On the ninety-second anniversary of Tajuddin Ahmad’s birth, how do we remember him? Better yet, how must we recall the man who appears to be inexorably disappearing into a deep pool of historical oblivion despite the role he has played in the making of Bangladesh’s history? To remember Tajuddin Ahmad is to remember ourselves as we once were. It is to define and outline a course of politics that will allow the generations to be to comprehend the tall man he was in his perception of the world he was part of.

There are all the platitudes we can come forth about Tajuddin Ahmad’s life and achievements. There are all the moments we can and should bring to light once again against the background of the momentous decisions he made once the Pakistan army launched its genocide of Bengalis on 25 March 1971. We will recall the steadfastness of purpose he demonstrated in letting the world know that the people of Bangladesh were perfectly capable of giving to themselves a government that could and would wage guerrilla war against the enemy. We will necessarily remember the uphill battle he waged, even as he shaped battlefield strategy through the formation of the Mukti Bahini, against his detractors in the Awami League, men who were desperate about pushing him aside and seizing the movement for national liberation on premises that were as spurious as they were invalid.

As a nation we remain grateful to Tajuddin Ahmad for the strong, uncompromising leadership he demonstrated during the war. He remained unfazed by the whispering campaign around him, by the ceaseless conspiracy that sought to have the rug pulled from under him by men less qualified than he in the making of political formulations. And we will of course revere, today and for all time, the socialist heart that beat in Tajuddin Ahmad. He was a thorough political animal, a man erudite to the core and unflinching in his belief that his fellow Bengalis were destined to be free in terms of political sovereignty. He never lost faith in his people, not even in those last few months he was compelled to spend as a prisoner in a land he had had such an instrumental role in catapulting to freedom.




And thus do we have some very good reasons why Tajuddin Ahmad should be remembered. Besides the intangible that naturally has come to be associated with his place in history, there are the many tangibles we ought to bring into the task of restoring Tajuddin Ahmad to the high perch that has seemed to be stealthily pulled out from under him over the years. And here are the tangibles:

The government of Bangladesh can take formal and concrete steps towards creating a commission that will study the circumstances under which Tajuddin Ahmad formed the Mujibnagar government and had it conduct the War of Liberation in the nine months of the conflict. It is not enough that the Tajuddin legacy be disseminated and upheld merely by his children. The State has a responsibility in officially recording the contributions of an individual whose presence in 1971 was pivotal to our struggle for freedom.

And then comes the need for well-researched biographies of Tajuddin Ahmad, in both Bengali and English, the purpose being clear and simple: many among the older generation have either forgotten the wartime leader or have in a demonstration of ignorance or arrogance or both have sought to consign him to the backwaters of Bengali history. Tajuddin Ahmad was and is an integral part of this nation’s history. The world needs to be told his story.

A Tajuddin Ahmad Centre of Public Policy, based on the principles he shaped and upheld in life, can surely be set up, principally with the support and encouragement of the government. The objective here will be to take people, especially the young, through the life and times of the late leader and encourage them into initiating research on various aspects of politics and governance that test the intellectual aspects of the Bengali mind.

Given the vast swaths of historical undertakings Tajuddin Ahmad traversed through his association with the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, an annual Tajuddin Ahmad Memorial Lecture series, encompassing subjects and themes of historical and contemporary significance, can be brought into fruition through the cooperative efforts of the government, the wartime leader’s family and scholars across the spectrum. Researchers and students of history will thus be happily linking a paramount political leader to their need for an interpretation of the social forces that power the engine of Bangladesh’s dealings with the world beyond its frontiers.

A Tajuddin Ahmad Memorial dedicated to visual and video representations of the late leader’s socialistic principles along with film footage showing him in his various roles during and after the war would have a positive impact on the public imagination. His understanding of socialism and the socialist society he dreamed of inaugurating in Bangladesh would be the core principle at work in such an organization.

In schools and colleges across the country, textbooks should, in the larger interest of the intellectual and historical growth of the mind, include elaborate chapters and sections on the contributions of Tajuddin Ahmad and his colleagues in Mujibnagar to the Six Point programme in the 1960s, followed by the prosecution of the war itself in 1971.

Thus can this nation keep aloft the lamp that Tajuddin Ahmad lit forty six years ago. In that long-ago year he struggled bravely and mightily to bring into implementation mode the supreme moral and political principles he personified in his career.

