Abdur Rob, better known as Boga Mia, was born on Nov 10, 1916 in the district of Rangpur, where his father was a school inspector during British rule. He died in a car accident 50 years ago – on Feb 25, 1973. He was an Awami League candidate for the Pabna Sadar parliamentary seat when he met with a tragic accident on his way to a campaign meeting.
Boga Mia was a freedom fighter, Liberation War organiser and socio-political activist. He was regarded as one of the most influential figures in Pabna during the 1971 war due to his leadership and organising capabilities. He was the president of the Pabna District Awami League before independence. He united political and civil forces that supported Bangladesh's independence in 1971.
He was a man who always sacrificed his position, wealth and time for the people of this country and for fair politics with a dream to build a nation of solid character. He was involved in politics since the inception of the Awami League under the leadership of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His relationship with the leaders was amicable and built with trust and friendship. He could respectfully communicate with all levels of people and was reachable to everyone. He was commonly known as “Boga Bhai” to all.
Boga Mia’s father, Sabkatuddin Ahmed, worked as an educationalist and was posted in Pabna, Rangpur, Cumilla, Dhaka and Kolkata during his career. He retired as a Divisional School Inspector during the British period and settled in Kolkata. He died in 1948 and was buried in Gobra Cemetery in Kolkata.
Due to his father’s posting, Boga Mia started schooling at Armanitola Government High School and later continued at a convent school in Kolkata. He also studied under the supervision of private teachers for higher studies. After his father’s death, Boga Mia sold his father’s property in Kolkata and moved to Pabna in then East Pakistan and started to think and work towards building a new nation. Soon he became involved with the East Pakistan Awami League as an organiser. Boga Mia actively participated in the Language Movement of 1952 and became the general secretary of the Pabna District Awami League in 1953. He was also a member of the Central Committee of the Awami League. His relationship with the leaders like M Mansur Ali, M Kamaruzzaman, Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, Abdul Malek Ukil, Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury, Zahoor Ahmed Chowdhury, Mullah Jalal, Tofazzal Hossain Manik Miah, Amirul Islam and others was respectful and loving.
He believed in respectful relationships as means of organising party politics and bringing strength to the grassroots. His relationship with leaders of other political parties was also respectful. Boga Mia played a crucial role in Bangabandhu’s Six Point Movement and helped raise awareness among the general public, which ultimately resulted in the mass movement of 1968-1969.
He took part in the “Bhutta Andolan” of Pabna in 1967, against the then-Pakistan government and was on their wanted list in Pabna. Boga Mia won the general election in 1970 as the Awami League candidate from Pabna Sadar and became a Member of the Provincial Assembly. Ever since the election of 1970, Boga Mia maintained constant communication with central Awami League leaders, including Bangabandhu. He organised the Pabna District Awami League, Chhatra League and the masses of the then East Pakistan for an anti-junta movement. All this happened after Bangabandhu’s historic March 7 speech in 1971, which set the momentum for preparing for the Liberation War of Bangladesh. Boga Mia played a key role in the war preparations.
In April 1971, Pabna was liberated for a while and was the first district to establish the rule of Bangladesh as an independent country by order of Bangabandhu’s March 7 declaration. The first rubber stamp was introduced for official purposes, and the treasury or a financial system was introduced by the district commissioner with the political endorsement of Boga Mia. He hoisted the first flag of independent Bangladesh in Pabna to endorse its sovereign rights.
The best quality of Boga Mia was his honesty and love for the people without any worldly interest, and he was utterly free from any urge to show off power, corruption and unlawful activities. Senior leaders relied upon him as a faithful and influential politician. In his lifetime, Boga Mia fought to strengthen truth and displayed sincerity and openness. He truly practised what he preached among the people. Boga Mia took decisions and accepted responsibility for his actions and his words. He made promises and kept those promises. Loving people with all his heart, might, mind, and soul, he strived to help whomever he found in need, leaving a glaring mark of responsible leadership.
[Takir Hossain is a journalist and art critic.]