National, Front Page

Fifty years of independence

Published : 25 Mar 2021 09:54 PM

March 26 is the independence day of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, officially declared the independence of Bangladesh on this day in 1971 as the Pakistani occupation army cracked down on the unarmed and sleeping people of the then East Pakistan on March 25 at midnight. The Pakistani junta began genocide, instead of inviting Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib to take oath as the Prime Minister of Pakistan as the leader of the party that secured victory in the 1970 general election. 

And with the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, who was the only leader to talk on behalf of the nation as the people had given him the mandate in the election held on December 7 in 1970, the liberation war started. India came forward for the salvation of Bangladesh. The neighbour provided Bangladesh with arms and ammunition, food and shelter. Moreover, they fought a battle under India-Bangladesh joint command and the Pakistani occupation army suffered a humiliating defeat after the nine-month war of liberation leading to the independence of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is celebrating the golden jubilee of independence and greetings and felicitations are still pouring in from around the world. The celebration and the diplomatic engagement will help Bangladesh achieve more benefit and create greater cooperation with the international community.  

The enemies of Bangladesh were engaged in helping the Pakistani army to commit genocide here during the war of liberation in 1971. From day one of its victory, Bangladesh was facing a tremendous obstacles created by the defeated forces. They killed Father of the Nation Bangabandhu, who had been the main source of inspiration for the nation. And a black chapter for the country was open. Repeated military governments have pushed the nation on the verge of ruination. After a long struggle, Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Bangabandhu came to power and started the nation building work, which were being initiated by the Father of the Nation. Now the country after 50 years, under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is on a development highway. The most important aspect, which needs to be taken into consideration, is that the people have started believing that Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Bangabandhu, can do something and she will.

It should be noted that equal rights, which were the real essence of independence, were not established in Pakistan as Mr Jinnah became the Governor General of Pakistan following the footprint of the dictatorial British rule in India.

Moreover, he put the final nail in the coffin of Pakistan, when he announced, by ignoring Bengali language spoken by the majority people of Pakistan, that Urdu shall be the only state language of Pakistan.

After that audacious announcement, the people of the then East Pakistan could understand that there had been no option left for them but to go ahead with the movement for their self-determination. After a long struggle, they got Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the uncompromising leader. The forward march for the cause of independent Bangladesh was getting momentum and at one stage military dictator Ayub Khan was ousted from power in the face of mass movement.

The happiest moment for the people of Bengal (the then East Pakistan) arrived when the Awami League led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won a landslide victory in the elections held in December 1970 in Pakistan.

After that glorious victory, the people who had long been being deprived of their rights thought to have a constitution of their own and were dreaming of establishing the long-cherished democracy, human rights and rule of law, which they had been struggling for. But it did not happen. As a leader of the majority party, Sheikh Mujib was supposed to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan; but the Pakistani ruling military junta, along with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, did not allow that to happen. Suddenly they attacked the innocent and unarmed people at midnight on March 25, 1971 when they were sleeping. The cowards cracked down on the unarmed people with military amours, tanks, cannons and fighter jets.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib declared the country’s independence and asked the people to fight the enemy until their last breath. In the first hours of March 26, 1971, he signed an official declaration that read, “Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night, West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dacca. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between EPR and Police and the armed forces of Pakistan are going on. The Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May Allah aid us in our fight for freedom?”

A telegram containing the text of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's declaration reached some students and leaders of Awami League in Chittagong. The message was read out several times at the independent Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro.

The liberation war in Bangladesh was a revolution and an armed conflict sparked by the rise of the Bengali nationalist and self-determination movement. The war began after the Pakistani military junta based in West Pakistan launched ‘Operation Searchlight’ against the people of East Pakistan on the night of March 25, 1971. It pursued the systematic elimination of nationalist Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, religious minorities and armed personnel. The junta annulled the results of the 1970 elections and arrested Prime Minister-designate Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The war ended on 16 December 1971 after West Pakistan surrendered.

Rural and urban areas across East Pakistan saw extensive military operations and air strikes to suppress the tide of civil disobedience that formed following the 1970 election stalemate. An academic consensus prevails that the atrocities committed by the Pakistani military were genocide.

In the nine months of the liberation war, the freedom fighters who bet their lives for the independence of their motherland secured the enemy’s unconditional surrender. And that was the most ignoble defeat suffered by the Pakistani forces. After a crucial battle, we secured the victory which was indeed a victory over the evil forces and the victory of mankind.