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Legendary oppressed public leader Bhasani paved the way for independence

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Update: Wednesday, November 17, 2021

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Legendary oppressed public leader Bhasani paved the way for independence

Mohammad Olid Siddiqui Talukder

Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, a pioneer of village-based politics in British colonial Bengal, was a renowned religious leader and important political figure in the Indian subcontinent. Politics in Bengal at that time was confined to the confines of the educated and a certain community. Maulana Bhasani spread the light of politics from village to village. He has fought to the death for the political rights of the helpless poor people of the village. In history, therefore, his name is better known as the oppressed public leader.

Abdul Hamid Khan was born and raised in the village of Dhangara in Sirajganj district on December 12, 180. He illuminated the arms of his father Haji Sharafat Ali Khan and mother Begum Sharafat Ali. He was the youngest of the parents’ four children. His childhood nickname was Chega Mia. Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani’s childhood was not as easy as the other ten children. His father Sharafat Ali died when he was very young. Shortly afterwards, his mother and two other brothers died of an epidemic. As a result, Maulana Bhasani had to go through a childhood with indescribable misery.

The fatherless Abdul Hamid first moved to the shelter of his uncle Ibrahim and then to the shelter of Nasiruddin Bogdadi, a prominent Iraqi scholar and missionary. After staying there for some time, he started living as a lodging master in the house of zamindar Shamsuddin Ahmed Chowdhury in Panchbibi, Joypurhat. There he worked as a moderator at a local madrasa.

From there he moved to Assam in 1896 and then in 1908 he was admitted to Deoband Madrasa for the purpose of Islamic education. After studying there for two years, he returned to Assam.

Entering politics
In 1917, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das visited Mymensingh. Maulana Bhasani was also in Mymensingh at that time. Hearing his speech there, Maulana Bhasani was very much inspired. Then in 1919 he actively joined the Congress and became involved in the non-cooperation movement. He was sentenced to ten months in prison for his active participation in the movement. At the end of his imprisonment he actively continued the Khilafat movement. During the catastrophic floods in North Bengal from 1921 to 1923, he carried out relief work simultaneously with Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. It was at this time that he was able to attract the attention of the powerful leaders of the Indian subcontinent.

When Bangabandhu, soaked in the love of Maulana Bhasani,
formed Chittaranjan Das’s “Swarajya Party” in 1923, Maulana Bhasani played a major role in organizing that party. As a political organizer, Maulana Bhasani was a very far-sighted and prudent thinker. In the midst of hundreds of engagements in politics, he married his daughter Alema Khatun at the request of Shasuddin Ahmed Chowdhury, the zamindar of Panchbibi. Then in 1926 he moved to Assam with his wife. Marriage did not have much effect on his political life. He has run both world and politics in equal pace. Within a few days of his departure for Assam, the peasant movement began. In this movement also he was trying to realize the demands of the peasants. He devoted himself to the realization of the interests of the peasant laborers of Assam and East Bengal and to intensify the movement against the zamindars and usurious moneylenders.

In 1930, he organized the first farmers’ conference at Bhasan Char on the Brahmaputra river in Dhubri district of Assam. After this conference he came to be known as Maulana of Bhasani. Originally, the title “Bhasani” was added to the end of his name.

After the successful conference of Bhasan Char, Maulana Bhasani became an undisputed leader in the peasant-labor movement.

During the catastrophic floods of 1931, he came to Tangail with a large quantity of relief supplies. Then a dispute arose between him and the landlord of Santosh. As a result, he was expelled from Mymensingh district. In December 1932, he organized a huge three-day peasant-tenant conference in Sirajganj. After this conference, he was also expelled from his native Pabna district. Even after all this, he did not give up. On the contrary, he has continued the movement for realizing the rights of the peasants and workers with greater enthusiasm. In 1933, he again organized a peasant conference at Bhasanchar in Assam and Gaibandha in North Bengal.

Maulana Bhasani was accustomed to a very ordinary life. When the
Muslim League was formed, Maulana Bhasani formally left the Congress and joined the Muslim League in 1936. Upon joining the Muslim League, he was given the responsibility of the president of the Assam unit.

