Tajuddin Ahmad

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Tajuddin Ahmad
তাজউদ্দিন আহমেদ
Tajuddin Ahmed Bangla.jpg
1st Prime Minister of Bangladesh
In office
11 April 1971 – 12 January 1972
President Mujibur Rahman
Nazrul Islam (Acting)
Succeeded by Mujibur Rahman
Personal details
Born (1925-07-23)23 July 1925
Dardaria, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now Kapasia, Bangladesh)
Died 3 November 1975(1975-11-03) (aged 50)
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Political party Awami League (1949–1975)
Other political
affiliations
All-India Muslim League (Before 1949)
Alma mater University of Dhaka
Religion Islam

Tajuddin Ahmad (Bengali: তাজউদ্দিন আহমেদ) (July 23, 1925 – November 3, 1975) was a Bangladeshi statesman and freedom fighter. He served as the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh and lead the wartime Provisional Government during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Ahmad is regarded as one of the most influential and instrumental figures in the birth of Bangladesh, due to his leadership of the provisional government in 1971, in which he united the various political, military and cultural forces of Bangladeshi nationalism.

A close confidante of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Ahmad was the General Secretary of the Awami League in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He coordinated the League’s election campaign for the Pakistani general election, 1970, in which the League gained a historic parliamentary majority to form government. Ahmad, along with Mujib and Dr. Kamal Hossain, led negotiations with President Yahya Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for the transfer of power to the elected National Assembly.

After the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight against Bengali nationalists in March 1971, Ahmad made his way into neighbouring India, upon the instructions of Sheikh Mujib (who was detained by Pakistani forces). As war erupted across East Pakistan, Ahmad sought the alliance of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the fight for Bangladesh's independence. Along with senior Bengali political and military leaders, he formed the first Government of Bangladesh in Meherpur in April 1971, in which he was made Prime Minister. The war administration subsequently moved to Calcutta as a government-in-exile. Under his premiership, Ahmad presided over the creation of the Bangladesh Forces; and the majority of Bengali bureaucrats, diplomats and military officers serving Pakistan defected to the new Government of Bangladesh. He was a key figure in supervising and mandating war efforts; and initiated numerous diplomatic and cultural missions which toured world capitals advocating the Bangladesh cause. Ahmad would regularly visit the liberated regions of Bangladesh and inspire the Mukti Bahini and other freedom fighters to vigorously pursue the struggle.

After the liberation of Bangladesh, Ahmad became Finance Minister in the Mujib government in 1972. He resigned from the cabinet in 1974 and fell out with Mujib over the creation of the one-party system of BAKSAL. After the Mujib assassination in August 1975, Ahmad was arrested by the martial law government. Along with four other top League leaders, he was executed by members of the military in Dhaka Central Jail on 4 November 1975.

Ahmad is one of modern Bangladesh's most respected political figures. His wife Begum Zohra Tajuddin headed the Awami League from 1975 to 1981. His son Tanjim Ahmad was the Minister of State for Home Affairs in the Sheikh Hasina cabinet in 2009, however he resigned after just a year in office. Ahmed's second daughter Simeen Hussain was elected as a Member of Parliament from the League in 2012.[1][2][1]

Early life[edit]

Family[edit]

Tajuddin was born in a middle class conservative Muslim family to father Moulavi Muhammad Yasin Khan and mother Meherunnesa Khanam. He had nine siblings— three brothers and six sisters. He is survived by his wife Syeda Zohra Tajuddin, 3 daughters Sharmin Ahmad (Reepi), Simeen Hussain (Rimi), Mahjabin Ahmad (Mimi) and only son Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj.[3]

Political career[edit]

Ahmad organized protests and other activities during the Language Movement of 1952. He was arrested by police and imprisoned for several months.[citation needed] After his release, he was elected to the East Pakistan Provincial Assembly in 1954 but was arrested following the dismissal of the A. K. Fazlul Huq-led government. He would be arrested again following the imposition of martial law by Ayub Khan in 1958 after taking power in a military coup. Ahmed worked in the pro-democracy campaign led by the Awami League and other political parties in Pakistan. He organized protests against the arrest of Mujib in 1966 on charges of sedition.[citation needed] He participated at the round table conference in Rawalpindi convened by Ayub Khan to resolve the crisis between the government and the opposition parties. Following the restoration of democracy, he was elected member of the National Assembly of Pakistan in 1970.[citation needed]

