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Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

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Title: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman  
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Subject: Tajuddin Ahmad, Bangladeshi taka, Mohammad Mohammadullah, Muhammad Mansur Ali, Syed Nazrul Islam
Collection: 1920 Births, 1975 Deaths, Assassinated Bangladeshi Politicians, Assassinated Heads of State, Bangladesh Awami League Politicians, Bangladesh Liberation War, Bengali Muslims, Bengali People, Maulana Azad College Alumni, Pakistani Politicians, People from Gopalganj District, Bangladesh, People Murdered in Bangladesh, Presidents of Bangladesh, Prime Ministers of Bangladesh, Recipients of the Independence Day Award, Recipients of the Independence Day Award (Bangladesh), Revolutionary Martyrs, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Torture in Bangladesh, University of Calcutta Alumni
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Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

জাতির জনক

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান
1st President of Bangladesh
In office
11 April 1971 – 12 January 1972
Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmad
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Nazrul Islam (Acting)
2nd Prime Minister of Bangladesh
In office
12 January 1972 – 24 January 1975
President Abu Sayeed Chowdhury
Mohammad Mohammadullah
Preceded by Tajuddin Ahmad
Succeeded by Muhammad Mansur Ali
4th President of Bangladesh
In office
25 January 1975 – 15 August 1975
Prime Minister Muhammad Mansur Ali
Preceded by Mohammad Mohammadullah
Succeeded by Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad
Personal details
Born (1920-03-17)17 March 1920
Tungipara, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now in Bangladesh)
Died 15 August 1975(1975-08-15) (aged 55)
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Nationality Bangladeshi
Political party Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (1975)
Other political
All-India Muslim League (Before 1949)
Awami League (1949–1975)
Spouse(s) Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib
Children Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Rehana
Sheikh Kamal
Sheikh Jamal
Sheikh Rasel
Alma mater Maulana Azad College
University of Dhaka
Religion Islam

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Bengali: শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান Shekh Mujibur Rôhman) (17 March 1920 – 15 August 1975) was the founding leader of Bangladesh. He was the head of state (President) of the Provisional Government of Bangladesh and became the Prime Minister of Bangladesh in 1972. He is popularly referred to as Sheikh Mujib or simply Mujib, with the honorary title of Bangabandhu (বঙ্গবন্ধু Bôngobondhu, "Friend of Bengal"). He is also known as the Father of the Nation (Bengali: জাতির জনক) of Bangladesh. His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

Mujib was born in Bengal during the British Raj in 1920. He studied in Islamia College (Calcutta) and University of Dhaka; and was a confidant of A. K. Fazlul Huq and H. S. Suhrawardy. As a student leader, he rose within the ranks of the Awami League as a charismatic and forceful orator. An advocate of socialism, he became popular for his opposition to the ethnic and institutional discrimination of Bengalis in the new state of Pakistan. At the heightening of sectional tensions in 1966, he outlined a six-point autonomy plan. He strongly opposed the military dictatorship of the West Pakistani Field Marshal Ayub Khan and was often jailed for his political beliefs.[1]

Mujib led the Awami League to win the first democratic election of Pakistan in 1970. Despite gaining a majority, the League was not invited to form a government. As mass protests erupted across East Pakistan demanding self-determination, Mujib envisioned a struggle for independence during a landmark speech on 7 March 1971. He announced a civil disobedience movement to press for convening the National Assembly. On 26 March 1971, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight to suppress the tide of Bengali nationalism. Mujib was arrested and flown to military custody in West Pakistan. The Bangladesh Liberation War began as a declaration of independence was proclaimed on his behalf by Major Ziaur Rahman. Lasting for nine months, the liberation war ended on 16 December 1971 with the surrender of Pakistan to Bangladesh-India Allied Forces. Under international pressure, Pakistan released Mujib on 8 January 1972, after which he was flown by the Royal Air Force to a million-strong jubilant homecoming in Dhaka.

