BACKGROUND HISTORY OF THE BENGALEE NATION
One can with certainty follow the history of Bengal on definite recorded events since fourth century BC. In the third century BC, Bangladesh formed part of the extensive Mauryan kingdom, then known as Pundravardhana Bhukti comprising roughly the entire triangular delta from the snow-capped Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. From third century BC to the end of twelfth century, the northern and western part was successfully ruled by the great Mauryans, Guptas, the Palas and Sena kings till the latter’s rule was overthrown by the Muslims in 1204 AD However, the trans-Meghna region in the south and east was ruled independently by the Buddhist Deva and Chandra kings of Samatata kingdom. Hiuen Tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim, while visiting this kingdom in early seventh century, noticed it to be an extensive, moist country on the sea coast, comprising roughly the modern districts of Comilla, Noakhali and parts of Chittagong and Bakerganj. The Pala supremacy in the north lasted over four hundred years – form the eighth century to the eleventh. With the establishment of a long spell of peace and settled government during their rule unprecedented artistic and architectural activities thrived within their far-flung empire.
Of the oldest civilizations, the Indian civilization was one of the most developed. Circa : 500-600 B.C. With the invasion of the Aryans the Indian civilization, for the first time came in touch with Western Civilization. 400 B.C. After battling the Aryans, they prepared to face Alexander the Great
Circa: 500 AD. The Pal Dynasty brought a golden beginning to the political history of Bengal. From Puthis of that era one may find alphabets and drawings being used.
Circa : 8 -9 AD. The oldest known poets were Kahupad and Bhushuk belonging to 8-9AD. It was Bhushuk who first used the word ‘Bangalee’ in his poetry. The beginning of the Bangalee Intellectuals can be dated to 982 AD.with the birth of Atish Sringan Diponker in Brojjogoni village of Bikrampur, in the the district of Dhaka.
With the discovery of the route to India by Portuguese traveler Vasco-da-Gama, the sub-continent including Bengal, was visited by many European and other travelers.
Before the discovery of Bengal by Bakhtiar Khilji, to preach Islam, Aulias and Dervish from Arabia came to Bengal. The Baba Adam Mosque in Bikrampur is proof of that.
Circa : 1389-1409 AD. During the reign of Sultan Ghyiasuddin the language and literature of Bengal developed.
Circa : 1415-1417 AD. During the reign of King Ganesh one can find the evidence of Bengalee alphabets in monetary coins. In the middle ages with Choitonnadev one sees the growing awareness of secularism amongst the BANGALEES.
BANGALEE AND BENGAL– BRITISH TO PAKISTAN PERIOD
Nawab Sirajudowla (1756-1757) the last independent Nawab of Bengal. With his defeat to the British Empire in the battle of Plassey (23 June 1757) the Muslim rule over Bengal ended. The rule that was began 500 years before by the Turk Shaberbid Bakhtiar.
Of the few heroes who fought the British rule valiantly Tipu Sultan, son of King of Mysore, Haider Ali, was the bravest of them all. In 1799 he was killed in the battle field by the British soldiers.
The people of Bengal could not accept the British rule. Fakir and Sanyashi revolts (1760-1800) and Nil-chashi (Indigo farmers) revolution shook the British reign from the very beginning. Under the leadership of Haji Shariatullah and Titumir the Bangalees kept harassing the British from 1831-1839.
To avenge the defeat in Plassey (1757) the Indian Soldier, including the Bangalees, revolted against the British in 1857. Karl Marx termed this revolt as the first movement for Independence by Indians. In May 1857 they revolted in Berakhpur, West Bengal and on 18 November in Chittagong. On 22 November when the fire of this revolt spread in Dhaka it was subdued with the help of Khaja Abdul Ghani, who was later rewarded with the ‘Nawab’ title by the British rulers.
On 16 October 1905 the British rulers with a proclamation declared the division of Bengal. The reasoning as stated by an English officer ‘United Bengal is a dangerous force for the British. Once divided they cannot make trouble for us.’.
In 1915 Revolutionary leader Rashbihari Bosu escaped to Japan and in 1921 formed ‘Independent India League’ in exile. At the same time popular Bengalee leader Netaji Shubash Bosu escaped to Germany and formed ‘Azad Hind Force’. On 21 October 1943 Bosu formed the provisional Azad Hind Government in exile in Singapore.
Under the leadership of Masterda Shurjo Sen on 18 April 1930 the revolutionary Bengalees revolted against the British in Chittagong. They attacked two British armory and kept Chittagong liberated from 18th. to 22nd November. On 16 February 1933 Shurjo Sen was captured by the British soldiers and on 22 January 1934 he was sent to the gallows.
