First ever nation wide parliamentary election in Pakistan was held in December 1970 to January 1971. Nationalist Forces lead by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won overwhelming victory in East Pakistan and became majority party in entire Pakistan. But Pakistan military regime conspired to stop his Awami League party to take over power. On March 7, 1971 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in his historic address to mammoth gathering at race course, Dhaka announced non-cooperation movement and declared, “This is the struggle for liberation, the struggle for independence.”
Then came president general Yahya Khan and majority party leader of West Pakistan Zulfiker Ali Bhutto to Dhaka for negotiated settlement. While mock discussions were continuing, military rulers started planning for crushing nationalist struggle through military solution.And at fateful night of 25th March, systematic genocide started. No part of Bangladesh was spared. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman before his arrest in early hours of 26th March sent wireless message declaring independence of Bangladesh. On 27th March from Chittagong Radio Station Major Ziaur Rahman declared independence and appealed for international support.
People from all walks of life responded through armed resistance. This liberation war culminated in final victory on 16th December 1971 with emergence of independent Bangladesh
GENOCIDE AND ATROCITIES Between March 25 and December 16, estimated 3 million Bengalees were killed, 2,00,000 women raped and 10 million were displaced. This was the worst genocide after Second World War. This was mass killing of innocent civilians, men, women and children, no part of the country was spared. Killing fields can be found in every town and village. Killing was particularly targeted towards youth, religious minorities and democratic forces. In the final days of the liberation war, local fundamentalist collaborators of Pakistan Army named Al-badar and Al-shams took leading intellectuals including writers, journalists, doctors, lawyers and engineers blindfolded, killed them and dumped them in Dhaka city outskirts.Muslimbazar and Jalladkhana Killing fields.
In July 1999, construction work was in progress for expansion of a mosque at Mirpur, Dhaka. Construction workers discovered skeletons while digging the land, which was later confirmed to be a killing field of 1971 martyrs. With assistance from Bangladesh Army, Liberation War Museum excavated the area and found 5 skeletons and 1766 bones, which are preserved in the museum.In November 1999, based on eyewitness accounts, Liberation War Museum excavated an abandoned pump house in Mirpur and found 70 skeletons and 5392 bones.
Liberation War Museum preserves this historic site JALLAD KHANA to reflect upon heinous crimes perpetrated by Pakistan Army and their fundamentalist collaborators.
REFUGEE 1971 witnessed worst human influx from Bangladesh to neighboring India. Indian government reports that 98,99,305 migrants took shelter in 829 refugee camps. To escape mass killing, rape and destruction, men, women and children defied many odds that took toll of untold sufferings and death. Then youth from all over the country crossed border to take arms training and join resistance as Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters). Such a colossal influx had naturally been a huge burden on Indian economy and took India few months to give refugees logistic support in make shift refugee camps. In Eastern province of Tripura, refugees outnumbered local inhabitants. In initial period, some refugees had to take shelter in subhuman conditions in abandoned drainage pipes at Salt Lake, Calcutta.
Over crowded improvised living conditions in refugee camps led to sickness and death. Beside government support, local people and some aid agencies helped to mitigate this sufferings.
On 10th April 1971, elected parliament members of 1970’s election from East Pakistan formed Bangladesh Government. The cabinet took oath on 17th April in a liberated area in the mango grove of Baidyanathtala Meherpur, Kustia renamed as Mujibnagar. This government took all policy decisions with respect to the liberation war.
Bangladesh government adapted “Declarations of Independence” on 10th April. This has been the legal basis of Bangladesh constitution after final victory.
