A Life Sketch of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – Bongobondhu Information & Research Center
1927: At the age of seven, Bangabandhu began his schooling at Gimadanga Primary school. At nine, he was admitted to class three at Gopalganj Public School. Later, he was transferred to a local Missionary School.
1938: At the age of eighteen Mujib married Begum Fazilatunnesa. They later became the parents of two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana and three sons, Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel.
1939: Bangabandhu’s political career was effectively inaugurated while he was a student of Gopalganj Missionary School. He led a group of students to demand that cracked roof of the school be repaired when ‘Sher-e-Bangla’ A.K. Fazlul Haque, Chief Minister of undivided Bengal, came to visit the school along with Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.
1940: Sheikh Mujib joined the Nikhil Bharat Muslim Chathra Federation (All India Muslim Students Federation). He was elected councillor for a one year term.
1942: Sheikh mujibur Rahman passed the Entrance examination. He then took admission as an intermediate student in the Humanities faculty of Calcutta Islamia College. The same year Bangabandhu actively got involved with the movement for the creation of Pakistan.
1943: Sheikh Mujib’s busy and active political career took off in the literal sense with his election as a Councillor of the Muslim League.
1946: Sheikh Mujib was elected General Secretary of Islamia College Students Union.
1947: Bangbandhu obtained Bachelor of Arts degree from Islamia College under Calcutta University. When communal riots broke out in the wake of the partition of India and the birth of Pakistan, Bangabandhu played a pioneering role in protecting Muslims and trying to contain the violence.
1948: Bangabandhu took admission in the Law Department of Dhaka University. He founded the Muslim Students League on 4 January. He rose in spontaneous protest on 23rd February when Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin in his speech at the Legislative Assembly declared : “The people of East Pakistan will accept Urdu as their state language.” Khwaja Nazimuddin’s remarks touched off a storm of protest across the country. Sheikh Mujib immediately plunged into hectic activities to build a strong movement against the Muslim League’s premeditated, heinous design to make Urdu the only state language of Pakistan. He established contacts with students and political leaders. On 2 March, a meeting of the workers of different political parties was held to chart the course of the movement against the Muslim League on the language issue. The meeting held at Fazlul Huq Hall approved desolation placed by Bangabandhu to form an All-Party State League age Action Council. The Action Council called for a general strike on 11 March to register its protest against the conspiracy of the Muslim League against Bangla. On 11 March, Bangabandhu was arrested along with some colleagues while they were holding a demonstration in front of the Secretariat building. The student community of the country rose in protest following the arrest of Bangabandhu. In the face of the strong student movement the Muslim League government was forced to release Bangabandhu and other student leaders on 15 March. Following his release, the All-Party State Language Action Council held a public rally at Dhaka University Bat Tala on 16 March. Bangabandhu presided over the rally, which were soon sets upon by the police. To protest the police action Bangabandhu immediately announced a countrywide student strike for 17 March. Situation worsened when Mohammad Ali Jinnah while on a visit to East Bengal, declares in Dhaka University convocation that while the language of the province can be Bengali, the “State language of Pakistan is going to be Urdu and no other language. Any one who tries to mislead you is really an enemy of Pakistan.”
1949: Sheikh Mujib was released from jail on 21 January. Bangabandhu extended his support to a strike called by the Class Four employees of Dhaka University to press home their various demands. The university authorities illogically imposed a fine on him for leading the movement of the employees. He rejected the unjust order. Eventually, the anti-Muslim League candidate Shamsul Huq won a by-election in Tangail on 26 April, Mujib was arrested for staging a sit-in strike before the vice-chancellor’s residence. When the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League was formed on 23 June, Bangabandhu was elected its joint secretary despite his incarceration. He was released in late June. Immediately after his release, he began organizing an agitation against the prevailing food crisis. In September he was detained for violating Section 144. Later, however, he was freed. He raised the demand for Chief Minister Nurul Amin’s resignation at a meeting of the Awami Muslim League in October. Immediately afterward, he was arrested again alone with Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani for leading a delegation to Liaquat Ali Khan. That was towards the end of October.
