhu, one of the founders of ‘Mujib Bahini’ during the 1971 Liberation War and currently a leading Awami League Minister Tofayel Ahmed, “I don’t have any hesitation to say that Pakistan was involved with this killing, international big power is also involved’’. (Machranga tv report). Pakistan has never accepted the emergence of Bangladesh. That we witnessed once again after the killing of Bangabandhu when Pakistan changed its diplomatic status towards Bangladesh. Just one day after Sheikh Mujib’s assassination, President Bhutto of Pakistan announced that his country would immediately recognize the new regime and offered a gift of 50,000 tons of rice in addition to a generous gift of clothing. Was it mere killing of an individual person? By killing Bangabandhu the conspirators and the killers, both national and international, wanted to establish the Pakistani ideals, many of them even were dreaming to be re-united with Pakistan. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu has recently said, “The 15th August massacre was not for only murdering a family, it was an effort to kill the victory of independence and the ideology with which Bangladesh was liberated in 1971 … those who couldn’t accept Bangladesh’s victory brutally assassinated Bangabandhu.” Forces against the ideologies of Bangabandhu and Bangladesh were active and are still active. In the post-1975 period we saw the return of Islamic parties including Jamaat e Islami and its leader Golam Azam who had never accepted the independence of Bangladesh, who did not want Bangladesh; saw abolition of secularism and repression on the minority communities in Bangladesh. There was a serious threat to secular democracy, not only in Bangladesh, but also in the whole region of South Asia. Bangladesh today is the only country that has a secular government in power, starting from Turkey to Indonesia. Bangladesh is emerging as a powerful tiger. But conspiracies are on to destabilize the country. It is high time to further mobilize the public opinion in favor of secular democracy and continuation of the secular democratic process in Bangladesh where all, irrespective of faiths can enjoy their lives and freedom freely. Only then the true honour and respect will be paid to the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
(15 August 2017).
– by Bikash Chowdhury Barua