দেশ ও জাতির কল্যাণে সবার প্রিয় শেখ হাসিনা : বেবী মওদুদ

সেপ্টেম্বর ২৭, ২০১২

বঙ্গবন্ধু কন্যা প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনার আজ জন্মদিন। ২৮ সেপ্টেম্বর ১৯৪৭ সালে টুঙ্গিপাড়া গ্রামে তাঁর জন্ম হয়। পিতা শেখ মুজিব তখন কলকাতায় ভারত ভাগের পরবর্তী রাজনৈতিক পরিস্থিতি, দাঙ্গা প্রতিরোধ এবং লেখাপড়া নিয়ে মহাব্যাস্ত। দাদা ও দাদীর স্নেহ-আশীর্বাদ নিয়ে তার জীবন শুরু হয়। দাদা তার নাম রাখেন ‘হাসিনা’। মা তাকে বুকের ভেতর মমতায় জড়িয়ে রাখতেন। জন্মের খবর পেয়ে পিতা একদিন হঠাৎ বাড়ি এসে মেয়েকে কোলে তুলে নিয়ে ‘হাচুমণি’ ডেকে আনন্দ প্রকাশ করে কপালে চুম্বন এঁকে দিলেন। সেদিনই তার ভাগ্যের লিখন তৈরি হয়ে যায়। বঙ্গবন্ধুর সেই আদরের নয়নমণি ছোট্ট ‘হাচুমণি’ একদিন বড় হয়ে বাংলাদেশের জনগণের প্রিয় নেত্রী হয়ে উঠলেন এবং ধীরে ধীরে বিশ্বনেত্রীর মর্যাদায় নিজেকে প্রতিষ্ঠিত করলেন। গ্রামের নদী-নালা-খাল-বিলের স্রোতের শব্দ এবং সবুজ প্রকৃতির গন্ধ মেখে তার শৈশব কাটে। সেখানেই শিক্ষা জীবন শুরু হয়। পরে ঢাকায় এস স্কুলে, কলেজে ও বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ে লেখাপড়া করেন। মা ফজিলাতুননেছা রেণুর ছায়াসঙ্গী হয়ে পিতার রাজনৈতিক জীবনকে খুব ঘনিষ্ঠভাবে দেখেন এবং নিজেকে ওতপ্রোতভাবে জড়িয়ে একজন আদর্শময়ী হিসেবে গড়ে তোলেন।

শেখ হাসিনার সঙ্গে আমার প্রথম দেখা ও পরিচয় হয় ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের বাংলা বিভাগের প্রথম বর্ষ অনার্স ক্লাসে, সেপ্টেম্বর ১৯৬৭ সালে। আমরা দু’জন একই ক্লাসে পড়তাম। শেখ হাসিনা ঢাকায় স্কুল ও কলেজে লেখাপড়া করেছে, তাই তার বন্ধুর সংখ্যাও ছিল অনেক। সবার মাঝে সে ছিল আনন্দময় বন্ধু, সহমর্মী সাথী। তার এক আকর্ষণীয় ব্যক্তিত্ব ছিল বলে সে সবার প্রিয় ছিল। সবাই তাকে চিনতো জানতো এবং তার সঙ্গে কথা বলে গল্প করে সময় কাটাতে দ্বিধা বোধ করতো না। আমি ছাত্র ইউনিয়নের সমর্থক হলেও তার সঙ্গে বা তার বন্ধুদের সঙ্গে সময় কাটাতে বিন্দুমাত্র অস্বস্থি বোধ হতো না। সবার সঙ্গেই তার ছিল অগাধ বন্ধুত্ব এবং ভালোবাসা। খুব বড় মাপের মানুষদের গড়ে ওঠার পেছনে এটা একটা বড় গুন। তখন থেকেই দেখেছি তার মধ্যে বই পড়ার নেশা, রাজনীতিমনস্ক হয়ে ওঠা, মানুষের পাশে গিয়ে দাঁড়িয়ে সাহায্য করা। অত্যন্ত বিনয়ী এবং শুদ্ধতম বাঙালি হয়ে ওঠার পেছনেও তাদের একটা পারিবারিক মূল্যবোধ আছে সত্য, তারপরও পিতা-মাতার প্রভাব শেখ হাসিনাকে একজন আদর্শ, মমতাময়ী মানুষ হিসেবে প্রতিষ্ঠা এনে দিয়েছে।

তারুণ্যের ছায়ায় দেখা শেখ হাসিনা আজ অভিজ্ঞতায় অনেক সমৃদ্ধ। অভিজ্ঞতার আলোকে তিনি অনেক শক্তিশালী। বুদ্ধিমত্তা আগের মতই প্রখর, সহনশীলতা ও দৃঢ়তা, ধৈর্য, যেন তার চরিত্রগত ধর্ম। ভালোবাসায় ও সহমর্মীতায় তিনি এখনও বন্ধুদের কাছে প্রিয় এবং সকলের অতি আপনজন। তাই আজ আমাদের কাছে গর্বের বিষয় শেখ হাসিনা বাংলাদেশের প্রতীক হিসেবে জনগনের কাছে নন্দিত।

পনেরো আগস্টের শোকাবহ ঘটনা শেখ হাসিনার জীবনে অনেক বড় বেদনাদায়ক ঘটনা, এক গভীরতম ট্রাজেডি। এই শোক তাকে শক্তিশালী দায়িত্বশীল করেছে দেশের জন্য মানুষের জন্য কাজ করে যেতে। খুব কাছে থেকে দেখেছি তিনি কাজের প্রতি যথেষ্ট আন্তরিক। বিরোধীদলের নেত্রী হিসেবে দেখেছি তার আপোষহীনতা, সংগ্রামে-আন্দোলনে দূরদর্শী। আবার প্রধানমন্ত্রী হিসেবে দু’বার দায়িত্বভার পালন কালেও তাকে দেখেছি যথেষ্ট সচেতন থাকতে, ভালো-মন্দ ঘটনা যাই ঘটুক শেখ হাসিনা অবশ্যই জানতে পারেন, জানতে পারলে একটা সুরাহা তিনি নিজেই বের করে তার সমাধান না হওয়া পর্যন্তু মনিটরিং করে থাকেন। নিজেই সমাধান করার চেষ্টা করে থাকেন। এখানেই তার একনিষ্টতার পরিচয় পাওয়া যায়। তার কাছে দেশ ও দেশের মানুষ হলো প্রধান কথা। এর বাইরে তিনি যেতে চান না, যেতে পারেন না।

বিডিআর বিদ্রোহ দমনকালে তার ইস্পাত কঠিন দৃঢ়তা আমার মনে আছে। তার রাষ্ট্রনায়কোচিত বক্তব্য, জ্ঞান, আন্তর্জাতিক মহলে প্রশংসিত হয়েছে–এটা আমাদের কাছে অনেক বড় প্রাপ্তি। বাঙালি হিসেবে, একজন নারী হয়েও তিনি আমাদের মাথা উঁচু করেছেন যা অনেকের পক্ষে সম্ভব হয়নি।
শেখ হাসিনা বাঙালি জাতির কান্ডারী হিসেবে বিবেচিত হয়েছেন তার মেধা, সাহস ও সততার কারণে, বর্তমান বাংলাদেশের অস্তিত্বের প্রতীক বলা হয় তাকে। বাঙালির জাতি সত্ত্বা, মুক্তিযুদ্ধের চেতনা ও মূল্যবোধ বঙ্গবন্ধুকে হত্যা করে স্বাধীনতার পরাজিত শক্তিরা নস্যাৎ করতে সর্বাত্বক প্রচেষ্টা চালিয়েছিল। তাদের সঙ্গে মহা উৎসাহে যোগ দিয়েছিল ক্ষমতালোভী ও সুবিধাভোগী রাজনীতিবিদ, শিক্ষাবিদ, বুদ্ধিজীবী, পেশাজীবী ও ব্যবসায়ী সমাজ। বঙ্গবন্ধুর বাঙালি জাতি তখন ছিল অসহায়, নির্যাতিত, অপমানিত, নিপীড়িত। ধর্মের দোহাই দিয়ে বাঙালির চিরশত্রু পাকিস্তানের স্বৈর সামরিক শাসকরা দেশকে এক অন্ধকারাচ্ছন্ন গর্তের ভেতর ফেলে দিয়েছিল। বঙ্গবন্ধুর সোনার বাংলা গড়ার স্বপ্নকে ভেঙ্গে চুরমার করে এক জঙ্গী ও সাম্প্রদায়িক শাসন কায়েমের ভিত রচনা করে। কিন্তু সেইসব লোভী ও বিশ্বাসঘাতকরা বঙ্গবন্ধুর পবিত্র রক্ত মেখে নিজেরাই হয়েছিল ঘাতক ও খুনী, তাই সেই ভিত শক্তিশালী হতে পারেনি। তাদের পাপী হৃদয়ের লালসা চরিতার্থ করতে পারেনি। খুনী মোশতাক-জেনারেল জিয়া ও জেনারেল এরশাদ বাঙালির অস্তিত্বকে মুছে ফেলার অপচেষ্টার প্রয়াস চালিয়েছিল। এসব তো আমরা চোখের সামনে দেখেছি। তাদের উচ্ছিষ্টভোগী লোভীরা কেউ কেউ তলে তলে তাদেরই সমর্থন করে গিয়েছে। বাঙালি বাংলাদেশ বিশ্বে তখন মাথা নীচু করেই ছিল। ক্যূ-পাল্টা ক্যূ, গুম ও হত্যার মাধ্যমে ক্ষমতা দখলের অপচেষ্টা, গণতন্ত্র এবং রাজনীতিকে ধ্বংস করার ষড়যন্ত্র চলছিল। সুশাসনকে বুটের তলায় নিস্পেষিত করে দুর্নীতি ও দু:শাসনের রাজত্ব কায়েম করা হয়েছিল। একদিকে মুষ্টিমেয় উচ্ছিষ্টভোগীরা ধনী থেকে ধনী হচ্ছিল, আর একদিকে গরীব আরও গরীব হয়ে পড়ছিল। দারিদ্র -দুর্ভিক্ষ অভাব অনটনে মানুষ আরও অসহায় হয়ে পড়ছিল। মুক্ত বাতাস নেবার মত পরিবেশ ছিল না দেশে।

১৯৭৫ থেকে ১৯৮১ দেশের রাজনৈতিক পরিস্থিতি ছিল এমনই অন্ধকাচ্ছান্ন। সংশয় প্রতিহিংসা-দমনপীড়ন-শোষণ নির্যাতনে মানুষ ছিল অসহায়। কান্ডারীহীন নৌকা যেন দিশাহারা ছিল। আর এসময়ই আমরা ফেব্রুয়ারি মাসে আওয়ামী লীগের কাউন্সিল হতে দেখি, যেখানে সর্বসম্মতিক্রমে প্রবাসে অবস্থানরত বঙ্গবন্ধু কন্যা শেখ হাসিনাকে দলীয় সভানেত্রী নির্বাচিত করা হয়।

তারপর ১৭ই মে শেখ হাসিনার ঐতিহাসিক স্বদেশ প্রত্যাবর্তন এবং তাঁর প্রতি লক্ষ লক্ষ মানুষের সেই সম্বর্ধনা আমরা নিশ্চয় বিস্মৃত হতে পারি না। পিতার শোকের সান্তনা তিনি সেদিন এই মানুষের মাঝে দেখেছিলেন এবং মনে মনে স্থির করেছিলেন পিতার অসমাপ্ত কাজ তাকেই সমাপ্ত করতে হবে এবং জীবন দিয়ে হলেও করতে হবে। এ কথা তিনি বারবার উচ্চারণও করেছেন। তারপর ১৯৮১ থেকে ১৯৯৬ পর্যন্ত এক দীর্ঘ-স্বৈরাচার-সামরিক-সরকার-বিরোধী আন্দোলন করেছেন শেখ হাসিনা। নিজের দল সংগঠিত করতে হয়েছে, নেতা ও কর্মীদের মধ্যে আদর্শ স্থাপন করতে হয়েছে এবং দেশ ও জনদরদী নেতা হিসেবে তিনি আজ প্রতিষ্টিত। পিতার মতই অসীম সাহসী, দৃঢ়তায় অবিচল, দেশপ্রেম ও মানবিক গুনাবলীসম্পন্ন একজন আদর্শবাদী নেতা হিসেবে শেখ হাসিনা মানুষের কাছে আজ সবচেয়ে বেশি জনপ্রিয় নেতা । দেশের যে কোনও সংকটে তার নেতৃত্ব দলমত নির্বিশেষে সকল রাজনৈতিক দল, সামাজিক ও সাংস্কৃতিক সংগঠনের কাছে তিনিই একমাত্র গ্রহণযোগ্য। সেখানে দ্বিতীয় কোনও বিকল্প নেই।

১৯৯৬ থেকে ২০০১ সাল পর্যন্ত প্রধানমন্ত্রী হিসেবে দেশ শাসন করে শেখ হাসিনা প্রমান করেছেন শাসক হিসেবে তিনি যেমন দেশনন্দিত, তেমনি গণতন্ত্র ও শান্তি প্রতিষ্ঠায় বিশ্বনেতার মর্যাদায় প্রতিষ্ঠিত। তাঁর শাসনামলে আর্থ-সামাজিক ক্ষেত্রে হতদরিদ্র মানুষের মাঝে খাদ্য ও অর্থ বরাদ্দ এবং অন্যান্য সহযোগিতা মানুষকে অসহায়ত্ব থেকে রক্ষা করেছিল। দেশকে খাদ্য উৎপাদনে স্বয়ংসম্পূর্ণ করে তুলে তিনি দুর্ভিক্ষ ও দারিদ্রের কষাঘাত থেকে মানুষকে রক্ষা করে ভাগ্যোন্নয়নের পথে দাঁড় করিয়েছেন। নারীর ক্ষমতায়নে গৃহীত বিভিন্ন কর্মসুচি এবং সন্তানের অভিভাবক হিসেবে সর্বক্ষেত্রে পিতার পাশাপাশি মায়ের নামের স্বীকৃতিও ছিল একটি যুগান্তকারী পদক্ষেপ। কৃষি উন্নয়নের লক্ষ্যে কৃষকদের ঋৃণ প্রদান, কৃষি সামগ্রীর মূল্যহ্রাস এবং সহজ প্রাপ্যতাও ছিল বিরাট অবদান। শেখ হাসিনার নেতৃত্বে প্রথম সরকার মানুষের কাছে আস্থা এনে দিয়েছিল। পরবর্তীতে কিভাবে বিএনপি-জামায়াত জোট সরকার ক্ষমতায় আসে আমরা সবাই দেখেছি। তারা পাঁচ বছর দেশ শাসনের নামে লুটপাট ও দুর্নীতি, জঙ্গীবাদ ও সন্ত্রাস সৃষ্টিতে ইতিহাস গড়ে তোলে এবং তারপরও ক্ষমতায় থাকার জন্য বিরোধীদলকে দমন করার হিংসাত্বক পন্থা অবলম্বন করে নির্বাচন কমিশনকে এক হাস্যকর দলীয়করনের দৃষ্টান্ত করে তোলে। এরপরের ইতিহাস আমরা সবাই জানি যে কীভাবে সেনাবাহিনীর তত্ত্বাবধানে তত্ত্বাবাধায়ক সরকার গঠিত হয় এবং তারা দুই বছর দেশ শাসন করে। তারা শুধুমাত্র গণতন্ত্রকে অকার্যকর করে রাখে রাজনীতি ও রাজনৈতিক নেতাদের কারারুদ্ধ করে তাদের বিরুদ্ধে মিথ্যা মামলা গ্রেপ্তার-রিমান্ড ও নির্যাতন চালিয়েছে। দুর্ভাগ্যজনক হলো বঙ্গবন্ধু কন্যা শেখ হাসিনাও কারারুদ্ধ হন। নিঃসঙ্গ কারাগারে তার ওপর মানসিক নির্যাতন চালানো হয়। এমনকি কারাগারে স্লোপয়জনিং করে তাকে হত্যা করার অপচেষ্টাও চালানো হয়। কারাবন্দি অবস্থায় কোর্টে তার মামলা চলে, সেখানেও তিনি সাহসিকতার সঙ্গে মোকাবেলা করেন। তার বিরুদ্ধে সকল মিথ্যা মামলার অভিযোগের কারণ হিসেবে উল্লেখ করেন তাকে রাজনীতি থেকে সরিয়ে দেবার ঘৃণ্য ষড়যন্ত্র চলছে। সেসময়ও আমরা দেখেছি তার পেছনে শুধুমাত্র দলীয় নেতা-কর্মী নয়, মুক্তিযুদ্ধের চেতনার ধারক বাহক সমগ্র দেশবাসী ঐক্যবদ্ধভাবে ছিলো। এর প্রমাণ আমরা দেখেছি ২০০৮ সালের জাতীয় নির্বাচনে। মানুষ তাকে বিপুলভাবে ভোট দিয়ে সংখ্যাগরিষ্ট দলের নেতা হিসেবে দেশ শাসনের অধিকার দেয়।

