CPB leader Selim recalls memories of Bangabandhu

Aditto Rimon
Published : 02:00, Jan 28, 2020 | Updated : 02:00, Jan 28, 2020

Communist Party of Bangladesh President Mujahidul Islam Selim during an interview with Bangla Tribune. PHOTO/Sazzad HossainMujahidul Islam Selim met Bangabandhu on Jun 8, 1966 in jail and currently, he is serving as president of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB). But Selim has termed inviting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be a main speaker ‘unfortunate’.
Mujahidul Islam Selim talked with Bangla Tribune (BT) on Jan 24. Excerpts from the interview are given below:
BT: When did you meet Bangabandhu?
MIS: I met him on Jun 8, 1966 in prison; I was a Chhatra Union activist then. At that time, a decision as taken by the Chhatra Union that if hartal is called on Jun 7 demanding six points we will be with the people.
I saw Bangabandhu from a distance and he waved at me.
BT: Did you ever have political conversation with Bangabandhu?
MIS: When I was elected VP of Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU), I had the chance to have long discussion with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman though it was not a political discussion. At that time, I was a student movement activist and he was the prime minister of the country.
BT: Have any recollection of a request made by Bangabandhu?
MIS: I was from a different party and therefore, the relation was not that of a guru and disciple. We used to share experiences of political work. Bangabandhu joined the Chhatra Union conference in 1972 and I gave a slogan: Chhatra Union Zindabad, Joy Samajtantra. At that moment, he whispered in my ear: give the Joy Bangla slogan and I complied.
Chhatra Union leader recalls memories of Bangabandhu (3)BT: When you were VP of DUCSU, the membership of Bangabandhu was cancelled. Would you comment on the matter?
MIS: USA was bombing the independent country of North Vietnam and to protest this, we called for a national solidarity day on Jan 1, 1973.
As part of the movement, we were on the way to the US embassy to submit a memorandum. At Paltan, there was a phalanx of police and they fired on the rally. Many were wounded and Matiul Islam, Mirza Abdul Kader were killed. We asked the government to apologise for the incident but instead, they said that the police opened fire on unruly elements.
At a rally the next day, I called on our workers to refrain from calling Bangabanhu the father of the nation until he apologises. His DUCSU membership was also suspended.
We gave some demands which the government accepted a few days later. Bangladesh also recognized the communist government in Vietnam and they were asked to open an embassy here. It was stated that the cost of running the embassy would be provided by the government of Bangladesh.
The wounded of the incident were treated and one was also sent to London. The home minister was removed and a probe committee was formed to investigate the incident.
BT: Was Bangabandhu’s membership returned?
MIS: There was no further talk on the issue. The membership was not a main factor because our war was against imperialism.
Since Modi government is spreading communal hatred in India, asking him to come as chief guest to celebrate 100th birthday of Bangabandhu is unfortunate.
Communist Party of Bangladesh President Mujahidul Islam Selim during an interview with Bangla Tribune. PHOTO/Sazzad HossainBT: Did you ask forgiveness for withdrawing Bangabandhu’s membership?
MIS: Why should we ask for pardon? It does not even arise. Bangabandhu accepted our demands and expressed sorrow over the shooting incident.
BT: How will you evaluate Bangabandhu?
MIS: Bangabandhu was an iconic leader and a historical hero, His ideals, outlook and values have put him in an exalted position.
He was the leader of the masses with sagacity aplomb and acumen.