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Thursday, 4 September 2014

A. K. Fazlul Huq

Sher-e-Bangla / শের-এ-বাংলা / Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq / আবুল কাসেম ফজলুল হক

Prime Minister of Bengal
In office
Governor General :    The Marquess of Linlithgow
Governor:     Michael Knatchbull
                     John Arthur Herbert
Preceded by:     Post created
Succeeded by:     Khawaja Nazimuddin
Chief Minister and Governor of East Pakistan
In office
Governor General:     Ghulam Muhammad
                                     Iskander Mirza
Personal details
Born:     Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq
              October 26, 1873
              Bakerganj District, British Raj (now Jhalokati, Bangladesh)
Died:     Dhaka, East-Pakistan
              April 27, 1962 (aged 88)
Citizenship :    British Subject (1873-1947)
                         Pakistani Subject (1947-1956)
                        Pakistan (1956-1962)
Political party:     Indian National Congress
                             All India Muslim League
                             Agriculturalist Tenant Party
Workers and Agriculturalists Party
Children:     A. K. Faezul Huq
Alma mater:     Calcutta University
Religion:     Islam

Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq (Bengali: আবুল কাসেম ফজলুল হক; October 1873—27 April 1962); popular with the title Sher-e-Bangla (Urdu: شیر بنگاله‎ Tiger of Bengal), was a prominent Bengali statesman in the first half of the 20th century. Throughout his long political career, he held many important political positions- including that of General Secretary of the Indian National Congress (1916-1918), President of the All India Muslim League (1918), the first Muslim Mayor of Calcutta (1935), Prime Minister of undivided Bengal (1937-1943), Chief Minister and Governor of East Pakistan (1954-1955) and Home Minister of Pakistan (1955-1956). He founded the social democratic Agriculturalist Tenant Party in British India, which campaigned for the abolition of the zamindari system set by the permanent settlement; and the economic, political and social emancipation of Bengali Muslims. Huq was one of the first major populist leaders in Muslim world in the last century, and a key figure in the emergence of the modern state of Bangladesh.

Early life

Huq was born to Kazi Muhammad Wajed, from Chakhar, and his wife Saidunnissa Khatun, in his mother's town of Saturia in Jhalokati District (now part of Bangladesh). He passed the Entrance examination in 1890 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 MA on Mathematics from Calcutta University with record marks. His formal education was completed with a BL degree in 1897 from the University Law College. He was the second Muslim in the Indian subcontinent to obtain a law degree.

Political career

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. In 1929, he launched the Nikhil Proja Samiti. In 1935, with the Congress' support, he was chosen and elected first Muslim mayor of Calcutta.

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 Lahore resolution in 1940 which increased communal tensions. In 1941, The Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithglow nominated him to the Defence Council. But the Quaid-i-Azam who headed the All-India Muslim League asked him to resign. He obeyed but, to demonstrate his unhappiness, resigned from the League Working Committee. As a result of Huqs' reluctance to obey the League ministers resigned.

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 Husseyn Shaheed Suhrwardy 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. In 1955, he was Home Minister of Pakistan and, from 1956 to 1958, Governor of East Pakistan. He drafted and moved the Lahore Resolution of 1940 that established Muslim League's demand for a homeland for Muslims; that ultimately resulted in the nation of Pakistan. He was buried in Dhaka.


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, neighborhoods (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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