At that time the government of Assam passed a controversial law called “Line Practice”. The law provides for a fixed geographical range for Bengali residents. And for this the Bengalis living in Assam have to suffer. Besides, after the passage of this law, the local accused residents started evicting the Bengalis. Many people lost their lives in the conflict between the locals and the Bengalis. It was during this time that he formed the “Assam Chashi Mazdoor Samiti” in Assam and put up strong resistance against the law in Assam. He won the Assam Provincial Council election in 1938 without contest and his membership was valid till the partition of the country till 1947.

He traveled all over the country to establish the Muslim League as the party of the people and was able to garner the support of the people for the Muslim League.

In 1940, he joined the Lahore Conference of the Muslim League with Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq as the provincial president. As an important member of the Lahore Resolution Subject Committee at the Lahore Conference, Pakistan played a leading role in formulating the resolution.

When the “Bengal Khedao” movement started across Assam in 1945, riots broke out. During this time Maulana Bhasani traveled all over Assam to protect the Bengalis. The following year, he and his party, the Muslim League, launched an intense electoral movement aimed at establishing Pakistan. In May of the same year, he went on a hunger strike to demand the rights of the displaced and displaced people from Assam.

On 5 March 1947, Maulana Bhasani called for a movement throughout Assam to establish Pakistan. A few days later, he gave a speech at a preparatory meeting for the celebration of Assam Day. Soon after, the Assam government ordered him to leave Assam. But he did not obey. He has to be imprisoned for this. He was released on June 20 of the same year. After his release, he returned to his birthplace, East Bengal. This is how his long life in Assam came to an end.

Moulana Bhasani writing the way to freedom
after partition, Maulana Bhasani early 1948 as a candidate of the Muslim League, nominated member of the Legislative Council was elected uncontested in East Bengali.

Considering the historical context of the movement for independence and autonomy in Bangladesh, it can be seen that Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani through his political activities repeatedly raised the issue of autonomy and even independence. On 16 March 1948, he demanded the Speaker to conduct the proceedings of the Parliament in Bengali. He also made special demands.

Then in his March 19 budget speech, he made it clear that we were slaves to the central government. He further said that 75% of the tax collected from East Bengal should be deposited in the revenue department of East Bengal.

It is to be noted that during the British rule, Jutex and Salestax revenue was collected in Bengal and the share of this revenue was not to be paid to the Central Government. But soon after the creation of Pakistan, the central government snatched this tax from the hands of the East Bengal government. As a result, the government of East Bengal was severely weakened financially. Surprisingly, the total annual budget of the East Bengal government at this time was only Tk 36 crore.

Despite being a member of the ruling Muslim League, senior members of the party were unhappy with Maulana Bhasani for criticizing the government and a case was filed in his name in the court. After this incident, Maulana Bhasani had to accept various harassments. As a result, Maulana Bhasani resigned as a member of the managing assembly of Parliament.

On 23 June 1949, Maulana Bhasani convened a conference of Bengal Provincial Muslim League workers at the Rose Garden in Tikatuli, Dhaka. More than 3,000 workers from across the country attended the conference. Ataur Rahman Khan presided over the conference. Maulana Bhasani was present as the chief guest. On the same day, the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League emerged as the first opposition political party in East Bengal. Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani was unanimously elected president of this party. Shamsul Haque was elected general secretary of the first committee and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Khandaker Mushtaq were jointly elected joint general secretaries.

In mid-1949 there was a famine in East Bengal. On 11 October of that year, a public meeting of the Awami Muslim League was organized at Arhamanitola Maidan. The meeting demanded the resignation of the East Bengal cabinet for failing to resolve the famine problem. At the end of the public meeting a huge procession came out. Maulana Bhasani led the procession in violation of section 144. This historic procession is known as the “Hunger Procession”. He was arrested on 14 October 1949 for leading the procession and was sent to Dhaka Central Jail.

He was released on December 10, 1950, after more than a year in prison. When East Bengal was agitated for the demand for state language Bengal, an all-party state language working council was formed under his chairmanship on 30 January 1952 at the Dhaka Bar Library. He was re-arrested for collaborating with the language movement. He was brutally tortured in prison.

