by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Sheikh Russel, the youngest son of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the greatest Bengali nation of all time, was brutally murdered on 15 August 1975 along with the Father of the Nation and Bangamata Sheikh Fojilatunnesa Mujib, wife of Bangabandhu and others. This brutal assassination of the infant Sheikh Russel has further tarnished the stigmatized black night of August 15, 1975.

According to the decision, Sheikh Russel Day is to be observed on October 18 each year as the Cabinet meeting has already approved a proposal on it. Sheikh Russel Day would be observed to mark the birthday of the youngest son of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Sheikh Russel was a very dear child of his mother and was blessed with the affection of all.

Sheikh Russel was born on 18 October 1964. His memory will be immortalized among the children and adolescents in the hope of establishing the future leaders of Bangladesh and the present generation of students as citizens of developed Bangladesh by celebrating “Sheikh Russel Day” on October 18 every year.

Recalling Sheikh Russel from the book written by Prime Minister and Bangabandhu, State Minister of ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak said, “We want to present to every child and youth in Bangladesh the true history of the Liberation War, the struggling life of Sheikh Russel and his tragic assassination”.

He said, “We are very happy and grateful that the Prime Minister has decided to declare 18th October every year as ‘Sheikh Russel Day’ as ‘KA’ class day in the Cabinet meeting held on 23rd August 2021”.

“One of the purposes of this day is to showcase the life and childhood of Sheikh Russel to millions of children, adolescents and young people in our country”, the state minister said.

With utter dismay, we have seen how the observance of the birth anniversaries of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa had missed the attention of the international community mostly due to our lack of efforts. Except for several articles written by me and published by a number of international media, there had been sadly no coverage of these important occasions worldwide. Shall we see the reputation of a similar lack of initiatives on Sheikh Russel Day? Will our missions in various countries please take immediate steps in getting special articles on Bangabandhu’s youngest son published on Sheikh Russel Day? Can they at least make a difference this time?

Observing Sheikh Russel Day and getting it covered in the international media in a big way is important for many reasons. It will let the world know, how the cruel killers had murdered a child on August 15, 1975. This may help in waking up conscience within the international community, particularly those nations who have been providing shelter to the self-proclaimed killers of Bangabandhu, his family members, including Sheikh Russel. It may also help us in creating international opinion in favour of getting those self-proclaimed killers immediately extradited to Bangladesh.

Our foreign missions must take timely initiatives in getting international coverage of such important occasions. However, their persistent failure in doing so naturally raises questions about the level of commitment of our foreign missions. If the foreign missions fail in establishing rapport with the international media, they should hire internationally acclaimed writers who are regularly published in the international media, so that Bangladesh gets the international attention that it has deserved for a long time. While Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is tirelessly demonstrating her dexterity in nation-building, our foreign missions are failing, again and again, in liaising with the international media which is one of the reasons for our failure in building up international opinion on the Rohingya issue, for example. Our government must ensure that the achievements of Sheikh Hasina do not get lost in inconspicuous columns of our local newspapers. If we fail Sheikh Hasina, we will, once again, fail as a nation, just as we had failed once on 15th August of 1975. And a nation that fails twice has a very rugged path ahead.

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About the writer:

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Weekly Blitz. Follow him on Twitter @salah_shoaib