11th June is observed as Awami League president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s `Release Day from Jail`. Hasina was released on an executive order of the then caretaker government on this day in 2008, following her about 10 months and 25 days of imprisonment. She was arrested on July 16, 2007 from her Sudha Sadan residence in a fabricated graft case filed during the military-controlled caretaker government as a part of the minus formula. Before getting arrested, she was persuaded to leave the country too. But because of her firm position, she had to go to jail. During that hostile period, the top leaders of AL remained surprisingly silent. The grassroots have always performed duty as a friend in need for the AL president. 1/11 was also no exception. The top leaders conspired against Sheikh Hasina to minus her from the politics. In this context she was imprisoned. At that time many true friends of Sheikh Hasina have played a significant role creating mass uprising internationally to release her. Undoubtedly, Sheikh Hasina is indebted to them. Let’s take a look on those friends of AL president who performed a loyal duty from various fields.
Advocate Sahara Khatun was among the lawyers Sheikh Hasina had chosen on the day of her arrest. After getting her call Sahara Khatun rushed to Sudha Sadan and went to the court following AL president’s car. She was the first lawyer in legal proceedings of this case. Sahara Khatun later created a lawyers’ panel later including Advocate Qamrul Islam and Barrister Shafique Ahmed. Apart from them Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh was appointed through Sheikh Hasina`s personal initiative to supervise the legal aspects of the case. This panel energized public opinion in favor of Sheikh Hasina. They proved that the cases were fabricated to harass Sheikh Hasina as a part of political vengeance.
Although the Awami League got divided, the role of some political leaders in keeping the Awami League united under Sheikh Hasina`s leadership is undeniable. Because of them, Awami League was saved from division at that time and Sheikh Hasina`s leadership was established. Although grassroots remained united in this case, the central leadership got divided. Former president Zillur Rahman was among those central leaders who stood by Sheikh Hasina going against the division and encouraged the grassroots to support her. Zillur Rahman was given the responsibility of the party’s acting president in absence of Sheikh Hasina. He should be credited to save AL from certain collapse. Late Sayed Ashraful Islam played a significant role at that time as the acting general secretary of AL. Matia Chowdhury also played an important role in keeping Awami League united.
The demand of Sheikh Hasina’s release started from the doctors. The doctors first demanded to send AL president abroad for better treatment. Prominent eye specialist Syed Modasser Ali made the first move in this case. After meeting Sheikh Hasina from the central jail, he suggested taking her abroad stating about her severe illness.
Not only that, he alone took the position of the opposition to the then chief adviser demanding Sheikh Hasina’s better treatment and release. Syed Modasser Ali later encouraged other doctors to treat Sheikh Hasina. The doctors who came forward were Dr. Shah Alam, Dr. Shahla Khatun and Dr. Pran Gopal Datta. They signed the memorandum on Syed Modasser Ali’s words.
Sheikh Hasina’s release is not an outcome of any movement rather a sign of compromise. Some close people of AL president played a very important role in this compromise despite the failure of the top leaders. Prime Minister`s current political advisor HT Imam and his son Tanveer Imam were among them. They held several negotiation meetings with the influential army officials. Besides, Gowher Rizvi secretly played an important role in the compromise process too. He used the advantage of his unfamiliar face in politics and came to a negotiation with the then army-backed government.
Only national mass movement was not sufficient to release Sheikh Hasina, international intervention was a must. The then Indian foreign minister, later the president and the Congress leader, Pranab Mukherjee played a significant role in building international consensus. Army-backed government was under pressure due to Pranab Mukherjee`s intervention. Pranab Mukherjee was supported by then British PM Gordon Brown.
On June 11, Sheikh Hasina was released due to these effective initiatives. It is seen that Sheikh Hasina is surrounded by a trustworthy and powerful circle apart from the political backup, who stood by her during her miserable days. She started a new journey again becoming the prime minister of Bangladesh after winning the 2008`s elections.