As OIC. Amid rising political agitation in 1975, he established a one party state, assumed the presidency and curtailed freedom of the press. On 15 August 1975, Mujib and most of his family were assassinated by renegade army officers during a military coup. The country was brought under a military-backed political regime, which lasted until the restoration of parliamentary democracy in 1990.


  • Early life 1
  • Early political career 2
  • Leader of Pakistan 3
  • 1970 Elections and Independence 4
  • Liberation War, 1971 5
  • Governing Bangladesh 6
  • BAKSAL 7
  • Assassination 8
  • Criticism and legacy 9
  • Representation in other media 10
  • See also 11
  • Notes 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14

Early life

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born in Tungipara, a village in Gopalganj District in the province of Bengal in British India,[2] to Sheikh Lutfur Rahman, a serestadar, an officer responsible for record-keeping at the Gopalganj civil court. He was born into a native Bengali family, and unlike the tradition of Arabic and foreign ancestry popular among the Pakistani counterparts, he was fiercely proud of being a Bengali. He was the third child in a family of four daughters and two sons. In 1929, Mujib entered into class three at Gopalganj Public School, and two years later, class four at Madaripur Islamia High School.[3] However, Mujib withdrew from school in 1934 to undergo eye surgery, and returned to school only after four years, owing to the severity of the surgery and slow recovery. At the age of eighteen, Mujib married Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib. Together they had two daughters—Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana—and three sons—Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal, and Sheikh Rasel.[3]

Mujib became politically active when he joined the All India Muslim Students Federation in 1940.[4] He enrolled at the Islamia College (now Maulana Azad College), a well-respected college affiliated to the University of Calcutta to study law, and entered student politics there.

He joined the Bengal Muslim League in 1943. During this period, Mujib worked actively for the League's cause of a separate Muslim state of Pakistan, and in 1946 he went on to became general secretary of the Islamia College Students Union. M. Bhaskaran Nair describes that Rahman "emerged as the most powerful man in the party" because of his close proximity to Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.[5]

After obtaining his degree in 1947, Mujib was one of the Muslim politicians working under Suhrawardy during the communal violence that broke out in Calcutta, in 1946, just before the partition of India.[6]

After the Partition of India, Rahman chose to stay in the newly created Pakistan. On his return to what became known as East Pakistan, he enrolled in the University of Dhaka to study law and founded the East Pakistan Muslim Students' League. He became one of the most prominent student political leaders in the province. During these years, Mujib developed an affinity for socialism as the solution to mass poverty, unemployment and poor living conditions. On 26 January 1949 the government announced that Urdu would be the only official state language of Pakistan, although Bengali was the majority language in East Pakistan. Though still in jail, Mujib encouraged fellow activist groups to launch strikes and protests; he undertook a hunger strike for 13 days.

Following the declaration of

Political offices
New office President of Bangladesh
Succeeded by
Nazrul Islam
Preceded by
Tajuddin Ahmed
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Succeeded by
Muhammad Mansur Ali
Preceded by
Mohammad Mohammadullah
President of Bangladesh
Succeeded by
Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad
  • Bangabandhu Online Museum
  • Bangladesh Liberation War. Mujibnagar. Government Documents 1971
  • Sheik Mujibur Rahaman
  • A Diary Note On Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman By Manas Pal
  • Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University
  • A complete List of Time Magazine USA Article on Bangladesh
  • The short film Interview with Bangladesh Prime Minister Mujbur Rahman (1972) is available for free download at the Internet Archive

External links

  • William B.Milam, Pakistan and Bangladesh: Flirting with Failure(2009) ISBN 0-231-70066-0, Columbia University Press
  • Anthony Mascarenhas, Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood ISBN 0-340-39420-X
  • Katherine Frank, Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi (2002) ISBN 0-395-73097-X
  • M. Ahmed, Era of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1983), University Press
  • Craig Baxter, Bangladesh: From a Nation to a State (1997), Westview Press
  • Craig Baxter et al., Governance and Politics in South Asia (1998), Westview Press