২০০৯ সালে দ্বিতীয়বার প্রধানমন্ত্রীর দায়িত্ব নিয়ে শেখ হাসিনা জাতিকে স্বপ্নদর্শী করে তোলার পাশাপাশি একুশ শতকের প্রযুক্তি উপযোগী হবার আহ্বান জানান। তিনি ডিজিটাল বাংলাদেশ গড়ে তোলার সকল কর্মসুচি তৃনমূল থেকে শুরু করেন। দেশে সংবাদপত্রের স্বাধীনতা এবং তার সরকারের অধীনে নিরপেক্ষ ও স্বচ্ছ নির্বাচন করে তিনি গণতন্ত্র প্রতিষ্ঠার পথকে উদার করে দিয়েছন। এর পাশাপাশি শিক্ষা, স্বাস্থ্য, কৃষি ও কর্মসংস্থানের ব্যাপক উন্নয়নের মাধ্যমে দেশকে আজ মডেল হিসেবে বিশ্বনেতৃবৃন্দের দৃষ্টি আকর্ষণে সমর্থ করে তোলেন। এছাড়া তার শাসনামলে নারীর ক্ষমতায়নও বিশ্বে এক বিশেষ উদাহরণ স্থাপন করেছে। শেখ হাসিনার প্রতি তাকিয়ে আছে শুধুমাত্র বাংলাদেশ নয়, দক্ষিণ এশিয়া ও দরিদ্র অনুন্নত দেশের মানুষও। বর্তমান বিশ্বে যখন অর্থনৈতিক মন্দা চলছে, দেশে দেশে মূল্যবৃদ্ধি ও বেকার সমস্যা জটিল হচ্ছে তখন তিনি বাংলাদেশের অর্থনীতিকে শক্তিশালী করেছেন। মানুষের জীবিকা নির্বাহে ন্যূননতম উপায় সৃষ্টি করেছেন। শেখ হাসিনার কৃতিত্ব এখানেই। তার সাফল্যের চাবিকাঠি হচ্ছে তিনি গভীর আন্তরিক বলেই যেকোনও ভালো উদ্যোগকে সার্বিকভাবে সহযোগিতা করতে জানেন। বিশেষ করে কৃষি খাতের উন্নয়নে তাঁর কোন বিকল্প আজও আমরা দেখতে পাই না। জাতীয় অর্থনীতি আগের চেয়ে অনেক শক্তিশালী। দারিদ্রের হার অনেক কমে বর্তমানে ৩২.০৫ ভাগে নেমে এসেছে। অনেক রকম সমস্যা আছে দেশে, সমস্যার মাত্রাও নানাবিধ তারপরও দেশের মানুষ ন্যূনতম শান্তি ও স্বস্তিতে জীবনযাপন করছে। এর প্রধান কারণ দ্রব্যমূল্য নিয়ন্ত্রন, ফসল উৎপাদন বৃদ্ধি। আমাদের স্বীকার করতেই হবে শেখ হাসিনার শাসনামলে তার দৃষ্টি তৃণমূল থেকেই ওপরে উঠেছে।

তিনি তরুনদের কাছে প্রযুক্তি ব্যবহারের অবাধ সুযোগ সুবিধা নিশ্চিত করেছেন। শেখ হাসিনা বাংলাদেশকে ভবিষ্যৎ প্রজন্মের বাসোপযোগী করার উদ্যোগ নিয়েছেন যেখানে শিক্ষা-স্বাস্থ্য-কর্মসংস্থান ছাড়াও সৃজনশীল প্রতিভা বিকাশের বিরাট সম্ভাবনা থাকবে। জনগণের প্রতি দায়বদ্ধতা শেখ হাসিনার কতটুকু অর্জিত হয়েছে জানি না, তবে তাঁর মত জনদরদী ও মমতাময়ী নেত্রী ভবিষ্যতে আসবে কি না সেটা ইতিহাস সাক্ষ্য দেবে এবং ভবিষ্যৎ প্রজন্মই মূল্যায়ণ করবে।

জাতির পিতা বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমানের যোগ্য উত্তরসুরী হিসেবে শেখ হাসিনা তার সততা, আত্মত্যাগ, দূরদর্শীতা ও দেশপ্রেমের উজ্জ্বল স্বাক্ষর রেখেছেন–এটাই হচ্ছে তার সবচেয়ে বড় কৃতিত্ব।
১২.৯.২০১২

Sheikh Hasina (Bengali:  Shekh Hasina) (born September 28, 1947) is a Bangladeshi politician and current Prime Minister of Bangladesh.[1] She has been the President of the Awami League, a major political party, since 1981. She is the eldest of five children of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father (and first president) of Bangladesh and widow of a reputed nuclear scientist, M. A. Wazed Miah. Sheikh Hasina’s party defeated the BNP-led Four-Party Alliance in the 2008 parliamentary elections, thus assuring her of the post of prime minister. Sheikh Hasina has once before held the office, from 1996 to 2001.

Early life

Sheikh Hasina’s political career started as a student activist in Eden College in the 1960s. While at College, she was elected vice president of the College Students Union for the term 1966–67. Her opponent was the leftist student leader Matia Chowdhary, who much later joined Awami League and became a member of Hasina’s cabinet.

At the University of Dhaka Sheikh Hasina was a member of the Chhatra League (the student wing of Awami League) and secretary of its Rokeya Hall unit. During the liberation war in 1971, Hasina, then a young mother, was held under house arrest with her mother, brothers, sister and her son. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was imprisoned in West Pakistan during this period. After liberation, Hasina’s involvement in politics was minimal as Sheikh Kamal, her brother, was touted as Mujib’s successor.

Member of the National Assembly

Her political and personal destiny was irrevocably altered on the fateful night of August 15, 1975, when her father and almost her entire family, including her mother and three brothers, was assassinated in a coup d’état by a section of disgruntled officers of the Bangladesh Army, some of whom were freedom fighters during 1971.[2] Sheikh Hasina and her sister, Sheikh Rehana were on a goodwill tour of West Germany at that time. Hasina then sought refuge in United Kingdom and later, in India. She lived in exile in New Delhi, India, until May 17, 1981, when she was allowed to return to Bangladesh. Movement against autocracy

While living in self-exile in India, Sheikh Hasina was elected President of Bangladesh Awami League in 1981. After she returned to the country, President Ziaur Rahman was assassinated in yet another coup in May, 1981. The following year, General Hossain Mohammad Ershad captured power through a bloodless coup and declared martial law. In 1983, Hasina formed the 15-party alliance to launch a movement to oust him from power. She was in and out of detention throughout the 1980s. Her party, along with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Ziaur Rahman’s widow Khaleda Zia, was instrumental in the movement against the military rule. In 1984, Hasina was put under house arrest in February and then again in November. In March 1985, she was put under house arrest for three months.

In 1990, Hasina’s 8-party alliance was instrumental along with another BNP-led alliance in finally removing the Ershad regime.

Under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Awami League formed an alliance with Ershad’s Jatiya Party in 1991.

Leader of the opposition

Sheikh Hasina and her party Awami League participated in the 1986 Parliamentary elections held under President Lieutenant-General Hossain Mohammad Ershad. She served as the leader of the opposition in 1986–1987. Hasina’s decision to take part in the election has been criticized by her opponents, since the election was held under dictatorial rule. Her supporters maintain that she used the platform effectively to challenge Ershad’s rule. The parliament was dissolved in December 1987. Being the leader of the opposition Sheikh Hasina always pushed the govt. to render accountability and transparency in all spehere of life cricizing the activities of the cabinet.

The first democratic elections were held in 1991 after a long period of military rule. A caretaker government, headed by Shahabuddin Ahmed, the outgoing chief justice, oversaw the elections. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party won the election, and Hasina’s Awami League emerged as the largest opposition party. Hasina was defeated in the Dhaka constituency that she contested by Sadeque Hossain Khoka, later Mayor of Dhaka, but was elected to the Parliament from her home constituency in Gopalganj. Hasina accused the BNP of “nuanced rigging” in elections. Hasina, nevertheless, offered to resign as the party president but later stayed on at the request of party leaders. Khaleda Zia of the BNP took office as the first female Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

Politics in Bangladesh took a decisive turn in 1994, after Magura by-elections. This election was held after the MP for that constituency, a member of Hasina’s party, died. The Awami League was expected to win it back, but the seat was won by the BNP. The opposition parties accused the BNP of widespread rigging and the election commission of incompetence. The Awami League, with other opposition parties, demanded that the next general elections be held under a caretaker government, and that the notion of a caretaker government be incorporated in the constitution. The ruling party of Khaleda Zia, Hasina’s arch rival, refused to give in to these demands.

