It is a sad fact that the man, who appeared as the saviour of the people, was ruthlessly murdered three and a half years after he took responsibility as the head of state. This is what happened to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Almost the whole family, except for his two daughters, were killed in carnage that appeared in the form of a military coup carried out by some disgruntled army officers backed by few power-hungry politicians.
The killers went on a rampage and shot dead almost every member of his family: The couple, their three sons, two newly married daughters-in-law, Mujib's brother Sheikh Nasser, his nephew Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni along with his pregnant wife Arzu Moni and many others.
Even the innocent child Russel could not escape the wrath. The greatest Bengali of all time -Mujib was killed by bullets in his chest at the turn of the stairs. Unguarded, the father of the nation was gunned down in August!
The tragedy of Mujib's death multiplies when we get to know the harrowing facts of his burial at his native village of Tungipara on August 16, 1975.
Although all dead bodies were transported to Banani cemetery for burial in unmarked graves, Mujib's body was buried far from the capital city as the killers did not want his tomb to be a place of pilgrimage.
The DGFI ordered one Major Haider Ali to take care of Mujib's burial and instructed him to complete it within a couple of hours as it would be dangerous to fly the helicopter after nightfall.
The burial rites of the greatest son of the soil were performed most expeditiously at gunpoint.
A bucket from a nearby cow-shed was used to fetch water from a tube well for the purifying bath. The soap used for this purpose was a cheap bar of laundry soap. There was no clean white cloth to be used as a shroud. Three pieces of sari were brought from the nearby Red Cross hospital to be used as a makeshift white shroud after trimming the red borders.
A hurried janazah (the funeral prayer) was held. Only 25 people participated in it. Mujib's body was lowered to the grave beside his father's. The notorious major and his military escort were able to fly to Dhaka before dusk. This was the tragic end of the Father of the Nation.
The murder is one of the biggest tragedies in human history. We consider August 15 pre-dawn killing as "August tragedy".
The grief is so profound that it makes the whole nation feel orphaned. It was the biggest loss for us as a nation.
After Mujib's assassination, the spirit of our Liberation War had been grossly vitiated; democracy was trampled under the military boot, the Constitution was dissected to suit the vested interests' book and the practices of secularism and human rights were throttled.
On the contrary, were fostered autocracy, communalism, and anti-liberation elements.
So, August tragedy is, on one hand, a day of losing the architect of the nation, losing our national ideals on the other.
After the assassination of Mujib and the four national leaders - Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain (Rtd) Mansur Ali and A H M Quamruzzaman in jail, the pro-liberation stance of the country started stumbling around in the dark alley of reactionary rulers and regressive beliefs.
In consequence of this impasse, the anti-liberation forces bagged power in alliance with the beneficiaries of Mujib's murders. Not only that, but they also paved the way for the capture of the country by the religious militants. People, however, were rescued from the situation by Mujib's daughter Sheikh Hasina through the resurrection of the true ideals of our Liberation War and those of Mujib, the Great Leader.
The killers and conspirators of Sheikh Mujib were tried and given capital punishment after Sheikh Hasina had assumed the responsibility of the Government. Bangabandhu's ideals have begun to revive in Bangladesh and the world.
It has been proved that Mujib dead is stronger than Mujib alive. His dreams of a secular civil society, of a non-communal country, of his beloved 'Sonar Bangla', are not to evaporate.
The people of Bangladesh are now trying under the dynamic leadership of the heir to Bangabandhu's blood and politics, Sheikh Hasina to realise his dreams.
The sacrifice of leaders like Mujib is not to go in vain. Mujib is the lighthouse of hope for the Bengalis and shall continue to be. There's no stopping the eternal Mujib.
Dr Rashid Askari is a writer, columnist, fictionist, translator, media personality and the vice-chancellor of Islamic University, Bangladesh. Email: [email protected]