14 August 1947 the British gave Independence to Pakistan. Quadi Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the first Governor General, on 21 March 1948 at a public meeting in Dhaka declared ‘ Urdu shall be the state language of Pakistan’. The students and others attending immediately protested against this pronouncement.
Soon after the creation of Pakistan the Bengalees began to show their resentment. In Netrokona under the greater Mymensing district the Hajongs revolted against the Tank and Levy system. In such movements the women were equal participants. Under peasant Leader Roman Mitro and Ila Mitro the peasants of Nachol in Rajshahi also revolted. The Pakistan Government used unorthodox force to put down all those revolts.
On 21st February 1952 on the demand for Bengalee as state language the students community came out disregarding the Section 144 earlier declared by the Police. Police retaliated by firing which killed Salam, Barkat, Rafiq and Jabber.
In 1954 under the leadership of Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Hoque, H. M. Suhrawardy and Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani the Jukta Front was formed in the then East Pakistan as a challenge to the Muslim League. In the Provisional Assembly election that year Jukta Front came out victorious.
On 7 October 1958 a Martial Law was declared by the Pakistan Armed Forces. On 27 October 1958 General Ayub Khan took over the power from the then President Iskander Mirza.
On February 1962 the students of Dhaka University called for a successful Hartal against the martial law and arrest of some political leaders. The timing was synchronized with the arrival of Ayub Khan in Dhaka. In August 1962 the students began agitation against Ayub’s education policy. Thus began the popular movement the military junta Ayub Khan in East Pakistan which culminated with his fall in 1969.
On 6 September 1965 a war between Pakistan and India began on the question of Kashmir. In the backdrop of much more vital issues in front of the nation the war kept the nation preoccupied. In the battlefield the small number of Bengalees belonging to the Pakistan Army proved their worthiness by fighting valiantly.
On 5 and 6 September of 1966 the Politicians of West Pakistan organized a conference of different political parties of Pakistan. On that occasion Sheik Mujibur Rahman, general secretary of East Pakistan Awami League presented the famous 6 points demand outlining the full autonomy for East Pakistan. Unfortunately the West Pakistani leaders openly discarded the 6-points demand and declared Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a separatist.
In January 1968 Field Marshal Ayub Khan declared the involvement of some politicians, bureaucrats and armed force personnel in an armed revolt against the state. 35 Bangalees were arrested including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the famous Agartala Conspiracy case was begun on 11 June 1968 in the Dhaka Cantonment.
In the backdrop of Agartala Conspiracy case the whole of the then East Pakistan revolted against Ayub and his cronies. From the end of 1968 till Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released on February 22 1969 the streets of East Pakistan was sleepless with revolting people and students. On 23 February the Students Action Committee gave a reception to Mujibur Rahman at the race course and bestowed on him the title of ‘Bongobondhu’.
On 25 March 1969 Field Marshal Ayub Khan and his crone the Governor of East Pakistan Monem Khan was forced to resign in the face of people’s revolt. Another Martial Law was declared and General Yahya Khan became the new President.
12 November 1970 a devastating cyclone hit the coastal areas of the then East Pakistan. 10 lak people lost their lives and crores of taka worth properties were destroyed. Unfortunately non-preparation and ineffectiveness of the authority to bring succor to the suffering left no stone unturned to tell how the ruling class felt about the Bangalees.
The Bengalees from all level came out to help the victims and cried out to the outside world for help. They also found out the time has come to know who are our friends and who are the Masters.
On 7th and 17th. December 1970 National and Provisional election, respectively, were held. The election result surprised and dumbfounded Pakistani leadership because in the National Assembly Awami League under Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman got 160 seats whereas the People’s Party of Bhutto came close only with 83 seats. In the Provincial Assembly AL got 167 seats, all but two. This land slide victory for Bongobondhu was a victory for the Bangalees which the Pakistani leadership saw as an end to their hegemony over Bangalees.
On Feb. 13th 1971 Gen. Yahya Khan summoned the National Assembly to meet in Dhaka on March 3rd. to frame the Constitution. Earlier on Feb. 15th. Z. A. Bhutto already declared that his party would not attend the National Assembly.
On March 1st. 1971 Yahya Khan declared a postponement of the summoning of the National Assembly citing the reason as Mr. Bhutto intention not to attend the Assembly with AL as the majority party. The streets of Dhaka responded with protest. The leader of the majority party said ” This is most unfortunate. As far as we are concerned, we are the representatives of the majority people and we cannot allow it to go unchallenged.”
