The agony and irony associated with the birth of Bangladesh in 1971 in more ways than one surpassed these elements of 1947 when Indian sub-continent broke up amid bloodshed and Pakistan came into being. Who would have imagined such ruination – physical and moral – that could lead to prove once again that religion and merely taking the name of Islam and Holy Quran alone cannot keep two entities as one?
West Pakistanis were different from Bengalis and thus Pakistan splintered and Bangladesh came into being in 1971.
In this region thus 1971 and the birth of Bangladesh had a more significant impact than any other comparable historical dates and in that too the fallout was wide range. India inherited a perennial problem and the “Bangladeshi immigration” became a political ploy in northeastern state of Assam – with all elements in the saga – namely violence, insurgency and bloodshed.
But in all these there has been an important facet – actually about a man, his political vision and of course his legacy. The present Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inherits some of that legendary legacy from her father the illustrious Banga-bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This is of course not the occasion to sing laurels of the founder of Bangladesh. But it is high time we talk about Sheikh Hasina, a much deserving “daughter of democracy”, as she was descrined few years ago.
On July 2, 2016 – Hasina actually created a history shortly after Bangladeshi security personnel could take control of things in Dhaka after a group of terrorists – eschewing the spirit of radical Islam – had held foreigners including women hostage in a popular restaurant and even killed some. Like all incumbent Prime Ministers in their countries, she reiterated her resolve to eradicate terrorism from her country. But what is important is she dared to call spade a spade!
|India's trusted friend Hasina|
She has in effect challenged the legitimacy of Islamic radicals those who carried out the dastardly act on July 1, 2016 night and slaughtered innocent people including an Indian girl. Hasina showed the determination of her father in telling the radicals point blank that their act has actually maligned the name of Islam.
This was no simple statement as a woman leader in a pre-dominantly Muslim country where fundamentalist Jamaat radicals often have their say and the military also stage coup.
“Yeh kaun musalman… "What kind of Muslims are these,” she said in her first reactions to the Friday night holocaust.
Her message should actually rekindle hopes in the entire South East Asia because by July 1 night – a pall of gloom had descended in the entire region including in northeastern states of India. Because - all these places are in their own way are hubs or melting pots of myriad of socio-religious cultures and pluralism and hence cannot simply accept the idea of Wahabism and Talibanism.
Any authoritarian attempt in these cities and villages with the tool of violence can only result in more bloodshed and almost civilwar kind of situations.
One is aware of the fact that from administrative point of view however the Hasina regime in Dhaka needs to act more and rather quickly to show results against the steady rise of fundamentalism in that country especially since 2013.
But she must get the credit where she deserves them.
|Photo credit: New York Times/AP|
Hasina’s life has been truly - one of drama, tragedy and political endeavour.
Mujibur Rahman was assassinated together with 18 members of Sheikh Hasina’s family on 15 August 1975, when Sheikh Hasina and her sister, Sheikh Rehana, were out of the country. The military dictator Major General Ziaur Rahman had then assumed power.
His actions and teachings have played the utmost part in Sheikh Hasina’s personal and political development. And, I feel her speech on July 2 – post Dhaka siege and military success- reflects the spirit of Banga-bandhu.
But importantly for India, Sheikh Hasina has been a “daughter of democracy” and also a trusted friend of a democratic India. She displayed her friendship irrespective of party affliations in India and has been dealing with maturity with leaders like Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi – two men of different mattle and caliber.
India must therefore help Hasina to the extent she needs to strengthen her position both in terms of dealing with her country’s economy and development and also an ensured security and importantly fight against terrorism.
She ought to be protected as she would remain a friend of India.
The following tail piece is reflective of the timing we are in and the importance of being Sheikh Hasina’s friend.
Tail Piece – With a window to Future!
“The Agartala Conspiracy case against Mujib in 1968 marked the rise, in meteoric manner, of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the spokesman of the Bengalis in the erstwhile East Pakistan. When a western journalist asked him what he expected his fate to be, Mujib replied with characteristic unconcern: "You know, they can't keep me here for more than six months." In the event, he was to be a free man in seven months' time.
On the opening day of the trial, Mujib spotted before him, a few feet away, a journalist he knew well. He called out his name, only to find the journalist not responding, obviously out of fear of all those intelligence agents present in the room. Mujib persisted. Eventually compelled to respond, the journalist whispered, "Mujib Bhai, we can't talk here . . ."
And it was at that point that the future Bangabandhu drew everyone's attention to himself. He said, loud enough for everyone to hear, "Anyone who wishes to live in Bangladesh will have to talk to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman."
--(source – Bongobandhu Info Center)
In circa 2016 and beyond - anybody concerned about Bangladesh and its neighbouring countries especially India will have to talk to Sheikh Hasina, will have to protect Hasina. We owe it to ourselves.