Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a Bengali political leader in East Pakistan and the founding leader of Bangladesh. He was the first and fourth president of Bangladesh. He was also the second prime minister and was the leader of the Awami League. He is popularly known as the “Bangabandhu” means “Friend of Bengal”. In a word, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the architect of independent Bangladesh.
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Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born to a respectable Muslim family on March 17th, 1920 at Tungipara Gopalganj subdivision of Faridpur district. He was the third child among the four daughters and two sons of Sheikh Lutfur Rahman and Saira Begum.
He studied in the Humanities faculty of Calcutta at the Islamia College and graduated from Dhaka University. In 1946, he was elected general secretary of the Islamia College Students Union. At 18, Mujib married Fazilatunnesa. They became happy parents of two daughters and three sons.
Beginning of an Epic Journey:
Mujib’s political activities began when he joined the All India Students Federation in 1940. He was elected councilor for a one-year term. He Joined the Bengal Muslim League in 1943 at the Islamia College in Calcutta. He grew close to the faction led by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a leading Bengali Muslim leader.
In 1946 he was elected General Secretary of Islamia College Students Union. After the Partition of India, Rahman chose to stay in the newly created Pakistan. On his return to East Bengal, he enrolled in the University of Dhaka to study law and founded the East Pakistan Muslim Students’ League in 1948. And he was one of the founding joint secretaries of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League (est. 1949).
On January 26, 1949, the government revealed that Urdu would officially be the state language of Pakistan. At that time, Mujib encouraged fellow activist groups to launch strikes and protests, and undertook a hunger strike. But he was arrested along with Khaleque Nawaz Khan and Shamsul Haque by police on 11 March.
The shout of students and political activists led to the quick release of Mujib and the others. Mujib was expelled from the university and arrested again in 1949 for trying to organize the menial and clerical staff in a solicitude over workers’ rights. And remained active to organize the movements which culminated on February 21, 1952.
Climbing Steps of Politics
Mujib introduced his political career, leaving the Muslim League to join Suhrawardy and Maulana Bhashani in the creation of the Awami Muslim League, the progenitor of the Awami League.
On 9 July in 1953, he was elected General Secretary of East Pakistan Awami League at its council session. While Suhrawardy worked to build a larger association of East Pakistani and socialist parties, Mujib focused on enlarging the grass-roots organization. In the elections of 1954, Mujib was elected at the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly and became the Agricultural Minister. In 1956, he joined a second alignment government as the Commerce and Industries Minister.
In 1963, Sheikh Mujib became the President of Awami Muslim League after the death of Suhrawardy, which became one of the wide-reaching political parties in Pakistan. The party had dropped the word “Muslim” from its name in a change towards secularism and a wide appeal to non-Muslim communities.
In 1966, he revealed his famous six-point program, calling it ‘Our [Bengalis’] Charter of Survival’, which aimed at self-rule for East Pakistan.
He strongly opposed President Ayub Khan’s basic democracy plan. He declared a 6-point program seeking autonomy of East Pakistan at the national conference of opposition political parties in Lahore in 1966.
Agartala Conspiracy Case
The Pakistan government committed the scandalous Agartala Conspiracy Case against Bangabandhu and 34 Bengali military and CSP officers.
Sheikh Mujib was named alleged number one in the case that charged the arrested persons with plotting to bring about the secession of East Pakistan from the rest of Pakistan. But was forced to release him amongst massive public unrest. On December 5, 1969, he proclaimed that East Pakistan would henceforth be called Bangladesh.
Elections of 1970
Awami League at a meeting of the working committee on 1 April decided to take part in the general elections. In the general elections of Pakistan in 1970, Bangabandhu was re-elected President of the Awami League. The people gave him the absolute mandate in favor of his six-point demand. The West Pakistani rulers, however, were fully against Mujib’s demand for greater autonomy.
Establishment of Bangladesh
Following political dead end, Yahya Khan delayed the convening of the assembly to bar Awami League from forming the provincial government. It was on 7 March 1971 that Mujib called for the independence of Bangladesh and asked the people to start a major campaign of civil turbulence and built armed resistance at a mass gathering of people held at the Race Course Ground in Dhaka.
Yahya Khan proclaimed martial law, banned Awami League and ordered the arrest of Sheikh Mujib.
Genocide and Independence of Bangladesh
On the night of March 25, 1971, Pak army launched operation searchlight and cracked down on the innocent unarmed Bengalis. They attacked Dhaka University, the Peelkhana Headquarters of the then East Pakistan Rifles and the Rajarbagh Police Headquarters.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman read out a wireless message, moments after the Genocide began, declaring the independence of Bangladesh. His statement was sent over wireless to the country.
Struggle for national reconstruction
After nine months of bloody war which killed over 3 million of Bengalis, the Pak army surrendered to the allied forces of Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters) and Indian army. A new nation is born- Bangladesh and the League leadership created a government in Dhaka. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned home on January 10, 1972, and took the responsibility of reconstructing the new-born country.
After Bangladesh achieved recognition from major countries, he focused on humanitarian and development assistance from the international community to reconstruct the country.
In a bid to bring political stability which was required to its economic improvement, Mujib’s imposition of one-party rule. All political parties came under one umbrella of identity known as BAKSAL.
On the night of August 15, 1975, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of Bangladesh and the Father of the Nation, was assassinated by a handful of ambitious and duplicitous military officers along with most of his family members excepting for his two daughters.