Monday, December 16, 2013 | www.dhakatribune.com
Victory Day 2013
Send us victorious
n Zeeshan Khan
or the generations born after December 16, 1971, Bangladesh was an existentially “normal” place to grow up in. Nothing in the atmosphere hinted at the violent upheavals our preceding generations had to contend with and there was no way of gauging what the yoke of imperialism felt like. We grew up as free people, in a free country; free to live according to our own values and free to advance ourselves as equal citizens of the world. We never experienced the humiliation of subjugation, or racism, and were never made to feel inadequate. In fact quite to the contrary, we were raised to be proud of who, and indeed what, we are – the first generation of an independent Bangladesh. It’s easy to forget what that really means until you think about what it took to get here. Nearly 200 years of British colonial rule had a devastating effect on our civilisation and we went from being the richest Mughal province to one of the poorest places in the
world. The economic exploitation was acute, resulting in death by the millions, but the strains on our social and psychological well-being were equally catastrophic. Added to that, a British policy of advancing some communities at the expense of others created sectarian tensions that wouldn’t go away when 1947 rolled around. But an independent Bengal was in the offing even as early as the 40s, and when we moved the Lahore Resolution to bring Pakistan into existence, we were actually signing onto the notion of “independent states,” i.e. an independence of our own. Machinations by “all-India” Hindus and Muslims denied us a united and independent Bengal, so we were cleaved in half and the bloody tale of that is of course Partition, which seems a lifetime away but really only happened to our grandparents. Now, with only half of Bengal and in the new notion of Pakistan, we were still hopeful of a chance to determine our own destinies, on our own terms and become economically and politically empowered. We were, after all, among “brothers.” Imagine
our surprise when our language, our culture, our ethnicity, our economy and then ultimately our votes were subordinated to a national pecking order that placed us at the bottom. A rude awakening followed, and then the guns came out. Truth is, the break from Pakistan, even from India earlier, was the
We exist because we believe in ourselves and believe that we know a better way political manifestation of a yearning that was alive before either of those republics ever existed. A memory of an independent country, with its own systems, structures, culture and values, resides somewhere in our collective consciousness, and informs our identity as completely as genes determine biology. Well before Pakistani, British and the Mughals ruled this place, a Bengali kingdom lived and breathed here, and it had its own way of doing things.
Illustration: Sabyasachi Mistry
When Babur, the Mughal, encountered this kingdom for the first time, in the 1500s he made this observation: “There is an amazing custom in Bengal: rule is seldom achieved by hereditary succession. Instead, there is a specific royal throne, and each of the amirs, viziers or office holders has an established place. It is the throne that is of importance for the people of Bengal … The people of Bengal say, “we are the legal property of the throne, and we obey anyone who is on it.” … Whoever becomes king, must accumulate a new treasury, which is a source of pride for the people. In addition, the salaries and stipends of all the institutions of the rulers, treasury, military and civilian are absolutely fixed from long ago and cannot be spent anywhere else.” It’s clear that he was describing a modern, responsible country, with institutions, offices and citizenship, something that was an anomaly in the medieval era of conquerors. A self-aware Bengali nation has existed since at least the time of the Buddhist
Charjapadas. It ran through the Pala and Sena kingdoms of Gaur-Bongo to the Vangaladesa of the Cholas and was reborn in the Sultanate of Bangala that Babur encountered. The emergence of Bangladesh was a historical inevitability. Repeatedly, the people of this land have resisted authority that was oppressive or unrepresentative of their beliefs and identity. The Kaibarta rebellion in the tenth century, the independent sultanate of the 1300s the Baro Bhuiyans in the 1600s, the fakir-sanyasin movement in the 1700s, the likes of Shurjo Sen and Subhas Chandra Bose in the 1900s and the movements of 1952 and 1971, were all the same struggle against domination. That’s why Victory Day matters as much as it does. We have walked a long road to get here. This country stands on a time-worn platform of pluralism and justice, and we exist as a nation because we didn’t, and still don’t stumble in the blind alleys of religious bigotry and cultural chauvinism. We exist because we believe in ourselves and believe that we know a better way. l
Victory Day 2013
Monday, december 16, 2013
Victory Day 2013
collection of all the significant international publications that have been accredited as being the first few to have acknowledged the plight of the Bangladeshis during the war
A beginning in red ink
One of the most detailed stories about Operation Searchlight was published by the Sunday Times (UK) in June 1971 by the West Pakistani journalist Anthony Mascherenas. It was published shortly together with the story of his and his own family’s escape from the military authorities.
