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     Volume 5 Issue 108 | August 18, 2006 |

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Apology to the Greatest Bangalee


"A day before he was to go on a top-secret mission, Maj. Farooq Rahman wanted one last piece of advice from Andha Hafiz, a blind sage in Chittagong. "Tell him I'm going to do it for Islam and the State," Farooq said to his wife Farida, who set off from Dhaka to contact the holy man. When she found him, he listened patiently to Farooq's message. The old man reassured her that her husband and his men would be safe. "I have placed them in the hands of God," he said. "He will take care of them."

Last week, 23 years after his mission dramatically altered the course of Bangladesh's history and boosted his career, Farooq finally ran out of luck. He was among 15 men sentenced to death by a Dhaka court for their role in the 1975 assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh and its first prime minister. Four other people were acquitted for lack of evidence. It was Farooq who masterminded the coup d'etat, which also led to the massacre of 15 members of Mujib's family and eight aides. The murders shocked the world, not least because Mujib was idolised by his people as Bangabandhu, or Friend of Bengal.”

That is how ASIAWEEK (magazine) narrated the beginning and end of the tragic events of 15 August 1975.

“The nation once again observes with due solemnity the calamitous assassination of Bangabandhu and his family and staff” is what one would have wanted to see and hear and read, as a small tribute to its Father. But Awami League, of which he was a leader, was compelled to enforce a half-day hartal if only to remind the people and the world of one of the cruellest crimes in the history of mankind because the event was passing off unremembered officially.

That was a slap on our face. The people of Bangladesh should tell Awami League and all other political parties how to honour the greatest Bangalee ever, not the other way round. While Bangla television channels, owned by people of all political shades, address Mujib as Bangabandhu, why is it that nationally we should allow the people's leader to be otherwise.

The continuing laceration of a people, powered by principles farthest from any good for the common man (the source of power, hah!) has reduced the one leader of one Bangladesh to a party property. It only manifests unfortunately the smallness of a nation born with alas the highest of ideals. And it took us less than five years. Even now I recall how envious Indian youths were as we walked past them on the street. They were the citizens of a free country but we were freedom fighters.

Let us not go into any blame game.

Let us analyse what we as the majority eastern partners got in two decades, including one laughable 'decade of progress' from the enemy-hood that was Pakistan led for most part by a Master not Friend; and that too in the name of Islam.

Let us recall the sacrifices of Shaheeds Md Asaduzzaman Asad, Motiur Rahman, Sergeant Zahurul Huq, Dr. Shamsuddoha and nameless others in 1969. Their martyrdom intensified the movement for autonomy, leading eventually to our independence.

Let us remember with gratitude the valiant role of the mass people in 1971, of those brave <>muktijoddha<> at home and abroad, of those martyrs who laid down their lives as the supreme sacrifice for the liberation of their and our Sonar Bangla.

Let us not forget the conspiracies by some amongst us simultaneous to each of our victories towards ultimate independence. They are still at work.

Let us map the trail of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the unstinting support he earned from the multitude to great leaders of the likes of Moulana Bhasani.

Bangabandhu's building up of a mass movement against the tyranny of Ayub, Monem and Yahya; his years in jail away from his family; his shaping of a people whose only identity of unification was their mother tongue to leap for freedom; his call for total independence, and his declaration of independence on 26 March has earned him the laurel of Father of the Nation.

Let us not be divided about him like we are today about most other things, unfortunately. Let some people and events belong to all of us. Indeed they do, though we may not admit so.

Let us honour Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as Father of the Nation. Let us do it as one grateful nation. Till then we owe him an apology.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2006