1952: On 26 January, Khwaja Najimuddin again declared that Urdu would be the state language of Pakistan. Though still in jail, Bangabandhu managed to play a leading role in organizing a protest against this announcement. From prison he sent out a call to the State Language Action Council to observe 21 February as Demand Day for releasing political prisoners and making Bangla the state language. He began a hunger strike on 14 February. On 21 February the student community violated Section 144 and brought out procession in Dhaka to demand the recognition of Bangla as the state language. Police opened fire, killing in the process Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar, and Shafiur, who thus became martyrs of the Language Movement In a statement from jail, Bangabandhu condemned the police firing and registered his strong protest. He was on hunger strike for 13 consecutive days. He was moved from Dhaka Central Jail to Faridpur Jail to prevent him from making contact with the organizers of the movement. He was released from jail on 26 February.
1953: On the 9 July, Mujib was elected General Secretary of East Pakistan Awami League at its council session. Efforts were made to forge unity among Moulana Bhashani, A.K.Fazlul Huq and Shaheed Suhrawardy with the objective of taking on the Muslim League at the general elections. To achieve this goal, a special council session of the party was called on 14 November, when a resolution to form the Jukta Front(United Front) was approved.
1954: The first general election was held on 10 March. The United Front won 223 seats out of a total of 237, including 143 captured by the Awami League. Bangabandhu swept the Gopalganj constituencey, defeating the powerful Muslim League leader Wahiduzzaman by a margin of 13,000 votes. On 15 May, Bangabandhu was given charge of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests when the new provincial government was formed. On 29 May the Central Government arbitrarily dismissed the United Front Ministry. Bangabandhu was again arrested once he landed at Dhaka airport after a flight from Karachi on 30 May. He was freed on 23 December.
1955: Bangabandhu was elected a member of the legislative Assembly on June. Awami League held a public meeting at Paltan Maidan on 17 June where it put forward a 21-point programme demanding autonomy for East Pakistan. On 23 June, the Working Council of the Awami League decided that its members would resign from the Legislative Assembly if autonomy was not granted to East Pakistan. “On 21 October, the party dropped the word Muslim from its name at a special counsel of the Bangladesh Awami League, making the party a truly modern and secular one. Bangabandhu was re-elected General Secretary of the Party.
1956: On the 3 February, Awami League leaders, during a meeting with the Chief Minister, demanded that the subject of provincial autonomy be included in the draft constitution. On 14 July, Awami League at a meeting adopted resolution opposing the representation of the military in the administration . The resolution was moved by Bangabandhu. On 4 September, an anti-famine procession was brought out under the leadership of Bangabandhu defying Section 144. At least 3 people were killed when police opened fire in the procession in Chawkbazar area. On 16 September, Bangabandhu joined the coalition government, assuming the charge of Industries, Commerce, Labour, Anti-Corruption and Village Aid Ministry.
1958: Pakistan’s President, Major General Iskandar Mirja, and the chief of Pakistan’s Army, General ayub Khan, imposed martial law on 7 October and banned politics. Bangabandhu was arrested on 11 October. Thereafter he was continuously harassed through one false case after another. Released from prison after 14 months, he was arrested again at the jail gate. Bangabandhu was released from jail after he won a writ petition in the High Court. Then he started underground political activities against the marital law regime and dictator Ayub Khan. During this period he set up an underground organization called “Swadhin Bangla Biplobi Porishad”, or Independent Bangla Revolutionary Council, comprising outstanding student leaders in order to work for the independence of Bangladesh
1962: Once again Bangabandhu was arrested under the Public Security Act on 6 February. He was freed on 18 June, following the withdrawal of the four-year-long martial law on 2 June. On 25 June, Bangabandhu joined other national leaders to protest the measures introduced by Ayub Khan. He went to Lahore on 24 September and joined forces with Shaheed Suhrawardy to form the National Democratic Front, an alliance of the opposition parties. He spent the entire month of October travelling across the whole of Bengal along with Shaheed Suhrawardy to drum up public support for the front.
1963: Sheikh Mujib went to London for consultations with Suhrawardy, who was there for medical treatment. On 5 December, Suhrawardy died in Beirut.
1964: Awami League was revitalized on 25 January at a meeting held at Bangabandhu’s residence. The meeting adopted a resolution to demand the introduction of parliamentary democracy on the basis of adult franchise in response to public sentiment. The meeting elected Maulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish as party President and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib as General Secretary. On 11 March, an All-party Action Council was formed. Bangabandhu led a committee to resist communal riots. Following the riots he took the initiative to start a vigorous anti-Ayub movement. Bangabandhu was arrested 14 days before the presidential election.
1965: The government charged Sheikh Mujib with sedition and making objectionable statements. He was sentenced to a one year jail term. He was later released on an order of the High Court.
1966: On 5 February, a national conference of the opposition parties was held in Lahore. Bangabandhu placed his historic 6-point demand before the selected committee of the conference. The 6-point demand was a palpable charter of freedom of the Bengali nation. On the first day of March, Bangabandhu was elected President of the Awami League. Following his election, he launched a campaign to obtain enthusiastic support for the 6-point demand. He toured the entire country. During his tour he was arrested by the police and detained variously at Sylhet, Mymensing and Dhaka several times, during the first quarter of the year he was arrested eight times. On 8 May, he was arrested again after his speech at a rally of jute mill workers in Narayanganj. A countrywide strike was observed on 7 June to demand the release of Bangabandhu and other political prisoners.
1968: The Pakistan government instituted the notorious Agartala Conspiracy Case against Bangabandhu and 34 Bengali military and CSP officers. Sheikh Mujib was named accused number one in the case that charged the arrested persons with conspiring to bring about the secession of East Pakistan from the rest of Pakistan. The accused were kept detained inside Dhaka Cantonment. Demonstrations started throughout the province demanding the release of Bangabandhu and the other co-accused in the Agartala Conspiracy Case. The trial of the accused began on 19 June inside Dhaka Cantonment amidst tight security.
1969: The Central Students Action Council was formed on 5 January to press for the acceptance of the 11-point demand of Bangabandhu. The council initiated a countrywide student agitation to force the government to withdraw the Agartala Conspiracy Case and release Bangabandhu. The agitation gradually developed into a mass movement. After months of protests, violation of Section 144 and curfews, firing by the police and the EPR and a number of casualties, the movement peaked into an unprecedented mass upsurge that forced Ayub Khan to convene a round-table conference of political leaders and announced Bangabandhu’s release on parole. Bangabandhu turned down the offer of release in parole. On 22 February, the central government bowed to the continued mass protests and freed Bangabandhu and the other co-accused. The conspiracy case was withdrawn. The Central Students Action Council arranged a reception in honour of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 23 February at the Race Course(Suhrawardy Uddyan). At this meeting of one million people, Mujib was publicly acclaimed as Bangabandhu(Friend of Bengal). In his speech on the occasion, Bangabandhu pledged his total support to the 11-point demand of the students. On the 5 December, Bangabandhu declared at a discussion meeting held to observe the death anniversary of Shaheed Suhrawardy that henceforth East Pakistan would be called Bangladesh. He added “There was a time when all efforts were made to erase the word ‘Bangla’ from this land and its map . The existance of the word ‘Bangla’ was found nowhere except in the term Bay of Bengal. I, on behalf of Pakistan, announce today that this land will be called ‘Bangladesh’ instead of ‘East Pkistan ‘.”
1970: Bangabandhu was re-elected President of the Awami League on 6 January. Awami League at a meeting of the working committee on 1 April decided to take part in the general elections scheduled for later that year. On 7 June, Bangabandhu addressed a public meeting at Race Course ground and urged the people to elect his party on the issue of the 6-point demands . On 17 October, Bangabandhu selected the boat as his party ‘s elections symbol and launched his campaign through an election rally at Dhaka’s Dholai Khal. On 28 October, he addressed the nation over radio and television and called upon the people to elect his party’s candidates to implement the 6-point demand. When a deadly cyclonic storm hit the coastal belt of Bangladesh, killing at least one million people, Bangabandhu suspended his election campaign and rushed to the aid of the helpless people in the affected areas. He strongly condemned the Pakistani rulers’ indifference to the cyclone victims and protested against it. He called on the international community to help the people affected by the cyclone. In the general elections held on 7 December, Awami League gained an absolute majority. Awami League secured 167 out of 169 National Assembly seats in the Provincial Assembly.
