Tribute to Bangamata on her 92nd birthday



Tofael Ahemd
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Humble tribute to the immortal memory of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's beloved wife Great woman Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib on her 92nd happy birthday. His beloved wife was behind the fact that the name of the Father of the Nation was uttered with utmost respect all over the world beyond the borders of his homeland. This majestic woman kept Bangabandhu in her arms with absolute compassion as her life partner from behind the scenes of death. By making realistic and far-sighted decisions at important turning points in the history of independent Bangladesh, she has made a unique and historic contribution in bringing the Bengali national liberation struggle to its desired goal.

Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib was born on August 8, 1930. If she were alive today, she would be 92 years old. Bangamata has lived a miserable life for 12 years of Bangabandhu's life. She came to Dhaka in 1954 and rented a house at Rajni Chowdhury Lane in Gandaria. When the Jukta Front cabinet was formed in 1954, Bangabandhu became the Minister of Forests and Agriculture. Then he left Gandaria's house and went to the government house at 3 Mintu Road. Within a few days, the central government of Pakistan issued Section 92-A, dissolved the cabinet and arrested Bangabandhu. With just two weeks' notice, Bangamata had to find a home and the rented a house in Nazira Bazar of old Dhaka.

In 1955, Bangabandhu was elected a member of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly and on 16 September of the same year took over the ministry of industry, commerce, labor, anti-corruption and rural defense in the Awami League-led government. At that time Bangabandhu family was at home on 15, Abdul Gani Road. A few days later, when the question of taking charge of the ministry or the party came up, Bangabandhu voluntarily resigned from the ministry and took charge of the party secretary and Bangamata had to move. This time he took up residence in Segunbagicha. At that time Bangabandhu became the chairman of the Tea board. Bangabandhu was arrested on 12 October when Ayub's military rule was imposed on 7 October 1957. Once again Bangamata was looking for a home with her family and took shelter in a house under construction in Segunbagicha. Later she changed it and moved to the second floor of another house in Segunbagicha. Then 14 cases were filed in the name of Bangabandhu.

In 1961, Bangabandhu was released from prison and took a job with Alpha Insurance Company. The Bangabandhu family started living in a house at Road No. 32, Dhanmondi on October 1, 1961. From this time onwards the house at Dhanmondi Road No. 32 gradually became the address of the national liberation struggle of the Bengalis. Bangabandhu looked after each of the party leaders and workers like a member of her own family. Bangabandhu's family members thought so too. Bangabandhu and Bangamata used to stand by the side of the leaders and workers like absolute benefactors. Bangamata was enlightened in the light of the consciousness that Bangabandhu had the exceptional ability to win the hearts of the workers with his compassionate organizational efforts.

Some of the events carefully stored in the pages of memory still float in my mind. I always remember with gratitude the contribution of Bangamata in the '69 movement. At one time Chhatra League and we were in a very difficult situation. Gone are the days when we could not rent the office of Chhatra League. I remember an incident in 1967-68. Respected leader Abdur Razzak was then the general secretary of Chhatra League, Mazharul Haque Baki was the president. I was the VP of Iqbal Hall (Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haque Hall) at Dhaka University. I was riding a motorcycle, sitting behind Razzak Bhai. The destination is the BCL office located in Agamasi Lane. After we got there, the landlord called us and said, ‘Get out of here. Three months rent arrears. You can't rent an office. Chhatra League office cannot be kept here. '

We kindly requested the landlord to give us a few hours. He kept our request. Then the top leaders including Bangabandhu were imprisoned. From there we went to Bangamata at 32, Dhanmondi and told her about our plight. She handed over Tk. 200 to Razzak Bhai. From this Tk. 200 we paid the landlord 3 months rent of 60 rupees per month and 180 rupees. With the remaining Tk. 20 rupees we had lunch at a restaurant. When the mass movement started, she herself, who is today with our Prime Minister Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina in Iqbal Hall, Iqbal Hall was the center of the movement, the residential area of the nearby teachers, was sitting in the car. She would call us for financial help and give necessary instructions. She used to meet Bangabandhu and explain the directions she got from Bangabandhu. She also managed the Chhatra League during a very difficult time.

February 14 was an important day in the mass movement of '69. The meeting of the Democratic Action Committee (DAC) was held at Paltan Maidan that day. Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina took me to the place where Bangabandhu's trial was going on as Bangabandhu was interested in seeing me that day. The car was driven by the late Dr. Wazed Mia, the late husband of the Hon'ble Prime Minister. Bangabandhu pulled me to his chest and caressed me and said, ‘Today you are giving a speech in the paltan.’ I said, we do not give speeches in the meetings of political parties. Then he said, ‘You will be where the journalists are sitting. People will want to see you. You give speeches. '

A man has been imprisoned for about 33 months, but what he said has happened literally. The public meeting started, we went to the student body, we stayed close to where the journalists sat. Nurul Amin was the president of DAC. When the name of Nurul Amin was proposed from the platform, the people of the public meeting rejected it with hatred. The top leaders picked me up from the stage. Holding Bangabandhu's picture on my chest, I said, the day is not far away, the day our beloved will return among us.

It may be mentioned that Ayub Khan then called an all-party roundtable meeting. The question was whether to go to the round table meeting. We said, ‘Let’s go. However, our beloved leader Sheikh Mujib will lead the Awami League. 'With this situation in mind, I wanted to ask the people,' Do you want a roundtable meeting without the release of Sheikh Mujib? ' Meanwhile, there was a conspiracy to release our beloved leader on parole and take him to the round table meeting. I also raised the issue in front of the people and asked, ‘Do you want to be released on Sheikh Mujib’s parole?’ People said, ‘No, no, I don’t want to.’ Then we said to the leaders, ‘Leaders, you will go. But you will not sit in the roundtable meeting without the beloved leader Sheikh Mujib. ' Every effort was made to release Bangabandhu on parole and bring him to the round table meeting. Pakistan's Information Minister Khwaja Sahabuddin, Naval Chief AR Khan and many others came. But Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib played a major and historic role against all those efforts. After meeting Bangabandhu, Bangamata informed Bangabandhu of the decision of the people in the meeting of the paltan and said, 'People want your complete release. There is a conspiracy against you to release you on parole. You will never agree to parole. The people of Bengal do not want to be released on your parole. The people of Bengal do not want a round table meeting without you. If you are not released completely, there should be no attempt to release you on parole. 'Bangabandhu himself would not go to the roundtable meeting to be released on parole. When the offer was made to Bangabandhu, he rejected the offer in disgust and said, "I will go to the round table meeting as a free man."

Then on 15 February Sergeant Zahurul Haque was shot dead while detained in the cantonment. Fires raged like wildfire all over the country. On February 18 Rajshahi University teacher Dr. Shamsuzzoha was brutally killed by the Pakistani army on a bayonet charge and the evening law continued till February 20. We have decided not to break the curfew and transform the city into a city of processions. By turning the whole city of Dhaka into a city of torches and processions on February 20 and forcing the repeal of the evening law, we issue a 24-hour ultimatum to demand the unconditional release of all political prisoners detained in the Agartala case, including beloved Sheikh Mujib. Fearing public outrage, the beloved leader was released unconditionally at 12 noon on February 22 and taken to his residence. A flood of joy swept across the country.

Beloved leader was conferred the title of 'Bangabandhu' on 23 February at the Racecourse Maidan (Suhrawardy Udyan). The Awami League delegation led by Syed Nazrul Islam-Tajuddin Ahmed went to Lahore for the round table meeting. But they conditioned, ‘Our party will be led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Until he comes, we will not sit in the round table meeting. 'The round table meeting was waiting for Bangabandhu; Bangabandhu participated there as a 'free man' and this is what the people of Bengal expected. In those turbulent days of the mass uprising, Bangabandhu's foresight and the contribution of Bangamata floated in the pages of memory.

One thing seems to be repeated. How far-sighted a leader is that he always knew how to make the right decision. I have never seen a person like him who knew what to say at any time. I have noticed that Bangabandhu did not make contradictory statements in his life. He never denied a statement or contradicted it. What he believed, thought, thought it was realistic, he said thoughtfully. Once he said that, he remained uncompromising even in the face of death.