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Zillur Rahman Khan, The Third World Charismat: Sheikh Mujib and the Struggle for Freedom, page 32, University Press Limited, Dhaka, 1996, ISBN 984-05-1353-2
  7. ^ Sukumar Bishwas, Bangladesh liberation war, Mujibnagar government documents, 1971, page 167, Mawla Brothers, Dhaka, 2005, ISBN 984-410–434–3
  8. ^ a b c d e f g
  9. ^ Official Report, Debates, page 296, Pakistan Constituent Assembly, 1955
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ a b Emerging discontent in East Pakistan 1966–1970, Library of Congress
  14. ^ Staff writer (24 November 1970). "Yahya Directing Disaster Relief". New York Times (United Press International).
  15. ^ Durdin, Tillman (11 March 1971). "Pakistanis Crisis Virtually Halts Rehabilitation Work in Cyclone Region". New York Times
  16. ^ Hossain, Dr. Kamal. (2013). Bangladesh: Quest for Freedom and Justice. University Press Limited
  17. ^ Salahuddin Ahmed. (2004). Bangladesh: Past and Present. APH Publishing. Pgs-160-180.
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^ a b c
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^ a b
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Blood, Archer, Transcript of Selective Genocide Telex, Department of State, United States
  28. ^ US State Department, "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976", Volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971", Page 165
  29. ^
  30. ^ a b c d e f g
  31. ^ a b c
  32. ^ a b
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b c d
  35. ^
  36. ^ a b
  37. ^ New Age book review of Sheikh Mujib: Triumph and Tragedy by S A Karim
  38. ^ a b Maniruzzaman, Talukder, "Bangladesh in 1975: The Fall of the Mujib Regime and Its Aftermath," Asian Survey, 16, No. 2, February 1976, 119–29.
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ Lifschultz L. The long shadow of the August 1975 coup. The Daily Star. Vol. 5 Number 434. Available at: Retrieved 8 June 2007.
  42. ^ Ziaur Rahman informed Sheikh Mujibur Rahman earlier about coup threat Archived 5 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^
  44. ^


See also

  • Canadian author and social worker of Bangladeshi origin Reza Sattar has written about the cause of Mujibur Rahman's assassination in his book – Siege Nobel Foundation.[44]

In sum, Bangladesh had little reason to enjoy a happy first birthday. If it is not the "basket case" that Henry Kissinger once called it, neither has it become the Shonar Bangla (Golden Bengal) envisioned by Mujib. How much this is the fault of Mujib is a moot question. It is true that he has had little time in which to combat some of Bangladesh's immense problems. Nevertheless, some critics contend that he has wasted some of the time playing the role of popular revolutionary figure (such as personally receiving virtually any of his people who call on him) when he should have been concentrating more on serious matters of state. If, as expected, he is elected in March, Mujib will face a clear test of whether he is not only the father of Bangladesh but also its saviour.

  • After one year of Independence & Mujib Rule, Time Magazine USA 1 January 1973 writes

The moves met with general favour in Bangladesh, but there were those who were critical. "Do not forget I have had only three years as a free government," he reminded critics. "You cannot expect miracles." Yet even he seemed impatient for miracles in the end. No one ever doubted that his objectives were laudable. Mujib wanted nothing less than to build a "shonar Bangla," the golden Bengal of the poem by Rabindranath Tagore that serves as the country's national anthem.

Laudable Objectives. Facing spreading violence—there had been at least 6,000 political murders since independence—Mujib declared a state of emergency last December. He subsequently banned extremist parties on both the left and the right, brought the press under government control, and cracked down on corruption.

Mujib returned to the most tumultuous welcome Dacca had ever seen—and a staggering array of problems in probably the poorest (and most densely populated) country on earth. There were virtually no civil servants and little industry. Ports were clogged, railroads destroyed, the educated elite savaged. Worse, what had not been destroyed in war was soon destroyed by a devastating drought in 1973 and floods last year that inundated three-quarters of the country.

