War of Liberation and Independent Bangladesh

71aThe military junta of Yahya Khan started a dialogue with the leader of the majority party, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But it was actually an attempt to hoodwink the Bangalees.

They smuggled in arms and ammunition and a large number of army personnel from West Pakistan. On March 25, at midnight, they started mass scale genocide of the unarmed Bangalees. Thus began the so-called ‘Operation Searchlight’, the most heinous and barbarous genocide in the history of mankind. Soon after the crackdown began, Bangabandhu declared the independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of March 26, 1971. He sent a message containing the declaration of independence to his party leaders in Dhaka and Chittagong over the wireless of the then East Pakistan Rifles.
With the army crackdown on the 25th March night and the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu after the midnight, the resistance struggle and the armed War of Liberation of the Bangalees started all over the country. The junta arrested Bangabandhu from his Dhanmondi Road No. 32 residence immediately after the declaration of independence. A few days later, he was taken to West Pakistan. Then the Awami League leaders on behalf of the elected MNAs and MPAs issued a statement on April 10, 1971. This is known as the Constitutional Declaration of Independence. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was made the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The provisional government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formed in Mujibnagar with Syed Nazrul Islam as the Vice-President (to act as President in the absence of Bangabandhu) and Tajuddin Ahmed as the Prime Minister. On April 17, 1971, the ‘Mujibnagar government’ took oath of office in the presence of the elected representatives, Awami League leaders, freedom-fighters, local and foreign journalist and a large number of common people.
This provisional government gave leadership to the War of Liberation in the name of Bangabandhu. After the formation of the provisional government, the Liberation War found a sound footing: The Mukti Bahini (Bangladesh freedom fighters) fast grew into a highly disciplined combative force. The freedom fighters started their guerrilla attacks on the enemies all over Bangladesh and within months succeeded in forcing the Pakistani soldiers to confine themselves in their cantonments. On December 3, Pakistan made a desperate attempt to break the impasse by leading an air attack on India. An all-out war between India and Pakistan started. The Mukti Bahini and the Indian army formed the Allied Forces under a joint command. On December 6, 1971, India recognized to the independent state of Bangladesh. And the 9-month long war came to an end on December 16 with the surrender of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers to the Joint Command of Bangladesh and India in the historic Race Course Maidan of Dhaka.

71b

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