Repression and struggle

The strategy and the struggle of different political parties who opposed AWAMI-BKSAL regime needed a careful study.

With such a study one would know much about the positions taken by the parties, the facade of their struggle, principles, ideology and their working methods, successes and failures, inner party contradictions, isolation as well as their support base. How much fruitful were their movements? Could they dislodge the Mujib’s regime?

Why they could not organize a united movement? What was against their unity. Was there any sincere attempt to forge unity? What policies the government adopted to crush them? How much success the government achieved in its plan? Answers to all those relevant questions and justification of the historic uprising of 15th August 1975 could also be found in that kind of study. One would also understand why a revolutionary extra constitutional uprising was necessary to free the nation from the tyranny of the autocratic dictatorship of BKSAL under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

From the very start it was Maulana Bhashani who took the lead politically in anti government and anti Awami League movement. But some how his party failed to spread that fire all over Bangladesh. They could not even organize the broad mass of the people countrywide. Because of his captivity his party became weak organizationally during 1971. Maulana was ill and in advanced age therefore it was not possible for him to take the rigour to reorganize his party after the war.

Jatiyo Samaj Tantrick Dal opposed AWAMI-BKSALITES. This party was created from within Awami League. From the early sixties a group within, Chattra League held the view that it is only through an armed revolution an independent socialist Bangladesh can be established. They demanded the leadership launch an armed revolution against the Pakistani regime. Mr. Shirajul Islam Khan was the main exponent of his political philosophy. Mr. Shirajul Alam Khan, ASM Rab and Shajahan Shiraj started propagating this ideology among the people and organize them soon after the election of 1970. Once General Yahya Khan canceled the National Asembly Sassion on 1st March 1971, this group raised for the first time the demand of independent Bangladesh. On 2nd of March in a meeting of the students at the famous BATTALA of the Dhaka University Mr. Rab hoisted the map of an independent Bangladesh for the first time in Public. Next at one of the public meetings in presence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Mr. Shajahan Shiraj suddenly read out a declaration of independence. Rab- Shiraj group thought that due to Mujib-Yahya talk revolutionary spirit of the people were sagging, therefore, they urged Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to stop all negotiations. The diclaration of Chattra league that was republished in the month of July 1972 is a proof of that. Muhammad Ikramul Haq, the then publicity secretary of Chittra League, published the declaration. During the war they refused to give their allegiance to the government of Mr. Tajuddin Ahmad in exile and pressurized him to form a revolutionary government. Mr. Tajuddin refused to conceit and a serious difference of opinion had developed between them. They also became furious at Mr. Tajuddin’s refusal. Before 26th March 1971 these leaders were considered very powerful and thus had considerable influence on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But when Tajuddin Ahmed refused to go in their way they realized that if they do not fight Tajuddin then they would loose their supremacy and influence on the flow of events. That is why they alongwith Sheikh Moni and Sheikh Kamal organized BLF later Mujib Bahini with the assistance of the Indian government and intelligence agencies by passing Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed. This force was trained and equipt by the Indian army but they had the political control. Although the people at large thought that this force was created to serve Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his government but these ambitious leaders hardly believed in any personality cult and had their own agenda.

After the independence in 1972, Shirajul Alam Khan, the back stage political ‘Guru’ of this group engineered a split in Chattraleague, Sramik league and Krishak league. On 31st Oct. 1972 with all those factions Jatiyo Shamaj Tantrik Dal(JSD) surfaced as a political party. Maj.(Retd) Jalil and ASM Rab were the party President and general secretary respectively. Mr. Shirajul Alam Khan remained as the spiritual and ideological guru of this new found party.

