Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
A Political Profile
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born on 17 march 1920, in Tungipara village under the then Gopalganj subdivision (at present district) of Faridpur district. He was the third child among four daughters and two sons of Sheikh Lutfar Rahman and Sayera Khatun. His parents used to call him Khoka. He spent his childhood in Tungipara.
At the age of seven, Mujib began his schooling at Gimadanga Primary School. At nine, He was admitted to class three at Gopalganj Public School. Subsequently, he was referred to a local missionary school.
Mujib was forced to stop studying for a while, at the age of fourteen, one of his eyes had to be operated on.
Mujib returned to school after a break of four years, occasioned by the severity of the eye operation.
1938 at eighteen Mujib married Begum Fazilatunnesa. They subsequently became the happy parents of two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, and three sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel. All the sons were killed, along with their parents, on 15 August 1975.
Mujib’s political carrer was effectively inaugurated while he was a student of Gopalganj Missionary School when he attracted the affection of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, later chief minister of Bengal and prime minister of Pakistan, on his visit to Gopalganj along with A.K Fazlul Huq, chief minister of undivided Bengal.
Mujib passed the Entrance (currently Secondary School certificate) examinations. He was admitted as an intermediate student in the arts faculty of Calcutta Islamia College, where he had lodgings at Baker Hostel. That same year he became actively involved in the movement for the creation of Pakistan.
Mujib’s busy and active political career took off in the literal sense with his election as a councillor of the Muslim League.
Mujib took part in the conference of the All Bengal Muslim Stdents’ League held at Kushtia, where he played a significant role. He was also elected secretary of Faridpur District Association, a Calcutta-based organization of the residents of Faridpur.
Mujib was elected general secretary of Islamia College Students Union.
Mujib obtained Bachelor of Arts Degree from Islamia College under Calcutta University. When communal riots broke out in the wake of the partition of India and the birth of Pakistan, he played an active role in the protecting Muslims and containing the violence.
Mujib took admission in the law Department of Dhaka University. He founded the Muslim Students’ League on 4 January. He rose in spontaneous protest on 23 February when Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin declared at the Legislative Assembly. ‘The people of East Pakistan must accept Urdu as their state language.’ Khawaja Nazimuddin’s remarks led to a storm of protest across the country. Sheikh Mujib immediately plunged into hectic activities to build a strong movement against the Muslim League’s move to make Urdu the only state language of Pakistan. He established contacts with students and political leaders. On 2 March, a meeting of the workers of different political parties was held to plan the course of the movement against the Muslim league on the language issue. The meeting held at Fazlul Huq Muslim Hall approved a resolution placed by Sheikh Mujib to form an All-Party State Language Action Committee. The Action Council called for a general strike in 11 March to register its protest against the conspiracy of the Muslim League against the Bengali language. On 11th March Mujib was arrested along with some colleagues while they were holding a demonstration in front of the secretariat building. The student community of the country became restive following his arrest. In the face of student protests, the Muslim League government was forced to release Mujib and other student leaders on 15 March. Following his release, the All Party State Language Action Committee held a public rally at Dhaka University Amatala ground on 16 March. Mujib presided over the rally, which was soon set upon by the police. To protest against the police action he immediate announced a countrywide student strike on 17 March. He was arrested on 11 September for joining the movement against the ‘cordon’ system at Faridpur.
Mujib was released from jail on 21 January. He extended his support to a strike called by Class Four employees of Dhaka University to press home their various demands. The university authorities imposed a fine on him for leading the movement of the employees. He rejected the unjust order. Mujib was arrested for staging a sit-in strike before the vice chancellor’s residence. When East Pakistan Awami Muslim League was formed on 23 June, he was elected its joint secretary despite his imprisonment. He was released in late June. Immediately after his release, he began organizing a movement against the prevailing food crisis. In September he was detained for violating Section 144. However, he was freed later.
He raised the demand for Chief Minister Nurul Amin’s resignation at a meeting of the Awami Muslim League in October.
The Awami Muslim League brought out an anti-famine procession in Dhaka on the occasion of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s visit to the province. Once again Mujib was arrested and jailed for leading the demonstration.
