Reasons for army's anger towards Sheikh Mujib

Army's dislike of Sheikh Mujib's pro-India and Soviet Union stance

Bangladesh army officers who were held in West Pakistani jails during the Liberation War of Independence gave Sheikh Mujib their full support in the question of the independence of Bangladesh. But they were in opposition to the pro-Indian sympathy and the support for the Soviet Union which Sheikh Mujib showed. As long as Sheikh Mujib was Bangladesh's Head of State relationship with India remained cordial.

His public expression of gratitude to Indira Gandhi and "the best friends of my people, the people of India" after his release, were not well received by many in politics and the military who were critical of India's excessive influence. The subsequent 25-year treaty of 'Indo-Bangladeshi Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Peace' signed by him and Indira Gandhi (thus also referred to as 'Indira-Mujib Treaty') on 19 March 1972 further antagonised many who sought to distance Bangladesh from India. Issues such as India's late, albeit crucial, entry into the Muktijuddho (officially on 3 December 1971 - eight-and-half months after West Pakistan's attack), the dispute over water resources of the Farakka Barrage (resolved much later in 1996) and India's perceived delayed withdrawal of troops began to diminish the spirit of friendship.

The charge of Mujib's dependence on India was sometimes accompanied by wild allegations against India.

The weekly Hak Katha [Truthful Words] of Maulana Bhasani specialised in preaching that during the period of Awami League rule India looted from Bangladesh a larger amount of resources than the British did in course of 200 years... No opposition party had the honesty to praise India for accelerating the liberation of Bangladesh, and for repairing, at the request of the Awami League government, hundreds of bridges and culverts with extraordinary rapidity... Nor did any opposition party register appreciation for withdrawal of Indian troops from Bangladesh in less than three months...

Mamoon and Ray,

Another bone of contention for these critics was the increasing level of smuggling by neighbouring Indian civilians which resulted from the Sheikh Mujib government's controversial decision to adopt the Indian rupee as an acceptable form of currency within the country even though the 'taka' was in circulation.

By this time Bangladesh was facing a new menace that had almost crippled its already fragile economy. It was smuggling. Tony Hagen, then head of the UN Relief Operation to Dhaka, aptly described the situation to the Sunday Times "Bangladesh is like a bridge suspended in India". Some unscrupulous businessmen and officials smuggled, almost all they could, to the neighbouring country.

According to some reports the smuggling of goods across the border during the first three years cost the country's economy about Tk. 60,000 million. The goods that were smuggled were mostly food-grains, jute and materials imported from abroad. In fact by December 1973, the economy was completely bankrupt, and about 2-billion US dollars of international aid had already been injected to the country's economy.

Some of these "unscrupulous businessmen and office bearers" were Awami Leaguers; and though, the whole party was in no way collectively responsible for the smuggling, Nafia Din (a student of Dhaka University) believes, "Some of their involvement in smuggling and the '25-years treaty' with India gave the Awami League a pro-India label".

Ahmed Hussain, journalist

Sheikh Mujib responded to these criticism by attending in 1974 a summit of Islamic countries held in Lahore and visiting Washington. The visit to Lahore resulted in Pakistan officially recognising Bangladesh as an independent country, three years after its massacre.

Perceived lack of Islam

The army officers were also not in favour of Sheikh Mujib's effort to restrict the role of Islam in national affairs by relegating it to a position of minimal importance. By proclaiming the four fundamental principles of "nationalism, secularism, democracy and socialism", which would come to be known as "Mujibad" (Mujibism), Sheikh Mujib hoped to appeal to the international audience and maintain the goodwill gesture with neighbouring India. Religious-oriented political parties were banned.

However, the people of Bangladesh have a strong attachment to Islam - a fact acknowledged by all rulers and opposition parties who dare criticise Islamic practice and belief at their own risk. In a country where over 90% of the population are Muslim and the belief in Islam is very strong, Sheikh Mujib's commitment to secularism, or non-religion, were disturbing for the intellectuals. Even the leftist secular political parties which consider religion to be an instrument of exploitation, do not make anti-Islamic statement in public.

Government announcement are often sprinkled with references to the establishment of Islamic values, and policies are determined in such a way as not to disturb this sensitive issue.

Ahmed Shafiqul Haque & Muhammad Yeahia Akhter, authors of 'The Ubiquity of Islam: Relgion and society in Bangladesh'

Sheikh Mujib did nevertheless move more closer to Islam through state policies and personal conduct during his later years in power. He revived the Islamic Academy (now Islamic Foundation Bangladesh) (which had been banned in 1972 for suspected collusion with Pakistani forces) and banned the production and sale of alcohol and the practice of gambling, which had been one of the major demands of Islamic groups. Sheikh Mujib also sought Bangladesh's membership in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Islamic Development Bank and made a significant trip to Lahore, Pakistan in 22 February 1974 to att