A Lifeskecth of Sheikh Hasina; Sentinel of Democracy
Born on September 28, 1947 at Tungipara in Gopalganj district, Sheikh Hasina was the eldest of five children of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangamata Begum Fazilatunnesa. In 1968, Hasina was married to eminent nuclear scientist M Wazed Miah. Together they have one son and a daughter. She graduated from Dhaka University in 1973.
Early Political Career:
Sheikh Hasina was elected as the Vice President of the Student's Union of Eden Girls College. She was a member of Chattra League of Dhaka University and Secretary of the Chattra League unit in Rokeya Hall. She was also the President of Eden Intermediate Girls College Chattra League. Sheikh Hasina actively participated in the mass upsurge of 1969.
Assassination of the family:
On 15th August, 1975, Sheikh Hasina’s whole family was brutally assassinated by a group of wayward army officers. She and her sister survived the conspiracy while she was on a visit to West Germany.
Sheikh Hasina was forced to live in exile while restrictions were put on her return home by the then government. She was elected as the President of Awami League while in exile. On 17th May, 1981, she returned to the country with a tumultuous welcome from millions of people.
Struggle and confinement (1982-1985):
After returning from exile, Sheikh Hasina raised her voice against military rule in 1982. She puts tremendous pressure on Ershad’s regime to end martial law and hold free and fair elections. In 1983, Sheikh Hasina formed a 15 party alliance from which grew a powerful student movement protesting against the military government. On February 14, 1983 the army entered the Dhaka University campus and fired bullets and used batons to quell the agitating students. On February 15, as she protested the inhuman act through organising a peaceful rally at the Shahid Minar, Sheikh Hasina was arrested and taken blindfolded to Dhaka cantonment along with her associates. She was kept incommunicado for 15 days. In 1984 she was put under house arrest in February and again in November. In March 1985, she was put under house arrest for three months at a stretch.
Election of 1986:
On March 26, 1986, Sheikh Hasina declared the participation in the election held by Ershad regime. Sheikh Hasina became Leader of the Opposition in Parliament commanding the support of 104 elected MPs belonging to her party and alliance. She forced the treasury bench to withdraw a number of bills which went against the fundamental rights of the people.
Rage of Military regime, 1986-1988:
In October 1986, addressing a rally against military suppression in Bogra Sheikh Hasina was detained and forcibly sent back to Dhaka. On November 11, 1987 she was again put under house arrest for a month, despite her being the leader of the opposition in Parliament at the time. During a demonstration in front of the government secretariat on November 10, 1987 the police opened fire on Sheikh Hasina and tried to lift her car with a crane while she was leaving the National Press Club. In the face of strong resistance from the people, the police failed to arrest her and she was able to slip out of the car. On January 24, 1988, while addressing a public meeting in Chittagong, police fired on the crowd, killing nearly 80 people and narrowly missing Sheikh Hasina and her aides.
End of the suppression, 1990:
On November 06, 1990, Sheikh Hasina announced the constitutional formula for peaceful transfer of power. Sheikh hasina was confined in Banga Bhaban again on November 27, 1990. But she was released on the face of a mass protest against her arrest. General Ershad stepped down on December 04, 1990.
Leader of opposition, 1991-1996:
It was a great disappointment that Awami league didn’t get the absolute majority in 1991 parliamentary election. Being unable to form the government, she didn’t stop working for the development of the country and its people. In 1992, she launched a countrywide campaign for farmers and workers. In June 1993, she addressed the NGO conference held in Vienna.
In 1994, Sheikh Hasina succeeded in bringing the other opposition leader together. In this year she was elected the Vice President of Eastern Vision Forum. In 1995, she raised her voice for the punishment of the gang of policemen who raped and killed a teenage girl in Dinajpur. In 1995, Sheikh Hasina aided the victims who were protesting the artificial fertilizer crisis created by the BNP government. Police opened fire to the protesters and 18 peasants were killed.
Government of Consensus 1996-2001:
On 23rd June of 1996, Sheikh Hasina assumed office for the Prime Minister for the first time. On December 12, 1996 Sheikh Hasina signed 30 years Ganges Water Treaty with India. On December 2, 1997, Sheikh Hasina ended 25 year long insurgency in Chittagong Hill Tracts by signing a peace accord with Parbatyo Chattagram Jono Shonghoti Samiti.
Shattered Democracy 2001-2006:
BNP-Jamat alliance formed government after a massively engineered election held on October 1st, 2001. Sheikh Hasina became leader of the opposition again. Suppression and tyranny of BNP government started from the beginning of their rule. It gave birth to religious extremism and hatred against the minorities. This government ran a steamroller of carnage on Awami League activists. On August 21st, 2004, government-backed terrorists attacked in Awami League’s meeting which killed many Awami League activists. Former minister Shah A.M.S Kibria and Ahsanullah Master were also killed by terrorists. After the attack, Sheikh Hasina aided the families who lost their family members in the attack. She remained vocal throughout the time against the tyranny of BNP-Jamat government.
Two years of darkness, 2006-2008:
After the tyrannical period of BNP-Jamat, caretaker government came into power. CTG tried to eliminate Sheikh Hasina from leadership of Awami league. It put banal on her return from from a visit to USA. But it backed down due to huge protest by her supporters. Caretaker government also put some false allegation on Sheikh Hasina and tried to raise hatred among the people towards Awami league. On July 16, 2007, government arrested her and put false charges of extortion during her tenure.
Rebirth of Democracy, election of 2008:
Awami league came into power again with peoples mandate at the end of 2008. With a landslide victory, Awami League president Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the second time. Domestic and international observers declared this election as a free, fair and credible election.