Bangladesh: Imprudence of the Prime Minister at the National Mourning Debate

Prime minister and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina, along with the party’s senior leaders, places wreaths at the grave of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Tungipara in Gopalganj on National Mourning Day on Thursday. — BSS photo

R. Chowdhury 19 August 2019

On August 16, 2019, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was the chief guest at a “forced” Mourning Ceremony in Dhaka organized by her party Awami League. A few absurdities I caught in her speech, if I got them right.

1. The defeated forces in 1971 liberation war “killed” her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Totally wrong. To the best of my knowledge, almost all the participants in the August 15 Coup were freedom fighters, some of them highly decorated. In fact, the reality was other way round.  Sheikh Mujib betrayed the spirit of liberation, destroyed the values of democracy and freedom, trampled the aspirations of the freedom fighters and millions. Fianlly, he ruined the newborn country in all aspects–politically, economically, socially and ideologically. He could perhaps do it because he was not in the war. He voluntarily absented himself from it  and did not see or experience the birth pangs of Bangladesh. August 15 sought to reverse those anti-democratic, anti-national, anti-people BAKSALi dictatorship. What is Bangladesh today–prior to the Hasina time–is a gift of August 15.

2. If Sheikh Mujib had another six to seven years to live and run the administration, Bangladesh would have become a prosperous country long before.

Well, the people had seen and experienced the three and a half years of Mujib rule. His Rakkhi Bahini killed nearly 40,000 political opponents and patriots. The victims included leftist leader Siraj Sikdar, whose killing Mujib bragged in the Parliament. Nearly 1,500,000 people died and became destitute in a man-made famine in 1974-75, even though there was no shortage of relief materials. The succor did not reach the needy; they were dispensed on political expediency or sold in the black market. Emergency clamped in end 1974 to snatch away peoples’ fundamental rights and freedom of expression. Finally, in January 1975, the death knell of BAKSAL dictatorship was hammered on the ailing nation. Just imagine if Mujib had another six to sever years at hand, what would have been the fate of the country! August 15 saved the nation from that terrible and disastrous path.

“Good riddance,” sighed the entire nation after Mujib’s ouster. Don’t be fooled by deliberate falsehood, calculated fictions and unsubstantiated myths about Mujib and his rule. To understand the real Mujib, one needs to go back to the Bangladesh of 1972-75, to the Bangladesh of Rakkhi Bahini, to the Bangladesh of Bottomless Basket, to the Bangladesh of Emergency and to the Bangladesh of BAKSALi dictatorship.

3. A war ravaged country could not be rebuilt overnight. If people understood this, there would have not been August 15.

Partly true. First, it was an acceptance of the fact that Mujib failed in his rebuilding task.

Second, there was no dearth of assistance in cash, kind and technology, as well as goodwill for the new country, even from those who opposed its creation. All have been squandered to earn the title “International Bottomless Basket.” Japan, Germany and many other countries were in rubble after the WWII. Within a few yeas they were back on their feet, and in ten years became donor countries. Why Bangladesh failed? Its bloated, faulty and incompetent initial leadership.

4. After August 15, 1975, Bangladesh was declared an Islamic Republic and tried to make it Pakistan again.

It is news to me. Whoever did that? When? How? Any record?

What I understand, upon learning of the ouster of Mujib in a coup on August 15, an overenthusiastic Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto immediately recognized it saying, “We recognize the Islamic Republic of Bangladesh.”

In fact, it was Mujib who in a meeting with Bhutto on December 27, 1971 in Pakistan, assured his host to keep a Confederation relationship between their two countries. (Ref: Stanley Wolpert; Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan, 1993). Shortly afterwrds, Mujib hinted of same relationship with Pakistan in an interview with Anthony Mascarenhas in London.  Additionally,  the whole world was entertained by Mujib with his warm golagoli and kolakoli (gleeful hugging) with Bhutto-Tikka in Lahore in 1974, and later the same year, his offer of a red carpet welcome to Bhutto in Dhaka. If anyone to be accused of trying to drag Bangladesh back to the Pakistani fold, it was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman himself. None else.

For the sake of argument, even if Bangladesh was declared an Islamic country, would it have been out of context, given over 90% of its people belonging to the Islamic faith? How an Islamic Bangladesh would have impacted differently in the peaceful and and harmonious co-existence of various faith groups? In fact, a borrowed dogma of “secularism” created all the sectarian distrust and disturbance, which were virtually non-existent before the advent of secularism in Bangladesh.  Give a close look at the plight of Muslims, Dalits and other minority communities in neighboring secular, in other words, Hindu India.

5. We fought and won independence for……

Hasina may be a little explicit in which front she and her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman fought the independence war in 1971. The reality was that Mujib and his family, including Hasina, were the royal guests of Yahya-Tikka during the entire period of the war, when the Pakistanis made Bangladesh a Killing Field. According to Raja Anar Khan, upon learning of the creation of Bangladesh, Mujib fell prostrate on the floor crying before Allah that he never wanted such a consequences for Pakistan. Khan, a Pakistani police officer, became a fake prisoner to take care of Mujib during his self-exile in Pakistan in 1971.(Please click for details:

Mujib’s family was the guest of Generals Tikka and Niazi in Dhaka during the entire period of the war. Hasina delivered son Sajeeb Joy in Dhaka military hospital in July 1971 amid sweet distribution and fanfare by the military. In Hasina’s own admission, her paternal grand mother was helicoptered from their village home in Tungipara to Dhaka for a minor treatment. That was the collaboration between Mujib and Military during the liberation war of Bangladesh!

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4 Comments

  • jhelali2000@yahoo.com'
    javed helali
    August 21, 2019, 4:02 pm

    No condition is permanent. We always hope for the better.

    REPLY
  • alaldulal@aol.com'
    R Chowdhury
    August 21, 2019, 7:52 pm

    That’s right. We always hope for the best. But, more often than not, we have to fight for our rights and justice.

    REPLY
  • smargoob@yahoo.com'
    Syed Margoob
    August 29, 2019, 2:23 pm

    Good article. This is the true history, not the fairy tale we made to listen to.
    All those who are talking up Sheikh Mujib’s role, where were they when he was
    turning Bangladesh into a fascist state or even on his death.

    REPLY
    • ranu51@hotmail.com'
      R Chowdhury@Syed Margoob
      August 31, 2019, 8:06 pm

      Thanks, Mr. Margoob. You are right, present generation is bombarded with distorted history about Bangladesh and its history.

      BTW, are you the former Secretary and son of Justice Margoob? If so, I think we met before.

      REPLY

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