About the Book
When Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's diaries came to light in 2004, it was an indisputably historic event. His daughter, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, had the notebooks-their pages by then brittle and discoloured-carefully transcribed and later translated from Bengali into English.
Written during Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's sojourns
in jail as a state prisoner between 1967 and 1969, they begin with his recollections of his days as a student activist in the run-up to the movement for Pakistan in the early 1940s. They cover the Bengali language movement, the first stirrings of the movement for Bangladesh independence and self-rule, and powerfully convey the great uncertainties as well as the great hopes that dominated the time. The last notebook ends with the events accompanying the struggle for democratic rights in 1955.
These are Sheikh Mujib's own words-the language has only been changed for absolute clarity when required. What the narrative brings out with immediacy and passion is his intellectual and political journey from a youthful activist to the leader of a struggle for national liberation. Sheikh Mujib describes vividly how-despite being in prison-he was in the forefront of organizing the protests that followed the declaration of Urdu as the state language of Pakistan. On 21 February 1952 the police opened fire on a peaceful student procession, killing many. That brutal action unleashed the powerful movement that culminated in the birth of the new nation of Bangladesh in 1971.
This extraordinary document is not only a portrait of a nation in the making; it is written by the man who changed the course of history and led his people to freedom.
About the Author
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was born in 1920 and studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree at Calcutta University and a law degree at Dhaka University. One of the founders of the Awami League in 1949, he led his party
to a dramatic victory in the election of 1970, a key event in the emergence of Bangladesh. He became the new nation's prime minister in 1972 and held the position of the President of Bangladesh from January 1975.
He was assassinated in Dhaka in August 1975 during a military coup d'etat.
My father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had to spend the most precious parts of his life in prison. As he got involved in various movements to wrest the rights of his people from those who had snatched them away from them, he had to endure solitary confinement again and again. But he would never compromise on his principles. He was not intimidated even by the hangman's noose. Throughout his life, the cause of his people was dearest to his heart. Their sufferings would sadden him. The only vow he ever took was to bring smiles on the faces of Bengal's impoverished people and build a golden Bengal. He believed that by enjoying their basic rights to food, clothing, accommodation, education and health they would be able to lead an honourable life. The one thought that was constant in his mind was freeing them from the shackles of poverty. That is why he gave up all comforts and happiness and fought ceaselessly and selflessly to attain the rights of his people through a continuous campaign till he was able to bring freedom to the Bengali nation. He was able to establish the Bengalis as a heroic race in the eyes of the world and create an independent and sovereign country. He was able to make the dream of freedom that Bengalis had been dreaming for a thousand years come true. Just when he had succeeded in achieving their economic emancipation he was snatched away from his people by the bullets of assassins. He was made to lie down forever in the green grass of Bengal that had been splattered with his blood. The assassins had thereby managed to mark the forehead of the Bengali nation indelibly with the stamp of infamy.
Twenty-nine years after he had passed away, the autobiography that this great leader had written came into my hands. In what he was able to write we have got the opportunity to learn about many incidents of his passage from childhood to adulthood, his family, and the movements he had become a part of since the time he was a student, his struggles, and many hitherto unknown events of his life. We come across the diverse experiences of his remarkable life in the pages that he had written. He articulates in simple and flowing prose what he had seen, felt and observed in politics. The facts that are revealed by his account of his struggles, his steadfastness and his sacrifices will inspire future generations. Those who have been misled by the fictions of people who distort history will now have the opportunity to discover the truth. This work will provide invaluable information and an authentic account of history to researchers and historians.
This autobiography has been written in my father's own hand. How I came across the notebooks in which this autobiography was inscribed is a long story. At one point I had completely given up the hope of publishing this book and presenting it to you all.
Shortly after he had declared independence at midnight on 25 March 1971, the Pakistani army assaulted the Road 32 home (now House No. 10 on Road No. 11) of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, arrested him and took him away. After my father was arrested, my mother, Russel, Jamal and everyone else in the house took refuge in the house next door. Our home was raided again the next day and looted. The raiders took away whatever they could, smashed the rest of the things, and took over the house. My mother had stowed away the notebooks, including his autobiography, diaries and travelogues along with her accounts books, with great care in an almirah in the dressing room attached to my father's bedroom. No doubt because there were a large number of these notebooks which by then may have been discoloured over time, the raiders did not consider them worth looting and left them intact. I thus came across these notebooks as they had been kept.
Soon after all the members of our home who were inside it on 15 August 1975 were murdered, the government sealed the house. I myself returned from exile to our country on 17 May 1981. The Zia government had the house sealed even then. They would not allow me to enter it. On 12 June the Sattar government handed over the house to me. I then found my father's memoir, his diaries and the notebooks of his travels in China. However, I did not find the notebooks containing his autobiography. I also found some typed pages which had been destroyed by termites. Only the upper halves of these foolscap pages remained. Reading whatever was still intact in them, I could guess that they were from his autobiography, but since so much was lost, I decided that what was left would not be of any use. Afterwards, I carried out an extensive search for the notebooks but found nothing. I looked for the original notebooks, the typist and for whatever remained with whoever had taken them, but to no avail. At one point I completely gave up hope of finding them.
However, in 2000 we decided to prepare for the publication of Bangabandhu's memoirs, diaries and his China travelogues. Professor Enayetur Rahim of America's Georgetown University had come to the University of Dhaka to do research on him. Professor Rahim's main area of research was the Agartala Conspiracy case. He had come to Dhaka to hold the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Chair established by the Mahbubullah-Zebunnesa Trust. In addition to working on the Agartala Conspiracy case for his research, he also began to work on Bangabandhu's life, memoirs and diaries. The journalist Baby Moudud and I assisted Professor Rahim at this time. He started to translate them from Bengali into English. But his untimely death resulted in a great loss as far as this gigantic task was concerned. I had not even dreamed that he would leave us so suddenly.
I began to despair at the turn of events. Professor A.F. Salahuddin Ahmed, Professor Shamsul Huda Harun and Mr Shamsuzzaman Khan gave us valuable advice and assisted us at this juncture. Subsequently, Professor Salahuddin Ahmed and Professor Harun accepted the responsibility of translation. Baby Moudud and I worked with Mr Khan on editing and typesetting and also made the necessary corrections. We compared what had been typeset with the original manuscript again and again. The work proceeded gradually, overcoming all sorts of obstacles along the way. A deadline was now fixed for publication.
When the work on the 'Memoirs' and the 'Diaries' was almost over, I came across four new notebooks in which the autobiography had been written. On 21 August 2004 a political rally organized by the Bangladesh Awami League was targeted by a horrifying grenade attack. It was aimed at killing me. Twenty-four people, including Mrs Ivy Rahman, president of the Women's Awami League, died in the incident. Miraculously, I survived this assassination attempt. But I was overwhelmed by grief, pain and depression. And it was then that my father's invaluable notebooks containing his autobiography came into my possession. What a remarkable turn of events! It was as if a light had suddenly been sparked in the midst of darkness. I had myself come back to life from the jaws of death. It was as if I had been given a new lease of life. One of my cousins handed these notebooks over to me. He had found them in an office drawer of another cousin, Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni. Moni was the editor of the newspaper Banglar Bani. In all probability, my father had handed the notebooks to this cousin so that he could have them typed. Perhaps he was thinking of having them published. Because Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni too was martyred on 15 August 1975 he was unable to complete this work. The work thus remained unfinished.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
A Political Profile
The Unfinished Memoirs
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