Whereas free elections were held in Bangladesh from 7th December, 1970 to 17th January, 1971, to elect representatives for the purpose of framing a constitution,
Whereas at these elections the people of Bangladesh elected 167 out of 169 representatives belonging to the Awami League,
Whereas General Yahya Khan summoned the elected representatives of the people to meet on the 3rd March 1971, for the purpose of framing a constitution,
Whereas instead of fulfilling their promise and while still conferring with the representatives of the people of Bangladesh, Pakistan authorities declared an unjust and treacherous war,
Whereas in the facts and circumstances of such treacherous conduct Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the undisputed leader of the 95 million people of Bangladesh, in due fulfillment of the legitimate right of self determination of the people of Bangladesh, duly made a declaration of independence at Dacca on March 26, 1971, and urged the people of Bangladesh to defend the honour and integrity of Bangladesh,
Whereas in the conduct of a ruthless and savage war the Pakistani authorities committed and are still continuously committing numerous acts of genocide and unprecedented tortures, amongst others on the civilian and unarmed people of Bangladesh,
Whereas the Government by levying an unjust war and committing genocide and by other repressive measures made it impossible for the elected representatives of the people of Bangladesh to meet and frame a Constitution, and give to themselves a Government,
Whereas the people of Bangladesh by their heroism, bravery and revolutionary fervour have established effective control over the territories of Bangladesh,
We the elected representatives of the people of Bangladesh as honor bound by the mandate given to us by the people of Bangladesh whose will is supreme, duly constituted ourselves into a Constituent Assembly, and
Having held mutual consultations, and
In order to ensure for the people of Bangladesh equality, human dignity and social justice,
Declare and constitute Bangladesh to be sovereign peoples’ Republic and thereby confirm the declaration of independence already made by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and
Do hereby affirm and resolve that till such time as a Constitution is framed, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman shall be the President of the Republic and that Syed Nazrul Islam shall be the Vice-President of the Republic, and
That the President shall be the Supreme Commander of all the Armed Forces of the Republic,
Shall exercise all the Executive and Legislative powers of the Republic including the power to grant pardon,
Shall exercise all the power to appoint a Prime Minister and such other Ministers, as he considers necessary,
Shall have the power to levy taxes and expend monies,
Shall have the power to summon and adjourn the Constituent Assembly, and
Do all other things that may be necessary to give to the people of Bangladesh an orderly and just Government,
We the elected representatives of the people of Bangladesh do further resolve that in the event of there being no President or President being unable to enter upon his office or being unable to exercise his powers and duties due to any reason whatsoever, the Vice-President shall have and exercise all the powers, duties and responsibilities herein conferred on the President,
We further resolve that we undertake to observe and give effect to all duties and obligations that devolve upon us as a member of the family of nations and under the Charter of United Nations.
We further resolve that this proclamation of independence shall be deemed to have come into effect from 26th day of March 1971.
We further resolve that in order to give effect to this instrument we appoint prof. Yusuf Ali our duly Constituted Potentiary and to give to the President and the Vice-President oaths of office.
Established: April 10, 1971
Oath Taking Ceremony: April 17, 1971
Baidyanathtala, Mehespur, Kustia.
- President: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
- Vice President and Acting President: Syed Nazrul Islam
- Finance, Commerce and Industry Minister: Mansur Ali
- Prime Minister: Tajuddin Ahmed
- Home, Agriculture, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister: A. H. M Kamruzzaman
- Foreign Minister: Khondoker Mustaq Ahmed
Ministry and Secretaries
Ruhul Quddus (December 7, 1971)
Hossain Towfiq Imam
Nurul Quader Khan
M. A Khaleque
Mahbubul Alam Chasi
Dr. T. Hassan
Land and Parliamentary affairs
Abdul Hannan Chowdhury
Relief and Rehabilitation
Jai Gobinda Bhowmik
Anwarul Huq Khan
Mukti Bahini/ Head quarter: Mujib Nagar
Immediately after start of genocide on March 25, 1971 Bengalee members of armed forces, East Pakistan Rifles, Police and Ansars together with patriotic youth built up local resistance. On 4th April highranking officials of Armed Forces involved in resistance in Eastern part met at Teliapara, Sylhet for planning coordinated actions.
Cabinet meeting of Bangladesh government of July 11, 1971 appointed Col. M A G Osmani as Commander in Chief, Lt. Col. Abdur Rab as chief of Army Staff and Group Captain A K Khandker as Deputy Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air Force. In this meeting, Bangladesh was divided into Eleven Sectors under Sector Commanders. 10th. Sector was directly placed under Commander in Chief and included the Naval Commandos and C-in-C’s special force. Sector Commanders basically lead guerrilla warfare; later three regular army brigades were formed. On November 21, 1971 Bangladesh Liberation Force and Indian Army formed allied command which won ultimate victory on December 16, 1971.
