Bangladesh: Indoctrination with False History. An Open Letter to Bangladesh Children


by R Chowdhury 11 April 2020

A drama took place at 11 AM on March 17, 2020. Fifteen hundred thousand (1.5 million) primary school children chanted that there was none but Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (as if he were a god) in Bangladesh. No person so great, so supreme was ever born in the country. He single-handedly founded Bangladesh and “gifted” it to the people. Mujib thus became the “Father of the Nation.” His heart pained when people were in distress, and he made great sacrifices to bail them out of their sufferings and secure their rights. He thus became the “Bangabandhu.” His dream was a “Sonar Bangla.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed reading out the letter to children
Unique Indoctrination

That was what Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed of Bangladesh required the young generation to know of her father. Each student received a copy of Prime Minister’s signed letter to recite and memorize. What a unique attempt to brain wash the innocent minds! The choreography included thousands other similar programs, which have been suspended for now due to the advent of Coronavirus. The program, in all likelihood, will continue if and when the deadly menace subsides.
Inquisitive students might have wondered why introducing Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in such a strange manner after a century of his birth? Why telling them who Mujib was after nearly half a century of his death? Why is this renewed indoctrination?
(At the end, the text of the Prime Minister’s letter in Bangla is appended).

Gift of Bangladesh?

But, my dear students, your parents and grandparents know better. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made great contributions in awaking the people of then East Pakistan to fight for their rights. On March 7, 1971, he gave a call for “struggle” for independence and freedom. Strangely, when the struggle time came, Mujib refused to join it. Nor did he want to make a declaration of independence, citing it to be a “treason.” Instead, he quietly surrendered to the Pakistan military when it commenced its brutal attack on the Bengalis on the night of March 25, 1971. He also arranged with the military for security and maintenance of his family, which included Sheikh Hasina, whose emotion-filled letter you are asked to parrot. What was further shocking was that Mujib did nothing for the seventy million people, who had trusted him, and who now faced the bullets, bombs, torture and rape of the barbaric military. Is that Mujib’s sacrifice for the suffering people? Is that how Mujib made a “Gift of Bangladesh?”

You have to know the truth, my dear young friends. At that crucial time of leadership vacuum, Major Ziaur Rahman dared to make the declaration of independence from the Chittagong Radio Station on or about March 26, 1971, and asked the people to fight the occupation military till the country was liberated. People instantly responded to the call. They fought, they suffered, they died, they shed blood for nine months and won the independence. During that war and difficult time, Mujib and his family, including Hasina, remained the guests of Pakistan military, the military that committed a wholesale genocide in Bangladesh. Following the Sipahi-Jonota Biplob (Soldier-People Revolution) in 1975, people ushered Ziaur Rahman to the helm of the beleaguered country, later electing him to the Presidency in 1977.

Glorious Past

Yet, my dear friends, it was not Mujib or Zia who may take the full credit for the creation of Bangladesh. Our independence has a long and glorious history. You have to know it. Without traversing too far to the past, let me take you to the beginning of the last century. Sir Salimullah formed the All India Muslim League in 1906 in Dhaka to fight for the rights of the Muslims of India in general, and those of Bengal in particular. He was a driving force behind the Bongo Bhongo (Division of Bengal), which created East Bengal, today’s Bangladesh. On its thread, leaders like A K Fazlul Haq (a.k.a. Sher-e-Bangla), Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardi, Abul Mansur Ahmed, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and many other leaders made great sacrifices for the rights and independence of East Bengal. Tajuddin Ahmad, Ziaur Rahman and others provided wartime leadership to achieve the victory for Bangladesh.

Mujib’s Bangladesh

The Prime Minister’s letter read: “Peoples’ suffering would hurt Mujib. He struggled all his life, sacrificed all personal comforts and went to jails repeatedly only to bail the suffering people out of poverty and distress.”

