The Financial Express

Remembering Mohon Mia

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Mohan Mia Mohan Mia

The nation remembers every year a great leader whose demise cut short a continuous flow of significant contribution to the political, social and cultural life, particularly progress and advancement of democratic ideals of the Bangladeshi people. It was November 26 in 1971 that the eminent political personality of the subcontinent shuffled off the mortal coil and set sail towards the vast unknown from which no traveller returns.

Khan Shaheb Maijuddin Chowdhury, father of Mohon Mia, breathed his last when Mohan Mia was only 18 years old. At the time, he was merely a student of class X.

His elder brother late Moazzam Hossain Chowdhury was deeply associated with All India Congress as a front-ranking leader. As a sequence the onerous responsibility of running the Zamindari rested on his shoulder.

To many perhaps his death meant the end of an epoch. Indeed no ordinary demise was this, with his death died an age. It was the end of an epoch of charismatic personality. He was a pioneer in our long and historic struggle for the Bengali language. He was our constant comrade in our arduous and gruelling effort to achieve socio-political freedom and awakening.

Mohon Mia's approach towards the aspect of education was very much pragmatic with a view to making the society economically self reliant, he adroitly thought and conceived of starting Baitul Aman as an agricultural industrial education project in Faridpur town. The inauguration of Baitul Aman was held at the suburb of Faridpur on January 25 1945 amid great fanfare by the agricultural and industrial minister of the undivided Bengal in 1945. It was chaired by Mohon Mia. His address of welcome on that occasion was superb and he spoke eloquently of the great vision as well as realism.

Though at this tender age he had to shoulder the onerous responsibly of maintaining the big Zamindary, his pioneering role in the spread of education did not meet with any setback. It is incredulous and visionary that such a sophisticated and benevolent project could have crept into his mind as early as the year 1945, which speaks eloquently of his highest degree of perception and his forward-looking outlook. It would be quite apt to say that he was an advanced school of thought.

Mohan Mia's name as chairman of Faridpur District Board for long 15 years (1938 to 1953) is remarkable for many reasons. He took an active step in the construction of roads, digging of ponds, setting up Madrasa and charitable dispensaries. The number of tubewells installed during Mohan Mia's tenure as chairman was learnt to be the largest amongst all the districts of the country. The present Rajbari district, previously within the Gualondo subdivision of Faridpur, was a den of malaria and kalajar fever. Due to Mohan Mia's concerted efforts Rajbari got rid of these.

It is deemed imperative to recall that Yusuf Ali Chowdhury though played a leading role in the framing of 1956 first constitution of Pakistan, he was the only MNA in the Constituent Assembly who was not a signatory to it since he firmly believed that the constitution did not properly and equitably reflect the rights and hopes and aspiration of the people of the then East Pakistan. This proposition would be certainly acknowledged and endorsed by the contemporary political personalities.

National Professor Abdur Razzak aptly passed a remark, "I have never seen a man like Mohan Mia more dedicated to championing the rights of East Pakistan."

Professor Humayun Kabir, a celebrated litterateur, distinguished educationist in Asia and former Indian cabinet minister, is quoted as saying, "In the political arena, Mohan Mia is a practical student of reality and his methods are scientific and experimental".

Like Pandit Ishwar Chandra Bidyasagar, he made large donations for public charity as his left hand never knew what his right hand spent.

It has to be admitted that Mohan Mia had a mind that possessed the power to visualise possibilities based on facts and he had the ability to foresee and act back from an imaginative percept to practical reality.

There has been widespread misgiving that Mohan Mia was the villain in the tragic episode that was enacted in the erstwhile East Pakistan Provincial Assembly in 1958 that cost the life of late lamented Speaker Shahed Ali. To speak the truth, it was not Mohan Mia but Rasraj Mondal who caused a grievous injury to Shahed Ali by hurling a paper weight that hit him on his forehead and he succumbed to the injury after having been admitted to hospital. I am sure the contemporary legislator at that period would endorse it.

In the year 1956 the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was formed comprising eighty members with forty seats each from two wings. Yusuf Ali Chowdhury was also elected a member termed MNA in the then Constituent Assembly. And with his personal initiative he helped make Hamidul Huq Chowdhury and Justice Sattar, the latter president of Bangladesh, as members of the National Assembly.

When the first sitting of the Assembly was held at Monee at West Pakistan, there was an impasse relating to the formation of a central government, since none of the political parties got a determining majority to form a ministry. The situation was deeply plunging the country into uncertainty widening the sense of scepticism for a further impasse to thrive on. At this hour of a great national crisis, when the situation turned out to be very dangerous and a threat to the country's sovereignty arose, there appeared a saviour and, not the least, a silvering was discernible in the dark cloud. Yusuf Ali Chowdhury with his relentless efforts, grit and manoevering formed an alliance comprising KSP (Krishak Sramik Party) in erstwhile East Pakistan and the Muslim League which then had majority seats in West Pakistan, leading to Ataur Rahman Khan, Shah Azizur Rahman and others to put an end to this heinous and barbarous act of human demeanour. He even sheltered hundreds of Hindu families at his Mahuttuli residence at Armanitola.

He set up a branch of Anjuman-e-Mofidul Islam which did a pioneering job for the burial and cremation of Muslims and Hindus alike. To say the least, Mohan Mia ranked most distinguished amongst the great men who did not bow down his head in the face of any resistance, intimidation and opposition. Hence, it is not to bewail at his demise from this transitory world.

In fine, Mohan Mia always remains in my memory as a straightforward, clean, humble and generous person. He was, of course, clean and honourable absolutely, from the crown of his head to the toes of his feet. To evaluate it realistically, death itself is insignificant since it is deemed an inevitable process when none, as is the law of nature, can escape its icy hand.

