|Posted by Moktel Hossain Mukthi on October 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
Biography: SHEIKH HASINA WAJED
Sheikh Hasina was born on September 28, 1947 at Tungipara, a remote village under Gopalgonj district which is also birth place of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. She is the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Her mother Begum Fazilatunnesa was widely respected as a tender hearted lady.
In 1968, Sheikh Hasina was married to an eminent scientist of Bangladesh Mr. M. A. Wazed Miah and they are now the parents of one son and a daughter.
After her marriage, Sheikh Hasina continued her studies and was graduated form the University of Dhaka in 1973. Scion of a political family, she was actively involved in student politics in her college and university days. She gained political experience as the go between in her role to maintain contact between her father and the political and students leader during Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's repeated imprisonment by the Pakistani ruler in late sixties. Always popular among the students, Sheikh Hasina was elected as the chief of the Student's Union of Eden Girls College, the leading women's college in Bangladesh. She was a member of student's League (Chattra League ) of Dhaka University and Secretary of the Chattra League unit in Rokeya Hall. She was also the President of Eden Intermediate Girls College Chattra League. Sheikh Hasina actively participated in the mass upsurge of 1969 and at the time of the Liberation War of 1971, she was imprisoned by Pakistani occupation army along with her husband, mother, sister and brother.
On the fateful night of August 15, 1975 when some disgruntled army officers assassinated the Father of the Nation and elected head of the state Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his wife, three sons and all the inmates of his residence to capture power, Sheikh Hasina was then on a visit to West Germany. Her divine fate led her to escape the conspiracy of eliminating the entire family of the Father of the Nation and subsequently bringing her to the leadership of the largest political Organization in Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina was unanimously elected the president of the Awami League in 1981 while she was still in exile. She was forced to live in exile because of the restrictions put on her return home by the then government in Bangladesh. Ending six years in exile she returned home finally on May 17, 1981 to a tumultuous welcome by million of people when she declared, " I have nothing to lose. I pledge you to fight for restoration of the democratic rights of the people of my country."
In 1982 she was the first to raise the voice of protest against an assumption of state-power through military coups d'etat.
Thereafter, she had to suffer confinement time and again. In 1984 she was put under house arrest in February and then again in November. In March 1985, she was put under house arrest for three months at a stretch. On March 26, 1996 in a statement issued in Dhaka on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said that her party would participate in the general election as part of its movement to put an end to the politics of coups, killing, conspiracies and martial laws." She also said, " We want to have elections not only to form the next government but also to establish a system that represents the people as well"'
Sheikh Hasina became leader of the Opposition in Parliament, commanding the support of 104 elected MPs belonging to her party and alliance. In the Elections of 1991 following the ouster of General Ershad she assumed the mantle of leader of the opposition. Awami League returned to power in Bangladesh after many years in the opposition after the 1996 elections. Under her leadership, the Awami League government was the first government to complete a full 5 year tenure. The 2001 elections saw Awami League losing the elections and once again becoming the largest opposition party.
|Posted by Moktel Hossain Mukthi on October 14, 2011 at 12:55 PM||comments (0)|
Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 will need from both Public and Private sector an infusion of resources, leadership and ICT centered development if it is to be made meaningful. Over the last few decades, the world has been shifting from industrial to knowledge-based societies; the ability of a nation to use and create knowledge capital determines its capacity to empower and enable its citizens by increasing human capabilities. Easy access to knowledge, creation and preservation of knowledge systems, dissemination of knowledge and better knowledge services should be core concerns of the Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021. Bangladesh should be part of a well-crafted national strategy and ?Digital Bangladesh?, needs to be the cornerstone strategy for Bangladesh. We have to build a people-centered,
development-oriented Information Society, where everyone would be able to access, utilize and share information and knowledge easily and efficiently. The concept of Digital Bangladesh should be centered on the creation of what is popularly termed as a "knowledge- based society," Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are a critical component for building this knowledge-society. Our ability in creating and disseminating knowledge will
eventually drive the nation?s growth in the coming days. A digital society ensures an ICT- driven knowledge-based society where information will be readily available online and where all possible tasks of the government, semi-government and also private spheres will be processed using state of the art technology. The first and foremost challenge to materialize the Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 would be to ensure overall connectivity at an affordable cost. With the intent to enhance connectivity emphasis should be provided on the establishment of infrastructures to ?Connect the Unconnected? and importance must be given on laying more optical fiber to reach the marginal people of the country. Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 should establish technology- driven e-governance which includes e-administration, e-education, e-health, e-commerce, e- production, e-agriculture, etc. in the five focus areas of the knowledge paradigm:
1) Access to Knowledge
2) Knowledge concepts
3) Creation of Knowledge
4) Knowledge Applications
5) Delivery of Services
1. Access to Knowledge:
Providing access to knowledge is the most fundamental way of increasing the opportunities and reach of individuals and groups. Therefore, means must exist for individuals who have the ability to receive and comprehend knowledge to readily obtain it. This also includes making accurate knowledge of the state and its activities available to the general public. Project, should be immediately initiated with an objective to facilitate the establishment of a firm presence of Bangladesh Government entities on the Web with two way communication capability or Web 2.0. The Program requires provision of an entire spectrum of web services to the Government sector as well as running specialized Portals for the benefit of citizens and other stakeholders.
2. Knowledge Concepts:
Knowledge concepts are organized, distributed and transmitted through the education system and that?s why we need an NREN in Bangladesh. It is through education that an individual can make better informed decisions, keep abreast of important issues and trends around him or her and most importantly, question the socio-economic arrangements in a manner that can lead to change and development. In fact, a successful "Digital Bangladesh" would need a more literate population. A mass computer-literacy program or even a government- sponsored computer course, offered perhaps as an incentive for every student who completes his or her secondary-school education, would benefit everyone. If there is will - backed by investment - there is a way.
3. Creation of Knowledge:
A nation can develop in two ways ? either it learns to use existing resources better, or it discovers new resources. Both activities involve creation of knowledge. This makes it important to consider all activities that lead to the creation of knowledge directly or help in protecting the knowledge that is created. To realize the aspirations of the 2021 vision, the country must be able to produce its own engineers, scientists and technological know-how.
4. Knowledge Applications:
Knowledge can be productively applied to promote technological change and facilitate reliable and regular flow of information. This requires significant investment in goal-oriented research and development along with access models that can simplify market transactions and other processes within an industry. Initiatives in the areas of agriculture, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and traditional knowledge can demonstrate that knowledge can be very effectively applied for the betterment of the rural poor.
5. Delivery of Services:
Knowledge services have the potential to simplify many different points at which citizens interact with the State. Traditionally, these points of interaction have been vulnerable to unscrupulous activities and rent-seeking. We need to set the bureaucracy under an e- governance initiative, with a transparent file tracking system that the public can access. This will, right away, reduce corruption, because everyone involved in the process can be tracked
down. Technology provides us with an opportunity to ensure accountability, transparency and efficiency in government services. E-governance is one of the ways in which citizens can be empowered to increase transparency of government functioning, leading to greater efficiency and productivity. E-Governance aims to place the government within the reach of all citizens increasing transparency and citizen's participation. Thus, the development of e-Governance should promote universal access to government's services, integrate administrative systems, networks, and databases, and make such information available to the citizen via Internet. In a nutshell such e-Governance should transform the government into a citizen centric technological driven one. There are various dimensions to building a Digital Bangladesh, all of which are equally important pillars.
A Digital Bangladesh may constitute the following goals:
1) Build excellence in the educational system to meet the knowledge challenges of the
21st century by strengthening the education system, promote domestic research and innovation, facilitate knowledge application in sectors like health, agriculture, and industry.
2) Leverage information and communication technologies to enhance governance and improve connectivity that allows ICT-based services to be deployed equitably throughout his nation.
3) Devise mechanisms for exchange and interaction between knowledge systems in the Global arena.
4) Promote creation of knowledge in S&T laboratories that utilizes information technologies and communication networks for dissemination and exchange of knowledge.
5) Promote knowledge applications in agriculture and industry so that they can use ICTs for marketing and promotion of its products, for producing internal efficiencies, and for communication and transaction between entities.
6) Promote the use of knowledge capabilities in making government an effective, transparent and accountable service provider to the citizen and promote widespread sharing of knowledge to maximize public benefit.
World Bank Supports Digital Bangladesh through National Identification System
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 ? The World Bank today approved a US$195 million concessional credit for the Identification for Enhanced Access to Services (IDEAS) Project to assist the Government of Bangladesh in developing a reliable and accurate national identification (ID) system that will enable efficient and transparent delivery of benefits and services to the people, particularly the poor.
Establishing a full-fledged and reliable national Identification system would significantly improve the delivery of public and private services. The system will be built upon the existing voter-list database by the Bangladesh Election Commission. Identification numbers and cards will be issued to about 90 million Bangladeshi citizens of age 18 and above within next five years. Modern technology will be used to produce robust national ID cards to protect the citizens from fraud and forgery.
?A comprehensive national identification system will transform the way in which public services, including social benefits, are delivered to recipients,? said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. ?It will also assist in better planning, minimizing corruption and increasing transparency in service delivery.?
The project also serves as the foundation for the Government?s ?Digital Bangladesh by 2021? program, which envisions the mainstreaming of information technology as a pro-poor tool to reduce poverty, establish good governance and ensure social equity.
?An important foundation for effective service delivery is the country?s capacity to identify citizens accurately and quickly,? said Junghun Cho, Project Team Leader. ?The system will assist public agencies in identifying and verifying the identities of citizens as well as compiling data that would help focus social programs to those most in need. It is also expected that private sector entities, such as banks and mobile companies, will benefit from their increased capacity to verify service users.?
The core information available through the system will also help track many other transactions undertaken by the public sector, including collection of tax revenues, and systematize a wide range of record-keeping, from land ownership to utility connection.
