Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had the most significant influence on Bangladesh's independence, undoubtedly. His name and fearless leadership remain forever synonymous with our country's independence.
On 7 March, 1971, he delivered a powerful speech that encouraged Bangalees to break free from Pakistan's yoke. His speech inspired thousands of individuals to sacrifice themselves for the liberation of their nation. Bestowed with a deep understanding of reality, leaders like him could instinctively grasp the true nature of any political landscape.
Therefore, instead of declaring the nation's independence more clearly and straightforwardly on 7 March, 1971, he used a more diplomatic proclamation saying, "Ebarer Shongram Amader Muktir Shongram, Ebarer Shongram, Shadhinotar Shongram" (The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle now is the struggle for our independence).
The Pakistanis were unable to read him properly on that day. Although they made every attempt to portray him as a revolutionary leader, they could not do it. Due to his guidance, we could liberate ourselves within only nine months.
After gaining independence, Bangabandhu started the second chapter of his life by reviving a war-ravaged nation. He could have taken the country on the path to prosperity in no time.
Unfortunately, we could not pay respect to his lifetime service to the nation. On the grimmest night of 15 August, 1975, a gang of Awami League (AL) traitors and members of the Army murdered him, along with most members of his family.
I am still looking for an explanation as to why Russel was murdered, even though he had no involvement in politics and was just a young boy.
Perhaps the conspirators were so afraid of Bangabandhu that they did not want to risk leaving any of his children alive. With their treachery, they hoped to erase Bangabandhu's name from Bangladesh's history.
The post-1975 government granted the traitors and conspirators compensation and indemnification instead of bringing them to trial. The ruse was maintained by a slew of people who had benefited from Bangabandhu at various times.
As mentioned earlier, the main intention behind Bangabandhu's murder on 15 August was to erase his name from Bangladesh's history.
But the conspirators had no idea that his daughter would eventually come to power and take his position. After 1975 and until 1996, no government paid tribute to Bangabandhu on 15 August.
In 1981, when military authorities had engineered a breach in AL, the murderers had no idea that Skeikh Hasina, Bangabandhu's elder daughter, would come to Bangladesh to take over the leadership of that party.
She organised the party and led it to victory in the 1996 election. She also began legal proceedings against the assassins, who had been shielded by the state's indemnity for the previous 21 years.
It was gratifying to see the Sheikh Hasina government keeping up the fight against those involved in the heinous deed through the judicial system. Sheikh Hasina, after regaining control, rewrote the history of Bangladesh's struggle for independence to include her father's contribution, which had been distorted by previous governments.
The assassination trial of Bangabandhu could not be completed during Sheikh Hasina's tenure from 1996 to 2001 because of AL's downfall in 2001.
For the following five years, the trial was put on hold as a result. It was only when the AL took back control in 2008 that the most heinous murder was brought to justice.
To carry out the court's decision, the government should put all of its efforts in tracking down the fugitives. Not every conspirator has been executed since several have fled to other countries and are still on the run. As a country, we will be able to honour Bangabandhu after we bring every one of them to trial.
15 August has been called a 'black night', which raises the question: what impact did it have on the country? After Bangabandhu's death, progress in Bangladesh's economic and social growth was reversed. We are yet to realise what we have lost with the murder of Bangabandhu and most of his family members.
Despite our differences in political views and opinions, this day should be respected and remembered by everyone. We should all agree that the events of 15 August, 1975, should never have taken place and pray for the departed souls.
The Awami League and Bangabandhu's family are not the only ones who have a responsibility to express their outrage at the deaths. Since it was a tragic event for the country, everyone should commemorate the National Mourning Day.
To honour Bangabandhu, we must assist the government in establishing an independent and secular Bangladesh, where the spirit of freedom exists and everyone, no matter their caste or religion, has equal access to the law.
Bangabandhu's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, has been working tirelessly to realise her father's dream of transforming Bangladesh into 'Shonar Bangla' (prosperous Bangladesh). The only way to accomplish this goal is through working together.
We have learnt from the atrocities of 15 August that a leader's contribution cannot be erased from the nation's history simply by killing him. Bangabandhu's legacy will live through his beliefs and values for as long as Bangladesh exists.
The author is a professor of public administration at the University of Rajshahi