Dhaka,  Thursday
25 July 2024

The journey of Awami League: A stair of our independence

Published: 08:21, 22 June 2024

The journey of Awami League: A stair of our independence

Photo: Messenger

That introduction of defeat came about in the Polashi’s mango-grove on June 23, 1757, which gradually ate up the whole of India. The British ruled this sub-continent for nearly two hundred years. But they could not bring under control even driving a steamroller of injustice, sucking and persecution on the India’s nations who were bound in the chain of slavery. The persecuted nations were revived in magical charm of freedom. Independence came through the drop of much tears and bloods, blows and counterblows, revolts and revolutions and the sacrifice of innumerous lives.

The British-India was divided into two parts on the basis of the two-nation theory. One part was Pakistan and the other was India. Muslim-majority regions were included in Pakistan and Hindu-majority regions were in India. A matter was then overlooked that the distance between the two wings of Pakistan was about 12 miles. Except only religion there was no common link between the people of two wings, such as: language, culture, social system and economy. In spite of various kinds of differences, Pakistan started its journey on August 14 in 1947.

The main rulers of Pakistan were in West Pakistan, even though people living in East Pakistan formed the majority. The non-Bangalee Pakistani rulers’ attitude, conduct and behaviour with the Bangalee population of East Pakistan were far from satisfactory. This distance never stopped increasing. The injustice and exploitation by the Pakistani rulers intensified along with that. As a consequence of this, a very strong discontent against the Pakistani rulers gradually grew in the minds of people of East Pakistan. This dissatisfaction erupted repeatedly in different ways, especially through the state language debate.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, came to Dhaka on March 19, 1948. In both the public meeting at Race Course Maidan and the special convocation of Dhaka University on March 21, he declared that “Urdu and only Urdu shall be the state language of Pakistan”. In protest against his declaration, the people, especially the students, burst into agitation. Students protested loudly in front of Jinnah. The rulers of Pakistan, in view of establishing Urdu as the only State language, placed some untrue arguments, such as: “Bengali language is barbarian and a language of Hindus. Since Pakistan is homeland of the Muslims, the language of the Hindu cannot be made a state language here”. The rulers started different conspiracies to wipe out the Bengali language from Bengalis minds. To this end, they omitted Bengali language in the syllabus of the first CSP examination, which was held in 1948. But nearly dead language like Sanskrit and Latin were included there.

After August 14, 1947, the Muslim League politics of East Bengal was divided into streams. Chief Minister Khaja Nazimuddin was a reliable servant of Karachi Muslim League and the anti-interest leader of Bangalee. This part took shelter the communal politics using the Islamic religion. On the other hand, Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy and Abul Hasim’s followers, students, young people and political workers were the supporter of unfettered intellect and non-communal politics. Some progressive students among them took initiative of forming a party and the Muslim Chhatra league was formed on January 4, 1948.

The Muslim League leaders of East Bengal who were closely associated with the rulers never protested against the ruler’s injustice, discrimination and neglect of Bangalees. Rather, they worked on their behalf. In this perspective, some aged eminent leaders, students, young people and political workers felt that a new strong opposition political party needed to form to inform protest of the government’s immoral activities. So, a political party, the Awami Muslim League by name was formed sitting in the Rose Garden of Dhaka on June 23 in 1949. The meeting was presided over Moulana Ragib Ahsan. In recommendation of Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani was made president of the party. Shamsul Haque and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were made, respectively, General Secretary and Joint- Secretary. But Sheikh Mujib was then in the prison. Some other important members were: Moulana Abdur Rashid Tarkobagish, Ataur Rahman Khan, Kamruddin Ahmad, Khandokar Mustak Ahmed, Tajuddin Ahmed, Oli Ahad, M. Mansur Ali, etc. The full of self-control right, the abolition of the Zaminder system without compensation, giving honor of the Bengali language as the state language etc. were the important programs of the party among others. The first public meeting was held at Armanytola-ground of Dhaka by the Awami Muslim League in the afternoon on June 24, 1949.