The IDEAS Project would aid Government?s effort to establish a reliable and authoritative national identification system that can serve as an efficient, secure data platform. The project would focus on developing a legal and policy framework for the national identification system, upgrading data quality, and supporting the strengthening of the Bangladesh Election Commission to administer the national identification system.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank?s concessionary lending arm. The credit carries a 0.75% service charge, a maturity of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period. For a link to our latest blog post, Moving Towards a 'Digital Bangladesh': http://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/moving-towards-digital-bangladesh
In Washington: Benjamin S. Crow, (202) 473 1729 , firstname.lastname@example.org
In Dhaka: Mehrin Mahbub, (880-2) 8159001, email@example.com
For more information, please visit the Projects website
Permanent URL for this page: http://go.worldbank.org/808VL8TEM0 Unsubscribe: http://go.worldbank.org/B4HC51EME0
|Posted by Moktel Hossain Mukthi on October 10, 2011 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
বিরোধী দলের নৈরাজ্য সৃষ্টির অপচেষ্টার বিরুদ্ধে সজাগ থাকুন: প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা
চাঁপাইনবাবগঞ্জ, রাজশাহী জেলা ও মহানগর, সিলেট জেলা ও মহানগরের পূর্ণাঙ্গ কমিটি অনুমোদন।
বিরোধী দলের দেশব্যাপী আন্দোলনের নামে নৈরাজ্য ও বিশৃঙ্খল পরিস্থিতি সৃষ্টির অপচেষ্টার বিরুদ্ধে আওয়ামী লীগ নেতাকর্মীদের সতর্ক থাকার নির্দেশ দিয়েছেন প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা। তিনি একই সঙ্গে দ্রুত সম্মেলনের মাধ্যমে দেশব্যাপী সংগঠনকে চাঙ্গা ও শক্তিশালী করার নির্দেশ দিয়েছেন। তিনি বলেছেন, তৃণমূল পর্যায়ে সভা-সমাবেশের মাধ্যমে বিরোধী দলের অতীত দুর্নীতি, দুঃশাসন, সন্ত্রাস ও বিদেশে অর্থ পাচারের তথ্যগুলো প্রমাণসহ জনগণের সামনে তুলে ধরতে হবে। গতকাল শনিবার শেখ হাসিনা তার ধানমণ্ডির রাজনৈতিক কার্যালয়ে দলের কেন্দ্রীয় নেতাসহ সহযোগী ও ভ্রাতৃপ্রতিম সংগঠনের নেতাদের সঙ্গে বৈঠকে এসব নির্দেশ দেন।
বৈঠকে দীর্ঘদিন ধরে পূর্ণাঙ্গ কমিটি না থাকা পাঁচটি জেলা_ চাঁপাইনবাবগঞ্জ, রাজশাহী জেলা ও মহানগর, সিলেট জেলা ও মহানগরের পূর্ণাঙ্গ কমিটি অনুমোদন দেওয়া হয়। কর্মী-সমর্থকদের হর্ষধ্বনির মধ্যে বিকেল সাড়ে ৪টায় ধানমণ্ডির রাজনৈতিক কার্যালয়ে যান প্রধানমন্ত্রী।
কার্যালয়ে পৌঁছে শেখ হাসিনা সবার সঙ্গে কুশল বিনিময়ের পর ঘোষণা দেন, এখন থেকে প্রতি শনিবার তিনি দলীয় কার্যালয়ে এসে নেতাকর্মীদের সঙ্গে কথা বলার চেষ্টা করবেন। এ বৈঠকের পর শেখ হাসিনা তার নীলফামারী সফর নিয়ে আসাদুজ্জামান নূর এমপির নেতৃত্বে আসা জেলা নেতাদের সঙ্গে আলাদা বৈঠক করেন। এরপরই কেন্দ্রীয় নেতাদের সঙ্গে বৈঠকে বসেন প্রধানমন্ত্রী|
বৈঠকে প্রধানমন্ত্রী দ্রুত সম্মেলনের মাধ্যমে তৃণমূল থেকে দলকে ঢেলে সাজানোর নির্দেশ দিয়েছেন। নেতারা বৈঠকে প্রধানমন্ত্রীর বক্তব্যের বিবরণ দিয়ে জানান, বিরোধীদলীয় নেতার দুই পুত্রের দুর্নীতি ও বিদেশে অর্থ পাচারের ঘটনা যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের ফেডারেল কোর্ট এবং সিঙ্গাপুরের আদালতে প্রমাণিত হওয়ার কথা জানিয়েছেন প্রধানমন্ত্রী। তিনি বলেন, জিয়া অরফানেজের মাধ্যমে এতিমদের নামে বিদেশ থেকে টাকা এনে খালেদা জিয়ার আত্মসাৎ, অবৈধভাবে অর্জিত কালো টাকা জরিমানা দিয়ে সাদা করার ঘটনা তাদের বিরুদ্ধে উত্থাপিত সব অভিযোগের প্রমাণ দেয়।
প্রধানমন্ত্রী আরও বলেন, বিরোধীদলীয় নেতার দৃষ্টিতে আইন-শৃঙ্খলা পরিস্থিতি নাকি খারাপ। অথচ '৭৫-এর পর বর্তমান সময়ের মতো এত শান্তিপূর্ণ ও উৎসবমুখর পরিবেশে কখনও পবিত্র ঈদ, দুর্গাপূজা, বড়দিনসহ অন্যান্য ধর্মীয় উৎসব পালিত হয়নি। আইন-শৃঙ্খলা পরিস্থিতি ভালো না থাকলে উৎসবমুখর পরিবেশে মানুষ তাদের নিজ নিজ ধর্মীয় অনুষ্ঠান পালন করল কীভাবে?
বৈঠকে প্রধানমন্ত্রী নেতাকর্মীদের সজাগ ও সতর্ক থাকার আহ্বান জানিয়ে বলেন, তত্ত্বাবধায়ক ইস্যুতে মিথ্যাচারের মাধ্যমে বিরোধী দল জনগণকে বিভ্রান্ত ও এ ইস্যুতে বিশৃঙ্খল পরিস্থিতি সৃষ্টির চেষ্টা করছে। তিনি বলেন, জনগণ আমাদের দেশ পরিচালনার ম্যান্ডেট দিয়েছে। আমরা জনগণের ম্যান্ডেট এবং সর্বোচ্চ আদালতের রায় অনুযায়ী সংবিধান সংশোধন করেছি। এ নিয়ে বিরোধী দল যাতে জনগণকে বিভ্রান্ত করতে না পারে সে জন্য সজাগ ও সতর্ক থাকতে হবে।
ওয়ান-ইলেভেনের পর তত্ত্বাবধায়ক সরকারের বিরুদ্ধে খালেদা জিয়া, তার অর্থমন্ত্রী এম সাইফুর রহমানসহ বিএনপির সিনিয়র নেতারা কী কী বলেছিলেন, তা সবিস্তারে জনগণের সামনে তুলে ধরার নির্দেশ দিয়ে প্রধানমন্ত্রী বলেন, আজ শুধু জনগণকে বিভ্রান্ত করতে তিনি (খালেদা জিয়া) তত্ত্বাবধায়ক সরকার ব্যবস্থা নিয়ে মায়াকান্না করছেন। বিএনপি-জামায়াত জোট সরকারের সন্ত্রাসের কারণে ওই সময় বাংলাদেশে নিযুক্ত বিশ্বব্যাংকের কান্ট্রি ডিরেক্টর তৎকালীন অর্থমন্ত্রী এম সাইফুর রহমানের কাছে নিরাপত্তা চেয়ে চিঠি দিয়েছিলেন। নিরাপত্তা না পেলে বিশ্বব্যাংকের অফিস তুলে নিয়ে যাওয়ারও হুমকি দিয়েছিলেন তিনি।
প্রধানমন্ত্রী আরও বলেন, সাবেক অর্থমন্ত্রী শাহ এএমএস কিবরিয়া, আহসানউল্লাহ মাস্টার, মমতাজ উদ্দিন, মঞ্জুরুল ইমামসহ আওয়ামী লীগের হাজারও নেতাকর্মীকে হত্যা করেছে বিএনপি-জামায়াত সরকার। তারা ২১ আগস্ট গ্রেনেড হামলা চালিয়ে আওয়ামী লীগকে নিশ্চিহ্ন করতে চেয়েছিল। তাই তাদের মুখে আইন-শৃঙ্খলা পরিস্থিতির কথা শোভা পায় না। জনগণ তাদের কুকীর্তির কথা সবই জানে।
জনস্বার্থে নয়, যুদ্ধাপরাধী ও খালেদা জিয়ার দুই দুর্নীতিবাজ পুত্রকে রক্ষার জন্যই যে বিএনপি-জামায়াত জোট আন্দোলনের নামে দেশকে অস্থিতিশীল করতে চাইছে তা জনগণের সামনে তুলে ধরতে কেন্দ্রীয় নেতাদের নির্দেশ দিয়েছেন প্রধানমন্ত্রী। তিনি বলেছেন, বিরোধী দলের নেতিবাচক এসব কর্মকাণ্ডের বিরুদ্ধে মানুষকে ঐক্যবদ্ধ করতে পারলে তাদের সব ষড়যন্ত্র ও চক্রান্ত নস্যাৎ হয়ে যাবে।
|Posted by Moktel Hossain Mukthi on October 2, 2011 at 10:40 AM||comments (1)|
Sheikh Hasina with David Cameron in London
On November 6, 2008, Hasina returned to Bangladesh to lead her party in general elections scheduled for December 29, 2008. On December 11, 2008 Sheikh Hasina announced her party's election manifesto during a news conference. In her election manifesto she vowed to build a "Digital Bangladesh" by 2021. Sheikh Hasina's Awami league won the elections on 29 December 2008 with an overwhelming majority. Sheikh Hasina's party defeated Begum Khaleda Zia's BNP in the 2008 Parliamentary Elections. Her party achieved a landslide victory reminiscent of the 1971 elections of Pakistan. Under her leadership, the party has achieved a supermajority in parliament, controlling 230 seats out of 299. She was sworn into office as the Prime Minister for the second time on 6 January 2009. The Prime Minister is the most powerful executive position in Bangladesh, although technically of lower seniority compared to the office of President. Begum Zia, however, rejected the results of the election, sarcastically thanking the Chief Election Commissioner "for stage-managing the parliamentary election" in a statement. But, according to the views expressed by foreign and local election observers, the general elections were free, fair and credible.
Sheikh Hasina's peace model
Intentions must be followed by implementation
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's six-point proposal regarding a multi-dimensional peace model on which to build the edifice of democracy holds significance for the world as a whole. Of course, her proposals encompass a wider ambience, particularly in terms of the various efforts to put in place systems of transparency and accountability in countries which have for a long time suffered from an absence of democratic governance. The Bangladesh's leader's remarks, made at the on-going General Assembly session of the United Nations, places strong emphasis on the issues which currently serve as challenges for not just poorer states but also for those affluent nations whose future is inextricably linked with the wider development of the globe.
Sheikh Hasina's ideas about her peace model are, again, a process of thought shared by other leaders around the world. The concept is all-encompassing, as the six points make so abundantly clear. Eradication of poverty and hunger, reduction of inequality, mitigation of deprivation, an end to exclusion of people from the process of development, overall human progress and, very importantly, elimination of terrorism are the very issues which exercise minds across the spectrum all over the world today. In other words, it is a macrocosm which Bangladesh's prime minister presented at the UNGA. Observed in a deeper way, however, one could suggest that the issues the prime minister raises are those which, on a microcosmic level, affect the people of Bangladesh since these are problems which have long assailed our society and which now must be tackled purposefully. Sheikh Hasina's assertion that a removal of injustice rests on sincerity on the part of individual nations is a clear recognition that while global linkages are essential for collective progress, such linkages cannot truly be forged until states on their own and separately undertakes the task of rolling back the ailments which have traditionally held them back.
