A. K. Fazlul Huq

26 Oct 1873
27 Apr 1962
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Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq (Urdu: ابوالقاسم فضل الحق‎;Bengali: আবুল কাশেম ফজলুল হক; 26 October 1873—27 April 1962);popular with the title Sher-e-Bangla (Lion of Bengal), was the first to advocate and present the Lahore Resolution, which called for the creation of sovereign Muslim-majority states in eastern and northwestern British India in 1940.In 1943 he was elected Prime Minister of Bengal during the British Empire in Bengal.A distinguished lawyer and advocate, he served as General Secretary of the Indian National Congress; and was a working committee member of the All-India Muslim League. In 1929, he founded the Krishak Praja Party (K.P. P.). After the independence of the two states Dominion of Pakistan and Dominion of India, he moved to Pakistan and led the United Front government in East Pakistan, serving as Chief Minister and Governor. He later served as central minister of home affairs, food and agriculture. A lifelong Bangla nationalist, he is regarded as one of the fore running leaders in the independence of Pakistan. He established the Bengali Academy in Dacca. Huq died in 1962 and was buried on the grounds of Ramna Park in Shahbag.

Huq was born in Saturia village, located in Jhalokati District in Barisal Division, Bangladesh. He passed the Entrance examination in 1890 from Barisal Zilla School and the FA Examination in 1892. He then obtained a BA degree (with triple Honours in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics) from Presidency College.Then he got admitted in MA in English at Calcutta University. Just six months before the final exam, a friend of him teased that, Muslims are weak in Mathematics and that’s why he is also studying English. Huq opposed it strongly and challenged his friend that he will sit for Mathematics exam instead of English. With special permission to attend the exam he passed the Master of Arts in Mathematics from Calcutta University with distinction. His formal education was completed with a BL degree in 1897 from the University Law College. He was the second Muslim in the South Asian sub-continent to obtain a law degree

After the Partition of Bengal in 1905, A. K. Fazlul Huq emerged as a leader and advocate of the Muslim community of Bengal.Huq was involved in the formation of the All-India Muslim League in Dhaka on 1906. He joined the Bengal Legislative assembly in 1913. After being alienated from the Congress party where he served as its general secretary in 1916–1918, it was up to the Muslims to nominate a mayor in Calcutta. He was involved with the Khilafat Movement and presided over the first all India Khilafat Conference held in Delhi. In 1929, he launched the Nikhil Proja Samiti. In 1935, with the backing of Congress, he was elected mayor of Calcutta, the first Muslim mayor of Calcutta.He helped establish many educational institutions for Muslims which made him popular among the middle class. His politics was described by academic Joya Chatterji as “Unique blend of secular nationalism, Bengali patriotism and Muslim populism”. He campaigned for the rights of peasant Muslims and against the zamindari system. His view was that both Muslim and Hindu zamindars (landlords) had been harmful for the Muslim peasant farmers.

In 1937 elections took place in British India. A year before that he had converted the Nikhil Proja Samiti to Krishak Praja Party (K.P.P.). Meanwhile, Muhammad Ali Jinnah nominated him to the Muslim League Central Parliamentary Board (C.P.B.) but Huq refused to dissolve his own party citing its bi-communal composition, thus terminating his alliance with the League. When elections were held he successfully challenged Khwaja Nazimuddin for his seat. The K.P.P. won 35 seats. Despite his bitter fight with the League which had won 40 seats, the K.P.P. entered into an alliance with it. The Europeans (25), the Independent Scheduled Castes (23) and the Independent Caste Hindus (14) lent support to the alliance. As a result, Huq was appointed the Premier of Bengal.

His reign was unstable as it was marred by controversies. In 1938, the Independent Scheduled Castes seceded and the K.P.P. slowly started disintegrating. He also moved the famous Lahore Resolution in 1940 which increased communal tensions. He moved the Lahore Resolution, drafted by Sir Zafrulla Khan, of 1940 that established Muslim League’s demand for a homeland for Muslims; that ultimately resulted in the nation of Pakistan.In 1941, The Viceroy of India, Victor Alexander John Hope, 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow nominated him to the Defense Council but Muhammad Ali Jinnah who headed the All-India Muslim League asked him to resign. He obeyed but, to demonstrate his unhappiness, resigned from the League Working Committee and the All-India Muslim League.As a result of Huq’s reluctance to obey, the League ministers resigned.

