The first official government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, popularly known as the Mujibnagar Government, was formed on April 10, 1971. The newly formed government took oath on 17th April, 1971 in the then Meherpur district. The venue of the oath was a mango forest in Baidyantala which was renamed by the provisional government.
Earlier, several provisional governments were formed in different countries around the world to fight for independence. For example, during the Second World War, an independent French government was formed that was led by Charles the Gaulle. The headquarters of the independent Cambodian government, led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk was in Beijing. The headquarters of Afghanistan's Mojahideen government was in Peshawar, Pakistan. But the "Mujibnagar Government" was quite different from these governments.
The contribution "Mujibnagar Government" to Bangladesh was truly immeasurable because leading the whole nation in the midst of overwhelming hostility, gaining widespread public support and recognition for the country while setting up diplomatic missions, building strong resistance against the Pakistani military were really gigantic tasks.
In the 1970's election, Awami league received the majority mandate, but instead of handing over the power to the newly elected members, West Pakistani government cracked down on the innocent Bengalis. On the night of 25th March, 1971, Pakistani military conducted a cowardly attack on the innocent sleeping people. They executed mass killing operations at different places in Dhaka including Pilkhana, Rajarbag Police Line, EPR, and Dhaka University campus. Early on March 26, Pakistani Military arrested Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and took him to West Pakistan. But before being arrested, he sent a message over wireless declaring the independence of Bangladesh. Thus, the arrest of Bangabndhu accelerated our libration war.
A review of the history shows that, from 26th March to 16th December, the dynamic role played by Tajuddin Ahmed, a co-fighter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was really commendable. The greatest achievement of Tajuddin Ahmed's life was to lead the liberation war in the absence of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Especially, in the formation of "Mujibnagar Government", Tajuddin Ahmed played a significant role.
On 1st April, 1971, he and Barrister Amirul Islam went to India and on 3rd April, he met the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He explained the overall situation that was prevailing in Bangladesh. He also informed her that in Bangladesh, the freedom struggle had already started and the people of Bangladesh were very much determined to continue their struggle until final victory was achieved. He sought all sorts of support from her government. Indira Gandhi expressed her commitment to stand beside the people of Bangladesh.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was declared the president of the new government. Syed Nazrul Islam was given the charge of Vice-President and Tajuddin Ahmed was made the Prime Minister of that government. Syed Nazrul islam, the Vice President hoisted the National flag in absence of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Professor Md. Yusuf Ali read out the announcement of independent Bangladesh at the oath taking ceremony.
Some local singers sang the National Anthem "Amar sonar Bangla, ami tomay valobashi". The oath taking program was witnessed by a 10,000 strong crowd which included contingents of the EPR, Ansar and Freedom fighters. A press statement was issued after the inauguration of the government, where Tajuddin Ahmed said, "Bangladesh is at war. It has been given no choice but to secure its rights of self-determination through a national liberation struggle against the colonial oppression of West Pakistan. In the face of positive attempts by the government to distort the facts in a desperate attempt to cover up their war of genocide in Bangladesh, the world must be told the circumstances under which the peace-loving people of Bangladesh were driven to substitute armed struggle for parliamentary politics to realize the just aspirations of the people of Bangladesh….. In our struggle of survive we seek the friendship of all people, the big powers and the small…. We now appeal to the nations of the world for recognition and assistance both material and moral in our struggle for nationhood. Everyday this is delayed a thousand lives are lost and more of Bangladeshi vital assets are destroyed. In the name of Humanity act now and earn our undying friendship."
A day after the program, the portfolio of the government was distributed among the members. The newly elected members of the government gave a broad outline of the new government's mission, vision and objectives. It also promised to frame a constitution as early as possible. They firmly approved the declaration of independence made by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on March 26. The first diplomatic mission of Bangladesh was established in Calcutta, India to continue all sorts of political activities.
The main objectives of the government were to ensure the equality, human dignity and social justice for the people of Bangladesh. It needs to be mentioned that, in absence of our great leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, it was a really difficult task to organize the civil administration. The government kept the unity of the general people irrespective of classes or professions including Armed Forces, Police & EPR. Moreover, Organizing the freedom fighters, training them while at the same time keeping their morale high were important tasks.
In order to ensure the supply of weapons needed for the freedom fighters, the Mujibnagar Government kept close contact with India. Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed gave a speech over the radio to motivate the freedom fighters where he said, "We are the descendants of Titumir and Surya Sen. We have the capability to remove this foreign enemy permanently from our country, just as we can sacrifice life for freedom."
During the liberation war, the leaders of that government would give guidance to the people of this country. The provisional president and the Prime Minister would keep the whole country motivated through their speeches over the radio. Simultaneously to get international recognition and support, they took many diplomatic initiatives and contacted the United Nations, European countries, the USA, Russia and other powerful nations to mobilize public opinion in favor of the Mujibnagar government.
Finally, "Mujibnagar Government" was able to end the liberation war in a victory in nine month. In our liberation war, the role of the "Mujibnagar Government" was immeasurable. Despite various pressures and difficulties, "The Mujibnagar Government" worked ceaselessly. It provided a legal stand which received all sorts of support and assistance from the world community to carry on the armed struggle against the Pakistani military. As a result, an independent and sovereign Bangladesh was born in the map of the world. Undoubtedly, 17th April, the "Mujibnagar Day" is one of the brightest chapters of our liberation war. Like International Mother Language day, Independence Day and Victory Day, Mujibnagar Day is also a significant occasion in our national life.
Md Mizanur Rahman is an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries of Bangladesh (ICSB). He can be reached to this email: [email protected]