The year 1971 is a historical monument for Bangladesh. It is the year of the Bangladesh Liberation War (also known as Muktijuddho) which was caused by the rise of Bengali nationalist and self-determination movement. The war was based on the demand for acknowledging Bangladesh as a single nation and equal rights, equal opportunities and the right to freely choose its sovereignty.
The prominent leaders of Bangladesh during the liberation war included Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Tajuddin Ahmad, Syed Nazrul Islam, Muhammad Mansur Ali, and AHM Qamaruzzaman.
On the occasion of Tajuddin Ahmad's birthday on July 23, Youth Policy Forum (YPF), an online platform established by World Bank consultant Md Abir Hasan Niloy for discussing national and international issues, organised an event in collaboration with Northern University of Bangladesh. It was held in Banani on July 19, 2019, and was headed by four intellectual panellists: Barrister Amirul Islam, Sharmin Ahmad, Shuhan Rizwan and Major Qayyum Khan.
The event's central motive was to reminisce the Liberation War of Bangladesh under the first Prime Minister, Tajuddin Ahmad. It commenced with a welcoming speech to the panellists and the audience, followed by three speeches given by three organising youth members of YPF on three discrete aspects of the liberation war. The speech topics circulated the history of the wartime government, tragedies of the mass people, and contributions of the leaders during the era and the contributions and sufferings of women during the liberation war. These speeches eventually set the tone for the entire event by enlightening the youths present there about the highlights of the horrifying war.
The first panellist, Barrister Amirul Islam, a lawyer and minister of Food of the Government of Bangladesh (1973-1974), was asked to shed light on his experiences and learnings. He began speaking with his journey from the six-point movement, spearheaded by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Just like a fantastic storyteller, he rejoiced his moments spent with Tajuddin Ahmad and gave insights about several phases of the Liberation War, including their time spent in India discussing policies, analysing situations and planning for later courses of events. He mentioned how Tajuddin Ahmad had a cunning mind, which facilitated in his taking acute decisions for this country.
Sharmin Ahmad, eldest daughter of Tajuddin Ahmad, delivered the next speech. She stated, "There are many constellations because one constellation is not enough for lighting up the sky." With this, she acknowledged and elaborately explained the contributions of all the prominent leaders during the Liberation War of this country and how the victory of Bangladesh would not have been possible in absence of any one of them.
Sharmin Ahmad also focused on the significance of women figures during the Liberation War of Bangladesh. She added, "The women sacrificed a lot for their families, lost so many of their loved ones and fought so valiantly, and the very testament of this is my mother." She went on explaining how her father sent letters to them under his nom de guerre 'Dolonchapa' during his stay in India. Subsequently, she recalled her father's bravery and courage and how the death of her father, Tajuddin Ahmad and gruesome scenes of the 1971 liberation war left a traumatising mark on both her 11-year old self and several other children of Bangladesh.
Moving on to the next speaker, Shuhan Rizwan, author of the book 'Shakkhi Chhilo Shirostran', emphasised the way the history of Bangladesh has always been changing with changing authorities. This has created a diverse group of personas and enriched the principles and values of the people living in this country. Eventually, he pointed out how he admired Tajuddin Ahmad for always being realistic and visioning the future besides observing the present scenario. Furthermore, he stated that Tajuddin Ahmad objectively assessed every unique situation and that people should carry the values and morale of the first Prime Minister in their hearts forward.
Major Qayyum Khan, a freedom fighter, talked about the most prominent characteristics of Tajuddin Ahmad. The first feature mentioned was that Tajuddin Ahmad had an extremely enlightened mind. Secondly, he never compared himself with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a leader and always respected and was loyal to the father of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. The third feature of the first Prime Minister of this country was his firm belief in the fact that 'values' are more important than 'degrees'.
Major Qayyum Khan finally emphasised the two most consequential decisions of Tajuddin Ahmad in post-war Bangladesh. He said, "Right after victory, weapons from citizens were captured under the government, and then Tajuddin Ahmad focused on developing villages and agricultural practices since Bangladesh was an accumulation of villages and lands."
The event concluded with an interactive session where audience members asked questions to each of the panellists regarding Tajuddin Ahmad and the Liberation War.
One of the highlights of the event was signifying the roles of women during the Liberation War. The panellists and the audience not only glorified the contribution of Tajuddin Ahmad alongside other male leaders but also appreciated the service of many women like Bir Protik Taramon Bibi during the dark times in the war of Bangladesh.
The event emphasised equality, humanity and patriotism. Youth Policy Forum was widely applauded for its splendid attempt at reviving the rich history of Bangladesh, integrating crucial historical knowledge within the youths of Bangladesh.
The writer is a second-year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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