1971: On the 3 January, Bangabandhu conducted the oath of the people’s elected representatives at a meeting at the Race Course ground. The Awami League members took the oath to frame a constitution on the basis of the 6-point demand and pledged to remain loyal to the people who had elected them. On 5 January, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, the leader of the majority party, the People’s Party, in the then West Pakistan, announced his readiness to form a coalition government at the centre with the Awami League. Bangabandhu was chosen as the leader of his party’s parliamentary party at a meeting of the National Assembly members elected from his party . On 27 January, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto arrived in Dhaka for talks with Bangabandhu. The talks collapsed after three days of deliberation. In an announcement on 13 February, President Yahya Khan summoned the National Assembly to convene in Dhaka on 3 March. On 15 February, Bhutto announced that he would boycott the session and demanded that power be handed over to the majority parties in East Pakistan and West Pakistan. On 1 March, Yahya Khan abruptly postponed the National Assembly session, prompting a storm of protest throughout Bangladesh. Bangabandhu called an emergency meeting of the working committee of the Awami League, which called a countrywide hartal for 3 March. After the hartal was successfully observed, Bangabandhu on 3 March called on the President to immediately transfer power to his party. On 7 March, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, addressed a mammoth public rally at the Race Course ground, where he declared: “The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipations, the struggle now is the struggle for our independence, Joy Bangla .” In this historic speech, Bangabandhu urged the nation to break the suckles of subjugation and fight for liberation.
He advised the people to prepare themselves for a guerilla war against the enemy. He asked the people to start a total non-cooperation movement against the government of Yahya Khan. The entire nation carried out Bangabandhu’s instructions. Every organization, including government offices, banks, insurance companies, schools, colleges mills and factories obeyed Bangabandhu’s directives. The response of people of Bangladesh to Bangabandhu’s call was unparalleled in history. It was Bangabandhu who conducted the administration of an independent Bangladesh from March 7 to March 25.
On the 16 March, Yahya Khan came to Dhaka for talks with Bangabandhu on the issue of transfer of power. Bhutto also came a few days later to Dhaka for talks. The Mujib-Yahya-Bhutto talks continued until 24 March. Yahya Khan left Dhaka in the evining of 25 March, in secrecy. On the night of 25 March, the Pakistan Army cracked down on the innocent unarmed Bangalis. They attacked Dhaka University, the Peelkhana Headquarters of the then East Pakistan Rifles and the Rajarbagh Police Headquarters. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman read out a wireless message, moments after the crackdown began, declaring the independence of Bangladesh. His declaration was transmitted over wireless to the country.
He called upon all sections of people, including Bengali military and civilian personnel, students, workers and peasants to join the resistance against the occupation Pakistan army. This message of Bangabandhu was immediately disseminated throughout the country through radio equipment under special arrangements. The same night jawans and officers in Chittagong, Comilla and Jessore cantonments put up resistance to the Pakistan army after receiving this message. Bangabandhu’s declaration was broadcast by Chittagong radio station. The Pakistan army arrested Bangabandhu from his Dhanmandi residence at 1:10 a.m. and whisked him away to Dhaka cantonment.
On the 26 March he was flown to Pakistan as a prisoner. The same day, General Yahya Khan, in a broadcast banned the Awami League and called Bangabandhu a traitor. On 26 March M.A. Hunnan, an Awami League leader in Chittagong, read out Bangabandhu’s declaration of independence over Chittagong Radio. On 10 April, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of Bangladesh was formed with Bangabandhu as President.
The revolutionary government took the oath of office on 17 April at the Amrakanan of Baidayanathtala in Meherpur, which is now known as Mujibnagar. Bangabandhu was elected President, Syed Nazrul Islam Acting President and Tazuddin Ahmed Prime Minister. The liberation war ended on 16 December when the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered at the historic Race Course ground accepting defeat in the glorious war led by the revolutionary government in exile. Bangladesh was finally free.
Earlier, between Aaugust and September of 1971, the Pakistani janta held a secret trial of Bangabandhu inside Lyallpur jail in Pakistan. He was sentenced to death. The freedom loving people of the world demanded absolute security of Bangabandhu’s life. Once Bangladesh was liberated, the Bangladesh government demanded that Bangabandhu be released immediately and unconditionally. A number of countries, including India, and the Soviet Union and various international organizations urged the release of Bangabandhu. Pakistan had no right to hold Bangabandhu, who was the architect of Bangladesh had been recognised by many countries of the world.