At a public meeting on 27 January, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Khawaja Nazimuddin announced that, in terms of the declaration of Mr M.A. Jinnah, Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan. The students, youth activists and members of the civil society immediately protested just as they had done in 1948. Although Mujib had been incarcerated since October 1949, he had managed to established close contacts with the politically active leaders and workers and through them he ensured that an All-Party State Language Action Committee was formed. He encouraged them to observe 21 February as a ‘State Language Day’. At the same time he had informed the authorities that he was determined to go on an indefinite hunger strike from 16 February in order to protest at his incarceration without charge under the Public Service Act. Soon afterwards on 14 February, the authorities moved hi from Dhaka jail and sent to Faridpur jail.
On 21 February, the student community violated the prohibitory order under Section 144 and they were fired upon by the police. As a result of their repressive actions, on following days, Salam, Barakat, Rafique, Jabbar, Shafiur, Abdul Awal and Ohiullah were killed and they are now recognized as martyrs of the ‘Language Movement’. Mujib’s hunger strike continued for thirteen days and his health began to seriously deteriorate. The authorities were, therefore, compelled to release him from jail on 28 February.
On 9 July, Mujib was elected as the general secretary of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League at its council meeting. Efforts were made to build unity among Maulana Bhasani, A.K Fazlul Huq and Shaheed Suhrawardy with the objective of defeating the Muslim League at the ensuing general elections. To achieve this, a special council session of the party was called on 14 November, in which a resolution to form the Jukta Front (United Front) was approved.
The first general elections in East Bengal were held on 10 March. The United Front won 233 seats out of 237. The Awami League was victorious in 143 seats. Mujib won the election for the Gopalganj constituency by a margin of 13,000 votes, defeating the influential Muslim League leader Wahiduzzaman. He took oath on 15 May as minister for agriculture and forest in the new provincial government. The central government arbitrarily dismissed the United Front ministry on 29 May. Mujib was once again arrested when his plane landed at Dhaka airport from Karachi on 30 May. He was released on 23 December.
Mujib was elected as a member of the Constituent Assembly on 5 June. The Awami League held a public meeting at Paltan Maidan (ground) on 17 June. A twenty-one-point programme was put forward demanding autonomy for East Pakistan. On 23 June, the working committee of the Awami League took a decision that the Awami League members of the Legislative Assembly would resign if autonomy was not granted to East Pakistan.
On 25 August, Mujib told the Pakistan Constituency Assembly in Karachi:
‘Sir, you will see that they want to use the phrase ‘East Pakistan’ instead of ‘East Bengal’. We have determined many times that you should use Bengal instead of East Pakistan. The word ‘Bengal’ has a history and tradition of its own. You can change it only after the people have been consulted. If you want change it, we have to go back to Bengal and ask them whether they are ready to accept it. So far as the question of one unit is concerned it can be incorporated in the constitution. Why do you want it to be taken up right now? What about the state language, Bengali? We are prepared to consider one unit with all these things. So, I appeal to my friends on that side to allow the people to give their verdict in any way, in the form of referendum or in the form of plebiscite’.
On 21 October, Awami Muslim League dropped the word ‘Muslim’ from its name at a special council meeting to make the party a truly modern and secular one. Mujib was re-elected general secretary of the party.
On 3rd February, the Awami League leaders, during a meeting with the chief minister, demanded that the subject of provincial autonomy be included in the draft constitution. On 14 July, at a meeting the Awami League adopted a resolution opposing the representation of the military in the administration. The resolution was moved by Mujib. On 4 September, an anti-famine procession was brought out under the leadership of Mujib defying section 144. At least three persons were killed when police opened fire on procession in the Chawk Bazar area. On 16 September, he assumed the responsibility of industries, commerce, labour, anti-corruption and village-aid ministry in the coalition government.
On 30 May, in response to a resolution of the party Mujib resigned from the cabinet to strengthen the organisation by working full-time. From 24 June to 13 July, he visited China on an official tour.
Pakistan’s President, Major General Iskander Mirza, and the chief of Pakistan’s army, General Ayub Khan, imposed martial law on 7 October and banned political activities. Mujib was arrested on 11 October. Thereafter, he was continuously harassed in false cases. He was released from prison after fourteen months but was arrested again at the jail gate.
Mujib was released from jail after the high court declared his detention unlawful. After his release from jail he started covert political activities against the martial law regime and Ayub Khan, the dictator. He set up an underground organization called ‘Swadhin Bangla Biplobi Parishad’ (Revolutionary Council for Independent Bengal) compromising leading student leaders in order to work for the independence of Bangladesh.
Mujib was arrested under the Public Security Act on 6 February. He was freed on 28 June following the withdrawal of the four-year-long martial law on 2 June. On 25 June, Mujib joined other national leaders to protest the unlawful measures introduced by general Ayub Khan. On 5 June he addressed a public rally at Paltan Maidan. He vigorously criticized Ayub Khan in his speech. He went to Lahore on 24 September and joined Shaheed Suhrawardy to form the National Democratic Front, an alliance of opposition parties. He spent the entire month of October travelling across East Pakistan along with Shaheed Suhrawardy to build up public support for the front.
Mujib went to London for consultations with Suhrawardy, who was there for medical treatment. On 5 December Suhrawardy died in Beirut.
The Awami League was reactivated on 25 January at a meeting held at Mujib’s residence. The meeting adopted a resolution to demand the introduction of parliamentary democracy on the basis of adult franchise in response to public sentiments. The meeting elected Maulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish as a party president and Mujib as general secretary. On 11 May, an All-Party Action Committee was formed. Mujib led a committee to defuse riots. After the riots he launched a vigorous anti-Ayub movement on behalf of his party. Mujib was arrested fourteen days before the presidential election.
The government charged Mujib with sedition and for making objectionable statements. He was sentenced to one-year imprisonment. He was later released by an order of the high court.
On 5 February, a national conference of the opposition parties was held in Lahore. Mujib placed his historic six-point programme before the select committee of the conference. The six-point demand was the charter of freedom of the Bengali nation. On 1 March, Mujib was elected the president of the Awami League. Following his election, he launched a campaign to obtain support for the six-point demand. He travelled around the country. Police arrested and detained him several times in Sylhet, Mymensingh and Dhaka during his campaign; in all, he was arrested eight times in the first quarter of the year. On 8 May, he was arrested after a speech at a rally of jute mill workers at Narayanganj. A countrywide hartal was observed on 7 June to force the government to release Mujib and other political prisoners. Police opened fire on picketers during the hartal and killed a number of workers in Dhaka, Narayanganj and Tongi.
The Pakistani government filed the infamous Agartala Conspiracy Case against Mujib and thirty-four Bengali civil and military officers. He was named as ‘ accused number one’ in the case. The arrested persons were charged with conspiring for the secession of East Pakistan from the rest of Pakistan. Those accused were detained inside Dhaka Cantonment. Demonstrations took place throughout the province, demanding the release of Mujib and the other co-accused in the Agartala Conspiracy case. The trial began on 19 June in Dhaka Cantonment amidst tight security.
The Central Students’ Action Council was formed on 5 January to press for the acceptance of the eleven-point programme, which included the six-point demand. The council initiated a countrywide student agitation to compel the government to withdraw the Agartala Conspiracy case and free Mujib. The agitation was gradually transformed into a mass movement. After months of protests, the government imposed a ban on meetings and processions under Section 144 and resorted to curfews and indiscriminate shooting by the police and the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR). Such actions led to a number of casualties, while the movement itself peaked in an unprecedented mass upsurge that forced Ayub Khan to convene a round-table conference of political leaders and announce Mujib’s release on parole. Mujib rejected the offer of release on parole. On 22 February, the Pakistan government submitted to the continued mass protests and freed Mujib and the other co-accused. The conspiracy case was withdrawn. The Central Student Action Council arranged a reception in honour of Mujib on 23 February at the Race Course ground (Suhrawardy Udyan). One million people attended the meeting. Mujib was publicly declared as Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) in the meeting. In his speech on the occasion, he pledged his whole-hearted support to the eleven-point demand of the students.
On 10 March, Mujib joined the round-table conference called by Ayub Khan in Rawalpindi. At the conference he placed the six-point demand of his party and the eleven-point demand of the students and said: ‘ To end people’s anger there is no other alternative to the acceptance of the six-point and eleven-point demands and the granting of regional autonomy.’ When the Pakistani politicians and rulers discarded his demand he left the conference on 13 March and returned to Dhaka the next day. On 25 March, General Yahya Khan took over and imposed martial law. O 25 October, Mujib went to London on a three-week organisational tour. At a discussion meeting held on 5 December to observe the death anniversary of Shaheed Suhrawardy, Mujib declared that henceforth East Pakistan would be called Bangladesh. He added, ‘There was a time when evil efforts were made to wipe out the word ‘Bangla’ from our land and map. The existence of the word “Bangla” was found nowhere except in the Bay of Bengal. I on behalf of the people proclaim today that the eastern province of Pakistan will be called “Bangladesh” instead of “East Pakistan.’