JSD held the view that when the war of Iindependence was taking the shape of National Liberation struggles, it was abruptly brought to an end through a conspiracy. The JSD leadership claimed that from the very beginning they had opposed the Awami League leadership. Their challenge to Awami League ended after the historic political change of 15th August 1975. They claimed Awami League only had 8% of the people behind them but they plundered more than 85% of the national wealth for their own personal gains (JSD’s declaration of 1973). JSD was the mass organization of Bangladesh Communist League (BCL), comprised of true representative of the proletariat class. They claimed BCL was again an organization founded by Shirajul Alam Khan. This was an underground organization. This nucleus organization played a vital political role from the days of the liberation war upto the formation of JSD. Ganakantha a popular BCL newspaper remained in publication till the government in 1975 closed it. Mr. Al-Mahmud a wellknown progressive poet and writer was the editor of that paper. Like other revolutionary and progressive political parties JSD also highlighted to the various socio economic problems then faced by the country. In their 1972-73 annual conference a document was published which elaborated various national issues and the specific steps that needs to be taken to carry forward the struggle to its victory. It also dwell on different stages of the unfinished National Liberation Movement. The Bangladesh Communist league identified three distinct phases of the revolution to establish socialism and said, "The war of independence of 1971 have accomplished the two phases. The third phase will end in victory through the future bloody movement of the proletariats with the Awami League and their masters the imperialists". Democratic politics was considered to be a mere tool in the hands of the vested interested groups to perpetuate their power. The remnant of feudalism, absentee landlords, the upper middle class of the rural areas was identified as the enemies of the rural proletariat class in that document. The document further said till the victory is achieved the people will be exploited by the out side powers, because Awami League is trying to place Bangladesh under imperialist exploitation. According to their theory, basically the imperialist exploitation will take place through the aids and economic resistances of America. The Soviet Union and India will also exploit Bangladesh. The economic policies of the Awami League government were formulated to ensure such kind of exploitations the document claimed. An example that was sighted was the establishment of the headquarters of the Jute Export Corporation in New Delhi which was unfair they claimed. The BCL thought at one point of time the People’s Republic of China may became sympathetic towards National Liberation Movement of Bangladeshis. Although BCL earlier on took a decision to stay out of the conflict in the International Communist Movement but in this document they took a decision to remain friendly to the other Marxist Leninist, progressive and nationalist parties nationelly and internationally. JSD launched their organizational drive to recruit members and cadres from the freedom fighters.

On 20 Jan 1974 a countrywide general strike was organized unitedly by JSD, BCL, Sramik League (JSD) to protest against the American, Soviet Union and Indian hegimonism and exploitation. They demanded for the Pay rise of the teachers and the workers. The leaders in their speeches sharply criticized corruption, Special Power Act, nepotism and unethical distribution of licences and permits among the Awami Leaguers. The hartal was successful. They gave an ultimatum to the government to fulfill their demands by 17th March or else they threatened to organize Gherao. On 17th the then Home Minister’s official residence was Gheraoed by the JSD. Police action was brutal. Three people died on the spot and 14 seriously injured due to police firing. Maj. Jalil, Mr. Rab and 40 party workers also got injured and arrested. Shirajul Alam Khan along with a few other underground leaders managed to escape. Later they continued with their struggle in the rural areas. Many Political analysts termed JSD’s action of that day as a futile adventurism. Mr. Shirajul Islam Choudhury a renowned progressive intellectual in his book ‘SHADIHNATAR SPRIHA SHAMMER BHOI’ wrote about JSD, "As Awami League once broke away from Muslim League. JSD also followed the same way for its inception. They call themselves to be radical extremists. The large youth and student forces who joined have done so being attracted by by their socialist slogans. This is a fact. But the leaders are not genuine socialists. They are all basically Awami Leaguers. They hoped to form a Revolutionary Government with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, but Sheikh Mujib did not agree to change his position to be a revolutionary. As a result they went ahead in their own ways. Inclusion of the term ‘JATIYO’ in the name of the party is not without any significance. They are nationalist and were upto their own class interest as their future depended on that. But they raised the slogan of class struggle just to attract people. So that they can be the heroes in the eyes of the present younger generation of Bangladesh. If Mujib finally does not return then to fight the emerging left forces they raised the Mujib Bahini during 1971. With a closer look one will find that their politics was necessarily bourgeois policies although the slogans were very revolutionary. On the other hand with no surprise and beyond any doubts they were providing support to the government through their national reconstruction movement".

Without going into any further elaboration one thing becomes abundantly clear from the process that the Indian government became the beneficiary with the creation of Mujib Bahini at first and then JSD under the leadership of Shirajul Alam Khan the key member of the ‘Char Khalifas’. Mr. Shirajul Alam Khan not only maintained special relation with Mrs. Indira Ghandi and General Oban Singh of RAW, he also developed close relation with Mr. Jay Parakash Narayan, an elderly politician of India during 1971. When Mr. Shirajul Alam Khan alongwith other student and youth leaders went up to Delhi and expressed their opposition to Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed and proposed to create a special force Mujib Bahani both the Indian Prime Minister and General Oban Singh welcomed the idea for two, long-term goals. Firstly to use them against the left and the nationalist forces in the post liberation phase, secondary to create necessary pressures through these ‘Char Khalifas’ and their force on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to remain totally dependent on Indian government. And if necessary they should be promoted as an alternative.

In the historical perspective in what ever way the JSD is viewed one fact has to be accepted by every one that hundreds and thousands of committed people had sacrificed their lives at the call of JSD to fight against the fascist regime of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for socio economic imancipation. It is absolutely necessary to carryout a critical analysis of the real intentions of the leaders and also to search for any hidden string that might have been attached for manipulation from outside but again the fact remains that there was no darth of sincerity in the sacrifices that were made by those dedicated hundreds and thousands of JSD workers and supporters. The present and the future generations of Bangladesh will ever remain respectful to those martyrs for their valour and courage. The blood, which had been shed, will inspire every patriot in their struggle for peace, prosperity and human rights. Honest evaluation of their successes and failures will help to find the true path for the future.

Bangladesh Communist party (Leninist) BCPL also opposed Awami BAKSAL regime. During 1971 liberation war five Pro Peking communist groups formed Revolutionary Coordinating Committee. After the war 4 out of those 5 groups merged together and formed Bangladesh Communist party (L) Leninist. The joining components were:

1. Revolutionary Coordinating Committee.

2. East Pakistan Communist party ML.

3. Some communists from Khulna under the leadership of Mr. Maroof Hossain and Dr. Saifur Dahar.

4. Some communists under the leadership of Mr. Nasim Ali Khan.

This party thought that as the communists of East Bengal remained divided, they could not provide leadership role in the liberation war of 1971. Thus they gave a call for the communist unity to finish the un finished revolution, Bangladesh communist solidarity center in a published document under heading, ‘OIKKO BADDA COMMUNIST PARTY GORE TULUN’ made that call in February 1972. The party line was to carry on the struggle both overtly and covertly. The party also organized a student front called Bangladesh Bapplobi Chattra Union. On the labour front they organized Bangla Sramik Federation. Later they formed an open mass political party called United People’s Party (UPP). On 21st Feb. 1974 Mr. Nasim Ali announced the formation of this new party. There were lots of similarities between the ideologies of BCL and BCPL. Both these parties held the views that the bourgeoisie usurped National Liberation Movement of Bangladesh remained unfinished during 1971 as the leadership. Both these parties identified Soviet Union to be a Social Imperialist and was upto bring Bangladesh under its exploitation. They also identified India as an expansionist country. But they both criticized Naxalite movement of India as adventurism. (The declaration of BCPL 1972 written by Mr. Amal Sen, the general Secretary of the party.) BCPL was weaker compared to BCL in mass organization, student and labour fronts. Therefore their countrywide appeal was less and mostly regional. Purba Banglar Communist party Maxist Leninist (ML) under the leadership of Mr. Abdul Bashar was the fifth partner of the Revolutionary Coordinating Committee did not have any major differences ideologically or other wise but just for some minor differences refrained from joining BCPL.

This party thought the oppression by the West Pakistani Jantas were the main reasons for the war of independence. To them, the contradiction between Bangladesh and India, India’s hegemony was the principle contradiction in the post independence period. They also considered that in the long run the Communist party of People’s Republic of China would make major contribution in the struggle of the people of Bangladesh for their emancipation. On this the leadership of BCPL was slightly softer. The interested people who want to know more about this are requested to go through the two documents. One ‘Purba Banglar Communist partyer Abedon’ published by Soliderity Center of Bangladesh Communists and the other one is ‘Biplobi Party Goretulun’ published by BCPL. The party of Bashar-Shikder group later was named Banglar Communist party. This party also decided to carry on with both overt and covert activities. This party had also organized the labour and student fronts. As a tactical move this party decided in favour of participating in Parliamentary democracy. Both BCL and BCPL emphasized or open mass organizations at the same time covert party cells. Beside the above mentioned parties, there were 4 more parties who decided to organize only underground cells and armed struggle. Two of these 4 parties were formed with the breakaway elements from the EPCP (ML.) The 3rd one was a breakaway fraction of Purba Banglar Communist party. Shikdar Bashar also formed Banglar Communist party after coming out from Purba Banglar Communist party. The fourth one was formed in a completely different way then all the other parties that have been mentioned earlier. The name of the Party was Purba Bangla Sarbahara Party. A revolutionary leader comrade Shiraj Shikdar established Purba Banglar Sramik Andolon and later from this movement Purba Bangla Sharbahara party emerged. Till Shiraj Shikdar was killed in 1975 by the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he remained as the Chairman of the party. The leadership of this party came from the highly educated lots from the Universities. That is why the method of their research and propaganda was very different and more effective from the others. The organizational activities were also more dynamic and effective. Beside Party Papers Lal Jhanda and Sangbad Bulletin the party also published many documents concerning the decisions of the Central Committee and on contemporary issues quite regularly. Most of these documents used to be either written or edited by Mr. Shiraj Shikdar him self till he was alive. Their communication system and propaganda machine were very methodical and of high standard. The party documents could be easily available even at the remotest part of the country. Like all other parties Sarbahara Party also considered that the national liberation movement remained unfinished in 1971 as the war was brought to an early and to put Awami League into power.

