Victory Day 2019
49th Victory Day celebration
Pakistan Army is seen surrendering to Allied Force of Bangladesh. (Collected)
Professor Anwarul Karim, PhD :
This year Bangladesh celebrates the 49th Victory Day with pomp and grandeur and is heading towards completion of its half a century. Meanwhile the country will also celebrate the hundred year birth anniversary of Bangabandhu that falls on March 17, 2020. Bangabandhu's greatest achievement was the Independence of Bangladesh for which he struggled and braved death on occasions. Bangabandhu made the declaration of Independence on the fateful mid- night of March 25,1971 leading to early morning of March 26,1971 because Pakistan army entered into an undeclared civil war in order to crush our revolution against Pakistan. In fact, the struggle for freedom started on the day of March 7, 1971 when Bangabandhu made his speech that changed the history and earned for him an international recognition of unique leadership and also for the title of the 'Poet of Politics'being awarded by the News Week on April 5,1971.
The first Victory Day and Bangabandhu's absence
The first Victory Day on December 16, 1971 was observed though with a thrilling excitement and unprecedented joy that knew no bound, there existed a sad sensitivity among all following the absence of Bangabandhu who was then in Pakistani prison house counting moments of getting killed at the Scaffold's gate and the new born nation did not get the founding Father of Bangladesh on the occasion. This year too, Bangladesh celebrates the Victory Day when Bangabandhu belongs to ages and a part of the world history. Bangladesh has taken lesson from his life. His 'Unfinished Memoirs' an epic work will help guide the nation. People will know what he was to Bangladesh. He was a fearless, indomitable and irresistible leader of the country. This year the 49th Victory Day is dedicated to the memory of Bangabandhu as the nation prepares herself for the upcoming 100 year Birth Anniversary of Bangabandhu. The Home-coming of Bangabandhu on January 10, 1972 was the Victory day enjoinment that the country celebrated when the country madly greeted him with rousing reception. The path he followed from airport to Ramna race course was full of people carrying roses of heart-felt love for him. People of Bangladesh never betrayed him. None would be able to replace him.
Surrender of Pakistan Army to Bangladesh Allied Force
The 9-month War of Liberation ended on December 16, 1971 with the most humiliating surrender of Pakistani army to the Freedom Fighters of Bangladesh in accompaniment of Allied Force. The Pakistani Instrument of Surrender was a written agreement that enabled the surrender of the Pakistan Armed Forces to the Eastern Command of Indian and Bangladeshi Forces.
The signing of the document marked the end of the Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh. Lt. Gen. Aurora accepted the surrender without a word, while the crowd on the Race Course erupted in celebrations. The text of the surrender is now a public property of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani governments and the text of the document can be seen on display in the National Museum in New Delhi. The text of the Instrument of Surrender document was as follows :
"The Pakistan Eastern Command agrees to surrender all Pakistan Armed Forces in Bangladesh to Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora, General Officer Commanding in Chief of Indian and Bangla Desh forces in the Eastern Theatre.
This surrender includes all Pakistan land, air and naval forces as also all para-military forces and civil armed forces. These forces will lay down their arms and surrender at the places where they are currently located to the nearest regular troops under the command of Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora.
The Pakistan Eastern Command shall come under the orders of Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora as soon as the instrument has been signed. Disobedience of orders will be regarded as a breach of the surrender terms and will be dealt with in accordance with the accepted laws and usages of war.
The decision of Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora will be final, should any doubt arise as to the meaning of interpretation of the surrender terms.
Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora gives a solemn assurance that personnel who surrender shall be treated with dignity and respect that soldiers are entitled to in accordance with provisions of the Geneva Convention and guarantees the safety and well-being of all Pakistan military and para-military forces who surrender.
Protection will be provided to foreign nationals, ethnic minorities and personnel of West Pakistani origin by the forces under the command of Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora."
Background of Liberation War
The world knows that Bangladesh under the leadership of Bangabandhu was demanding the implementation of the constitutional right to form the national government. Bangabandhu won the massive victory in the National assembly election and it was supposed that he would form the government. Instead of doing it Pakistan let loose a reign of terror in East Pakistan killing innocent people, damaging property. Bangabandhu was taken to Pakistani custody on the charge of sedition. Bangladesh was then forced to form the government at Mujibnagar, Meherpur. A war was, in fact, thrust upon the people.
