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HomeEditor50 years of independence: Huq, Bhasani, Suhrawardy and Mujib, the four leaders...

50 years of independence: Huq, Bhasani, Suhrawardy and Mujib, the four leaders who changed the politics of East Bengal after partition

Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman campaigned for the United Front throughout the country during the election of 1954.

The first decade after the birth of Pakistan was very eventful. In the politics of this period, many things happened whose impact was far-reaching.
Many political analysts believe that after the breakup of Pakistan, there was a faint indication of the birth of a new state at the beginning of the country and later some preparations were made for the establishment of Bangladesh.

Pakistan was born on August 14, 1947 on the basis of this Hindu Muslim two-nation theory. This birth was mainly the result of the political movement of the Muslim League. But soon after, some unimaginable events took place in the politics of the country, one of which was the loss of the politics of East Pakistan from the hands of the Muslim League.

The Birth of Pakistan: Beginning with the Lahore Resolution
The Lahore Resolution adopted at the All-India Muslim League conference in 1940 was considered as the seed of the birth of Pakistan. The resolution envisaged the establishment of an independent and sovereign Muslim state comprising the Muslim-majority provinces in the north-eastern and north-western parts of India.
The proposal was moved by A. K. Fazlul Huq, leader of the Bengal Muslim League and Chief Minister of Bengal. The Lahore Resolution was later considered as the ‘Pakistan Resolution’.

Originally, Muslims went to the polling stations in droves and voted for the Muslim League to demand the establishment of a separate state for Muslims.

Lord Mountbatten with Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Lord Mountbatten announced in June 1947 that the British government had accepted the policy of partition, and on 14 August they relinquished power, giving birth to India and Pakistan on the basis of the two-nation theory.
Pakistan had two parts, with India in the middle, West and East Pakistan. For the next decade, the official name of East Pakistan was East Bengal. But since birth, the disparity between these two parts of the same country has become increasingly apparent.

Political researcher Mohiuddin Ahmed wrote in his book ‘Awami League: Utthan Parba 1948-1970’: “Bengali Muslims joined the Muslims of distant areas with the goal that they would not live in one state with known neighboring Hindus and created Pakistan.” But it didn’t take long to get disillusioned. ”

Dreaming: Did you bring this Pakistan?
Pakistan was born in the wake of the Muslim League’s movement, but soon the politics of East Bengal and East Pakistan went out of the hands of the Muslim League. A new political and cultural movement began.

Political analyst and Dhaka University teacher Sirajul Islam Chowdhury said, “After the establishment of Pakistan, the dream with which Pakistan was established was seen that the dream was far away. ” In the years that followed, “the condition in which people became extremely critical was for a number of reasons.” There was almost a famine, and the economy collapsed. Another is the problem of state language,” he said. Chaudhry.

He said that another path started to emerge for East Pakistan.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (photo taken during an interview to BBC Bangla in 1972)

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s book ‘Unfinished Memoirs’ mentions many incidents of such dream breakdown. One of them is like this: At that time, the government opened a fund called ‘Jinnah Fund’ in the name of the leader of the Muslim League. Although it was supposed to be donated later, in some places the forced withdrawal of money started.

Sheikh Mujib wrote about his conversation with Majhi while going to Gopalganj by boat, “Leaving the boat, he told me, ‘Brother, you have come now, I am ruined. Five of us, the order has come to pay five rupees. Sometimes I earn two rupees a day, sometimes even less, where do I get five rupees? Yesterday there was a brass vessel from my father’s regime, which was snatched away by the watchman for money. “He cried when he said that… In the end, he said, ‘I heard about Pakistan from you, you brought this Pakistan!’

Beginning of Language Movement

The debate on state language started even before the birth of Pakistan. But after 1947, the politics of East Bengal started heating up centering the state language. Its center was Dhaka University.

Frustrated with the activities of the Muslim League in Pakistan, the Muslim youth of East Pakistan started organizing by then. The East Pakistan Muslim Students League was formed on 4 January 1948. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was also in the convening committee. On 24 March, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the governor of Pakistan, said at a special convocation of Dhaka University that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan.

People became more and more hostile to the Muslim League.

Not the language. Researchers say Urdu as the state language

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.