Mujib was re-elected president of the Awami League on 6 January. The Awami League at a meeting of the working committee on 1 April declared that it would take part in the general elections scheduled for later that year. On 7 June, Mujib addressed a public meeting at the Race Course ground and urged the people to elect his party on the basis of the six-point demand. On 17 October, he chose the boat as his party’s election symbol and launched his campaign at an election rally at Dhaka’s Dholai Khal. On 28 October, he addressed the nation over radio and television and called upon the people to elect his party’s candidates to the National Assembly to implement the six-point demand. When a devastating cyclonic storm hit the coastal belt of Bangladesh, killing at least one million people, Mujib suspended his election campaign and rushed to the aid of the helpless people in the affected areas. He condemned the Pakistani rulers for their indifference to the victims. He called upon the international community to help the people affected by the cyclone. In the General Elections held on 7 December, the Awami League acquired an absolute majority. The Awami League secured 167 seats out of 169 National Assembly seats in East Pakistan and won 288 out of 300 seats in the Provincial Assembly.
On 3 January, Mujib conducted the oath of the peoples’ representatives at a meeting at the Race Course ground. Awami League members took an oath to frame a constitution on the basis of the six-point demand and pledged to remain loyal to the people who had elected them. On 5 January, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the leader of the People’s Party, the majority party in West Pakistan, announced his readiness to form a coalition government at the centre with the Awami League. Mujib was elected as the leader of the Awami League’s Parliamentary Party at a meeting of the members of the National Assembly (MNAs) of his party. On 27 January, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto arrived in Dhaka for talks with Mujib. The talks failed after three days of deliberations. In announcement on 13 February, President Yahya Khan summoned the National Assembly to sit in Dhaka on 3 March. On 15 February, Bhutto announced that he would boycott the session and demanded that power be handed over to the majority parties in East and West Pakistan. In a statement on 16 February, Mujib was critical of Bhutto for putting forward such a demand and declared, ‘The demand of Bhutto sahib is totally illegal. Power is to be handed over to the majority party, the Awami League. The power now lies with the people of East Bengal.’
On 1 March, Yahya Khan abruptly postponed the National Assembly session, which prompted a storm of protest throughout Bangladesh. Mujib presided over a meeting of the Awami League working committee. The Awami League called a countrywide general strike on 3 March. After the success of the general strike, Mujib demanded that the president immediately transfer power to his party.
On 7 March, Mujib addressed a mammoth public rally at the Race Course ground, where he declared: ‘The struggle this time is the struggle for emancipation. The struggle this time is the struggle for independence. Joi Bangla.’ In this historic speech, Mujib urged the nation to break the shackles of subjugation and declared, ‘since we have given blood, we will give more blood. By the will of the Almighty God. The people of this land will be liberated… turn every house into a fortress. Face (the enemy) with whatever you have.’
Mujib advised the people to prepare themselves for a resistance movement against the enemy. He asked the people to start a non-cooperation movement against the Government of Yahya Khan. There were orders from Yahya Khan, on the one hand, and on the other Mujib’s directives from Road 32, Dhanmondi. The entire nation carried out Mujib’s instructions. Every organization, including government offices, courts, banks, insurance companies, schools, colleges, mills and factories obeyed his orders. The overwhelming response of the people of Bangladesh to his call was unprecedented in the region’s history. In reality, he ruled an Independent Bangladesh from
7 March to 25 March.
On 16 March, Yahya Khan came to Dhaka for talks with Mujib regarding the transfer of power. Bhutto also came a few days later to Dhaka. The Mujib-Yahya-Bhutto talks continued until 24 March. Yahya Khan left Dhaka secretly in the evening of 25 March. At the dead of the night of 25 March, the Pakistan army cracked down on innocent unarmed Bengalis. They attacked Dhaka University, the Pilkhana Headquarters of the East Pakistan Rifles and the Police Headquarters at Rajarbagh.
Moments after the crackdown began, Mujib declared independence at 12:30 a.m., 26 March. His declaration was transmitted through wireless to every place in the country. He said, ‘ This may be my last message; from this day onward Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh whenever you might be and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your struggle must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh. Final victory is ours.’
