Bangladesh today is celebrating the 50th victory day amid much festivity and enthusiasm. The long cherished independence was achieved through a 9-month-long long armed struggle by the people from all walks of life. It was the culmination of a series of events, situations and issues contributing to the progressively deteriorating relations between East and West Pakistan.
Here is a glimpse of the Liberation War—
The Election of 1970 and background of the Liberation War
When Awami League won the general election of 1970, the Pakistan government, headed by General Yahiya Khan, came out reluctant to hand over power to the elected representatives.
At one stage, they fabricated various pretexts to grip the power and later took turn to oppress the people of East Pakistan.
At this juncture, the people of East Pakistan, being directed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahan, started to vent anger against the rulers and went on an all-out protest.
3 March, Manifesto of Independence
Swadhin Bangla Chhatra Sangram Parishad organised a rally at Paltan Maidan in Dhaka, protesting against the Pakistani rulers.
The Parishad headed collectively by ASM Abdur Rob, Abdul Quddus Makhan, Nure Alam Siddiqui and Shahjahan Siraj, circulated an 'Istehar' (Manifesto) envisioning independence for Bangladesh.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman addressed the mammoth public gathering and declared a vivid action plan.
At the rally, the Chhatra Sangra Parishad (SBCSP) denominated Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as 'Father of the Nation' and the song 'Amar Sonar Bangla' as the national anthem of Bangladesh.
7 March, the historic speech
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had delivered a historic speech at the then Race Course Maidan on 7 March.
In his 20-minute speech, Bangabandhu announced: "Ebarer Shongram amader muktir shongram, Ebarer shongram, shadhinotar Shongram" (This war is a war for independence, this war is a war for Freedom).
Four key points of his speech were as below –
- withdrawal of martial law
- retreat of the army to the barrack
- investigation into the killing of the people in East Pakistan
- transfer of power to the elected representatives.
The rally was attended by over 1 million people. Before the mammoth gathering, Bangabandhu described East Pakistan as Bangladesh and finalised the name of the independent state.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included the historic speech to its Memory of the World International Register, a list of world's important documentary heritage.
The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, announced the decision on 30 October 2017, at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
8 March, Non-Cooperation Movement
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the programme of non-cooperation movement through his guideline speech delivered in the Race Course Maidan.
On the following day, people from all walks of life launched the non-cooperation movement under the leadership of Awami League in order to establish people's rights.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave a clarion call for non-cooperation movement against the dilly-dally attitude of the military junta to transfer power on the basis of election, and for direct non-cooperation of Pakistan People's Party, the major political party of West Pakistan.
This movement spread over the whole of East Pakistan. The fight for liberation started as a consequence of non-cooperation movement and the nine months war resulted in the emergence of independent sovereign Bangladesh.
19 March, 1st armed resistance
A section of Bangalee soldiers had forged the first ever armed resistance against the Pakistani occupying force at Joydebpur of Gazipur on this day.
A group of Bangali raised barricades at the strategic points along the Joydebpur road to stop the movements of the Pakistan army with vehicles.
When the senior officials of Pakistan Army ordered Bangali soldiers of East Bengal Regiment-2 to fire on the protesting crowds, they refused it, leading a skirmish between East and West Pakistani soldiers.
Several persons were killed in the process by Pakistan army. Sheikh Mujib warned dire consequences of indiscriminate killings of men, women and children in Joydevpur and Tongi areas by the army.
25 March, Operation Search Light
After Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made a clarion call for an all-out fight for independence, the Pakistan army on the night of 25 March started a ruthless and brutal armed attack - codenamed 'Operation Search-light' - on the people of East Pakistan, special in Dhaka.
The purpose of the attack was apparently curbing the movement of the freedom loving Bangalis against the autocratic Pakistani rulers.
Besides, it was aimed to arrest or kill the distinguished Awami League leaders, student leaders and Bangali intellectuals in the main cities of the then East Pakistan including Dhaka, to disarm the Bangali personnel of military, para military and police forces, and to capture armoury, radio station and telephone exchange.
Military operations were being taken under 'Operation Searchlight' on and from 11-30 pm of 25 March to middle of May in all the big towns of the province.
26 March, Declaration of Independence
Just few hours before being arrested by the Pakistani force, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in a message, declared the independence of Bangladesh in early hours of 26 March.
The message was said to have been made available to EPR shortly after midnight and it was duly broadcast through EPR radio communication system.
The system was VHF frequency crystal controlled, not so many people did listen to the declaration.
The message went: "This may be my last message, from today Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh wherever you might be and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your fight must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh and final victory is achieved."
Later, Major Ziaur Rahman of East Bengal Regiment declared the independence the following day, 27 March.
He pronounced, "I Major Zia, Provisional Commander-in-Chief of the Bangladesh Liberation Army, hereby proclaims, on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the independence of Bangladesh."
10 April, formation of Mujibnagar Govt
Many elected members of the National Assembly and Provincial Assembly gathered in Kolkata and formed the first ever government of Bangladesh. Members of the government took oath at Badiyanathtala of Mujibngagar in Meherpur district on 17 April.
The government was headed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. That is why the spot was named after his name. Mujibnagar was made temporary capital of Bangladesh and the temporary secretariat was established on the Theatre Road-8 of Kolkata.
17 September, Dr Malik government
Apparently to propel the movement of pro-independence people to a different direction, the Pakistan government appointed Dr AM Malik as governor of East Pakistan. Being failed to control the situation, the provincial government stepped down on 14 December.
Dr AM Malik wrote the draft of the resignation letter for his cabinet to President Yahiya Khan with a shaking ballpoint pen on a scrap of office paper as Indian MIG‐21's destroyed his official residence, Government House, according to a report by The New York Times on the Day.
"The move came as Indian forces closed in front several sides on Dacca, the East Pakistani capital, on the 11th day of the Indian‐Pakistani war," it reported.
21 November, formation of the Allied Forces
Formation of the Allied Forces is a very significant event of the Liberation War. On 21 November, the Mukti Bahini and the Indian Forces joined hands to combat the Pakistani force, what later intensified the war.
Indian Army, Air Force and Navy participated in the war along with the liberation force of Bangladesh from 6 to 16 December.
The Pakistan military force engaged in a fiesta of assault, murder and destructions all over Bangladesh from 26 March to 16 December.
The main target of the mass killing venture that started in Dhaka with the code name, 'Operation Searchlight' was the students, intellectuals, educated middle class and minority Hindus.
They attacked with tanks, cannons and machineguns in different areas of Dhaka including Rajarbagh Police Lines and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana.
Thus the world witnessed one of the most atrocious genocide in the history.
16 December, the Victory Day
In the face of a strong planned attack by the Allied Force, the occupying Pakistani force was left devoid of hopes, what prompted them to surrender.
The commander of the Eastern Command of Pakistani Army, Lt Gen Ameer Abdullah Khan Niazi along with 93 thousand Pakistani soldiers surrendered to Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Arora, the commander of the Eastern Command of the Indian Army at 4:21pm on 16 December.
Group Captain AK Khondakar represented the Bangladesh government on the occassion.
The achievement of this momentous independence came as a result of three million martyrs, limitless sufferings, of lakhs of Women, torture and sacrifice of the Bangalees.
Thus independent, sovereign state – People's Republic of Bangladesh appears proudly in the world map.