Bangabandhu’s homecoming was a significant event

2022-01-09, 3:28pm Op-Ed

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Dr. Forkan Uddin Ahmed

Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed

From the very beginning of bangabandhu’s political life, he had a faith in customary and rational politics.

He didn’t like camouflaging in politics, unlike the communists. People were the central focus of his political philosophy. Ha had mentioned it in his incomplete autobiography. Bangabandhu liked British form of Parliament government. Bangabandhu protested the postponement of parliament session due in 1st March 1971 and called strike on 3rd March. After 7th March speech, he continued dialogue with Yahya and Bhutto up to 24th March. By this time, procession went on in the street for achieving rights.

No betrayal decision came from Bangabandhu. Only that, the elected representatives should be given the mandate to exercise power from the Pakistani rulers. On 25th March the Pakistani Barbaric rular started their operation searchlight. Bangabandhu had no alternative but to declare independence. Immediate after declaration of independence Sheikh Mujib was arrested and brought to Pakistan in prison. They started killing the innocent and peace loving Bengalis. Henceforth, all things were speedily going on.

In the first week of December, the joint forces launched a massive attack on the enemy force. On 16 December 1971 the Pakistani general Niajzi was compelled to surrender. Being defeated, Yahya Khan decided to transfer power to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It was the last attempt to save Pakistan through Bhutto.

Bhutto was intelligent. Without delay, he met Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and he very tactfully told Mujib about his release from prison. Nobody could know what was happening in West Pakistan from 16 December, 1971 to 8 January, 1972. It is assumed that several meetings were held within this time. These 25 days were very critical to the authority of Pakistan. Even it was a problem to high ambitious politicians of new country. They were simply suffering from panic and frustrations. Even Bhutto at that time was dictated to kill Bangabandhu. But Bhutto avoided to carry it forward. Bhutto offered a handsome amount of money to Mujib. But Mujib was not willing to take that. Liberation war duly started.

The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested at around 1:30 am on 26 March 1971 from his Dhanmondi residence by the Pakistan Army. Later he was taken to West Pakistan and detained. At the beginning, no one knew where he was kept and how he was. Even no one could say whether he was alive or not, although it was said from Swadhin Bangla Radio that he was good and was with the people. This announcement was done repeatedly so that the Bengalis engaged in the war of independence did not lose their courage. However, it was confirmed that Bangabandhu was alive when Pakistan's President General Yahya Khan announced the trial of Bangabandhu in a secret military court in Pakistan. Bangabandhu knew very well that the Pakistani military would arrest him. Some of his colleagues and friends asked him to leave the house while informing him the situation over telephone. He could escape, but he did not. He said if he did that, then the Pakistani military will destroy the entire Dhaka city to find him. This was published in the Washington Post on 30 March 1971 in a report by Simon Dring of the Daily Telegraph, London. That report also described the killing and atrocities of Pakistani army on the night of 25th March.

On the trial of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the then Indian Prime Minister Ms. Indra Gandhi sent a message to the world head of states foreign influence request over Pakistan. The content of the message was as follows. ‘Government and people of India as well as our press and parliament are greatly perturbed by reported statement of president Yahya Khan that he is going to start secret military trial of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman without affording him any foreign legal assistance. We apprehend that the so-called trial will be used only as a cover to execute Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This will have aggravated the situation in East Bengal and will create a serious situation in India because of the strong feelings of our people and all political parties. Hence our grave anxiety, we appeal to you to exercise your influence with president Yahya Khan to take a realistic view in the larger interest of the peace and stability of this region.’

Former British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs Arthur Bottomley, at the conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association held on 13 September 1971 in Malaysia, urged all governments to put pressure on Pakistan to release Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The 13th September issue of the African Tribune published from Kinshasa said that if Sheikh Mujib was released only then necessary steps could be taken for a peaceful solution of the problem. On 15 September, a statement by US Senator Charles H Parcey was published on the Christian Science Monitor, which said that Pakistan would be condemned by the world if Sheikh Mujib was sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Finally, the Pakistani government had to release our beloved leader, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from jail. On 8 January 1972, Bangabandhu was released and went to London. From there he reached Dhaka on 10 January via New Delhi.

On January 10, 1972, the day of his coming to Dhaka, Bangabandhu delivered two important speeches-one in Delhi and the other in Dhaka.  Before Bangabandhu gave the speech, Indira Gandhi had delivered a short but moving speech. Indira Gandhi in her speech said, “Sheikh Saheeb promised it to the nation that he would bring independence for the people. He has kept his promise and has brought independence for them. Pakistani army took him captive physically but could not bind his soul. His unfettered soul gave inspiration to people for struggle of independence. We also believe in the same ideal, for which they fought for independence.”  Then Indira Gandhi said, “I made three commitments to my people. My first commitment was to send back the Bangladeshi refugees to their country. My second commitment was to give all sorts of cooperation to the freedom fighters and freedom lovers. The third commitment was to bring back Sheikh saheeb from the lock-up of Pakistan. I have fulfilled my commitments too.”

In Bangladesh's political history, the importance of a dazzling star's homecoming day is massive.

Through his return from a Pakistani prison, the people of the newly independent nation experienced the absolute taste of independence and democracy. The stability and growth of the country would have collapsed, had he not managed to get home on January 10. Though Bangabandhu established a solid base for Bangladesh, he did not get a chance to take the country to its height. After his death, several evil powers attempted at various times to disrupt Bangladesh's growth and undermine Bangabandhu’s contribution and its homecoming day in the country's history. Yet, they failed to do so as Bangabandhu and Bangladesh are indistinguishable from each other.

Now, the nation observes January 10 as the homecoming day of Bangabandhu. This day is observed and celebrated throughout the country with due honour and solemnity. The President and the Prime Minister give message to the nation on this occasion. The radio, television and mass media put up special programmes on the significance of the day. Special prayers are offered in different religious institutes on this occasion. Different organizations organize wide programes on this day. On this occasion, we urge all to come forward with more fervency and zeal to observe and celebrate the day. At the same time, we appeal to all to pray to Almighty Allah for the salvation of the departed soul of the greatest Bengali of the thousand years, supreme command of Liberation War, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujubur Rahman. 

(The writer is a former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar and VDP, Writer, columnist and researcher)