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HindustanTimes Sun,13 Jul 2014

Gandhi was a 'magician': Mujibur Rahman

PTI  New Delhi, June 24, 2012
First Published: 10:30 IST(24/6/2012) | Last Updated: 11:32 IST(24/6/2012)

Both Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten wanted to become governor general of Pakistan, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wrote in his just-out memoirs in which he mentioned Mahatma Gandhi as a "magician" who had a great capability of casting an influence on people.

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Written during Mujib's stay in jail as a state prisoner between 1967 and 1969, "The Unfinished Memoirs" begins with his recollections of his days as a student activist in Kolkata in the run-up to the movement for Pakistan in the early 1940s.

They cover the 1952 Bengali language movement, the first stirrings of the movement for Bangladesh independence and self-rule, and convey the uncertainties as well as the hopes that dominated the time. The last notebook ends with events accompanying the struggle for democratic rights in 1955.

When Mujib's diaries came to light in 2004, it was an indisputably historic event. His daughter, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, had the notebooks - their pages by then brittle and discoloured - carefully transcribed and later translated from Bengali into English.

Describing about a time "when Muslims were being attacked every now and then" and an occasion when Gandhi did not speak to anyone or give speeches as he did on Sundays, Mujib wrote, "The Mahatma wrote something for the occasion and his secretary read it out. The man was a magician. People cried out immediately, 'Muslims and Hindus are brothers.' The whole atmosphere changed instantly."

Mujib, who was was assassinated in a military putsch on August 15, 1975, cited another instance when rioters pledged not to indulge in violence after Gandhi told them that he would resort to a hunger strike if they did so.

The architect of Bangladesh's freedom, also wrote that just prior to India's independence, Viceroy Lord Mountbatten was helping Congress covertly in all sorts of ways.

"He (Mountbatten) wanted to be governor general of both India and Pakistan. But Jinnah did not agree to this since he intended to make himself the governor general of Pakistan. He probably did not think well of Lord Mountbatten.

"This annoyed Mountbatten so much so that he seemed bent on doing harm to the cause of Pakistan. Even though (Sir Cyrill) Radcliffe was given the responsibility of demarcating the boundary, many believe that Mountbatten seemed to have secretly worked with the Congress to come up with a map of their own," Mujib wrote.

He viewed Jinnah to be "cleverer than us all and only he knew what motives he had in wanting to become the governor general. I doubt if Lord Mountbatten would have done as much harm to Pakistan if he had become its Governor general. This is what I myself believe."

Hasina has written the preface of the book, published by Penguin in India.

These are Mujib's own words - the language has only been changed for absolute clarity when required.

What the narrative brings out with immediacy and passion is his intellectual and political journey from a youthful activist to the leader of a struggle for national liberation.

Mujib describes vividly how despite being in prison he was in the forefront of organising the protests that followed the declaration of Urdu as the state language of Pakistan.

On 21 February 1952 the police opened fire on a peaceful student procession, killing many. That brutal action unleashed the powerful movement that culminated in the birth of the new nation of Bangladesh in 1971.


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