1972: The Pakistan government freed Bangabandhu on 8 January 1972. Bangabandhu was seen off at Rawalpindi by Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, by now Pakistani’s President. The same day Bangabandhu left for London en rout to Dhaka. In London, British Prime Minister Edward Heath met him. On his way back home from London Bangabandhu had a stop-over in New Delhi, where he was received by Indian President V.V. Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandi.
A memorable reception was accorded to Bangabandhu when the Father of the Nation reached Dhaka on 10 January. From the airport he drove straight to the Race Course ground where he made a tearful address before the country. On 12 January, Bangabandhu became Bangladesh’s Prime Minister. On 6 February he left for a visit to India at the invitation of the Indian government. After twenty four years the Dhaka University authorities rescined his expulsion order and accorded him the Universities’s life membership.
On the 4 November, Bangabandhu announced that the first general election in Bangladesh would be held on 7 March, 1973. On 15 December Bangabandhu’s government announced the provition of according state awards to the freedom fighters. On the first anniversary of liberation the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh was adopted. Among the important achievements of the Bangabandhu government: The re-organization of the administrative system, adoption of the constitution, rehabiliation of one crore people, restoration and development of communication system, expansion of education, supply of free books to students upto class five and at low price to students up to class eight, effective ban on all anti-Islamic and anti-social activities like gambling, horse races, liquor, establishment of Islamic foundation, re-organization of Madrassa Board, establlishedment of 11,000 primary schools, nationalization of 40,000 primary schools, establishment of women’s rehabilitation centre for the welfare of distressed woman, Freedom Fighters Welfare Trust, waiving tax upto 25 bighas of land, distribution of agricultural inputs among farmers free of cost or at nominal price, nationalization of banks and insurance companies abandoned by the Pakistais and 580 industrial units, employment to thousands of workers and employees, construction of Ghorashal Fertilizer Factory, primary work of Ashugangj Complex and establishment of other new industrial units and reopening of the closed industries are important. Thus Bangabandhu sucessfully built an infrastructure for the economy to lead the country towards progress and prosperity. Another landmark achievement of the Bangabandhu government was to gain recognition of almost all countries of the world and the United Nations membership in a short period of time.
1973: Awami League secured 293 out of the 300 Jatiya Sangsad(parliament) seats in the first general elections. On 3 September, Awami League, CPB and NAP formed Oikya Front(United Front).
1974: The Peoploe’s Republic of Bangladesh was accorded membership of United Nations. On 24 September, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed the UN General Assembly in Bangla.
1975: In the pre-dawn hours of August 15 the noblest and the greatest of Bangalees in a thousand years, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of Bangladesh and the Father of the Nation, was assassinated by a handful of ambitious and treacherous military officers. On that day, Bangabandhu’s wife, a noble woman, Begum Fajilatunnesa; his eldest son, freedom fighter Sheikh Kamal; second son Lt. Sheikh Jamal; youngest son Sheikh Russel; two daughters-in-law, Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal; Bangabandhu’s brother Sheikh Nasser; brother-in-law and Agriculture Minister Abdur Rab Serniabat and his daughter Baby Serniabat; Bangabandhu’s nephew, youth leader and journalist Sheikh Fajlul Huq Moni and his pregnant wife Arju Moni; Bangabandhu’s security officer Brig. Jamil and a 14-year-old boy Rintoo were killed. In all, the killers slaughterd 16 members and relatives of Bangabandhu’s family. Martial law was imposed in the country after the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Democracy was done away with and basic rights were snached away. Thus began the politics of killing, coups and conspiracy. The people’s rights to food and vote were taken away.
There was international provision to hold trial of killers to protect human rights in the world. But unfortunately in Bangladesh, a martial law ordinance was decreed(Indemnity Ordinance) exempting the self-confessed killers of Bangabandhu from any trial. Having captured power illegally through a military coup, Gen. Ziaur Rahman debased the Constitution by incorporating the notorious Indemnity Ordinance in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. He rewarded the killers with jobs in Bangladesh diplomatic mission abroad. The Indemnity Ordinance was repealed by Parliament only after the Awami League led by Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina returned to power in 1996. August 15, 1975 is the blackest day in our national life. The nation observes this day as National Mourning Day.