Mahmudul Karim Farsad
(Co-writers: Rakibul Hassan Suvro, Md. Monowarul Abedin Khan)
American International University- Bangladesh
||16th December, a very significant day for Bangladeshis. In 1971, thousands of Bangladeshis gave their precious lives for the freedom of this country. After nine months of struggle, victory was completed on the 16th of December, a day that the whole nation proudly calls Bijoy Dibosh [Victory Day]. It is a day of great significance and inspiration for the whole nation. The National Flag is raised atop all buildings and the streets and houses are cover in banners and festoons. People from all section of society take part in public parades, sports and games. It is a day of respect for those who gave their lives for what we, the Bangladeshis cherish today, freedom. Their deathless valour shall never be dimmed in the collective memory of the Bengali nation. The nation salutes their heroism, today and everyday.
Background of Victory
Journey towards the victory
The arrest of their beloved leader could not dampen the spirit of Bangalees. They reaffirmed their promise to Bongobondhu to “free their motherland” and began to prepare themselves to free their country.
The Mukti Bahini had fought many successful battles in putting up initial resistance.
We may consider the Liberation War in 4 phases:
|Phase 1: March 27 to May
The students, peasants, workers and political activists joined the Mukti Bahini with high spirit to liberate Bangladesh from the Pakistan army. They were given training on tactics and the use of arms and explosives. On completion of training, they were posted to different sectors to fight the enemy.Pakistan airlifted two primary divisions and reorganized their forces. The headquarters of the Bangladesh Forces was established at 8 Theatre Road, Calcutta which started functioning from 12 April 1971. The Bangladesh government was formed on April 17 at Mujib Nagar. The country was divided into four sectors to conduct the war. The temporary headquarter was estblished at Teliapara in Sylhet division.
Phase 2: June to September
Bangladesh forces command was set up in July, with Col. MAG Osmani as commander in chief. Three brigades (11 Battalions) were raised for conventional warfare; a large guerrilla force (estimated 100,000) was trained. Economic and Military targets in Dhaka were attacked. The major success story of guerrilla operation was Operation Jackpot in Chittagong on August 16, 1971. The Indian army took over supplying the Mukti Bahini from the BSF. They organized 6 sectors for supplying the Bangladesh forces.
|Phase 3: October to beginning of December
Bangladesh conventional forces attacked border outposts. Kamalpur, Belonia and Battle of Boyra are the few examples. The Bangladeshi freedom fighters even managed to temporarily capture airstrips at Lalmonirhat and Shalutikar.Both of these were used for flying in supplies and arms from India.
Phase 4: December 3 - December 14
Pakistani forces were gradually becoming disorganized due to the sudden and quick guerrilla attack by the Bengali freedom fighters in most of the areas. The Pakistani Army was in a dreadful condition and gradually lost the will to fight because most of their major fortresses had fallen to the allied Bengali-Indian forces.
On December 14, 1971, only two days before surrendering to the Indian military and the Mukhti Bahini forces, the Pakistani army, with the assistance of local Islamist leaders and groups Al-Badr and Al-Shams systematically killed - over 200 of East Pakistan's intellectuals and scholars. Professors, journalists, doctors, artists, engineers, writers were rounded up in Dhaka, blindfolded, taken to torture cells in Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Nakhalpara, Rajarbagh and other locations. In one such incident, notable film-maker Jahir Raihan was killed on January 30, 1972 in Mirpur allegedly by the armed Beharis.
The Day of Victory
The strategy of the Mukti Bahini, aided by Indian forces, overwhelmed the Pakistani forces and within 10 days of India's joining the war, the Pakistani Army was compelled to surrender on December 16, 1971.
The Indian troops and the freedom fighters of 11 Sectors reached Tongi on 14 December
and Savar in the morning of 16 December
. Major General Jamshed, commander 36 Division of the Pakistan Army received Major General Nagra at Mirpur Bridge near Dhaka City. The Mukti Bahini and the Indian forces entered Dhaka city at 10.10 am.
Major General Jacob, the Chief of Staff of the Indian Eastern command landed at Dhaka airport at 1 pm.
with the draft Instrument of Surrender
. A fleet of helicopters landed on the tarmac of Dhaka airport at about 4 pm.
with Lieutenant General Aurora and his staff. Group Captain AK Khandaker, Deputy Chief of Staff, Bangladesh Forces represented the Mukti Bahini. Lieutenant General AAK Niazi received Lieutenant General Aurora. The instrument of surrender was signed by Lieutenant Jagit Sing Aurora and Lieutenant General Niazi at the ramna racecourse
(now Suhrawardy Uddyan) at one minute past 5 pm.
on 16 December 1971
The post-victory situation
After 9 month of war we discovered the new born Bangladesh with a destroyed economy. The amount of loss - in the government sector was 276 crore taka, in agriculture sector: 376 crore taka and in commerce sector: 100 crore taka. Then again with these damages there was the loss of millions of lives, public houses and assets. The national Geographic Society’s Estimate for the number of people killed in the War: 3 million. Villages after villages were burnt, farms and factories were destroyed, libraries were looted, elderly professors were shot.
After the victory the streams of refugees began making the long journey back home. For someone, there were happy reunions with relatives and friends for others tears of loss for those who will never return. But, there were new homes to be raised and a new nation to be formed. The land was there too, fertile and green.
Progress towards the aims of victory
The dream for Bangladesh became a reality only after a long and painful struggle. The moment we achieved victory an extra responsibility befell us: to stand up as an independent nation, with dignity, honor and respect. But after 36 years, most unfortunately, the dream seems disappearing. We have spent our energies in regard to identify that whether we are "Bangalis" or "Bangladeshis". We are busy politicizing our Liberation War. Now, intolerance is the mark of political conduct. The country has been listed as the most corrupt one in the world. Shop owners have to pay toll to criminals, students attack teachers for not allowing them to copy in exams, policemen protect murderers and criminals.
After 36 years we are no longer a young nation. A much harder work is necessary to give substance to the dream of the countless martyrs. For us the national motto should be “Unity”. We advise our leaders to live up to peoples trust and to covert the victory of 1971 as a real victory for all the people. It will be the best gift to the freedom fighters for sacrificing their lives.
36 years are gone but we are so unlucky that till we do not have the exact history of our liberation war.
Is there no value of the bloody war?
We want to implement the real dream of our liberation war.
1. The TIME Magazine, USA, December 20, 1971