The History of the Awami League is Intertwined with the History of Bangladesh

Hiren Pandit: Awami League was born on June 23, 1949, in Rose Garden, andthe party’s name was ‘Awami Muslim League’. The then-politicalleaders, including Sher-e Bangla AK Fazlul Haque, were present at the Rose Garden that day. Political analysts think that it was relevant in the context of that time. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the then-Muslim League was disunited. At that time, the Awami League was born to meet the various demands of the people. The name Awami League was given by the party’s first president, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani. At that time, given the political reality and the demands of the workers, the word Muslim remained, but six years after the party’s debut, the word Muslim was removed from the name of the party in 1955. Its objective is to practice secularism and establish non-communalism in the party.

Awami League emerged as a secular political party, a testament to its resilience. After independence, the party took the name ‘Bangladesh Awami League’. To pass this long period of 75 years, the Awami League sometimes had to bear the blood of the ruler; sometimes, the party’s leaders and workers were subjected to unbearable persecution. But the party that gave birth to Bangladesh never faltered. Awami League became the people’s party through the ages by capturing the mindset of the people of Bangladesh. As a political party, the Awami League has always been involved. Awami League was out of state power for 50 years in 75 years. But there was no damage to the party’s political ideology. The leaders did not deviate. Instead, he held the unity of the party even harder. The two most remarkable achievements of the Bengali nation are the country’s independence and the country’s highest development. Both these came under the leadership of the Awami League.

Paltan Maidan, Suhrawardy Udyan, and Bangabandhu Avenue have been the silent witnesses to the 75-year history of the Awami League. Paltan Maidan, in particular, stands as a monument to Dhaka’s glorious heritage—a large open courtyard surrounded by British troops. This Maidan has given rise to many glorious stories of establishing an independent Bangladesh and a democratic state. Charles Dawes, the then District Magistrate of Dhaka, renovated several parts of the city in the northeast beyond Nawabpur and Thataribazar to create a new cantonment during the British period. Sepoys’ camps, officers’ quarters, and parade grounds were built there.

This area is the current Paltan or old Paltan area. Bangabandhu announced the program of an all-out non-cooperation movement in East Bengal in a public meeting in this field. That was the incident of March 3, 1971. A total of 35 people, including Bangabandhu Mujib, were accused in the Agartala case of beinghanged due to the issuance of the six-point Emancipation Charter. On January 4, 1969, Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad was formed in Dhaka University’s DUCSU office under the chairmanship of Tofail Ahmed as DUCSU VP. At the end of the president’s speech at Paltan Maidan on February 9, the oath was chanted – we swear, we swear, we will free Mujib; we swear, wepromise, we will free you.

A 24-hour ultimatum was given to the dictator demanding the unconditional release of all those detained in the Agartala conspiracy case, including Sheikh Mujib, along with ten student leaders on Martyrs’ Day in Paltan on February 21. Fearing public outrage, Ayub Khan completely withdrew the Agartala case on February 22 and unconditionally released all the royal prisoners, including Bangabandhu. Paltan Maidan was the heart of Bangladesh’s political movement and struggled even after independence. Regular meetings of various political parties were held here. However, during Ziaur Rahman’s, due to the imposition of some control on gatherings in Paltan, that continuity began to break. During the anti-dictatorship movement in the 1990s, Paltan Maidan came back to life. However, after the fall of Ershad, this Maidan gradually lost its luster in about a century and a half. But this historical field is now lost. Paltan Maidan has now become a playground. The massive arena of the 90s has become a middle-row arena from day to day. The construction work of various federation buildings is still going on. At present, there is no environment for processions and meetings. Everyday, football, cricket, and rugby are played on this field. In other words, some games happen in Paltan Maidan throughout the day. The arena, which had been empty of sports infrastructure in the past decade, is now a surrounded enclosure. After the formation of the Awami League government in the 2008 elections, there was no significant public meeting in Paltan Maidan.

Bangabandhu’s daughter, Sheikh Hasina, led the rally to establish people’s right to vote and rice once again at historic Paltan Maidan. Standing on this field, Sheikh Hasina issued a stern warning to the ruling groups and called for the nation to unite to realize the rights of the people of Bangladesh. Therefore, it started erasing the history of independence from history since the beginning of the eighties.

Suhrawardy Udyan: Suhrawardy Udyan has a glorious history in any movement of Bangladesh. Before independence, it was called Race Course Maidan. Horse-race-gambling took place here. After independence, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, banned alcohol and gambling and stopped racing and gambling. The race course’s name was changed to Suhrawardy Udyan after the son of democracy, Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy. Today, it is known by this name. Suhrawardy Udyan has a close relationship with Awami League. This was the case with independent Bangladesh in the conflict.

Today, due to the construction of many complexes, including Bhasani Stadium, the environment and opportunities for gatherings are destroyed. However, the father of the nation returned to Dhaka after presenting the historic 6 points of Bengali’s Magna Carta at a meeting of the top leaders of political parties in Lahore on February 5, 1966.

He spoke at a public meeting in this Paltan. Suhrawardy Udyan and the then race course grounds were prominent during the Pakistan era. No one but the Awami League had the strength to hold a public meeting here—many memories of the freedom movement and public meetings of the Awami League in this Suhrawardy Udyan. Awami League and Racecourse Maidan or Suhrawardy Udyan, Bangabandhu gave his historic March 7 speech to a roaring crowd of one million people in Suhrawardy Udyan amid the month-long non-cooperation movement that shook the world. This 1095-word speech is the most excellentpolitical speech in the world today. Acquitted of the so-called Agartala Conspiracy Case filed earlier to assassinate Bangabandhu, he arrived at the Race Course Maidan and was accorded a welcome.

