FORTY-THREE years ago on this day in 1975 was brutally murdered, along with most members of the family, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding president of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, by a section of the military officers, both in service and retired, in the name of ridding the country of one-party, autocratic political regime. The murder of the man who, along with Moulana Bhasani and their associates, politically prepared almost the entire population of East Bengal, in the process of popular movement for democracy and autonomy within the erstwhile Pakistan, to achieve national independence, indeed, remains a tragedy of this country. The assassination, after all, did not propel the country into the democratic system; instead, ‘one-party’ autocratic rule was eventually transformed into the ‘one-man’ dictatorship of military regime’ that continued to further distort the country’s social, political and economic fabrics for many years.
However, it took some three decades to try the accused of the murder cases in question for, in the first place, it took more than two decades to repeal the law indemnifying the murders. The majority of the people unambiguously supported the scrapping of the indemnity law and the trial of the accused murderers for, they genuinely found a just logic behind the Awami League argument, in addition to the inherent genuinity of the cause behind the trial, that indemnification of any extrajudicial murder is a serious stumbling block to the ‘rule of law’ in any society. With the trial and punishment of the brutal crime over, and the Awami League in power for a decade now, leaders of the party should sincerely realise that the widespread allegations of the absence of the rule of law in the country, under which every citizen, irrespective of political views, should have the equal protection of law, is an injustice to the memory of the Sheikh who had made enormous sacrifices in the prime time of his life to establish such democratic principles.
Meanwhile, the country’s political analysts and observers should realise, and many perhaps do, that the Sheikh’s murder was not just a local phenomenon isolated from the international and regional political orders of the 1970s while intellectually rigorous research should be conducted to unearth the non-local factors and forces, and the connections between the locals and non-locals, that played certain roles behind the tragic incident, which not only inflicted enormous pains on those belonging to the Sheikh’s personal and political arena, but also dangerously hampered the natural course of politics in a newly independent country. Such objective research is much more important for the country’s future than mere one political camp eulogising the man and the other trivialising him un-objectively for their crude immediate partisan interests. Such research, we strongly believe, would also be proper tributes to the Sheikh for his life-long political contributions to the country’s national independence in 1971. Nevertheless, for that to happen, the political establishments concerned have to create an academic atmosphere free of partisan intimidations from all sides.
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