• Friday, Jul 30, 2021
  • Last Update : 07:09 pm

OP-ED: A symbolic icon of the nationalist struggle

  • Published at 04:46 am April 20th, 2021
bangabandhu statue liberation war museum dhaka
SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

Making a case for Mujibnagar Day as Republic Day of Bangladesh

On the 50th birth anniversary of Bangladesh, the nation was perhaps expecting that the government would declare April 17 as the country’s Republic Day. This is the day when the cabinet of the government-in-exile took an oath of office and accepted the challenge to lead the War of Liberation to achieve independence.

The venue was discreetly decided at Baidyanathtala, Meherpur in eastern Bangladesh (less than a kilometre from the Indian border). The site was secured by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and mounted anti-aircraft artillery to thwart any air attacks by marauding Pakistan fighter jets.

A day earlier, the Ansar saw hundreds of BSF soldiers and vehicles pour in and secure the area. The following morning, April 17, the leaders of government-in-exile, Indian officials, scores of journalists, international photographers, and TV camera persons also arrived with senior BSF officers accompanied by hundreds of additional troops.

At 11 am the ceremony began with recitation from the Qur’an and playing of the national anthem. The oath-taking ceremony was conducted by Abdul Mannan, MNA, and the proclamation of independence was read out by Professor Mohammad Yusuf Ali.

The assignment of portfolios was assigned among the ministers on April 18. The incumbents of the government were: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (interned in Pakistan jail), president of Bangladesh. Syed Nazrul Islam (Vice President and also Acting President), Tajuddin Ahmad (Prime Minister), Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad (Foreign Affairs and Law Minister), Muhammad Mansur Ali (Finance Minister), AHM Qamaruzzaman (Home, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister), and Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani (Commander-in-Chief of the Bangladesh Forces or Mukti Bahini). The guard of honour was given to Syed Nazrul Islam, the acting president of Mujibnagar.

The government-in-exile had an elaborate structure of administrative departments, agencies, and activities. Even though elaborate agencies were established, the government’s main work remained coordinating the Liberation War and boosting popular support in occupied Bangladesh.

Soon the government-in-exile operated from 8 Theatre Road, Kolkata. Tajuddin Ahmad supervised the military operations of the Mukti Bahini, held coordinating meetings with officials of Indira Gandhi, the Eastern Command of the Indian Army, the foreign dignitaries, the international NGOs in aid of the 10 million war refugees, and of course, smoothing the inner-conflicts within the hierarchy.

The Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra broadcast was a moral inspiration for the millions of people who were either languishing in refugee camps across the borders of Bangladesh or living in hellish conditions in occupied Bangladesh.

The production of documentary films, postage stamps, propaganda posters, regular press briefing in Kolkata, definitely made a dent in telling the world of the genocide in Bangladesh and the war crimes comitted by the marauding Pakistan troops.

Tajuddin Ahmad was an intimate colleague and a trusted comrade of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and enjoyed the recognition and full support of the Indian leadership -- which was an important resource that lent authority to his position, writes acclaimed economist Rehman Sobhan in his book Untranquil Recollections.

Well, the government-in-exile earned credibility and gave an alternative dichotomy to General Yayha Khan’s military regime in Rawalpindi.

Nonetheless, most historians interpret that the able stewardship of the Mujibnagar government, which was a symbolic icon of the nationalist struggle, had essentially lifted the morale of the revolution.

Saleem Samad is an independent journalist, media rights defender, and recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He could be reached at <[email protected]> Twitter @saleemsamad.

314
Facebook 311
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail