The Awami League has made huge preparations to observe the 46th homecoming day of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman today. On January 8, 1972, the Father of the Nation was released from a Pakistani prison. Soon after his release, Bangabandhu had left Rawalpindi airport for London. Bhutto saw him off at Rawalpindi airport. From London, he returned to his people in independent Bangladesh two days later.
After reaching London, Bangabandhu had addressed a news conference, in which he had termed Bangladesh “an unchallengeable reality”. He had said: “Bangladeshi people have achieved the final victory. An independent and sovereign Bangladesh has been established. When I was waiting to be hanged in the condemned cell of Pakistan, the Bangladeshi people elected me as their president.”
Bangabandhu’s love for his countrymen was evident from his speeches. Each and every speech of his was related to the Bangladeshi people. After his release, Bangabandhu had made the first telephone call to the then Bangladeshi Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed from London. He had said, “Hello Tajuddin…I
am surrounded by journalists. What will I tell them? How are my beloved countrymen? Have the Pakistani military forces killed my countrymen?”
From London, Bangabandhu had made another call to his family members. He had asked his youngest son Sheikh Russel, “Are you alive?” Russel had said: “Abba, have they released you? When will you come home? We are all well.”
These quotes of Bangabandhu had been published in newspapers and journals after his release. Bangabandhu had made headlines in the international media soon after his imprisonment. World leaders were concerned about his fate in Pakistani prison.
As people across the world expressed their solidarity with the Bangladeshi people and their struggle for independence in 1971, the world media had strongly demanded Bangabandhu’s release.
There was tremendous pressure on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from the army to bring back the thousands of Pakistani prisoners India held following the surrender in the then East Pakistan. Bhutto knew it would not be possible to bring back Pakistani prisoners from India and Bangladesh without the unconditional release of Mujib.
After the birth of Bangladesh, even China, Pakistan’s staunchest supporter during the war, wanted Bangabandhu to be released. The other superpower then, the Soviet Union, had also pressed for the unconditional release of Mujib. Bhutto did not have much option but to give in.
Under the headline, ‘Mujib’s road from prison to power’, ‘Time’ magazine on January 17, 1972, had described how the pressure was mounting on Bhutto at home as well. The article mentioned: ‘To some Western observers, the scene stirred thoughts of Pontius Pilate deciding the fate of Jesus and Barabbas. “Do you want Mujib freed?” shouted Bhutto at the rally of more than 100,000 supporters in Karachi. The crowd roared its assent, as audiences often do when subjected to Bhutto’s powerful oratory. Bowing his head, the president answered: “You have relieved me of a great burden.”’
Immediately after his liberation, Bangabandhu’s presence in the country was desperately needed to unite his people and to lead the country.
The people of the newborn Bangladesh were eagerly waiting for the return of Mujib, who had been kept in solitary confinement in the then West Pakistan after his arrest following a military crackdown on unarmed Bangalis on the night of March 25, 1971. He was the jewel in the crown of the newly freed Bangladesh and the liberated, jubilant Bangalis.
Mujib’s presence was urgent for many other reasons. Pakistani forces were still present in Dhaka and Pakistan-trained armed collaborators were still active. The government was yet to establish a firm control over the administration. Return of Indian troops from Bangladesh was also another major concern.
However, on this day in 1972, Bangabandhu returned to an independent Bangladesh via London and New Delhi after 290 days in captivity in Pakistan jail. People came out in droves to give him a hearty welcome when he landed at Tejgaon airport by a British Airways flight at 1.41 pm.
The road from Shahbagh to Tejgaon airport was jam-packed with people. It took around four hours for his motorcade to reach Racecourse Maidan, now Suhrawardy Udyan, where he later addressed a mammoth gathering.
“There were happy faces all around. Those who had passed through nine long months of the most horrible genocide of human history, smiled for the first time today. They have got back their beloved leader among them, they now feel confident of their future,” said a report of ‘The Statesman’ newspaper of India on the day of Mujib’s return.
To observe the day, different organisations and political parties, including the Awami League and its associate bodies, have drawn up elaborate programmes. Top Awami League leaders have already held a series of meetings.
The programmes will include the hoisting of the national and party flags at the central office of the party, Bangabandhu Bhaban, and party offices across the country at 7 am. At 7.30 am, Awami League leaders and its associate organisations will place wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum on Road 32 in Dhanmondi.
*News Searching By Theindependentbd*