These six points depend, in the end, on an easy availability of education for people in individual countries. Besides, a significant prerequisite for these goals to be implemented is a thorough, well-defined war on corruption. An expression of good intentions is fine as long as it is backed by the means of their implementation.
|Posted by Moktel Hossain Mukthi on August 12, 2011 at 2:35 PM||comments (0)|
আদালতে ৯৪ লাখ ৯৯ হাজার কানাডীয় ডলার জরিমানা
মোশাররফকে ঘুষ দিয়ে কানাডায় দণ্ডিত নাইকো
সাবেক বিএনপি সরকারের জ্বালানি প্রতিমন্ত্রী এ কে এম মোশাররফ হোসেনকে ২০০৫ সালে একটি দামি গাড়ি ও ভ্রমণব্যয়ের পাঁচ হাজার ডলার ঘুষ দেওয়ায় স্বদেশে দণ্ডিত হয়েছে কানাডীয় তেল-গ্যাস অনুসন্ধান কোম্পানি নাইকো রিসোর্সেস।
বাণিজ্যিক স্বার্থে বিদেশে ঘুষ দেওয়া প্রতিরোধসংক্রান্ত কানাডার আইনে সে দেশের একটি আদালতে ২০০৯ সাল থেকে এ মামলা চলছিল। নাইকো দোষ স্বীকার করায় গত শুক্রবার ওই আদালত দণ্ড হিসেবে ৯৪ লাখ ৯৯ হাজার কানাডীয় ডলার (৯৭ লাখ ৫০ হাজার ৭৯৪ মার্কিন ডলার জরিমানার আদেশ দেন। ৩০ দিনের মধ্যে এ জরিমানা পরিশোধ করতে হবে।
ইন্টারনেটে কানাডীয় ও বিভিন্ন আন্তর্জাতিক সংবাদমাধ্যম থেকে পাওয়া খবরে জানা যায়, আদালত আগামী তিন বছর নাইকোর কর্মকাণ্ড পর্যবেক্ষণ করবেন বলেও আদেশে বলা হয়েছে। তবে সাবেক জ্বালানি প্রতিমন্ত্রী এ কে এম মোশাররফ হোসেন আগের মতোই গতকালও অভিযোগ অস্বীকার করেছেন।
গতকাল শনিবার মোশাররফ হোসেন গণমাধ্যমকে বলেন, ‘আমি কোনো অন্যায় করিনি। কানাডার আদালতে মামলার ব্যাপারেও আমি কিছু জানি না। নাইকোকে সুবিধা দেওয়ার অভিযোগে তো বর্তমান ও সাবেক দুই প্রধানমন্ত্রীসহ অনেকের বিরুদ্ধে বিগত তত্ত্বাবধায়ক সরকারের আমলে মামলা হয়েছিল। তাতে তো তাঁরা দোষী বলে প্রমাণ হয় না।’
২০০৫ সালের জানুয়ারি মাসে ছাতকের টেংরাটিলা গ্যাসক্ষেত্রে অগ্নিকাণ্ডের পর, বাপেক্সের মাধ্যমে মোশাররফ হোসেনের জন্য তখনকার দামে প্রায় ৮৫ লাখ টাকার একটি টয়োটা ল্যান্ড ক্রুজার সিগনাস (২০০৫ মডেল গাড়ি পাঠায় নাইকো। গাড়িটি ২৩ মে জ্বালানি প্রতিমন্ত্রীর বাসায় আনুষ্ঠানিকভাবে গ্রহণ করা হয়।
প্রতিমন্ত্রীর পক্ষে গাড়িটি গ্রহণ করার সময় এ-সংক্রান্ত নাইকোর দাপ্তরিক নথিতে লেখা হয়, ‘মাননীয় প্রতিমন্ত্রী মহোদয়ের বাসভবনে প্রতিমন্ত্রীর উপস্থিতিতে পাশে বর্ণিত জিনিসপত্র নাইকোর প্রতিনিধির নিকট হতে বুঝিয়া পাইলাম’। গাড়ি ছাড়াও নথিতে পাশে বর্ণিত জিনিসপত্র হচ্ছে, গাড়ির অস্থায়ী ব্লু বুক,ফিটনেস সার্টিফিকেট, মূল বিমা সার্টিফিকেট, টুলবক্স, একটি অতিরিক্ত চাকা, একটি বিকল্প চাবি,অপারেটরস ম্যানুয়াল প্রভৃতি।
এ ব্যাপারে ২০০৫ সালের ১৪ জুন প্রথম আলোতে অনুসন্ধানী প্রতিবেদন প্রকাশিত হয়। তখন মোশাররফ হোসেন প্রতিমন্ত্রীর পদ ছাড়তে বাধ্য হন। খবরটি প্রকাশের সময় প্রতিমন্ত্রী কানাডা ও আমেরিকা সফরে ছিলেন। ওই সফরের ব্যয়ভারও নাইকো বহন করেছে বলে কানাডীয় আদালতে বলা হয়েছে। কিন্তু তখন নাইকোর পক্ষ থেকে ঘুষ দেওয়ার কথা অস্বীকার করে বলা হয়েছিল, যৌথ অংশীদার হিসেবে বাপেক্সকে গাড়িটি দেওয়া হয়েছে। শুধু তাই নয়, প্রথম আলোর খবরের প্রতিবাদ পাঠিয়েছিল নাইকো। কানাডার গণমাধ্যমের কাছেও নাইকোর তৎকালীন শীর্ষ কর্মকর্তা ঘুষ দেওয়ার কথা অস্বীকার করেছিলেন।
প্রতিমন্ত্রী সফর থেকে ১৮ জুন (২০০৫ শনিবার ভোরে দেশে ফিরে ওই দিন সকালে সাংবাদিকদের বলেন, তাঁর ও সরকারের বিরুদ্ধে ষড়যন্ত্র হচ্ছে। ঘুষ নেওয়ার মিথ্যা অভিযোগ তুলে সরকারকে বিব্রত করার চেষ্টা হচ্ছে। তিনি কোনো অন্যায় করেননি। এরপর ওই দিন সন্ধ্যায়ই তিনি ব্যক্তিগত কারণ দেখিয়ে রাষ্ট্রপতির কাছে পদত্যাগপত্র জমা দেন। অবিলম্বে তা গৃহীতও হয়।
ওই বছরই নাইকো গাড়িটি ফিরিয়ে নেয়। ফলে তখনই প্রমাণ হয়ে যায়, গাড়িটি বাপেক্সকে দেওয়া হয়নি। যৌথ অংশীদার হিসেবে বাপেক্সের ব্যবহারের জন্য দিলে সেটি আর ফিরিয়ে নেওয়া হতো না। তা ছাড়া টেংরাটিলা, ফেনী ও কামতা গ্যাসক্ষেত্রের যৌথ অংশীদারি চুক্তির কোনো শর্তেই বাপেক্সকে নাইকোর গাড়ি দিতে হবে এমন শর্ত ছিল না।
এ প্রেক্ষাপটে কানাডীয় আদালতের রায়ের পর সে দেশের ট্রান্সপারেন্সি ইন্টারন্যাশনালের প্রেসিডেন্ট জেমস কট্জ গণমাধ্যমকে বলেন, আদালতের এ রায়ের পর কোম্পানিগুলো এখন আর এমনটি ভাববে না যে, অপরাধ করেও পার পাওয়া যাবে।
আদালতে নাইকোর পক্ষের আইনজীবী বলেন, নাইকোর মতো কোম্পানির পক্ষে প্রায় ৯৫ লাখ ডলার জরিমানা দেওয়া কোনো বড় বিষয় নয়। তবে আদালতের দণ্ডাদেশ কোম্পানিটির ভাবমূর্তির ওপর এক বড় আঘাত।
এদিকে, টেংরাটিলা বিস্ফোরণের জন্য নাইকোর কাছে দাবি করা ক্ষতিপূরণের বিষয়টি এখন আন্তর্জাতিক আদালতে আছে। নাইকো যখন ক্ষতিগ্রস্ত গ্যাস কাঠামোর জন্য ক্ষতিপূরণ দিতে গড়িমসি করছিল, তখন বিগত সরকারের আমলে পরিবেশ আইনবিদ সমিতি (বেলা হাইকোর্টে একটি রিট মামলা দায়ের করেছিল। সেই মামলার রায়ে আদালত সরকারকে বলেছিলেন, ক্ষতিপূরণ না দেওয়া পর্যন্ত নাইকোকে ফেনী ক্ষেত্র তোলা ও সরবরাহ করা গ্যাসের দাম পরিশোধ করা যাবে না।
এরপর নাইকো ফেনী থেকে গ্যাস সরবরাহ করলেও দাম পরিশোধ করা হচ্ছিল না। একপর্যায়ে তারা গ্যাস সরবরাহ বন্ধ করে দেয়। সরকারের পক্ষ থেকে চেষ্টা চলে ক্ষতিপূরণ আদায় ও গ্যাস সরবরাহ শুরু করার ব্যাপারে মতৈক্যে পৌঁছার। কিন্তু তা হচ্ছিল না। এরপর নাইকো বিষয়টি নিয়ে আন্তর্জাতিক আদালতের দ্বারস্থ হয়েছে।
|Posted by Moktel Hossain Mukthi on March 7, 2011 at 2:16 AM||comments (1)|
Awami League is observing the day in befitting programs
Today is the historic 7th March, a prelude to the nation's final struggle for independence clinched in 1971 through a nine-month war against the then Pakistani occupation force. Exuding a firm determination, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of the nation, this day in 1971 delivered the historic speech calling upon the Bengalis to wage a decisive struggle against the Pakistan junta. Before a mammoth rally at the then Race Course Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan) on March 7 in 1971, Bangabandhu in a virtual announcement of independence declared, "-- ebarer sangram amader muktir sangram, ebarer sangram swadhinatar sangram (our struggle this time is the struggle for independence, our struggle this time is the struggle for liberation)". Bangabandhu, who became the undisputed leader of the then Pakistan following the massive victory of his party Awami League in the 1970 general elections, had to call upon his people to prepare for a fight when the Pakistani centrists were dilly- dallying to hand over power to the then majority party. In the meantime, the Islamabad authorities were amassing modern arms and weapons in the then East Pakistan in a bid to resist the Bangalees who were fighting for their rightful causes since the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
Bangabandhu's historic address on March 7 in fact mobilized the whole nation to wage an all-out non-cooperation movement in the then East Pakistan, preparing for a bloody war against the Pakistani Army to achieve the independence. The whole nation, except a few pro-Pakistani elements, fought the Pakistani army for long nine months from March 25 in 1971 till achieving the ultimate victory on December 16 the same year. He formally declared the independence of Bangladesh at 00-30 hours on March 26 (the night following March 25) in 1971 at his historic 32, Dhanmondi residence here. He was immediately arrested by the Pakistani authorities after declaration of the independence. Later, he was flown to the then West Pakistan where he had to spend the whole nine months in a dark death cell of a Pakistani jail. In his speech, compared with US President Abraham Lincoln's historic Gettysburg speech, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said, "Since we have learnt to give blood, we'll give more blood. Inshallah, the people of this country must be liberated...Turn every house into a fort. Face (the enemy) with whatever you have."
Awami league is observing the historic March 7 today in a befitting manner, commemorating the fiery and soulful address of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on this day in 1971. Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam urged all the party units and front organisations to observe the day with due respect. Bangladesh Awami League has drawn up elaborate programs to observe the day in a befitting manner.
The day's programs will start with hoisting of national and party flags at Bangabandhu Bhaban and central office of the party at 6.30 am. PM Sheikh Hasina and Awami League leaders placed wreaths at the portrait of the Father of the Nation in front of Bangabandhu Bhaban at 7-30 AM in the morning. It is followed by placing wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu by different wings of Awami League and also distinguished socio-political cultural organizations. Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina will address as the chief guest at a discussion organized by Awami League at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre at today 3 pm.
