Diaries of Tajuddin Ahmad

Last updated: 10 October 2017 From the section Tajuddin Ahmad

Tajuddin Ahmad was a keen historian and documented the events which occurred during his time. From the late 1940s Tajuddin kept diaries where he recorded things, in English, that happened on that particular day, for example where he went, whom he met, where meeting took place, who was present, etc. He recorded everything.

His handwriting, whether English or Bengali was excellent. [His diaries] Written with a fountain pen, leaving no stray mark in sight.

Another interesting thing was when he woke up in the morning he would write at the beginning. Another thing that he never missed was weather.

Simeen Hussain Rimi

Great historical record - diaries referenced for Bhasha Andolon research

Tajuddin Ahmad wrote daily journals and notes till his death in 1975. His diaries are a great historical resource and is a window to the thought process that brought young Tajuddin to politics and led him towards a left-leaning nationalist ideology.

The diaries were invaluable for historical research. In January 1947 he wrote about Mahatma Gandha's assassination and in February 1950 he wrote his reaction on the Hindu-Muslim communal violence and his efforts to restore peace and harmony between the two communities.

When famous Bengali political researcher and author Badruddin Umar was conducting his mammoth research on the Language Movement he took some of the journals and diaries of Tajuddin Ahmad. These covered parts of 1947, 1948 and 1949 and whole of 1950, 1951 and 1952. Badruddin Umar used to information to write his groundbreaking book 'Purbo Banglar Bhasha Andolon o Totkaleen Rajneeti' (Language Movement and Contemporary Politics in East Bengal) in two volumes which were published by Mawla Brothers in 1969 and 1975. Badruddin Umar also referenced significant portion of Tajuddin diaries to write the book 'Bhasa Andolon Prashanga: Katipay Dalil' (The Documents in Context of the Language Movement) in three volumes which were published by the Bangla Academy in 1984.

As a civil servant, I had the occasion to see Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed from close quarters, in Dhaka as well as in London, where I served as the Deputy High Commissioner.

Had he been alive today, even with the achievements he would have most certainly had to his credit, I do not think he would have "celebrated" his birthday, in any public manner. We have admittedly only circumstantial evidence to go by, but the one I refer to, I think is a conclusive one. In the two volumes of his published diary of 1947-1948 and 1949-1950 (Papiras, July 1999 and February 2000 respectively), against his daily diary entries recorded on Wednesday 23 July 1947 and Sunday 23 July 1950 (there are alas no 23 July entries for 1948 and 1949), there is no mention whatsoever of his birthday.

On 23 July 1947 (three weeks before the birth of Pakistan), besides recounting his daily activities, the better part of his day was apparently spent on discussing student politics with a close friend. On 23 July 1950, his primary concern, ironically in contrast to the flood of July this year, was the lack of, "significant rainfall... which was essential for a good crop." In his published diary he appears as a politically conscious, perceptive, and knowledgeable young man in a hurry, who clearly did not have the time to write too much about himself.

Here I cannot help recall his 4 January 1948 entry, (on that day I turned 14, but he had, of course, no reason to mention this!) - a day when he rises at 3:30 a.m. and studies from 3:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and from 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and in the afternoon in the "party meeting" (which party, I know not) he proposed, "(I) that we should put forward our programme appealing to reasons only - in no way we will try prove it by Scripture, and (II) we shall recant all antithesis put forward by Ulemas by Scripture, no more than that."

Incidentally, Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, who kept his diary in English was a brilliant student, a scholarship holder, and knew the Holy Quran by heart (hafiz). On that busy day of 4 January 1948 he went to bed at 8:00 p.m. but had the time to mention that Burma had on that day become independent! As he went early to bed he would have hardly known of the central role he would be called upon to play twenty-two years later in the creation of Bangladesh, Burma's immediate neighbour.

Faruq Choudhury, a former civil servant (2004)

General Secretary of newly formed Awami League party and MLA of Jukta Front

The 1940s and 1950s saw the emergence of Muslim middle class in India and Pakistan. Educated youths soon realised that Muslim League was a party of the Nawabs and feudals and that their progressive and middle class aspirations couldn't be fulfilled by this party. A trend began to develop among Bengali Muslim youths who were not communal and believed in secularism in politics. Some of them abandoned politics, whilst others aligned themselves with leftist parties such as the Communist Party. Tajuddin Ahmad did neither. He neither joined the Communist Party nor remained in the Muslim League. He was looking for some alternatives.

Maulana Bhashani and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy form 'East Pakistan Awami Muslim League' with Sheikh Mujib in prominent role

As the political crisis deepened in East Pakistan and the economic situation deteriorated, frustrated Bengalis and former Muslim Leaguers came together to form the "East Pakistan Awami Muslim League" (popularly shortened to 'Awami Muslim League', People's Muslim League) on 23 June 1949 at the East Pakistan Muslim League Workers Convention held at the Rose Garden, Dhaka. It was founded by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was 29-years at the time. Tajuddin Ahmad too played an important role in the creation of Awami League party. They were all former members of the Muslim League. Maulana Bhashani, the former President of the Assam Provincial Muslim League, was elected as the President of the party, whilst Ataur Rahman Khan was appointed Vice-President, Shamsul Huq as General Secretary, Sheikh Mujib as Joint Secretary, and Khandakar Moshtaq Ahmad as Assistant Secretary.

In 1953, while still a 28-year-old undergraduate at DU, Tajuddin was appointed General Secretary of Dhaka District Awami League. He stayed in that position for the next four years and continued his lifelong association with the party and became an integral part of the nation's history.

Elected MLA representing Jukta Front and travel to USA and UK

Due to political activism Tajuddin's regular student life was affected to some extent. Tajuddin became a full-time political activist but still managed to pass with honours in Economics from Dhaka University in 1954 and later his degree in law in 1964.

In 1954, the recently graduated Tajuddin stood in the Provincial Election as a candidate of the Jukta (United) Front which was headed by his childhood heroes Maulana Bhashani, Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Haque, and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. The anti-Muslim League coalition of the Bengali trio enthused people greatly and in the subsequent election the Muslim League was routed in East Bengal. Tajuddin successfully defeated his heavy weight opponent Fakir Abdul Mannan, then General Secretary of the East Pakistan Muslim League, in his local Kapasia seat by a wide margin and was elected MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly). He became the youngest member of the parliament. Sheikh Mujib too swept aside his Muslim League opponent Wahiduzzaman in the Gopalganj constituency to join Tajuddin and others in the East Bengal Assembly. However, even though they won an overwhelming victory, the Pakistan ruling clique didn't allow the Jukta Front coalition to stay long in power. The following year Tajuddin was elected Social Welfare and Cultural Secretary of Awami League. From this moment onward he was arrested under various pretexts.

In 1958 Tajuddin visited the United States as a State guest. This was followed by a visit to the United Kingdom. In the meantime, his personal life was also changing. He got married to Syeda Zohra Khatun in 1959, but politics gave him little chance to live a family life.