Mujib also sent a message in Bengali, which reads as follows in translation:
‘The Pakistani army has suddenly attacked Pilkhana EPR Headquarters, Rajarbagh Police Line. Skirmishes are going on all over the streets of the city. I am calling for help to the nations of the world. Our freedom fighters are fighting valiantly against the enemy to liberate our motherland. In the name of Almighty God I order and call upon you to liberate our country. Fight even if you have one drop of blood in you. Ask help from the police, EPR, Bengal Regiment and Ansars. Ask them to fight side by side with you. Any question of compromise does not arise. Victory will be ours. Drive out the last soldier of the enemy from our sacred land. Pass this message to all Awami League leaders, workers and all compatriots. God bless you. Joi Bangla (Victory to Bengal).’
Mujib’s message was immediately disseminated throughout the country under special arrangements. All sections of people, including Bengali military and parliamentary forces, police, government employees, political workers, students, labours and peasants started putting up resistance to the Pakistan army. The Pakistan army arrested Mujib from his Dhanmondi residence at 1.30 a.m., and whisked him away to Dhaka Cantonment. From there he was flown to Pakistan as prisoner three days later. On 26 March, General Yahya Khan in his speech banned the Awami League and declared Mujib a traitor.
On 26 March, M.A. Hannan, an Awami League leader in Chittagong, read out Mujib’s declaration of independence over Chittagong radio. On 10 April, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of Bangladesh headed by Mujib as its President was formed.
The revolutionary government took oath of office on 17 April at the Amrakanan of Baidyanathtala in Meherpur, which is now known as Mujibnagar. Mujib was elected President, Syed Nazrul Islam acting president and Tajuddin Ahmed Prime Minister. The liberation war ended on 19 December when the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered at the historic Race Course ground, conceding defeat in the glorious war led by the revolutionary government-in-exile. Bangladesh was finally free.
Earlier, Between August and September of 1971, the Pakistani junta held a secret trial of Mujib inside Faisalbad (Lyallpur) jail in Pakistan. He was sentenced to death. The freedom- loving people of the world demanded security for him. On 27 December, the Bangladesh government sought Mujib’s immediate and unconditional release. A number of countries, including India and the Soviet Union, and various international organisations also demanded the release of Mujib. They held that Pakistan had no right to detain Mujib, who was the President of independent Bangladesh.
Bowing to international pressure, the Pakistan government released Mujib on 8 January 1972. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met Mujib on the same day. Mujib immediately left for London en route to Dhaka. In London, British Prime Minister Edward Heath met him. On his way back to Dhaka from London he stopped in New Delhi. He was received by Indian President V.V. Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the airport. An unforgettable reception was accorded to Mujib when the Father of the Nation reached Dhaka on 10 January. From the airport he drove straight to the Race Course ground. He delivered his address before the mammoth gathering. On 12 January, Mujib took over as the prime minister of Bangladesh. On 6 February he visited India at the invitation of the Indian government. After twenty-four years of expulsion the Dhaka University authorities rescinded his earlier expulsion order.
On 1 March, he went to the Soviet Union on an official visit. The allied Indian Army left Dhaka on 12 March at Mujib’s request. On 1 May, he announced a raise in the salary of Class Three and Four employees of the government. On 30 July, Mujib went to London for medical treatment and from there he went to Geneva. On 10 October, the World Peace Council conferred the Julio Curie award on him. On 4 November, Mujib announced that the first general election in Bangladesh would be held on 7 March
On 15 December, Mujib’s government announced that state awards would given to freedom fighters. On 14 December he affixed his signature to the draft Constitution. On the first anniversary of the liberation the constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was adopted.
The important achievements of Mujib’s government were: the reorganisation of the administrative system, framing of the constitution, rehabilitation of one crore people, restoration and development of the communication system, expansion of education, supply free books to students up to class five and low priced-priced books to student up to class eight, effective ban on all anti-Islamic and anti-social activities, for example, gambling, horse race, consumption of liquor, establishment of the Islamic Foundation , reorganisation of the Madrasa Education Board, establishment of 11,000 primary schools, nationalisation of 40,000 primary schools, establishment of a women’s rehabilitation centre for the welfare of distressed women in the war of liberation, establishment of the Freedom Fighters’ Welfare Trust, tax waiver up to 25 bighas of land, distribution of agricultural inputs among farmers free of cost or at nominal price, nationalisation of banks and insurance companies and of 580 industrial units abandoned by the Pakistanis and employment of thousands of workers and employees, construction of the Ghorasal Fertilizer Factory, primary work of the Ashuganj Complex and establishment of new industrial units and reopening of closed industries. Mujib successfully worked on setting up economic infrastructure to lead the country towards progress and prosperity. Another landmark achievement of Mujib’s government was to have Bangladesh recognised by a large number of countries of the world in the shortest possible time.
