Declaration of Independence by Bangabandhu & Birth of Bangladesh

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Published on March 23, 2024
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The landslide victory of the Awami League in the 1970 election accelerated the liberation struggle of the Bengali nation. On March 7, 1971, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave the final instructions to prepare for the Liberation War at a public rally at Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka. On March 23, he hoisted the map-emblazoned flag of independent Bangladesh at his residence in Dhanmondi. Red-green flags were flying in the air across the country. Meanwhile, the Pakistani junta chief General Yahya left Dhaka secretly following his order to carry out genocide on the Bengali nation on March 25.

In name of Operation Searchlight, Yahya Khan wanted to carry out such a barbaric genocide that the Bengali nation would never speak of independence again. Therefore, Tikka Khan, infamous for conducting genocide in Balochistan, was given the responsibility to execute the genocide blueprint in Bangladesh. Upon the orders of General Tikka Khan, the Pakistani army attacked the sleeping Bengalis with sophisticated weapons around 11:30 pm on March 25. 

Siddiq Salik, the then Pakistan Army’s public relations officer, said, "Tikka Khan called Major General Khadim Hussain at noon of March 25. He directly said, ‘Khadim, the work has to be done today.' Khadim was waiting for this instruction. He immediately instructed his staff to get ready to comply with the order.”

In his title Witness to Surrender, Siddiq Salik writes, "The time for the crackdown was fixed at 1 am on March 26. But after the evening of March 25, a commander advised Tikka Khan to bring the crackdown time forward. Then Pakistani forces swooped on the whole city at 11:30 pm."

Bangabandhu came to know the Pakistani’s plan from his own sources. On the evening of March 25, he instructed the whole country to prepare for the war by telephone call from his Dhanmondi residence at Road No 32. Regarding the incident of that day, Bangabandhu's assistant said in an interview, "Since the evening of 25 March, we started receiving information that all the tanks were being lined up in the cantonment and preparations for the attack were underway. We reported it to Bangabandhu. Then Bangabandhu's instructions were very clear. He said – the moment they [Pakistani junta] will start the invasion, we are free from that moment.”

Bangabandhu did not go ahead with the offensive first to avoid the trap of separatism. But he declared independence directly in the early hours of March 26, shortly after the Pakistani forces started the invasion. Bangabandhu's declaration of independence was broadcast on a special frequency of wireless, which was heard from the wireless of foreign ships stationed in Chattogram port and the wireless of Pakistani spies.

Just before the Pakistani army arrested Bangabandhu, his declaration of independence was transmitted to different parts of the world through several ships including MV Salvista, MV Mini La Tria, MV VV Giri and others. Butcher Tikka Khan later in an interview and Siddiq Salik in his book said that they heard Bangabandhu's declaration of independence themselves.

Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra started transmission from Chattogram soon after Bangabandhu declared independence in the early hours of March 26. Belal Mohammad, one of its organizers, said that the declaration of independence was broadcast first on March 26. MA Hannan, general secretary of Chattogram Awami League, readout the first declaration of independence on behalf of Bangabandhu on the radio. The declaration was also spread through loudspeakers in different areas since the morning of March 26. By noon, it was transcribed into Bengali and distributed as leaflets. Even the radio staff started broadcasting Bangabandhu's declaration of independence in their own voices. After the evening of March 26, Major Zia readout the declaration again in the name of Bangabandhu.

An analysis of the international media on March 26 and 27 in 1971 shows that newspapers of at least 25 countries across the world published the news about the declaration of Bangladesh's independence by Bangabandhu. On the night of March 26, the British news media the BBC, NDP and PTI covered Bangabandhu's declaration of independence. According to the United News of India: Sheikh Mujib has declared independence from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra.

Even the spot report of the United States’ Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) mentioned the declaration of Bangladesh’s independence by Bangabandhu at midnight on March 25, 1971. According to the report, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the eastern part of Pakistan as the independent People's Republic of Bangladesh.

On March 27 in 1971, the New York Times reported that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested shortly after he had declared independence. According to the Associated Press, Yahya Khan re-imposed martial law in East Pakistan and Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence. One of the noted British dailies, The Guardian reported Mujib declared independence for his countrymen before his arrest.

According to The Daily Times, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Commander-in-Chief of the Bengali Nation, has heroically responded to the aggression of the Pakistan Army. He declared independence and said, ‘Bangladesh is independent from today’.

David Loshak, a journalist with Britain's The Daily Telegraph, wrote about Bangabandhu's declaration of independence via wireless, “…the sound of the English announcement was very low. Perhaps it was pre-recorded,"

In 1971, Edward Heath was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. During the Liberation War, he said, “On March 26, 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the independence.” European leaders thought whether Sheikh Mujib remains alive or not, they [Pakistani military forces] cannot defeat the Bengali nation completely.  

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the greatest Bengali of all time, started preparing the people for the Liberation War from the beginning of March 1971. Bangladesh started following the orders of Bangabandhu instead of the Pakistan government from then on. When he finally declared independence on March 26, the Bengali nation was officially established as an independent nation in the world.