Sunday, April 22, 2018 | ePaper

Role of Mujibnagar government in organizing liberation war

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Dr. M. Abul  Kashem Mozumder and Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque :
Every year we observed  formation of Mujibnagar government  in April 17. In fact, it was formally announced all with its organizational components on 17 April 1971.  Its role in liberation war has become a matter of utmost importance. We have so far written much about the formation of government in exile at Mujibnagar. We seldom think of who among officials took part in Liberation War as incumbents in the government in exile. At present, over four decades of independence, it seemed difficult to identify the persons who served in the war time cabinet as officials. The war cabinet was formed on 10 April 1971.  Oath taking ceremony took place on 17 April 1971 with the portfolios assigned among the Ministers on 18 April. Throughout the war with the Pakistan Army, the Mujibnagar government would serve as the nominal head of the pro-independence guerrilla militias, mainly the Mukti Bahini. Although the state gained independence only in December 1971, the Mujibnagar government is recognized in history as the first official government of Bangladesh.
The   Mujibnagar government is also called 'war cabinet'. The cabinet was well organized with frontline leaders and official staff. "The government-in-exile at Mujibnagar had an elaborate structure of administrative departments, agencies and activities. Even though elaborate agencies were established, the government's main work remained coordinating the guerrilla insurgency and to bolster popular support in East Pakistan by its political organizational work. Composition is given below:
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: President of Bangladesh
Syed Nazrul Islam: Vice President; Acting President
Tajuddin Ahmed: Prime Minister
Khondaker Mostaq Ahmed: Foreign Affairs and Law Minister
Muhammad Mansur Ali: Finance Minister
A. H. M. Qamaruzzaman: Home, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister
Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani: Commander-in-Chief of the Mukti Bahini
Major General Abdur Rab: Chief of Staff
Abdul Mannan: Chief of the Department of Press, Information, Radio and Film
Yusuf Ali: Chief of the Department of Relief and Rehabilitation
Matiur Rahman: Chief of the Department of Commerce
Amirul Islam: Chief of the Volunteer Corps
Had there been no government in exile at Mujibnagar, there would have no victory of liberation in a short possible time. The government in exile organised war against Pakistani occupation army and their Bengali quislings. It provided leadership, unity and direction to the guerrilla war for liberating occupied areas flushing out the Pakistan state forces and their allies. Many historians believe that "without the explicit and organised government-in-exile, the guerrilla resistance to Pakistani forces would have been fragmented, disorganised and ineffectual." Many scholars and political observers believe that "the Mujibnagar Government was a symbolic centre of the nationalist struggle, and served the essential purpose of lifting the morale of revolutionaries and those who supported the Awami League's campaign for Bangladesh. The Mujibnagar Government sought to serve as a credible alternative and counterpart to the Pakistani government, a system of political leadership distinct from the Indian government and a major contender for territorial control."
It designed all forward course of action organizing the freedom fighters and diplomats of government and leadership, as a credible alternative to the government of Pakistan. The Mujibnagar government's efforts primarily focused on organizing relief for civilian refugees fleeing from the Pakistani army, recruiting and training volunteers for the guerrilla forces and using a wide variety of communications and media to project the nationalist message to the people in East Pakistan and across the world. The Mujibnagar government also appointed envoys to India and other countries in the hope of obtaining foreign political support for the goal of an independent Bangladesh.
Planning Commission: Muzaffar Ahmed Chowdhury, Dr. Mosharraf Hossain; Dr. Anisuzzaman, Dr. Khan Sarwar Murshid, Dr. Swadesh Ranjan
S. R. Mirza: Director, Youth Camp
M. R. Akhtar Mukul: Director, Department of Information and Publicity
Abdul Jabbar Khan: Director, Department of Films
Quamrul Hasan: Director, Department of Arts and Design
J. G. Bhowmik: Relief Commissioner
Dr. T. Hossain: Director, Department of Health
Envoys: Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, Humayun Rashid Choudhary, Hossain Ali
The Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra became main centre of  organizing all artist and news casters  as a morale booster. The Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra (Free Bangladesh Radio Centre) was the primary broadcasting service used by the nationalists to project their messages to the population of Bangladesh, after the conventional media was suppressed and controlled by Pakistani state forces. The radio service was a major operation of the government-in-exile, as it was its primary means to encourage nationalists, garner popular support and preserve a sense of direction and information amongst the population. The radio service broadcast political news and music programme in Bengali, English and Urdu.
* Personnel: Ashfaqur Rahman Khan, Shahidul Islam, T.H. Shikdar, Balal Mohammad, Taher Sultan. Kamal Lohani (Bangla news), Aly Zaker (English news), Alamgir Kabir (English news commentary), Zahid Siddiqui (In-charge of Urdu programme), Samar Das and Ajit Ray (Music), Hasan Imam, (In-charge of Drama), Ashraful Alam (Outdoor broadcasting and interviews), Syed Abdus Shakoor and Rezaul Karim Chowdhury (Engineering). The main features of broadcasting were news of all activities of our freedom fighters, inspirational songs, drama and 'Chorom Patra' prepared and read out by MR Akhtar Mukul.

(Dr. M. Abul  Kashem Mozumder is Pro-VC , BUP and Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque is ex-professor of Chittagong University)

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