Echoes of August 15: Reclaiming Bangladesh’s Identity and Destiny

In the hush of history, August 15 stands as a somber testament to a nation's heartbreak and determination. Echoes of August 15; reclaiming Bangladesh's Identity and Destiny unearths the shadows that fell on that fateful day in 1975, when a leader's light was extinguished.

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The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Dhaka, Bangladesh. May 1, 1973 [Photo: Jack Garofalo ]

“As long as Padma, Meghna, Gouri, and Jamuna flow on, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, your accomplishments will also live on.” – Annada Shankar Ray

No mercy or clemency for the killers of the Father of the Bengali Nation – Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

This column is well worth a visit because it isn’t a simple murder committed only by the anti-Bangladesh malefactors and their ill-chums – the obnoxious nexus of America’s CIA and Pakistan’s ISI. It was the murder of a towering figure like Bangabandhu Mujib and most of his family members. It changed the entire political landscape of Bangladesh. The core spirit that we achieved through our glorious Liberation War of 1971 to establish Bangladesh was shattered for an indefinite time.

The carnage shook the whole world in the early hours of 15 August 1975.

If the crimes were ever a topic of discussion, it was only people of all classes expressing their strong resentment (the media was then fully controlled by those arrant killers) with a national loss that seemed intent on forever branding our beloved Dhaka’s Road No. 32 Dhanmondi as a murder site.

Our glorious Liberation War of 1971 to establish Bangladesh is our pride. Our national flag is our symbol. Our national anthem is our source of pride. We achieved Bangladesh through the bloodshed of 3 million of our people by the lunatic Pakistani military regime and their local brutish cohorts, primarily the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) sub-humans. To achieve Bangladesh, three hundred thousand of our mothers and sisters lost their honor at the hands of those malefactors. We witnessed their destructive and lasting annihilation of freedom-loving people of all classes and religions in the country.

These perpetrators displaced ten million of our people from their homes with unspeakable suffering, rendering them homeless and forcing them to seek refuge in India. All these man-made disasters played out over a 9-month war in 1971. We finally dealt them a crushing defeat on 16 December 1971, and our beloved Bangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign state on the world map. We are proud of the secular spirit that we gained through our glorious Liberation War in 1971.

However, the remnants of the defeated forces could not be eradicated after the intentional and premeditated brutal killing of Bangladesh’s Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 15 August 1975 by Khondokar Mushtaqu Ahmed and his circle, and due to the machinations of depraved military rulers – Gen. Zia, Gen. Ershad, and their ally – Begum Zia, for two decades or so. Unfortunately, they have infected many others in the country as well.

From our perspective, the war was fought with the goal of establishing Nationalism, Democracy, Socialism, and Secularism in the country. The true spirit and values of our glorious Liberation War of 1971 can best be described by a song sung by the renowned singer Rathindra Nath Roy, “For the youth, for the adults, for the poor, for the rich, for all; our country is for all people; for all people where there is no difference between laborers and blacksmiths; where there is no difference among Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians; one mother; and one country, belonging to all (Chotoder boroder, shokoler, ……..ek mata, ek desh shokoler).”

This is the Bangladesh we desired in 1971, and we established that glorious Bangladesh in 1971.

Idealism collided with the reality of politics when the governments of military dictators seized power in Bangladesh and ruled the country. In truth, today’s Bangladesh is not the Bangladesh we achieved in 1971 at a very high price. Depraved military dictators, Zia and Ershad, seized power and ruled the country for 16 years. The spirit and values of our glorious Liberation War were undermined according to their whims; the anti-liberation forces, who were on the run for their grave misdeeds in 1971, were arrogantly rehabilitated throughout the country to serve their petty political interests.

One of them was made Prime Minister, some were appointed as ministers, and others were placed in key positions in the country. The promising constitution of 1972 was violated extensively. The immortal slogan “Joy Bangla” was pushed into oblivion. The so-called ‘Zindabad’ slogan, tainted with the Pakistani spirit, was restored to its former place. The names of our glorious Liberation War and our country’s Founding Father were rendered meaningless.