On March 7th, 1971, Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made the historic announcement at the Dhaka Race course: ” This struggle is for freedom, this struggle is for independence”. Thus began the ‘ parallel government’ in the then East Pakistan which ran under the directive of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
HISTORY OF BENGALEES
On every rooftop two flags were seen to be flying. A black flag to protest the Pakistani treachery and the flag of Bangladesh – green background with a map of Bangladesh on the red Sun. This National flag was designed by Shib Narayan Das and first flown on March 2nd. at the students League meeting under the Bottola (Banyan tree) of Dhaka University.
On the night of March 25th, 1971, the Pakistan Army unleashed a reign of terror unparalleled in the history of mankind. The Pak Army with all their might attacked the innocent victims at different dormitories of the Dhaka University, the RajarBagh Police line and the EPR Headquarters at Peel Khana. Besides other places where ever they felt any resistance would come from were attacked indiscriminately. The city of Dhaka lit up like an inferno. Innumerable people became the victim of this Genocide.
THE LIBERATION WAR OF THE BENGALEES– HISTORY OF MUKTIJUDDHA
The military crackdown of the 25th, March was the final and decisive turning point in the History of Bengali nationalism. Before this period, the Bengali emancipation or recognition that was demanded, had always been within the framework of Pakistan. But after this night the Pakistani attempt to impose a military solution on the simmering constitutional crisis was to be matched by full fledged armed resistance.
The ‘Genocide’ thus began on that fateful night, was to be the ‘cleansing process’. This the military regime of Pakistan intended as a solution of the political problem. Hand in hand with it would go on an equally brutal colonization process of the province. A simple but brutal solution that would backfire on the Pakistanis.
Right after the crackdown on March 25, Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested. In the early hours of March 26, a pre-recorded declaration of Independence, made by Bongobondhu was transmitted over the EPR transmitter from Chittagong. On March 27, Major Ziaur Rahman read the declaration of Independence, on behalf of Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, from Chittagong Radio station.
Dhaka was under the Pakistan Army occupation. Other districts were still under Bengalee dominance. Soon the news of Dhaka massacre spread to those areas and resistance grew with the Bengalee elements in the armed force, Police, EPR and civilians.
Bengalees all over prepared themselves with what ever to face the Pakistanis. Students, Peasants, workers, Bureaucrats, armed force personnel all rose to the occasion to save the motherland.
The rag tag Liberation Force soon formed into a disciplined and determined force which carried out devastating operations against the Pakistan Army.
To escape from indiscriminate killing millions of people ran from their homes and took shelter wherever they felt safe. Not finding any safe haven within the country millions went across to India and became refugees.
On April 17, 1971, in Mujibnagar under Kushtia the Provisional Government was formed and took the oath of office. Syed Nazrul Islam took over as the acting President and Tajuddin Ahmed got the portfolio of the Prime Minister
As the Pakistani Army regrouped and reinforced and began to spread to the country side the Liberation Force (Mukti Bahini) took shelter in India and with the help of Indian Government and the people set up camps for shelter and training.
The Liberation Forces gained ground with the popular support of the people, whereas the Pakistan Army began to become demoralized.
The international media was overwhelmed with the struggle of the Bangalee people. The international community extended their sympathy and full support.
The political and moral strength of a Liberation Force can never be underestimated if they have the support of the people. In the case of the Liberation War of Bangladesh, the people were wholeheartedly in support of the cause of freedom. The Mukti Bahini found shelter, food and information wherever they went without any hesitation.
Bengalees living abroad and their friends join hands to fight the Pakistani atrocities and in the War of Liberation.
Under the air and land attack of Indian and Bangladeshi forces Pakistani strongholds one after another began to fall.
On December 16 1971 the Eastern Command under General Niazi surrendered to General Aurora Joint Commander of Indian and Bangladesh Forces.
The joy and happiness of the people were subdued by the discovery of Killing Fields spread all over Bangladesh. In Rayer Bazar of Dhaka, Foy’s Lake of Chittagong, Goldamari of Khulna and hundreds of other places decomposed and brutally murdered victims of the Pakistan Army atrocities were discovered. The victims were all the shinning stars of the future Bangladesh, but sacrificed in the alter of devil by the agents of Pakistan Army The Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-shams to avenge their eminent surrender and defeat at the hands of freedom loving Bengalees.
Every glory has a price to pay. Bengalees had to pay a high price for their freedom. But the great Liberation War brought the nation together. It was the moment of truth for Benglaees when they all united to join hands to fight the Pakistani aggressors. In the eyes of the Pakistani forces they were no longer just little brown people, instead they fought back and got their victory. The pride and glory and the spirit of the Liberation War.