Forty-two years have elapsed. Still that scary, depressing and tear-soaked feeling overshadows my heart and soul while the dark night comes into my mind. At that missing moment, I wonder, how terribly his two daughters have been passing their days since then! All of their family members were brutally murdered in a single night while they were abroad and they could not even attend the funeral. The cruelest fact is they were denied the right to return home after hearing this horrifying news.
Yet, the amazing reality is, the elder daughter took the responsibility of the shattered political party that has the glory of leading the independence struggle of Bangladesh and has eventually become the Prime Minister of the country as the successor of Bangabandhu. The fascinating part is, she hasn't been vengeful or vindictive towards the deadliest assassins and she brought them under a fair and transparent trial through the judiciary system of the country which she never interfered in.
Finally, there has been justice and the nation got free from curse. She could stop there! But, she didn't, even after another scary August in 2005. Surviving from a near murder situation and suffering imprisonment against false allegations, she again became Prime Minister and showed no vengeance. She rather concentrated and dedicated all her efforts towards the realisation of the unfinished dream of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
On this day, with all humbleness and deepest respect, I salute Bangabandhu, the Father of the Nation, and his profound legacy - independent, sovereign Bangladesh and a constitutional commitment to ensure the economic freedom of the mass people.
Bangabandhu believed in the reconciliation and reuniting the entire nation. His vision was the economic freedom of mass people. He dreamed of a society free from poverty, hunger and inequality.
The creator of this universe always keeps doing things in a mysterious way. For an unknown reason, he allots the month of August as the month of mourning, grief and sorrow for Bengalees. This month witnessed the demise of great poet Rabindranath Tagore, the dark 15th August and the grenade attack on 21st August. Yet, this month saw the birth of Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib and the first youth icon of independent Bangladesh, Sheikh Kamal. And they also became the victims of August 15 murderous orgies along with their family members. Even the youngest kid of the family was not allowed to survive by the brutal murderers. A brilliant democratic innovation in macro-economic management and country operation for a new-born nation like Bangladesh got buried with the murder of Bangabandhu.
To establish democracy and non-communal secular politics in Pakistan, he fought relentlessly with the people against the military junta and the political extremists of Pakistan. As the head of the government in independent Bangladesh, Bangabandhu put his best effort to bring tranquility through improvement of law and order in the war-ravaged nation of 75 millions in the early days of Bangladesh.
Today's generation is misguided and misled by the wrong explanation of Bangabandhu's innovation regarding the 'uniform' political system. No unbiased and objective analysis in this context has been observed as yet.
The internal and international situation during that time of Cold War era compelled him to take a side after an artificial and man-made famine in 1974. Following his stand with a long history of his struggle for democracy, he adopted 'uniform' political system only after 1974. All he did was to bring stability and tranquility for the people that he loved so much.
On the agriculture sector, Bangabandhu made his all-out efforts to overcome food deficiency. He began his politics from the grassroots and never lost touch with the grassroots. He knew well about the poor economic conditions of the farmers in the villages of Bangladesh. So, the plan was that the government would provide machineries and other resources through a cooperative framework in the villages. All those massive plans were undertaken to improve the conditions of the people in the villages. In 1974, the government ordered to cultivate every inch of land in Bangladesh to increase food production. For that, most of the government lands were brought under cultivation. One can remember that most of the unused lands of colleges, schools, and government organisations were cultivated in 1974. By doing all these, in early 1975, Bangladesh was able to develop a sufficient food stock despite flood in 1974. It was amazing how people trusted and listened to the words of Bangabandhu and worked hard during a short span of his rule.
A non-controversial Bangabandhu is highly significant for the pro-liberation, liberal and secular forces in Bangladesh. In a strict and absolute sense, he was a great secular leader who promoted secularism by forbidding politics in the name of religion in independent Bangladesh. His non-communal pragmatic political activities with secular views helped to make Bangalees aware of the dangers posed by communal political extremists even before 1971. His hard work at the grassroots level was the key factor for the defeat of the communal political extremists in the then East Pakistan. By including secularism in the constitution of Bangladesh after 1971, he helped create a wide platform for the liberal secularists to grow in Bangladesh.
Now, in the backdrop of current socio-political landscape, we can feel terribly the effect of the murder of Bangabandhu and his family. That heinous assassination moved Bangladesh back for at least 50 years culturally, politically, socially and economically. That night not only snatched away our great leader, but also killed our future potentials. Moreover, that night expedited the murder of Four Leaders.
As the Newsweek Magazine called Bangabandhu as the 'Poet of Politics', and Cuban Leader Fidel Castro noted, "I have not seen the Himalayas, but I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas." We could not retain our Himalaya, but we must always cherish his spirit, philosophy, dream and commitment. Now, it's our turn to make his legacy stronger. We have to fulfill his dream of Sonar Bangla. We have to be committed and remain alert, so that cautious whether no dark night like August 15th would appear again, EVER!
SK Sur Chowdhury is Banking Reform Adviser and Former Deputy Governor, Bangladesh Bank. [email protected]