The party termed Awami League government to be a puppet regime in the hands of India. The party literatures stated that after assuming power with the help of India the Awami League government with their outright loot and plunder was helping India to implement its grand design on Bangladesh.

Sarbahara Party claimed that India was kept their indirect military presence intact in Bangladesh to perpetuate its interests by creating the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini (JRB). The party also warned the people that Bangladesh was facing a threat of exploitation by American imperialism and Indo-Soviet expansionism under Awami League government. Sarbahara Party termed the slogan of ‘scientific socialism’ of Jatiyo Shamaj Tantric Dal (JSD) to be an Trotskyite disorder. The reason put forward by the party theoreticians was that it is not possible to start a socialist revolution before completing national revolution. They further said it is not possible to finish national revolution under Awami League as they do not represent the national bourgeoisie. According to them Awami League as a party which represented the agents and compradors. They said that to take forward the struggle step by step to its victory, a leadership of the proletariats needs to be established. The party also organized the peasants, workers, have-nots, exploited down trodden people, minority nationalities under different fronts. The theoreticians also opined that as Bangladesh is surrounded by India from all three sides it will be very difficult to get any help from out side for the struggle. Therefore the revolutionaries will have to be dependent mostly on their own resources. The dynamic leadership of Comrade Shiraj Shikdar and the revolutionary activities of the Sarbahara Party created a panic in Sheikh Mujib’s government. The armed guerrillas of the party harassed the government and its different Bahinis with one after another successful operations. Their successes created a sensation in the country. The party’s image went up in the eyes of the Youths. As a result scores of people from all walks of life started responding to their calls and joined the party. And the people by and large became sympathetic towards the Serbahara Party. No other party could master such popularity within such a short time in the history of Bangladesh. Gradually they surpassed JSD in popularity and sympathy.

On 2nd December 1973 Maulana Bhashani in a statement supported Sarbahara Pary and congratulated comrade Shiraj Shikdar.

After this brutal killing of Shiraj Shikdar the Sharbahara party became weak and fragmented due to governmental oppression, struggle for leadership and inner factionalism. Thus the party lost its image and influence considerably. People also lost hopes and became skeptical about the future of Sharbahara party. This is how the dictatorship of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman shattered the silver living of hope and aspiration of the people.

Shammabadi Dal under the leadership of Mr. Toha and Mr. Sharadindu Dastidar were opposing Sheikh Muhib’s government through their underground activities. Basically in 1968 when the international communist movement got divided, Shammabadi Dal came into existence as a pro Peking Party with a breakaway faction of Purba Pakistan Communist party. In 1972 this party through their newspaper Gono Shakti claimed, "Bangladesh has not achieved real independence. Indo-Soviet axis is controlling Bangladesh through the puppet regime of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman". Shammabadi Dal like Sharbahara party was of the opinion that India was maintaining its military presence in Bangladesh through JBR. Indian army and JRB were jointly carrying out operations to seppress the national liberation movement, of the north East Indian states. Sheikh Mujib had to accept the proposal to create Jatiyo Rakki Bahini just to stay in power. Shammabadi Dal also decided to create a Jatiyo Mukti Front and at the same time to organize an underground armed Gono Bahini. The party had its organization mostly in Dhaka, Rajshahi, Pabna, Noakhli, Mymensing and Faridpur. Therefore their anti government activities were mostly carried out in those districts. Although the left and progressive parties played significant anti government role but they remained far apart form each other. Even they embarked on open criticism of each other.

Sahmmabadi Dal criticized BCPL and BCL for their position on imperialism. BCPL and BCP stated that Awami League government was dependent on India. Shammabadi Dal criticized it stating "To say that Awami League government was dependent on India is incorrect. Awami League government is a puppet government". The party criticized Sharbahara party as adventurism. Shiraj Shikdar was leading the youth to the wrong way was the opinion of the party. Ideologically Sharbahara party to identify the contradiction between Bangladesh and India to be Shammabadi Dal also challenged the principle contradiction as they considered the principal contradiction was the contradiction between the forces for and against socialist revolution.