Press Statement of Tajuddin Ahmed, Prime Minister of Mujibnagar Government
Later, Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, the Prime Minister, the Mujibnagar Government of Bangladesh issued a press statement to the people of the world through the world press attending the ceremony. Following is the text of his statement (slightly abridged).
The Press statement that Tajuddin Ahmed, Prime Minister of Mujibnagar Government of Bangladesh delivered on April 17, 1971 is given below:
"Bangladesh is at war. It has been given no choice but to secure its right of self-determination through a national liberation struggle against the colonial oppression of West Pakistan. In the faces of obvious attempts by the Government of Pakistan to distort the facts in a desperate attempt to cover up their war of genocide in Bangladesh, the world must be told regarding the circumstances under which the peace-loving people of Bangladesh were driven to substitute armed struggle for parliamentary politics to realize the just aspirations of the people of Bangladesh.
The Six Point program for autonomy of Bangladesh within Pakistan had been put forward in all sincerity by the Awami League as the last possible solution to preserve the integrity of Pakistan. Fighting the election to the National Assembly on the issue of Six Points, the Awami League won 167 out of 169 seats from Bangladesh in a house of 313. Its electoral victory was so decisive that it won 80% of the popular votes cast. The nature of its victory placed it in a clear majority within the National Assembly. The post-election period was a time of hope, for never had a people spoken decisively in the history of parliamentary democracy.
It was widely believed in both the wings that a viable Constitution based on Six Points could be worked out. The Pakistan People's party which emerged as the leading party in Sind and Punjab, had avoided raising the issue of Six Points in their election campaign and had no obligation whatsoever to its electorate to resist it. In Baluchistan, the dominant party, the National Awami Party was fully committed to the Six Points. In NWFP, the NAP, dominant in the Provincial Assembly, was also a believer in maximum autonomy. The course of the elections, which marked the defeat of the reactionary parties, provided every cause to be optimistic about the future of democracy in Pakistan. Within the Qayyum Muslim League itself half of their members had booked their seats and there were signs of revolt within the PPP where many members wanted to come to Dacca. Faced with the breakdown of this joint front against Bangladesh, General Yahya obliged Mr. Bhutto on first March by postponing the Assembly not for any finite period but sine die. Moreover, he dismissed the Governor of East Pakistan, Admiral SM Ahsan, who was believed to be one of the moderates in the administration. The Cabinet, with the component of Bengalis, was also dismissed so that all power was concentrated in the hands of the West Pakistani Military junta. In these circumstances Yahya's gesture could not be seen as anything but an attempt to frustrate the popular will by colluding with Mr. Bhutto. The National Assembly was the only forum where Bangladesh could assert its voice and political strength and to frustrate this, was a clear indication that parliament was not to be the real source of power in Pakistan. The reaction to the postponement in Bangladesh was inevitable and spontaneous and, throughout the land, people took the streets to record their protests at this arbitrary act. People now felt sure that Yahya never really intended to transfer power and was making a mockery of parliamentary politics. The popular mood was that the rights of Bangladesh could never be realized within the framework of Pakistan, where Yahya could so blatantly frustrate the summoning of an Assembly proclaimed by his own writ and demanded that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to go for full independence.
Sheikh Mujib, however, continued to seek a political settlement. In calling for a program of non-cooperation on 3rd March, he chose the weapon of peaceful confrontation against the army of occupation as an attempt to bring them to their senses. This was in itself a major gesture in the face of cold blooded firing on unarmed demonstrators on the 2nd and 3rd March which had already led to over a thousand casualties. Non -cooperation was total. No judge of the High Court could be found to administer the oath of office to the new Governor, Lt.General Tikka Khan. The entire civilian administration including the police and the civil service of Pakistan refused to attend office. The people stopped supply of food to the army. Even the civilian employees of the defense establishment joined the boycott; Non-cooperation did not stop at abstention from work. The civilian administration and police positively pledged their support to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and put themselves under his orders. In this situation, the Awami League, without being a formally constituted Government, was forced to take on the responsibility of keeping the economy and administration running whilst non-cooperation lasted.
