Chhatra League was born on 4 January 1948. There was a time when there was no organization to speak on behalf of Bengalis. At that time the journey of Chhatra League started at Fazlul Haque Muslim Hall of Dhaka University. Nazmul Karim presided over the first meeting. He was the most meritorious student of that time. He later became a teacher at Dhaka University. A memorial lecture in his name was given at Dhaka University. Bangabandhu used to say, the history of Chhatra League is the history of Bengali nation, the history of Bangladesh. Bangladesh Chhatra League is the owner of this pride and courage of almost seven decades of struggle of Bengali Bangladesh. The birth of student politics on this soil was mainly through a protest rally of the anti-British movement. Lord Carlyle, the British Secretary of Education, announced that those who would join the Swadeshi movement would have their scholarships revoked. In protest, an organization called ‘Anti-Circular Society’ was born in Kolkata, India.
On November 4, 1905, the organization gathered thousands of students in the city of Calcutta. From there, the continuation of student politics started. That time is 116 years from today. The great momentum of student politics in the territory of Bangladesh was transmitted through the birth of East Pakistan Muslim Chhatra League. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a member of the convening committee of the first BCL committee. The founding convener was Nazimuddin Ahmed. In the first meeting there was some debate about the naming of Chhatra League. Some were in favor of omitting the word Muslim. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman could have made the right decision at the right time. He said, that time has not come for us. The establishment of Chhatra League on 15th August, 1946 was a landmark event from the point of view of history. Oli Ahad was one of those who at that time was in favor of eliminating the word Muslim. Later it was proved that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was in the right position. Those who were on the other side were later on the opposite pole, they could not maintain continuity in politics.
After the establishment of Chhatra League on 4th January 1948, the first mother tongue fought for Bengal. The role of Chhatra League in the language movement was unique in the continuity of the movement. The word Muslim was dropped from the name of Chhatra League when an awakening took place in the Bengali nation through the language movement of ’52. Today it is understood that Bangabandhu was waiting for that time.
The East Pakistan Chhatra League played an important role in the 1954 United Front elections. Chhatra League leaders and workers played a leading role in the education movement in 1962. In 1967, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman rushed from one end of Bangladesh to the other to demand the emancipation of the Bengali nation.
In the historic mass uprising of 1969, the then Chhatra League played the role of Vanguard. At that time the student society again formed a violent mass movement in the country and as a result it turned into a mass uprising. Thousands of Chhatra League leaders and activists were martyred in the war of liberation of Bengalis in 1971. Everything is about the glorious history of Chhatra League. It is possible to discuss the extent to which the path of Chhatra League today, after 64 years, has been able to create a positive perception among the masses. The question may arise at times how popular the Bangladesh Chhatra League is today and how much it is playing a role in nation building.
But history says that the leaders and workers of Chhatra League play the right role in the crisis of the nation. At the time of 1/11, when extreme misery was created in Bangladesh, Chhatra League came down to the streets and called for mass movement. The BCL leaders and activists did not return home till the release of Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina and other leaders. Chhatra League led that movement.
The question remains, whether the role of Chhatra League in the language movement of ’52, the Education Commission movement of 1962, the 6-point movement of 1966, the liberation war of Bangladesh and other freedom movements is reflected in the activities of Chhatra League. We have to keep in mind that when a mass organization moves forward with the demands of the people, it is only then that attempts are made to create various confusions. A group can run that activity.
In 1971, we also noticed an attempt to shorten the leaders and workers of Chhatra League, one of the partners in the liberation movement of the Bengali nation. But the leaders and workers of this Chhatra League gave their lives in the liberation war of ’71.
Rhythm sometimes falls in our world of thought. Sometimes we don’t get what we want. It is also true that there is no shortage of people who spread confusion even with the slightest mistake of those who have high expectations. The present BCL leaders have to play a positive role in upholding the ideals of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and in the progress of the country under the leadership of Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina.
Those who want to create division in the organization should be eliminated, strict attention should be paid to prevent them from entering Chhatra League. Meanwhile, the leaders and workers of Chhatra League all over the country have to take care of this. Only then will the organization of the founding anniversary of the 64-year-old organization which was established for the liberation of the country and the nation be successful.
Author: Former leader of Bangladesh Chhatra League and political analyst.