Moulana Bhasani, taking with his colleagues formed Awami Muslim League’s district committees and arranged innumerous public-meeting in all districts. After being formed Awami Muslim League the speaking-courage of East Bengal’s people grew up. It was introduced as a strong platform of informing protest against injustice and discrimination of the government. The Awami Muslim League was gradually introduced in a strong and popular political party and the popularity of the Muslim League had quick been decreasing. The role of Awami Muslim League in the language-movement was remarkable. They took it with all its heart. The student-leaders and young people of this party took role actively in this movement. The police fired on the students of Dhaka and killed Salam, Barkot, Rafik, Jabbar on 21 February in 1952 while Sheikh Mujib was in the jail. Later the Pakistani rulers obliged to pay honor the Bengali-language as the State-language in intense movement of the Bengalis. The language-movement created Bengali-nationalism among the people and made background of the next movements.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected General Secretary of the party by the party’s Counsel meeting in 1953. He, being general secretary used to enforce his own charisma in the party. Sheikh Mujib also used to make meeting and gathering country-wide to make more popular the party.
The Provincial election of West Pakistan held in 1951. But the Muslim government kept stop the East Bengal’s election for long days. In pressure of mass-people the government gave declaration of election on March of 1954. The students and mass-people gave pressure on all opposition parties for being united to repel the Muslim League government. The Awami Muslim, giving response in their calling decided to form ‘Jukto-front’. It was formed in combination of Awami Muslim League, Krisok-Shramik party, Nezami Islam, Gonotontridal and Kelafote Rabbani party on December in 1953. The Jukto-front was formed on the basis of 21 points. Some important points were: to make Bengali-language as the State-language, establishing autonomy in East Bengal, declaration the 21 points as the martyr day and holiday.

AK Fazlul Haque, Moulana Bhasani and Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy were very honorable and popular aged leaders. In the leadership of these three leaders Jukto-front as conveyed spontaneous encouragement and bright expectation among East Bengal’s deceived, insulted and ill-fated people just like that their existence-demand of century voiced in the poll-declaration of 21 points. Three eminent leaders and Sheikh Mujib, oli Ahad, Muhammad Toha, Gaziul Haque among young leaders put forward the picture of autocratic league- ruling in front of the people and also gave the implementation-pledge of 21 points. The mass-awakening of 1954 was a historical event. The Jukto-front got 228 seats among 237 and the Muslim league got only 9. AK Fazlul Haque became leader of the parliament. But it was ill-luck for the Bengalis that the Jukto-front government was not lasting long days due to conspiracy of the West Pakistani rulers. The Haque-cabinet was cancelled defaming to AK Fazlul Haque that he was a communist, separatism and useless to control the disorder. The central ruling was introduced in East Bengal enforcing the 92-koya section.

The ‘Muslim’ word was omitted in 1955 to form the Awami League as a non-communal political party. The matter of forming Awami League as a progressive and non-communal party was an important chapter for the Bangalee nationalism and development of culture. It was proved by the Awami League’s epoch-making initiative that two-nation-theory’s politics was ended. In spite of Awami league’s objection the constitution was confirmed in 1956. Awami league observed the ‘protest day’ on 16 March in 1956 and criticized the government in intense language because of being opposing of East Pakistan self-interest.

Awami league was divided on July 26 in 1957. Moulana Bhasani formed National Awami party (NAP). Moulana Abdur Rahsid Tarkobagish became the President of Awami league. Sheikh Mujib resigned from the cabinet after Kaghmary conference in 1957 and devoted himself in party-activities. He gradually got recognition in Awami league as only the inheritance of Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy.

President Iskandar Mirza introduced the martial law on 7 October in 1958 and appointed Ayub Khan as the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Ayub Khan, removing Iskandar Mirza declared himself as the President of Pakistan on 27 october in 1958. He, enforcing ABDO and PRODO law prohibited politics for renowned politicians including Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy and Sheikh Mujib for 6 years. President Ayub Khan introduced basic democracy in the country and declared his new constitution. Awami league and student-society began intense movement against this constitution of this presidential system.

The Pak-bahini attacked Dhaka in the dark of night on 25 March and killed 10 thousand innocent and sleeping people. Bangabandhu, before being arrested declared independence of Bangladesh on 26 March in 1971 and urged the country-people to fight against the Pak-bahini. Bangladesh acquired independence through an armed-war of 9 month in the leadership of Awami League.

The writer is a columnist and retired Deputy Director of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.