Enigmatic person and politician, who influenced the passage of Bangladesh, Serajul Alam Khan, -dada to most- passed away aged 82 years. It was a long life but in the last few years of his life he had been ailing and politically less active.

Books had been written about him particularly by Shamsuddin Ahmed and Mohiuddin Ahmed and both were best sellers. It showed that despite his absence from active political life he continued to be alive in the public mind. It was not only what he had done that people remembered but what they didn't fully know about him. No doubt that the reasons behind calling him the "mystery man" of Bangladesh politics were justified.

The politics of the radicalized middle class

The person and the political cluster he was most influential grew after 1958 when politics of the middle class began to grow more radical vis a vis its relationship with central Pakistan. The period from 1947 to 1958 made it obvious that the artificial state of Pakistan could not survive. The organic limitations of the Pakistan state was clear to all and the imposition of the 1958 martial law by Ayub Khan made it even more clear.

From then on, many groups and clusters began to initiate activities to make "East Pakistan" independent. "East Bengal Liberation Party" is well known and others were active too. The "Inner Group" which was active from before August 1947 continued their activities too. It was through this group's assistance that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman went to India but was disappointed by India's attitude and subsequently focused on public agitation as a facilitator of national politics.

It was in this turbulent 60s that Serajul Alam Khan set up the "Nucleus", a secret cell within the leading party Awami League's student and youth wing to promote an independent state. He drew many young souls to it and became a cult figure of sorts. Many called him "kapalik", the name heightening his mystery and stature. There is no doubt that he enjoyed prestige and respect within all the layers of the party and leadership. He became the thought-leader of the Leftists within the centrist Awami League's younger edition.

While his followers have attributed credit of many actions by the national leadership to him during the March 1971 days and they have been contested as well, suffice to say that, he was a major factor that deserves to be taken into cognizance in constructing the history of that period.

The 1971 period and after

During 1971, he had his differences with the political leadership of Muibnagar as various statements show. This led him and Sheikh. Moni who was the Jubo League leader to work together and become leaders of the Bangladesh Liberation Forces (BLF). This armed group of young activists known as the "Mujib Bahini" was not under the direct control of the Mujibnagar government. It was led by Indian army officer Gen. Uban and the episode is described in the book, "The Phantoms of Chittagong". While conflict existed within the Bangladeshis forces in exile, the common enemy of all forces was Pakistan including the BLF.

Post 1971 and later

After independence, the loyalists of Serjaul Alam Khan formed the Jatio Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) led by ASM Rab and ex sector commander Maj. Jalil, who had been arrested for protesting the actions of the Indian army after 1971. Their slogan was "Scientific Socialism" and very soon it became the major political opposition party in Bangladesh.

However in 1974, its programme became confrontational which led to a crackdown by the AL government and incarceration for many leaders. Soon after, Gono Bahini was formed by the radicals in the party to promote armed activism. There were conflicts with state law enforcement members as a result of this.

Subsequently, the party and activists particularly those in league with Col. Taher were arrested for their involvement with the Nov 7 coup of 1975. SAK was tried and sentenced to jail by the military court.

Although he was active with the JSD later, the party broke into factions and became less impactful than before. His political life was also less active. But his role and influence on Bangladesh politics particularly the 1960s and 70s decade including the independence movement are beyond question. May he Rest in Peace.

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