Dear Mrs Sharmin
I feel fortunate to attend such a historic seminar on Mr. Tajuddin Ahmad, the most dynamic & astute national leader of modern Bangladesh. Professor Anisuzzaman’s key note paper was an extraordinary paper on Mr. Tajuddin Ahmad – concise, crisp & informative. A paper is worth to preserve for ever to understand Mr. Tajuddin Ahmad at a glance.
You too spoke extremely well with emotion & the language was flawless (the choice of words & quotations were so absorbing) though understandably little lengthy yet made everybody present in the senate hall room of DU spell bound.
I am attaching a small write up (appended below) focusing on Mr. Tajuddin Ahmad.
Banga Bandhu, Tajuddin & Bangladesh
I first met Mr. Tajuddin Ahmad at 8 Theatre Road Calcutta (now Kolikata) during the first week of the month of July 1971. With about six years of military service I was a young Captain then. On 25/26 Mar1971 I defected from the Pakistan Army & joined Liberation Forces/Mukti Bahini.
I had to wait at Gen. Osmany’s office, as at the upstairs in a shared room with Syed Nazrul Islam, the Acting President, the PM of the Provisional Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was washing his clothes all by himself. And that what Tajuddin Ahmad was – simple living high thinking & prudent & austere, thoroughly committed to the cause of Bangladesh & the welfare of its people – a determined fighter, a friend of the downtrodden people, who, with his indomitable spirit dedicated his life to fight against all types of exploitations & wrong doings against humanity. Might not be a great orator like Sheikh Mujib, but a meritorious & dedicated politician & how humble he might be he was always a symbol of source of inspiration & Hope. Simplicity & humility & humbleness were his ornaments & another greater aspect of his colourful character quality is that though by 1974 he was unceremoniously kept out of the cabinet yet he remained totally loyal to Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman till his death. Unfortunately we lost such a dedicated follower of Banga Bandhu so prematuredly.
After Banga Bandhu, it was the greatest loss as far as national leadership was concerned of the Independent Bangladesh.
Immediately after the Indian Armed Forces left the soil of Bangladesh, Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman should have called Tajuddin Ahmad & with confidence should have made him the Head of the Government to run the national Government of Independent Bangladesh for three years before giving a fresh election under the newly framed constitution, just to create a buffer zone between Banga Bandhu & Government & governed, giving a clear instruction to dynamic & vibrant Sk Moni in particular to obey & render a helping hand to Taijuddin, if not, at least not to disturb him & his Government, while Banga Bandhu himself off to abroad on leave, simultaneously leaving a message to Tajuddin Ahmad that with a State/British Grant (even oversea Bangladeshis in Britain would have loved to bear the cost) one year he would be travelling all over the world with his entire family (including Sk Kamal & Jamal) to relax & quietly carrying out image building of Bangladesh & on return would sit on the opposition bench as a watch dog.
Alas it did not happen like that. Instead, the AL Government led by Banga Bandhu lend its ears to many of its followers including Kh. Mustaque & ambitious firebrands of the party, most of them were the student leaders of yesterdays, obviously including Sk Moni but hardly Tajuddin Ahmad, his most trusted lieutenant. Tajuddin Ahmad as a finance minister wanted reconstructed national economy & infrastructure but taking less loan from World Bank & where possible avoiding World Bank. He used to believe that self help is the best help though extremely hard way to achieve it. So the Western People who matters were not happy with Tajuddin Ahmad.
Sk Moni in his university days was a good, dynamic & brave student leader but he should have waited to avail his turn, instead, encouraged by Gen. Oban of the Indian Army, with whom during War of Liberation of Bangladesh’1971, he came into close contact along with Sirajul Alam Khan, Abdur Razzak & Tofail, & no wonder, at a hurry Sheikh Moni after establishing a effective link with the then Soviet Union/now dissolved took off with a Hop Step & Jump & made a crash landing, destroying (he & Sirajul Alam Khan, immediately after the War of Liberation, together but from different platforms) the cohesiveness of Liberation forces composed of different groups & opinions but solidly anchored under the overall leadership of Bangladesh Awami League/AL/Provisional Government. Old concept of Left, centre of Left & Right should have been avoided but embraced all of them under one umbrella. But no effort was made towards the desired direction & to meet demand of the day.
In our College days 1961-63, we used to admire Sk Moni & Sirajul Alam Khan as agile & prudent student leaders (both of them were senior to me) along with Kazi Arif- Rono-Menon & Motia Chowdhury & host of other leaders & later on Obadiur Rahman, Abdur Razzak, Tofail & ASM Rob, for their outstanding contributions in students politics of the erstwhile East Pakistan especially during 1960s & later on Six Points Movement (by 1965 I joined the Pakistan Army) & 11 points movement followed by 1969 people’s upheaval. During & after the War of Liberation they in a body as one of the major contributors in galvanizing people’s struggle in all conceivable political movements culminating into War of Liberation’71 became a factor in the political arena of Bangladesh of post liberation.