  • Poet of Politics is a film in development on the life of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
  • Time Magazine USA 25 August 1975 writes after 10 Days of his death

Representation in other media

Following his assassination, succeeding governments offered low-key commemorations of Mujib. Restoration of his public image awaited the election of an Awami League government in 1996, which was led by his eldest daughter, Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the party. 15 August has since been commemorated as "National Mourning Day," chiefly by Awami League supporters.[8]

During Mujib's tenure as the premier leader, Muslim religious leaders and some politicians intensely criticised Mujib's adoption of state secularism. He alienated some segments of nationalists and those in the military who feared Bangladesh would become too dependent upon India. They worried about becoming a satellite state by taking extensive aid from the Indian government and allying with that country on many foreign and regional affairs.[32] Mujib's imposition of one-party rule and suppression of political opposition also alienated large segments of the population. Historians and political scientists think that it derailed Bangladesh's development as a democratic state, contributing to its subsequent political instability and violence.[12][30] Zafrullah Chowdhury asserts that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman himself was a major impediment to the fulfillment of those aspirations of the liberation, although he admits that he was a "great leader."[43]

The Bangabandhu Square Monument

Criticism and legacy

Mujib's death plunged the nation into many years of political turmoil. The coup leaders were soon overthrown and a series of counter-coups and political assassinations paralysed the country.[38] Order was largely restored after a coup in 1977 gave control to the army chief Ziaur Rahman. Declaring himself President in 1978, Ziaur Rahman signed the Indemnity Ordinance, giving immunity from prosecution to the men who plotted[42] Mujib's assassination and overthrow.

On 15 August 1975, a group of junior army officers invaded the presidential residence with tanks and killed Mujib, his family and personal staff.[2][30] Only his daughters Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Sheikh Rehana, who were visiting West Germany, escaped. They were banned from returning to Bangladesh.[39] The coup was planned by disgruntled Awami League colleagues and military officers, which included Mujib's colleague and former confidanté Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, who became his immediate successor. There was intense speculation in the media accusing the US Central Intelligence Agency of having instigated the plot.[40] Lawrence Lifschultz has alleged that the CIA was involved in the coup and assassination, basing his assumption on the then US ambassador in Dhaka Eugene Booster.[41]


His political supporters amalgamated to form the only legalised political party, the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League, commonly known by its initials—BAKSAL.[2] The party identified itself with the rural masses, farmers and labourers and took control of government machinery. It also launched major socialist programmes. Using government forces and a militia of supporters called the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini, Mujib oversaw the arrest of opposition activists and strict control of political activities across the country.

According to Time Magazine USA—Feb. 10, 1975, "Under the new system, executive powers are vested in the President, who will be elected directly every five years, and in a Council of Ministers appointed by him. Although an elected Parliament can pass legislation, the President has veto power and can dissolve Parliament indefinitely."[30][38]

In response, he began increasing his powers. On 1974, Mujib declared a state of emergency In 1975, his political supporters approved a constitutional amendment with few other parties of a new system called BAKSHAL. Banning all opposition political parties against BAKSHAL. Mujib assumed the presidency and was given extraordinary powers.

The 1974 famine had personally shocked Mujib and profoundly affected his views on governance,[37] while political unrest gave rise to increasing violence. During the famine, 70000 people were reported as dead (Note: Reports vary).[36]

Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL) the only legally recognised party of Bangladesh founded on 7 June 1975 following the Fourth Amendment to the constitution of Bangladesh. Mujib's government soon began encountering increased dissatisfaction and unrest. His programmes of nationalisation and industrial socialism suffered from lack of trained personnel, inefficiency, rampant corruption and poor leadership.[31] Mujib focused almost entirely on national issues and thus neglected local issues and government. The party and central government exercised full control and democracy was weakened, with virtually no elections organised at the grass roots or local levels.[35] Political opposition included communists as well as Islamic fundamentalists, who were angered by the declaration of a secular state. Mujib was criticised for nepotism in appointing family members to important positions.[30] A famine in 1974 further intensified the food crisis, and devastated agriculture – the mainstay of the economy.[2] Intense criticism of Mujib arose over lack of political leadership, a flawed pricing policy, and rising inflation amidst heavy losses suffered by the nationalised industries. Mujib's ambitious social programmes performed poorly, owing to scarcity of resources, funds and personnel, and caused unrest amongst the masses.[31] BAKSAL was protested by different groups but they were punished by Mujibur Rahman. It was known that Mujibur Rahman never accepted any criticism against him. Mujib was widely accused for 40000 killings by his Rakkhi Bahini.[36]

Main article : Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League


In 1974, Bangladesh experienced the deadliest famine ever, which killed around 30,000 Bangladeshi people from hunger. The Bangladesh famine of 1974 is a major source of discontent against Mujib's government.

Although the state was committed to secularism, Mujib soon began moving closer to [34]

He charged the provisional parliament to write a new constitution, and proclaimed the four fundamental principles of "nationalism, secularism, democracy and socialism," which would come to be known as "Mujibism."[30] Mujib nationalised hundreds of industries and companies as well as abandoned land and capital and initiated land reform aimed at helping millions of poor farmers.[31] Major efforts were launched to rehabilitate an estimated 10 million refugees. The economy began recovering and a famine was prevented.[32] A constitution was proclaimed in 1973 and elections were held, which resulted in Mujib and his party gaining power with an absolute majority.[2] He further outlined state programmes to expand primary education, sanitation, food, healthcare, water and electric supply across the country. A five-year plan released in 1973 focused state investments into agriculture, rural infrastructure and cottage industries.[33]

[30] strongly praising India's decision to intercede, and professed admiration and friendship for India.[30] After Bangladesh achieved recognition from major countries, Mujib helped Bangladesh enter into the United Nations and the

The government faced serious challenges, which including the rehabilitation of millions of people displaced in 1971, organising the supply of food, health aids and other necessities. The effects of the 1970 cyclone had not worn off, and the state's economy had immensely deteriorated by the conflict. There was also violence against non-Bengalis and groups who were believed to have assisted the Pakistani forces. By the end of the year, thousands of Bengalis arrived from Pakistan, and thousands of non-Bengalis migrated to Pakistan; and yet many thousands remained in refugee camps.

The politicians elected in 1970 formed the provisional parliament of the new state. The Mukti Bahini and other militias amalgamated to form a new Bangladeshi army to which Indian forces transferred control on 17 March. Mujib described the fallout of the war as the "biggest human disaster in the world," claiming the deaths of as many as 3 million people and the rape of more than 200,000 women.

According to Time Magazine USA 17-January −1972 "In the aftermath of the Pakistani army's rampage last March, a special team of inspectors from the World Bank observed that some cities looked "like the morning after a nuclear at tack." Since then, the destruction has only been magnified. An estimated 6,000,000 homes have been destroyed, and nearly 1,400,000 farm families have been left without tools or animals to work their lands. Transportation and communications systems are totally disrupted. Roads are damaged, bridges out and inland waterways blocked.The rape of the country continued right up until the Pakistani army surrendered a month ago. In the last days of the war, West Pakistani-owned businesses—which included nearly every commercial enterprise in the country—remitted virtually all their funds to the West. Pakistan International Airlines left exactly 117 rupees ($16) in its account at the port city of Chittagong. The army also destroyed bank notes and coins, so that many areas now suffer from a severe shortage of ready cash. Private cars were picked up off the streets or confiscated from auto dealers and shipped to the West before the ports were closed."

A new country Bangladesh begins with a lot of 'rampage and rape of Bangladesh economy' by Pakistani occupation force.

Rahman briefly assumed the provisional presidency and later took office as the prime minister.