My dear children, the ground reality was not only different but tragic. During the 44 months of Mujib rule, half a million people perished in hunger due to a man-made famine in 1974-75 and another one million died subsequently from its aftereffects. But there was no dearth of food aid or relief materials. Warehouses were full. Alas, those did not go to the needy. They were dispensed on political and party considerations, while much of them landed in the black market; some even found their way to India. Many rural women could not come out in open as they had nothing much to cover themselves. For want of clothes, dead bodies were buried in banana leaves. At the same time, Mujib’s Rakkhi Bahini and other draconian forces killed nearly 40 thousand political opponents, in other words patriots. With the clamping of Emergency, people lost their political and fundamental rights and freedom of expression. Unprecedented corruption in the administration and the Awami cadres earned Mujib’s Bangladesh the title of “Bottomless Basket.” Formation of the one-party BAKSAL dictatorship was the last nail on the ailing nation.

Street Scene in Dhaka in 1974
Street Scene in Dhaka in 1974

Remember, my dear boys and girls, during such a national calamity, the family celebrated Mujib’s Birthday and marriage of Sheikh Kamal and Sheikh Jamal with royal fanfare. Mujib adorned his daughters-in-law with golden crowns studded with diamonds. Outside, hungry and emaciated multitude fought the street dogs in city garbage for a bite to survive. Anjuman-e-Mafidul Ialam, an Islamic free service, found extreme difficulty in coping with the burial of the dead.

Joy's birthday in 1975 was Bangabandhu's last family function ...
The contrast

These are no folk tales, dear young Bangladeshis. Ask your parents, uncles and grandparents who had lived that period. The good life, whatever you see or enjoy today, is a gift of the post-Mujib administrations.

Celebrations at Mujib’s Fall

It is indeed sad the way Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had to go. But the whole nation celebrated it, because it terminated the oppressive dictatorship; and above all, it ended the sufferings of the common people. Nobody was seen regretting Mujib’s death, no tear was shed, no Innalillh was heard, not even a token protest was seen anywhere in the country. Your favorite story writer Humayun Ahmed wrote his experience of the day:
“শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানকে হত্যা করা হয়েছে, রাস্তায় মিছিল বের হয়েছে। দুর্ভাগ্যজনক হলেও সত্যি, সেই মিছিল ছিল আনন্দ-মিছিল। (Sheikh Mujib was killed, roads were filled with processions. The reality was that it was the jubilation of the people).”

Also remember, the next government was formed by Mujib’s Awami League and his close associates. Sheikh Hasina’s close friend and her onetime minister Motia Chowdhury, hated Mujib so much that she, on January 3, 1973 wanted to make Dugdugi (hand drum) and shoes with the skin of Mujib. She termed Mujib Bongosatru (enemy of Bengal).

So, you can understand that Mujib himself was responsible for his own fall, a fall hailed by the whole nation. The patriotic military which made it possible, only responded to the demand of the nation and call of the time. It saved the nation from economic collapse, political repression, social anarchy and degradation and a deep slide to destruction. It was perhaps a kill to prevent hundreds of thousands further kills.

Now, tell me, my dear children, who is the killer and who saved the nation? And, who should we honor?

The Prime Minister wrote, “…it is our promise to the Father of the Nation that we will build his “Sonar Bangla.” If Mujib’s 44 months were a Sonar Bangla, nobody would even dream of it.