In these unique circumstances, the economy and administration were kept going on. Faced with the demonstration of total support to the Awami League and this historic Non-Cooperation movement, General Yahya appeared to have modified tactics. Preparatory to the convening of National Assembly, talks were expected between the main parties in the political arena. However, whilst the Awami League was always willing, preparatory to going to the Assembly, to explain its constitutional position and to discuss alternative proposals from other parties, it believed that the spirit of a true democracy demanded that the constitution be debated and finalized in the National Assembly rather in secret sessions.
To this end, it insisted on an early summoning of the National Assembly. In anticipation of this session, the Awami League worked day and night to prepare a draft constitution based on the Six Points and fully examined all the implications of formulating such a constitution.
The first major talks over Pakistan's political future took place between General Yahya and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in mid-January. In this session General Yahya probed the extent of Awami League's commitment to its program and was assured that they were fully aware of its implications. But contrary to expectations, Yahya did not spell out his own ideas about the constitution. General Yahya gave the impression of not finding anything seriously objectionable in the Six Points but emphasized the need for coming on an understanding with the PPP in West Pakistan. The next round of talks took place between the PPP and the Awami League from January 27,1971in Dacca. Several sessions were held. Mr. Bhutto did not bring any concrete proposal of his own about the nature of the constitution. Talks between the two parties could not give any result and this happened because of Bhutto who played dilly dallying tactic.
Mr. Bhutto's announcement to boycott National Assembly, therefore, came as a complete surprise. The next session was scheduled to be held in East Pakistan on March 3rd, 1971.PPP and Qaiyyum Muslim League did not attend the session in Dhaka, On 6th Match1971 Bhutto made a very provocative speech blaming Awami League for the crisis. Both Bhutto and Yahya worked against peaceful settlement with Awami League and made conspiracies resulting in Lt. General Tikka Khan's appointment to destroy any movement in Bangladesh. Despite all these, Awami League agreed to meet Mr. M.M. Ahmed, Economic Adviser to General Yahya for discussion. General Yahya was also then in Dacca. Sheikh Mujib tried his best for a peaceful settlement through participation at the National Assembly but nothing happened. The country was under Martial Law and Sheikh Mujib asked for lifting of Martial Law and transfer of power in the provinces to the major parties on the basis of his Six Points. But all his cries proved futile. Meanwhile all on a sudden, M.M Ahmed, the emissary of General Yahya Khan left Dacca without completing his tasks early morning on March 25, 1971 and Yahya also left on the same day and then at night of March 25, 1971, the Army under Lt. General Tikka Khan let loose a reign of terror. Sheikh Mujib was arrested from his residence and a massacre took place killing at least 50,000 people, mostly in Dacca on the fateful night of March 25 under the command of Tikka Khan.
Whilst the Police, EPR and armed volunteers put up a heroic resistance, the main victims remained the week, the innocent and the unsuspecting who were killed at random by the thousands. Yahya himself left Dacca on the night of 25th March after having unleashed the Pakistan Army with an open license to commit genocide on all Bengalisâ€¦â€¦..Pakistan is now dead and buried under a mountain of corpsesâ€¦â€¦"
The world was overwhelmed with awe and terror as they came to know of a mass massacre of Hindu and Muslims by the Pakistani army junta at the dead of night when everybody was in sleep. Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh in exile disclosed this to the people and the Press at Mujibnagar, Meherpur on the occasion of oath taking ceremony of Mujibnagar Government. Tajuddin said, "The hundreds and thousands of people murdered by the army in Bangladesh will act as an impenetrable barrier between West Pakistan and the people of Bangladesh. By pre-planned genocide Yahya must have known that he was himself digging Pakistan's graves. The subsequent massacres perpetrated on his orders by his licensed killers on the people were not designed to preserve the unity of a nation. Their acts of racial hatred were devoid of any kind of humanity. They must realize that Pakistan is dead - murdered by Yahya and that independent Bangladesh is a reality sustained by the indestructible will and courage of 75 million Bengalis who are daily nurturing the roots of this new nationhood with their blood. No power on earth can unmake this new nation and sooner or later both big and small powers will have to accept it into the world fraternity. Bangladesh will be the eighth most populous country on the world. In our struggle for survival we seek the friendship of all people, the big powers and the small. We do not aspire to join any block or pact but will seek assistance from those who give it in a spirit of goodwill, free from any desire to control our destinies. We have struggled far too long for our self-determination. We now appeal to the nations of the world for recognition and assistance, both material and moral in our struggle for nationhood.