(Bartaman Abastha Sammabadi Dal Abong Karaniyo ki? Published in Oct. 1973, a overnight revolutionary published in Feb. 1973 in Gono Shakti).

Regarding JSD the party held the view that, "It was India which created this party with the help of break away fiction of Awami League just to keep Sheikh Mujibur and his Awami League under control and use it as secnond fiddle.

(Article published in Gono Shakti 1973 titled JSD in April-May 1973. Editorial published in Jono Jaddha 1973 titled ‘Build up steel like party of the proletariats.’)

At that time Jono Juddha used to be published as the paper of EPCM (ML) under the editorship of Abdul Haq. Mr. Toha and Mr. Sharadindn Dastidar broke EPCM (ML) and formed Shammabadi Dal loot Abdul Haq still kept the name EPCM (ML) of the rest who decided to stay with him. He refused to accept the creation of Bangladesh. He also termed the liberation war of 1971 as the expansionist war of India. They took a line to liberate East Pakistan from the hands of the expansionist forces through an underground-armed struggle. As this group refused to change their party name, the Mujib government was particularly angry with EPCM (ML) and suppressed it ruthlessly.

Most of the cadres and workers of this group died in encounters with JRB and other Law enforcing agencies and the other Bahinis of Awami League. But Abdul Haq could not be harmed or arrested.

Purba Banglar Communist party ML (EBCP ML) and Shammabadi Dal had hardly any major difference between them. But EBCP ML gave more importance to the contradiction of the presents and the rampart of feudalism. This party was in favour of carrying out the movement jointly with the other progressive parties in India particularly that of Naxalites of West Bengal. But the all other revolutionary parties considered Naxalite movement to be an erroneous infantile disorder. They were not ready to trust the Naxalites. EBCP ML was particularly active in Atrai, Rajshahi, Dinajpur Pubna, Kushtia. Leaving aside their internal differences all these progressive parties had one opinion in common that the national liberation movement was abruptly brought to an end in 1971 and it remains unfinished. They also thought Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his Awami League government was responsible to impose Indo-Soviet hegimonism on Bangladesh And Mujib’s government was a puppet regime of India. It is important to mention here that all the rightist and religious parties like Muslim League and Jammat-e-Islami for obvious reasons had to remain dorment and inactive politically in the post liberation phase. Because of the precarious situation they were in, it was also not possible for them to participate directly in any anti government movements. However, they were supportive to the nationalist forces and were reorganising themselves. From the above one thing becomes clear that in the liberation war and in the post liberation period it was the younger leadership that became more effective to organize the people in their struggle compared to the old guards. It was the younger ones who generated dynamism in the anti government movement. When the younger were committed in the life and death struggle against the facist regime the old guards were busier with their ideological and theoretical debates and mud slinging to each other. Thus they also became isolated from the people. The people lost hopes on these leaders. Moreover, greed for the leadership, utopian idealism, suspicion, mistrusts to each other made them redundant significantly. This although majority of the people had struggle against the facists regime their sacrifices could not be made effective as the people were still not united but fought from different platforms as the political leaders failed to organize them under a unified leadership.

Due to their bankruptcy these leaders remained marginal players in the struggle. All though many of them have made tremendous personal sacrifices. But on the hole their failures were much more than the successes. This is a proven fact today. Every time when people had taken the movement to its peak the leaders for their erronious lines and negative approaches some how lacked behind or created a drag in the movement for which people had been denied the desired result. People have always moved ahead then the leaders, that is the history. It is shameful but a bitter truth. From ages there had been systematic attempts to distort the truth by the vested interested quarters. But distortion leads to behind alley. The present generation should seek truth from the past facts and only then they can move to the right path in future. It is also expected that the old guards will not create hindrance in the dynamism of the youths rather should be helpful with their experience particularly to let them know the truth. Should they fail in their responsibilities then they will be thrown into the dustbin of the history. It is of no use to attempt to thwart the natural flow of time. It is always wise to go along with the time.

Autocratic regime of Awami League was also fought by the conscientious freedom fighters. All over the country every freedom fighters became an symbol of protest against misrule, oppression, persecution, loot and plunder. They fought from various platforms.

Some had given lead to organize rigistance against the oppressive regime in their localities. Some struggled joining different opposition political parties. Some fought as a member of the armed forces, some even fought from within the administration.

However, these isolated efforts could not crystallize as there was no attempt to organize a unified leadership.

Although after independence the people in power tried to buy out some of the freedom fighters by providing them undue benefits and privileges but one can confidently say that majority of the freedom fighters remained aloof from those allurements and they were not prepared to sell out their integrity and patriotism for some material benefits.