Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

founding father of the People's Republic of Bangladesh

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (17 March 192015 August 1975), also known in Bangladesh and West Bengal as Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) and Sheikh Mujib, was a Bengali politician and the founding leader of Bangladesh. He is widely revered in the country as the Father of the Nation.

My greatest strength is the love for my people, my greatest weakness is that I love them too much.

Mujib served twice as the President of Bangladesh, including the first presidency of the country and later during one party rule. He was assassinated by junior army officers in a military coup on 15 August 1975.


Public Address at the Ramna Race Course Maidan in Dhaka (7 March 1971)
  • We gave blood in 1952, we won a mandate in 1954. But we were not allowed to take up the reins of this country. In 1958, Ayub Khan clamped Martial Law on our people and enslaved us for the next 10 years. In 1966, our people fought for the Six points but the lives of our our young men and women were stilled by government bullets.
  • I had said, Mr. Yahya Khan, you are the President of this country. Come to Dhaka, come and see how our poor Bengali people have been mown down by your bullets, how the laps of our mothers and sisters have been robbed and left empty and bereft, how my helpless people have been slaughtered. Come, I said, come and see for yourself and then be the judge and decide. That is what I told him.
  • Nor did they succeed in hanging me on the gallows, for you rescued me with your blood from the infamous conspiracy case. That day, right here on this racecourse, I had pledged to you that I would pay this debt with my own blood. Do you remember? I am ready today to fulfill that promise!
  • There shall be no transaction between East and West Pakistan. All communications, telegraph and telephone, will be confined within Bangladesh. The people of this land are facing elimination. If need be, we will bring everything to a total standstill. Collect your salaries on time. If the salaries are held up, if a single bullet is fired upon us henceforth, if the murder of my people does not cease, I call upon you to turn every home into a fortress against their onslaught. Use whatever you can put your hands on to confront this enemy. Every last road must be blocked.
  • As we have already learned how to sacrifice our own lives, now no one can stop us!
  • As we have already shed blood, we are ready to shed more blood!
  • This time the struggle is for our freedom, this time the struggle is for our independence! Joy bangla!


I have given you independence, now go and preserve it.
  • Sir, you will see that they want to place the word ‘East Pakistan’ instead of ‘East Bengal’. We have demanded so many times that you should use Bengal instead of Pakistan. The world Bengal has a history, has a tradition of its own. You can change it only after the people have been consulted. If you want to change it, then we have to go back to Bengal and see whether Bengalis will accept it.
    • Speaking to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in Karachi in 1955 during a debate on whether to adopt the One Unit scheme in Pakistan and divide the country into two provinces- East and West Pakistan.[1]
  • You know, they can't keep me here for more than six months.
    • While speaking with a western journalist during proceedings of the Agartala conspiracy trial. Mujib was released within in seven months of his arrest as a result of mass agitation and wide scale civil disobedience in East Pakistan.[2]
  • Anyone who wishes to stay in Bangladesh will have to talk to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
    • Shouting out aloud during proceedings of the Agartala conspiracy trial. It was in response to a journalist, to whom he was whispering, who told him that it was inappropriate to talk under the watch of undercover officers.[3]
  • The people of East Pakistan will owe it to the million who have died in the cyclone to make the supreme sacrifice of another million lives, if need be, so that we can live as a free people.
      • Addressing a rally before the 1970 general elections in Pakistan. [4]
  • I have given you independence, now go and preserve it.
    • While speaking to Awami League leaders a few hours before his arrest on the night of 25th March, 1971. Mujib:Triumph and Tragedy by S A Karim
  • This may be my last message. From today Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh wherever you are and with whatever you have, to resist the occupation army. Our fight will go on till the last soldier of the Pakistan Occupation Army is expelled from the soil of independent Bangladesh. Final victory is ours. Joy Bangla!
    • The Declaration of Independence on the night of 26th March, 1971. The declaration was made minutes before his arrest by the Pakistan Army.[5][6][7]
  • My greatest strength is the love for my people, my greatest weakness is that I love them too much.
    • Interview with Sir David Frost on the BBC, 1972.
  • If we had remained in Pakistan, it would be a strong country. Again, if India had not been divided in 1947, it would be an even stronger country. But, then, Mr. President, in life do we always get what we desire?
    • Speaking about the break up of Pakistan with Nigerian leader Yakubu Gowon.[8]
  • I am happy with my Bangladesh.
    • Replying to a question on whether he contemplated the Indian state of West Bengal joining his country and creating a "Greater Bangladesh". He was speaking to reporters at a press conference in London in January, 1972 after his release from prision in Pakistan.[9]
  • Yes, but there is a difference. You see, I am a very poor sheikh.