AL presidium member and Deputy Leader in Parliament Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury will preside over the discussion. Different associate organizations of the party including Mohila Awami League, Awami Jubo League, Jubo Mohila League, Krishak League, Chhatra League, Sharmik League, Sechchhasebak League and Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote and different socio- cultural organizations have also chalked out elaborate programmes on the occasion.
|Posted by Moktel Hossain Mukthi on March 6, 2011 at 3:30 AM||comments (1)|
Evidence of genocide, rape, torture found
Say war crimes investigators about Ghulam Azam in Rajshahi
Staff Correspondent, Rajshahi
The investigation agency for International Crimes Tribunal has found former Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Ghulam Azam's involvement in genocides, rapes and tortures on the people of Rajshahi during the Liberation War in 1971.
The crimes against humanity proliferated in Rajshahi after Ghulam Azam gave provocative speeches abusing religion, said investigators Additional Superintendent of Police (SP) Motiur Rahman and Inspector Shyamol Chowdury.
The two investigators are visiting the north-western city probing war crime charges against Ghulam Azam.
Talking exclusively to The Daily Star, the investigators said they found evidence and witnesses who testified that Ghulam Azam ordered various heinous measures during a meeting with the member of Central Peace committee in the town.
The investigators, however, refrained from disclosing the names of the witnesses. They said before going to Rajshahi from Kushtia, they took a copy of Jamaat mouthpiece the Dainik Sangram of July 19, 1971 from Bangla Academy Library in Dhaka.
The issue has a report on Ghulam Azam's Peace Committee meeting at the municipal hall in Rajshahi on July 8 with the committee's Rajshahi chairman Ayen Uddin in the chair, which the witnesses also confirmed.
“There is nothing to prove that the Hindus are friends of the Muslims. They have always been holding the Muslims as rivals and killing Muslims has been a daily incident in India even after the separation,” Dainik Sangram quoted Azam as saying.
The report also quoted him as saying, “The Hindus created divisions among the Muslims raising the question of Bangalee and non-Bangalee. Foundation of a nation with Hindus and Muslims is not possible unless the Muslims are separated over the language issue.”
Investigators Rahman and Chowdhury came to Rajshahi Friday afternoon and separately talked with researchers, historians, freedom fighters, journalists and relatives of martyrs.
On Saturday, they visited nine spots of genocides, mass grave and Pakistani torture camps in Rajshahi city, Mugroil and Sakoa in Mohonpur, and Thanapara and Sardah Police Academy in Charghat upazila.
The team took photographs and footages of people identifying the mass graves and torture camps.
In the morning, the team went to Mugroil, around 25km from Rajshahi city, where there is a shaheed minar (monument commemorating martyrs) with names of only 15 martyrs inscribed on it.
The probe team talked to Basir Ali Sheikh and Hashim Uddin who lost their family members when the Pakistani occupation army captured 15 villagers on November 30, 1971 and shot them dead for helping freedom fighters.
The army ravaged the village and torched every house, they said, adding that razakars (Pakistani collaborators) Daud Hossain, Nur-e Anwar, Motiur, Wahed and some others, who led the Pakistani army to the village, are still living freely in the village.
From Mugroil the probe team visited a torture camp at Sakoa Madrasa where a number of freedom fighters and commoners were killed and tortured.
In Rajshahi, the investigators visited Babla Bon mass grave and torture camp near T Groyen of the Padma River.
The Pakistani army with the help of their local collaborators picked up 17 people, including intellectuals and politicians, from their houses on the night of November 25, 1971, told freedom fighter Shahjahan Ali Borjahan in presence of journalists.
The locals believe all the martyrs were buried alive as their bodies bore no bullet wounds, he added.
At Moslem Ali's house near Boalia Police Station, Moslem's son Salauddin Raju told reporters that after they had gone into hiding the occupation army took over their house to run a torture camp there.
The investigators also visited Rajshahi University mass grave, Martyrs' Memorial Archive and Shaheed Shamsuzzoha Hall where countless men, women and children suffered the atrocities of Pakistani army and their collaborators since April 1971.
“Rajshahi apparently had been a bit different from other parts of the country, as the Pakistani collaborators here were so dominating that they opened torture camps at many places,” said SP Matiur Rahman
|Posted by Moktel Hossain Mukthi on February 17, 2011 at 11:55 AM||comments (1)|
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina declared open the World Cup Cricket 2011— the biggest sporting event that Bangladesh has ever seen—at 7:10pm on Thursday.
Co-hosted by Bangladesh, along with India and Sri Lanka, the spectacular World Cup cricket opening ceremony began at the Bangabandhu National Stadium at around 6:50pm with much fanfare. Chinese fireworks and laser show only added to the grandeur of the show. Bangladesh witnessed several firsts in this colourful and high-tech opening ceremony. Of them, remote-controlled birds flying all over the stadium and a giant screen displaying the World Cup trophy at the 22-storey Shilpa Bank Bhaban (complex) in the vicinity of the stadium left Dhakaites dumbstruck.
Artistes hanging from 'no where' also presented an on-screen cricket show — a perfect feast to the viewers' eyes.
Earlier, in the welcome address, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president A H M Mostafa Kamal thanked the International Cricket Council (ICC) for giving Bangladesh the opportunity to organise the event and the prime minister for ensuring adequate flow of funds. He noted that the BCB would also patronise women's cricket and cricket in Cox's Bazar, which boasts of the longest sea beach in the world. ICC president Sharad Pawar, with his Bangla-laced language speech, struck an instant cord with the audience. He expressed pleasure over the grand opening of the event.
|Posted by Moktel Hossain Mukthi on February 5, 2011 at 12:16 AM||comments (0)|
Bangladesh Awami League is the oldest and biggest political party of Bangladesh. It originated in the soil of the country and evolved with the evolving hopes and aspirations of the people living on the Padma- Meghna- Jamuna delta. It is the party that gave leadership in the glorious Liberation War. Awami league is one of those political parties in the world under whose leadership struggles were led and won, tearing apart the chains of domination and servitude. Awami League represents the mainstream of the progressive, non-communal, democratic and nationalist politics of Bangladesh.
The inception of Awami League: the rise of opposition politics
It is known to all that, in 1940, Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Huq tabled the historic Resolution incorporating the idea of more than one states in the Indian subcontinent. According to this resolution, there was to be a separate state comprising the Bangla speaking regions of the sub continent. But the plan was completely sidetracked when India was divided in 1947 on the basis of Mr. Jinnah’s Two-nation Theory, and the artificial state of Pakistan came into being with two wings separated by a thousand miles. These two wings comprised two entirely different lands, languages and cultures. The establishment of Pakistan could not solve the problem of Bangalee nationality. On the contrary, the repressive policies of the Pakistani ruling elite against various nationalities brought the question of Bangalee’s separate nationhood to the forefront. In this backdrop, within 4 months and 20 days of the creation of Pakistan an opposition student’s organization named East Pakistan Student League was formed under the leadership of the then young and promising student leader, Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (January 4, 1948). On June 23, nest year, a meeting of the leaders and workers known to be the supporters of Hussain Shaheed suhrawardy was held at ‘Rose Garden’ of K. M. Das lane, Dhaka. There a new political party named Awami Muslim League was formed with Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani as chair, Shamsul Haq of Tangail as Secretary, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (then interned in Jail) as Joint Secretary and Yar Mohammad as Treasurer. It was the first oppsition party in the then East Bangal (later renamed East Pakistan). In a process of secularization, the word ‘Muslim’ was eventually dropped from the name of the party. Since its inception, Awami League has championed the cause of the political rights of the Bangalee people and fought relentlessly for the attainment of those rights. The present Bangladesh Awami League inherits the legacy of the party founded in 1949. Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina is the present president of Bangladesh Awami League.
Language Movement and the Struggle for the Dignity of our Mother Tongue
The Bangalee people living on the Padma- Meghna- Jamuna delta first rose in revolt on the question of the state language of Pakistan. The language policy of the non-Bangalee rulers of Pakistan was not only undemocratic but also strongly biased against the various nationalities. They refused the claim of Bangla, the language of the majority people of Pakistan, to be one of the state languages alongside Urdu. Rather they trid to impose Urdu as the sole state language of Pakistan. The people of East Bengal statged their clamorous protest against this blatant injustice and a strong mass-movement originated on the question of state language. Both Awami League and its student wing Chhatra League evolved through this Language movement that stretched from 1948 till 1952. The leaders of these two parties played the dominant role in organizing this movement. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s name should be specially mentioned in this regard.
On March 11, 1948 he led a siege of the East Pakistan Secretariat and was arrested along with some of his colleagues. On March 21, 1948, in a meeting in the Racecourse of Dhaka (now Suhrawardy Garden), Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the first Governor General of Pakistan declared unequivocally, “Urdo and only Urdu shall be the state language of Pakistan.” A number of young activists including Bangabandhu raised their voice of protest against this declaration. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became the target of the wrath of the Muslim League government for a number of reasons which included his active participation in the language movement, his protest against the repressive measures taken by the Muslim League government, his leadership in the movement of the class four employees of Dhaka University etc. He was being thrown into Jail into Jail again and again. He was still in jail when the final phase of the Language movement started in 1952. He got himself transferred from the central jail to Dhaka Medical College on medical ground and established contacts with the leaders outside.
Through chits smuggled out of the hospital he gave directives to the leaders of the movement. On February 16, 1952, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib and his close associate late Mohiuddin Ahmed went on hunger-strike-till-death. With a view to isolating them from the outside world, the government transferred them to Faridpur Jail. Bangabandhu was then Joint Secretary of Awami League. This hunger strike added a new dimension to the final phase of the Language Movement. The police opened fire on the demonstrasting student on February 21, 1952, killing several persons. This bloody incident opended a new chapter in the history of the Leberation struggle of the Bangalee nation.
It should bementioned here that the movement for Bangla Language was being conducted under the aegus of a multi-party forum called the ‘All Party State Language Action Committee. It was formed on January 30, 1952, and Awami League played a leading role in its formation. On the streets, inside the prison, in the Constituent Assembly-everywhere Awami League and Bangabandhu fought relentlessly for the cause of mother tongue. In a speech given in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, Bangabandhu made this memorable comment : “It is not important whether we know any other language or not. We want to speak in Bangla in this House.” When new consperacies started being hatched against Bangla language and Bangalee culture in the sixties, Bangabandhu and his party organized a strong protest movement against those nefarious designs of the Ayub regime.
In 1974, after the Liberation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered his speech in the UN in Bangla and thus for the first time glorified our language in the world arena. His daughter, the present Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina can justifiably claim the credit of glorifying Bangla once again : it was due to her initiative that UNESCO has declared (November 17, 1999) the 21st of February as the International Mother Language Day. From now on, February 21, the day of martyrdom for Bangla, will be celebrated all over the world every year in recognition of the right of the mother tongues of all speech communities of the world. The glorious sacrifice of the Bangalee nation has now acquired international recognition through this decision of UNESCO.
The Election of the United Front
In March 1954, an election of the last Pakistan Provincial Assembly was held, which is known as the United Front election. The opposition political parties, under the leadership of the mainstream party, Awami League formed the United Front to fight the electoral battle against the ruling Muslim League. It was formally inaugurated in December 1953 with Hussain Shaheed Sugrawardy, Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Huq, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as Chief proponents. United Front chalked out a 21 point socio-economic programme as its election manifesto; it included the ‘State language issue’ and ‘the demand for the autonomy of East Bengal’ as two main points. The election symbol of the Front was ‘boat’. It had a landslide victory, winning 300 seats out of 309. The ruling Muslim League got only 9 seats. Out of the 237 muslim seats, United Front bagged 223 (Awami League topped the list among the members by winning 137 seats). This electoral win by United Front marked a watershed in the politics of East Pakistan. The ruling Muslim not only suffered a crushing defeat; it was virtually wiped out as a political force from East Bengal. For the Bangalees it was a revolution through ballot. But the United Front Government formed under the leadership of Fazlul Huq was short-lived : the central Gvoernment of Pakistan ousted it on the 56th day of its assumption of power. Bangalees were outraged and infuriated by this nefarious act on the part of the Pakistani ruling clique. The election of 1954 and its aftermath played an important role in the evolution of the concept of the separate Bangalee nationhood.
A Step towards secularization
Since the beginning, Awami League has been a secular democratic party. The term ‘Muslim’ was appended to the name of the party at the time of its foundation as a political tactic only. India was divided on the basis of a communal birurcation, and in 1949 it was really unthinkable to launch an opposition political party with a declared secularist agenda. Moreover, the separate election system for defferent religious communites was still operative in Pakistan. The founding fathers of Awami League, therefore, thought it opportune to hide their intentions under the name ‘Awami Muslim league’ for the time being. Meanwhile, through the cataclysmie events of the Language Movement, the United Front election of 1954 and the defeat of Muslim League in that election created a secular political atmosphere in East Bengal. A resolution in favour of ‘non-communal combined system was adopted (Murree Pact, 1955), for whice Awami League can claim the sole credit. In the backdrop of this, in the initiative of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the then General Secretary of the Party, the three-day 3rd council meeting was held in Rupahal Cinema Hall of Dhaka on 21-23 October, 1953. In this council, a resolution regarding the change in the name of the party was adopted : the word ‘Muslim’ was dropped and the party was renamed ‘East Pakistan Awami League’. It was a historical and bold political decision, as a result of which the party became open to all irrespective of caste, creed and colour. The secular democratic character of the party was thus institutionalized and perfected.
Formation of government, split in the party, ouster from power
In August 1956, the governor of East Bengal called upon Awami League to form the provicial government. The Awami League government was formed next month with Ataur Rahman Khan, the leader of the Awami League Parliamentary Party, as the Chief Minister. His cabinet included Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Bangabandhu was entrusted with the important portfolio of the Ministry of Industries, commerce and Labour. Awami League stayed in power for about two years. Inspite of a series of conspiracies hatched by the central government, the Awami League government in East Bengal succeeded in taking some important steps in various fields. These included the tackling of serious problem of food-shortage, the release of the political prisoners, giving ‘test relief’ to the landless peasants, the granting of financial aid to the families of the Language Movement martyrs, the declaration of February 21 as a government holiday, the observance of Pahela Baiskh as Bangla New Year’s Day, the establishment of a Veterinary College in Mymensingh, of Fenchuganj Fertilizer Factory and Savar Dairy Farm and of Film Development Corporation (FDC) etc. Bangabandhu played a very strong role in all these.
We must note here a singular event that took place during the Awami League rule. Bangabandhu was concurrently holding the posts of the Party General Secretary and a cabinet minister. The party decided to segregate the leadership of the Organization and the ministry. Bangabandhu was given the choice of keeping any of the two posts. This problem arose in the case of a few others also. Bangabandhu unhesitatingly made his choice he left the ministry and opted for the post of the party secretary. This shows how much importance he laid upon the party organization. This rare incident proves the fact that Bangabandhu was the central force in Awami League and that his commitment to the party was above everything else. Incidentally, all the three vice-presidents of the party opted for ministership and left the party posts. Almost simultaneously with the formation of government in East Bengal by AL, the party under the leadership of Huseyn Shaheed Shhrawardy formed government of only 13 members of Awami League and was backed by the Republican Party. But it lasted only 13 months (12 September 1956-11 October 1957). Naturally, it was too short a tenure for the Suhrawardy government to do anything significant. But even within this period, the AL administration took a few bold steps. These include the adoption of ‘parity’ policy with a view to lessening the multiple disparities between the two wings of Pakistan; the holding of the session of Pakistan National Assembly in Dhaka (for the first time); the passing of an act in the assembly in favour of non-communal joint electorate system (October 14,1956); the establishment of Jute Marketing Corporation; taking steps to facilitate industrialization and expansion of trade and commerce in East Bengal; the establishment of IWTA for developing the river transport system and WAPDA for flood control, etc.
The civil and military bureaucracy had exerted its unhealthy influence on the administration since the very inception of the state of Pakistan. The AL government of Suhrawardy successfully curbed this influence. Moreover, with a view to basing the fledgling domocracy on a firm footing, Suhrawardy stressed the need for holding a general election in his very first address to the nation. These bold steps taken by the Shurawardy government, particularly its pledge to hold a general election unnerved the ruling clique and its frontsman President Iskander Mirza. It was at his behest that Republican Party (a party that Mirza himself had helped found) withdrew its support from Suhrawardy Ministry. Immediately after this President Iskander Mirza forced Suhrawardy to resign.
One big event for Awami League that took place during this period was the split in the party The two top leaders of AL, Suhrawardy and Maulana Bhashni were having a difference of opinion for quite some time on the question of the foreign policy of Pakistan. Bhasani was in fovour of a non-aligned foreign policy, while Suhrawardy fovoured strong links with the powerful countries of the West, Particularly with Amirica. Suhrawardy’s stance was backed by a pragmatic assessment of the contemporary geo-political realities of South Asia. Most of the leaders of Awami League under the guidence of the Party General Secretary Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujibur Rahman supported Suhrawardy’s standpoint. On February 7-8, 1957, Bhasani hosted the special council meeting of AL at Kagmari Tangail. There the division of opinion came to the fore. The split in the party could be forestalled at Kagmari Council, but soon it became inevitable. Maulana Bhasani resigned his post of party President on March 18, 1957; within a few days, 9 out of the 37 members of the Working Committee resigned in support of Maulana Bhasani. On July 25-26, 1957, Bhasani called ‘Democratic Workers Conference’ at Rupmahal Cinema of Dhaka. There, a new political party named ‘National Awami Party’ was formed with Bhasani as its president. A few leftist organization joined NAP. In this time of crisis, the youthful General Secretary of AL took the reins of the party in his hands. Maulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish was made the party president in the place of Maulana Bhasani. Bangabandhu, at this juncture, left his post in the provincial ministry in order to devote his whole time to the reorganization of the party.
The Anti-Ayub Movement
On OCtober 7, 1958, President General Iskander Mirza proclaimed Martial Law in Pakistan. Within 20 days of this, he was ousted by the Army Chief General Ayub Khan in a counter coup. Ayub’s decade of autocratic rule started. The constitution was abrogated; the national and the provincial assemblies were dissolved; all political activities were prohibited. A large number of political leaders and activists including Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were thrown into jail. By passing the notorious ‘EBDO’ Act, Ayub Khan declared 78 politicians including the popular leader H. S. Suhrawardy unfit for being candidates in elections. Measures were taken to stifle the voice of the press. Moreover, Ayub Khan introduced the so-called ‘Basic Democracy’ substituting direct elections with on ‘Electoral College’ with the ulterior purpose of perpetuating his regime. He arranged for the framing of a new Constitution (1952), which was based on the ‘Basic Democracy’ concept on a total reliance on the military bureaucracy.
In spite of all repressive measures, Awami League continued functioning, surreptitiously organising group meetings to devise ways and means of a possible movement against the Ayub Government. Soon an opportunity presented itself, when the government arrested H. S. Suhrawardy on June 30, 1962. The news of the arrest spread like wild fire and the students started strikes in educational institutions and came out to the streets. Anti-martial Law posters were put up on the city walls. In this backdrop, on February 7, 1962, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested and thrown into jail. The publication of the Report on Education Policy by Sharif Commission, which was constituted by Ayub Khan, added fuel to the fire. The entire student community demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Report terming it as anti-people and inimical to Bangla language and culture. On September 17 (1962), the police opened fire on the agitating public killing a number of people including a student named Babul. The day (September 17) has been observed as the ‘Education Day’ ever since. This incident gave rise to a student- upsurge forcing the government to withhold the Sharif Commission Report. Side by side with the student movement, attempts were made to initiate a political movement against Ayub Khan. On June 24, 1962, nine eminent political leaders of different parties issued a statement opposing the new constitution and calling for the restoration of democracy. This is known as ‘the statement of nine leaders’. Ataur Rahman Khan and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman signed the statement on behalf of Awami League. Within a short time, under the auspices of Awami League, a multi-party alliance nemed ‘National Democratic Front’ (NDF) was formed. Upon his release from prison, the leader of All Pakistan Awami League, H. S. Suhrawardy took the leadership of NDP. In 1962-63, NDF held a serious of Political rallies in both the wings of Pakistan and it created a widespread awakening among the people. Suhrawardy’s death in 1963, however, was an irreparable loss to NDF. Under the initiative of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the decision to revive Awami League was taken in a meeting at his residence in Dhanmondi Road no. 32.
The Presidential election of Pakistan was held on January 2, 1965, on the basis of Basic Democracy (the
electoral college comprised only 80,000 voters). Despite the meagre chance of winning the election under such a situation, the opposition decided to fight it out jointly. With this end in view and under the auspices of Awami League a united front named Combined Opposition Party (COP) was formed on July 21, 1964. Miss Fatema Jinnah was nominated the candidate the candidate of COP for the Presidential polls. Although Miss Jinnah lost in the election, her election campaign created a lot of stir in the public. In Dhaka city, the provincial capital, Ayub Khan got fewer votes than Fatema Jinnah. One positive result that emerged from this election was that it exposed the hollowness and anti-people character of the so-called Basic Democracy system.
Communal riots of 1964
Awami League believes in communal harmony and peace. It has always fought against communalism. In 1964, a communal riot broke out between the Muslim and the Hindu communities in Dhaka, in Narayanganj Adamjee area and elsewhere. Things were compound when the Bangalees and the Beharis started clashing in several places. As the situation worsened, scores of people got killed; looting and arson went on in full scale. Hundreds of people were rendered homeless. The Ayub government was involved in this riot : their aim was to divert the anti-government sentiments of the people to a different issue. With a view to countering this communal riot a ‘Resistance Committee’ was formed under the aegis of Bangabandhu. The Committee published a pamphlet titiled “Stand up in Resistance, East Pakistan!” and distributed it among the public in hundreds and thousands. Bangabandhu incurred the displeasure of an angry Ayub for this and the government started a suit against him in the court.