Opposition parties launched an unprecedented campaign, calling strikes for weeks on end. The government accused them of destroying the economy while the opposition countered that BNP could solve this problem by acceding to their demands. In late 1995, the MPs of the Awami League and other parties lost their seats due to prolonged absence from parliament. The government declared elections on February 15, 1996, an election that was boycotted by all major parties except the ruling BNP. Hasina claimed that the election was a farce. The elected parliament, composed mostly of BNP members, finally amended the constitution to create provisions for a caretaker government. The next parliamentary elections were held under a caretaker government headed by Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman on June 30, 1996

The Awami League won 146 seats in the 1996 parliamentary elections. The support of the Jatiya Party and a few independent candidates were enough for the 150+ seats needed for the required majority. Hasina took the oath as Prime minister of Bangladesh. She vowed to create a Government of National Unity. Though some smaller parties and a few individuals from BNP did join the government, the distance between the main two political parties (as well as their leaders) remained as large as ever. Hasina did manage to convince Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, who led the first caretaker government, to assume the post of President. This selection of an unbiased person as president was praised by her supporters as a proof of Hasina’s goodwill to reach out to the opposition.

A major achievement of the new government was to strike a treaty between India and Bangladesh concerning the Farakka Barrage, a bone of contention between the two countries ever since it was built in the 1960s. According to the treaty, Bangladesh was to receive 33 thousand cubic feet per second (930 m³/s) of water. Hasina next went on to create a ‘Peace Treaty’ with the tribal rebels in the mountainous southeast of the country, thus seemingly solving a problem as old as Bangladesh itself. Though rebel activities have reduced greatly after the treaty, the region remains a hotbed of tension.

On the down side, the Awami League was criticized for harbouring gangsters turned politicians, most notably Jainal Hazari of Feni. Her government was also criticized for overusing Sheikh Mujibur Rahman—the country’s founding leader and also father to Sheikh Hasina—in the media and naming many major public institutions and constructions after him. The Awami League maintained that previous governments had tried to systematically eradicate Sheikh Mujib’s legacy from the country and that the honour he was getting was long overdue. The BNP also accused the Awami League of politicising the administration and state-owned media. Her party was also accused of being lenient towards India, especially after a shootout between border forces of India and Bangladesh left 16 Indian and 3 Bangladeshi border guards dead.

During the last year of her rule, Transparency International declared Bangladesh to be the most corrupt country in the world. Though Bangladesh had almost always been in the bottom five, the last position created an uproar and was seen by many as a major failure by Hasina. Though Hasina was voted out of office later, Bangladesh remained at the last position for some more years. The opposition demanded that Hasina resign and declare early elections, but Hasina refused to do so. She became the first democratically elected prime minister to complete her term.

Justice Latifur Rahman became the head of the caretaker government. Awami League alleged that he was biased towards BNP after he transferred a large number of civil servants immediately after taking office. Later, Hasina would also accuse President Shahabuddin Ahmed and election official Abu Sayeed of biased actions.

 Landslide defeat (Election 2001)

See also: 2004 Dhaka grenade attack

The Awami League succumbed to a landslide defeat in the 2001 Parliament elections. It won only 62 seats in the Parliament, while the ‘Four Party Alliance’ led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party won 234 seats, giving them a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Hasina herself was defeated in a constituency in Rangpur, which happened to contain her husband’s hometown, but won in two other seats. Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League rejected the results, claiming that the election was rigged with the help of the President and the Caretaker government. However, the international community was largely satisfied with the elections and the ‘Four Party Alliance’ went on to form the government.

The Awami League has been irregular in attending the Parliament ever since. Hasina maintains that the ruling party didn’t give the opposition enough time on the floor. In late 2003, the Awami League started its first major anti-government movement, culminating in the declaration by party general secretary Abdul Jolil that the government would fall before April 30, 2004. This failed to happen and was seen as a blow to the party and Hasina herself, who had implicitly supported Jalil.

In her second term in opposition, Hasina had to face assassination attempts against herself and killings of important party personnel. Ahsanullah Master, an MP, was killed in 2004. This was followed by a grenade attack on Hasina in Dhaka, resulting in the death of 21 party supporters, including party women’s secretary Ivy Rahman. Finally, her ex finance minister Shah M S Kibria was killed in a grenade attack in Sylhet.

In June 2005, the Awami League got a boost when AL-nominated incumbent mayor A.B.M. Mohiuddin Chowdhury won the important mayoral election in Chittagong, the port city and second largest city in Bangladesh. This election was seen as a showdown between the opposition and the ruling party.

The planned January 22, 2007, elections were marred by controversy. The Awami League and its allies protested, saying that the elections would not be fair because of alleged bias by the caretaker government in favor of Khaleda Zia and the BNP. Hasina demanded that the head of the caretaker government, President Iajuddin Ahmed, step down and on January 3, 2007, she announced that the Awami League and its allies would boycott the elections.[3] Later in the month a state of emergency was imposed, Ahmed stepped down, and the elections were postponed.

 Extortion allegations and criminal charges

On April 9, 2007, it was announced that Bangladesh police were investigating extortion charges against Hasina. She was accused of forcing Bangladeshi businessman Tajul Islam Farooq to pay bribes before his company could build a power plant in 1998. Farooq said that he paid Hasina 30 million takas (US$441,000, or €383,211) to get his project approved by the government, according to a police official.

On April 11, murder charges were filed against her by the police, alleging that she masterminded the killing of four supporters of a rival political party in October 2006. The four alleged victims were beaten to death during clashes between the Awami League and rival party activists. Deputy police commissioner, Shahidul Haq Bhuiyan said “detective branch police submitted the charge-sheet of the case to a Dhaka court today after carrying out investigations and taking evidence.”[5] She was visiting the United States at the time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

The interim administration subsequently took steps to prevent Hasina’s return to Bangladesh, with The New Nation newspaper reporting on April 17 that airlines had been asked not to allow her to return to Dhaka. She had been planning to return on April 23. On April 18, the government barred Hasina from her planned return, saying that she had made provocative statements and that her return could cause disorder. This was described as a temporary measure. Hasina vowed to return home anyway, and on April 22, a warrant was issued by a Bangladeshi court for her arrest. On the same day, Hasina attempted to board a flight back to Bangladesh in London but was not allowed on the flight.[11] Labelling the case against her as “totally false and fake”, Hasina said that she wanted to defend herself against the charges in court. On April 23, the arrest warrant was suspended,[12] and on April 25 the ban on Hasina’s entry into the country was dropped.

With her rival Khaleda Zia being pressured to go into exile at the same time, the government’s actions against Hasina appeared to be an attempt to restructure the political system rather than an attempt to support her rival.

After spending 51 days in the United States and the UK, at 4:45 p.m. on 7 May 2007 Sheikh Hasina arrived at Airport in Dhaka, where she was greeted by a jubilant crowd of several thousands. At the airport Hasina told reporters that it was a mistake for the government to stop her from returning and that she hoped it would not make a bigger mistake”, while acknowledging that its reversal was a positive gesture.

 July 2007 arrest

On July 16, 2007, Hasina was arrested by state police at her home and taken before a local court in Dhaka.She was accused of extortion and denied bail on the same day, and was held in a building converted into a jail on the premises of the National Parliament. According to the Awami League, the arrest was politically motivated.

On July 17, the Anti-Corruption Commission sent a notice to Hasina, along with Zia, requesting that details of her assets be submitted to the Commission within one week.

Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy stated that the caretaker government were going beyond their limits, saying he did not plan to return to Bangladesh immediately but would try to organize worldwide protest. The arrest was widely seen as move by the military-backed interim government to force Sheikh Hasina from Bangladesh into political exile.Earlier attempts had been made to bar her from coming back to Bangladesh. United Kingdom MPs condemned the arrest.

On July 30, the Dhaka High Court suspended the extortion trial of her and ordered her release on bail. On September 2, an additional case was filed against Hasina by the Anti-Corruption Commission regarding the awarding of a contract for the construction of a power plant in 1997, for which she allegedly took a bribe of 30 million takas and kept the contract from going to the lowest bidder; six others were also accused of involvement.This coincided with a case filed against Zia on the same day.