In conversation with Mohammad Abdul Malek, editor of independent Bangladesh’s first newspaper Dainik Azadi
n Syeda Samira Sadeque
ecember 17, 1971. As the spirit of independence dawned upon Bangladesh, a publication house in a corner of Chittagong was immersed in celebrating the victory in a way no other Bangladeshis were doing yet: taking out independent Bangladesh’s very first – and the only one until later in the afternoon – newspaper. Dainik Azadi, a Chittagong-based newspaper, which began in 1960, had been operating for 11 years when it became an integral part of the very first moments of Bangladesh’s birth. The one-page publication went out in red ink instead of the conventional black ink. “We wanted it to be in red ink because we wanted to celebrate, because we wanted to emphasise on our accomplishment,” Mohammad Abdul Malek, editor of the newspaper, said in an interview with the Dhaka Tribune. The paper on that day sold 5060,000 copies. “We started printing in the morning, printed throughout the day and late into the night,” said Malek, who had been the editor of the paper at that time. They had later sent copies to other parts of the country, but initially December 17, 1971’s Dainik Azadi had been distributed mainly in and around Chittagong. Although Azadi is known to be the only paper that was published on December 17, there have been disagreements regarding this record. The Daily Ittefaq, for example, has claimed they published a paper on that day as well. “But they printed only in the afternoon, and we know this because their publication had information regarding a meeting that took place on that day,” Malek said, referring to a Mirikka magazine article, under the Press Information Department, which clarified this information. When asked how they executed such a massive mission, Malek said he had a group of extremely efficient and eager workers. “There were people who lived around, in the area, and they helped a lot. We didn’t even have to say anything. Everyone was so happy that
they were all working, excited to get the paper out.” Malek said the whole team readied the content for the one-page publication throughout night after independence was declared on December 16. The independence day special was printed with the use of a heidelberg machine, which was not the regular medium of printing at that time. “We used the machine for that day because it was faster, and allowed us to print a smaller paper – catering to that day’s demand.” Malek and his crew were unaware at that point that they had made history as the first newspaper that was published after Bangladesh gained
“I have witnessed the brutality of ‘kill and burn missions’ as the army units, after clearing out the rebels, pursued the pogrom in the towns and villages. I have seen whole villages devastated by ‘punitive action’. And in the officer’s mess at night I have listened incredulously as otherwise brave and honourable men proudly chewed over the day’s kill. ‘How many did you get?’ The answers are seared in my memory.” – Anthony Mascarhenas
‘We wanted it to be in red ink because we wanted to celebrate, because we wanted to emphasise on our accomplishment’
independence. They learned only later of the significance that their one-page, red-inked publication has held for the history of Bangladesh. The Dainik Azadi, which was born in Chittagong, has remained in the port-city since, and today has a circulation of 50-60,000. Malek’s father, who founded the paper, had started with the aim to distribute the paper only to citizens of Chittagong and around, and Malek has kept up with the mission for the past five decades. “The demand for our paper is very high today, and it is the leading newspaper of Chittagong. We don’t want to become a national publication,” said Malek, reﬂecting both his father’s and his own ideals about the paper’s operation. In fact, so strong is his dedication towards Chittagong – especially in regard to the paper – that Malek joked at the end of our conversation: “We often say it was Chittagong that actually accepted the independence of Bangladesh – Dhaka didn’t even believe in our independence; they didn’t have a publication about it!” l
On June 21, 1971 (over a month before the famous New York concerts), “John Lennon and Yoko Ono, along with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, and T. Rex (among many others), [lent] their support to Edgar Broughton’s, Save A Life, an appeal in aid of the East Pakistani refugees in Bangladesh, which is launched by the Daily Mirror newspaper in London
August 1 The Concert for Bangladesh is considered a landmark event in rock music history. Famously, George Harrison was inspired to stage the concert after Ravi Shankar had approached him with a suggestion that he hoped could raise twenty thousand dollars for refugees ﬂeeing the war in Bangladesh following the Pakistani military clampdown of March 1971. The two concerts on August 1, 1971 were highly successful - with a cheque for US$243,418.50 being immediately sent to UNICEF. However, both the UK and US governments held up much of the subsequent fifteen million dollars generated by the best selling Grammy award winning concert album and film for several years. Another Western artist who referenced the Bangladesh liberation struggle was Joan Baez with her song “The Story of Bangladesh”
What the Nixon White House knew
This is an extract of the above titled article published in the Time magazine on Monday, August 2, 1971
ver the rivers and down the highways and along countless jungle paths, the population of East Pakistan continues to hemorrhage into India: an endless unorganised ﬂow of refugees with a few tin kettles, cardboard boxes and ragged clothes piled on their heads, carrying their sick children and their old. They pad along barefooted, with the mud sucking at their heels in the wet parts. They are silent, except for
‘This will be a bitter, protracted struggle, may be worse than Vietnam. But we will win in the end’
in. No one can count them precisely, but Indian officials, by projecting camp registrations, calculate that they come at the rate of 50,000 a day. Last week the estimated total passed the 7,500,000 mark. Should widespread famine hit East Pakistan, as now seems likely, India fears that the number may double before the exodus ends. Hundreds of thousands of these are still wandering about the countryside without food and shelter. Near the border, some have taken over schools to sleep in; others stay with villagers or sleep out in the fields and under the trees. Most are shepherded into refugee camps where they are given ration cards for food and housed in makeshift sheds ...
Cordon of Fire a child whimpering now and then, but their faces tell the story. Many are sick and covered with sores. Others have cholera, and when they die by the road-side there is no one to bury them. The Hindus, when they can, put a hot coal in the mouths of their dead or singe the body in lieu of cremation. The dogs, the vultures and the crows do the rest. As the refugees pass the rotting corpses, some put pieces of cloth over their noses. The column pushing into India never ends, day or night. It has been four months since civil war broke out between East and West Pakistan, and the refugees still pour
The Blood Telegram
Pakistan: The ravaging of golden Bengal
courtesy: Kohinoor Kamal
CONCERTS FOR BANGLADESH
The evidence of the bloodbath is all over East Pakistan. Whole sections of cities lie in ruins from shelling and aerial attacks. In Khalishpur, the northern suburb of Khulna, naked children and haggard women scavenge the rubble where their homes and shops once stood. Stretches of Chittagong’s Hizari Lane and Maulana Sowkat Ali Road have been wiped out. The central bazaar in Jessore is reduced to twisted masses of corrugated tin and shattered walls. Kushtia, a city of 40,000, now looks, as a World Bank team reported, “like the morning after a nuclear attack.” In Dacca, where soldiers set
sections of the old city ablaze with flamethrowers and then machine-gunned thousands as they tried to escape the cordon of fire, nearly 25 blocks have been bulldozed clear, leaving open areas set incongruously amid jam-packed slums. For the benefit of foreign visitors, the army has patched up many shell holes in the walls of Dacca University, where hundreds of students were killed. But many signs remain. The tank-blasted Rajarbagh Police Barracks, where nearly 1,000 surrounded Bengali cops fought to the last, is still in ruins. Millions of acres have been abandoned. Much of the vital jute export crop, due for harvest now, lies rotting in the fields; little of that already harvested is able to reach the mills. Only a small part of this year’s tea crop is salvageable. More than 300,000 tons of imported grain sits in the clogged ports of Chittagong and Chalna. Food markets are still operating in Dacca and other cities, but rice prices have risen 20% in four months. Fear and deep sullen hatred are everywhere evident among Bengalis. Few will talk to reporters in public, but letters telling of atrocities and destroyed villages are stuck in journalists’ mailboxes at Dacca’s Hote lIntercontinental. In the privacy of his home one night, a senior Bengali bureaucrat declared: “This will be a bitter, protracted struggle, may be worse than Vietnam. But we will win in the end.” l
ur government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pak[istan] dominated government and to lessen any deservedly negative international public relations impact against them. Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankrupt, (…) But we have chosen not to intervene, even morally, on the grounds that the Awami conflict, in which unfortunately the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely an
International Herald Tribune, March 30, 1971 DHAKA CIVILIANS ‘STUNNED’ BY KILLINGS, WITNESS SAYS Dhaka (AP): After two days and night of shelling in which perhaps 7,000 Pakistanis died in Dhaka alone, the Pakistan Army appears to have crushed Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s 25 days of defiance in East Pakistan. The army, which attacked without warning on Thursday night with infantry, artillery and American supplied M-24 tanks, destroyed parts of the city. Its attack was aimed at the university, the populous old city, where Sheikh Mujib, the Awami League leader, had his strongest following, and the industrial areas on the outskirts of the city of 1.5 million people.