Following the arrest of Mujib on March 25, 1971 by the Pakistan Army, which continued to kill civilians[citation needed], Ahmad organized a government-in-exile popularly known as the Mujibnagar government to win his nation freedom. Ahmad named the capital Mujibnagar, after Shaikh Mujibur Rahman. The oath taking ceremony of the first government of Bangladesh took place on the soil of Bangladesh, in Meherpur, Kushtia on April 17, 1971. He presided over the significant Bangladesh Sector Commanders Conference 1971 that created and formed the entire Bangladesh Forces under the command of General M. A. G. Osmani. As the first Prime Minister he led efforts to organize a guerilla insurgency of Bengali civilians and armed forces and win international support. During this period, Ahmad encountered vehement intra party strife led by Khandokar Mushataq Ahmad who conspired to harm the national struggle for independence through a failed attempt to form a confederacy with Pakistan. Among Ahmad's great diplomatic achievements were to win international support and recognition of Bangladesh as a sovereign nation by the government of India. After the independence of Bangladesh, Ahmad returned to Dhaka on 22 December 1971. In the subsequent cabinet formed under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Ahmad was given charge of the ministries of finance and planning. He was also appointed member of the committee in charge of writing the Constitution of Bangladesh. However, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was influenced to question the integrity of Tajuddin for the party and for himself by the parties within the Awami League who were proved redundant during the Liberation war. Tajuddin was widely publicized by them to be a stooge of the neighbouring Indian government probably because of the respect he commanded from Mrs Gandhi, the then prime minister of India and also for his declared gratefulness for the assistance that India gave during the war. The sycophants of Mujib also portrayed Tajuddin as aspiring to be the next Prime Minister of the country. Khondokar Mushtaque who was a pro-Pakistan conspirator during the war led the effort to malign Mr. Tajuddin. He had active support from the student leadership who also had contempt for Tajuddin as they too were restrained by him from taking advantage of the situation during the war. Till today Awami League failed to evaluate Tajuddin Ahmad's role.

Assassination[edit]

In 1974 Ahmad lost his cabinet post.[4] When Mujib assumed the title of President and banned other political parties in 1975, Ahmad became the odd man out,[4] declining and opposing the formation of a one-party system known as BAKSAL. When Mujib was assassinated by a group of army officers on 15 August 1975, Ahmad was immediately placed under house arrest.[1] On August 22, he was arrested with other political leaders by the regime of the new president Khondaker Mostaq Ahmed and imprisoned at the Dhaka Central Jail. On November 3, in what became infamously known as the "Jail Killing Day",[5] Ahmad along with Syed Nazrul Islam, A. H. M. Qamaruzzaman and Muhammad Mansur Ali were killed at midnight by a group of army officers on the instruction of President Khondaker Mostaq Ahmed. [6]

The release on March 25, 2007 of a documentary, Tajuddin Ahmad: An Unsung Hero (directed by Tanvir Mokammel), reflects a growing interest in the life and works of Ahmad.

On January 6, 2009, Ahmad's son Tanjim Ahmad (Sohel Taj), was appointed Minister of State for Home Affairs, in the Awami League Administration.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Tajuddin Ahmed: A Man who Came before his Time". The Star 9 (44). November 12, 2010. Archived from the original on January 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ ""Life and times of Tajuddin Ahmed", The Daily Star, 23 July 2009". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  3. ^ "Biography of Tajuddin Ahmad (Founder Prime Minister of Bangladesh) (July 23, 1925 - November 3, 1975), Fourleaders.webs.com". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  4. ^ a b Chowdhury, Serajul Islam (14 December 2013). "The commitment of the martyred intellectuals". The Daily Star. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "Haroon Habib, "Hasina extends deadline", The Hindu, 4 November 2006". Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  6. ^ Midnight Massacre In Dacca by Sukharanjan Dasgupta, 1978, ISBN 0-7069-0692-6

Other sources[edit]

Political offices
New office Prime Minister of Bangladesh
1971–1972
Succeeded by
Mujibur Rahman