- Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy said that Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib was a valuable gift from God
- During the liberation war, Bangamata paid rent to the Pakistani armies
- Bangamata played a pivotal role in the Agartala conspiracy case, where she resisted external pressures and conveyed a stern message to Bangabandhu
- Bangabandhu’s 7th March’s historic speech has earned a place in the world’s cultural heritage
- Bangamata steadfastly supported Bangabandhu in the reconstruction of the war-torn nation
She exhibits extraordinary qualities within the confines of the ordinary. Even in her role as a homemaker, she played a significant role in shaping the history of Bangladesh. She is a woman of enduring significance. She is none other than our Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib.
In 1946, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a mentor figure to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, advised the emerging leader to cherish his wife, emphasizing that “She was a valuable gift from God.”
Bangabandhu and she became life partners in their youth, and her unwavering companionship endured until their death, a crucial support that played a pivotal role in Bangladesh’s journey to independence.
In reference to the initial years of their marriage, Bangabandhu penned in “The Unfinished Memoirs”: “Upon entering matrimony, I believe I was approximately thirteen years old. Following the demise of Renu’s father, her grandfather summoned my father and conveyed. It is imperative that your elder son marries one of my granddaughters. My intention is to pass on all my possessions to these two granddaughters.”
It was Begum Fazilatunnesa’s encouragement that spurred Bangabandhu to undertake the writing of his memoir. Acting as both witness and confidante, Bangamata played a pivotal role in Bangabandhu’s life, providing him with the encouragement, strength, and courage needed to navigate the trials he faced.
Bangamata’s Journey Through Thick and Thin
Bangabandhu dedicated a significant portion of his life to political activism, enduring imprisonment for his convictions. Throughout these challenging times, Fazilatunnesa Mujib shouldered the responsibility of caring for the family on her own, serving as a crucial link between the Awami League and the incarcerated Bangabandhu.
House arrest was imposed on her and her family by Pakistani military intelligence until December 17, 1971, following the country’s liberation. Fearless and guided by unwavering principles, Bangamata boldly informed the Pakistani soldiers that she would consistently pay rent throughout her house arrest, never faltering in her payments.
She assumed a crucial role in the development of Bangabandhu Bhaban on Dhanmondi Road 32, presently known as the Bangabandhu Museum. The family acquired the property in the 1950s under the Suhrawardy government, and she actively participated in building the house alongside her children to cut down on labor expenses.
Her Indomitable Spirit in Political Decisions
On numerous occasions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized that Bangamata, working discreetly in the background, played a pivotal role in supporting Bangabandhu. According to her, his greatness came to light because she stood steadfastly by his side.
Bangamata played a pivotal role in the Agartala conspiracy case, where she resisted external pressures and conveyed a stern message to Bangabandhu, advising him against accepting the proposal to leave prison on parole for the Round Table Conference in Rawalpindi in early 1969.
Despite the pressures, Bangabandhu declined the parole offer, compelling the Pakistan government to release him unconditionally.
Throughout this challenging period, Bangamata courageously informed Bangabandhu, “Should you opt for parole, there’s no necessity for you to visit my residence.”
While Bangabandhu was incarcerated during the Six-Point demand movement, numerous gatherings took place at Dhanmondi 32. Despite calls from some leaders for eight points, Bangamata remained unwavering.
“He shared only six points with me before heading to prison, ensuring that there won’t be any additional points “-Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa
On March 7, 1971, widespread protests erupted throughout Bengal. The region had been asserting a de facto independence since March, largely under the influence of the Awami League. However, the situation escalated when Yahya Khan announced the proroguing of the assembly, further intensifying the unrest. The entire Bengal region was in turmoil, with escalating tensions. On March 7, Bangabandhu was scheduled to address the public, and there was anticipation regarding the content of his speech. Many students were urging Bangabandhu to declare the independence of Bangladesh from that day forward.
After enduring a century marked by numerous struggles, he strolled with a demeanor reminiscent of Rabindranath Tagore and took center stage before the gathering, where he passionately recited his immortal poem dedicated to the ongoing fight for freedom. In his address, he urged everyone to fortify their households and be equipped with whatever resources they possessed. Simultaneously, he solemnly declared independence and issued orders for guerrilla warfare. The global community recognized Sheikh Mujib’s struggle as a legitimate non-cooperation movement, drawing parallels with Mahatma Gandhi’s efforts in achieving India’s independence.
Bangabandhu received unwavering support from Bangmata as he championed the cause of independence. This backing infused Bangabandhu with strength and determination. Today, his historic speech has earned a place in the world’s cultural heritage.
Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, displaying boundless courage, resilience, and patience throughout the nine months of the liberation war, navigated challenging circumstances alongside her family, spending considerable time in captivity. The culmination of these efforts resulted in the achievement of Bengali independence on December 16.
After enduring imprisonment in Pakistan, Bangabandhu was released on January 8, 1972, marking a significant moment in history. His return on January 10 marked the end of Bangmata Begum Fazilatunnesa’s prolonged wait. Subsequently, she steadfastly supported Bangabandhu in the reconstruction of the war-ravaged nation.
Following the attainment of independence, Bangamata addressed the Biranganas, survivors of a systematic campaign of genocidal rape, stating, “I am your mother… The nation takes immense pride in these courageous women. They should carry no shame or despair, for they were the pioneers who demonstrated not only to the young men of Bangladesh but also to the young women, the remarkable strength they possess in terms of self-esteem” (Dainik Banglar Bani, 17 Falgun, 1378 Bangabda).
We observe the graceful demeanor of the Bengali woman embodied in Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib, yet she maintained a resolute stance on political matters. The sagacity she demonstrated truly astounds us. Tragically, she, too, fell victim to the events of 15 August 1975, losing her life alongside Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib. The momentum of women’s empowerment experienced a temporary setback on that fateful day.