The two-nation theory, which was buried by our glorious Liberation War, was intentionally resurrected to undermine our heroic and patriotic war of 1971. Satanic desires and manipulations corrupted the hearts of the two evil military dictators, as well as a civilian dictator, and their followers who ruled the country…

A large number of war criminals who were in jail were set free and honored to further exploit the country with even greater ferocity, using the name of our holy religion, Islam. Communalism was encouraged to undermine the prominence of secularism, which was achieved through our national liberation characterized by magnificence.

The valor, patriotism, and supreme sacrifices of millions of our people, our deep love for the country – all were sacrificed by these deceptive politicians. It is as if these morally reprehensible people destroyed everything, the beautiful country, its shining sun, its radiant moon, and more. The stark truth is that all these evil schemes were unnecessary under any circumstances. Communalism has now resurfaced with even greater vigor. The golden days we once experienced have all but disappeared!

And this is not the Bangladesh we aspired to in 1971.

Bangladesh must be restored to its original form. We must continue to uphold the ideals of the 1971 war, which need to be revived in full spirit.

Fuyumi Soryo rightly reminded us, “If a castle gets destroyed, you just build a new one. If you wanted me to, I’d build them over and over. Let’s build them together.” Let us work together to rebuild the precious treasures we have lost in Bangladesh. Moving towards fulfilling the people’s desire for the restoration of a glorious, creative past is a vital task for the state and its people, and should be read by all who wish to… The lost glory will truly be a remarkable achievement that isn’t just for the leaders but a message for every citizen of the country.

To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt slightly, we want to say, “This is a nation — not a diverse boarding house. There isn’t room in the country for a 50-50 Bengali, nor can there be anything other than complete loyalty — to the Green and Red-colored Flag.” The lost glory of Bangladesh, the ideal for which many have fought and died, must be fully restored. The departure from the very essence of Bangladesh must be completely undone. The remnants of Pakistani influence and the Bengali-speaking Pakistanis must be eliminated.

Our principle in this matter should be absolutely straightforward. We should insist that if anyone who lives here does so in good faith and becomes a Bengali and assimilates into our culture, they shall be treated with complete equality, for it’s an injustice to discriminate against anyone based on caste, creed, or religion. But this is based on the individual truly becoming a Bengali and nothing else.

We have room for only one flag, the flag of Bangladesh, for we intend to ensure that our people identify as Bangladeshis and uphold its nationality, rather than merely existing in a diverse boarding house; and we have room for only one loyalty, loyalty to the people of Bangladesh. But this is based on the individual becoming a Bengali in every sense.

We don’t want to be any other nation or follow any other persuasion, but with a government that hasn’t abandoned the very foundations upon which we were established. The political establishments in the PM’s Secretariat and Bangabhaban must thwart any ill-motivated attempts to undermine the very constitution we had in 1972. The evil and communal forces that want to bring down the essence of Bangladesh have succeeded due to the military rulers who forcibly took the reins of Bangladesh. It’s as if we don’t live in Bangladesh itself; we live in another country.

But that shouldn’t be the case; we won’t renounce, change, or move away from the true spirit and values of our 1971 war. The new struggle is for our Bangladesh’s ideals, for what our predecessors, the forefathers of this nation, and our own ancestors fought for. The anti-liberation forces have garnered supporters due to their unity. For decades, our politicians have been gradually diluting the very foundations of Bangladesh with people. Our sole loyalty is now to Bangladesh and its people.

So, we have room for only one allegiance, and that is to Bangladesh. The patriotic Bengalis are those who form the front lines to protect freedoms so that all of us can live under the true banner of freedom without harboring hatred towards people of other religions. We want to maintain the People’s Republic of Bangladesh that we achieved in 1971. This is the true essence of Bangladesh.”

“There is a strange comfort in knowing that no matter what happened yesterday, the sun will rise again tomorrow. The struggles we endure today will become the good old days.

Bangabandhu’s path of grace will lead us to a better place much faster than the path of resentment. Joy Bangla. Joy Bangabandhu

Anwar A. Khan

Anwar A. Khan is an independent political analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs

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