– by Khaled Mahmood*
In the General Election of Pakistan in 1970 the then East Pakistan Awami League won 167 seats out of 300 seats in the National Assembly under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the unchallenged leader of the Bengalee. Afterwards the military ruler General Yahiya Khan refused to transfer power to Awami League as the majority party in the Parliament. Consequently Bangabandhu delivered a historic speech in the Race Course Maidan on 7th March, 1971. In practice this speech was the virutual declaration of Independence of Bangladesh.
Bagabandhu made formal declaration of independence just before arrest by Pakistan military junta through wireless message. The Bengalee people started a total war against the Pakistan occupation army on 26th March following a crackdown of Pakistan army in the early hours of the day.
The provisional exile Government of Bangladesh (Mujib Nagar Government) was formed on 10 April 1971, however, sworn in on 17 April 1971 as head of the state Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Amrakanan, Baidhyanthtala, Kustia under the leadership of Syed Nazrul Islam and Tajuddin Ahmed as the Acting President and Prime Minister respectively. In this place by the elected representative of the Bengalees (Mostly belonging to Awami League), that led the Bangladesh Liberation War, who were leading the guerrilla war for the independence of Bangladesh. In practice the independent Bangladesh Government started a new voyage.
Our proud freedom fighters along with the general mass waged a successful War of Liberation in 9 months. Of course India helped in our Liberation War by extending shelter to one crore refugees and providing logistic supports with man and materials. The Allied Forces of India and Bangladesh Mukti Bahini after declaration by India of formal War against Pakistan Army on 3rd December, 1971 Pakistan army got stranded. Finally the Pakistan Army being defeated completely surrendered to the Allied Forces in Ramna Race Course Maidan (now known as Sohrawardy Uddyan) on 16 December 1971.
The surrendering ninety three thousand army members were all arrested and as per Geneva Convention were freed under certain conditions although the then Pakistan Government did not fulfil the conditions.
On 8 January, 1972 being freed from Pakistan jail Bangabandhu returned to Bangladesh via London and Delhi and put his foot on the independent Bangladesh on 10 January, 1972. This day in a meeting in Sohrawardy Uddyan, Dhaka he called the people to forget differences and devote themselves in nation building activities for a new Bangladesh. He pledged for the trial of the murderers and chastity plunderers of our mothers and sisters when 30 lakhs people died and 2 lakh mother-sisters lost their modesty. Bangabandhu took the responsibility of Prime Minister of Bangladesh and started journey of his new government with the Cabinet Members on 12 January, 1972.
In the Liberation War, ‘71 except few razakars, Al-Badar, Al-Shams, Jamaat, PDP, Muslim League workers-leaders the entire Bengalee nation jumped upon with the Liberation War. In that sense mass people from all levels- students, politicians, intelligentsia, journalists, workers, farmers, mothers, sisters, young old everyone is a freedom fighter. All Bengalees except few have co-operated in waging the Liberation War directly or indirectly. So all these people are in greater sense freedom fighters. But is it reasonable to adorn a few persons as freedom fighters and issuing certificates and paying allowance and emoluments to them? It is rather better to acknowledge the entire population of Bangladesh as freedom fighters and ensure their security of life and property, provide food, clothing, shelter, medicare, education etc. The ensuring of fundamental democratic rights of the people signifies the essence of an independent Bangladesh and nothing else. A Bangladesh populated by a people irrespective of color, religion, caste, creed, group, class can be a country of peace and happiness. In the post independence Bangladesh in the lifetime of Bangabandhu he made utmost efforts to build up a new country upon the ashes of war-torn destroyed Bangladesh. His patriotism and sincerity was sky-high. In a short time he implemented many auspicious measures for solving many problems in national life.
The general Election of Newly Independent Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad were held on March 7, 1973 was a little controversial as the result of a group of few partisan workers as of today. During this time about 22 thousand Awami League leaders-workers were killed by the opposition party Jatiya Shamajtaantreek Dal (JSD) and their associating organization Ganabaahiny. Of course about 20 thousand people were killed at the hands of Rakhibahini.
Bangabandhu formed BAKSAL on 24 February 1975 by abolishing Awami League although there were controversy around this action. Few lakhs of people died by a serious food crisis in 1974. Bangabandhu labeled many of his leaders-workers as thieves of blanket, relief goods and group of licking persons. He was not satisfied with his workers and leaders.
15 August, 1975 is a horrendous and cruel day for our nation. This day Bangabandhu was murdered ruthlessly along with his family members by a group of derailed sacked army officers and regular army personnel. A government was formed under the leadership of Awami League leader Khandaker Mostaque Ahmed. Major General Ziaur Rahman was made Chief of the Army Staff. Afterwards within less than 3 months Zia dislodged Mostaque and occupied the state power. Zia at first made Chief Justice A.S.M. Sayem President and CMLA and himself became Deputy CMLA. After 4 months Zia declared himself President and CMLA. Afterward he arranged the mock vote of yes/no and tried to justify the acknowledgement of his power holding as a dejure one. Zia was one of the key actors of Bangabandhu’s murder.
To consolidate his power he poured over a lakh of Awami league leaders-workers in prison and killed thousands of them cold-blooded.
In this country Zia was the key actor of terrorism, militancy, violence, bank looting, money laundering, narcotic drug and mass killing. He reinstated the banned Muslim League and Jamaat as legal political parties. He released thousands of war criminals from jail without trial. He at first constituted a political party as Jagodal with Jamaat, Muslim League, NAP and Communist party leaders and then renamed it as BNP.
