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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2620

Reminiscence of Revolutionary Leader Phani Bhusan Majumder (1902-1981)

By Rabindranath Trivedi
Dhaka , 02 November,( ):

Today is the 33rd death anniversary of late celebrated revolutionary Phani Bhushan Majumder. Phani Bhusan Majumder (1901-1981), was born in 1901 at Sendia m Madaripur under greater Faridpur district, he had his early education at Madaripur High School and graduated from Vidyasaagar College , Calcutta. He also studied law at Ripon College, Calcutta. He joined the revolutionary party in 1919. He was arrested in 1930 and released in 1938. He was arrested in 1940 and released in 1946 and again detained in 1948. He was a nephew of All India National Congress President Roy Bahadur Ambika Charan Majumder, the founder of Faridpur Rajendra College.

Mr. Majumder, a bachelor and devoted patriot, was also imprisoned in 1950 with Bangabandhu and was released after one year from Faridpur Jail. He was elected to the East Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1954. He was arrested under 92A. During Ayub regime, he was arrested twice in 1958 and released in 1962 and again arrested in 1965 and released in 1969. He had to bear 32 years in jail.

He was a charming, loveable and amicable personality but a steel-nerved leader. He was very close to Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi during the War of liberation. Mr. Phani Majumder was elected to the Provincial Assembly (MPA) in 1954 on United Front ticket and 1970 on Awami League ticket. In April 1971 he joined his other colleagues at Mujibnagar. He was the Chairman of Jessore/Faridpur Mukta Administrative Zone. He was a member of delegation who lobbied Bangladesh cause in the UN in September 1971. In 1972, he served as minister for food and civil supplies in the first cabinet of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He died on 31 October 1981.

I am fortunate that I had the occasions to witness the swearing-in ceremony of the First Revolutionary Government of Bangladesh and distribute the Bengali version of stenciled copies of proclamation of Independence among the members of press at Mujibnagar on April 17, 971. Abdur Rab Serniabat MNA and Phani Majumder MPA were present and participated on the occasion.

On 10th April 1971, at Faridpur, we had a closed door meeting at district Dakbunlow where among others all Member of National and Provincial Assembly elected in December 1970 including K M Obaidur Rahman MNA , Imamuddin Ahmed MPA, Adv Musharref Hossain MPA, Gour Chandra Bala MPA and Abdur Rab Serniabat, MNA , Advocate Yousuf Humayun ( Bhola ) and Asmat Ali Khan ( Madaripur) were present. After the closed door sitting with the other district AL leaders of Faridpur,as per decision I along with Sri Phani Majumder, MPA ,Abdur Rab Serniabad and Advocate Yousuf Humayun ( Bhola ) left for Mujibnagar to talk to Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed for guidance for next course of operation just three days before on April 14.

That journey to cross the border and entry into India was full of events; we had to pass a dark rainy night at Magura Primary shool. We could not contact Asaduzzaman MPA and Sohrab Hossain MNA but S A Siddique (Baby Bhai) helped us a lot, he arranged our passage, we had to travel a long way from Jhenaidaha to Chuadanga by rickshaw, keeping these two old prominent leaders hiding like village bridal party. Exchange of fire was heard between Bangladesh AL workers, police, and students, Ansar, defected-from EPR and Pak-Army stationed in Jessore cantonment near Barobazar. JKAbdul Aziz, MPA (PE-80, Jessore –III, Jhenaidah), and ABM Golam Majid, MPA, ( PE-79, Jessore –II, Jhenaidah), of Jhenaidah helped us.

On the way at Haldanibazar, I found my brother-in-law Debaprasad Roy @ Lalbabu (Palton), an Awami League activist and told him not to disclose our identity to anybody till we reached Mujibnagar. But he managed to come down West Bengal along with his wife Arati and a year old baby son Bappi in following week in April 1971. We rushed hurrily to reach Chuadanga where Major Jalil was not found then, we were told he would not be there for a week. Capt. Haidar (died on 7 Nov.1975) asked me to leave the place immediately as Pakistan army convoys were approaching that way.

“Finding no other alternatives we moved towards the setting sun's west directed muddy way to reach Krishnanagar. Night approached, hunger started its marching songs, but the only consolation was that we are beyond their firing range.

