Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman walked tall among all others and yet he walked with great humility. He knew how to show respect to his seniors and mentors like Suhrawardy, Ataur Rahman or Moulana Bhashani and never stepped out of line when walking with them. Numerous photographs will give testimony to this observation. When he was arrested on sedition charges under the infamous Agartala Conspiracy case, and when he was being taken to jail, his head was held high above those of his captors. When he went abroad to attend summits with other heads of states, he towered above most foreign leaders and carried himself with veritable ease and composure. When he was being taken to Pakistan for the last time by the Pakistani military in 1971, photographs show that he was calm, seated on a sofa at Karachi airport, his head held high and not stooping in fear. He lived in the prison there, showing no trace of fear though he was not sure whether he would get out of there alive. His nonchalance in the face of death must have made his captors wonder about this very special prisoner – a Bengali. He shattered the common myth among the Pakistanis that Bengalis were basically “darpook”, cowards, when confronted with adversities. But Pakistan’s military history has the courage and valor of Bengali foot soldiers and air force pilots during the 1965 war with India recorded in bold letters. There is no way they can deny that.
Not only in his lifetime, Bangabandhu remained tall and towering even in death. He did not show any sign of fear when his house was attacked by some deranged Bengali army officers and NCOs on the dark night of Aug 15, 1975. Those deranged Bengali military officers and NCOs went to assassinate Bangabandhu with the desire to see his dead body come rolling down to their feet. They would rejoice at the sight and laugh out to their hearts’ content. That is the only thing they wanted. They had no solid plan of what they would do after killing him. All they wanted to see was his blood.
Once inside the house, in their hurry the killers could not wait for Bangabandhu to come down to where they were standing on the ground floor but shot him when he was at the top of the stairs. Bangabandhu’s very presence and his thundering voice made them nervous and so they pulled the trigger. Bangabandhu fell and his lifeless body came rolling down and got stuck on the steps high above the heads of his killers. No, his body did not come rolling down to their feet as they must have desired. They had to climb up the stairs to look at his body. Thus, even in death Bangabandhu defied his killers and denied them their wish. He remained high above their heads. The other aspect worth taking note of is Bangabandhu conducted politics from his house on Road 32 Dhanmondi. He ran the administration of East Pakistan from Mar 1 till Mar 25 in 1971 from that house. The marriage of two of his sons and elder daughter took place in that house. And he died in that house, his own house.
The deranged men who took part in his killing and those who gave support from behind the curtains were nitwits in the real sense of the term as they had little idea of what Bangabandhu was made of. A man who could present his 6-point charter sitting with politicians and military generals in Pakistan without ever flinching for a second; a man who fought the Agartala Conspiracy case in the military court without missing a puff from his pipe; a man who could lead his party to overwhelming victory in the 1970 general election under the watch of a hostile military, was not a man from ordinary stock.
The mentally sick killers thought they would kill Bangabandhu and make him history. But they had little idea that the man who had dedicated his entire life to the creation of a nation-state called Bangladesh was already a significant part of world political history. They could take his body but not his spirit — the spirit that now lives in the hearts of every patriotic Bengali.