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Political developments in national context

Published : Friday, 24 June, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 560
Mizanur Rahman Shelley

Political developments in national context

Political developments in national context

Rag day: As the days of the joint camp came near to their close, some of us planned to observe rag day or night to mark the occasion. Mamun, Shamsuddin, I and few others of the CSP and Class friend and relative, Abul Hye Md Masud, class friend from the university days Fazlul Haque, Saif Mizanur Rahman and some others of the EPCS joined the light-hearted celebration late in the evening. Several members of the otherwise reserved judicial service also participated. It all started with jovial hilarity.

As the evening progressed towards night, the celebrations became noisy and tumultuous. Masud and some other campers started going around with earthen containers full of slowly burning coals. They also started dancing like inebriated jungle folks. Hearing the uproar, Khan-e-Alam Khan, the settlement officer, came out with his colleagues from their tents. Khan was visibly annoyed and angry. He shouted, 'What are you doing? You are putting the camp on fire. I shall teach you all a lesson you will not forget.' He also held Masud by the collar. Somehow or other, I though calm until then, could not tolerate the outburst of Khan. I found Masud and some of his revelling co-campers shaking nervously. I protested vehemently saying, 'We are all having some innocent fun at the end of our joint camp. Please, do not spoil it with unwarranted anger.'

This was not to be expected of me. I should have controlled my temper while addressing a teacher. But I could not help control myself under the circumstances. I was quite surprised to find that Khan-e-Alam Khan toned down his voice and said softly, 'I did not know that Mizan could behave like Moulana Bhashahi.' On hearing his sarcastic but tolerant comments about me, I felt small and immediately apologised to him for my angry words.

It was evident that he did not hold any grudge against me as in the final settlement examinations in the joint camp, Shahed Shadullah and I got first class marks. Waliul Islam and Abdul Muyeed Choudhury laughed loudly and said to us, 'You two have done so well in the survey and settlement examinations that you cannot now escape posting to the Directorate of Land Records. You may finally become directors of land records!' Shahed Shadullah felt nervous at the prospect. He said, 'Shelley Bhai will that be our end. Won't we be able to be high executives of the government?' As it often happens in life, we had the last laugh. Not we but both Wali and Muyeed later became very successful directors general of land records!

Political developments in national context: The Ayub regime attempted to prop up its repressive measures by exploiting the major traditional reserve of support in the Pakistan polity - the overriding fear of and hatred for Hindu India which had brought the two wings together in the union of 1947. This attempt was manifested in the so-called Agartala conspiracy case. In January 1968, the government accused 28 Bengalis, including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (in jail since 1966) and several senior civil, army and naval officers, of having participated in a conspiracy to bring about the secession of East Bengal from Pakistan, with Indian help. The attempt boomeranged on the central regime. The Bengali intelligentsia viewed it as a new ploy to suppress East Bengal's demand for autonomy. In the end, the Agartala conspiracy case proved to be a powerful stimulus to the growth of Bengali separatism and the consolidation of Sheikh Mujib's role as the sole champion of the Bengali cause.

In late 1968 and early 1969, anti-government civil disturbances rocked both wings of Pakistan. In West Pakistan, the movement was simply anti-regime. In East Bengal, the system was denounced as 'a vehicle of West Pakistan domination'. The demand for Bengali autonomy raised in 1966 was forcefully reasserted by the Bengali students and urban labourers, and Bengali nationalist sentiments were consciously stirred. In response to public pressures, Sheikh Mujib's, unconditional release, was conceded, he was freed in February 1969, and invited to join a roundtable conference convened by Ayub in a bid to end the agitation.

During the conference, Sheikh Mujib stuck to his demands that East Bengal be granted regional autonomy on the basis of the Six-Point Programme and that the Bengalis be given proportional representation in the central legislature. Ayub refused to fulfil these demands. He resigned, handing over power to the commander-in-chief of the army, General Yahya Khan, on March 25, 1969 (Mizanur Rahman Shelley, Emergence of a New Nation in a Multi-Polar World: Bangladesh, pp 33-34).
The civil disobedience movement with demonstration and agitation by the people especially the youth and students rocked both the wings of Pakistan as 1968 came to a close. By January 1969, the movement gathered tremendous momentum especially in the eastern wing. Dhaka and Chittagong were featured by clashes between the demonstrators and the security forces. In Rajshahi however, things were comparatively quiet. Despite the location of the Rajshahi University within a few miles of the town the youthful students did not take to the streets for quite some time. Nevertheless by mid-January, Rajshahi, particularly the university campus at Matihar, heated up. There were frequent meetings, processions and strong agitations.
Dr Mizanur Rahman Shelly, founder Chairman of Centre for Development Research (CDRB), and former
teachnocrat Cabinet Minister of Bangladesh, Died on August 12, 2019. He contributed his writeups to the Daily Observer which are being published regularly as "The Symphony of Our Times"

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