In the early 1940s, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League conducted a public campaign against Huq. He was accused of being a traitor and working against the interests of Bengali Muslims. This harmed Muslim unity in East Bengal and damaged Huq’s reputation. In 1945, he contested elections successfully on two seats. But his party was trounced badly by the All India Muslim League. In 1947, he joined the League campaign to include Calcutta in Pakistan. The other prominent supporters included Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Sarat Chandra Bose. The opposition of the Congress, however, ensured a partition of the province. Later on he accused Jinnah of not working hard enough for the cause.

He became Chief Minister of Bengal in 1952. He was involved in the Bengali language movement and was injured in police action.In 1954 Sher-e-Bangla, Hussein Shaheed Suhrawardy and Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani lead the United Front to an election victory in East Pakistan over the Muslim League.The United Front faced controversy over two of its demands. These were “the recognition of Bangla as a national language along with Urdu” and “autonomy for East Pakistan”. New York Times columnist John P. Callaghan published a story which said that Huq wanted independence and not autonomy for East Pakistan. Huq denied it completely. He suggested the Pakistan Army headquarters could be kept in West Pakistan while the Naval headquarters should be moved to East Bengal. The National Government should be in charge of only defense, foreign policy and currency. Ethnic rioting broke out in Adamjee Jute Mills in Narayanganj between Bengali workers and non-Bengali management. As a result of this rioting Governor General of Pakistan dismissed the East Bengal government. In 1955, he was Home Minister of Pakistan and, from 1956 to 1958, Governor of East Pakistan.As governor he asked Abu Hussain Sarkar who was deputy of his own Krishak Sramik Party to form the government but Sarkar failed to get the budget approved in the provincial assembly. With no option left Huq asked Ataur Rahman Khan of Awami League to form the Government. After a short while, Huq dissolved Khan’s government and asked Sarkar to form a new government. Observing this instability, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, the Prime Minister of Pakistan advised president Iskander Mirza to sack Huq and replace him with Sultanuddin Ahmad, an Awami Leagu leader

He was married three times. His first wife was Khurshid Begum with whom he had two daughters. The marriage ended in divorce. His second wife was Musammat Jannatunissa Begum who was from Howrah, West Bengal. They had no children. His third wife Khadija was from Meerut district, Uttar Pradesh. They had a son together, A. K. Faezul Huq, who played an active role in Bangladeshi politics

Sher-e-Bangla founded several educational and technical institutions for Bengali Muslims, including Islamia College in Calcutta, Baker hostel and Carmichael hostel residence halls for Muslim students of the University of Calcutta, Lady Brabourne College, Adina Fazlul Huq College in Rajshahi, Eliot hostel, Tyler Hostel, Medical College hostel, Engineering College hostel, Muslim Institute Building, Dhaka Eden Girls’ College Building, Fazlul Huq College at Chakhar, Fazlul Huq Hall (Dhaka University), Sher-E-Bangla Hall (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU) Dhaka-1207, Bulbul Music Academy and Central Women’s’ College. Sher-e-Bangla had significant contribution for founding the leading university of Bangladesh: Dhaka University. During his premiership Bangla Academy was founded and Bengali New Year’s Day (Pohela Baishakh) was declared a public holiday.

Throughout Bangladesh, educational institutions (e.g., Barisal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College), roads, neighbourhoods (Sher-e-Bangla Nagor), and stadiums (Sher-e-Bangla Mirpur Stadium) have been named after him. This depicts the respect of the people for Sher-e-Bangla. Fazlul Huq’s only son, A. K. Faezul Huq, was a Bangladeshi politician. Islamabad’s A.K.M. Fazl-ul-Haq Road is named after him.

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