R Chowdhury

PM’s letter in Bangla

‘ছোট্ট সোনামণি, আমার শুভেচ্ছা ও ভালোবাসা নিও। তোমার বাবা-মাকে আমার সালাম ও ভাই-বোনদের স্নেহ পৌঁছে দিও। পাড়া-প্রতিবেশীদের প্রতি শুভেচ্ছা রইলো।
আজ ১৭ই মার্চ। ১৯২০ সালের এদিনে বাংলার মাটিতে জন্ম নিয়েছিলেন এক মহাপুরুষ। তিনি আমার পিতা, শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান।

বাংলাদেশ নামের এই দেশটি তিনি উপহার দিয়েছেন। দিয়েছেন বাঙালিকে একটি জাতি হিসেবে আত্মপরিচয়ের সুযোগ। তাইতো তিনি আমাদের জাতির পিতা।’

দুঃখী মানুষদের ক্ষুধা-দারিদ্র্য থেকে মুক্তি দিতে নিজের জীবনের সব সুখ-আরাম বিসর্জন দিয়ে তিনি সংগ্রাম করেছেন। বারবার কারাবরণ করেছেন। মানুষের দুঃখ-কষ্ট তাঁকে ব্যথিত করত। অধিকারহারা দুঃখী মানুষের অধিকার প্রতিষ্ঠার জন্য যেকোনো ত্যাগ স্বীকারে তিনি দ্বিধা করেননি। এই বঙ্গভূমির বঙ্গ-সন্তানদের একান্ত আপনজন হয়ে উঠেছিলেন, তাই তিনি ‘বঙ্গবন্ধু’।

২০২০ সালে আমরা জাতির পিতার জন্মশতবার্ষিকী উদ্যাপন করছি। আজ শুধু বাংলাদেশ নয়, বিশ্বের অনেক দেশ এই জন্মশতবার্ষিকী অর্থাৎ ‘মুজিববর্ষ’ উদ্যাপন করছে। সকলকে জানাই আন্তরিক ধন্যবাদ।

প্রিয় বন্ধু, ঘাতকের নির্মম বুলেট কেড়ে নিয়েছে জাতির পিতাকে। তাঁর নাম বাংলাদেশের ইতিহাস থেকে মুছে ফেলতে চেষ্টা করেছে। কিন্তু ওরা পরেনি। ঘাতকরা বুঝতে পারেনি বঙ্গবন্ধুর রক্ত ৩২ নম্বর বাড়ির সিঁড়ি বেয়ে বেয়ে ছড়িয়ে গেছে সারা বাংলাদেশে। জন্ম দিয়েছে কোটি কোটি মুজিবের। তাই আজ জেগে উঠেছে বাংলাদেশের মানুষ সত্যের সন্ধানে। ইতিহাস মুছে ফেলা যায় না। সত্যকে মিথ্যা দিয়ে দাবিয়ে রাখা যায় না। আজ শুধু বাংলাদেশ নয়, জাতির পিতার জন্মশতবার্ষিকী পালিত হচ্ছে বিশ্বব্যাপী। বাংলাদেশকে বিশ্ব চিনে নিয়েছে তাঁরই ত্যাগের মহিমায়।

সোনামণি, জাতির পিতার কাছে আমাদের অঙ্গীকার, তাঁর স্বপ্নের সোনার বাংলা আমরা গড়বই। আর সেদিন বেশি দূরে নয়। পিতা ঘুমিয়ে আছেন টুঙ্গিপাড়ার সবুজ ছায়াঘেরা মাটিতে পিতামাতার কোলের কাছে। তিনি শান্তিতে ঘুমান। তাঁর বাংলাদেশ অপ্রতিরোধ্য গতিতে এগিয়ে যাচ্ছে, এগিয়ে যাবে।

আমরা জেগে রইব তাঁর আদর্শ বুকে নিয়ে। জেগে থাকবে মানুষ—প্রজন্মের পর প্রজন্ম—তাঁর স্বপ্নের সোনার বাংলাদেশ। জাতির পিতার দেওয়া পতাকা সমুন্নত থাকবে চিরদিন।
তোমরা মন দিয়ে পড়ালেখা করবে, মানুষের মত মানুষ হয়ে দেশ ও মানুষের সেবা করবে।
জয় বাংলার জয়, জয় মুজিবের জয়, জয় বঙ্গবন্ধুর জয়। ইতি, তোমারই শেখ হাসিনা।”