September 18 Although less well remembered than the George Harrison concert, perhaps because it was not officially recorded for a film and LP, was the September 1971 concert attended by tens of thousands at the Oval cricket ground in South London, headlined by The Who and The Faces in their Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood heyday
Newsweek, July 19, 1971 PAKISTAN: THE BENGALIS STRIKE BACK “I am glad to be able to tell you,” declared Pakistan President Mohammad Yahya Khan in a recent address to his nation “that the army is in full control of the situation in East Pakistan. It has crushed the mischief-mongers, saboteurs and infiltrators.” Alas for Yahya, the facts told a different story. Throughout East Pakistan, the embattled Bengali resistance movement seemed more determined than ever to prove, that it was alive and well-and capable of making life extremely difficult for the heavily armed but thinly spread occupation forces of the Pakistani Army. on december 17, 1971 the headline of the dawn read ‘War till victory’ even though the Pakistani army had surrendered the day before
Monday, december 16, 2013
internal matter of a sovereign state. Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional civil servants, express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected.
The “Blood telegram” written by American Consul General Archer Blood signed by 29 Americans is famously known now as “one of the most strongly worded demarches ever written by Foreign Service Officers to the State Department.”
Victory Day 2013
Monday, december 16, 2013
Eye-witness accounts from the Liberation War Written by descendants of witnesses, translated by Ahsan Sajid Bagerhat Barisal
Written by Syed Maidul Islam, WB Union Institution, 10th grade, Science Section Account of Shefali Begum, Village/Post: Atipara, Thana: Ujirpara, Barisal
Written by Md Afazuddin, Baharpur High School, 10th grade Account of Md Farid Mondol, Rajbari
Written by Sheikh Al Mamun, Goalmath Roshikolal Middle School, 7th grade, Kachua, Bagerhat Account of Zulekha Begum, Rajipara, PO: Sholarkola, Thana: Kachua, Bagerhat
he sad occurrences of 1971 keep us awake even today. One night, my grandfather tells me, my grandmother had left her children home to go to her neighbour’s house to borrow some rice. Our village was surrounded on two sides by the railway, from where the Pakistani army attacked randomly at the village with machine guns. Seeing this, my grandmother ran back home and picked up her baby, at which point she got shot in the knee. She was in shock, not realising what had just happened, transfixed in one place. My grandfather came running and asked her to take the baby and run back to the pond behind the house. She tried to make a run for it, but she could not raise her foot. It was as if her foot was stuck to the ground. She began wailing, and soon lost her consciousness. The barrage of bullets was constant, while some people were pouring cold water on my grandmother’s head and others were massaging her scalp with oil. She had become completely helpless trying to protect her child. She was unconscious for three days straight. Her son was screaming for milk, and her feet were smeared in blood. She came to consciousness one day, but didn’t move for two to three more days. She had become completely emaciated. A doctor looked her over, but she was completely paralysed. She is still alive today, but she cannot walk.
often ask my grandmother Shefali Begum about my grandfather Shaheed Kazi Mozammel Haque – his role in the Liberation War and how he became a martyr. She tells me about how after the war started, he braved the walk from Khulna to Ujirpur thana’s Aatipara village where she was living with her father. My mother had not yet been born. He settled down there, and secretly started militia training. My grandfather would keep my grandmother in the dark about his activities, but she still knew a fair bit. His friends, freedom fighters Syed Mokbul and Ali Ashrab Jamaddar would head out on their missions with only two rifles. To my grandmother’s ardent requests to stay back, they would say: “We have to liberate the country. We’ll die if we have to.” My grandparents relocated to my grandfather’s hometown in Changuria village during the war, where the people of the village beseeched my grandfather to train their men since he was a member of the army. This is when my grandfather started to train freedom fighters, but he hadn’t left home to join the war yet. One day the West Pakistani army landed in Gutia on a gunboat. They massacred their way to Changuria village looking for the house of Kazi Mozammel Haque. Panicked villagers ran out of their houses only to fall right in front of the Pakistani army. The army did not recognise my grandfather, and asked him for directions to his own house. He spoke Urdu and led them further ahead. The army started to indiscriminately kill villagers. After the army left my grandfather tried to treat some of the injured people with whatever medicine was available to him. One of his neighbours’ was lying with his guts in his hands. My grandfather tried to push the guts back but the man died within minutes. Many people died similar deaths that day. My mother was only a month old at the time. My grandfather told his wife: “I should have died today. They came to kill me, because I’ve trained freedom fighters. Allah has saved me. I will go to war tomorrow.” My grandmother begged him to not leave behind his month-old daughter and a-yearand-a-half-old son, to no avail. He asked his mother, who was still alive at the time, to look after his family, and to try and explain to his wife why he must go. He joined the war and became in charge of Chowdhurybari camp, in Banaripara’s Alta village. A few days later the Pakistani army attacked Shorupakathi’s Banaripara on a gunboat. A long battle ensued that martyred many men. One day, during the month of Bhaidra, when there was water everywhere a few people carried a corpse back to the house; it was my grandfather. My grandmother returned to her father’s village in Aatipara and prepared for life as a widow after the war. She raised her two children, and gave them a good education. She has, to this day, kept the bloody shirt my grandfather was wearing when he died. She says: “I am proud to be a martyr’s wife.” I am also proud to be a martyr’s grandson.
y husband’s name is Sofi Medda and our son’s name is Shaha Medda. They were part of Muktibahini. The Pakistani army was searching for my husband to kill him. Our house was in Kakarbil. On the fateful day, he had come to Goalmath Bazar to buy some groceries. The Pakistani army was alerted about this and they came to the bazaar to kill him. But he was already gone by the time they got there. However, he had forgotten to buy something for his son, and went back, this time he took his son along with him. If he had not come to the bazaar maybe he wouldn’t have been shot. The second he got there, the Pakistani army rounded him up along with his son in the middle of the bazaar and started pounding them. After beating them up, the army men blindfolded Sofi Medda and his son Shaha Medda, and carried them off in a van from the Goalmath Bazar. At Fatehpur Bridge, they kicked Sofi Medda and his son off the van. Sofi entreated the army to kill him but spare his son, to no luck. The Pakistani army men told them to bathe in the Fatehpur stream for one last time. When father and son took a dive and reappeared on the surface, the army shot at his son first, killing him instantly, and then him. The bystanders ran for their lives.
