Biography of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a prominent leader of the Bengali nationalist movement and the founding father of Bangladesh. He was born on March 17, 1920, in Tungipara, a village in the Faridpur district of Bengal, which was then part of British India¹. He grew up in a middle-class Muslim family and received his education at the Islamia College in Calcutta and the University of Dhaka¹.
He joined the All India Muslim League in 1937 and became an active member of its youth wing. He participated in the Pakistan movement and campaigned for the creation of a separate Muslim state in the subcontinent¹. After the partition of India in 1947, he moved to East Pakistan, the eastern wing of the newly formed Pakistan, where he faced discrimination and oppression from the West Pakistani-dominated government¹.
He co-founded the Awami League in 1949, a secular and democratic party that advocated for the autonomy and rights of the Bengali people in East Pakistan¹. He became the leader of the party in 1953 and emerged as a popular and charismatic figure in the province. He was elected to the provincial assembly in 1954 and to the national assembly in 1955. He opposed the military rule of Ayub Khan and was arrested several times for his political activities¹.
In 1966, he launched the Six Point Movement, a set of demands for greater autonomy and democracy for East Pakistan, which was seen as a challenge to the unity and integrity of Pakistan by the West Pakistani establishment¹. He was arrested again and charged with treason in the Agartala Conspiracy Case, which sparked mass protests and civil disobedience in East Pakistan. He was released in 1969 after a popular uprising known as the Mass Upsurge¹.
In the general elections of 1970, the Awami League won a landslide victory in East Pakistan, securing a majority of the seats in the national assembly. However, the West Pakistani military junta refused to transfer power to the elected representatives and postponed the convening of the assembly. Mujib demanded the recognition of the election results and the implementation of his Six Points. He also declared a civil disobedience movement and called for a non-cooperation campaign against the central government¹.
On March 7, 1971, he delivered a historic speech at the Ramna Race Course in Dhaka, where he declared that “the struggle this time is for our freedom, the struggle this time is for our independence”¹. He urged the Bengali people to prepare for a war of liberation and gave them the slogan of “Joy Bangla” (Victory to Bengal)¹. He also announced a provisional government of Bangladesh with himself as the president¹.
On March 25, 1971, the Pakistani army launched a brutal crackdown on the Bengali population, killing thousands of civilians and arresting Mujib. This triggered the Bangladesh Liberation War, in which the Bengali guerrilla forces, known as the Mukti Bahini, fought against the Pakistani army with the support of India¹. The war lasted for nine months and ended with the surrender of the Pakistani forces on December 16, 1971. Bangladesh was officially recognized as an independent and sovereign state¹.
Mujib was released from prison and returned to Bangladesh on January 10, 1972. He became the first president of the new republic and later the prime minister. He faced many challenges in rebuilding the war-torn country, such as poverty, famine, corruption, and political unrest. He tried to implement his socialist and secular vision of Bangladesh, but faced opposition from various groups, including the religious conservatives, the pro-Pakistani elements, and the radical leftists¹.
In 1974, he signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation with India, which was seen as a sign of his close ties with the neighboring country. He also attended the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Algiers and the Islamic summit in Lahore, where he tried to balance his foreign policy and gain international recognition and support for Bangladesh¹.
In 1975, he amended the constitution and introduced a one-party system, with the Awami League as the sole legal political organization. He also assumed the presidency again and abolished the parliamentary system. He claimed that these measures were necessary to ensure stability and development in the country, but they were criticized as authoritarian and undemocratic by many of his former allies and opponents¹.
On August 15, 1975, he was assassinated along with most of his family members by a group of disgruntled army officers in a military coup. His death was followed by a series of coups and counter-coups, which plunged the country into a period of political turmoil and violence. His legacy and contribution to the Bengali nation and the independence of Bangladesh are widely revered and celebrated in the country. He is honored with the title of Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) and the Father of the Nation¹. His daughter, Sheikh Hasina, is the current prime minister of Bangladesh and the leader of the Awami League².