On January 13, 2008, she was indicted by a special court along with two of her relatives, her sister Sheikh Rehana and her cousin Sheikh Selim, on extortion charges. On February 6, however, the High Court stopped the trial, ruling that she could not be prosecuted under emergency laws for alleged crimes committed prior to the imposition of the state of emergency.

On June 11, 2008, Hasina was released on parole for medical reasons and the next day she flew to the United States to be treated for hearing impairment, eye problems and high blood pressure. Prof. Syed Modasser Ali, her personal physician, threatened to sue the caretaker government over negligence regarding Hasina’s treatment during her detention.

On November 6, 2008, Hasina returned to Bangladesh to lead her party in general elections scheduled for December 29, 2008. On December 11, 2008 Sheikh Hasina announced her party’s election manifesto during a news conference. In her election manifesto she vowed to build a “Digital Bangladesh” by 2021.Sheikh Hasina’s Awami league won the elections on 29 December 2008 with an overwhelming majority.

Sheikh Hasina’s party defeated Begum Khaleda Zia’s BNP in the 2008 Parliamentary Elections. Her party achieved a landslide victory reminiscent of the 1971 elections of Pakistan. Under her leadership, the party has achieved a supermajority in parliament, controlling 230 seats out of 299. She was sworn into office as the Prime Minister for the second time on 6 January 2009. The Prime Minister is the most powerful executive position in Bangladesh, although technically of lower seniority compared to the office of President. Begum Zia, however, rejected the results of the election, sarcastically thanking the Chief Election Commissioner “for stage-managing the parliamentary election” in a statement. But, according to the views expressed by foreign and local election observers, the general elections were free, fair and credible.

Personal life

Sheikh Hasina married Dr. M. A. Wazed Mia, a nuclear scientist, in 1968. He died on 9 May 2009. She has two children—Sajeeb Wazed Joy (son), and Saima Wazed Hossain Putul (daughter). Joy lives in the United States with his family, and Putul lives in Canada with her husband Khandkar M Hossain.

Prime Minister Hasina is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers, whose mission is to mobilize women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women’s development.

 

Prime Minister alerts people about conspiracy centering next general elections

Dhaka, 16 August, Abnews: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today warned people the country about the conspiracy centering the next general elections and said a vested quarter, who have avarice for power but afraid of facing popularity test, is out to play games with the poll. She urged all to remain alert of those 'players' saying people of the country would not allow anybody to play ducks and drakes with the voting rights of people and plunge the country into darkness like 2001.
Ruling out the notion that fair and free election is not possible under a political government, she said Awami League is not a party born from the pocket of any military dictator or by authoritarian order to grab the state power. 'Democracy has been restored in the country through huge sacrifices of Awami League leaders and workers and we are committed to sustaining the democratic process in the country by any means,' she said.
The Prime Minister said this while deliberating presidential speech at a discussion organized by Bangladesh Awami League in memory of the August 15, 1975, a fateful night in the country's history when Father of the Nation along with most of his family members were brutally killed in a military putsch.
Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Awami League advisory council member Suranjit Sengupta, MP, and Durgadas Bhattachariya, central Awami League leader Mohammad Nasim, general secretary of Awami League and LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, AKM Rahmatullah, MP, president of USA chapter of Awami League Dr Siddiqur Rahman and general secretary of Dhaka City unit Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya spoke among others on the occasion.
Referring to the elections held at local and nation levels during the tenure of the present government, the Prime Minister said over 5,000 elections were held under the present government, all were free, fair and neutral. 'So, it's not true that next general election is not possible under a political government,' she said adding the vested section is demanding unelected caretaker government to usurp the state power in a shortcut method. She lambasted the section saying 'they even cannot appreciate our any good task'. Internet.

Media enjoying full freedom: Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday claimed that the country’s media are now enjoying full freedom as there is no interference from the government side in media houses as in the past.

File Photo

“In our term, we don’t deter them (media), and they’re enjoying full freedom,” she said recalling the atrocities and oppression carried out by the BNP-Jamaat alliance government on the journalists during their rule.

The Awami League President was exchanging views with the grassroots-level leaders and workers of Kurigram district unit of her party at her official residence Ganobhaban.

AL general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam, presidium members Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Yusuf Hossain Humayun, Textiles and Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui, AL joint general secretary Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif were also present.

Mentioning the oppression carried out by BNP on the country’s people, including numerous AL leaders and activists, Sheikh Hasina said 14 journalists were killed and some 1,800 injured during the BNP regime.Deshratna Sheikh Hasina

She, however, observed that the media often run stories against the government and in some cases carry false ones.

Hasina alleged that those who emerged from the pocket of military dictatorship could not work for the country as well as its people and said Awami League has much more passion and affection for the country’s people than any other parties.

Taking a shot at those who termed the country’s condition as bad despite various successes, the Prime Minister said they do not want the people of Bangladesh to lead a good and comfortable life.

The premier said there are also some people who do not want the country’s people live in peace in a democratic process. “They were busy taking different undue facilities from different governments and now there’s no end to their criticism.”

Mentioning that there had been no addition of power to the national grid during the seven-year tenure of BNP and the caretaker governments, she said her government has been able to raise the power production to 5,400 MW by 2011, higher than what was mentioned in the party’s election manifesto.

She also hoped that the power production will increase in the later part of current year and in the upcoming years.

During the 2001-2006 regime of BNP, the premier alleged, Bangladesh had turned into a country of killing and bombing. “Not a single day passed without the incident of bombing at that time.”

She said they (opposition) now have no peace in their mind as there is no extremism, terrorism and ‘Bangla Bhai’ in the country. “We’ve curbed terrorism and extremism in the country with an iron hand as well as freed the country from this stigma,” she said adding that Bangladesh is now considered as a model of potentialities in the world.

The Prime Minister mentioned that the country has been able to maintain its economic stability in South Asia and implement 93 percent of the Annual Development Programme (ADP), a success no government could achieve in the past.

Sheikh Hasina said export earnings have increased so as the export of manpower and remittance earnings since this government assumed power. “The foreign currency reserves also increased to 10 billion us dollars.”

The Prime Minister said her government has ensured the voting rights of people alongside their other basic rights, and restored the spirit of the Liberation War through the 15th amendment of the constitution.

Urging her party leaders and activists to project the development activities of the government among the common people, she said, “Whenever AL assumes power, the country’s people get something.”

Hasina reaffirmed her commitment to reach the benefits of independence to the common people and build a hunger- and poverty-free ‘Sonar Bangla’ by making it a middle-income country by 2021 when Bangladesh will be observing its golden jubilee of independence.

Listing various development activities taken by her government, Sheikh Hasina mentioned that her government has been able to reduce the child and maternal mortality rates, ensure food security, establish the rule of law, gave subsidy to agriculture apart from doubling agricultural production, improving the standard of education and healthcare services, establishing union information centers with internet facilities.

Bangabandhu – A Name that Goes with Eternity
By Sajjad khan.

bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur rahman

Embracing Bangabandhu at the Algiers Non-Aligned Summit in 1973, Cuba’s Fidel Castro remarked, “I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas.”

This Sheikh Mujib is not just a mere individual or a name. He in an institution. A movement. A revolution. An upsurge. A tidal boar. A Lenin, a Mao, a Netaji, a Gandhi, a Fidel, a Kemal… He is the essence of epic, poetry and history. He is the architect of a nation – the Bengali Nation. He is Bangabandhu – friend of Bengalis.

bangabandhu with begum fazilatunnesa mujib1

The history of Bengali Nation goes back a thousand years. That is why contemporary history has recognised him as the greatest Bengali of the thousand years. The future will call him the idol of eternal time. And he will live, in luminosity of a bright star, in annals of historical legends. He will show the path to the Bengali Nation that his dreams are the basis of the existence of any nation struggling for freedom. A remembrance of him is the culture and the society that Bengalis have sketched for themselves. His possibilities, the promises put forth by him, are the fountain-spring of the civilised existence of the Bengalis.

