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Bangabandhu's letters from prison reflect idealism, affection, empathy

DHAKA, Aug 7, 2014 (BSS) - Bangabandhu wrote extensively to people from jail. The letters reflect a determined mind imbued with nationalism, concern for people and affection for his family.

One of the researchers of Bangabandhu's letters from prison, Dr Sunil Kanti Dey, Dean of the School of Education, Open University and Professor of History, remarked that during Bangabandhu's long political career he spent many years in jail as a political detainee, but he continued to communicate with his colleagues and family through letters, although they were invariably checked by security and intelligence outfits.

"He kept his letters from jail simple as he knew his letters would be censored or go through security clearance and many of his letters were also confiscated . . . yet we find the reflection of his mind as a nationalist leader and an affectionate family man," Dey said.

Dey compiled a series of 77 letters Bangabandhu wrote from jail which showed that most letters were in English, particularly those that were written to his party leader Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy and other political colleagues like Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mian or the jail authorities and concerned police officials.

"I know those who prefer to die for any cause are seldom defeated. Great things are achieved through great sacrifices," Bangabandhu wrote to Suhrawardy, in one of the letters, from Faridpur District Jail on December 21, 1950 while he was a "security prisoner".

He addressed his leader as "Janab Suhrawardy Shaheb" and concluded saying, "Yours affectionately, Mujibur" in the letters, which, however, rarely reached its recipient, as it was confiscated by jail officials and recovered only after Liberation.

The police intelligence had confiscated another one of his letters, also sent to Suhrawardy, saying "You certainly realize the attitude of the present regime which is mean. All sorts of oppression have been let loose. Promulgation of Section 144, arrest and harassment of our workers have become an everyday affair".

The letter written on August 21, 1949, however, was copied by police for their record while the original one finally reached "Janab".

Bangabandhu not only wrote to top political leaders, the elderly mother of a junior party activist Khaleque Newaz, too, was in the list of recipients of his letters. In the letter he wrote:

"Amma, Please accept my respectful salam. Your son Khaleque Newaz is in jail today but you should not regret it . . . you rather should be proud, since he is in jail to remove the miseries of the people of the country. Please let me know if you need anything as I am like your son."

Bangabandhu in a letter to his father on November 12, 1958 from Dhaka Central Jail wrote: "Abba, Please accept my respectful salam and convey it to Ma . . . She was in great agony this time as they arrested me from in front of her . . . Pray for me, they can't do any harm to me through this false case. They even made me an accused in a dacoity case!"

"Allah is there and truth will prevail," he concluded.

In a letter to his long time political lieutenant, Tajuddin Ahmed, he said "Affectionate Tajuddin, Please accept my affection and love. I don't have any idea how you are passing your days. But don't worry. Please convey my salam to all (in jail as political prisoners). Take care of your health".

Bangabandhu was in Dhaka Central Jail while Tajuddin was in Mymensingh Jail when he wrote the letter on August 19, 1966.

In several of his letters to the police authorities Bangabandhu sought their permission to see his wife and family members as they apparently declined to offer him the opportunity.

"To the DIG, IB, East Pakistan (through Superintendent of Central Jail), . . . Sir, I want to have an interview with my wife, Mrs Fazilatunnesa, my four minor children, my cousin Mr Mominul Huq and my ex-private secretary, Mr Abul Hossain . . . my three children are suffering . . . I am very anxious for them," he said in one such letter from prison on December 9, 1958.

Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University and noted communication expert, Prof Dr A.A.M.S Arefin Siddiqui told BSS that Bangabandhu wanted to keep connectivity with his political leaders, workers and general people through letters and gave them directives.

He said the connectivity was targeted only to attain independence of the Bangalee nation, freeing them from the clutches of the Pakistani oppressive rulers and it was reflected in the language of his letters.