The 6-point Programme: The ‘Megna Carta’ of the Bangalees’ national struggle
The 1965 Indo-Pak War came as an eye-opener for the Bangalees. During the War, East Bengal became completely isolated from the rest of the world. East Pakistanis were left to their fate, without military defence and security, while the Pakistani rulers kept themselves busy in defending the West Pakistani fronters. This exposed the extreme callousness of the Pakistani rulers to wards the Bangalee people. In this backdrop, soon after the end of the War, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formulated the historic 6-point programme. His purpose was to voice the just demands of the people of East Bengal for self determination and economic emancipation from the exploitative Pakistani colonial state-system. The six points were as follows :
Pakistan shall be a Federal State. There shall be parliamentary government formed by a legislature elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.
The federating units or the provinces shall deal with all affairs except foreign relations and defence.
There shall be two separate but easily convertible currencies for the two wings of Pakistan. Or, alternatively, there may by a single currenct with the proviso that the Federal Bank shall take adequate measures to stop the ciphoning of money from East Pakistan to West Pakistan.
The federating units or provinces shall reserve the right to levy taxes. The central government, of course, shall have some share of the tax proceeds.
Separate accounts shall be maintained for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings. The foreign exchange earned from foreign trade shall be under the control of the respective wings. The federating units shall be independent in conducting trades with foreign countries.
The federating provinces shall be able to raise para-militia or para-military forces for their own defences.
No sooner had the 6-point programme been published than Ayub Khan declared it ‘secessionisrt’ and styled its author Bangabandhu as the enemy number one of Pakistan. Ayub also threatened to use brute force to suppress this charter of demands. But Awami League and its leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman remained undaunted by such threats. Bangabandhu started a 3-month long mass-contact programme which took him to every nook and corner of Bangladesh. In the public meetings, Amidst thunderous slogans, he pesented the 6-point programme as demands to save our (Bangalees’ life. The government started arresting him now in Sylhet, now in Mymensing, or in Dhaka or in Narayanganj. Bangabandhu was arrested eight times in the first three months of the 6-point movement. By then Bangabandhu had become the President of Awami League. He was finally thrown into jail on May 8, 1966, a general strike was observed all over East Pakistan in support of the 6-point programme and for the release of Bangabandhu. The police fired in Tejgaon, Tongi and Narayanganj killing 13 people. This was followed by large-scale arrests of the leaders and followers of Awami League throughout the country. All these measures taken by the Ayub regime proved counter-productive. 6-point programme became the heartfelt demand of the common masses. Students put forWard their 11-point programme which complemented the 6-point charter of demands. Thus the political situation in East Pakistan became extremely volatile : the stage was set for a great explosion of popular anger through an all-out mass-movement against the Ayub rule.
The Agartala Conspiracy Case & the Mass-upsurge of 1969
President Ayub Khan of Pakistan took resort to a nefarious plan of quelling the growing disturbances caused by the 6-point programme. At his instance, in January 1968, a false case was instituted. This has become infamous in the history as the Agartala Conspiracy Case. 35 Bangalee civil and military officers were accused of treason and conspiracy against the state of Pakistan. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, then under detention, was made the principal accused and the case itself was officially styled, “State versus Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Others.” President Ayub formed a special tribunal to try the accused. On june 19, 1968 the trial started in the Kurmitola cantonment of Dhaka. There was great turbulence in East Pakistan because of this case. The student community started a united movement against the Ayub regime on the basis of the 6-point programme of Bangabandhu and their own 11-point charter of demands. They defied the section 144 promulgated by the police, broke the barricades put by the East Pakistan Rifles and came out to the streets in thousands. People from all walks of life joined them. They chanted the slogans – “We’ll break the locks of the jail and free Sheikh Mujib”; “Your leader, my leader, Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Mujib’, etc. A mass-upsurge took place; the Pakistani rulers ordered shooting in different places. Law and order situation worsened to such an extent that the rebellious mob took control of all important points in the Dhaka city. During this movement, a lot of people were killed: Asad, a student leader of Dhaka University, Dr. Shamsuzzoha, a teacher of Rajshahi University and Matiur, a school student of Dhaka and Sg’t Zahurul Huq, an accused of the Agartala Conspiracy Case were among them. On February 22, Pakistan Government was forced to grant unconditional release to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and withdraw the ‘Agartala Conspiracy Case’. Next day, in a mammoth gathering in the then Race Course Maidan of Dhaka, Bangabandhu was accorded a grand reception. Amidst thunderous applause by the million of people gathered there. Sheikh Mujib was conferred the title ‘Bangabandhu’ (The Friend of Bengal). On March 25, 1969, Ayub Khan was forced to step down from power in shame and ignominy. The decade of his autocratic rule came to an end.
The elections of 1970: Awami League wins the historic mandate
General Yahya Khan succeeded Ayub Khan as President of Pakistan. He declared the general elections to be held next year. In December 1970, the general elections were held on the basis of universal adult franchise and a proportionate distribution of seats in terms of population between the two wings of Pakistan.
Awami League decided to fight these elections as a part of its struggle for self-determination for the Bangalee people. Its election manifesto was the 6-point programme; its election symbol was ‘boat’. During the election campaign, Bangabandhu termed the election was a referendum on the 6-point programme. During this time, on November 12, a devastating cyclone laid waste the whole of Southern Bengal, killing half a million people. The central government of Pakistan showed extreme callousness in the face of such a great human disaster. Awami League capitalized on this issue during the campaign. Awami League won a stunning victory in these elections, winning 160 out of 162 seats in East Pakistan. It bagged 72.57% of the total votes cast. AL won a similar landslide victory in the provincial Assembly elections also – it won 288 seats out of 300 and bagged 389% of total votes cast. Awami League won all the 7 women seats in the National Assembly and all the 10 women seats in the Provincial Assembly. The net result was, Awami League emerged as the single majority party in the Pakistan National Assembly with 167 seats out of a total of 313. On the other side, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party won 88 seats (all from the western wing) and emerged as the second largest Parliamentary group. These were the last general elections of the united Pakistan.
Non-Cooperation Movement, the 7th March Speech of Bangabandhu and the Preparations for the War of Liberation
Awami League’s attainment of single majority in the 1970 elections frightened the Pakistani rulers. They could well read the meaning of the AL victory-it meant that the Bangalee would now wield the state-power and frame a new constitution based on the 6-point programme. They would in no ay let such a thing happen. Therefore they started their conspiracy immediately after the results were out. Along with the military-civil bureaucracy, Mr. Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party joined in this palace-intrigue.
On January 3, 1971, Awami League under the leadership of Bangabandhu arranged an Oath-taking ceremony for the newly elected members of the National and the Provincial Assembly in the Race Course Maidan of Dhaka. The Awami league MPs took a solemn oath to frame the constitution of the country on the basis of the 6-point and the 11-point Programmes. Yahaya Khan had convened the opening session of the National Assembly on the 3rd of March; bt on the 1st of March, he postponed the session for an indefinite period. As the news of this postponement spread, the whole province reacted quicklywith anger and dismay. People came out to the streets; educational institutions and offices closed down. In protest of Yahaya’s declaration, Bangabandhu called hartal on March 2 and 3 in entire East Bengal. Curfew was clamped on the night of March 2, but the angry mobs broke the curfew. The army opened fire on the protesters killing and Wounding hundres. The whole province rose in protest like a roaring sea. This was the time of the uprise of a new nation whose undisputed leaders was Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Raman. The slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ (Victory of Bangladesh) became the War-cry of the multitudes. Along with ‘Joy Bangla’ people chanted, “Take up arms, you heroic Bangalees and liberate Bangladesh”, “Great leader of a great nation, Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Mujib’. On March 2, in a student-mass-gathering in front of Dhaka University Arts Building the new national flag of Bangladesh (a red sun on a green background and the map of ‘Bangladesh’ printed in yellow on the red disc) was hoisted. Events followed events in a quick succession. On March 3, in the presence of Bangabandhu, the ‘manifesto of the independent Bangladesh’ was read out in a mammoth public meeting at Paltan Maidan; Independent Bangladesh Central Student’s Action Committee was formed; an all-out non-cooperation movement against the Pakistani rulers started under the direct command of Bangabandhu, who became the virtual ruler of the province. He started issuing daily directives to be followed by the public. From March 2 to March 25, 1971 Sheikh Mujib became the wielder of all political and civil power in East Pakistan. All government and non-government offices, the Secretariat, autonomous bodies, the High court, the police, Radio and television, Banks and Insurance companies, Transport authorities-everybody defied the order of the Pakistan government and observed the directives issued by Bangabandhu from his Road no. 32, Dhanmondi residence. As Sheikh Mujib became the de facto head of goverment, his residence turned into something like No. 10 Downing Street of the British Prime Minister’s Official residence.
During this time, the most significant event took place on March 7, when Bangabandhu addressed a mammoth gathering, a virtual sea of human faces, in Race Course Maidan. About a million people gathered in that historic meeting on that fateful day in the annals of the Bangalee race. Bangabandhu’s address on that day laid the foundation-stone of the future independent Bangladesh as he gave a green signal for starting the War of Liberation by saying those inspiring poetic lines: “Our struggle this time is the struggle for freedom; our struggle this time is the struggle for independence”. The March 7 speech of Bangabandhu has been compared with the Geattysberg address of President Abraham Lincoln. In this short speech, Bangabandhu narrated the story of the 23 years of Pakistani exploitaton and the deprivation of the Bangalee people, explaned the points of conflicts with the Pakistani rulers, delcared an elaborate programme for the non-cooperaton movement, hinted at the possible strategy of resistance against the enemy attack. He said, “Building forts in each homestead. You must resist the enemy with whatever you have… Remember, we have a given a lot of blood, a lot more blood we shall give if need be, but we will liberate the people of this country, insha Allah… The struggle this time is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle this time is the struggle for independence. Joy Bangla”.
This electrifying declaration by Bangabandhu was virtually the declaration of the independence of Bangladesh. But, of course, Bangabandhu showed the political sagacity of not making the declaration too openly; rather he chose to adopt a ‘wait and see’ policy in order to observe the next move of the Pakistani government. A UDI would be disastrous at the particular point time.
The Great War of Liberation and the Emergence of an Independent Bangladesh
The military junta of Yahya Khan started a dialogue with the leader of the majority party, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But it was actually an attempt to hoodwink the Bangalees-the junta was taking time t make their military preparations complete for a fnal crackdown. They smuggled in arms and ammunition from West Pakistan and a large number of army personne, too. On March 25, at midnight, they led a sudden attack on the unarmed Bangalees in Dhaka and other places. Thus began the so-called ‘Operation Searchlight’, the most heinous and barbarous genocide in the history of mankind. A little after the midnight in the early hours of March 26, 1971, Bangabandhu delcared the independence of Bangladesh. He sent a message containing the declaration of independence to his party leaders in Dhaka and Chittagong over the wireless of the then East Pakistan Rifles. The message read:
“The Pakistani Army has launched a sudden attack on the EPR Headquarters at Pilkhana and the Police Line at Rajarbagh and they have killd many people in the city. Street fights are going on in Dhaka and Chittagong. Our freedom fighters are viliantly fighting for liberating their motherland from the enemies. In the name of Almighty Allah, this is my appeal andorder to you-seek the assistance from the Police, the EPR, the Bengal Regiment and the Ansars to liberate the country. No compromise; the victory must be ours. Expel the last enemy from our sacred motherland. Reach this message to all Awami League leaders and workers and all other patriotic and freedom loving people. May Allah bless you. You Bangla.”
