The 51st Victory Day and Our Liberation War
Prof. Dr. Anwarul Karim:Bangladesh today celebrates the glorious 51st victory day, December 16, 2021, amidst pomp and grandeur and heartfelt prayers of 170 million people men, women and children for Bangabandhu and those millions of martyrs of Bangladesh and also of India who joined the liberation war at the fag end in December 1971, who laid their lives to the cause of the liberation of a country which Bangabandhu had renamed as historic Bangladesh.
This year the Victory Day celebration is very special because, there is the kind presence of India’s current President Honorable Ram Nath Kovind and his entourage who came to share the glorious victory day of Bangladesh and also of the great friendship between the two countries in moments when Sheikh Hasina the worthy daughter of Bangabandhu, the founding father of Bangladesh has been leading the country as Prime Minister to fulfill the dreams of his father towards making Bangladesh a world power.
We are also happy to know the Honorable President of India is the author of a noted book, the Republic Ethic Volume I-III which contains a total of his 58 speeches. These are: (i) Addressing the Nation, (ii) Moral Exemplars, Guiding Lights, (iii) Window to the World, (iv) Educating India, Equipping India, (v) Dharma of Public Service, (vi) Honouring Our Sentinels, (vii) Spirit of the Constitution & Law, and (viii) Acknowledging Excellence.
This volume includes a special section wherein the President expresses his contemplations on two great souls, Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, and the significance of their preachings, especially in the twenty-first century. Bangladesh takes pleasure in sharing the Indian President’s contribution to his nation. It’s indeed great work done by the Honorable President of India.
In Bangladesh too, the founding father Bangabandhu also wrote his ‘Unfinished Memoirs’ and ‘Karagarer Rojnamcha’ a dairy on Bangabandhu’s life in prison. Our Prime Minister is an author too as she wrote several books. She is also the author of the recently published book on her father, Bangabandhu and his March 7 speech.
Bangladesh today gratefully acknowledges the sincere services made by the Government of India headed by the then Prime Minister Late Indira Gandhi who left no stone unturned to help build the world opinion in favour of Bangladesh against Pakistan and also giving unqualified support and shelter to the millions of refugees along the border. With all these, however, the country Bangladesh most mournfully recollects the inhuman and un-becoming killing of Bangabandhu and the majority members of his family by a section of the derailed army personnel on the occasion of the 50th year of our victory day celebration. It is also a sad story that we have not been able to unlock the heinous conspiracy and crime even during the last 50 years of our independence.
Backdrops of Liberation War
An Era of Darkness (1947-1971)
East Pakistan was a Muslim country and the majority of the people were Muslims and in the creation of Pakistan, leaders of the Eastern wing, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque and Mawlana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani played a great role in the making of Pakistan.
The historic Lahore Resolution was moved by Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque. Initially, Lahore Resolution talked about Muslim majority areas of both eastern and northwestern wings of India as sovereign states. East Bengal was one of those states. Later the name Pakistan was included in it. And as soon as Pakistan came into being, the West Pakistan leaders deliberately forgot their contribution and Jinnah when he came to Dhaka in 1948 declared in Dhaka, ‘Urdu and Urdu shall be the State Language of Pakistan.’ East Pakistan, particularly the then students of Dhaka University, vehemently protested in the very face of Jinnah and rejected his declaration. And from then onward, the movement for Bangle as one of the State Languages continued unabated.
Pakistan started exploitation of East Pakistan economically, taking advantage of ‘Urdu’ as the State Language of Pakistan. The Urdu speaking people migrated from India to East Pakistan after the country was divided and here in East Pakistan they were absorbed in government and private jobs as the official language was Urdu. There had been many Pakistani Entrepreneurs and they engaged these Urdu speaking people in their business. In East Pakistan, Bengali speaking people were the majority. But they were denied the right to the seeking of jobs.
From Language Movement to the War of Liberation and Independence of Bangladesh
Following are the backdrops of our historic liberation movement. Immediately after India was divided based on Two Nation Theory and Pakistan came into being, Religion played a great role in uniting people belonging to the same faith. But religion never speaks that people belonging to other religions shall not live together. We wonder when this attitude is challenged or not shared by others. Islam believes in co-existence and Allah has said in the holy Quran not to condemn other religions that have their faith in gods and goddesses or profess idolatry. West
Pakistani leaders considered East Pakistan as a country where Muslims are like Hindus and they treat East Pakistan as almost a colony to West Pakistan. These leaders were greedy for gain, over-running with fire and sword, murdering, annexing and stealing and plundering as much as they can for 24 years. In power, the Pakistanis were ruthless and started looting the resources of East Pakistan.
Juktofront (United Front) Government, 1954
In 1954 there was a united movement against Muslim League Government in East Pakistan and the election that followed, the Muslim League faced a total defeat in the 1954 provincial assembly election by the United Front coalition of Bengali regional parties anchored by A. K. FazlulHuq’s Krishak Sramik Samajbadi Dal (Peasants and Workers Socialist Party) and the Awami League (People’s League) led by H. S. Suhrawardi. The victory of Juktofront was a clear rejection of West Pakistan’s dominance over East Pakistan and also a step towards provincial autonomy. However, Juktofront Government could not continue for long.
Ayub Regime (1958-1966)
On October 7, 1958, Iskander Mirza issued a proclamation that abolished political parties, abrogated the two-year-old constitution, and placed the country under martial law. But Mirza could not continue with his office On October 27, Ayub Khan took over as the President and Chief Martial Law Administrator. Until 1962, martial law continued and Ayub purged a number of politicians and civil servants from the government and replaced them with army officers. Ayub called his regime a “revolution to clean up the mess of black marketing and corruption.
The new constitution promulgated by Ayub in March 1962 vested all executive authority of the republic with the President. Throughout the Ayub regime, East Pakistan and West Pakistan grew farther apart. The death of the Awami League leader H.S. Suhrawardy in 1963 was, though a blow to the Awami League, it, however, paved the way for Sheikh Mujib to take the leadership of the party. The conspiracy by Pakistan against the people of East Pakistan continued as the conflict between Awami League and Muslim League was imminent. There was an Agartala conspiracy. Sheikh Mujib was in jail in 1958 for his alleged involvement during the military coup.
Six-point program launched by Sheikh Mujib
In 1966 at Lahore Conference, the Awami League leader Sheikh Mujib announced his six-point political and economic program for East Pakistani provincial autonomy. He demanded that the government be federal and parliamentary in nature, its members to be elected by universal adult suffrage with legislative on the basis of population; that the federal government have principal responsibility for foreign policy and defence only; that each wing has its own currency and separate fiscal accounts; that taxation would occur at the provincial level, with a federal government funded by constitutionally guaranteed grants; that each federal unit could control it’s own earning of foreign exchange; and that each unit could raise its own militia or paramilitary forces. Mujib’s six points ran directly counter to President Ayub’s plan for greater national integration. Ayub interpreted Mujib’s demands as tantamount to a call for independence. The Government arrested Mujib in January 1968. There were severe movements against Ayub and West Pakistan Government. Finally, Ayub resigned in March 1968 and handed over the administration to the commander in chief, General Agha Mohammad Yahiya Khan. Once again the country was placed under martial law.
East Pakistan suffered at the hand of the West Pakistani army deployed in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. There had been protests against the deployment of the army. In many places, there had been sporadic violence and people were killed by the Pakistani army. And all these forced Bangobondhu to come out with an open challenge against the illegal holding of power by the Pakistani army. Bangabandhu made a speech on March 7, 1971, against the gross violation of democratic norms by the Pakistani army who usurped power and did not allow the elected representatives to form the government. Bangabandhu secured a landslide victory and absolute majority in the National assembly election held in 1970.
Agartala conspiracy and Mass upsurge in 1969
Pakistan accused Bangabandhu and a group of his followers of an alleged secession charge from Pakistan and got them imprisoned and then filed a case against Bangabandhu and others under the name Agartala Conspiracy case. It was a serious allegation against the state and Bangabandhu and others could be hanged.
The 1969 uprising in East Pakistan was a democratic political movement in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). There had been an uprising following a series of mass demonstrations and sporadic conflicts between Pakistani armed forces and the demonstrators of then East Pakistan. Although the unrest began in 1966 with the Six point movement of the Awami League, it got momentum at the beginning of 1969 and culminated in the resignation of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the first military ruler of Pakistan. The uprising also led to the withdrawal of the Agartala Conspiracy Case and the acquittal of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his colleagues from the case.
Bangabandhu’s speech of March 7
On March 7, 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave a speech at the Racecourse Ground (now called the Suhrawardy Udyan). In this speech he mentioned a four-point condition to consider the National Assembly Meeting on March 25:
- The immediate lifting of martial law.
- Immediate withdrawal of all military personnel to their barracks.
- An inquiry into the loss of life.
- Immediate transfer of power to the elected representative of the people before the assembly meeting on March 25.
He urged his people in East Pakistan to fight unitedly and to turn every house into a fort of resistance. He closed his speech saying, “The struggle this time is for our freedom. The struggle this time is for our independence”. It was a direct challenge to the Army rulers who were holding power illegally. Bangabandhu asked the Military Junta to hand over power to the elected representative of the people. On this occasion, while he made the speech took the control of East Pakistan as the uncrowned leader of the nation and made an open declaration of the liberation war against the Pakistani Army Junta in an unequivocal term for independence.
The speech left a tremendous impact on the mind of the people who immediately reacted and prepared themselves for liberation. East Pakistan followed his command. Offices, Banks and educational institutions were closed down by his order. The speech was immensely successful as the speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman suggested a clear goal for the people to fight back the army for independence. Bangabandhu was made the de-facto sovereign of Bangladesh.
Midnight Massacre in Dhaka on 25 March 1971
The Pakistani Army Junta made a crackdown on the night of March 25, 1971. This ominous night was considered as ‘Operation Searchlight’ by the Pakistani army. On this night, the army fell upon the unarmed people set fire to houses and shops and killed people in a ‘fiendish frenzy’ and raped girls and women. Renowned teachers of Dhaka University, Journalists of repute, poets and writers were among millions who were killed. They were dragged down from their houses when they were in deep sleep with the members of the family, quite unaware of such massacre. It was a crime against humanity and that the world never had any such experience of it. The attack was also directed towards the Hindus living in old Dhaka. Dhaka experienced the heaviest casualties on the occasion. The Pakistani army came with hit lists and systematically killed people who professed Bengali nationalism.
But on the fateful night of March 25th, 1971 Bangabandhu was arrested from his residence at 32 Dhanmandi and was taken to army cantonment and from there he was sent to an unknown prison in Pakistan. For nine months the devils ‘Beelzebub and Mephistopheles’ in the shape of heinous Satan as of General Yahya Khan and his Army Junta danced in glee and made the then East Pakistan a hell of fire and full of human blood. Their crime against innocent people, men, women and children not less than 3 million went back to them as big rebuff following a very humiliating surrender to the freedom fighters of Bangladesh December 16, 1971, is red-letter day in the truest sense of its term.
Liberation War Ends
Surrender of the Pakistani Army to the Liberation Force
Lt Gen A K Niazi signed the Instrument of Surrender under the gaze of Lt Gen J S Aurora. Standing immediately behind (L-R) Vice Admiral Krishnan, Air Marshal Dewan, Lt. Gen Sagat Singh, Maj Gen JFR Jacob (with Flt Lt Krishnamurthy peeping over his shoulder).
The Pakistani Instrument of Surrender was a written agreement that enabled the surrender of the Pakistan Armed Forces Eastern Command on 16 December 1971 at the Ramna Race Course garden in Dhaka, thereby ending the Bangladesh Liberation War. Lieutenant-general K Niazi, Martial Law Administrator of East Pakistan, surrendered to Lieutenant GeneralJagjit Singh Aurora, Joint Commander of Indian and Bangladeshi forces. Air CommodoreA. K. Khandker, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bangladesh Forces, represented the Provisional Government of Bangladesh at the surrender. The day is commemorated as Victory Day, a national holiday in Bangladesh; and as Vijay Diwas on the Indian military calendar.
Also present were Vice-Admiral Mohammad Shariff, commander of the Pakistani Naval Eastern Command and Air Vice-MarshalPatrick D. Callaghan of the Pakistan Air Force’s Eastern Air Force Command, who signed the agreement. On behalf of Bangladesh, Group Captain A. K. Khandker acted as witness to the surrender. Lt. Gen Sagat Singh, Commander of the Indian IV Corps, Air Marshal Hari Chand Dewan, Commander of Indian Eastern Air Command, Maj Gen JFR Jacob, Chief of Staff of the Indian Eastern Command, acted as witnesses on behalf of India. The signing of the document marked the end of the Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh. Lt. Gen. Aurora accepted the surrender without a word, while the crowd on the racecourse erupted in celebrations. The text of the surrender is now a public property of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani governments and the text of the document can be seen on display in the National Museum in New Delhi. The text of the Instrument of Surrender document was as follows:
The PAKISTAN Eastern Command agree to surrender all PAKISTAN Armed Forces in BANGLA DESH to Lieutenant-General JAGJIT SINGH AURORA, General Officer Commanding in Chief of Indian and BANGLA DESH forces in the Eastern Theatre. This surrender includes all PAKISTAN land, air and naval forces as also all para-military forces and civil armed forces. These forces will lay down their arms and surrender at the places where they are currently located to the nearest regular troops under the command of Lieutenant-General JAGJIT SINGH AURORA.
The PAKISTAN Eastern Command shall come under the orders of Lieutenant-General JAGJIT SINGH AURORA as soon as the instrument has been signed. Disobedience of orders will be regarded as a breach of the surrender terms and will be dealt with under the accepted laws and usages of war. The decision of Lieutenant-General JAGJIT SINGH AURORA will be final, should any doubt arise as to the meaning of interpretation of the surrender terms.
Lieutenant-General JAGJIT SINGH AURORA gives a solemn assurance that personnel who surrender shall be treated with dignity and respect that soldiers are entitled to following provisions of the GENEVA Convention and guarantees the safety and well-being of all PAKISTAN military and para-military forces who surrender. Protection will be provided to foreign nationals, ethnic minorities and personnel of WEST PAKISTANI origin by the forces under the command of Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora.
(JAGJIT SINGH AURORA)
General Officer Commanding in Chief
India and BANGLA DESH Forces in the EasternTheatre16 December 1971
(AMIR ABDULLAH KHAN NIAZI)
Martial Law Administrator Zone B and
Commander Eastern Command
(Pakistan) 16 December 1971
Home-coming of Bangabandhu
Bangladesh was victorious. Pakistan suffered the most humiliating defeat at the hands of the Muktibahini and the combined armed forces. Bangladesh looked for the heroic soul that gave the leadership during the 9-month war of liberation. Pakistan was not at all prepared to face such kind of defeat on their usurped ground. Falsehood made way, Truth prevailed.
Bangabandhu was released from Pakistani prison immediately after Bangladesh won freedom on 8 January 1972 and Pakistan faced humiliating defeat of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu came to London by a PIA plane and from Pakistan and he was received by the British Prime Minister Edward Heath.
Bangabandhu reached his own free country Bangladesh, Dhaka around 1-30 p.m. by the Royal British Air force jet on January 10, 1972. As soon as the crowd saw Bangabandhu, there was a thunderous roar by the attending people, Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu’ and this spontaneous emotional outburst of people could not be measured by any means. Later in his reception at the Race Course Maidan, Bangabandhu declared:
“The people of Bangladesh are free today. We have much work ahead,” he told the mammoth gathering understandably in an emotionally broken voice, as he was bursting into tears on several occasions during his speech. Millions of people, who gathered at the Race Course to listen to their most beloved leader after nine months, were overwhelmed with the speech of Bangabandhu, who did not even forget on that very day to issue a warning against irregularities, which might impede the building of a welfare nation.
“Let me warn my officers, do not accept the bribe. Corruption will not be allowed in this land anymore,” Bangabandhu said in the historic speech, also giving a guideline to rebuild the war-torn nation, maintain peace and harmony in society and strengthen ties with global communities”.
Killing of Bangabandhu
But all were not well. There had been people in Bangladesh and also in the army who could not tolerate the power of Bangabandhu. These conspirators intended to destroy the entire family of Bangabandhu. And thus Bangabandhu with the majority of family members was killed. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister were saved because they were away from the country.
Justice took its turn
Finally, the killers were extinguished. Justice has its course. Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina is now in charge of Bangladesh on behalf of Bangabandhu. The country is now on its goal to fulfil the objectives of Bangabandhu for a strong Bangladesh.
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