The Awami League secured 293 seats out the 300 Jatiyo Sangsad (parliament) Seats in the first general elections. On 3 September, the Awami League, the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and the National Awami Party (NAP) formed the Oikya Front (United Front). On 6 September, Mujib set off to Algeria to attend the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit conference.
The People’s Republic Bangladesh was accorded membership of the United Nations. On 25 September, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed the UN General Assembly in Bengali for the first time in the history of the UN.
On 25 January, the country switched over to the presidential system of government and Mujib took over as the President of the republic. On 24 February, the Bangladesh Krisak Shramik Awami League, compromising all the political parties of the country, was launched. On 25 February, Mujib called upon all political parties and leaders to join the national party. He felt the need to make Bangladesh a self-reliant nation by reducing dependence on foreign aid. He significantly revised economic policies to achieve the goal of self-reliance. He launched a Second Revolution to make independence meaningful and ensure food, clothing, shelter, medicare, education, and generate employment for the people. The objectives of the revolution were to elimination of corruption, boosting production of mills, factories and fields, population control and establishment of national unity.
Mujib received an unprecedented response to his call to achieve economic freedom by uniting the entire nation. The economy started picking up rapidly. Production increased. The prices of essential came down. Imbued with hope, people came forward to help extend the benefits of independence to every doorstep.
However, in the pre-dawn hours of 15 August, the noblest and greatest of Bengalis, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of Bangladesh and the Father of the Nation, was assassinated by a handful of ambitious and treacherous military officers. On that day, his wife, Begum Fazilatunnesa; his eldest son, Sheikh Kamal; second son, Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal; younest son Sheikh Russel; two daughters-in-law, Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal; his brother Sheikh Naser; brother-in-law and Agriculture Minister Abdur Rab Serniabat and his daughter Baby Serniabat; son Arif Sernibat, grandson Sukanto Abdullah; and nephew Shahid Serniabat; Mujib’s nephew, youth leader and journalist Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni and his pregnant wife Azroo Moni; his military secretary Colonel Jamil; and a fourteen- year-old boy Rintoo were killed. Altogether the assassins murdered sixteen persons.
Martial law was imposed in the country after the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Democracy was done away with and basic rights were snatched away. Thus began the politic of killing, coups and conspiracy. The people’s right to food and vote were taken away.
There is an international provision to hold trials of killer and to protect human rights throughout the world. But unfortunately in Bangladesh, a law was enacted on 26 September under martial law ordinance indemnifying the self-proclaimed killers of Mujib from any trail. Having captured power illegally through a military coup d’état, General Ziaur Rahman stained the constitution by incorporated the infamous Indemnity Ordinance in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. He rewarded the killers by assigning them to Bangladesh diplomatic missions abroad. The Indemnity Ordinance, which is against basic human rights, had to be repealed and the killers are to be punished to restore rule of law in the country.
After Mujib’s daughter Sheikh Hasina came to power at the head of an Awami League government on 23 June 1996, on 2 October a case was filled in the Dhanmondi police station against those involved in the murder of the father of the nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members. On 12 November, the Jatiyo Sangsad annulled the Indemnity Ordinance.
The trail began on 1 March 1997 in the court of the Dhaka district and sessions judge. On 8 November 1998, the judge of the court, Kazi Gholam Rasul, delivered a 76-page verdict in which he sentenced fifteen of the accused to death. On 18 November 2000, two judges gave a split judgement. The matter was then referred to a third judge of the High Court who ruled decisively in favour of upholding the death sentence on twelve of the accused. Five of the convicted prisoners then filed a ‘leave to appeal’ with the appellate division of the court. When the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-Jamat alliance was in power from 20002 to 2006 it dropped the case from the ‘cause-list’. A bench was finally formed to hear the case in 2007. On 19 November 2009 after 29 days of hearings a judicial bench compromising the chief justice and four other judges rejected the appeal. Thereafter on 27 January four judges also dismissed the review petition. The following midnight, that is, on 28 January, five of the five assassins were executed. One of the assassins had died while a fugitive from justice overseas and six are still hiding in other countries. However, the demand that the murderers be tried had finally been addressed thirty-four years after the assassination of Mujib and the murder of his family members.
August 15, 1975 is the blackest day in Bangladesh’s history. The nation observes it as the National Mourning Day.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Unfinished Memoirs