He was released on 21 April 1953 under the pressure of strong public opinion ahead of the elections. Before the provincial elections on December 3, Krishak-Sramik Party president Sher-e-Bangla AK. Fazlul Haque and Hussain formed the United Front with Shaheed Suhrawardy. The United Front won the election by a huge margin. Out of 238 seats in the Provincial Council of East Bengal, it won an absolute majority in 226 seats. Sher-e-Bangla A.K. After the formation of the government led by Fazlul Huq, Maulana Bhasani left for Sweden on 25 May 1954 to attend the World Peace Conference. On May 30, just five days after he left for Sweden, the central government of Pakistan dissolved the United Front cabinet in East Pakistan and imposed a governorship. At the same time Maulana Bhasani was banned from returning to the country. He spent 11 months in London, Berlin, while the embargo was in place. He resided in Delhi and Calcutta. He returned to the country on April 25, 1955, after the ban was lifted. The following year, he went on a hunger strike on May 8, 1956, demanding Rs 50 crore from the central government to alleviate the famine in East Pakistan. After announcing his death hunger strike, the government accepted the demand and he broke his fast on 24 May.

Maulana Bhasani delivered a historic speech in his speech at the historic Kagmari Conference which was held from 6 February to 10 February 1956. In his speech, he said, “If East Bengal continues to be exploited by the central rulers of Pakistan, the people of East Bengal will be compelled to salute them.”

He also demanded the cancellation of the Pak-US military agreement. The then Prime Minister Suhrawardy rejected that demand. As a result, Maulana Bhasani resigned from the Awami League on 16 March. On July 25 of the same year, the National Awami Party (NAP) was formed under the leadership of Maulana Bhasani. Through the establishment of NAP, Maulana Bhasani became openly involved in leftist politics. Meanwhile, after Ayub Khan came to power, he banned the activities of all political parties in East Pakistan and started arresting senior and important leaders of almost all political parties. Accordingly, Maulana Bhasani was also arrested from Kumudini Hospital on 12 October. He was imprisoned for 4 years and 10 months after his arrest. While in captivity, he helped flood victims, They went on hunger strike and strike in the jail demanding various things including fair price of jute. He was released on November 3, 1982 after a long imprisonment. After his release, he joined the National Democratic Front.

It may be mentioned that Maulana Bhasani in 1967 strongly opposed the six point program presented by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

When the NAP split in November 1986, he took over the leadership of the pro-China NAP.

Maulana Bhasani played an active role in the 1969 anti-Ayub movement. He also demanded the release of the accused in the Agartala conspiracy case filed by the central government of Pakistan.

On 12 November 1970, East Pakistan was hit by a devastating cyclone. Candidates from his party, NAP, then withdrew from the election to take part in relief efforts in the affected areas. At a public meeting held at Paltan Maidan in Dhaka on 4 December of the same year, Maulana Bahani raised the demand for ‘Independent East Pakistan’. Then in March 1971, he gave full support to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s non-cooperation movement. In the same year, on 16 January 1971, at a public meeting held at Paltan Maidan, he called upon Bangabandhu to declare independence.

When the war of independence started, he moved to India. He was a member of the Advisory Council in the Mujibnagar Provisional Government.

On 23 April 1971, Maulana Bhasani issued a statement. The statement was published in Indian Bengali and English dailies. He also sent messages to Chinese leaders Mao Zedong, Chou En-lai and the US president informing them that the Pakistani army was carrying out massacres in East Pakistan. That is why he requested US President Nixon not to supply arms to Pakistan. On April 25, 1971, Maulana Bhasani requested the President of the Soviet Union to take action against the barbaric atrocities being perpetrated by Pakistan on the people of Bangladesh. The Soviet Union responded to his request.

An eight-member advisory committee was formed on the initiative of the Bangladesh government to make the liberation war of Bangladesh all-party. The chairman of this committee was Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani. The motto of the advisory committee, chaired by Maulana Bhasani, was that no political solution would be acceptable without the full independence of Bangladesh.

Maulana Bhasani fell ill twice during his stay in India during the War of Liberation and was admitted to the hospital at the Delhi All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

After the independence of the country, Maulana Bhasani returned to Bangladesh from India on 22 January 1972. After independence, Bangladesh and India opposed the alliance agreement. However, Mujib expressed support for the government’s nationalization policy and the 1972 constitution. On 16 May 1967, Maulana Bhasani led a historic long march to protest the construction of the Farakka Dam. After that he was kept under house arrest for some time in Tangail.

Maulana Bhasani died on 17 November 1976 at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Author: Acting Editor & Publisher: Bangla Post BD |
Essay | Founder Convener National People’s Forum Central Parliament |

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