Bangabandhu’s political life began as a humble worker while he was still a student. He was fortunate to come in early contact with such towering personalities as Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and AK Fazlul Huq, both charismatic Chief Ministers of undivided Bengal. Adolescent Bangabandhu grew up under the gathering gloom of stormy politics as the aging British Raj in India was falling apart and the Second World War was violently rocking the continents. He witnessed the ravages of the war and the stark realities of the great famine of 1943 in which about five million people lost their lives. The tragic plight of the people under colonial rule turned young Bangabandhu into a rebel.

as long as the padma

This was also the time when he saw the legendary revolutionaries like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi challenging the British Raj. Also about this time he came to know the works of Bernard Shaw, Karl Marx, Rabindranath Tagore and rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. Soon after the partition of India in 1947 it was felt that the creation of Pakistan with its two wings separated by a physical distance of about 1200 miles was a geographical monstrosity. The economic, political, cultural and linguistic characters of the two wings were also different. Keeping the two wings together under the forced bonds of a single state structure in the name of religious nationalism would merely result in a rigid political control and economic exploitation of the eastern wing by the all-powerful western wing which controlled the country’s capital and its economic and military might.

Bangabandhu started his fight against the British colonial overlords and then he directed his wrath against the then Pakistani neo-colonialists. Step by step he prepared his people for their eventual destination. He was in the forefront of mass movements. From his imprisonment in 1949 he gave active support to the formation of the first mass-based opposition political party, the Awami League, under the leadership of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, which subsequently spearheaded the struggle for independence. In the 1954 provincial elections, the Bengalis overwhelmingly voted the Awami League-led United Front to power. The victory was, however, short-lived. In order to maintain their sway and dominance, the rulers in the western wing of Pakistan through coercive means, imposed military rule in 1958. Bangabandhu and other nationalist leaders put up stiff resistance against it and were detained for years together.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

In 1961 Bangabandhu was released from jail after he won a writ petition in the High Court. Then he started underground political activities against the martial law regime and dictator Ayub Khan. During this period he set up an underground organisation called “Swadhin Bangia Biplobi Parishad” or Independent Bangia Revolutionary Council, comprising outstanding student leaders in order to work for achieving independent Bangladesh.

Keeping the essence of Swadhin Bangladesh, Bangabandhu placed his historic Six-Points in 1966. He called for a federal state structure for Pakistan and full autonomy for Bangladesh with a parliamentary democratic system. The Six-Points became so popular in a short while that it was turned into the Charter of Freedom for the Bengalis or their Magna Carta. The Army Junta of Pakistan threatened to use the language of weapons against the Six-Point movement and the Bangabandhu was arrested under the Defence Rules on May 8, 1966. To subdue him, Bangabandhu was charged with secession and high treason, which was known as the infamous Agartala Conspiracy Case. But mass people burst into upsurge against his arrest.

With the defeat of Ayub Khan regime in 1969 in a mass-upsurge which led to the unconditional withdrawal Agartala conspiracy case, Bangabandhu had become an undisputed, home grown hero for the Bengali nation. People’s admiration to his unfathomable courage and yearning for his guidance convinced that he was the friend of Bengal. They then start calling him Bangabandhu. The torch of politics Bengali Nation was truly and irreversibly in his hands. He would carry it ahead, undaunted in his determination to transform the destiny of his people to make Shonar Bangla.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Bangabandhu’s finest hour came on 7th March 1971. His historic speech on that day changed the course of the history of struggle for independence in the then Pakistan and gave millions of Bengalis a new sense of direction. Bangabandhu possessed the rare quality of harnessing the awesome power of the masses that overthrew the military regime standing in the way of Bangladesh’s liberation.

He declared in his speech, “The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle now is the struggle for our independence.” In this historic speech, Bangabandhu urged the nation to break the shackles of subjugation and declared, “Since we have given blood, we will give more blood. The people of this country will be liberated Inshallah. He called upon people to turn every house into a fortress with whatever they had to fight the enemy.

He advised the people to prepare themselves for a guerrilla war against the enemy. He asked the people to start a total non-cooperation movement against the government of Yahya Khan. There were ineffectual orders from Yahya Khan on the one hand, while the nation, on the other hand, received directives from Bangabandhu’s Road 32 residence. The entire nation carried out Bangabandhu’s instructions. All institutions, including government offices, banks, insurance companies, schools, colleges, mills and factories obeyed Bangabandhu’s directives. The response of the Bengalis to Bangabandhu’s call was unparallel in history. It was Bangabandhu who conducted the administration of an independent Bangladesh from March 7 to March 25.

Another finest hour for Bangabandhu was when he declared independence of Bangladesh and all-out guerrilla war began against the Pakistani oppressive regime. In his declaration he said, “This may be my last message. From today Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh, wherever you are and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your fight must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh and final victory is achieved.”

And the victory achieved on the 16th December 1971 – a dream comes true for Bangabandhu. Thousands of people sacrificed their lives in the name of Bangabandhu. It was his political inspiration and moral persuasion that made mass people to embrace martyrdom in Bangabandhu’s name. The quest for his independence became synonymous with his title “Bangabandhu”. And eventually he embraced martyrdom on the 15th August 1975 for the Bengali Nation.

The multifaceted life any great man cannot be put together in language or colour. Bangabandhu was such a great man that he has become greater than his creation. It is not possible to hold him within the confines of picture-frame when his greatness is so unfathomable. He is our emancipation – for today and tomorrow. The greatest treasure of the Bengali nation is preservation of his heritage and sustenance of his legacy. He has conquered death. His memory is our passage to the days that are to be.

[Shazzad Khan works for Manusher Jonno Foundation]

Bangladesh

The War for Bangladeshi Independence, 1971On March 25, the Pakistan Army launched a terror campaign calculated to intimidate the Bengalis into submission. Within hours a wholesale slaughter had commenced in Dhaka, with the heaviest attacks concentrated on the University of Dhaka and the Hindu area of the old town. Bangladeshis remember the date as a day of infamy and liberation. The Pakistan Army came with hit lists and systematically killed several hundred Bengalis. Mujib was captured and flown to West Pakistan for incarceration. To conceal what they were doing, the Pakistan Army corralled the corps of foreign journalists at the International Hotel in Dhaka, seized their notes, and expelled them the next day. One reporter who escaped the censor net estimated that three battalions of troops--one armored, one artillery, and one infantry--had attacked the virtually defenseless city. Various informants, including missionaries and foreign journalists who clandestinely returned to East Pakistan during the war, estimated that by March 28 the loss of life reached 15,000. By the end of summer as many as 300,000 people were thought to have lost their lives. Anthony Mascarenhas in Bangladesh: A Legacy of Blood estimates that during the entire nine-month liberation struggle more than 1 million Bengalis may have died at the hands of the Pakistan Army.

The West Pakistani press waged a vigorous but ultimately futile campaign to counteract newspaper and radio accounts of wholesale atrocities. One paper, the Morning News, even editorialized that the armed forces were saving East Pakistanis from eventual Hindu enslavement. The civil war was played down by the government-controlled press as a minor insurrection quickly being brought under control.

After the tragic events of March, India became vocal in its condemnation of Pakistan. An immense flood of East Pakistani refugees, between 8 and 10 million according to various estimates, fled across the border into the Indian state of West Bengal. In April an Indian parliamentary resolution demanded that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi supply aid to the rebels in East Pakistan. She complied but declined to recognize the provisional government of independent Bangladesh.

A propaganda war between Pakistan and India ensued in which Yahya threatened war against India if that country made an attempt to seize any part of Pakistan. Yahya also asserted that Pakistan could count on its American and Chinese friends. At the same time, Pakistan tried to ease the situation in the East Wing. Belatedly, it replaced Tikka, whose military tactics had caused such havoc and human loss of life, with the more restrained Lieutenant General A.A.K. Niazi. A moderate Bengali, Abdul Malik, was installed as the civilian governor of East Pakistan. These belated gestures of appeasement did not yield results or change world opinion.

On December 4, 1971, the Indian Army, far superior in numbers and equipment to that of Pakistan, executed a 3-pronged pincer movement on Dhaka launched from the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, and Tripura, taking only 12 days to defeat the 90,000 Pakistani defenders. The Pakistan Army was weakened by having to operate so far away from its source of supply. The Indian Army, on the other hand, was aided by East Pakistan's Mukti Bahini (Liberation Force), the freedom fighters who managed to keep the Pakistan Army at bay in many areas

 

BANGABANDHU SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN DEDICATED: Sheikh Hasina

BANGABANDHU SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN DEDICATED 

His life to establishing a democratic, peaceful and exploitation-free society called "Sonar Bangla" - Golden Bengal. He sacrificed his life to liberate the Bangalee nation, which had been groaning under the colonial and imperialist yoke for nearly 1,000 years. He is the founding father of the Bangalee nation, generator of Bangalee nationalism and creator of the sovereign state of Bangladesh.