Kurigram Written by Lucky Parvin Khushi, Newashi Jagoroni Girl’s College, 10th grade, Social Sciences Section Account of Hafez Molla, Newashi, Nageshwari, Kurigram
I Faridpur Written by Nupur Biswas, Alfadanga A Z Girl’s High School, 9th grade, Commerce Section Account of Nihar Bala, Alfadanga, Faridpur
uring the 1971 Liberation War I was just a wife in this village and my husband was a fisherman. I had two sons and two daughters. One day, at dawn, the Pakistani military attacked our village. Some people were still sleeping at the time, while others had headed out to the field for work. The military set all the houses on fire. Everybody ran any which way they could. Our neighbours fled to India. They had told us to follow suit with the entire family. But my husband was not around, and I could not leave. My husband and his younger brother had taken to the streets with me and my four children to find a safe passage for us. My husband’s brother believed that nobody would attack us. He took us to his house. Just as he was saying this the military shot him and my husband, killing them instantly. I asked them to shoot me as well, because I couldn’t leave my husband behind, but my mother in law dragged me back, saying: “Who’s going to look after the kids if you die too? What will I do? Where will I go? What will I feed the children?” They had already burnt our house down. I set out with my children on foot towards India. But halfway, I turned back. I found my way back to my father’s house, but nobody was alive. On the way, my mother in law died of starvation. In the house next to my father’s, lived one of my sisters in law. One of her daughters had died from starvation as well. She had somehow managed to keep her son alive. She did not manage to salvage any clothes, and went out to get water with a rag wrapped around her. In a house close to the one we were living in, the Muktibahini had come to eat. When they sat down to eat, a plane flew past the house. Everybody was under so much panic those days that they rushed out, thinking the plane had been alerted about their whereabouts. After the plane flew away, they came back to eat.
Written by Md Royal Ali, Kaligram Rathindranath Institute, 6 grade Account of Md Abdul Jabbar, Manyari, Patisar, Thana: Atrai, Naoga th
y grandfather told me about how one day in 1971 the Razakars and the al- Badr brought the Pakistani army to our village Patisar. On the way to Patisar, they targeted three men from the previous village and shot them dead on the field. Once they got to Patisar, they indiscriminately began to loot and plunder the village. They raped two women in the village. Some villagers managed to stay out of sight, and used the waterways to sneak to Manyari village to seek shelter. While making their way through Manyari, they randomly picked out two men, Mohabbat and Tomij, and shot them dead. They also grabbed Kocchimoddi from a pond and took him prisoner, whom no one saw again.
Victory Day 2013
C A S U A L T I E S
March 26 - December 3
December 4 - December 16
Before the Indian army joined the war
The joint forces assault
93000 Troops, 41 Tanks, 50 Guns and Heavy Mortars, 104 Recoilles Guns, 18 F86 Aircrafts
Written by Md Sadique Sarwar, Domar Bohumukhi High School, 10 grade Account of Md Nur Islam
have heard about this event from my father Md Nur Islam. It transpired on a Wednesday, on the field in front of the village’s primary school. In the afternoon, a makeshift village bazaar came together on the field. A leader of the Muktibahini, Rahman, was speaking to the gathered crowd from inside the school, urging elders to let their sons join the war, and urging the youth to take up arms for the country’s liberation. My father was also on the field. At this time, five people came to the field to sell hay. They were clad in lungi, shirt and gamcha – in other words they looked like ordinary people. They were accompanied by one of our own. Once they had spread out in the field, they pulled out rifles that they had been hiding under the hay and began firing in the air. When people tried to run away, one of them shouted: “Sit down exactly where you are if you do not want to be shot.” Fearing for their lives, the people apprehensively sat down. The men entered the school building, and picked up Muktibahini leader Rahman, with the help of a local. After this no one ever heard anything about Rahman again. The men, were of the Pakistani army. But the local collaborator was one of our own. Only with his assistance was the army able to capture this leader of the Muktibahini. There are a number of similar stories about the collaborators during the Liberation War.
Joypurhat Written by Md Asaduzzaman, Alampur Demukhi High School, 8th grade, Joypurhat Account of Md Shadul Hossain, Khetlal, Joypurhat
still vividly remember 1971. At the time I was 40-yearsold. I was harvesting wheat in the field. Out of nowhere, the Pakistani army came and captured me along with three other people from the village, and dragged us away. Their car had gotten stuck and they made us push it out. Then they made us push it for nearly 2 kilometers. By the sides of the road there were hundreds of Pakistani army men. We also noticed a few stacks of corpses here and there. When our strengths were completely giving away, they raided the houses of some other villagers, and made them push the car instead. The yelled for us to get lost and we ran for our lives, back home. I had never seen anything like it and I remember it to this day.
