Those who state that the elected members of Awami League fled away leaving behind the people to secure their lives should be challenged by fact. They formed a revolutionary government at Mujinagar and conducted the Liberation War to free the country and its people.
It is learnt that India helped the leaders to cross the border and form the revolutionary government. Which country other than India could give shelter to the people and the leaders of Awami League? How Mujibnagar government was formed? There is a background of it. It came following the long 23 years of arduous struggle under the leadership of Bangabandhu. In continuation to the struggle, the general election held in 1970.
Awami League secured 167 out of 169 seats becoming the majority in National Assembly. President Yahya Khan adopted dilly dally tactic to hand over power to majority party leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and postponed the inaugural session on 3 March indefinitely.
Bangabandhu immediately called for non-cooperation movement by his people, effectively taking control of East Pakistan. Bangabandhu kept ordering his workers to escape to safety after hearing that Yahya secretly left Dhaka. Sheikh Mujib refused to escape until 25 March fearing it would be used as a pretext to massacre innocent Bangalees. The Pak army attacked the innocent Bangalees and started committing genocide. Bangabandhu declared independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of 26 March prior to his arrest.
It was Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who provided all out assistance to form Provisional Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, popularly known as Mujibnagar Government on 10 April 1971. The Awami League leadership pondered the cabinet agenda and distributed cabinet offices. In the absence of President Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, Syed Nazrul Islam served as acting president and Tajuddin Ahmad as Prime Minister.
It was supreme leadership of the Bangladesh’s Liberation War, comprising a cabinet, a diplomatic corps, an assembly and a radio service. The cabinet of Mujibnagar government took oath on 17 April 1971 at a village along the India-Bangladesh border, called Baidyanathtala in Kushtia on the soil of Bangladesh. The government was headquartered in Kolkata, in exile, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal.
Again it was Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who instructed to open the border and gave shelter to one crore Bangalee refugees and provided with goods necessary for their livelihood. Her government provided full assistance for arms training to 1.5 lakhs freedom fighters to fight against Pak occupation army.
The kind of assistance provided to the Bangalees by the Indian government is unparalleled in the history. Tajuddin Ahmad, the Prime Minister of the Mujibnagar government performed well in discharging his duties. I saw him personally at 8, Theatre Road, Calcutta (now Kolkata). One day I along with Sheikh Naser met Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmad to share some suggestions with him.
I placed 28 points suggestions to Tajuddin Ahmad on how to conduct the War of Liberation. The suggestions I made out of my own experience about the war within Bangladesh in which I participated both in Gualanda on 28 April 1971 and earlier in Kushtia. Of the 28 points, I requested the Prime Minister to meet the two main points immediately. One is to provide sophisticated arms for the freedom fighters who would fight in Faridpur district and the other is to restore administration of Mujibnagar Sarker wherever a zone is liberated.
Prime Minister Tajuddin accepted both the suggestions and asked Sheikh Naser to take me to sector 9 commander Major M A Jalil. The PM also requested me to stay at Ranaghat under 24 parganas of West Bengal and act as a political motivator for the freedom fighters. His argument was that `if you enter East Pakistan you will be killed outright and what shall I say to Bangabandhu when he would come back to independent Bangladesh and ask me about you?’ I told Mr. Tajuddin that if you don’t provide me sophisticated arms immediately I will go back to Faridpur and join the local freedom fighters. Mr. Tajuddin understood my grievance. Sheikh Naser took me to Major Jalil.
I talked to him exclusively alone and he accepted my points. He provided 16 LMG and 80 other sophisticated arms for our team comprising of 180 freedom fighters. Being instructed by the Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmad Major Jalil issued a letter appointing me as the administrator under sector 9 of the zone to be liberated in Farid district. In the appointment letter my nick name was written as Captain Halim.
Getting appointment as administrator and sophisticated arms I along with sub-sector commander Nur Mohammad and others crossed border and entered East Pakistan in a broad day light and set up our headquarter at Orakandi of Kasiani thana of Gopalgonj sub-division under Faridpur district.
The first operation was done at Sosrail killing a peace committee chairman. The result was wonderful. Because all the Rajakars, Al-bards, Al-shams and members of the Peace Committee left the rural areas and moved to Faridpur district headquarter. Since then the occupation army lost their courage to conduct operation in rural areas. The local people felt safe and lent all out support to freedom fighters.
We built a strong hold in Orakandi challenging the then Pak administration representing Aniuzzaman as DC and Mahabubur Rahman as SP. In last week of May we liberated five thanas of Faridpur including Alfadanga, Boalmari, Kasiani, Muksedpur through the fierce fighting with Pak army.
As administrator of the liberated zone we hoisted Bangladesh flag at thana headquarter. We also hoisted Bangladesh flag at Gopalgonj sub-division headquarter eight days before Bangladesh was liberated on 16 December 1971. The Pak army was defeated in several operations we conducted.
We made our headquarter at Gopalgonj sub-division town on 8 December establishing the full-fledged administration of Mujibnagar government in Gopalgonj, the birth place of the Father of the Nation. It proves that the decision to set up Mujibnagar administration was good one to maintain law and order and conduct the administration.
The above incident is enough to prove how efficient was the Mujibnagar government led by Tajuddin Ahmad. I must appreciate the role of Indian government especially the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who provided assistance for forming Mujinagar government to give shelter to one crore Bangalee refugees. Her government’s diplomatic efforts to create international opinion in favour of Bangladesh’s war of liberation was also unique. It would be ungrateful if we don’t recall the contribution of India and its people with due honour and gratitude.
Dr S A Malek is former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and columnist