Today marks the 92nd birthday of Bangmata Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib, consort of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Bangabandhu got her as a life partner in their youth. This noble woman was by his side as a worthy comrade until their death. That is why Bangabandhu was able to bring independence to Bangladesh.
Sheikh Mujib's favourite, Renu, worked to implement his political philosophy and ideals behind the scenes.
Begum Fazilatunnesa was the primary motivation and encouragement behind Bangabandhu penning his memoir. Bangabandhu recalled that contribution in his autobiography.
When Bangabandhu was imprisoned after the dictatorial Ayub regime banned politics, at that time, she used to sew clothes and run the family. She handled everything with a cool head. Apart from educating the children, she also had to play the role of their Father in his absence.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib wrote in 'Unfinished Memoir' that Renu's mother died when she was five. Only her grandfather remained. He, too died when Renu was just seven years old. Then, she grew up with Bangabandhu's siblings.
When Bangabandhu was just 13, he was betrothed to her. After Renu's father died, her grandfather called Bangabandhu's father and said, "I have to marry off one of my granddaughters to your eldest son because I will leave all my property to them." Renu's grandfather was Bangabandhu's paternal uncle.
Bangabandhu wrote in his 'Unfinished Memoir' that when their marriage was fixed, he was a teenager. "I heard I got married. I did not understand anything then. "
Their wedding took place in 1938. Their family life started after Bangabandhu passed the entrance exam in 1942. That year he got admitted to Islamia College, Kolkata. His political career began there.
Whenever necessary, Bangamata stood by Awami League and its leaders and activists. Whenever Bangabandhu was imprisoned, she informed him of everything when she visited him in jail. Bangamata noted down Bangabandhu's instructions and relayed them to the leaders of the Awami League.
Everyone was impressed by her kind behaviour and modesty. She fulfilled the duties of both parents. This brave woman, strong and determined, mixed with tenderness, raised her children in her husband's ideals.
No one ever went back empty-handed seeking help from her. Sheikh Fazilatunnesa married off many girls from low-income families, spending money from her inheritance.
In 1954, Sheikh Mujib became a member of the United Front Cabinet. Begum Mujib came to Dhaka with her children that year. They went to a house in Rajni Chowdhury Lane, Gendaria, Dhaka. When Bangabandhu became a minister, he got a government house; they moved to the government house on Minto Road. But Pakistan United Front dissolved the cabinet and they had to vacate the house on short notice. They had to change their home many times.
In 1961, Bangabandhu built a house at number 32 of Dhanmondi. It was the favourite home of Bangabandhu and Bangamata. A lot of pain and labour of Bangamata went into the construction of this house. On October 1, 1961, they moved to their own home. After that, this house became the address of activists.
In 1968, the Pakistan government filed a case against Bangabandhu and 35 Bangalee army and navy members and high-ranking officials for sedition, known as Agartala Conspiracy Case. When Bangabandhu was arrested in this case, Bangalees took to the streets to demand the release of all the prisoners. Protests spread across East Pakistan.
In the turbulent political situation, various Pakistani law and order agencies threatened to arrest Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib. But she remained undeterred and managed the necessary money for the lawyers to deal with the case.
At that time, the West Pakistan government decided to release Sheikh Mujib on parole to participate in the round table meeting in Lahore. But Begum Mujib strongly objected to this. Begum Mujib understood that the Pakistan government would eventually be forced to release Sheikh Mujib unconditionally.
She even met Bangabandhu in prison and told him not to go to the Lahore meeting on parole as the Bangalees were united under Bangabandhu. The Pakistan government would be forced to withdraw the Agartala conspiracy case. Therefore, Bangabandhu also refused to be released on parole on the advice of Bangamata.
In the meantime, the movement for releasing the political prisoners, including Sheikh Mujib, gained momentum across the country. It took the form of a popular uprising. The Ayub government decided to release Bangabandhu in the face of agitation. He was released from jail on February 22, 1969. The next day, the Bangali nation welcomed their undisputed leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the moniker 'Bangabandhu'.
Historians and political analysts have recognised Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib's decision as unique in Bangladesh's political history.
Various party and liberation war guidance activities have been conducted by Bangamata from their road 32 residence. When Bangabandhu was in prison, activists rushed to their house. She also stood by them in many ways with wisdom and advice. Bangabandhu's historic 7th March speech also bears the stamp of Banga Mata's intelligence. Reminiscing about the events of that day.
Bangabandhu's call for independence had Bangmata's support. This support gave courage to Bangabandhu. Today, the speech is part of world heritage. Not only that, Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib faced the situation with infinite courage, strong morale and patience during the entire nine months of the great liberation war. She and her family spent a lot of time in captivity. Bangali independence was achieved on December 16 through the liberation war.
On January 8, 1972, Bangabandhu was released from Pakistani prison. He returned home on January 10. Bangmata Begum Fazilatunnesa's long wait was over. After that, she stood by Bangabandhu in building the war-torn country.
After independence Bangamata said to the Biranganas (victims of a systematic campaign of genocidal rape), "I am your mother… The nation is proud of these heroic women. They have no reason to be ashamed or depressed. Because they were the first to prove to not only the boys of Bangladesh but also the girls how incredibly strong they are in terms of self-esteem. (Dainik Banglar Bani, 17 Falgun, 1378 Bangabda). '
Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib has even contributed to promoting the country internationally with Bangabandhu. She had a good relationship with the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Until the last moment of her life, she was by the side of history's great hero Sheikh Mujib as an inspiration. On 15 August 1975, the family was slain by a group of miscreants.
The author is Founder, Jatio Rogi Kallan Society