Junior commissioned officers
Surrendered March 1: General Yahya Khan calls off the session of National Council to be held on March 3 7: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic address 9: Workers of Chittagong port refuse to unload weapons from the ship “Swat” 16: Yahya Khan starts negotiation with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman 19: Nearly 50 people die as Pakistan Army opens fire on demonstrators at Jaydevpur 24: Pakistan Army opens fire on Bengali demonstrators in Syedpur, Rangpur and Chittagong. More than a thousand people are killed 25: Pakistan Army starts Operation Searchlight in Dhaka and rest of the country 26: At 1.15 AM, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is arrested by the Pakistani 3 commando unit Independence of Bangladesh is declared 31: Kushtia resistance begins
Notable battles in the 11 Sectors
September 5: Battle of Goahati, Jessore 28: Bangladesh Air Force starts functioning
n Compilation: Shahtab Mahmud, Source: “Bangladesher Shadhinota Juddho,“ Ministry of Information
‘We enticed a large number of enemy soldiers to a swamp and were able murder them in large numbers. I have used the word “murder” extensively. In regular warfare, the word murder is not used. defeating the enemy is the main objective. but in this guerrilla ﬁght, the identiﬁed enemy is a criminal in humanitarian terms. Murder, for him is only a fair sentence’ LT COLONEL ABU TAHER, ABOUT KILLING THE MANY PAKISTANI
SOLDIERS IN THE KAMALPUR SIEGE
THREAT POSED BY BANGALIS
11–17: Sector Commanders Conference 1971
August 1: The Concert for Bangladesh 16: Operation Jackpot, Bangladesh naval commando operation 20: Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman’s attempt to defect by hijacking a fighter 30: Pakistan Army crackdown on Dhaka guerrillas
9: Six small ships constitute the first ﬂeet of Bangladesh Navy 16: Battle of Ajmiriganj, an 18 hour encounter between Mukti Bahini and Pakistan army. A famous freedom fighter,Jagatjyoti Das, is martyred 20-21: Battle of Garibpur: Indian attack in Boyra salient in East Pakistan 21: Bangladesh Armed Forces is formed November 22 to December 13, and sporadic fighting to December 16: Battle of Hilli: Indian attack on Bogra in East Pakistan
3: Bangladesh Air Force destroys Pakistani oil depots. Pakistani air attacks on India result in India declaring war on Pakistan 6: Bhutan becomes the first country to recognize Bangladesh after India Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra becomes Bangladesh Betar 7: Liberation of Jessore, Sylhet and Moulovi Bazar 9: Battle of Kushtia: Indian attack from West Bengal into East Pakistan, Chandpur and Daudkandi liberated 11: Liberation of Hilli, Mymenshingh, Kushtia and Noakhali. USS Enterprise is deployed by the USA in the Bay of Bengal to intimidate Indian Navy 13: Soviet Navy deploys a group of warships to counter USS Enterprise 14: Selective genocide of Bengali nationalist intellectuals Liberation of Bogra 16: End of the Bangladesh Liberation War 22: The provisional government of Bangladesh arrives in Dhaka from exile
13: Dhaka guerrillas kill Abdul Monem Khan, governor of East Pakistan 28: Battle of Dhalai Outpost, Srimongol 31: 4 day Battle of Dhalai starts: Indian attack from Tripura into East Pakistan to stop Pakistani cross-border shelling
December (The 1971 Indo-Pakistan War)
May 5: Gopalpur massacre 15: Indian army starts aiding Mukti Bahini 20:The Chuknagar massacre takes place at Khulna where the Pakistan army kills nearly 10 thousand people 24: Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra finds home in Kolkata
‘Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands.’ YAHYA KHAN AT THE FEBRUARY CONFERENCE, ABOUT THE POLITICAL
2: Jinjira massacre 6: The Blood Telegram 10: A provisional Bangladesh government-in-exile is formed 12: MAG Osmani takes up the command of Bangladesh Armed Forces 17: A provisional government-in-exile took oath in Baidyanathtala 18: Battle of Daruin, Comilla and Battle of Rangamati-Mahalchari waterway, Chittagong Hill Tracts 28: Tajuddin pleas for arms aid to neighbors
Commander: Maj Ziaur Rahman, Captain Rafiqul Islam
Commander: Major Khaled Mosharraf, Major ATM Haider
Commander: Major KM Shafiullah, Captain ANM Nuruzzaman
Aug 28, Mirersarai: An FF group lead by Mizan mined a railway track around Mirersarai. At 8:45am, a train carrying Pakistani troops were derailed. 35 enemy soldiers were reportedly killed
Jun 7, Feni: While the Pak army was advancing towards Belunia, they confronted the K force, led by Brigadier Khaled Musharraf – after a day of fierce battle; the Muktibahini killed almost 60% people of an entire battalion. 300 bodies were found, many others washed off by the Chilonia river
Aug 7-16, Katiadi ambush: After an unsuccessful battle in Belabo, the Pak army was high in confidence. On Aug 16, Pakistani army was advancing towards Katiadi on a few steamers. The waiting S-force soldiers opened fire and destroyed many of these steamers. 143 Pak soldiers were reported dead, many fled. This ambush was lead by Habildar Akmal Ali
Dec 15, Siege of Mynamoti cantonment: 9th Bengal regiment. 150 Pak soldiers surrendered and many fled. The ultimate surrender happened on Dec 16
Dec 13-16: KM Shafiullah’s S force were the first to take Dhaka. On Dec 16, at Demra, 0431 hrs, the Pak forces surrendered. The commander of the opposition was Colonel Khiljee
Dec 9, Nazirhat: The guerrilla company operating in Nazirhat, lead by Lt. Shawkat, attacked Pakistanis. The freedom fighters killed 20 and inflicted heavy casualties. 5 of our soldiers were martyred and 3 were wounded. Pak army surrendered on Dec 16, at Chittagong, Sitakundu and Kumira
Commander: Major Chittarajan Datta, Lt Col Md Abdur Rob
Monday, december 16, 2013
P A K I S T A N I
am an inhabitant of Kurigram district’s Newashi village in Najeshwari thana. My father’s name is Md Hafez Molla. My name is Lucky Parvin Khushi. My father was a freedom fighter. He is extremely hardworking and brave. He took part in the Liberation War of 1971 and is still alive. I have heard of many stories about 1971 from my father. He did his guerilla training in India’s Nengtishing Bazar’s harsh militia training center for one month before moving on to advanced training at Shilguri Panigota militia training center where he earned FF number 4411. After this he trained a further one month. Him along with 500 other freedom fighters under the name of Alpha Company seized control of the village Shahebpur, in the India-Bangladesh border near Najeshwari. From here onwards, they prepared for flat out war. My father tells me that during the day he used to dress as a civilian and gather intelligence on the enemy, which they used to formulate operations that they carried out at night. This way they continued to capture enemy camp after enemy camp. This also restocked their supply of gunpowder and weapons. During the war, my father had gotten shot in his left hand. He fought in the war and he is alive to this day. I consider this a blessing.
