Twenty-fifth and after!

So, I was back home again! Though I missed Karachi, it was great to be back. Dhaka was the same. No major changes had occurred except that its citizens became politically heated. Living far away from home and in considerable comfort, I was not in a position to realize the kind of agony that my very own people were undergoing in a virtually captive and non-inclusive part of the then Pakistan. So I volunteered to join my people and started participating in the political gatherings of the young political enthusiasts. I was naturally enraged at the discrepancies towards the poor Bengalis. Though I was then working in a Pakistani company, I had not hidden about my political involvement to my management. The owners of my company, being Ismailies, were almost a second class citizen in Pakistan itself, did not mind my involvements as long as the business was not affected. So, I doubly increased my work load to compensate for my time in the political movements. 1969 saw a political upheaval that, perhaps, was never seen in this land ever before. Almost every able-bodied person took to the streets of Dhaka and elsewhere in the Province. At the helm of this was our undisputed leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, not yet Bangabandhu, who kept giving directions even when he was jailed by the autocratic ruler of Pakistan, Ayub Khan. Ayub made a hasty retreat and handed over the rule to the then army chief Yahya Khan. Yahya was not in any way interested in a political process leading up to the democratic rights of the people of the then Pakistan. He was an Army man with no scruples. I could guess that we, as a nation with a distinctly different culture, were inching towards a confrontation with Pakistan that would finally lead us to our independence from being a colony.

In the mean time the 70's General Elections of Pakistan were approaching. There was no doubt that in East Pakistan Awami League led by Sheik Mujib would sweep the elections. And that meant that, by virtue of the number seats won he would automatically become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. But that is another gruesome story. Presently we were busy canvassing for our own Awami League. The events that followed are not to everyone belonging to my age or those that were adult then. But then there were some personal experiences that are worth sharing. At Dhaka everyday was full of exciting experience. News of bipartite discussion between Awami League led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and General Yahya Khan gave birth to many rumours. At times it was felt that the National Assembly session was 'round the corner and that Bangabondhu would eventually emerge as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. At others it seemed well neigh impossible with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of the Pakistan People's Party not agreeing to concede anything. With much lesser number of seats he was hell bent upon sharing power with Awami League. This, obviously, was not acceptable to Awami League. So, apparently, a dialogue ensued between General Yahya and Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But, behind the scene, war preparation was afoot and the occupation army of Pakistan consolidated its strength manifold in the eastern wing. On the night of 25th March the dialogue broke down and the Pakistan Army came down on the unarmed Bangalis at night. A few thousand people were killed on that night. Bangabondhu was arrested and taken to prison in West Pakistan. This called for spontaneous resistance by the Bangalis and a war started to liberate the eastern wing of Pakistan later to become independent Bangladesh.