Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
Mujibur Rahman (mōōjēbŏŏr´ rämän´), 1921–75, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) political leader, prime minister of Bangladesh (1972–75), popularly known as Sheikh Mujib. Concerned that East Pakistan was unfairly dominated by West Pakistan, he helped found (1949) the Awami League to fight for East Pakistan's autonomy. His political stance led to prison terms, but also brought him immense popular support.
The conflict between East and West Pakistan climaxed after the Dec., 1970, elections, in which the Awami League won a majority. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, leader of West Pakistan, refused to agree to demands for autonomy, and Mujib was imprisoned in West Pakistan. Civil war broke out in Mar., 1971, when Pakistani troops were sent to put down protests in East Pakistan. With the aid of India, East Pakistani guerrillas proclaimed an independent Bangladesh, and defeated the Pakistani army in late 1971 (see India-Pakistan Wars).
Released in early 1972, Mujib became prime minister of Bangladesh, and worked toward normalizing relations with Pakistan. In the face of growing opposition following a famine in 1974, he pushed through (Jan., 1975) a constitutional change making him president with dictatorial powers, but he, his wife, his sons, and other relatives were slain in Aug., 1975, in a military coup. His daughter, Hasina Wazed, who was abroad during the coup, also has served as prime minister of Bangladesh.