Governing Bangladesh

Upon assuming the presidency after Yahya Khan's resignation, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto responded to international pressure and released Mujib on 8 January 1972. He was then flown to London where he met with British Prime Minister Edward Heath and addressed the international media. Mujib then flew to New Delhi on a Royal Air Force plane given by the British government to take him back to Dhaka. In New Delhi, he was received by Indian President Varahagiri Venkata Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as well as the entire Indian cabinet and chiefs of armed forces. Delhi was given a festive look as Mujib and Indira addressed a huge crowd where he publicly expressed his gratitude to Indira Gandhi and "the best friends of my people, the people of India. From New Delhi, Sheikh Mujib flew back to Dhaka on the RAF jet where he was received by a massive and emotional sea of people at Tejgaon Airport."

The Pakistani army's campaign to restore order soon degenerated into a rampage of terror and bloodshed.[27] With militias known as Razakars, the army targeted Bengali intellectuals, politicians and union leaders, as well as ordinary civilians. Due to deteriorating situation, large numbers of Hindus fled across the border to the neighbouring Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura.[28] The East Bengali army and police regiments soon revolted and League leaders formed a government in exile in Kolkata under Tajuddin Ahmad, a politician close to Mujib. A major insurgency led by the Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters) arose across East Pakistan. Despite international pressure, the Pakistani government refused to release Mujib and negotiate with him. Most of the Mujib family was kept under house arrest during this period. General Osmani was the key military commanding officer in the Mukti Bahini, which was a part of the struggle between the state forces and the nationalist militia during the war that came to be known as the Bangladesh Liberation War. Following Indian intervention in December 1971, the Pakistani army surrendered to the joint force of Bengali Mukti Bahini and Indian Army, and the League leadership created a government in Dhaka.

Sheikh Mujib was arrested and taken to Pakistan after midnight via Tejgaon international airport on a PAF C-130 flight right under the noses of ATC Officer Squadron Leader Khaja, Senior Operations Officer Wing Commander Khademul Bashar and Director of Airport and Flight Security Squadron Leader M. Hamidullah Khan. All were on duty that night due to the state of emergency. Mujib was moved to West Pakistan and kept under heavy guard in a jail near Faisalabad (then Lyallpur).[22] Many other League politicians avoided arrest by fleeing to India and other countries.[25] Pakistani general Rahimuddin Khan was appointed to preside over Mujib's military court case in Faisalabad, the proceedings of which have never been made public.[26]

"[The] Pakistan Army have suddenly attacked the Pilkhana EPR Headquarter and tha Rajarbag Police Line as well as killed many innocents in Dhaka. The battle has started in various places of Dhaka and Chittagong. I am asking help to all the nations of this world. Our freedom fighters are valiantly fighting against the foes to save their motherland. In the name of Almighty Allah my last request and order to you all is to fight for independence till death. Ask your brothers of Police, EPR, Bengal Regiment and Ansar to fight with you. No compromise, the victory is ours. Execute the last foe from our holy motherland. Carry my message to all the leaders, activists and the other patriots from the every corner of the country. May Allah bless you all. Joy Bangla." – from Shadhinota Shongrame Bangali by Aftab Ahmad[23][24]

Following a last-ditch attempt to foster agreement, Yahya Khan declared martial law, banned the Awami League and ordered the army to arrest Mujib and other Bengali leaders and activists.[19] The army launched Operation Searchlight to curb the political and civil unrest, fighting the nationalist militias that were believed to have received training in India. Speaking on radio even as the army began its crackdown, Mujib asked his fellows to create resistance against Pakiskani Army of occupation by a telegraph at midnight on 26 March 1971:[8]

"The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle now is the struggle for our independence. Joy Bangla!..Since we have given blood, we will give more blood. God-willing, the people of this country will be liberated...Turn every house into a fort. Face (the enemy) with whatever you have."[19][21][22]
(For more info, see: 7th March Speech of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman)

