The character of great men and women are revealed when they are under stress. Recently discovered letters written in 1950 open our eyes to the then emerging greatest Bangalee of all times Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

In 1996, when Sheikh Hasina first became the prime minister of Bangladesh, she learned about the existence of a secret file maintained by the Pakistan Intelligence Branch during the period of 1948-1971 that covered the activities of Bangabandhu. This remarkable file is now being published in multiple volumes titled ‘Secret Documents of Intelligence Branch on Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’. Volume 1 (1948-1950) was recently launched.

It is a treasure trove of history unknown to all until now.

Page by page, we see the Pakistan government’s record on the daily activities of Bangabandhu. We are able to comprehend his thoughts, feelings and state of mind as he goes about planning and engaging in political activities revolving around the struggle for a fairer and better treatment for Bangalees, for the realisation of their legitimate rights and for the preservation of their culture and language. This struggle under Bangabandhu’s leadership would ultimately lead to the emergence of an independent Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu was referred to, at times, as “Security Prisoner Sheikh Mujibur” by the Pakistan Intelligence Branch.

This commentary deals with two letters, both written in English and in his own handwriting. In a letter addressed to ‘Jonab’ Suhrawardy dated 21/12/1950, while he was in Faridpur jail, Security Prisoner Sheikh Mujibur wrote: “…those who are prepared to die for any cause are seldom defeated. Great things are achieved through great sacrifices. Allah is more powerful than anybody else, and I want justice from Him.”

It was a powerful statement from the man who would lead East Pakistan out of repression and exploitation to establish Bangladesh.

Sheikh Mujibur goes on to remind Suhrawardy that he needed books in prison:

You should not forget that I am alone and books are the only companion of mine.

Earlier in the letter, Sheikh Mujibur complained that he was jailed in Faridpur although his case was to be tried in Gopalganj requiring him to go back and forth. He bemoaned the trip taking 60 hours one way and that the route and the conveyance used was “proverbially tiresome”.

The Pakistan authorities kept this letter and did not allow it to be delivered. It was later found in the Special Branch files.

In another confiscated letter to a relative Jepu, from the Dhaka central jail on 26/5/1950, Security Prisoner Sheikh Mujibur wrote:

…but you should know, to the man who lives for an idea, for his country, for the good of humanity, life has an extensive meaning, and to that extent pain becomes less important to him.  I know that the world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those who feel.

The last sentence sums up the attitude of too many around us.

Still, the Security Prisoner observed:

I am definite that in the long war between falsehood and truth, falsehood always won the first battle and truth the last.

And he angrily reacts to the suggestion from his relative that if he tells the Pakistan authorities that he will not engage in politics, he could be released from prison:

I cannot understand how you can dare to write this very word ‘bond’ to me. I do not know how to bow down my head to any man except Allah- the Almighty.”

His command of language, his strength of character, his faith in the Almighty, great personal suffering, firm belief that truth always triumphs over falsehood, appreciation of the pain felt by the downtrodden, realisation that without sacrifice goals cannot be reached, to compromise was betraying oneself, adherence to ideals and principles, striving for nation building and passion for serving humanity, are all evident from these letters written way back in 1950. He was only 30 years old at that time.

It is therefore not at all surprising that over the next 21 years, his single mindedness of purpose, dedication, sacrifice and leadership and much more resulted in the birth of our beloved Bangladesh after a war of liberation in which millions sacrificed their lives and honour and Security Prisoner Sheikh Mujibur became Bangabandhu, the father of our nation.

Salman F Rahmanis a leading businessman and media entrepreneur.

15 Responses to “Bangabandhu’s early letters from prison”

  1. Anwar A Khan

    Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman unified the whole Bengali res publica into a solitary platform to combat the beastly Pakistani military establishment and its local mango-twigs to establish Bangladesh in 1971. Being a college student then, I saw in my own eyes how people of all walks of life and people of all religions laid down their lives at gun points and bayonet charges.

    The sub-humans belonging to Pakistani regime monstrously asked our valorous people to say, “Pakistan Zindabad.” But our valiant and patriotic hoi polloi bravely enounced the words, “Joi Bangla. Joi Bangabandhu. Joi Bangladesh” and embraced glorious deaths.

    It was a people’s war in 1971 to attain Bangladesh.

    The two words ‘Bangabandhu’ and ‘Bangladesh’ are synonymous. He was like a sky-touching figure. Being a bantam FF of the 1971 war field, I salute him and shall keep on doing so unto my demise.

    Reply
  2. Belal Beg

    The clouds hovering over Mujib’s celestial face has finally vanished forever. You have won a place in history Mr. Salman F Rahman. Thank you for this article.

    Reply
  3. Sarker Javed Iqbal

    Whole nation, especially the members of ‘Chhatro League’ should take lessons from the article.

    Reply
  4. Prince

    Nicely written by Mr. Salman. Really interesting to know about Banagabandhu’s life as a prisoner through his letters. Also looking forward to reading the book. Everyone should get a copy of this. Especially the members of the new generation.

    Reply
  5. Protik

    Thanks for shedding light on this aspect of Bangabandhu’s eventful life. Always a pleasure to know more about this great man and his struggles. Always something to learn from his life.

    Reply
  6. Rakib

    Mr. Rahman is correct in that Bangabandhu’s command over his ideas and language at age 30 is astonishing. But not surprising. Reading Bangabandhu’s unfinished memoirs, we learnt that even as a school boy, he had an innate sense of right from wrong and justice over injustice. Thanks for writing on this topic

    Reply
  7. M ZAHID HUSSAIN

    I have no word to express my gratitude to Mr. Salman Rahman for put
    the text of letters written by Bangobhandu from Jails.
    Their cant be or never any misconception about him,If any body dares
    it be a great betrayal to the Bangali nation, BANGLADESH

    Reply
  8. Shah Sarwar

    This opinion deserves attention on 2 counts. It dispels many negative propaganda against Bangabandhu. His commitment towards people and country, undaunted courage to consummate the commitment and most significantly his intellectual and philosophical superiority is aptly analysed and highlighted. It is also a living testimony to Bangabandhu’s command over language. And Mr Salman Rahman dug deep into attributes and articulated the essence excellently for an informed reading.

    Reply
  9. Dr. Mohammad Ali Khan

    It is an extraordinary expression, beautiful analysis. Every Bangalee should know the unknown chapter of Bangabandhu. The writer has rightly pointed out the real history of “Bangabandhu’s early letters from prison”.
    Congratulation.

    Reply
  10. Dr. Mohammad Ali Khan

    It is an extraordinary expression, beautiful analysis. Every Bangalee should know the unknown chapter of Bangabandhu. The writer rightly pointed out the real history.
    Congratulation.

    Reply
  11. Tauheed Mahmud Hussain

    Quite an interesting article. Till now, some people had some misconceptions about Bangabandhu which was clarified here very nicely.

    Its quite surprising that Salman F Rahman, being a leading business personality of the country has engaged himself to get into such a depth of the life of Bangabandhu and unveil this untold story.

    That’s really great!

    Reply
  12. Faiz Chowdhury

    This is a very competent write-up in which Mr Salman Rahman has particularly drawn attention to letters of Bangabandhu written from the prison. As it appears, many misgivings around this great leader have been debunked by these epistles. Autobiographies supply authentic elements for history; but they are unilateral. Letters being bilateral are more authentic. I appreciate Bdnews24 for republishing Mr. Rahman’s commentary.

    Reply
  13. Ivan Ahmed

    Many thanks Mr. Rahman for bringing this up to us. Had no idea about a 30 yeses old Sheikh Mujib as to how dererminatn he was. Wonderful write up

    Reply

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