Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Persons in news: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sheikh Mujib and his legacy

Mains level: NA

March 17 is the birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1920-1975), the founding leader of Bangladesh and the country’s first Prime Minister.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1950.jpg

  • Before joining politics, Rahman studied law and political science in Kolkata and Dhaka and agitated for Indian independence.
  • He is referred to as Sheikh Mujib or simply Mujib, the title ‘Bangabandhu’ meaning ‘friend of Bengal’.
  • In 1949, he joined the Awami League, a political party which advocated greater autonomy for East Pakistan.
  • A popular leader in East Pakistan, Rahman played an important role in the six-point movement and the Anti-Ayub movement.

Role in Bangladesh liberation

  • In 1970, his party secured an absolute majority in the Pakistani general elections; the country’s first, winning more seats than all parties in West Pakistan, including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party.
  • The election results were not honoured; leading to a bloody civil war, and Sheikh Mujib declared Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan on March 26, 1971.
  • The declaration coincided with a ruthless show of strength by the Pakistani military, in which tanks rolled out on the streets of Dhaka and several students and intellectuals were killed.
  • India under then PM Indira Gandhi provided full support to Rahman and Bangladesh’s independence movement, resulting in the creation of a sovereign government at Dhaka in January 1971.

His legacy

  • Rahman, who had been arrested and taken to West Pakistan, returned to Bangladesh after being freed in January 1972.
  • For the next three years, Rahman held the new country’s prime ministerial post, and became a celebrated icon in India as well, admired for his moving speeches and charismatic personality.
  • On 15 August 1975, Rahman was killed in a military coup along with his wife and three sons, including 10-year-old Sheikh Russel.
  • His daughters, the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana, survived as they were abroad at the time.

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