June 19, Latitila Operation: Rob’s company prepared for a dawn attack and was in position since 2pm. At 5:45 in the morning, the forces totally surrounded the Pakistani camp and the combat started. The soldiers of 22 Baloch fled to the woods indiscriminately. Most of them were killed Dec 15, Khademnagar: Joint troops sieged the Pakistani HQ at Khadimnagar. Fighting continued all day. Finally, on Dec 16, the enemy surrendered
Commander: Wing Commander Khademul Bashar
Gourinagar, October 30:Major Taheruddin Akhanzee led the attack on the Pakistani camp at Gourinagar. 175 soldiers were at the front of the attack. The Sector commander himself covered the troops with 120mm mortar fire
Nov 26-30, Pachagarh: 1 battalion Muktibahini and 2 batallions of the Indian army attacked the strong Pakistani post at Pachagarh at night, Navember 26. One of the Major battles of the war, this siege lasted 4 days
SECTOR 8 Commander: Major Osman Chowdhury, Major MA Manzoor Nov 24, Gharibpur: Major Alik Kumar Gupta led Joint forces engaged 14 Pakistani tanks. All Pak tanks were destroyed. The Joint forces lost 5 tanks Dec 7: Jessore and Narail were liberated on Dec 7
Commander: Major Mir Shawkat Ali
Dec 9-16: Mir Showkat Ali attacked Govindaganj and drove the Pak army as far as Lamakazi. On Dec 12, 4 Indian Army jets bombarded lamakazi and within days, the pak army surrendered
Source: Surrender at Dacca, Lt Gen JFR Jacob AH Mamun/DT Infographic
Dec 13, Syedpur: The joint forces advanced to take Syedpur. At about 5 miles from Syedpur, tanks engaged the opposition. 3 pakinstani tanks were destroyed while 1 Indian tank was also lost. Around evening, 107 Pak soldiers including the commander of the 48 Punjab regiment and another officer, surrendered
SECTOR 7 Commander: Major Nazmul Haque, Major Quazi Nuruzzaman Nov 13, Train blast in Shihipur: Led by Dulu, from Mahimaganj, locals Bably, Khaleque, Hamid and other charged a Pakistan army train in Shihipur. More that 150 enemies were killed Dec 16: Brigadier Ghiasuddin Chowdhury attacked Nawabgang with his troops at 6am and emerged victorious
SECTOR 1 1
Commander: Major M A Jalil, Major MA Manzur, Major Joynal Abedin
Commander: Majors Ziaur Rahman, Abu Taher, Squadron Leader M Hamidullah Khan
Aug, Date unknown, skirmish at Panpatti: Freedom Fighter Nurul Huda said that in a two day fierce battle, the Muktis came face to face with the Patuakhali region Pak army commander, Major Yamin. Yamin
Sep10-11, Kamalpur base, Mahendraganj: The ambush was long, hard and ultimately futile. Taher’s troops systematically drew the enemy to a swamp and the siege turned into an ambush, according to the man himself, the LMG fire “killed” them like sitting ducks
Dec 13-Dec 17: Blockade of the Khulna Newsprint Mill The joint command met stern resistance from Brigadier Hyatt Khan. No notable progress was being made. There was heavy firing and air strikes even. Hyatt refused to surrender even after Dec 16. In the end, the Pak troops dropped their arms on December 17
December 10-16, Jamalpur to Dhaka, with love: Freedom fighter Johurul Haque Munshee was sent to the commander of the 31st Baloch regiment, asking the enemy to surrender. The commander sent a bullet wrapped in paper as an answer. By the time the surrender happened at 5am next morning, 212 Pak soldiers had died and 200 further were injured
Victory Day 2013
Monday, december 16, 2013
Victory Day 2013
Monday, december 16, 2013
Art and culture influenced by the Liberation War Biren Shome: Exhibition in Exile One of the Bangladeshi artists who fled to India, and became ambassadors for the cause abroad in a foreign country was not a pleasurarecollects that interactions with other n Tasnuva Amin Nova ble experience for anyone. artists increased during the war. Biren
iren Shome is a balding man with white long hair loosely tucked behind his ears. Unusually fair complexion for a Bangladeshi. Slender body with an oblong face. Talks fast, as if in a hurry. When I arrived he, wearing a sweater over a full sleeved shirt, was chatting with a group of friends beside the printing room of Dhaka Art Center. As I came in, he guided me to the printing room, where two girls were already working, in search of a quieter atmosphere. As we talked, the girls listened, occasionally asking about the exhibition, which Biren says not many people here know about. Biren Shome is a now freelance artist in Dhaka. At the time of war, Biren had graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Dhaka University, and just joined as teacher of Botany in the same university. He ﬂed Bangladesh in April, 1971, fearing the tortures of Pakistani army. Talking about the contribution of exiled artists in India, Biren said that the fund raised from selling the paintings was used by the Bangladesh government to finance the war, and it helped create awareness among people who came to visit the exhibition. Biren claims this exhibition in Kolkata as the first art exhibition of independent Bangladesh. The exhibition was also held in Delhi and Mumbai (then Bombay). While working in India, many of the exiled artists lived their lives in poverty, but they had a sense of brotherhood amongst themselves at the time of crisis. They did not have any job or a source of income. No matter how little amount of money or food they had, they would share it among themselves. He recalls coming across Quamrul Hasan in Kolkata when he went to meet Chintamoni Kaur about the exhibition to be held there. While in India, these exiled artists were given many privileges. Biren says, “While travelling using public transport or at restaurants, saying Joy Bangla would help us get a free ride or even discounted meals. Everyone knew about the spirit of the two words.” He also
Mohammad nazmul Haque
Red and Green
In the lead up to the big event, Robi Photoschool, in association with Drik, Shahidul Alam held a photography contest with the theme red and green. Shahidul selected the top ten finalists. The winner will be announced today
also came across artist Shahabuddin Ahmad during the war and artists from other fields as well. After the war ended, the exiled artists came back to Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government had announced that those who were working for government organisations had to come back by January 30 or they’d lose their jobs. Nasir Bishhash was among the first ones to return. Biren recalls that being exiled
A Golden Age (2007) Tahmima Anam’s stunning novel, A Golden Age, lays bare a mother’s ordeal in the gulf between East and West Pakistan. The book won the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book
Muktir Gaan (Song of Freedom) (1995) – Directed by Tareque Masud and Catherine Masud The film follows a troupe of musicians travelling through refugee camps and war zones during the Liberation War. They perform throughout the countryside to boost the morale of citizens and freedom fighters and people. Much of the footage of the troupe was taken by American filmmaker Lear Levin. When the Masuds tracked him down in New York, Levin said he had been waiting for their phone call for more than 20 years A Certain Liberation (2003) – Directed by Yasmine Kabir A short documentary about an incredible woman supported Gurudasi Mondol resigned herself to madness in 1971 when, during the Liberation War of Bangladesh, she witnessed the murder of her entire family. Today Gurudasi continues to roam the streets of Ko-
Peace: biren Shome, Pen & Ink 1971
drawing: Swapan chowdhury. Pen & Ink 1971
Today we T hold our heads high
oday, our country is festooned with ﬂags. Red and green is everywhere you look: lining the streets, on people’s clothes, and painted on children’s faces. Today, on this day of celebration, we put aside our political differences, and honour our identity as one nation. The turmoil of this pre-election year has taken its toll. But today, more than 30,000 people will meet at the National Parade Ground, and unite to create the world’s largest human ﬂag. There can be no more fitting way to celebrate Victory Day – not just because the sight of our ﬂag stirs the procion red of our blood, but also because our greatest resource is, and has always been, our people. This bold initiative was the brainchild of Robi Axiata. With the support of the army, they were able to quickly spin this dream into reality. If the attempt is successful it will be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. The current record is held by Pakistan, at 24,200 participants.