- Col. M A G Osman/ Commander in Chief
- Group Captain A K Khandker/ Deputy Chief of Command and Chief of Air Force
- Lt. Col. Abdur Rab/ Chief of Army Staff
Sector – 1
Major Ziaur Rahman (till June)
Captain Rafiqul Islam (July to December)
Coverage Area: Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts up to Eastern side of Muhuri River
Head Quarter : Harina
Major Khaled Musarraf (till 21 October)
Captain A T M Hyder (22 October to December)
Noakhali, part of Comilla, Dhaka city and Eastern part of Faridpur
Head Quarter : Melaghar
Major K M Shafiullah (till September)
Major A N M Nuruzzaman (September to December)
Coverage Area:Part of Sylhet and Comilla districts and Northern side of Dhaka district
Head Quarter : Montala (Sylhet)
Sector – 4
Major C R Dutta
Coverage Area:Part of Sylhet district
Head Quarter : Khoai
Major Mir Shawkat Ali
Coverage Area:Part of Sylhet district, Ajmirigonj and Western part of Lakhai
Head Quarter : Shillong
Wing Commander Khademul Bashar (till December)
Coverage Area:Rangpur and Thakurgaon of Dinajpur district
Head Quarter : Patgram (Rangpur)
Major Nazmul Huq (till August)
Major Kazi Nuruzzaman (September to December)
Coverage Area:Rajshahi, Pabna and Bogra
Head Quarter: Tarangapur
Major Abu Osman Chowdhury (till August)
Major M A Manzoor ( September to December)
Coverage Area:Jessore, Kustia, Faridpur and part of Khulna district
Head Quarter : Kalayani
Major M A Jalil Mia
Coverage Area:Barisal, Patuakhali and part of Khulna
Head Quarter : Tarangapur
C-in-C’s Special force
Naval Commandos conducted major operations in river and seaports at Chittagong, Mangla, Narayangonj and Chandpur. Significant coordinated operations were made at Chittagong port in the night of August 15, 1971 mining and thus destroying 17 Pakistani ships. This Naval Commando was placed directly under Commander in Chief of Bangladesh Liberation Armed Force.
Major Abu Taher (till November)
Sq. Leader Hamidullah (November to December)
Coverage Area:Tangail and part of Mymensingh district
Head Quarters : Mohendraganj
Z-force: Head Quarters : Teldhala, Commander : Lt. Col. Ziaur Rahman
K-force: Head Quarters : Agartala, Commander : Lt. Col. Khaled Mosharraf
S-force: Head Quarters : Hajamara, Commander : Lt. Col. K M Shafiullah
Other Liberation War Forces
Bangladesh Liberation Force
Bangladesh Liberation Force was formed after special training of selected members of Students league and young members of Awami league. This force was popularly known as ‘Mujib Bahini’.
Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni : Coordinator, Eastern Region
Sirajul Alam Khan : Coordinator, Northern Region
Abdur Razzak : Coordinator, Western Region
Student’s Union, NAP and Communist Party
Tofayel Ahmed : Coordinator, Southern Region Student’s Union, NAP and Communist Party, Some members of Students Union, NAP and Communist Party were separately trained and organized. They directed armed action in coordination with central command.
Chief of Command : Mohammed Forhad
Armed Forces in Occupied Territories
During liberation war ‘Quader Bahini’ lead by Abdul Quader Siddiqui played significant role in Tangail area. In the final days of liberation war, this armed force entered Dhaka with the allied forces.
Chief of Command : Abdul Quader Siddiqui
These locally organized freedom fighters made harassing attacks on Pakistani outposts in Faridpur and part of Khulna.
Chief of Command : Hemayetuddin
Major Afsaruddin Ahmed organized freedom fighters in Mymensingh to form Afsar Battalion. This battalion collected arms from Pakistan occupation army and developed liberated area in the region.
