Birth Centenary of the Father of Bangladesh

Postponing his visit to Dhaka amid Coronavirus fears, PM Modi addressed the citizens of Bangladesh on the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, popularly known as ‘Jatir Pita’ (father of the nation). PM Modi very subtly criticized Pakistan while praising Bangladesh’s rapid progress. Despite the strains because of CAA-NRC, and speeches of Parliamentary members on Bangladesh, India and Bangladesh are scripting a ‘golden chapter’ of their bilateral ties as per PM Modi.

Crux of the Matter

Who was Mujibur Rahman?
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, also known as Bangabandhu or friend of Bengal, is a leading political figure in Bangladesh that helped the nation attain freedom from Pakistan in 1971. Mujib was born in 1920 to the Bengali-native Muslim family of Sheikh Luftur Rahman.

Life and Political Career
Mujib was politically active from a young age. In 1940, he joined the All India Muslim Students Federation. He later joined the Bengal Muslim League and worked persistently for the creation of a separate Muslim state. After partition, he returned to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and founded the East Pakistan Muslim Students’ League. He played a leading role in protesting against West Pakistan’s decision of keeping Urdu the official State language.

Mujib left Muslim League to form a new party, Awami Muslim League. In 1954, he was elected to the East Bengal Legislative Assembly. In 1958, Mujib organized resistance against Ayub Khan’s martial law and was imprisoned for 3 years. His resistance against the West Pakistani leaders continued and he was jailed several times before he was captured by West Pakistan and taken to Lahore in 1971.

Bangladesh Freedom Movement
Mujib’s resistance had sown a seed of civil disobedience against the actions of West Pakistan. On 7 March 1971, Mujib in a landmark speech at Dhaka’s Ramna Race Course asked citizens to start a civil disobedience movement for the independence of Bangladesh. He was arrested and taken to Lahore after Ayub Khan declared martial law in the state. In retaliation to mass protests, Pakistan began Operation Searchlight, also called the 1971 Bangladesh genocide.

In 1971, with the help of the Indian Armed Forces, Bangladesh defeated Pakistan’s Armed Forces and Bangladesh was declared independent. Mujib became the first Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh.

In 1975, a small troop of young Bangladeshi Army officers invaded Mujib’s presidential residence with tanks and assassinated Mujib and his family. Awami League had planned the coup. His daughters, Sheikh Hasina – the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and Sheikh Rehana were alive as they were on a visit to West Germany.


Operation Searchlight was a planned military operation carried out by the Pakistan Army to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in the erstwhile East Pakistan in March 1971, which the Pakistani state retrospectively justified on the basis of anti-Bihari violence by Bengalis in early March. The operation also precipitated the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, in which 300,000-3,000,000 civilians were killed and roughly 10 million refugees fled to India. Bengali intelligentsia, academics and Hindus were targeted for the harshest treatment, with significant indiscriminate killing taking place. These systematic killings enraged the Bengalis, who declared independence from Pakistan, to establish the new nation of Bangladesh.

The violence resulting from Operation Searchlight led to the Bangladesh Liberation War, in which Mukti Bahini fought to remove Pakistani occupation forces from Bangladesh. Following the ill-fated Operation Chengiz Khan, Indian intervention resulted in the Pakistan Army’s unconditional surrender to the joint command of the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini on 16 December 1971. More Info