My father spent nearly half his life behind bars and yet with extraordinary courage and conviction he withstood numerous trials and tribulations during the long period of his political struggle. During his imprisonment, he stood face to face with death on at least two occasions, but never for a moment did he waver.

As a daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I heard many tales about him from my grandfather and grandmother. He was born on Mar. 17, 1920 in Tungipara, in what was then the British Raj. During the naming ceremony my great-grandfather predicted that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would be a world-famous name.

My father grew up rural - amid rivers, trees, birdsong. He flourished in the free atmosphere inspired by his grandparents. He swam in the river, played in the fields, bathed in the rains, caught fish and watched out for birds' nests. He was lanky, yet played football. He liked to eat plain rice, fish, vegetables, milk, bananas and sweets. His care and concern for classmates, friends and others was well-known. He gave away his tiffin to the hungry, clothes to the naked, books to the needy and other personal belongings to the poor. One day, my grandfather told me, he gave his clothes to a poor boy and came home in his shawl.

At the age of 7, he began his schooling, though an eye ailment forced a four-year break from his studies. He married at the age of 11 when my mother was 3. He demonstrated leadership from the beginning. Once in 1939, he led classmates to demand repair of the school's roof - just when the premier of then undivided Bengal happened to be in town. Despite a deep involvement in politics, in 1946 he obtained a BA.

Bangabandhu was blessed from boyhood with leadership, indomitable courage and great political acumen. He played an active role in controlling communal riots during the India-Pakistan partition. He risked his life for the cause of truth and justice. He rose in protest in 1948 against the declaration of Urdu as the state language of Pakistan and was arrested the following year. He pioneered the movement to establish Bangla as the state language. In 1966, he launched a six-point program for the emancipation of Bangalees. In 1969, my father was acclaimed Bangabandhu, Friend of Bengal. His greatest strength (and weakness) was his "love for the people." He is an essential part of the emotional existence of all Bangalees.

The appearance of Bangladesh on the world map in 1971 was the culmination of a long-suppressed national urge. On Mar. 7, 1971, my father addressed a mammoth public meeting in Dhaka and declared: "The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation, the struggle now is the struggle for Independence." He sent a wireless message, moments after a crackdown by the Pakistani army, declaring the Independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of Mar. 26. The world knows he courted arrest - and yet Bangabandhu emerged as the unquestioned leader of a newborn country.

Once in power, my father pursued a non-aligned, independent foreign policy based on peaceful coexistence. Its basic tenet: "Friendship to all, malice to none." He advocated world peace and declared his support for all freedom struggles. He supported the concept of a "Zone of Peace" in the Indian Ocean. In 1974, he was awarded the Julio Curie Prize for his devotion to the cause of peace.

But at a time when Bangladesh was emerging as an advocate for oppressed nations, his foes assassinated him on Aug. 15, 1975. My mother and three brothers were also killed. Even my younger brother Sheikh Russel, who was then nine, was not spared. The only survivors were my younger sister Sheikh Rehana and myself; we were on a trip to Germany.

Consequently, the political ideals for which Bangladesh sacrificed three million of her finest sons and daughters were trampled, and Bangladesh became a puppet in the hands of imperialism and autocracy. By assassinating Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the conspirators wanted to stop the country's march to freedom, democracy, peace and development. The process of law and justice were not permitted to take their course; human rights were violated. It is, therefore, the solemn responsibility of freedom- and peace-loving people to help ensure the trial of the plotters and killers of this great leader, my father.

Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is the prime minister of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh's former prime minister Sheikh Hasina WajedDhaka, - Bangladesh's former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed returned home Thursday, saying she wants to rescue her people from hardship and contest the December parliamentary elections.

Tens of thousands of jubilant supporters gave a grand reception to Hasina, the head of Bangladesh's Awami League party, on her return after five months of medical treatment abroad.

The former premier said on her arrival from Britain that her people were in hardship, and "only an elected government can rescue the nation from the crisis"

Bangladesh has been ruled by a military-backed caretaker government since 2007.

"People are passing their days in hardship. They do not have any work to support themselves. They are frustrated by their sufferings," Hasina told reporters at Zia International Airport.

She promised, if voted to power, to halt sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities that caused suffering to low and middle-income groups of the poverty ridden country.

Calling for unity, the former prime minister said her party would forge alliances with all progressive forces to fight poverty, the number one enemy of the South Asian nation of 153 million people.

She emphasized the importance of holding of the December general election as scheduled, saying "The election should not be deferred or foiled by any excuse."

Bangladesh's military-backed interim government has fixed a December 18 election date for the country's transition to democracy, bringing an end to the nearly two years of emergency rule.

The former prime minister was escorted by members of the elite Special Security Force while she was driven to her private Sudha Sadan residence.

Supporters stood by sides of thoroughfares along the 20 kilometres from the airport to her home to welcome their leader.

Many of them were seen holding portraits of Hasina, her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of the country, and a boat, the party's election symbol, chanting pro-election slogans, asking the people to vote their party to power.

The Awami League chief was detained by the army-led joint forces in July 2007 on graft charges. She left for the Unites States in June, a day after she was paroled for medical treatment. Graft cases filed against Hasina were stayed by courts.Sheikh Hasina

Hunger striking Bangladeshi activists demand Hasina's release

Sheikh Hasina.Dhaka - Hundreds of activists from Bangladesh's leading opposition party embarked on a hunger strike in the midst of a crowded rally in central Dhaka Monday, demanding the release of jailed former prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

Hasina, the elder daughter of Bangladesh's founding president, has been in jailed for nearly a year following her conviction for multiple counts of graft and extortion.

Officials and witnesses said the hunger strikers, who staged the symbolic abstinence from food and water for eight hours, made a strong plea for Hasina's freedom ahead of the lifting of the state of emergency clamped across the country in January 2007.

Detained Sheikh Hasina to be freed soon

Three Sri Lankans dead in hotel blasts in BangladeshDhaka, June 9 : Sheikh Hasina, former Prime Minister of Bangladesh, who was detained on corruption charges on July 17, 2007, would soon be freed by the Government.

"The government is going to free her on an administrative order. This morning we have applied to the court seeking the immediate return of her passport," said her lawyer Kamrul Islam.

She would also be allowed to travel to the United States for the treatment of her ear and eye, the lawyer said.

 

 

 

Bangladesh's ex-premier Hasina returns home

Bangladesh's former prime minister Sheikh Hasina WajedDhaka, - Bangladesh's former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed returned home Thursday, saying she wants to rescue her people from hardship and contest the December parliamentary elections.

Tens of thousands of jubilant supporters gave a grand reception to Hasina, the head of Bangladesh's Awami League party, on her return after five months of medical treatment abroad.

The former premier said on her arrival from Britain that her people were in hardship, and "only an elected government can rescue the nation from the crisis"

Sheikh Hasina returns to Dhaka to contest general polls

Sheikh Hasina returns to Dhaka to contest general pollsDhaka, Nov 7: Former Bangladeshi premier Sheikh Hasina Wajed last evening returned home to lead her party in December parliamentary elections. She spent the past five months in the US getting medical treatment.

Police said more than two lakh supporters packed the route to the airport to greet their leader after the emergency government this week lifted all curbs on political rallies ahead of the first polls in seven years.

Bangladesh party unveils "charter for change"

Sheikh Hasina WajedDhaka - Bangladesh's former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, head of the Awami League party, Friday unveiled a "charter for change" to return the South Asian nation to democracy, ending two years of emergency rule.

"The country is now passing through a deep crisis. Our commitment is to build Bangladesh as a modern democracy, free from hunger, poverty and illiteracy," the party chief said, announcing the party's platform for the December 29 general elections.

Hasina looks for a second chance to serve Bangladesh

Hasina looks for a second chance to serve BangladeshDhaka  - Scion of a political family, Sheikh Hasina Wajed has been devoted to politics since her student days, becoming the symbol of unity within her party and among her supporters.

The 62-year-old leader is an iconic figure in the Awami League, the party her father established half a century ago and which led the country to its independence.

Born on 28 September 1948 in a remote village of Tungipara, 103 kilometres south-west of Dhaka, Hasina has experienced many ups and downs.

Awami League-led alliance all set to form government in Bangladesh

Dhaka, BangladeshDhaka, Dec 30 : Former Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina''s Awami League-led grand alliance has won a stunning landslide victory in the country's ninth general elections.