Chief of Command : Major Afsaruddin Ahmed
Pakistan Armed Forces
Headquarter : Eastern Command
Chief Martial Law
Administrator : Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan (March 6 to August 1971)
Lt. Gen. A. A. K Niazi (August to December 16, 1971)
Adviser : Major General Rao Farman Ali
Chief of Stuff : Brig. Bakar Siddiqi
Regional Chief : Major General Nazir Hossain Shah
Major General S H Ansari
Major General Rahim Khan
In occupied Bangladesh, fundamentalist political parties (Muslim League, Jamat-e-Islami, PDP, Democratic League etc.) and their student wing members gave total support to Pakistan Army in genocide and destruction. Beside carrying out propaganda in favour of Pakistan government, they unleashed barbaric attack and handed over sympathizers of liberation war to Pakistan armed forces. Their most heinous activities were expressed in killing of intellectuals in Dhaka on tragic nights of December 13 and 14, 1971.
These local collaborators organized Peace Committees, Razaker, Al-Badar and Al-Shams through out the country.
Established : April 1971
Convener : Khawza Khairuddin
Organizers : Prof. Golam Azam
A. Q. M Shafiqul Islam
Moulana Syed Masum
Established : May 1971 (Khulna)
Ordinance : June 1971
Convener : Moulana A K M Yusuf
Director : A S M Zahrul Huq
Al-Badar and Al-Shams
Members of Islamic chhattra sangha, student wing of Jamat-e-Islam party killer force of Pakistan Army, like the SS of Hitler.
Civilian Administration in Occupied Bangladesh
- Governor : Lt. Gen. Tikka Khan (March to August 1971)
- Dr. Abdul Motaleb Malik (September to December 1971)
- Chief Secretary : Shafiul Azam
- Kafiluddin Mahmud
Total Armed Forces
- Regular Army : 80 000
- Rangers and Militia : 24 000
- Civilian Forces : 24 000
- Razaker, Al-badar and Al-shams : 50 000 (estimated)
Neighboring India opened its borders to allow huge influx of refugees who had to flee to escape systemic genocide and destruction. In spite of colossal economic burden, government of India organized shelters for estimated 10 million refuges in make shift refugee camps, gave food and medical aids. Some national and international Aid Agencies assisted.
Government also helped in training of freedom fighters and gave logistic support. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi toured major world capitals in support of Bangladesh cause and for resolution of the human crisis. After Pakistan army attacked its western part, government of India on 4th December 1971 gave recognition to government of Bangladesh and Indian Army in allied command with Mukti Bahini started final assault and on 16th December Pakistan Army surrendered to this allied command. According Indian government sources 1421 Indian Army personnel were killed in operation.
Indian Political parties of all shades and opinion and people in general have been highly supportive of Bangladesh liberation war. Intellectuals and professionals campaigned for the cause. Cultural personalities throughout India organized programmes and even demonstrated in the streets.
Soviet Union and Socialist Countries: In polarized world in seventies, Soviet Union and other Socialist countries played critical role in favour of Bangladesh independence struggle. In early days of liberation war on 3rd April, President Podgorny in a letter to President Yahya Khan expressed concern for tragic events in East Pakistan and arrest of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Following Indira Gandhi’s visit to Soviet Union, Indo-Soviet treaty was signed on 7th August declaring readiness to protect each other’s sovereignty. In December 1971 when allied command was marching towards capital Dhaka, Soviet Union repeatedly vetoed move by United States in UN Security Council, to ensure final victory on 16th December.
United States: Nixon administration never condemned mass killing and destruction, rather supported evil designs of Pakistani military rulers. Declassified White House and State Department papers strongly suggest that US administration’s overtures toward Pakistani Military regime was primarily for global strategic interest to reward Pakistan for its support in developing new US-China axis. In final days of liberation war, US seventh fleet was moved towards shores of Bay of Bengal and in United Nation’s Security Council US representatives moved repeated
India: resolutions to tactically put on hold onward march of allied forces.
But in public front, there was a completely different scenario in United States. Some Senators and congressmen took strong position in favour of Bangladesh cause. Senator Edward Kennedy flew to visit refugee camps and condemned Pakistan atrocities in his discussion with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, US dockworkers at Philadelphia put up human barrier against shipment of arms to Pakistan. In a most exceptional move, 20 American officials of Dhaka consul general’s office, US AID and USIS, endorsed by Consul General Archer Blood, sent a note of dissent to State Department against policies of US administration.
China: Government of People’s Republic of China supported Pakistan government. They also supported Pakistan and US position in international forums. It is noteworthy that China was supplier of major hardwares of Pakistan army. New US-China axis in global arena was being formulated during the period.