Quotes about Mujib

  • He (Mujib) was just out of prison, he seemed full of bit­terness, and this time we were almost able to talk quietly. He said how East Pakistan was exploited by West Pakistan, treated like a colony, sucked of its blood—and it was very true; I’d even written the same thing in a book. But he didn’t draw any conclusions, he didn’t explain that the fault was in the economic system and in the regime, he didn’t speak of socialism and struggle. On the contrary, he declared that the people weren’t prepared for struggle, that no one could oppose the military, that it was the military that had to resolve the injustices. He had no courage. He never has had. Does he really call himself, to journalists, the »Tiger of the Bengal«?
    • Ali Bhutto, quoted in Oriana Fallaci. (2011). Interview with Ali Bhutto in : Interviews with history and conversations with power. New York: Rizzoli.
  • “Mujib’s very appearance suggested raw power,” cabled Blood, “a power drawn from the masses and from his own strong personality.” He was tall and sturdy, with rugged features and intense eyes. Blood found him serene and confident amid the turmoil, but eager for power. “On the rostrum he is a fiery orator who can mesmerize hundreds of thousands in a pouring rain,” Blood wrote. “Mujib has something of a messianic complex which has been reinforced by the heady experience of mass adulation. He talks of ‘my people, my land, my forests, my rivers.’ It seems clear that he views himself as the personification of Bengali aspirations.”
    • Archer Blood quoted in Bass, G. J. (2014). The Blood telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a forgotten genocide.
  • Poet of Politics
  • I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas.
    • Cuban leader Fidel Castro speaking about Mujib during the Non-Aligned Summit held in Algiers in 1973.[11]
  • The appearence of Sheikh Mujib was the biggest event in the national history of Bangladesh. His burial did not take place through his death. More pragmatic, efficient, capable and dyanmic political personalities than Sheikh Mujibur Rahman might have emerged or may emerge, but it will be very difficult to find someone who has contributed more to the independence movement of Bangladesh and the shaping of its national identity.
    • Moudud Ahmed, Former Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader, in his book "Bangladesh, era of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman".
  • A man of vitality and vehemence, Mujib became the political Gandhi of the Bengalis, symbolizing their hopes and voicing their grievances. Not even Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, drew the million-strong throngs that Mujib has attracted in Dacca. Nor, for that matter, has any subcontinent politician since Gandhi's day spent so much time behind bars for his political beliefs.
  • As long as Padma, Meghna, Gouri, Jamuna flows on, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, your accomplishment will also live on.
    • Annada Shankar Ray.
  • In the thousand year history of Bengal, Sheikh Mujib is her only leader who has, in terms of blood, race, language, culture and birth, been a full blooded Bengali. His physical stature was immense. His voice was redolent of thunder. His charisma worked magic on people. The courage and charm that flowed from him made him a unique superman in these times.
    • Journalist Cyril Dunn.[13]
  • Sheikh Mujibur Rahman does not belong to Bangladesh alone. He is the harbinger of freedom for all Bengalis. His Bengali nationalism is the new emergence of Bengali civilization and culture. Mujib is the hero of the Bengalis, in the past and in the times that are.
  • In a sense, Sheikh Mujib is a greater leader than George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi and De Valera.
  • I could tell you about Mujib Rahman, who, again at Dacca, had ordered his guerillas to eliminate me as a dangerous European, and lucky for me an English colonel saved me at the risk of his life.
  • And she describes Mujibur Rahman, prime minister of Bangladesh, as a madman. She writes that he sprawls on the couch, intent on saying things that make no sense. When she asks him about the massacres of opposition protesters arrested by his men, he erupts. The article she sends to the newspaper is accompanied by these words: “Dear editor. I went to Dacca, where you sent me. I wish you hadn’t. That Mujib is not serious. Nor would it be serious to write up an interview with him. So I won’t. Just look at my notes. Do what you like with them. Affectionately yours.”
