The liberation war was a difficult and challenging time, but it was also a time of great unity and strength. Not only did we get our independence, but we also found ourselves a new identity and some heroes, who were born out of circumstances and rose to the occasion to fight injustice.
Every nation has its national heroes. We all know the heroes who were at the forefront of the liberation war, but there are some unsung heroes whose contributions to history will never be forgotten.
The four caliphs of Bongobondhu, the four fierce student leaders who played a key role in the liberation war of 71. Even though they are widely known in the political sphere, few people are aware of their bravery and unwavering nationalism.
Abdul Quddus Makhan, Shahjahan Siraj, ASM Abdur Rab and Nur Alam Siddiqui were the “four caliphs” of Bongobondhu.
They were once the face of resistance against tyranny and the oppression of the Pakistani military regime.
The four student leaders got the title of the “four caliphs” during the 70s after the Awami League won a landslide victory in the national elections.
There are many versions of the story of how the title came to be or who gave the title, but the four student leaders were humorously referred to as Sheikh Mujib’s four caliphs because of their close acquaintance with Bongobondhu.
Unfortunately, we have lost three of these brave souls. First among them to pass away was, Abdul Quddus Makhan, the former general secretary of Daksu, followed by Shahjahan Siraj, the former general secretary of BCL who died in July 2020.
Today, we have lost another freedom fighter, the then-president of Chatra League, Nur-E-Alam Siddiqui. He was not active in national politics but was a successful businessman and a political analyst.
There are very few close confidantes of Bongobondhu who are alive today and ASM Abdur Rab is one of them. The then VP of Daksu left Awami League after the liberation war and became the founder secretary general of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD).
But how did they get the title of the “four caliphs”? When asked about it, Nur Alam Siddiqui in a statement said, even he doesn’t know the real reason behind the naming of the four caliphs and it was very astounding to him.
Regardless of its origins, the title ” four caliphs” spread like wildfire throughout Bangladesh, permeating every corner of society.
The mere mention of this title filled the hearts of the people with a sense of awe and wonder, and it wasn’t long before it became a buzzword in the press, spreading like a wildfire and capturing the imagination of the populace.
But according to him, Bongobondhu could be the one to utter these words. Many a time, Bongobondhu, out of a sense of constitutional responsibility, refrained from speaking his heart, for fear of being branded as a separatist provocateur by the Pakistanis. He kept his thoughts private, knowing that they could cause confusion amongst the public. However, the four student leaders became the emissary and carry out the message to the students and masses that Bongobondhu couldn’t express publically.