Serajul Alam Khan masterminded independence, claims Abdur Rab

Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal ideologue Serajul Alam Khan is the “mastermind” of Bangladesh’s struggle for independence from Pakistan, JSD President ASM Abdur Rab has claimed.

His assertion came at a discussion at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Friday, which was organised to mark the hoisting of the national flag for the first time.

It was Rab, then the vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union or DUCSU, who raised the flag on the campus on Mar 2, 1971, when Bengalis’ movement for independence peaked weeks before the beginning of the Liberation War.

Serajul Alam Khan planned and initiated the making of the national flag, hoisting it on Mar 2, the unveiling of the Manifesto of Independence on Mar 3, Bangabandhu’s Mar 7 speech, and Bangabandhu’s title, Rab said.

“Won’t we remember that man? Won’t he be valued in history?” the JSD chief asked.   

Chhatra League leader Serajul, Abdur Razzaq, and Kazi Aref Ahmed formed a network called ‘Nucleus’ in the early 60s to push for Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan. The student leaders were very close to Bangabandhu.

Soon after the creation of Bangladesh, Chhatra League suffered a split following differences with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s nephew Sheikh Fazlul Haque Mani.

The splinter group became JaSoD in 1972 under the leadership of Serajul.

Rab was the founding general secretary of the political party.

Serajul never held any top post of any political party, but became known as the mentor of the JaSoD leaders.

The 78-year-old resides in the US now.

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Demanding recognition of Serajul’s contribution to Bangladesh’s independence, Rab said, “Bangladesh became independent in 1971. Who formed an impartial Biplabi Swadhin Bangla Parishad (Free Bangla Revolutionary Council) 10 years before that to establish an independent state?”  

“I raised the flag on Mar 2, Shahjahan Siraj read out the Manifesto of Independence on Mar 3, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered the speech on Mar 7, hundreds of thousands of Bengali soldiers, students, youths, workers, farmers, civilians sacrificed their lives in the nine months from the night of Mar 25.

“Who masterminded these? Many of us do not know his name. His name is Serajul Alam Khan,” Rab said. 

The JSD chief also claimed Bangabandhu himself had introduced Serajul as his political adviser to foreign journalists.

Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina, who is now heading the government for the fourth term, however, has in recent years questioned Serajul and his associates’ activities before and after independence.

At programmes marking Bangabandhu’s Mar 7 rally speech last year and in 2017, Hasina criticised Serajul for pushing the Father of the Nation to proclaim independence at the public rally.

The prime minister said Bangabandhu would have been branded a ‘separatist’ in diplomatic circles all across the world and Pakistan would have launched mass killings immediately had he proclaimed independence at the Mar 7 rally.

“Some people offered their advices on the speech, and also talked about it after Bangabandhu delivered it. It can be understood in hindsight and from their post-1975 political activities that they have been involved in a conspiracy all along,” she said last year.