I have heard from the revered Bangamata that Bangabandhu walked restlessly on the night of March 7, before the historic speech of March 7, 1971 and wondered what to say! Bangamata said, ‘Why do you think so much? All your life you have struggled with a goal, you have gone to jail, you have gone to jail, you have gone to the gallows. In this meeting you will say whatever you think is best from your believing heart. Let's see, people will accept that. You sleep now. 'Bangabandhu spoke that day with deep faith in his heart. Inspired by Bangabandhu, she was Bangabandhu's constant companion like a shadow. She has repeatedly requested Bangabandhu to provide the documents and say that you should write these while sitting in jail. At the beginning of the first page of the book 'Unfinished Autobiography', Bangabandhu wrote, "One day my wife sat at the jail gate and said, 'You are sitting, write the story of your life.' ‘My wife, whose nickname is Renu, bought me some notebooks and deposited them at the jail gate. The jail authorities have given me the register as usual. Renu sat at the jail gate one more day and requested me. So I started writing today. 'He wrote under the inspiration of Bangamata.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu, handed over the manuscript of that day in the form of a book to the people today. Bangabandhu never celebrated his birthday. He wrote about this on page 209 of the book 'Prison Diary', 'Today is my 47th birthday. On this day I was born in 1920 in a small village in East Bengal. I never celebrated my birthday myself at most my wife would have given me a small gift on this day. On this day I tried to stay at home. 'Bangabandhu loved Bangamata very much, knew her well and looked at her with respect. Bangamata was the companion of happiness and sorrow in Bangabandhu's life. In the difficult days of the life of the Father of the Nation, Bangamatai has held the Awami League and Chhatra League. Then there were two organizations. One is Awami League, the other is Chhatra League. Krishak League, Sramik League, Juba League and other organizations have fallen. Those of us who used to do Chhatra League, when we went to meet Bangamata for some work, she gave us wisdom and advice.

She had helped financially even in difficult times. We used to collect money from people with coupons of Tk. 5, Tk. 10, Tk.100. Gone are the days when someone would give Tk. 100 and we would look at his face. Even at that time, Bangamata extended a helping hand to the organization and kept our activities active. After 9 months of bloody liberation war, on December 16, the day the country was liberated from the enemy, we returned to our beloved motherland in the guise of a victor. On December 18, Abdur Razzak and I landed in independent Bangladesh in a helicopter. The joy of ‘Joy Bangla’ all around, cannot be expressed in words! At first I ran away - including the revered Bangamata, Sheikh Hasina, Sheikh Rehana and Sheikh Russell - where the Bangabandhu family was imprisoned. Sheikh Kamal, the eldest son of Bangabandhu, joined the war of liberation and was the ADC of General Osmani, the Commander-in-Chief of the Liberation Army. Sheikh Jamal participated in the war of liberation with training in Dehradun.

During the war of liberation no one wanted to rent a house to Bangamata. If Sheikh Mujib's wife rents a house, the landlord will be taken away by the Pakistan Army. If a house has been rented out by hiding one's identity due to hardship, one has to leave the house with a few hours' notice after getting the identity again. Later, the Pakistan Army placed Bangamata under house arrest in a house at No. 18, Dhanmondi. Bangamata has gone through a difficult time in the days of the great liberation war.

Bangabandhu became the Prime Minister after the independence of the country. However, Bangamata was not in the official residence, but in the unofficial residence 32, Dhanmondi. The door of Bangabandhu's house was open to all. People from all walks of life used to travel. Bangamata used to receive and accept everyone with a smile. In the absence of Bangabandhu, she would look for every leader and worker of the party and help as much as he could. After independence, when I was Bangabandhu's political secretary, I used to go to Bangabandhu's residence at 32, Dhanmondi every morning at 9 am, from there to Ganobhaban with Bangabandhu. Then at 9 pm I would take Bangabandhu to his residence 32, Dhanmondi and return home. When I went to Bangamata's house, she took care of us like her own child. Bangamata used to cook for Bangabandhu by herself. Bangabandhu used to keep everything in order. Bangabandhu used to call Bangamata 'Renu'. Bangabandhu and Bangamata was an ideal couple.

In the historic public meeting after receiving the title of 'Bangabandhu', the Father of the Nation said, 'Those of you who have freed me from prison with blood, if I can one day I will repay the debt of your blood with the blood of my own chest.' Yes he repaid! On the night of August 15, 1975, when the assassin's bullet pierced the chest of the Father of the Nation, Bangamata shouted and told the assassins to kill him too. At the time of the death of his spouse, she became his companion forever. Father of the Nation and Mother of Bengal loved the people of Bengal very much. With the rise of independent Bangladesh, their genuine creative love will be immortalized and written in golden letters on the pages of history. In the words of the rebellious poet Kazi Nazrul Islam about the Father and Mother of the nation-

‘Any great creation on earth is eternally auspicious

Half of it is done by women, half by men. '

Who will lead France for the next five years?



Dr Mahfuz Parvez
Macron and Le Pen Prepare for Showdown

Macron and Le Pen Prepare for Showdown

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France on Saturday (April 23) prepared to choose between centrist President Emmanuel Macron and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen to rule the country for the next five years after a bitterly contested and polarising election campaign. By Sunday (April 24) evening, the world will know whether France has elected its first female leader, or the first two-term president since Jacques Chirac.