A final word to our erstwhile brothers of West Pakistan : Before God, We tried to preserve this nation of Pakistan inspite the oppression, neglect and servitude inflicted on us by your rulers these 23 years. But your leaders could neither tolerate the idea of sharing power with us nor would they let us control our own destinies. As a result, today, you, the people of West Pakistan are silent spectators to the genocide being committed in Bangladesh by your rulers. Out of the ashes a new Bangladesh will rise - committed to peace, democracy and social justice resting on secure foundations of creed, language, culture and race and held together by shared experience of a struggle which must take its place in the epic struggle of our time. But you will be condemned to live under the bayonets of the Punjabi army, Sindhi, Pathan, Baluch and even the common man of Punjab will one day have to rise against these killers. Bangladesh was your last hope for democracy in Pakistan. Now you the people of West Pakistan, must voice your horror and oppose by all means at your command this attempt by your army to hold down the people of Bangladesh by force and commit genocide in the name of integration."
The aforesaid statement of Tajuddin Ahmed, the Prime Minister of the first Bangladesh Government at Mujibnagar clearly suggests that Bangladesh never went ahead with a separatist movement. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding Father of Bangladesh also tried his best to convince everybody in Pakistan that the Six Point program did not stand for any secession. It spoke for provincial autonomy which was necessary for a balanced economic growth of the country. East Pakistan exclusively suffered much both in political and economic interests. The 23 years were the periods of exploitation of East Pakistan by West Pakistan. Yet, the leaders expected that the good sense would prevail. The majority people of Pakistan were Muslims and India, in 1947, was divided on the point of two nation theory basing on religion. The West Pakistani army killed their Muslim brothers for the selfish gain of capturing power, over throwing Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who gained the absolute majority in the election and could be the Prime Minister of Pakistan. A war thus was thrust upon Bangladesh for her survival. The country won the Freedom after a 9 month war against Pakistan and Bangladesh regained her lost glory under the dynamic leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his associates who fought a glorious battle together with the millions of martyred men and women.
The formation of the Mujibnagar government in the name of its founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was thus a milestone in the Freedom struggle. This helped the world to recognize Bangladesh and also to extend support to the cause of her people in their fight for Freedom.
The world today has recognized and appreciated our strength as we could move from the least developed country (LDC) to a Developing Nation much ahead of the time schedule. It took several years to achieve full recovery from a shattered economy caused by the War of Liberation. The long 23 years of our life with Pakistan, before our Independence, Bangladesh was virtually looted out by West Pakistan and our economy was totally shattered. It is the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman under whose guidance the country was liberated after a 9-month War of Liberation. Bangladesh faced lot of crucial moments including famine and food shortage.
Bangladesh has now been able to rebuild her economy, transforming gradually the human resources into a skilled manpower. It is now held that Bangladesh is now on way to attain the status of the developing nation because of the fact that presently the rate of GDP is quite higher than the usual one following sustained inflow of remittances for stable exchange rates. Bangladesh has been moving very fast to meet the entire technical requirement in the coming years. The country has already met the LDC graduation criteria for the first time in 2018 and will be able to reach another significant milestone when it graduates in 2021. This year's Independence day celebrations thus have left a tremendous impact on the mind of people because of the country's achievement from LDC to Developing Nation.
(The writer is presently the Executive Director, Bangabandhu Research Center and Adviser, Northern University Bangladesh. He was formerly a Visiting Scholar, Divinity School, Harvard University, 1985, Guest Professor at 10 Indian Universities in 1985, Founder Director, Lalon Academy ( 1963- 1987) and Founder Chairman, Folklore Research Institute, Kushtia, Life Member, Asiatic Society Bangladesh and Bangla Academy.