A watcher followed us. I told him, 'Please don't spoil us, you live and let us live'. He simply asked me, “Who are they?”

Then I asked, “Who are you?” He did not reply, told us to follow him. He put us in a chamber of union parishad. Sarwar Molla, a close disciple of Mr. Majumder (later joined Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Ambassador to Vietnam, joined BNP) and Advocate Yousuf Hossain Humayun bhai of Bhola (Advocate Supreme Court, presently member, Awami League presidium) had a chat with him.

The Chairman was a nice soul; he entertained us as invited guests. We ate to our heart's content after a 2-day long hunger. The following day, 31 Chaitra, 1377 BS-Chaitra Sankranti-the last day of the Bengali year, 14th April '71, we crossed the border to Krishnanagar.But there was an emotional incident. There is a small canal between the borders.

While crossing the canal, the 70-year old revolutionary leader, who had passed 28 years in the British and Pakistani prisons, Phani Majumder was touching the soil of Bangladesh side weeping like a baby, applying the soil to the forehead, saying, "Since my arrest in connection with the Chittagong armory case in 1937, I did not visit Calcutta, I did not leave you 'my motherland!' If I cannot come back 'O my mother' as Maharaj Trailaksha Chakraborty could not, this would be my last blessing sign on my forehead in the last journey.” We were all sobbing and I was humming Tagore's song: "O, soil of my motherland, I bow to thy feet.”

It may be recalled that on 14 April 1941, the Bengali New Year, Rabindranath Tagore's final testament was read out at Shantiniketan in his presence. Rabindranath was too weak to read it himself. Its title was "Shabhyatar shankat" (Crisis in Civilization). Tagore concluded the address: "Perhaps the dawn will come from this horizon, from the East where the sun rises. A day will come when unvanquished Man will retrace his path of conquest, despite all barriers, to win back his lost human heritage."

Bangladesh is the dawn of the horizon of Tagore, where the sun is the symbol of life in the national flag., as the ‘Gayetry mantra’ in Vedas-the source of life and knowledge" Who does not know that the Bengal's sky is softer, the groves and meadows more green, the sun is more golden, the moonlit night more silvery, the south-wind more wistful and the waters in the rivers sweeter, because of the presentation by this great wizard with his magic spell over them.' So, "My golden Bengal I love thee" becomes the National Anthem of People's Republic of Bangladesh.

We could not return, later I joined the government in April. Home Minister Kamaruzaman asked me to work with him. The ten million Bengali refugees were stranded in inhuman, pitiable conditions in 825 Indian camps across the border in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It may be recalled that a joint command of the Indian army and the Mukti Bahini was secretly formed in October 1971.

Phanibhushan Majumdar was the chairman of the regional council for south-western region-2 (Jessore-Faridpur) during the liberation war of 1971. He visited different regions of India to create public opinion in favour of independent Bangladesh, and had an occasion to speak in the Indian Parliament (Loka Sabha).

Phanibhushan Majumdar was included in the cabinet of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972 in charge of the Ministry of Food. He was elected a member of the Jatiya Sangsad in 1973 as a candidate of Awami League and once again was included in the cabinet as Food Minister. Later, he was given the charge of the Ministry of Land Administration and Land Reforms.

The assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975 came as a severe blow to Awami League that led the country's Liberation War in 1971.

Following the cataclysmic event, many top and mid-level AL leaders either fled the country or went into hiding. Some were detained and tortured or forced to back the new regime installed by the killers of Bangabandhu and his family members.

He was the minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives in the cabinet of Khondakar Mostaq Ahmad. He was arrested in the martial law regime in 1977. Majumdar was elected a member of the Jatiya Sangsad in 1979 as a candidate of Awami League. He was a member of the presidium of the Awami League. He died on 31 October 1981.

Rabindranath Trivedi is a Former Public Relations Officer, Freedom Fighter, Founder member of Bangladesh Secretariat in Mujibnagar in April 1971, Retired Additional Secretary, GoB . Former Press secretary to the President of Bangladesh (1999-2001); Addl Press Secretary to the Prime Minister (1997-1999).

- Asian Tribune –

Phani Bhusan Majumder
Leaders and intellectuals condoled the death of Phani Bhusan Majumder
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