Kayhan International (Iran)

August 01 1971

The decline and fall of Sheikh Mujib

By Amir Taheri

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In the middle of Dacca’s fashionable Dhanmandi district there is a pale yellow three-storied building which is said to be haunted by ghosts in the dark nights of the monsoon. Most of the windows are broken and there are bullet marks on almost every wall. The wild ivy pursues its green conquest of the mud-brick walls encouraged by generous rain. Amid the thick leaves of the old trees there are soaked little slogans saying: Joy Bangla (Long Live Bengal).

People who pass from the street on which the houses are situated make sure to keep their distance from this badly designed semi-Georgian house that has already been shrouded into legend.

The house belongs to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the gaoled leader of the Awami League whose meteoric rise to popularity and his equally sudden decline and fall have become something of a dream mixed with hints of nightmare to the millions of people who were stirred up to hysteria by his fiery speeches over no more than a year.

In the modest room that was Mujib’s house we found a pile of letters still unopened—invitations to weddings,, requests for this or that and page after page of, for us, undecipherable Bengali scribblings. All the letters had arrived at the house in mid-March but the Sheikh, who was arrested on March 26, had no time to open them.

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