He was released on 21 February 1969, and on 22 February, the then VP of DUCSU, Tofail Ahmed, awarded him the title of Bangabandhu on behalf of the nation. 2 million people raised their hands in support. On 16 December 1971, after the victory in the liberation war, 93 thousand army officers and jawans of Pakistan who were defeated in this race course surrendered with arms to our victorious allies and signed the surrender document. On January 8, 1972, he was released from Pakistan prison and returned to his dream independent Bangladesh on January 10 via London and Delhi. He gave his first speech on this race course ground. Bangabandhu was a fan of Kabiguru Rabindranath Thakur. Reciting the poet’s poem, he said, ‘Kabiguru, please come to see that your Bengali has become a man today.’

One million people gathered here that day, and Indira Manchawas built as a boat; Ms. Indira Gandhi, who stood by us with cooperation, was accorded a grudging reception. Before Indira Gandhi visited Bangladesh, the Indian allies returned to their country.

On May 17, 1981, when today’s proud Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home from a long six-year exile after being elected as the President of Awami League, more than half a million people lined the road from the then Tejgaon International Airport to Manik Mia Avenue and her residence Bangabandhu Bhavan at the historic No. 32 in Dhanmondi. They were gatheredon both sides. Sheikh Hasina stood on the platform of a truck from the Airport, first to the Suhrawardy Udyan rally and then to number 32; people waved and welcomed her from both sides of the highway. On March 26, 1993, a symbolic trial of some war criminals, including Ghulam Azam, was organized at Suhrawardy Udyan. On that day, a public court was held in Udyan, and the court sentenced Ghulam Azam as an accomplice of his Pakistani army in genocide, torture of women, and above all by forming the armed Razakar, Albadar, Al-Shams Bahini against Bangladesh and directly opposing them (symbolically).

Around 500,000 people gathered in the People’s Court, and Sheikh Hasina, the then-leader of the opposition, completed all the arrangements from behind the scenes. In 1996, Sheikh Hasina formed the government after 21 years through the fall of Khaleda Zia-led BNP-Jamaat government through mass agitation and general elections. Suhrawardy placed Shikha Chirantan in the garden and built the Independence Pillar and the Independence Museum. In addition to freedom fighters of the country, the leaders of the liberation war, three world leaders – Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Yasir Arafat of Palestine, and Suleiman Demirel of Turkey – have participated as state guests at the ‘Eternal Flame’ installation ceremony. Sheikh Hasina established an eternal flame with them.

As long as there is freedom and an independent Bangladesh, this flame will be lit as a memorial of the glory of the eternal nation. The Independence Pillar is the high head of our self-esteem and will be forever. Bangabandhu Avenue: Bangabandhu Avenue is an urban street in Gulistan, Dhaka. Its earlier name was Jinnah Avenue. After Bangladesh’s independence, its name was changed to Bangabandhu Avenue. The central office of Bangladesh Awami League is located at Bangabandhu Avenue. On August 21, 2004, in front of the central office at 23 Bangabandhu Avenue, in front of the Bangladesh Awami League’s ‘anti-terror, militancy and corruption’ rally, a group of hateful killers, enemies of humanity, directly supported by the BNP-Jamaat coalition government, launched a brutal grenade attack and fired indiscriminately. Bangladesh Awami League women’s affairs in this Ivy Rahman died with 24 other leaders of Awami League for this heinous grenade attack.

From Digital Bangladesh to Smart Bangladesh: Bangladesh has entered the developing country with the hands of Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, becoming a role model in economic development. She has been working towards establishing Bengali nationalism in the spirit of the liberation war, fostering democratic culture, building an exploitation-free society, and building a developed, prosperous, modern, and progressive state system. Bangladesh is progressing in many ways. A country prospers only through progress. If other countries recognize and appreciate Bangladesh’s progress, it is very positive and inspiring. The Awami League government has made infrastructure development and civic services accessible to the people’s doorsteps.

Sheikh Hasina’s dream is to take the country forward in the spirit of the liberation war and to give the country’s people a taste of development. The main goal was to write the history of the liberation war, to place Bangabandhu’s existence in the history of the liberation war, and to place him in a proper place of dignity. The Awami League government is working tirelessly to build a progressive, democratic, and non-communal Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty. These are Smart Citizens, Smart Economy, Smart Government, and Smart Society. Apart from this, the plan of how the delta will be in the year 2100 has been undertaken.

All work in Smart Bangladesh will be done through technology, and every citizen will be proficient. Smart Bangladesh of 2041 will be a cost-effective, sustainable, intellectual, knowledge-based, and innovative Bangladesh. Smart healthcare, smart transportation, smart utilities, urban administration, public safety, agriculture, internet connectivity, and disaster management will be ensured when implementing smart cities and smart villages.Sheikh Hasina has been leading the country for more than 16 years as the Prime Minister, and one of the reasons why Bangladesh has not fallen into any significant economic crisis like other countries in the current global financial crisis is that she has been able to take the economic base of the country in a strong position during this time. Otherwise, it would have been very difficult to save the country of 17 crore people from disaster even during this crisis.

Hiren Pandit, is an essayist, columnist, and research fellow

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