What is 15 August? If quizzed, many of us still cannot or do not give the correct answer. Some simply shrug it off. Some try to relate to the alleged birthday of some madam. Some, however, tick the right answer. But this is not enough to derive satisfaction from. It is unfortunate that the young of our country have not over the years been well aware of the facts and figures of the history of our Liberation War. Those who do not know the history of their country's independence do not tend to show any interest in its architect, and those who do not interest themselves in him do not tend to show any compassion for him. This fairly holds good to our young generation in regard to their affinities with Bangabandhu. They are not acutely aware of the life of the architect of their country, and hence do not rightly know the importance of our national mourning day (15 August). This very day does not carry any extra value to them.
However, the young are not to blame fully for this surprising nonchalance. Whatever they do is done as a product of corporal capital. To them there is no time like the present. The history of the nation seems to be a thing of the past. They have developed a rather philistine attitude to life. The over-ambitious guardians contribute a great deal to it. They engage their children in cutthroat competition to get better grades in the exam. The children are considered as the grade-making machines. The parents do not consider it urgent to steep them in necessary knowledge of their national history. Nor do the schools and colleges provide them with adequate lessons about it.
The worst of all is the government manipulation of history, which had been recurrently done in the past. Political vested interests under the umbrella of state power tried to doctor the accounts of our national history in order to divert the young's attention from the real facts to fabrication. However, to no avail. History is self-resistant. It defies dissolution. True history reveals itself maybe after hundreds of years of falsehood. Therefore, the history- mongers failed to twist it out of its realities. However, they succeeded a little in one thing, which was dangerous. They created some doubt and confusion in the minds of the impressionable youth about some facts of our history.
However, this is no longer a big cause for concern. The young of the very recent time have fairly changed their attitude to the social and political life. They have awakened to the actualities of the history of our freedom struggle. They have come to recognize the right man behind this. This awakening has resulted in the pro-liberation forces' gaining political ascendency over the anti-liberation forces since the latter's repeated defeat in the last couple of elections. The young generation has voted Bangabandhu's party to power primarily to ensure the trial of the war criminals, and to establish the true ideals of our Independence. This is a great enlightenment, a political renaissance that marks the revival of the pro-liberation ideals leading once again to a desperate craving for a secular democratic state.
This enlightened young generation looks at August tragedy from quite a fresh angle. Not only do they see it as a political assassination on the first president of Independent Bangladesh, their realization runs much deeper. August 15 does not merely hold the death of a political leader, it means the saddest end of the life of the Father of the Nation and thereby the demise of the Independence ideals-nationalism, secularism, democracy and socialism. Consequently, darkness dropped again in all spheres of our social and political life. The nation passed long days, months, and years under the shades of military and semi-military rules. The pro-liberation ideals were extinct, secularism strangled by forced constitutional change, democracy deserted by military takeover, nationalism distorted by pseudo-nationalists and religious fundamentalists, and justice denied by infamous indemnity.
There was, however, a restoration of democracy in 1990.But that was too vitiated by foul politicking, filthy politicization, rampant corruption, intolerance and militancy. The process of power politics became so unscrupulous that even the anti-liberation forces and the marked war criminals had been able to tread the corridors of power. All the bad in politics, however, were the limit and a 1/11 became inevitable.
The last December-2008 election was a spontaneous outburst of public opinion against the vicious circle made up of the fake nationalists and religious fanatics. It was a real kick in the teeth of this unpromising alliance. Who made this possible? Certainly the conscious section of our people, the major part of which is of course the young. Millions of youth of our country rose to the challenge of defeating the liberation enemies and their patrons. It is they, who came up with the demand of the trial of the war criminals in right earnest. The historic Shahbagh Movement and the rise of Ganajagaran Mancha deserve special mention in this regard. A long time after the Liberation War, the awakened young generation will sure stick to their pledge until they reach the avowed goal, i.e. elimination of the war criminals/criminals against humanity.
It is really appreciating that the young of the country are no longer in the dark about the major Independence issues as they were before. The Great Alliance Government has taken measures to undo the damage and distortion of the history of our Liberation War. Effective measures have been undertaken to try the war criminals and Bangabandhu killers, which have already met with remarkable success. The young strongly believe that the full execution of these attempts will pave the way for restoring Liberation War ideals and those of Bangabandhu as well. The Father of the Nation has been rediscovered by the young of the present time. As the realization dawns, Bangladesh and Bangabandhu have been proved inseparable from each other. They are conjoined by a very strong political cord. To separate one from the other would amount to committing national suicide.
Dr Rashid Askari writes fiction and columns, and teaches English literature at Kushtia Islamic University, Bangladesh.
Email: [email protected]