March 26, 1971 is the glorious day when the independence of Bangladesh was declared by a person who relentlessly fought for the Bengalis for long 23 years against the odds created by the Pak rulers who were at the helm of affairs in Pakistan since its birth. East Bengal a province of Pakistan having seven crores people much more than the total population of the west i.e., 54 percent of the total population of Pakistan became subjugated to the torture and persecutions by the people of the West wing since they were in the center of government. More than that is the army absolutely made by the Pakistan had been playing vital role in administering country where even 5 percent of Bengalis were not allowed to have a share of the central government.
The unilateral influence of the central government over Bangladesh offered them the unique opportunity of exploitation. It was Sheikh Mujib who carefully observed and protested the issues of deprivation of the Bengalis in the Pak parliament where there were only 4 members. He drew the attention of the speaker about the disparity and especially the way the Bengali language was ignored in running the affairs of the house and in the central administration.
The need for a movement originated from the situation created by Governor General of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah who openly declared on the soil of Dhaka that Urdu and Urdu shall be only state language of Pakistan. As soon as Jinnah declared it on the soil of East Pakistan the Bengali youths including Sheikh Mujib burst into anger and protest saying No.. No to Urdu. In fact, the Pakistani ruler could not understand this that it was no to Urdu, it was a no to Pakistan. Jinnah who probably had the little idea about the dissatisfaction of the people of East Pakistan thought that as he was the Father of the Nation the people of East Pakistan would welcome the declaration and accept Urdu as the state language of Pakistan. But that did not happen.
The language movement of 1952 may be termed as the first political revolt of the Bangalee speaking people of the East Pakistan against the declaration of Mohammad Ali Jinnah who tried to enforce Urdu language of only 3 percent people of West Pakistan as the state language Pakistan. Jinnah probably got the idea about the sentiment of the Bangalis.
In fact, as early as 1948, the people of East Pakistan i.e., the Bangalees could easily understand the motive of the Pak ruler and their policy toward Bangalis. If disparity is an economic term, it was imposed on people of East Pakistan within the shortest span of time immediately after the creation of Pakistan. Bangalis could feel that although they fought for creation of Pakistan and it was because of them that Pakistan was created. The central government of Pakistan started their governance with the policy of persecuting Bangalis in all possible way. The growing dissatisfaction was aided by the declaration of Jinnah making the Bangalees feel what exactly was the evil design of the West toward them. The decision for aggression on the language of Bangalees was really a conspiracy to keep them away from the governance of the country. But the Bangali youths established their right to speak in Bangla through sacrificing their lives. The language movement became successful but the movement did not end then.
Sheikh Mujib transformed the language based nationalist movement into the struggle for independence through his visionary, prudent and strategic leadership. It was in 1949 Sheikh Mujib played key role to form Student League to expedite the political movement. In course of time Muslim League was transformed into a Awami Muslim League and subsequently into Awami League. Sheikh Mujib played a vital role to give the party secular character and made progressive instead of religion based one.
It was Sheikh Mujib who started talking about autonomy and incorporated it in his six-point programme. The language movement was a cultural one got transformed into the movement for regional autonomy. The election in 1954 in East Pakistan led by Bhasani, Suhurawardy, Sher-e-Bangla and Sheikh Mujib made the result favourable for the Bangalis. The result also exposed that the people were aggrieved against the central government and the Muslim League. The economic disparity that created by the Pak rulers made it clear that animosity was growing among the Bengalis against Pakistan. The 10-year military rule of General Ayub Khan exploited the East wing to develop West Pakistan. It is Sheikh Mujib, the real Tiger of East Bengal came out with the six-point programme and the movement for regional autonomy. He mobilized and motivated the people from Teknaf to Tetulia in support of the movement of regional autonomy. Sheikh Mujib was the only answer to the extreme form of oppression committed by the West. His six-point programme announced with the spirit of language movement gave the demand for regional autonomy a concrete shape. The people gave mandate on six-point programme in the 1970 election securing 167 seats out of 169. In fact, the victory in this election led us to the War of Independence. The Pakistani rulers refrained from handing over power to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, the leader of the majority party. They postponed the 3rd March session of the parliament for indefinite period. Bangabandhu called for complete non-cooperation movement that turned into an armed struggle following his declaration of independence in the early hours of March 26, 1971.
The provisional government of Bangladesh was formed on 17 April 1971 in Mujibnagar and moved to Calcutta as a government in exile. The war continued for long nine months. India joined war on 3 December 1971, after Pakistan launched preemptive air strikes on North India. With the rapid advance of the allied forces of Mukti Bahini and Indian army, Pakistan surrendered in Dhaka on 16 December 1971 and Bangladesh came into being in the world map.
Dr S A Malek is a member of Awami League Advisory Council and President of Bangabandhu Parishad, former political adviser to the Prime Minister, member of parliament and columnist