After Liberation, Banga Bandhu should have acted as a Guardian/Referee/Arbitrator of the entire country. During long struggle of Liberation of Bangladesh particularly from 1969 onward culminating into War of Liberation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Banga Bandhu became not only the most glamorous legend & precious public property, the greatest national leader ever produced by Bangladesh/Bengali speaking people, but also a most sought after political leader & at the time tremendously respected International Leader.
In response to the clarion call given by the Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, over 96% of 75 million people of the total population of Bangladesh did participate in the War of Liberation in one way or other. It was an epoch creating history that such an overwhelming majority of the population of a country was found without questioning obeying one single command – the single command & the thunderous voice of the undaunted Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to its fullest.
So after liberation for Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to run any Government of any particular political party was too small a thing to deal with. By then he had already reached much higher position both from public perception & esteem of home & abroad.
But unfortunately after the liberation, this finer aspect & the tremendous spirit of comradeship, a bond thicker than blood, generated among almost all the citizen of Bangladesh irrespective of caste, creed & colour, primarily due to inhuman suffering suffered by the people in general under the heels of blood thirsty barbarous occupation Army from Pakistan yet remarkable resilience were shown by the people of Bangladesh during the nine long months of bloody War of Liberation which made them one solid piece of Rock of Gibraltar with Sheikh Mujib, the sole leader of the people of Bangladesh, could not be visualized in its true perspective by the AL hierarchy. They could see only the tip of their own noses.
During the War of Liberation of Bangladesh’71, the provisional Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh ably steered by the Exile Government led by the astute statesman Tajuddin Ahmad & with other comrades the Exile Government used to be run under the name of Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. During War of Liberation Mujib & Bangladesh became synonymous. But unfortunately after Bangladesh came into existence Mujib & AL became synonymous. That was the tragedy like that of Julius Caesar. Character traits of Sheikh Mujib say that he has been the Julius Caesar of Bangladesh.
After the liberation, people were engrossed with numerous nation building endeavours including consolidating power base & in that melee the spirit of War of Liberation of Bangladesh of 1971 had been ignored or went at the back if not oblivion. The ambitious & impulsive stalwarts of AL (most of them were hardly present physically in any of the battle fields) hardly could read the mind of the people & the emergent forces & feelings & aspirations, instead for their own selfish interest unfortunately the younger leadership of AL exploited the lion hearted Sheikh Mujibur Rahman & dragged him down to make him leader of AL only primarily to get his protection – a terrible mistake, if not a crime, they committed beyond any conceivable imagination. It was a national loss, nay a national tragedy. At the finest hour of national consolidation & unity with a positive approach ushering a dawn of a new era, yet in years time it collapsed like house of cards due to our own immaturities & lack of comprehensive knowledge in dealing sensitive national issues & challenges & to prepare a prospective master plan of the country laying down the strategic requirements & options & alternative options with priority.
It was the younger generation of AL leadership who damaged the sky high image of Sheikh Mujib, the Banga Bandhu keeping him alive Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the firebrand lion hearted leader of AL.
The over ambitious & determined Sk.Moni wanted to rule through AL only, nay through his own selected & trained cadres only (so was Sirajul Alam Khan), sadly a miscalculation & due to premature attempt it misfired very badly. Unfortunate but hard reality is that after the Liberation, the whole political scenario was magnified manifolds, from province to becoming a sovereign state is itself a self contradictory proposition/processing, obviously new dimensions were creped in, perception started changing radically (India for example from enemy became most trusted friend), though value added politics was making its inroad to the political arena of Bangladesh overwhelmed with bright & divergent ideas, but at the same time with the backing of national & international pressure groups at the back door overriding social & political factors to dominate single handedly started squeezing in the society, weapon & use of weapon became a major factor to destabilize century old social values yet a national consensus on major & fundamental issues was in the offing which traditional AL leadership could not grasp it or comprehend it as a whole.
No doubt, the Government of the People Republic of Bangladesh formed immediately after the country was liberated made tremendous impact in facing the acute manifold overriding problems, which need urgent & caring attentions, of war torn country, yet while building damaged national infrastructures & economy an Himalayan task by any standard, the then policy makers with heavy weight of burden of wreckage economy &broken/destroyed institutions of all kinds yet with the flavor of unbelievable victory they achieved they were with confidence became go getter type in facing adverse situations, ignored, might be unknowingly, in galvanizing people’s support & good wishes under a national government instead they primarily went all out to strength their own power base & sort out opposition & dissent voices against ruling party by any means & in the process bogged down in the quagmire of hidden politics.