Considering the election processes, It’s looking like Emmanuel Macron is headed for victory; he holds a ten-point average lead in polls over his challenger, the far-right Marine Le Pen. That she is still within range of Macron, who trounced her by 30 percentage points in 2017, has Western capitals nervous that the French could swap an ardent EU supporter for one closer to Moscow than Brussels.

However, Undecided voters are one concern, with as many as 11 percent still yet to make up their minds. The supporters of the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon are another wildcard. The worry for Macron is not so much that they would go over to Le Pen, but that they simply won’t vote at all. Just under half of his first round voters don’t intend to cast a ballot on Sunday, but two-thirds of those who plan to vote say they’ll back Macron.

Michele Barbero, in a Paris dispatch for Foreign Policy Journal, spoke with one Mélenchon supporter who isn’t sure whether to vote on Sunday. “I feel disillusioned, desperate, and I have less and less confidence in politics to bring about more social justice,” she said.

As the election of Joe Biden in 2020 showed, a victory for a centrist candidate doesn’t magically de-polarize an electorate. So even a loss may not spell the end for Le Pen, who will be just 58 when the 2027 elections come around—and would no longer have to face Macron, who would be barred from serving a third consecutive term.

With Le Pen within arm’s reach of Macron, some world leaders have gotten off the fence. In a rare foray into French politics, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made the case for Macron in a Le Monde op-ed on Thursday. Sharing a byline with his left-leaning counterparts Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, the three men presented a choice between “a democratic candidate, who believes that France grows in a powerful EU. And a far-right candidate, who openly sides with those attacking our freedom and democracy.”

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former Brazilian President has also stated his support for Macron, describing the election as one where “the future of democracy” is at stake.

Although U.S. President Joe Biden has not publicly expressed his preference, his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama still might. The former president would be leaving it late; he already had backed Macron by this time in the 2017 election cycle.

Perhaps doing Le Pen a favor, given the distance she has tried to put between herself and the Russian leader during her campaign, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stayed silent. Her ideological allies in Hungary and Poland have too.

Imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has also stumped for Macron—while skewering his opponent, saying on Twitter that any so-called conservative who is sympathetic to Putin “is actually just a hypocrite with no conscience.”

Barring a too-close-to-call election, exit polls should predict the winner by the time voting ends at 8 p.m. Paris time on Sunday.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Political Science, University of Chittagong and Associate Editor, barta24.com

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Let’s talk about the elephant in the room



Tazlina Zamila Khan
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room

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Our nation has reached a point where just walking down the street is the most risky and courageous undertaking that one can perform. Once you go out into the street, there is no assurance that you will be able to return to your loved ones. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, such as a bus or a car, you are not protected. I was taken aback when I received some news about one of my students. He and his mother were driving home from school like they often did when their car collided with a rickshaw, killing one of the passengers. The chauffeur was able to flee the scene very quickly, but my student's mother was gravely injured. It was a traumatic experience for such a young boy like him to see such an occurrence unfold in front of his own eyes. The person who died could have been anybody, and it might have been someone you know. Every day, the number of accidents increases, and the worth of human life decreases.

Sometimes it does remind me of one of the dialogues of Spiderman II --‘Uncle Ben was killed that night for being the only one who did the right thing’. Bangladeshi street scenes are similar to this in terms of situation. Even if you are driving safely and, in your lane, you may be involved in an accident due to the negligence of another driver. Thousands of Uncle Ben is Somebody else's careless behavior resulted in these people's death. To make a safer road, how much blood must be shed?

According to a news report of The Daily Star which stated the road accident rates increased by 30%. In addition to reckless driving, a lack of skilled drivers, mental and physical illness in drivers, insufficient benefits for drivers, slow vehicular movement on highways and youths riding carelessly on motorbikes, an ineffective traffic management system, and a lack of awareness among the general public are all factors contributing to traffic fatalities and injuries.

If the management is tight, however, all of these issues will not be addressed for some time. What annoys me the most is that in our nation, there is no consequence for individuals who are guilty for their actions on the road. The vast majority of the time, drivers escape after murdering someone. Every attempt is made to bring justice to the victim's family, but all of it is in vain.

With each victim who escapes, it sends a message to the whole society that "it is alright to murder someone since no one else will come to haunt you." This is very hazardous, and sadly, this is the reality of the situation in the country. As a result, accidents are happening on the other hand culprits are moving freely without being punished.

Despite the government's stated goal of reducing road accidents by 20-25 percent by 2024 and 50 percent by 2030, the number of accidents in the nation has continued to rise over the last few years.