Following political deadlock, Yahya Khan delayed the convening of the assembly – a move seen by Bengalis as a plan to deny Mujib's party, which formed a majority, from taking charge. It was on 7 March 1971 that Mujib called for independence and asked the people to launch a major campaign of Race Course Ground in Dhaka.[19][20][21]

Liberation War, 1971

Bhutto feared civil war, and sent a secret message to Mujib and his inner circle to arrange a meeting with them.[18] Hassan met with Mujib and persuaded him to form a coalition government with Bhutto. They decided that Bhutto would served as President, with Mujib as Prime minister. These developments took place secretly and none of the Pakistan Armed Forces personnel were kept informed. Meanwhile, Bhutto increased the pressure on Yahya Khan to take a stand on dissolving the government.[18]

The largest and most successful party in the western wing of the nation was the Pakistan Peoples Party headed by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He was completely opposed to Mujib's demand for greater autonomy.[16] Bhutto threatened to boycott the assembly and oppose the government if Mujib was invited by Yahya Khan (then president of Pakistan) to form the next government and demanded inclusion of the PPP. Much of the Pakistani military and the Islamic political parties opposed Mujib's becoming Pakistan's prime minister. At the time neither Mujib nor the Awami League had explicitly advocated political independence for East Pakistan, but smaller nationalist groups were demanding independence for Bangladesh.[17]

In the Pakistani general elections held in 7 December 1970, the Awami League under Mujib's leadership won a massive majority in the provincial legislature, and all but two of East Pakistan's quota of seats in the new National Assembly, thus forming a clear majority.[2]

A major coastal cyclone struck East Pakistan in 12 November 1970, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced. Bengalis were outraged and unrest began because of what was considered the weak and ineffective response of the central government to the disaster.[13][14] Public opinion and political parties in East Pakistan blamed the governing authorities as intentionally negligent. The West Pakistani politicians attacked the Awami League for allegedly using the crisis for political gain. The dissatisfaction led to divisions within the civil services, police and Pakistani Armed Forces.[13][15]

1970 Elections and Independence

Mujib's declaration heightened tensions across the country. The West Pakistani politicians and the military began to see him as a separatist leader. His assertion of Bengali cultural and ethnic identity also re-defined the debate over regional autonomy. Many scholars and observers believed the Bengali agitation emphasised the rejection of the Two-Nation Theory – the case upon which Pakistan had been created – by asserting the ethno-cultural identity of Bengalis as a nation.[12] Mujib was able to galvanise support throughout East Pakistan, which was home to a majority of the national population, thus making him one of the most powerful political figures in the Indian subcontinent. It was following his 6-point plan that Mujib was increasingly referred to by his supporters as "Bangabandhu" (literally meaning "Friend of Bengal" in Bengali).

"There was a time when all efforts were made to erase the word "Bangla" from this land and its map. The existence 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 Pakistan."[8]

Joining an all-parties conference convened by Ayub Khan in 1969, Mujib demanded the acceptance of his six points and the demands of other political parties and walked out following its rejection. On 5 December 1969 Mujib made a declaration at a public meeting held to observe the death anniversary of Suhrawardy that henceforth East Pakistan would be called "Bangladesh":

Mujib was arrested by the army and after two years in jail, an official sedition trial in a military court opened. Widely known as the Agartala Conspiracy Case, Mujib and 34 Bengali military officers were accused by the government of colluding with Indian government agents in a scheme to divide Pakistan and threaten its unity, order and national security. The plot was alleged to have been planned in the city of Agartala, in the Indian state of Tripura.[2] The outcry and unrest over Mujib's arrest and the charge of sedition against him destabilised East Pakistan amidst large protests and strikes. Various Bengali political and student groups added demands to address the issues of students, workers and the poor, forming a larger "11-point plan." The government caved to the mounting pressure, dropped the charges on February 22, 1969 and unconditionally released Mujib the following day. He returned to East Pakistan as a public hero. He was given a mass reception on February 23, at Racecourse ground and conferred with the title 'Bangabandhu', meaning 'Friend of the Bengal'.