In the lead up to the event, Robi’s
There can be no more ﬁtting way to celebrate Victory Day – not just because the sight of our ﬂag stirs the procion red of our blood, but also because our greatest resource is, and has always been, our people the ﬂag” button, people at home can help lift the virtual pieces that make up the ﬂag, which is a proportionate model of the human ﬂag to be created today.
At the parade grounds, the 30,000 volunteers will stand in formation and hold up their placards, coloured in red
or green. The challenging job goes to those holding the margin pieces, where the red and green meet on the same card. They must stand in exactly the right spot and hold their pieces in exactly the right orientation. Squares have been carefully chalked out on the parade grounds, and labelled. Each square is numbered, matching the number of its corresponding placard piece. The human ﬂag will follow the official measurements of the national ﬂag, including the off-centre red circle. According to the Guinness Record rules, people must hold the ﬂag up for five minutes. A Guinness-accredited auditor will be present to oversee the attempt in Bangladesh. After successful completion of the event all relevant documents and images will be sent to the Guinness World Record committee for validation.
“We are really lucky to get a chance to join the squad,” said Masud Parvez, a cheerful college student and volunteer, at the rehearsal on Saturday. He and 20 of his friends had joined the efforts. It was a matter of pride and
a moment from the preparations to make history joy for them to be a part of history, Masud said. Around 10,000 spectators can collect free tickets from any Robi customer care centre, and 1,200 tickets will be available at the entrances of the venue today. Approximately 1,000 guests, celebrities, sportspersons, educationists, businesspersons and other noted individuals have been invited, said Ashikur Rahman, a Robi spokesperson.
The programme will start at 10am, with the National Anthem to be sung by Rezwana Chowdhury Bonnya.
SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN
At 12pm, the volunteers – mostly school and college students from different academic institutions – will gather to form the human ﬂag. The event will be televised and streamed live on their website http://bdworldrecord.com. Aerial views will come from the helicopter brought in to capture the big moment. There will be a concert on the grounds immediately following the ﬂag formation, featuring Ayub Bachchu and Bappa Mazumder. Members of the Bangladesh navy, BGB, police, Ansar and the air force will be deployed at the venue to strengthen security. l
Genocide: drawing Mustafa Monwar 1971
Genocide: drawing Prnesh Mondal 1971
Muktijudher Itihash (2009) Muktijuddher Itihash (History of the Liberation War) is probably the shortest history book that has ever been written. Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, the author of this book captures the entire history of the 1971 liberation war in just 22 pages with references from authentic sources
The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide (2013) A riveting history – and the first full account –of the involvement of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh that led to war between India and Pakistan, which had major strategic consequences that still affect the world today
Tajul Islam Khan
Photoschool, in association with Drik’s Shahidul Alam, hosted a red and green themed photography contest. They launched a website at http:// bdworldrecord.com, inviting users to comment and participate in various contests to win tickets to the event. Visitors to the site can also make a collective ﬂag of their own. The site features a user-generated 3D digital ﬂag. By clicking the “build
Jochona o Jononir Golpo (2004) Humayun Ahmed propensity for variety is best seen in his novel Josna O Jononir Golpo. It follows the fate of a large cast of characters from diverse backgrounds, as they witness the breakout of the Liberation War and live through the horror
Ami Birangona Bolchi (1996) Neelima Ibrahim’s groundbreaking Ami Birangona Bolchi (I, the Birangona, Speak) is a compilation of some of the personal stories of the Birangona, the 200,000 women who were raped by the Pakistani Army during the 1971 war of independence
When Biren went back to his village, he found nothing; everything was burnt to ashes. He and his family lost their house and all belongings. Biren’s family took shelter in Assam during the war. But the war ended, Biren brought them back to their village after three months. During these months, he and brother arranged accommodation taking help from everyone else around. l
umana Habib and n RAbu Bakar Siddique
Bangladeshi artists participated in an art exhibition in Kolkata’s Birala Academy in September 13, 1971. Through this movement, the brave artists portrayed the genocide taking place in Bangladesh after the horriﬁc events on March 26, 1971. This helped draw foreign attention to the ongoing massacre in the country. These rebellious artists also actively contributed by designing logos for the government of Bangladesh and national organisations and also in designing festoons, posters and banners. Artists whose works were displayed in the exhibition, and later in Delhi, include: Mustafa Monwar, Swapan Chowdhury, Quamrul Hassan, Debdas Chakroborty, Nitun Kundu, Kazi Giasuddin and Biren Shome
Genocide: drawing Quamrul Hasan 1971
pilmoni, a small town in rural Bangladesh, in pursuit of all she has lost; snatching at will from the pockets of strangers and breaking into spaces normally reserved for men, taking liberties only her madness and her strength of character afford her Stop Genocide (1971) – Directed by Zahir Raihan This 20-minute documentary was instrumental in helping gain international awareness and support for the war effort. Using found footage, newreels and photographs, the film documents the killings and atrocities carried out by the Pakistan army. The Mujibnagar Cabinet, along with other exiled politicians, watched the first screening of Stop Genocide in secret in in India. Moved by the film, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi instructed her film division to buy the film and distribute it internationally
Victory Day 2013
Monday, december 16, 2013
Escape to Bangladesh Tale of a family stranded in West Pakistan after the Liberation War and their strife to get back home
n Barrister Harun ur Rashid
n 1971, I was a mid-level officer at the Pakistan Foreign Office and lived in Islamabad with my family. Little did we realise that the military junta would be so brutal and ruthless in erstwhile East Pakistan, launching a military crackdown on unarmed Bangali civilians on March 25, 1971; constituting genocide and crimes against humanity. We did not know what actually happened on March 25 and 26, as the media in Pakistan provided us with a sanitised version of the horrible events. We began listening to the news broadcasts of All India Radio and the BBC for correct news. I was deeply concerned about the fate of my elder brother, Barrister Kazi Ahmed Kamal, who was very close to Bangabandhu as they were together as undergraduate students at the Baker hostel in Calcutta during 1942-44 (after independence, my brother was the first Bangladesh Ambassador to East Germany in 1972). I found out later that my brother ﬂed Dhaka and went to our village in Vikrampur. The escape started from Peshawar, taking the author and his family on an arduous journey to their freem
We were mentally and physically distressed. We had to spend day and night for almost three days in the donkey-shed. By the time we left the shed we were joined by a few more Bangali couples. On the third day at 9pm, we were advised to get ready to move onwards to Landikotal
When the Pakistan army surrendered in Dhaka on December 16, it erased forever from our mind the ignominy of being ruled by others and brought us the resplendent dawn of freedom. From that day our lives changed forever. Soon, in 1972, we were given an option to serve Pakistan or “so-called Bangladesh.” When we exercised our option to serve Bangladesh, our services were terminated immediately and we became hostages under the Bhutto government. We soon learnt that we would be sent to concentration camps outside Islamabad and would remain there until the issue of the repatriation of Pakistani prisoners of war was resolved.
Escape from Pakistan to Bangladesh During this time of helplessness, some of us decided to escape from Pakistan to return to Bangladesh via Afghanistan and India. The question for me was: how to make it happen with a family of three young children, the eldest child being 6 years and the youngest barely 2? Our main considerations revolved around three factors — how would the children handle the escapade? Would we be able to keep them quiet during
the trip, as the slightest noise from the children (in Bangla rather than Urdu) would involve risking arrest and jail? How safe would we be with the unknown people who would organise the escape? I contacted a group of Peshawar University students who agreed to organise our escape in exchange for cash. We would go to Peshawar on our own from Islamabad, there we would be picked up by a car (the registration number was given to us) at Peshawar railway station, and thereafter we would be transported by trucks and cars to Afghanistan, crossing the border at Torkham via the Khyber Pass. We were dressed in Pakistani style Shalwar Kameez, and we took a third class compartment to avoid meeting any friends or acquaintances on the journey. The police checked our compartment and left us undisturbed. We arrived at the railway station in Peshawar and found the car with the given registration number waiting at the station. After a good 45 minutes’ drive, we were led to a donkey’s mud house, and told to stay there until further notice. The location of the shed was near the entry to the Khyber Pass. We realised we were under the control of tribesmen who had covered their faces with chadors (cloaks), leaving only their eyes uncovered. We almost froze in shock when we learnt that the guard who took care of us was a convicted murderer who had escaped to the tribal areas of Pakistan. We were mentally and physically distressed. We had to spend day and night for almost three days in the donkey-shed. By the time we left the shed we were joined by a few more Bangali couples. On the third day at 9pm, we were advised to get ready to move onwards to Landikotal. The place was well known for its smugglers’ market in the tribal area. Two huge trucks came and we had to climb up a ladder onto the top of one of them. Below us were two lev-
els, they were filled with molasses and boxes of vegetable ghee being transported to Afghanistan. We sat down on the top of the truck, where we were covered by a huge tarpaulin so that no one could see us from outside. Simply put, we became human commodities. We arrived at midnight in Landilkotal and were taken to a house. We sat on a ﬂoor covered by a white sheet. We were subjected to a lengthy sermon, the purpose of which was to extract money from us. We handed over some money to them and the final leg of journey began. We administered sleeping medicines to my younger children, to prevent them from making any noise in the truck. The border opens at 6am every day. Our trucks got to the border in the early morning but the men who had been bribed at the check-point were not present and my small children began to wake up. We were worried that the slightest noise from the top of the truck would land us in jail. The driver, sensing a delay at the border, put the music from the truck radio up to its loudest volume. This would minimise the risk of any noise such as a baby crying, or coughing and sneezing being heard. After a delay of an hour and a half at the border, the bribed-men came and our truck was allowed to cross the border into Afghanistan.
At last in Afghanistan Inside the truck, we did not know whether we had actually crossed into Afghanistan. Eventually we noticed the truck was travelling on the right side of the road, instead of the left side as it did in Pakistan. We realised that we were in Afghanistan and soon our tarpaulin was lifted. We were greatly relieved that we were out of Bhutto’s trap in Pakistan.
We waited three weeks in Kabul to get the Afghan Air ﬂight to New Delhi and then to Calcutta. Finally we ﬂew to Dhaka. In hindsight, I think that we took a great risk with our lives because the university students, to whom we gave the money, disappeared. We were transferred from one group to the other in the tribal areas like a relay race; they could have done immense harm to us, in particular to my wife. I will never forget this extraordinary episode of my escape with my wife and children. l The writer is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN and Geneva.
We were worried that the slightest noise from the top of the truck would land us in jail. The driver, sensing a delay at the border, put the music from the truck radio up to its loudest volume