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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

World

Profile: Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman
Hindustan Times
November 19, 2009
First Published: 12:44 IST(19/11/2009)
Last Updated: 12:45 IST(19/11/2009)

Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman (March 17, 1920 - August 15, 1975) was a Bengali politician and the founding leader of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its Prime Minister. He is popularly referred to as Sheikh Mujib. His eldest daughter Sheikh Hasina Wajed is the present leader of the Awami League and the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

A student political leader, Mujib rose in east Pakistani politics and within the ranks of the Awami League as a charismatic and forceful orator. An advocate of socialism, Mujib became popular for his leadership against the ethnic and institutional discrimination of Bengalis. He demanded increased provincial autonomy, and became a fierce opponent of the military rule of Ayub Khan. At the heightening of sectional tensions, Mujib outlined a 6-point autonomy plan, which was seen as separatism in West Pakistan. He was tried in 1968 for allegedly conspiring with the Indian government but was not found guilty. Despite leading his party to a major victory in the 1970 elections, Mujib was not invited to form the government.

After talks broke down with the then president Yahya Khan and West Pakistani politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Sheikh Mujib on 26 March, 1971 announced the declaration of independence of east Pakistan and announced the establishment of the sovereign People's Republic of Bangladesh. Subsequently he was arrested and tried by a military court during his nine month detention. Guerrilla war erupted between government forces and Bengali nationalists aided by India. An all out war between the Pakistan Army and Bangladesh-India Joint Forces led to the establishment of Bangladesh, and after his release Mujib assumed office as a provisional president, and later prime minister. Even as a constitution was adopted, proclaiming socialism and a secular democracy, Mujib struggled to address the challenges of intense poverty and unemployment, coupled with rampant corruption.

Amidst rising popular agitation, he banned other political parties and established a one party state. After only seven months, Mujib was assassinated along with most of his family by a group of army officers.


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