Mujib's points catalysed public support across East Pakistan, launching what some historians have termed the 6-point movement – recognised as the definitive gambit for autonomy and rights of Bengalis in Pakistan. Mujib obtained the broad support of Bengalis, including the Hindu and other religious communities in East Pakistan. However, his demands were considered radical in West Pakistan and interpreted as thinly veiled separatism. The proposals alienated West Pakistani people and politicians, as well as non-Bengalis and Muslim fundamentalists in East Pakistan.

  1. The constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense on the Lahore Resolution and the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.
  2. The federal government should deal with only two subjects: defence and foreign affairs, and all other residuary subjects shall be vested in the federating states.
  3. Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced; or if this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate banking reserve should be established and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East Pakistan.
  4. The power of taxation and revenue collection shall be vested in the federating units and the federal centre will have no such power. The federation will be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures.
  5. There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings; the foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.
  6. East Pakistan should have a separate militia or paramilitary forces.

Unrest over continuing denial of democracy spread across Pakistan and Mujib intensified his opposition to the disbandment of provinces. In 1966, Mujib proclaimed a 6-point plan titled Our Charter of Survival at a national conference of opposition political parties at Lahore,[2] in which he demanded self-government and considerable political, economic and defence autonomy for East Pakistan in a Pakistani federation with a weak central government.[10] According to his plan:

Following Suhrawardy's death in 1963, Mujib came to head the Awami League, which became one of the largest political parties in Pakistan. The party had dropped the word "Muslim" from its name in a shift towards secularism and a broader appeal to non-Muslim communities. Mujib was one of the key leaders to rally opposition to President Ayub Khan's Basic Democracies plan, the imposition of martial law and the one-unit scheme, which centralised power and merged the provinces.[10] Working with other political parties, he supported opposition candidate Fatima Jinnah against Ayub Khan in the 1964 election. Mujib was arrested two weeks before the election, charged with sedition and jailed for a year.[8] In these years, there was rising discontent in East Pakistan over the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Armed Forces against Bengalis and the neglect of the issues and needs of East Pakistan by the ruling regime.[11] Despite forming a majority of the population, the Bengalis were poorly represented in Pakistan's civil services, police and military. There were also conflicts between the allocation of revenues and taxation. The 1965 war between India and Pakistan also revealed the markable vulnerability of East Pakistan compared to West Pakistan.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Announcing 6 Points At Lahore

Leader of Pakistan

[8] In 1958 General

In 1956, Mujib entered a second coalition government as minister of industries, commerce, labour, anti-corruption and village aid. He resigned in 1957 to work full-time for the party organisation.

"Sir [President of the Constituent Assembly], you will see that they want to place the word "East Pakistan" instead of "East Bengal." We had demanded so many times that you should use Bengal instead of Pakistan. The word "Bengal" has a history, has a tradition of its own. You can change it only after the people have been consulted. So far as the question of One Unit is concerned it can come in the constitution. Why do you want it to be taken up just now? What about the state language, Bengali? We will be prepared to consider one-unit with all these things. So I appeal to my friends on that side to allow the people to give their verdict in any way, in the form of referendum or in the form of plebiscite."[9]

Mujib left the Muslim League to join Suhrawardy and Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and served from 1955 to 1958.[2] The government proposed to dissolve the provinces in favour of an amalgamation of the western provinces of the Dominion of Pakistan in a plan called One Unit; at the same time the central government would be strengthened. Under One Unit, the western provinces were merged as West Pakistan during the creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1956. That year East Bengal was renamed as East Pakistan as part of One Unit at the same time. Mujib demanded that the Bengali people's ethnic identity be respected and that a popular verdict should decide the question of naming and of official language:

Rahman in 1950

Early political career


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