With the army crackdown on the 25th March night and the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu after the midnight, the resistance struggle and the armed War of Liberation of the Bangalees started all over the country. The junta arrested Bangabandhu frm his Dhanmondi Road No. 32 residence immediately after the declaration of independence. A few days later he was taken to West Pakistan. In order to give the declaration by Bangabandhu a constitutional basis and to conduct the War of Liberation under a central leadership, the Awami League leaders on behalf of the elected MNAs and MPAs issued a statement on April 10, 1971. This is known as ‘the constitutional declaration of independence’.
“According to the verdict given by the sovereign people of Bangladesh in favour of the elected representatives, we, the elected representatives, have formed the constituent Assembly on the bass of discussions among ourselves. Considering the establishment of equality, human dignity and social justice for the people of Bangladesh a sacred duty enjoined upon us, we do hereby declare the decision of transforming Bangladesh into a Sovereign People’s Republic and endorse the earlier declaration of independence by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Raman. This declaration of independence will be deemed effective from March 26, 1971.”
In the same declaration, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was made the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The provisional government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formed (now famous as the Mujibnagar Government) withSyed Nazrul Islam as Vice-President (to act as President in the absence of Bangabandhu) and Tajuddin Ahmed as Prime Minister. On April 17, 1971, the ‘Mujibnagar government’ took oath of office in Baidyanattala of Meherpur district, in the presence of the elected representatives, Awami League leaders, freedom-fighters, local and foreign journalist and a large number of common people. The provisional government was formed in the following manner:
President & the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces : Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Acting President : Syed Nazrul Islam
Prime Minister : Tajuddn Ahmed
Minister of Foreign Affairs : Khandakar Mustaq Ahmed
Finance Minister : Caption M. Mansur Ali
Home Minister : A H M Kamaruzzaman
This provisional Government of Mujibnagar gave leadership to the War of Liberation in the name of Bangabandhu. After the formation of the provisional government, the Liberation War found a sound footing: The Mukti Bahini (Bangladesh freedom fighters) fast grew into a highly disciplined combative force. The freedom fighters started their guerrilla attacks on the enemies all over Bangladesh and within months succeeded in forcing the Pakistani soldiers to confine themselves in their cantonments. On December 3, Pakistan made a desperate attempt to break the impasse by leading an air attack on India. An all-out War between India and Pakistan Started. The Mukti Bahini and the Indian army formed the Allied Forces under a joint command. On December 6, 1971India accorded formal recognitiion to independent Bangladesh. The 13-day War came to an end on December 16, with the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers to the Joint Command of Bangladesh and India in the historic Race Course Maidan of Dhaka.
The Post-liberation period & the struggle for national reconstruction
After the Liberation, Bangabandhu and the Awami League government faced a formidable challenge in the sphere of national reconstruction. The whole country was ravaged by the non-month long bloody War of Liberation. Communication system, the posts and industries were completely in ruins. Schools and colleges, factories and food silos, the village hats and bazar were burnt to ashes by the marauding Pakistani soldiers. All these things had to be rebuilt. Then there was the staggering problem of the rehabilitation of the families of the martyr, of those who were maimed by the War and of the women raped and tortured by the Pak army. Ten million refugees, who had fled to India, were to be brought back and rehabilitated. The economy was in a shambles, foreign currency reserve was nil; the food silos were empty. The possibility of a famine causing death of millions was being forecast. Things were compounded by the drought of 1972, the devastating cyclone of 1973, the adverse effect of the worldwide recession owing to the Arab-Israeli War and the floods of 1974 etc. A greater threat to the political stability of the newborn country was posed by the conspiracies of the defeated anti-liberation quarters. A few pro-Chinese leftists started a nefarious campaign by setting jute godowns on fire, uprooting railway tracks, attacking police outposts and committing clandestine political murders. The government of Bangabandhu had to confront these challenges of reconstruction on a War footing.
On his return from his confinement in Pakistan on January 10, 1972, Bangabandhu devoted himself to this stupendous task of reconstruction. We can enumerate the successes of the Bangabandhu government of 3 years briefly as follows:
(a) Restoration of communication system within the shortest possible time; the clearing of mines at
Chittagong and Chalna Ports;
(b) Rehabilitation of 10 million refugees who had taken shelter in India;
(c) Granting of economic aid to the families of martyred freedom fighters;
(d) Rehabilitation of narly 3 lakh women who were dishonoured during the War;
(e) Sending of disabled freedom-fighters abroad for treatment;
(f) Ensuring the return of the Indian forces within 3 months of the Liberation;
(g) Framing of one of the world’s best constitutions within 10 months;
(h) Introduction of Parliamentary system;
(i) Holding of general elections in 1973 (AL won 293 out of 300 seats);
(j) Reorganization of the Defence Forces;
(k) Appointment of the Kudrat-e-Khuda Education Commission for framing a scientific and secular
(l) The promulgation of a democratic ordinance for the universities (1973);
(m) Nationalization of 40 thousand primary schools;
(n) Winning of recognition by 140 nations of the world;
(o) Siging the Ganges-Water Sharing Treaty with India ensuring 44,000 cusecs of water for Bangladesh; etc, etc.
In 1974, when the anti-liberation forces accelerated their disruptive activities Bangladesh felt the necessity of uniting all the pro-Liberation forces of the country under one banner. With this end in view, he formed the Bangladesh Krishak-Sramik Awami League (24 January, 1975). He also declared the programme called the ‘Second Revolution’ in order to rivitalize the economy and to cement the national unity. As a result of this, the law and order situation improved considerably; the prices of essential commodities came down and political stability returned to the country.
At this critical juncture, when Bangladesh was striding forward under the able leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the cruelest assassination of history took place on August 15, 1975. The foundng architect of Bangladesh, Father of the Nation, the Glorious Leader of Liberation War, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated along with all the members of his family then in Dhaka and other leaders. Anti-Liberation and reactionary international forces with the help of their local henchmen staged this most brutal murder of all times.
The post – ’75 movement against autocracy and for the restoration of democracy
The anti-liberation reactionary and counter-revolutionary forces usurped the state-power through the assassination of Bangabandhu on August 15, 1975. For the subsequent 15 years, Bangladesh was ruled by the same forces sometimes under a civilian guise, sometimes under military dictatorship. Khandakar Mushtaq one of the chief conspirators behind the Bangabandhu killing ruled for a few months (1975) before being ousted by General Zia who ruled till 1981. After he was murdered in an abortive coup, Justice Sattar came to power (1981-82). General Ershad ousted the elected government of Sattar and assumed power in 1982 and continued his military rule upto 1990. In 1990, he was forced to stepdown through mass-upheaval which reminded many of the mass-upsurge of 1969 against Ayub Khan. During these 15 years, the successive rulers tried their utmost to obliterate the memories of Liberation War efface the name of Bangabandhu from the mind of the public, sheltered and even rewarded the killers of Bangabandhu, allowed the communal polities to operate freely. Coups, conspiracies, social anarchy and corruption held unhindered sway in the country. In the elections of 1991, Khaleda Zia’s Party BNP was voted to power. Like the earlier regimes, Khaleda Zia’s government pursued the same policies.
During these dark years of our national life, Awami League had the self imposed task of fighting for democratic rights of the people. After 15th August 1975, there came another cataclysmic event that struct Awami League very seriously and led to a temporary vaccum in the leadership: four national leader, Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, M. Mansur Ali and A.H.M. Kamaruzzaman were killed in Dhaka Central Jail by the same conspirators who had killed Bangabandhu.
A. The Rule of General Zia
After the killing of Bangabandhu on August 15, 1975, Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed assumed power for a brief period. But General Ziaur Rahman, who was the chief beneficiary of the killing, could not keep himself behind the wings for long. On November 7, 1975, he assumed the power in a military coup de tat. Ruthless and ambitious as he was, he took some quick steps to consolidate his power: One such step was to get Colonel Taher, a valiant freedom fighter whom he had duped in order to ascend to power, summarily hanged (July 21, 1976), on a charge of treason. This Machiavelli of Bangladesh politics later put on the mask of democracy by starting a political party named Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) where he assembled all the anti-liberation and communal elements. He had to face at least 20 coup attempts. He crushed these attempts brutally by killing numberless freedom-fighter personnel in the army. It was Zia who first rewarded the self-confessed killers of Bangabandhu by giving them employment in foreign missions of Bangladesh. It was during his time that election-rigging and elections by blueprint started in Bangladesh. For example, on My 30, 1977 he held a referendum in which it was shown that 99% voters had taken parts. Zia got 98.88 of the vote cast in his favour. The general elections of February 18, 1979 was also a big hoax: as per the government blueprint, his BNP was shown to have won 207 seats out of 300. Zia ensured the two-thirds majority of his party in the parliament with an ulterior motive: he had a plan to change the secular provisions of the constitution and to regularize the various proclamations and regulations passed during his rule as a military dictator.
Awami League did not let anything to go unchallenged. Side by side with organizing street demonstrations, it also took part in the presidential and parliamentary polls during the Zia-Sattar regime (1978, 1979, 1981), sometimes singly, sometimes by forming alliances with other parties. Awami League took these polls as an opportunity to solidify the party organization. Despite the implementation of a blueprint and a large-scale government intervention in the polls, Zia could not prevent Awami League from becoming the main oppositiion party in the Jatya Sangshad. When General Zia brought the 5th Amendment Bill with a view to giving his military rule of 1975-79, Awami League opposed it vehemently both inside and outside the parliament. Awami League vociferously protested other anti-people and undemocratic moves taken by Zia government.
Towards the end of the Zia regime, Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina returned home from self-exile since the August tragedy. The day was May 17, 1981. Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana had left behind their parents, brothers and their wives and other relatives when they went abroad a few months before the August tragedy of 1975. When she returned home in 1981, his near and dear ones were no more. But she quickly got over the grief of losing her parents and dear ones like his little brother Russell and took the helm of Awami League. She devoted herself wholeheartedly to the reorganization of the party for starting a relentless and indomitable struggle for the restoration of democracy in the country and for the attainment of the rights of the people.
Awami League was reassured to find in her an intrepid, brilliant, dynamic leader was ready to go to any extent for the realization of the dreams of her father, the founder of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The party elected her its president and posited its confidence in her. she on her part soon became the rallying point of the toiling masses, the rightless, voiceless multitudes who were ophaned like herself at the death of Bangabandhu. Awami League was reinvigorated by her electrifyingly enthusiastic leadership and her far-reaching political visioin. On the day of her home-coming, it seemed as if Nature also mourned with her : it was a day that saw heavy downpour and thunderstorm in the city. In spite of the inclement weather, a million people turned out at the airport to receive the daughter of Bangabandhu with the warmth of their heart.
On May 30, 1981, General Ziaur Rahman died in an army putsch. Vice President Justice Abdus Sattar took office as President, but within less than a year he was forced to resign by General Ershad who staged an army conp on March 24, 1982. Thus the long autocratic rule of General Ershad started which lasted for nine long years.