    • Oriana Fallaci. Quoted in De, S. C., & Harss, M. (2017). Oriana Fallaci: The journalist, the agitator, the legend.
  • For those who doubt that freedom and self-determination are the most powerful forces at work in the world today, let them come to Bangladesh. I have come here to say that America cares. I have come to learn from the father of your country, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I have come to talk again with those who have suffered so much in the refugee camps, and to ask what my fellow countrymen and I can do to ease the pain of those who have survived and have done so much to preserve freedom.
    • Ted Kennedy, Speech at Dacca University, February 14, 1972, as quoted in Historic Documents of 1972. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
  • Saluting an icon of democracy, a towering personality and a great friend of India, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
    • Narendra Modi on his tweet after paying homage to the Bangladesh's founding father at Bangabandhu Bhaban in Dhanmondi, Dhaka.[16]
  • Also, the Nixon administration privately rebuked Yahya when he launched a secret treason trial for Mujib, which seemed likely to end with his execution—and an explosion of Indian outrage, possibly even war. This trial iced any hopes of political reconciliation with the Bengali nationalists. Even Nixon was shocked. “Why did he do that?” he asked Kissinger in amazement. “He’s a big, honorable, stupid man,” said Kissinger. “For Christ sakes,” Nixon said. “He can’t do that.” The next day, Kissinger was more sanguine: “If he won’t shoot him, I think we can survive it.” Nixon asked, “Did you tell him not to shoot him?” Kissinger replied, “I tell you, the Pakistanis are fine people”—at this point the tape is bleeped out on purported grounds of national security.
    • Bass, G. J. (2014). The Blood telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a forgotten genocide. ch 16
  • Towards the end of his rule, Mujib made frequent references to Islam in his speeches and public utterances by using terms and idioms which were peculiar mainly to the Islam-oriented Bangladeshi— like Allah (the Almighty God), Insha Allah (God willing), Bismillah (in the name of God), Tawaba (Penitence) and Imam (religious leader). As days passed on Shiekh Mujib even dropped his symbolic valedictory expression Joy Bangla (Glory to Bengal) and ended his speeches with Khuda Hafez (May God protect you), the traditional Indo-Islamic phrase for bidding farewell. In his later day speeches, he also highlighted his efforts to establish cordial relations with the Muslim countries in the Middle East.
    • Talukder Moniruzzaman Maniruzzaman. 1990. Bangladesh Politics: Secular and Islamic Trends. New Delhi: pp/s 73-74 , quoted in Y Rosser, Indoctrinating Minds: Politics of Education in Bangladesh. 2004 page 72
    • Dr. Talukder Maniruzzaman * Dr. Maniruzzaman made an observation in "Bangladesh Politics: Secular and Islamic Trends" (New Delhi: 1990), pp.'s 73-74:
  • Ten years after Mujib's death his daughter, Hasina, told me that she could not get tine agreement of relatives and neighbors in their home village of Tungipara to erect a suitable monument over Mujib's grave.
    • ANTHONY MASCARENHAS in 1986 quoted in Y Rosser, Indoctrinating Minds: Politics of Education in Bangladesh. 2004 p 98
  • Shiekh Mujibur Rahman, first President of Bangladesh who was popularly recognised as Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) and father of the nation revived Islamic Academy (which was banned in 1972) and upgraded to Foundation (in March 1975) and increasingly attended Islamic gatherings. He also banned sale and consumption of liquor, though production of liquor continued and ban on betting with specific reference to horse-race. The recognition of OIC membership (February 1974), sudden decision to participate at OIC conference in Lahore, Pakistan (1974), diplomatic ties with Pakistan, unconditional pardon of the occupational forces of Pakistan involved in war crimes on innocent people, especially women and their subsequent safe repatriation, securing the founder membership of Islamic Development Bank (1975), were interpreted by political critics that Mujib stood at a confused crossroads.
    • State of Minorities in Bangladesh: From Secular to Islamic Hegemony by Saleem Samad Country Paper presented at "Regional Consultation on Minority Rights in South Asia", 20-22 August 1998, Kathmandu, Nepal. Organised by South Asian Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), Kathmandu.
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