Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the ‘Father of the Nation’ of Bangladesh. Often referred as ‘Mujib’ he was prime architect of the independent Bangladesh. This biography profiles his childhood, life, political career, achievements and timeline.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the ‘Father of the Nation’ of Bangladesh. Often referred as ‘Mujib’ or ‘Sheikh Mujib’, he was prime architect of the independent nation, Bangladesh. He played a prominent role in countering exploitation and other unjust actions of the power holders of West Pakistan towards people of East Pakistan. As a zealous orator, he gained popularity for advocating socialism and detesting institutional and ethnic inequality posed by Pakistan. He chalked out an autonomy plan encompassing six points during the factional tensions in 1966. His political views often landed him up in jail which never deterred him from vehemently challenging military dictatorship of Ayub Khan, the then Field Marshal of Pakistan. Although the ‘Awami League’ won the first democratic election of Pakistan under his leadership, the party was not invited for forming the government. Following mass protests against such discrimination and launch of civil disobedience movement by Mujib, ‘Operation Searchlight’ was conducted by the Pakistan Army and Mujib was arrested and moved from East Pakistan to West Pakistan. The ‘Bangladesh Liberation War’ followed and Pakistan had to surrender to the Bangladesh-India Allied Forces. Mujib was freed and became the first Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh. Mujib and most of his family members were assassinated in a military coup initiated by treacherous army men. Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of Mujib is the present Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on March 17, 1920, in Tungipara village in Gopalgunj subdivision of Faridpur district, in the state of Bengal in British India. He was born as one of six children of Sheikh Luthfur Rahman and Saira Begum. His father was an officer in Gopalgunj civil court.
In 1927 he was enrolled at the ‘Gimadanga Primary School’ and after two years he joined the ‘Gopalganj Public School’ in class three. In 1931 he was enrolled in class four at the ‘Madaripur Islamia High School’.
He had to drop out from school in 1934 due to eye surgery and his slow recovery posed hindrance in resuming school which he could do after four years.
His political calling effectually commenced in 1939 when he was studying at ‘Gopalganj Missionary School’. When Chief Minister of undivided Bengal, A.K. Fazlul Haque and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy visited the school campus, a group of students under his leadership demanded repair of damaged roof of the school.
In 1940 he joined the ‘All India Muslim Students Federation’ and was elected councillor for a term of one year.
After passing the entrance exam he enrolled at Calcutta Islamia College (at present ‘Maulana Azad College’) in 1942 and got involved in students politics.
In 1943 he became a member of the ‘Bengal Muslim League’ and toiled actively to accomplish the League’s mission of a distinct Muslim state of Pakistan.
He became general secretary of the ‘Islamia College Students Union’ in 1946.
In 1947 he completed his degree and emerged among the Muslim politicians who worked under the leadership of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy at the break of the 1946 communal violence that erupted in Calcutta. He strived to repress violence while safeguarding the Muslims.
Following the Partition of India, he joined the ‘University of Dhaka’ in the then East Pakistan as a law student and on January 4, 1948 he founded the ‘East Pakistan Muslim Students’ League’.
In 1948, when the province chief minister Khwaja Nazimuddin and Muhammad Ali Jinnah announced that Bengalis of East Pakistan will accept Urdu as the state language, a wave of intense outcry permeated East Pakistan. Mujib immediately launched strong protests and initiated communication with other political leaders and students.
On March 2, 1948, a meeting was held by several political parties to counter the language issue and on March 11 a general strike was called by the ‘Action Council’ to mark a dissent opposing ‘Muslim League’s’ conspiracy against Bengal. Mujib was arrested that day along with other leaders but strong student movement compelled ‘Muslim League’ government to release him and others on March 15.
He faced expulsion from the university and in 1949 was arrested for organising an agitation with the clerical and other menial staffs of ‘Dhaka University’ on the issue of rights of the workers.
On June 23, 1949, he joined the Bengali nationalists Suhrawardy, Maulana Bhashani and others to form the ‘East Pakistan Awami Muslim League’. He was made the joint secretary while in confinement and was released at the end of June.
He became the general secretary of the party on July 9, 1953 and next year he was elected a member of ‘East Bengal Legislative Assembly’ on the ticket of the coalition ‘United Front’.
On May 15, 1954 he became the agricultural and forest minister only for few days till May 29 when the ministry of the ‘United Front’ was expeditiously dismissed by the Central Government. He was again arrested on May 30 and released on December 23.
From 1955 to 1958 he remained an elected member of the second ‘Constituent Assembly of Pakistan’. In 1956 the ‘One Unit’ plan was implemented where western provinces were merged as ‘West Pakistan’ and ‘East Bengal’ became a part of ‘One Unit’ rechristened as ‘East Pakistan’. In 1956 he became the minister of commerce, industries, labour, village aid and anti-corruption but resigned in 1957.
General Ayub Khan enforced martial law on October 7, 1958 suspending the constitution. On October 11 and s Mujib was arrested. During this time he initiated ‘Swadhin Bangla Biplobi Porishad’ an underground organisation to counter the atrocities of Ayub Khan and his martial regime and to achieve an independent Bangladesh.
After the death of Suhrawardy in 1963, he became the head of ‘Awami Muslim League’ which was re-christened as ‘Awami League.
On February 5, 1966, he put forward a six point plan titled, ‘Our Charter of Survival’ before a selected committee during a national conference of opposition parties held at Lahore. It was an obvious charter of independence of Bengal as a nation. He became the President of ‘Awami League’ on March 1 and toured across the nation to promote and gain support for the six point plan while facing several arrests.
In 1968 the infamous ‘Agartala Conspiracy Case’ was inflicted against Mujib and several others. While they were confined at the ‘Dhaka Cantonment’, a mass insurrection followed including agitation, protests, curfews, police firings and casualties. The central government finally gave in and on February 22, 1969, Mujib and others were released. He received public acclamation as ‘Bangabandhu’ on February 23 in a mass reception. On December 5, he declared that East Pakistan will be known as Bangladesh from that time.
Although ‘Awami League’ won the democratic election of Pakistan held on December 7, 1970, with an absolute majority under his leadership, the party was not invited to form government.
Mass protests against such discrimination followed and a civil disobedience movement was initiated by Mujib in 1971 who called for independence of Bangladesh. ‘Operation Searchlight’ was conducted by Pakistan Army and Mujib was arrested and moved to West Pakistan. The ‘Bangladesh Liberation War’ followed and Pakistan had to surrender to Bangladesh-India Allied Forces.
Mujib was released on January 8, 1972 following which he met Edward Heath, the then British Prime Minister in London, addressed international media, went to India to meet Indian President Varahagiri Venkata Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and other cabinet members and then came back to Dhaka where he received a heart warming welcome.
He first became the President of the provisional government of Bangladesh and later took charge as the Prime Minister. The after-effect of rampage posed by the army of Pakistan witnessed the young Bangladesh in the middle of carnage in every way. The Bangladeshi army was gradually formed. Rigorous rehabilitation and other measures to bring the nation into normalcy were undertaken.
Mujib played an instrumental role in Bangladesh’s inclusion in the ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ and also into the ‘United Nations’. He visited several countries including the UK and the US and sought human as well as economic support for Bangladesh. In this pursuit he signed a friendship treaty with India.
Gradually the nation recovered with Mujib playing a prominent role but the disastrous famine of 1974 in Bangladesh including other national issues infused dissent against his government. He was accused of nepotism while political and social unrest continued resulting in an upsurge in violence. He was blamed for killing forty thousand people by his ‘Rakkhi Bahini’. Finally an emergency was declared.
Mujib and most of his family members were assassinated on August 15, 1975 in a military coup initiated by treacherous army men and discontented members of ‘Awami League’. Daughters of Mujib however escaped the murder plot as they were in Germany.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1938 he married Begum Fazilatunnesa. The couple had three sons – Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel and two daughters – Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana.