Story of the magnificent Bangladesh
(Continuation from previous week)
The situation reached a climax in 1970, when the Pakistani general elections held on 7 December 1970, was won by Awami League under Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's leadership. The party won 167 of the 169 seats allotted to East Pakistan, and thus a majority of the 313 seats in the National Assembly.
This victory gave the right to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to form a government, but Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party refused to let Bangabandhu become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. This initiated the war. Bangabandhu gave a speech on March 7, 1971, when he urged the people to turn all their homes into a fort of the fight. He demanded transfer of power to the elected representative before the assembly meeting on March 25.
Tikka Khan, a West Pakistani general, flew to Dhaka to become the Governor of East Pakistan. But, the East Pakistani Chef Justices denied his oath. Thereafter, on the night of March 25, the Pakistani army violently crush the Bangali's opposition. Residence halls of the Dhaka University were viciously attacked. On March 26, the Pakistani forces arrested Bangabandhu.
On the same day, he signed an official declaration for the Independence of Bangladesh. M A Hannan, an Awami league leader, was the first person to read and announce the Declaration of Independence over the radio. Political events approached a climax.
The war between the Pakistan Army and the Bangali freedom fighters, the Mukti Bahini, began. The head of the Mukti Bahini was Col Muhammad Osmani. The Mukti Bahini was trained like guerrillas. India gave shelter to the refugees and trained the Mukti Bahini. India also helped with ammunition and its own soldiers. Bangladesh was divided into 11 sectors during the liberation war.
During the war period, the Zamaat-e-Islam helped Pakistani Army to raise paramilitary forces of Razakars, Al-Badrs and Al-Shams, the Bangalis who did not want Bangladesh to become an independent country. During the war, there were widespread killings and other atrocities -- including the displacement of civilians in Bangladesh and widespread violations of human rights began with the start of Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971.
Members of the Pakistani military and supporting militias killed 3,000,000 people and raped between 200,000 Bangladeshi women in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape. Numerous women were tortured, raped and killed during the war.
On 17 April 1971, a Probashi government was formed in Meherpur in western Bangladesh bordering India with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was in prison in Pakistan, as President, Syed Nazrul Islam as Acting President, Tajuddin Ahmed as Prime Minister, and General Muhammad Ataul Ghani Osmani as Commander-in-Chief, Bangladesh Forces.
As the Bangladesh Liberation War approached the defeat of the Pakistan Army, Bhutan became the first country in the world to recognize the newly independent state on 6 December 1971. India also gave recognition to Bangladesh in 6th December 1971. Indira Gandhi declared war against Pakistan. Bangladeshi Mitro Bahini and Indian forces fought the Pakistanis. The Pakistanis tried to fight back but failed to resist them.
On 14 December 1971, just two days before the surrender, at the instruction of the Pakistani Army, the Razakar, Al-Shams and Al-Badr forces murdered a large section of the intellectual community of Bangladesh. They picked up at least 100 physicians, professors, writers and engineers in Dhaka, and murdered them, leaving the dead bodies in a mass grave at Rai- Bazar.
On December 16th, 1971, Dhaka fell to the Mitro Bahini, the elite forces of the Mukti Bahini and the Indian army. An "Instrument of Surrender" was signed by the defeated Pakistani General Niazi and by the Indian commander General Aurora in the presence of A. K Khondoker, Deputy Chief of Bangladesh Forces. This is how the Magnificent Bangladesh got independent. Afterwards, December 16 is recognized as the Victory Day, while March 26 is recognized as the Independence Day of Bangladesh.
The writer is Research Assistant at Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA)