July 10, 2004

Which came first? The fallacious arguments:

The controversy regarding the first proclaimer of independence of Bangladesh lingers on as the BNP government (led by Khaleda Zia, the wife of late president Ziaur Rahman) reprinted the history of the Liberation war with an amendment. The new one states that he is the first proclaimer of independence which was not clearly stated in the earlier version. The proclamation issue is rather controversial as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in his famous speech on March 7, 1971 declared sovereignty from Pakistan and declared that if he could not give any formal order in time, let the people defend their country themselves at their discretion. On March 26, 1971 following the crackdown of Pakistani Army, Zia, then a Major of Eighth East Bengal Regiment mutinied with his fellow officers and soldiers in Chittagong. He found his way to the rebel radio broadcasting center Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. He proclaimed Bangladesh as an independent country on March 26, 1971 and it is said that he did it first without mentioning Sheikh Mujib's name. It was the local Awami league leaders who persuaded Zia to give the proclamation on behalf of Sheikh Mujib and thus his famous March 27, 1971 speech was aired numerous times. There are other such claims to add further controversy about which one is the first proclamation. In 1977, Zia (then President) undertook the project to collect Liberation War documents and compile them into a comprehensive historical documentation. Renowned journalist and poet Hasan Hafizur Rahman edited the book titled 'Bangladesher Swadhinota Juddho: Dalilpatra' (The Liberation War of Bangladesh: Documents). Publication of its 15 volumes completed in 1986. Zia never had any urge to portray himself as the first proclaimer or make any fuss about it.

Now the point is, our political acrimony between the Sheikh Mujib's Awami League & Zia's BNP is so unhealthy, that the both parties failed to give respect to the both undisputed leaders. You cannot undermine the efforts of one of them. Zia's first proclamation did not include Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's name but it did not mean that he had any apprehension about Mujib's leadership. And it is really unfair of the Awami League supporters to ignore Zia's initiatives to proclaim formally when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was already in army custody on March 26, 1971.

I really see no merit in establishing one leader above another leader. They all played their part just like every countrymen and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the undisputed father of nation.

I hope that the Awami league supporters cease to undermine Zia's contribution and wish that the BNP supporters try not to erase Sheikh Mujib and the past putting Zia on the top. And no matter who proclaimed first, the both leaders are in our hearts; Bangladesh is independent now and we have to look forward for progress.


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