Non resident Bangladeshi: Bengalees from East Pakistan living in, particularly western countries organized powerful campaign to create awareness and inform governments and public leaders of atrocities perpetrated by Pakistan military and necessity of supporting independence of Bangladesh. They also raised fund for Bangladesh. They were largely successful in this mission.
United Kingdom: On receipt of information of genocidal attack on 25th March, non-resident Bengalees organized protest rallies in major cities of UK. A huge rally was held on 4th April at Hyde Park in London and memorandum was submitted to Prime Minister Edward Heath’s office at 10, Dawning Street. On 24th April at a meeting held at Coventry, Steering Committee of Bangladesh Action Committee for People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formed with Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury as Chairman. They also formed a Trust Fund with Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, John Stone House MP and Donald Chesworth as Trustee. Fund was sent to help refugees and support freedom fighters.
United States: On 21st March 1971, East Pakistan League of America was renamed as Bangladesh League of America. A huge rally was held on 29th March at pavement of Capital Hill in Washington DC. Memorandum was submitted to President Nixon and UN Secretary General U Thant. They sent letters to all leading Senators and Congressmen presenting Pakistan atrocities and for supporting independence of Bangladesh. Funds were collected and sent to support liberation war. They also regularly published Newsletters on updated informations of liberation war of 22 Bengalee diplomats working in Pakistan Embassy defected expressing allegiance to Bangladesh government with.
Print and Electronic media world over have been highly supportive of Bangladesh liberation war. Western media, in particular, continued to cover horrifying stories of Pakistan atrocities, plight of refugees and armed resistance by Mukti Bahini.
In March ’71 many journalists of leading newspapers rushed to Dhaka to cover Yahya-Bhutto-Mujib negotiation. They were forcibly moved out of Dhaka after start of genocide in 25th March. But brave journalist like Simon Dring hid himself in Hotel Intercontinental (Now Hotel Sheraton) laundry and was first to inform world of tragic events in Daily Telegraph, UK.
BBC, Voice of America, German TV, and All India Radio covered events almost daily. International media played all-important role in influencing respective government and public leaders to take stand against Pakistan genocide in favor of Bangladesh independence.
Bangladesh government started running “Swadhin Bangla Beter Kendra” (Independent Bangladesh Radio Station) and its news, features and songs enthused people of in refugee camps, freedom fighters and those stranded in occupied country. Number of news bulletins were published in different regions of Bangladesh.
ROLE OF CULTURAL ACTIVITES
Starting from language movement of 1952, cultural movement has been integral part of national struggle. In 1971 liberation war, cultural activists from Bangladesh organized number of programmes in occupied territory, refugee camps and Indian cities.
Cultural personalities world over played significant supportive role in campaigning for Bangladesh cause. Pandit Rabisankar, Akbar Ali Khan and popular Beatle artists George Harrison organized fund raising “Concert for Bangladesh” at Madison Square on 1st August in New York that attracted huge crowd.
In November, “Concert in Sympathy” was held at seven cities in United Kingdom participated by artists from Bangladesh, India and Great Britain. Leading Indian artists like Lata Mangeskar, Waheeda Rahman and Sharmila Thakur organized concert “Strings and Stars – A cry for help” for raising fund for Bangladesh independence. In West Bengal, intellectuals and musicians e g. Tarasankar Bendopodhya, Dipen Mukhopodhya, Suchitra Mitra consistently fought for liberation war through writings and musical soirees. Great French philosopher Andre Malraux, inspite of his old age declared his readiness to join Bangladesh liberation war. American poet Allen Ginsberg visited refugee camps and wrote his famous poem “September on Jessore Road”.
Women, particularly students, were in the forefront of national struggle from early fifties. They played heroic role in every struggle for democracy and national rights in Pakistan days lead by personalities like poet Sufia Kamal.
Women were the worst victims of atrocities. During liberation war of 1971, women were not only just rape victims of Pakistan army. Brave women throughout the country defied torture and death to give shelter to freedom fighters; treated wounded freedom fighters as doctor and nurses and took arms training in special “Gobra camp” and fought in war front. Some of these women received gallantry awards for their heroism.