One who turns away from the story of Tajuddin Ahmad will be guilty of suppressing a major segment of Bangladesh’s history.

For Tajuddin Ahmad is — and will be — synonymous with the larger Bengali historical narrative.


(Tajuddin Ahmad, pre-eminent Bengali politician and wartime prime minister, was born on 23 July 1925 and murdered in prison on 3 November 1975 )

Syed Badrul Ahsanis a columnist.

7 Responses to “How should we remember Tajuddin Ahmad?”

  1. J Iqbal

    He is lost and forgotten amidst the rubble of political dishonesty, sycophancy and corruption.

  2. Shadier

    Thank you, Mr. Badrul. Yes, let us, as a nation, show the respect to one of the most sincere Bengali who walked our land. We owe him that . . . and much more.

  3. Parvez Chowdhury

    Very stubborn, but honest, dedicated Personality. Political Master Mind of Awami League since 1966 to 10th January 1972. History Prove his every Political and Administrative move were Correct! He faced strong Opponent within Awami League and finally pushed out from the Party Decision Making to the Side Line. By 1974 he was just a Party member — Very sad! May Allah bless his sole, Ameen!

  4. Anwar A. Khan

    Tajuddin Ahmad was the man pure in heart. Every aspect of his life is a jewel of intellectual prowess, silver-tongued, decent and a politician of perfect refinement with deep patriotism. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the struggle for establishing an independent and sovereign state in Bangladesh.
    No one will ever know what went through Tajuddin’s mind unless you are familiar with his magnificent character and the very difficult jobs that he did throughout his life, especially during our glorious Liberation War of 1971 to establish Bangladesh, and all the superlatives in the world will never be compensation for his loss in the wee hours of 3rd November 1975.
    Occasionally, in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart. Such is the moment I am presently experiencing. I experience this high and saddest moment not for myself alone but for those people who have moved so courageously against the ramparts of injustice and who in the process have acquired a new estimate of their own human worth. It is because of leadership like Tajuddin, people were all united, in absence of Bangabandhu, in the quiet conviction that it was better to suffer in dignity than to accept live in humiliation. He is the real hero of the freedom struggle; and he is the noble person for whom we can boast of.
    We recall the sorrow that Tajuddin Ahmad and his colleagues endured watching them only died on the gun bullets and bayonet charges. We unite all of our sufferings every day to him and them, asking for the grace and strength to endure them for the sake of Bangladesh. We ask God to pray for us, so that we may look forward to the joy that comes from remaining faithful witnesses to Tajuddin like honest and patriotic politicians. We present our own sorrows and ask God to intercede for us with His great fallen sons.
    The writer’s suggestions are of immense signification for memorialising Tajuddin Ahmad like figure. He was not a man, but a world. I salute him from core of my heart on his 92nd birthday.

  5. Dr Tazeen M Murshid

    I totally agree that the nation deserves to know and value its history. The War of Liberation should be written about. Historians need to be active on this front and should be provided the assistance required to undertake such work. The War of Liberation did not happen in a vacuum. There were statesmen at the helm of affairs trying to steer the political outcome in as coherent and consistent manner as possible, and cause the least harm to an uprooted population: they were fully aware of the pitfalls of radicalisation of a long drawn guerilla war. They forged alliances, friendships, managed the many upstart forces that could have become petty warlords.
    Tajuddin Ahmed’s role was exceptional. As refugees at the time, we spent many weekends with his children in their small but sunny apartment in Mujibnagar. But I never saw him. He never stayed with his family in those painful days, because the Mukti Bahini could not be with their families and because the bulk of the population was homeless. He would go home when everyone else could go home in an independent Bangladesh.

  6. golam arshad

    Syed Badrul Ahsan: “Not to be”… HE IS ALMOST FORGOTTEN … A patriot to the hilt, a clean slate political leader, Awami League have to let go its best of dedicated leader… Why you and I know! Good job my friend.

    Golam Arshad
    Former Press Minister ( 2004-2006 )
    Bangladesh Embassy
    Washington DC

    • Syed Imtiaz Ali

      There is no dearth of catalyst in augmenting just that. Good reminders to reminisce upon, ponder upon. Wither history?


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