Mohan Mia whom I used to call Mejochasa is no more today. My heart bleeds for him. Everything with which I have been so far and so long identified myself seems to be defeated being swept aside in a deluge of events. Often during these days I find myself wondering again and again over the contrast of good and evil, the human frailty and vulnerability to infliction and plain and that every man has his breaking point. Notwithstanding the proverbial truth that time is a great healer, I in my anguish and loneliness find the days ahead terrible to bear and the nights more nightmarish. In fact, life around old age sickness and death in human life makes me weary of the mundane existence.

It is incredulous to imagine that Mohan Mia is no more today. No longer will the faithful mariner steer our tottering bark across the raging waves of despair and discontent. But although the indefatigable champion of truth and justice has reached the shore from which no traveller returns, his achievements are there, his spirit lives with us, the light is extinguished but the beacon remains. Akram Khan was quoted as saying-if there were 28 Mohan Mias in 28 districts, we would have reached our goal much before. The saying is quite thought-provoking.

Late Yusuf Ali Chowdhury Mohan Mia widely known as the kingmaker was indeed a great soul. He always placed national interest at the forefront. He was a real darling to all and sundry.

Although India was partitioned on the basis of the two-nation theory in order to uphold the culture and civilisation, history and tradition of the down-trodden section of the people the successive governments of Pakistan ultimately drifted away from these lofty ideals. With this end in view he published the Daily Millat from Dhaka which always played a leading role in Muslim renaissance.

Now is surely the opportune moment to highlight the qualities of head and heart of this lion-hearted man to the present generation when the society and the country at large are faced with anarchy, terrorism, hypocrisy and lack of sense of direction. Otherwise, the nation will have to pay very dearly. We can only hope that the Mohan Mia Memorial Committee will leave no stone unturned to focus on his qualities of leadership which is so essential in the present-day context, even the great Sher-e-Bangla A.K. Fazlul Huq and Khaza Nazimuddin, the first chief minister. It so happened that his heart was bigger than his head. Undoubtedly he was very soft and kind-hearted. Above all, he was a humanist of the highest order. His selfless milk of human kindness unreservedly flowed to all the needy people who had come across.

The present government advised the banking sector to put more emphasis on financing agro-economy projects like poultry, dairy firms, fisheries and other small income-generating projects for generating activities and creating employment opportunities in the semi-urban areas and the vast rural areas. It is incredulous that Mohan Mia with his visionary outlook conceived and implemented this realism fifty years ago.

Born in a rich and aristocratic family, the well-being of the poor always occupied a major part of his thoughts. The details of his long-chequered political career need to be compiled for the posterity. He was so moved by the sufferings of the poor that he could not rest until he redressed their grievances. He founded the Student Home, a hostel for the poor but meritorious students of Faridpur Rajendra College. He sunk many tubewells and established many medicare centres. To impart religious teaching he founded Moijuddin Madrasa of high school standard. He also established Halima Girls School after the name of his mother for spreading education among girls.

The goal of his life was to serve humanity at large which he cherished until he breathed his last. We have many things to learn from the life of this great man.

When the great communal riot started at Calcutta in 1946 and further spread over to Bihar, Noakhali and almost all the districts of Bengal and in a sense gripped the whole nation, Mohan Mia with his grit, determination and unbound command and sagacity did not allow this ominous frenzy to take place in Faridpur district in early 1964. He did a yeoman's job along with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in formation of a central government headed by Chowdhury Mohammad Ali, former bureaucrat, as Prime Minister with Sher-e-Bangla as the Interior Minister. He was then a proud peacock amongst the gathering of noble-feathered friends.

It is deemed imperative to recall that Yusuf Ali Chowdhury played a leading role in the framing of the First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan historically called the 1956 constitution. Mohan Mia's role in promoting and safeguarding the rights and privilege of then East Pakistan was laudable and not the least historic which is still acknowledged and acclaimed by the contemporary politicians and conscientious intelligentsia.

By shattering the expectation of all the sundry in East Pakistan and defying the request of governor general and the incumbent Prime Minister, Yusuf Ali Chowdhury alias Mohan did not join the government as a central minister, since his conviction and commitment was to influence, motivate and guide the course of political events without himself being circumscribed by holding any cabinet portfolio. In fact, he had in his mind the idol like Mahatta Gandhi and Joy Prokash Narayan of India.

It is said talent and brilliancy are not enough to make a man achieve the real goal. These yield results, if these are augmented with the qualities of aggressiveness and resistance power, Mohan Mia maintained this stand against all odds fighting desperately and bravely even when things looked positively grim. He never flinched from his struggle when others left. He did not lose hope when all the accesses were in the adversary's hand. He fought with full optimism and firm conviction when most people believed that it was impossible to bring down an autocrat and history's worst dictator from his visible formidable and invincible position. His strength was his unbending spirit, his firm conviction and his fortitude and the cause. He loved democracy and wanted to bring back democracy in place of autocracy.

The people were with him. They loved him, they respected him. They had reposed their trust. If I have some elementary knowledge in palmistry and my memory is not that short, I remember his fate line is seen connecting the mount of Moon with Jupiter. It is a mark of great personal magnetism which makes one a public favourite and he takes up a public career with extraordinary brilliance and prominence. The line of head is marked with trident which shows an unusual degree of intelligence and mental power such a mark has been found on the hand of distinguished men in the world endowed with wonderful administrative talent and organising capacity of extraordinary high order.

In fact, he had a force of application, tenacity of purpose and strength of conviction. He always refused to be deterred by the complexity of problems insisting that if the will was there, anything could be achieved. Whoever came in touch with him must admit that he worked throughout his life for the country and the society.

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