The Post-liberation period & the struggle for national reconstruction

74After the Liberation, Bangabandhu and the Awami League government faced a formidable challenge in reconstructing the war-ravaged country. Communication system, the posts and industries were completely in ruins.

Schools and colleges, factories and food silos were burnt to ashes by the marauding Pakistani soldiers. Then there was the staggering problem of the rehabilitation of the families of the martyrs, of those who were maimed by the War and of the women tortured by the Pak army. Ten million refugees, who had fled to India, were to be brought back and rehabilitated. The economy was in a shambles, foreign currency reserve was nil; the food silos were empty. The possibility of a famine was being forecast. Things were compounded by the drought of 1972, the devastating cyclone of 1973, the adverse effect of the worldwide recession owing to the Arab-Israeli War and the floods of 1974 etc. A greater threat to the political stability of the newborn country was posed by the conspiracies of the defeated anti-liberation quarters. The government of Bangabandhu had to confront these challenges of reconstruction on a War footing.
On his return from his confinement in Pakistan on January 10, 1972, Bangabandhu devoted himself to this stupendous task of reconstruction. We can enumerate the successes of the Bangabandhu government of 3 years briefly as follows:
(a) Restoration of communication system within the shortest possible time; the clearing of mines at Chittagong and Chalna Ports

(b) Rehabilitation of 10 million refugees who had taken shelter in India

(c) Granting of economic aid to the families of martyred freedom fighters

(d) Rehabilitation of narly 3 lakh women who were dishonoured during the War

(e) Sending of disabled freedom-fighters abroad for treatment

(f) Ensuring the return of the Indian forces within 3 months of the Liberation

(g) Framing of one of the world’s best constitutions within 10 months

(h) Introduction of Parliamentary system

(i) Holding of general elections in 1973 (AL won 293 out of 300 seats)

(j) Reorganization of the Defence Forces

(k) Appointment of the Kudrat-e-Khuda Education Commission for framing a scientific and secular education policy

(l) The promulgation of a democratic ordinance for the universities (1973)

(m) Nationalization of 40 thousand primary schools

(n) Winning of recognition by 140 nations of the world

(o) Singing the Ganges-Water Sharing Treaty with India ensuring 44,000 cusecs of water for Bangladesh; etc, 

Despite the severe handicaps under which the government had to undertake these tasks, the record of achievements was significant. It is worth quoting the judgement on food distribution expressed in a World Bank report:

" The refugees have returned and been resetteled. By and large, relief food distribution appears to have been effectively handled. There have been reports of corruption but more observers feel that the food has gone where it has been needed most badly. Enough food has been brought in and distributed to prevent widespread famine."

A World Bank Report of November 1972 dealing with the reconomic activity in major sectors reported progress as follows:

" By June of this year considerable progree has been made in restoring transport operations. Most of the severed links had been restored, at least on a temporary basis, and Chittagong, the most important port, was handlin traffic at volumes approaching pre-independent levels.... Considering the circumstances, the pace of recovery of industrial production has been quite remarkable in the first months of 1972. This is particularly true of the jute sector. With 41,600 tons, the output of jute goods stood in June 1972 at 85 % of the average 1969/70 level or at about 75 % of capacity"

In 1974, when the anti-liberation forces accelerated their disruptive activities, Bangabandhu felt the necessity of uniting all the pro-Liberation forces of the country under one banner. To this end, he formed the Bangladesh Krishak-Sramik Awami League on 24 January, 1975. He also declared the programme called the Second Revolution in order to revitalize the economy and to cement the national unity. As a result of this, the law and order situation improved considerably, the prices of essential commodities came down and political stability returned to the country.
At this critical juncture, when Bangladesh was striding forward under the apt leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the cruelest assassination of history took place on August 15, 1975. The founding architect of Bangladesh, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated along with all the members of his family then in Dhaka and other leaders. Some wayward army personnel with the help of anti-Liberation and reactionary international forces and their local henchmen staged this most heinous killing of all times.

 

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