Serajul Islam Chowdhury said, “In the declaration of Jinnah Sahib, the middle class, which was active in politics, saw that if this happens, they will become second-class citizens. Those who know Urdu will dominate them. They had somehow learned English before. Now they have to learn Urdu. As a result, the middle class became very disappointed. And then the political movement began. ”

The first step of this movement was the emergence of a new political party as an opposition party to the ruling party, the Muslim League.

Birth of Awami Muslim League

Although the anger of the people against the Muslim League began to take shape, the party’s monopoly in the political arena of East Bengal was still there.

In the meantime, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani came to Dhaka from Assam. He did Muslim League politics for a long time in Char Bhasan in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam. For this reason, he became known as Bhasani.

Ignoring the intimidation and torture of the Muslim League government, he took the initiative to form a new political party. Sirajul Islam Chowdhury said, “Maulana Bhasani did not get the Pakistan he wanted, he got down to the movement and the Awami Muslim League was established centering him. He became president. ”

Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, another popular leader of East Bengal living in Karachi, the capital of Pakistan, and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a young man returning from Kolkata, were involved in this process of forming a new party. The East Pakistan Awami Muslim League was formed on June 23, 1959. The name Awami League was given by Maulana Bhasani which means Muslim League of the People.

Although imprisoned, Sheikh Mujib became the joint secretary.

Political historian Mohiuddin Ahmed says, “His election to a high post in the party while he was in jail suggests that he was considered an important organiser.” ” Sheikh Mujib used to keep in touch with Suhrawardy regarding the management of Awami Muslim League. Suhrawardy loved him very much – when he went to West Pakistan, he used to arrange for his stay and buy clothes. On the other hand, when Suhrawardy came to East Bengal, Sheikh Mujib always accompanied him.

The birth of the Awami Muslim League is a significant event in the politics of East Pakistan. Five decades later, under the political leadership of this party, Bangladesh was born out of Pakistan.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,

Maulana Bhasani was the first president of Awami Muslim League.

Serajul Islam Chowdhury thinks that with the birth of Awami Muslim League, a new type of politics was introduced in East Pakistan, secular and Bengali nationalist politics was introduced.

saw that the bureaucracy was dominant in running the government and Bengalis were not represented. ”

He said it was not understood at first how far the Awami Muslim League would go. But after the state language movement, the party went a long way. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was imprisoned for a long time during and after the formation of the Awami Muslim League. When he came out of jail, Maulana Bhasani and his political colleagues were imprisoned. During this time, he along with Suhrawardy went to the districts of East Bengal and built the organization.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wrote in his book ‘The Unfinished Memoirs’: “During this period Awami League organizations were formed in almost every sub-division and district. After the meeting of Shahid Sahib, there was a mass uprising in the whole country. People started leaving the Muslim League and joining the Awami League party. ”

Political commentator Mohiuddin Ahmed wrote, “Sheikh Mujib was 32 years old at that time. He had to bear the heavy responsibility of mixing with the people in different parts of the country, collecting and scrutinizing workers and expanding the anti-government organization at the field level in adverse political conditions. Gradually, he became the lifeblood of the team. ”

Publication of Ittefaq: Awami Muslim League’s ‘mouthpiece’

The publication of Ittefaq was an important event in the politics of East Pakistan. Because at one stage the newspaper became the main media of Awami Muslim League. Even if the news of the Muslim League was not published in any other newspaper, it would have been on the pages of Ittefaq.

The publication of the paper started from Nawabpur Road, was published irregularly, and at one stage it was closed. Later in 1951, it started to be published again as a weekly under the editorship of Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia. The name of Maulana Bhasani was printed as its founder. Ittefaq started its journey as a daily in 1953. Then the name of Maulana Bhasani as the founder stopped printing. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy used to pay for running the newspaper.

Mohiuddin Ahmed says, “He used to run Ittefaq. He used to spend a large amount of the money he got for advocacy in West Pakistan. ” A board of trustees was formed to run the newspaper, of which Suhrawardy was the chairman. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was also a member of the board. He also collected money from his business friends to meet the expenses of running the newspaper.

Reports of discrimination against East Pakistan and torture of Awami Muslim League leaders by the Pakistan government were regularly published in the newspaper, which helped to turn the Awami Muslim League into a popular political party. Ittefaq also played a role in the Language Movement of 1952 and later the victory of the United Front in the elections of 1954.