There is no doubt that during Mar’71 in particular onward & during the War of Liberation the charismatic leadership of Banga Bandhu charmed the whole world. But as he was physically absent from the battle field, after the Liberation, he was easily misled & was wrongly briefed about the conduct of the war & particularly about Tajuddin Ahmad & Major Ziaur Rahman & Bangladesh military forces as a whole, by the people, who hardly fought or even present physically in any of the battle fields. He was given an idea that it was the Indian Armed Forces who liberated Bangladesh.
The saga of Indian help & material (including training) & logistic supports which the then Indian Government led by the undaunted Mrs Indira Gandhi & its generous people in general rendered, if one wants to narrate it will become an encyclopedia. No doubt that the direct participation of Indian Armed Forces under the banner of the Joint Forces Command, especially after 21 November 1971, definitely expedited the victory of the War of Liberation in about two weeks time. But at the same time no denying fact that it was 165 thousand armed & trained freedom fighters with the help of over 80,000 Vitti Fouz hiding within the country sides of Bangladesh, who after making deep penetrating move deep inside of Bangladesh availing the hundreds of safe hide outs created by the encroached Vitti Fouz, continuously hammered the defended localities & disrupting communication net works of land, rail & waterways of Occupation forces & almost made the morale of the soldiers of the occupation forces in its lowest ebb.
The forces of the Joint Command of Bangladesh & India with Syed Nazrul Islam, the Acting President of Bangladesh, as the Supreme Commander & Lieutenant General Aurora of the Indian Army as the field commander, commanding a huge force of 3 Indian Corps plus & 165 thousand FFs, marched, led by Indian Armed Forces while Freedom Fighters of Bangladesh acted as dare devil vanguards (in most cases), almost with full confidence by passed almost all major defences of the occupation forces destroying its Naval & Air Force within first few days time after the war broke out between India & Pakistan, & rushed towards Dhaka to fall within stipulated time. That was a remarkable achievement. In expediting the victory within nine months & fall of Dhaka within two weeks the contribution of Indian Armed Forces were enormous & could be assessed & reasonably quantified as 60% & Mukti Bahini 40%. For Mukti Bahini even with the Indian active support & backing at their own to get victory over the Occupation Army would have had taken minimum 3 years time. Material, logistics & training support to build up Mukti Bahini the Indian contribution was more than 80% especially after April ’71. Besides India alone with occasional help from abroad maintained refugee camps of ten million people who fled away from East Bengal to West Bengal, Maghalay, Assam, Tripura, Coch Behar & other places of India – it was enormous task to accomplish & India did it in styles. But in case of shattering the morale of the occupation forces, the major factor of causing the defeat & unconditional surrender of the occupation forces, the contribution of Mukti Bahini (including 96% population of Bangladesh) was more than 90%.
Although it was quite likely that with the passage of time Banga Bandhu must have had realized & could visualize the battle scenarios of War of Liberation of Bangladesh’71, but probably it was too late.
In that ups & down situation of post liberation the AL, unlike March’1971 during which period the unbelievable all out Non Cooperation movement against the erstwhile Pakistan Military Junta was conducted superbly with vigor & determination galvanizing the support of almost entire population of Bangladesh, fumbled to steer national aspirations to its cherished goal & could not cement the green & fluid bond generated among the different participating forces under AL leadership during War of Liberation’71, primarily due to internal feud & conflict of interests & ideas within the AL higher echelon & became prisoner of its own forces & Khondoker Mustaque, the dark horse within the AL hierarchy, who with the blessing of Banga Bandhu survived the 1973 Election, took the full advantage & exploited it to its fullest.
And at an opportune moment in one stroke Khondokar Mustaque, the Brutus, got rid of Banga Bandhu’s family including Sk Moni (whom he used as a pawn during War of Liberation’71 & afterwards, against Tajuddin Ahmad – in the month of Sept1971, it is said that instigated by Kh. Mustaque the members of the parliament under the patronage of Sk Moni & other student leaders wanted to tabulate a no confidence motion against PM Tajuddin Ahmed who just survived as Indira Gandhi stopped it) & four potential rivals of his, an inhuman & heinous crime Kh. Mustaque committed so that he could command the AL all by himself which ultimately he could not.
Kh. Mustaque proved to be a born conspirator only rather than a leader of national stature to lead the nation, which in the absence of Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman only Tajuddin Ahmad could have shouldered that huge responsibilities, as he did during War of Liberation’71 with remarkable sagacity, & carried the country to its cherished goal over coming all odds & challenges & if failed or stranded absentee Banga Bandhu & his marvelous & magical name would have been there as it was during War of Liberation’71 to rescue him & his Government. Till today it remains a day dream only due to our own follies & misleading perceptions.
Amin Ahmed Chowdhury, BB