In the lifetime of Zia 18 military coup took place. On the allegation of coup Zia killed thousands of army personnel including Col. Taher.
On May 30 in 1981 Zia himself got murdered by a military coup at Chattagram Circuit House. His mortal remains are not traceable as of today. It is generally believed that Gen. Hossain Mohammed Ershad had the involvement in Zia murder. On 24th March of 1982 Ershad captured power by a coup from Justice Sattar and afterwards following the example of Zia, Ershad organized yes/no vote to put a legal mooring to his actions. The military ruler Ershad formed a political party named Jatiya Party following the footprints of Zia. Ershad followed Zia in all respects and successfully ruled 9 years. Ershad made one step forward by making Islam as State Religion. But nothing could keep him in power for long and got dislodged by mass uprising against him on 6th December, 1990.
In the Election, 1991 Khaleda Zia’s BNP won and formed the government. BNP again won in 2001. During the two terms of BNP Bangladesh experienced all sorts of misdeeds in government functions like tender-business, bank plundering, money laundering, terrorism, narcotic drugs, wine, gambling, casino, militancy, forcible occupation of lands, employment and transfer business, forcible disappearance of persons, cross fire practice and so on. As per the wishes and directions of the then Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and her government Tarek Rahman, son of Zia couple led the misdeeds by opening Howa Bhaban, Khoab Bhaban. Tarek Rahman organized many activities to kill thousands of Awami League leaders-workers. The most horrible act Tarek Rahman organized was the grenade attack on Awami League meeting in Bangabandhu Avenue on 21 August, 2004. Fortunate Sheikh Hasina Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, escaped and 24 persons including Ivy Rahman died. Hundreds of injured persons yet carry the grenade splinter wounds. The banned Militant outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) on 17 August, 2005 blasted bombs in the country. Around 500 bombs went off at 300 locations in the 63 districts. The bombs exploded within half an hour. The JMB claimed responsibility for the blasts. Two Judges were killed in Jhalkati by grenade explosion. Militant leaders Siddiqul Islam Bangla Bhai and Shaikh Abdur Rahman intorduced militant activities in Rajshahi and killed many innocent persons during this period. BNP regime earned the title of the best corrupt government consecutively for four times.
In 1996 when under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina Awami League formed the government, the country ran well except a share market scandal. Again on 29 December in 2008 Awami League won the Parliament Election and formed the government. In this term of the government the seeds of corruption and misadministration started to germinate. During the Emergency period of one eleven (2007-08) government Awami League took release from most of the cases filed against the Awami Leaguers by way of government order or by influencing the higher courts. But most of the cases against the BNP leaders-workers are still pending. In this term of Awami League corruption, bank money plunder, loan default, loan exemption culture etc. have been fully started. Harassment to BNP, arrests, innumerable false cases etc. are made. After the win in Election 2014, Awami League expedited cross fire murder, bribe, forcible occupation, abduction, tender business, employment transfer-business in partisan identity, money laundering, extortionism, killing, rape etc. all have been widened. Chatra League, Juba League, Sheshwasebak League all are engaged in gambling, casino, housie etc. Partisan businessman have been extended facilities of government works by manipulated tender, provided bank loans, exemption of interest etc. that opened the door of money laundering to foreign countries.
In the one-sided Election of 5 January, 2014 Awami League government controlled the unruly acts of BNP/Jamaat to foil the Election with iron handed actions. But the Election of Parliament, on 30 December 2018 was completed in the preceding night. Virtually the said Election was one-sided and the participation of the mass voters in greater sense was nil. In a word the Election was stigmatized by the Administration loyal to the ruling party.
From 2009-2019 during Awami League rule for valid-invalid reasons lakhs of leaders-workers of BNP were arrested and prosecuted for trial. But the greatest success of Awami League government of 2009, 2014 and 2019 are completion of trial process against the War-criminals, Bangabandhu murder trial and quelling of the militancy, fundamentalism, self-sufficiency in food, great success in IT Sector, education sector, partial solution of unemployment problem, infrastructural developments including roads, bridges, electricity generations, Bangabandhu satellite stations.
But certain failures of Awami League government tarnishes its good image. These are inter alia illegal influence on the appointments of Cadre/non-Cadre officials, appointment to many incompetent candidates through bribe/corruption. Interference on the Judiciary is a black Chapter for Awami League. Due to his non-submission to pressure for changing a judgment Chief Justice S.K. Sinha was compelled to leave the country. Moral degradation of Awami League led it to select persons alleged to be terrorists, mastans, yaaba dealer, Share market scandal, land grabbers, smugglers, loan defaulters, money launders, gamblers, bribe-takers and the like as Member of Parliament nominees and party stalwarts.
However, on 2nd October last Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared that the ongoing drive against the terrorists, militants, narcotic drugs and corruption shall continue. Whoever may be offenders irrespective of party, family, relative, none would get rid of punishment.
On this utterances of Bangabandhu daughter the nation wants to be hopeful. Jananetri (Public Leader), please start reforms from your home and clear off all the debris in your party and administration and then the outside groups and individuals. The nation would place you next to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rhaman and you would live in the minds of the people through centuries. Honorable Prime Minister, you have seen that BNP/Jatiya party has been thrown in the dustbin of the history. If you can take measures on party reforms with iron hands you can survive in history as an undying leader. Please remember that you should never humble the fundamental rights of the people through your action.E