B. The Rule of General Ershad
On March 26, the Independence Day, after only two days of Ershad’s assumption of power, Sheikh Hasina voiced her first protest against the autocratic rule in an address at the National Memorial at Savar. She vowed to restore democracy and pronounced a stern warning to Ershad. She made a similar pronouncement on January 21, 1983 to a huge gathering in front of Bangabandhu Bahaban in Road no. 32, Dhanmondi. The Ershad government quickly arrested her on charge of the violation of Martial Law and clamped a legal suit against her. Other political parties and their leaders kept silent during this time.
Sheikh Hasina felt the need for starting a concerted movement against Ershad’s military autocracy. With that end in view she formed a 15 party Alliance in early 1983. The Alliance adopted a 5-point action programme, the main concern of which was the immediate withdrawal of military rule and the return of the army to the barracks and the holding of the Jatiyo Sangshad elections before any other polls. Four years passed, during which time a number of hartals were observed, a national convention was held in Dhaka etc. But the autocratic rule of Ershad still there. On May 7, 1986, Ershad announced the date for Jatiyo Sangshad election. Awami League throught it opportune to fight the election unitedly with other parties and alliances; bujt a few of the parties withdrew themselves at the last moment. 8 parties under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina took part in the polls jointly. This 8-party Alliance got 97 seats out of 300, and 31.21% of the total vots cast. (Awami League won 76 seats on its own and 26.15% of the total votes). In reality, Awami League-led Alliance was on the verge of wianing a majority, but the results were hijacked by a media-coup. The declaration of elections results on the TV and the radio was suspended for 48 hours, during which time Ershad hijacked toe popular mandate.
This incident exposed the term nature of Ershad regime to the outside world. The accumulated hatred of the people against Ershad’s autocractic rule grew stronger as they understand that no free and fai9r polls was possible under the Ershad government. Accordingly, Awami League refrained form participating in the presidential election of 1986 and the Jatiyo Sangshad election of 1988 and the Jatiyo Sangshad election o 1988. As a result, these elections turned into a farce.
Awami League, however, continued to play its role as opposition party in the parliament right upto the dissolution of Jatiyo Sangshad in December 1987. Side by side with this, AL organized street demonstrations also. Awami League observed March 24, the day Ershad snatched power as ‘Black Day’. When the Ershad Government made a bid to have the ‘Zilla Parishad Bill’ (with a provision of representation of the army) passed in the Parliament, Awami League members led by Sheikh Hasina staged a walk out (12 July, 1987). There were angry protests outside the house also, which forced Ershad government to retreat.
The final months of 1987 saw a strong anti-Ershad movement. One November 10, Awami League observed the ‘Dhaka siege Day’. A worker of Awami Jubo League, Noror Hossain made himself a walking poster by having these slogans painted on his chest and back : ‘Let Democracy be free’ and ‘Down with autocracy’. The police targeted him and killed him with a gunshot. The Ershad government was frightened by the public anger and the next day interned Sheikh Hasina in her own house. Quite a few leaders and activists of Awami League and its constituent organizations courted arrest in this new phase of movement against Ershad. Being freed form house-arrest, Sheikh Hasina went to Chittagong on January 24, 1987 to address a public meeting in Laldighi Maidan of Chittagong. On the way the truck carrying Sheikh Hasina to the meeting venue came under a sudden attack : the police and the paramilitary forces fired indiscriminately killing about 50 people on the spot. The main target of this infamous ‘ January 24 Genocide’ was of course Sheikh Hasina herself. But by the grace of the Almighty her life was saved. The anti-Ershad movement rose to a crescendo during 1687. Ershad on his part, attempted a new strategy to quell the popular uprising : he dissolved the parliament and let loose a reign of terror on the opposition political parties. With a view to forming a ‘rubber stamp’ parliament, Ershad arranged for a farcical, voterless election on March 3, 1988. Almost all the parties boycotted the election. But Ershad managed to get the notorious ‘State Religion Bill’ passed by the 8th Amendment of the Constitution in this ‘rubber stamp’ parliament. This bill struck a blow at the non-communal, secular foundation of the state of Bangladesh and the spirit of the glorious Liberation War. Awami League raised its voice of protest against the bill and organized demonstration all over the country.
When all the concentred efforts made by various political parties, alliances and professional organizations came to naught, Sheikh Hasina came forward with a historic formula for Ershad’s resignation in a mammoth meeting at Panthapath of Dhaka on November 6, 19990. She suggested that Ershad should quit after handing over power to a neutral non-partisan person under the articles 51 and 55 of the Constitution (this formula was incorporated in the ‘Historic Formula of the Three Alliances of November19’. Consequently and at long last, Ershad was forced to declare resignation on December 4, 1990. On December 6, he handed over power to neutral caretaker government headed by Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Thus the 9- year long autocratic rule of General Ershad came to an end. In the ouster of the autocratic government of Ershad, Awami League and its various organs played the most seminal role.
C. The Rule of Begum Khaleda Zia
The Jatiya Sangshad election of February 27, 1991 under the neutral caretaker government of Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed was a disheartening experience for Awami League. Everybody, both at home and abroad, had thought that Awami League would win an absolute majority and form the government. Even BNP anticipated their defeat, had started preparing for post-election agitation programmes. But the election results surprised all concerned. Awami League and its allies got more vote but less seats in the Sangshad (34.29% votes and 100 seats; AL by itself 88 seats); whereas BNP got less votes but won more seats (30.81% of votes and 140 seats).
The reasons were not far to seek. All the rightist political parties, the defeated forces of 1971, the beneficiaries of post-75 politics, the owners of black money, the collaborators of autorcracy and their foreign patrons joined their hands in order to defeat Awami League. They usd their black money and communal propaganda for the purpose. On top of that, BNP and Jama-ati-Islami made an electoral alliance and divided the seats among themselves. When all these conspiracies seemed to bear no results they took recourse to subtle rigging. The sure victory of Awami League was thus hijacked by BNP. It was a deep and far-reaching conspiracy of the reactionary quarters against Bangladesh Awami League, the undaunted champion of the hopes and aspiration of the people and the upholder of the spirit of democracy and Liberation War.
After the election, BNP formed the government with the assistance of Jamaat. Because of electoral understanding with BNP, Jamaat had managed to win 18 seats. BNP leader Khaleda Zia took oath of Office as prime Minister on March 19, 1991 and Awami League under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina took up the role of the opposition in the parliament. Even in this role, Awami League did not forget its electoral vows : it took initiative to introduce the parliamentary form of government which ultimately came into being through the 12th Amendment of the Constitution (August 6, 1991).
But the nation could not reap the fruits of parliamentary democracy for long. Despite being the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House in the Sangshad, Begum Khaleka Zia often absented here self from the parliament. The administration was shamelessly monopolised by the party in power; Khaleda Zia herself, her two sons, her siblings and other relatives, the ministers and the leaders-workers-supporters of BNP indulged in widespread corruption. They misappropriated thousands of crores of public money in order to enrich themselves overnight. The hoodlums of BNP were given arms with which they let loose a reign of terror all over the country. Murder, women and children abuse, acid throwing on girls became the order of the day. The hooligans of BNP-supported student organization turned every campus into a killing zone, the result being that all the university and colleges started to close down one by one. There was on unprecedented anarchy in the agriculture sector : 18 farmers were shot dead when they were demonstrating for fertilizers at a reasonable price. Similarly, 19, factory-workers were also killed. The people were soon disenchanted with the Khaleda government and thire disappointment and anger showed through the results of a by – election in Mirpur. Although the AL candidate won the poll, the Election Commission, at the behest of the BNP government, changed the results and declared the BNP candidate winner (February 3, 1993).
On January 30 1994, the BNP candidate for the Mayorship of Dhaka was defeated by the AL candidate. In order to take revenge for this electoral defeat, the BNP hooligans gunned down 7 innocent people at Lalbagh in the city. People from all walks of life protested this heinous ‘Lalbagh Murder’ and demanded the trial of the killers. Things started happening at a quick pace and the BNP government’s popularity fell to zero. On March 20, 1999, a by-election was held for the Sangshad seat of Magura-2, which was a watershed in the political history of the country. BNP resorted to all-out violence, rigging and irregularity in order to hijack the popular verdict clearly by the voters in favour of the AL candidate. It was such an unprrecedented and shameless rigging that the Election commission itself was redered helpless : the Chief Election Commission flew back to Dhaka, seemingly in dismayed and shocked by the stupendity of it.
It became crystal clear through the Magura polls that a free and fair election cannot be held under a party- government : the only solution is to hold all national elections under a neutral caretaker government. With this end in view, the opposition parties in the Sangshad under the leadership of sheikh Hasina tried to move a bill in the Sangshad. But it was impossible for BNP and Khaleda Zia to countenance such a proposal. On the contrary, Kahaleda Zia rejected the opposition demand disdainfully, and declared, “None but a mad man or a child is neutral.” After the Magura incident, all the political parties including AL chose to boycott all elections under the BNP government.
Sheikh Hasina, the President of Awami League and Leader of Opposition in the Parliament led a tumultous mass-movement on the issue of neutral carretaker government and the attainment of the people’s right to vote freely. The caretaker government issue soon became the national demand. As a part of the movement, Awami League and other opposition parties refrained from attending the sessions of the parliament (March 30-December 28, 1994) and finally, 146 MPs resigned their posts as members of Parliament. In spite of this, BNP tried to continue the Snagshad without the opposition parties for more than a year. Finally, on November 24, 1995, the BNP government dissolved the parliament and went for fresh polls. Thus Begum Khaleda Zia and her government had to quit before the expiry of its 5 year term.
A farcical election was held on February 15, 1996 with all the opposition political parties boycotting it. As the popular demand of holding the parliamentary polls under neutral caretaker government was turned down, the opposition decided to actively resist the polls. I the process of this resistance, 147 people were killed, thousands were wounded and more than 20 thousand AL workers were put behind the bars.
In the midst of nationwide protests, hartals and demonstrations, the illegally formed parliament was called to session. It lasted for only 4 working days. As the political situation of the country became extremely explosive, Khaleda Zia had to concede the demand for neutral caretaker government and had to pass a bill to th
This half-a-century- old party has a glorious of relentless and uncompromising struggle against autocracy and communalism, against political and economic domination. Its greatest achievement is the emancipation of the Bangalee people from the colonial rule of Pakistan. This was the party that both germinated and helped blossom the Bangalee nationalism: the independence won in 1971 is the undying monument of that grand success of Awami League as a political party. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, our Father of the Nation, gave the leadership to the people and the party that took us through the glorious War of Liberation. Since then, the party has worked tirelessly to combat autocracy and communalism, to nourish the non communal political tradition and to institutionalize democracy through establishing a constitutionally elected government.
Therefore, as a political party, Awami League can claim to have attained success in the overall development of the political history of the country, particularly in the process of building a nation-state for the Bangalee people. It is continuing in its role as the people- oriented political party with progressive and pragmatic political, social and economic agenda for the betterment of the lot of the toiling masses of the country.
We plan to elaborate on some of the glaring successes of Awami League in its long history of struggle over the last fifty years.