The Election Commission (EC) has so far announced "unofficial" results of 295 seats of the 300-seat parliament saying, that Hasina''s alliance has won 229 seats while her arch rival Khaleda Zia''s Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led four-party grouping won only 27 constituencies.

Awami League-led alliance all set to form government in Bangladesh

Dhaka, BangladeshDhaka, Dec 30 : Former Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina''s Awami League-led grand alliance has won a stunning landslide victory in the country's ninth general elections.

The Election Commission (EC) has so far announced "unofficial" results of 295 seats of the 300-seat parliament saying, that Hasina''s alliance has won 229 seats while her arch rival Khaleda Zia''s Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led four-party grouping won only 27 constituencies.

PM congratulates Shiekh Hasina on winning general election in Bangladesh

Sheikh HasinaNew Delhi, Dec 30 : Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh called Shiekh Hasina, President of the Awami League Party of Bangladesh this morning and warmly congratulated her on the landslide victory in the general elections.

The Prime Minister said that India look forward to working with the Government and people of Bangladesh in the years ahead for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries. (ANI)

Mamata Banerjee terms Sheikh Hasina''s democratic victory as a welcome change

Ruia Meets Trinmool Congress Leader Mamta Banerjee Kolkata, Jan 1 : Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has congratulated Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League-led alliance on its victory in the elections.

Addressing media persons here last evening, Banerjee termed Hasina''s landslide victory in Bangladesh as a welcome change for democratic politics, and hoped that such trends would also be witnessed in West Bengal.

"As for West Bengal, we want a change for development, change for the people and West Bengal. It should be better for the country," said Banerjee.

Bangladesh's Hasina condemns Israeli aggression on Gaza

Bangladesh's Hasina condemns Israeli aggression on Gaza Dhaka  - Bangladesh's prime minister-in-waiting, Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Monday condemned Israel's military aggression in the Gaza Strip and called on Muslim leaders to help stop the attacks.

"Muslim states should do whatever possible to relieve the distressed Palestinians under the circumstances," Hasina was quoted as saying by an aide after a group of Middle East envoys called on the newly elected leader.

Shiekh Hasina to be sworn-in as Bangladesh PM

Shiekh Hasina to be sworn-in as Bangladesh PMDhaka, Jan 6 : Shiekh Hasina, the President of the Awami League Party (AL), will be sworn-in as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh here today.

President Iajuddin Ahmed will appoint and administer oath of office to Hasina and her colleagues in the new council of ministers. He will also appoint and administer oath of office to the other ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers.

Hasina returns to power after spending a few months in custody on charge of murder, extortion and corruption. She has since been acquitted.

Hasina sworn in as Bangladesh prime minister

ROUNDUP: Hasina sworn in as Bangladesh prime ministerDhaka  - Bangladesh's President Iajuddin Ahmed Tuesday appointed Awami League (AL) leader Sheikh Hasina Wazed as prime minister of the country for a five-year term, officials said.

Hasina, 61, whose AL-led alliance won a crushing victory in the December 29 general elections, was sworn in as the 12th premier of the country.

It is her second term in office as prime minister.

The newly appointed premier reiterated her pledges to lower the prices of essential commodities and improve law and order on an urgent basis.

Hasina begins her second stint as Bangladesh premier

Hasina begins her second stint as Bangladesh premierDhaka - Bangladesh's newly appointed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed Wednesday began her second term in office, paying homage to the memory of her slain father and the country's liberation war martyrs, officials said.

She was sworn in as head of government Tuesday after an alliance led by her Awami League (AL) party won a landslide victory in the December 29 general elections which ended almost two years of rule by a military-backed administration.

Hasina served as premier between 1996 and 2001.

Sheikh Hasina’s challenge will be to end revenge politics in Bangladesh

Sheikh Hasina’s challenge will be to end revenge politics in BangladeshDhaka, Jan 12 : Bangladesh's new Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who got a massive parliamentary majority, has a chance to lead the country away from its paralysing culture of revenge politics.

But analysts have warned that a still-polarised electorate and a deep legacy of corruption have the potential to unleash the sort of violent confrontation that forced the military to step in two years ago.

Bangladesh says will not allow terrorists to use its land against India

 

India, Bangladesh Dhaka, Feb. 9 : The newly elected Sheikh Hasina government has reassured India that it will not allow its territory to be used for spreading terror in India.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told reporters here: "They (terrorists) don''t have any borders, don''t have any religion. They don''t have any nationality, they are terrorists, and, whoever tries to use our territory to harm anyone, we will put a stop to it and be vigilant."

Surrender arms, or I'll take steps: Sheikh Hasina

Surrender arms, or I'll take steps: Sheikh HasinaDhaka, Feb 26 : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutineers to surrender their arms, otherwise action would be taken against them in the interest of the country.

In a brief address to the nation, Hasina said, "You surrender the arms. I'm giving you my word that none of you will be harmed. Otherwise, I'll be bound to take any step in the interest of the country".

"I am trying to solve the problems through negotiations, not through using force," she added.

2ND LEAD: Investigation into Bangladesh mutiny launched

Investigation into Bangladesh mutiny launchedDhaka  - Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed Friday appointed a high-powered committee to launch an investigation into a mutiny at the border guard headquarters in central Dhaka which ended Thursday, officials have confirmed.

Authorities have also appointed Brigadier General Moinul Hossain as new chief of the country's paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles(BDR) force on Friday, as its former director general remains missing, presumably killed, following a mutiny two days ago.

No amnesty for killers in BDR mutiny: Sheikh Hasina

No amnesty for killers in BDR mutiny: Sheikh HasinaDhaka, Feb. 28 : As Bangladesh observes a three-day mourning, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced that the perpetrators of the carnage committed during BDR's mutiny would not be pardoned under general amnesty given to others. They will be punished as per law of the land.

"They will be tried according to law and punished," the Daily Star quoted PM''s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad as saying.

Bangladesh cancels the lease on house of former premier Zia Dhaka - Bangladesh's Awami League-led government Wednesday cancelled the lease of a residence in Dhaka awarded to former premier Khaleda Zia 27 years ago as widow of slain president Ziaur Rahman, officials said.

A weekly meeting of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed's cabinet decided to cancel the lease of one of the two homes awarded to Zia following the assassination of her husband Rahman, an army chief-turned-president of the country.

President Rahman was assassinated in a military coup on May 30, 1981.

EU calls on Bangladeshi parties to create a "healthy democracy"

Sheikh Hasina And Khaleda Zia Dhaka  - The European Union Thursday stressed the need for better parliamentary partnership between Bangladesh's ruling and opposition parties for a healthy growth of the country's nascent democracy.

"Discussions, debates and critical analyses of the problems should be there [in parliament] in a healthy democracy," Stefan Frowein, the head of the delegation of the EU's executive, the European Commission to Dhaka, told a press conference in Dhaka.

Bangladesh favours reopening rail link with India: Sheikh Hasina

Bangladesh favours reopening rail link with India: Sheikh HasinaDhaka, July 22 : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her government''s interest in reopening a rail link between Bangladesh and India to establish stronger connectivity between the two neighbouring countries in the fields of trade, investment and people-to-people contacts.

The railway link was severed following 1965 India-Pakistan war and has been non-operational since then.

Bangladeshi premier Hasina re-elected ruling party chief

Bangladeshi premier Hasina re-elected ruling party chiefDhaka  - Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Friday was Friday re-elected to a three-year term as head of the ruling Awami League party.

This was her sixth term at the helm of the party, co-founded by her father and the architect of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman over 60 years ago, a party statement said.

Hasina chose Syed Ashraful Islam, a senior minister in her cabinet, as general secretary of the party, which led the country's liberation war in 1971 against Pakistan.

Bangladeshi premier expands her cabinet

Bangladeshi premier expands her cabinet Dhaka  - Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed on Friday inducted six more ministers into her cabinet, increasing its members to 43, which her administration said was done to reduce the ministers' workload.

"We have expanded the council of ministers as workload of those who were in charge of different ministries was increasing," Hasina told reporters after the swearing-in of the new ministers at the presidential Bangabhaban palace.

Hasina also reshuffled a few portfolios.

Keep children out of political activities: Sheikh Hasina

Keep children out of political activities: Sheikh HasinaDhaka, Oct 6  Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has vowed to take measures to keep children out of political activities.

Deploying children for political rallies, particularly during agitations and elections, is a common phenomenon across South Asia.

"Children would be aware of politics but should not be used in political activities," she said Monday on the occasion of World Children's Day and Child Rights Week 2009.