When it comes to following the rules of the road, motorcycles have a particularly difficult time. They indicate that time is more important than human lives by rushing to the destination with the passengers. Every member of the family is affected by even a little accident. No matter how sympathetic or empathic you are to the victim's family, you will never be able to replace the gap left by the death of a spouse, a daughter, or a son. It's impossible to fathom the anguish and misery endured by the families affected by such tragedies.

Despite this, traffic accidents are still being referred to as the elephant in the room. As a matter of fact, it should have been dealt with and resolved much sooner had it been given more priority. In reality, though, it is steadily increasing. Why has it been put off for so long?

Road accidents are still a severe problem, despite the fact that our communication system has undergone a major shift. Adequate driving instruction is essential, and law enforcement authorities should be harsher with those who breach the rules. To illustrate that no one is above the law, the perpetrators of these crimes should be punished.

The writer is a faculty member of a private school

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Japan, China and Asian Peace



Dr. Mahfuz Parvez
Japan, China and Asian Peace

Japan, China and Asian Peace

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Japan and China, two important countries in Asia, are also influential in regional and international politics. These two countries can play a leading role in peace and development in Asia. Although their pasts are conflicting, their peaceful alliance is essential to world reality. Especially for Asia-Pacific peace, it is essential that the two countries come together.

Considering the important position of two countries, researchers have worked on the positive aspects of the friendly role of Japan and China. As they look to the past and the present, some researchers have raised hopes for the future. Ezra Feivel Vogel was an one of them.

Ezra Feivel Vogel, (Born: July 11, 1930, Delaware, Ohio, United States, Died: December 20, 2020, Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States) was an American sociologist who wrote prolifically on modern Japan, China, and Korea, and worked both in academia and the public sphere. He was Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and the author of a masterpiece titled China and Japan: Facing History, published in 2019 just before his death.

According to Ezra Feivel Voge, China and Japan have cultural and political connections that stretch back fifteen hundred years. But today their relationship is strained. China’s military buildup deeply worries Japan, while Japan’s brutal occupation of China in World War II remains an open wound. In recent years less than ten percent of each population had positive feelings toward the other, and both countries insist that the other side must deal openly with its history before relations can improve.

From the sixth century, when the Japanese adopted core elements of Chinese civilization, to the late twentieth century, when China looked to Japan for a path to capitalism, Ezra Vogel’s book examined key turning points in Sino–Japanese history. Throughout much of their past, the two countries maintained deep cultural ties, but China, with its great civilization and resources, had the upper hand. Japan’s success in modernizing in the nineteenth century and its victory in the 1895 Sino–Japanese War changed the dynamic, putting Japan in the dominant position. The bitter legacy of World War II has made cooperation difficult, despite efforts to promote trade and, more recently, tourism.

Vogel underscored the need for Japan to offer a thorough apology for the war, but he also urged China to recognize Japan as a potential vital partner in the region. He argued that for the sake of a stable world order, these two Asian giants must reset their relationship, starting with their common interests in environmental protection, disaster relief, global economic development, and scientific research.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh and Associate Editor, www.barta24.com.
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Our victory: our pride



Syed Iftekhar
photo: Barta24.com

photo: Barta24.com

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In the 21st century, technology is a crucial factor for economic development. Bangladesh is not left behind, the current time the region is part of the global community. The country embarked on a long way since the declaration of independence in 1971.

Nowadays, Bangladesh turns 50 years. Digital Bangladesh is developing swiftly with this momentum that will lead the territory into achieving its future goals. Meanwhile, the region has commenced the journey towards Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's 'Sonar Bangla' through this massive triumph.

Here and now, Bangladesh is making an impressive leap on the Earth as our situation has dramatically improved. The world leaders have even noticed our successful transformation. Consequently, Bangladesh has ranked the fastest-growing economies in the world. From 1971 to 2021, Bangladesh ameliorated enormously; our food safety has significantly improved, poverty is also declining.

On the other hand, the private sector has expanded at an astonishing rate. Although there are still some sectors Bangladesh needs to address. We need to do major works more efficiently at present to secure an ample future. In this case, the present government is striving. As conscious citizens of this country, we have individual responsibility too.

However, as a firm citizen, I also have a gigantic dream. A dream for a better life, prosperous life. It is not just a conception. This would happen soon. I am immensely hopeful because without hope this country could not be created. Further, we could not overcome several obstacles as well as challenges. Nonetheless, the rigorous reality is hopes are not well enough. We must make a noteworthy endeavor to turn them into reality, thus, we can go far.

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