By Muhammad Ahmedullah
It was on 10 January 1972 that Sheikh Mujib came back to his motherland, to a new country called Bangladesh, from nine months of imprisonment in a Pakistani Jail. At that time he was loved and respected by the vast majority of Bangladeshis as the Bangabondhu and Jatirpita and people eagerly waited to be led by what they thought was a legendary, inspirational and capable leader to a Golden Bangla of prosperity and happiness. Instead they got more misery, deaths, destruction, poverty, insecurity and dictatorship. Sheikh Mujib who promised Golden Bangla, Democracy and prosperity lead us to the opposite of what he promised and people believed about him and, at the end, he created the BAKSAL one party dictatorship. His colleagues, friends, followers and supporters got divided in the process and some conspired with a group of freedom fighters who staged a coup and brutality killed him and a large number of his family members on 15 August 1975.
Today in Bangladesh or among the worldwide Bangladeshi Diaspora there is no consensus on how to treat the legacy of Sheikh Mujib – in terms of whether to accept him as Bangabondhu, Jatirpita and inspirational leader. The Awami League party and the government during its periods of rule have used the state media, state resources and state instruments to try and impose a positive view of Sheikh Mujib and establish him as the Bangabondhu, Jatirpita and inspirational leader for Bangladeshis. The government has been helped in this regard by many supporting organisations, media and individuals at home and abroad. They have used a combination of propaganda, legal steps, violence, threats and many other ethical and unethical means to convince people to see Sheikh Mujib in a positive light and love and respect him. However, after many years of using overwhelming resources, power and violence to establish Shiekh Mujib firmly as the Bangabondhu, Jatirpita and inspirational leader it should now be clear that they have utterly failed in this regard and this is likely to continue be the outcome well into the future.
The use of force, violence and power to restore Sheikh Mujib to a position that he lost through his own misrule and actions was going to be counterproductive from the very beginning and this is what it has been. Only one section of the Bangladeshi people will love Sheikh Mujib and find inspiration in his example and they are not in the majority. The rest will be indifferent or reject the attempt to rehabilitate him as a great leader. This is how it is going to be well into the future so we should look at developing appropriate policies and ideas to reflect present and future reality of how Bangladeshis feel and view Sheikh Mujib in order to unify Bangladesh where people, individuals or groups should be free to feel in whatever way that pleases them. No violence will restore his reputation to those who do not see any real leadership qualities in Sheikh Mujib and hold him responsible for so much that went wrong during his misrule between 1972-5. Violence, force and legal steps will not change the reality.
BUILD CONSENSUS BASED ON REALITY AND NOT THROUGH THREATS AND VIOLENCE.