Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani
Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani (Bengali: মাওলানা ভাসানী; 1880–1976) was a popular political leader in Pakistan and later in Bangladesh. He remained a rural-based and non-colonially educated politician revered for selflessness and solidarity with the oppressed. His long political span takes the student of political history through British colonial India, Pakistan and Bangladesh periods.
He gained popularity among peasants and the higher status emerging leadership of Bengali Muslims. Owing to his leaning to the left, often dubbed "Islamic Socialism", he was nicknamed " The Red Maulana".
Maulana Bhashani is regarded as the proponent of anti-imperialist, non-communal and left-leaning politics by his admirers in present-day Bangladesh and beyond. In 2013 the Awami League Government of Bangladesh reduced his presence in school curricula .
A one-time student of Deoband, and participant of the Khilafat Movement protesting the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire he led the Muslims of Assam in a successful campaign during the 1947 Sylhet Referendum, through which Sylhet chose to become part of the Pakistan national project. He was the founder and President of the Pakistan Awami Muslim League which later became Awami League (AL). Later however, owing to differences with the right-leaning leaders in the AML, such as Shahid Suhrawardy, on the issue of autonomy for East Pakistan, he formed a new progressive party called National Awami Party (NAP). He also differed with Suhrawardhy when he as Prime Minister of Pakistan decided to join the US-led defence pact CENTO and SEATO.
The split among the progressive camp into pro-Moscow and pro-Peking factions eventually led to the breakup of NAP into two separate parties; the pro-Moscow faction being led by Muzaffar Ahmed. After Pakistan's 1965 war with India, he showed some support for Field Marshal Ayub Khan's regime for its China-leaning foreign policy; but later he gave provided leadership to a mass uprising against the regime in 1968-69 with support from Fatima Jinnah.
He played a very critical role in the 1969 movement which eventually led to the collapse of the Ayub regime and the release of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other co-accused in the so-called Agartala conspiracy case against Pakistan. His decision to boycott the 1970 Pakistan general elections due to his mistrust of the West Pakistani leaders, effectively led to the electoral sweep by erstwhile opponent Mujibur Rahman. His efforts created a sense of fierce nationality and a spririt of independence amongst all Bangalis of East Pakistan.