Bangladesh Independence Day: History, Significance, and Essential Facts
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Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced Bangladesh’s independence on 26 March 1971, at the start of the Bangladesh Liberation War. Once Pakistan launched a crackdown on East Pakistan dubbed Operation Searchlight and imposed martial law, he declared independence on the radio, which was heard by a restricted number of people due to the broadcasting system used.
Deceleration of Independence:
Minutes into 26 March 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh:
“This may be my last message. From today Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh, wherever you are and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your fight must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh and final victory is achieved.”
Just before his arrest, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sent a message declaring the independence of Bangladesh. This message was broadcast from Swadhin Bangla Betake Kendro on 26 March 1971 and was widely reported in newspapers worldwide.
“Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night [March 25, 1971], West Pakistan armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dhaka. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places in Bangladesh. Violent clashes between EPR and police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pakistan on the other are going on. The Bangalees are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May Allah aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla,” Awami League leader MA Hannan declared on behalf of Bangabandhu.
Meanwhile, Bangabandhu was taken to an unknown place in the evening after his arrest.
Bangladesh Independence Day History and Significance
Pakistan obtained independence from the British on August 14, 1947, following the Partition of India, and was divided from India. The region that is now Bangladesh was thereafter referred to as East Bengal and later East Pakistan.
From 1947 until 1971, East Pakistan (Bangladesh) battled for parity between their language (Bengali) and Pakistan’s official language (Urdu) and for equal treatment within the union. In the end, they concluded that the physical distance and cultural distinctions between themselves and West Pakistan justified their independence.
A nine-month guerilla battle erupted after Bangladesh’s declaration of independence, resulting in the loss of 100,000 lives. In an effort to retain their enslavement, Pakistan committed several crimes against the people of Bangladesh, but India ultimately intervened on their behalf and delivered them the win. The end of the war came on December 16, 1971.
Bangladesh celebrates Independence Day with several parades, fairs, and concerts. Many politicians offer patriotic speeches that are shown on television and radio, and patriotic songs abound. The streets of Dhaka and other cities are festooned with Bangladeshi flags, and the entire country is in a festive mood.
The liberation of Bangladesh is commemorated with parades, speeches, fairs, and other ceremonial events in Bangladesh. Each dawn, a salute of thirty-one gunshots is fired.
Overall, Bangladesh Independence Day is a big deal for the people of Bangladesh because it remembers their fight for freedom and the sacrifices their ancestors made. It is a day of national pride and unity, and it gives the people of Bangladesh a chance to get together and celebrate who they are and what they do.
Pakistan started Operation Searchlight the night before Bangladesh declared its independence on March 26, 1971.
During the operation, the Pakistan Armed Forces and their allies, like Jamaat-e-Islami and the Razakars, killed a large number of Bangladeshi nationalists and used rape as a weapon of war.
The Pakistan Army and Genocide
Between 200,000 and 400,000 Bengali women were raped during the mass rapes. Bengali intellectuals, teachers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, artists, engineers, and writers were also killed.
During the next nine months, Bengali rebels fought back against the Pakistani army, and a lot of people died. At the end of the war, 3 million people died.
The war was very violent, and this left a lasting mark on the new country. The Liberation War gave Bangladesh freedom from West Pakistan, but it cost a lot of lives.
The Necessity of Counter-Memories
Even though there are many memorials to the dead, no one talks about how rape was used as a weapon of war in the 1971 conflict.
In their silence, these memorials set up by the government end up hiding history as much as they show it. With this counter-memory, Broken Column wants to make sure that the women who faced extreme violence in the fight for independence are not forgotten.
The Mass Graves of the Liberation War
Bangladesh’s Independence Day is on March 26. The day before, March 25, is Bengali Genocide Remembrance Day. Operation Searchlight started on March 25, 1971, and made terrible things happen all over the country.
It is thought that there are at least 5,000 mass graves in Bangladesh. These graves are full of the bones of people who were killed because they wanted Bangladesh to be free.
Their bodies are still being found, most of the time by accident when construction crews are digging for new projects.
In this Handful of Dust, Chowdhry uses illustrated strips of paper to build a place to remember the genocide, both the mass graves and the hundreds of thousands of Bengali women who were raped as a weapon of war, something that no official memorial yet remembers (though the victims are publically referred to as birangonas, brave women).
People can think about these things in this quiet, almost peaceful space.
On the thin strips of paper are drawings of the rocks that are found with the bodies when mass graves are dug up, as well as bones and weapons that remind people of the genocide.
It’s not just an anti-memorial because it wants to bring attention to memories that don’t get memorialized. It looks nothing like a typical state monument because of the way it is made. It’s not made of granite; it’s made of a soft material. It needs to be taken care of, and people who go inside should be careful. It’s soft, sad, and as quiet as the grave.
6 Essential Facts About Bangladesh Independence Day Celebrations
1. Enjoy the Festivities
Bangladeshi Independence Day is celebrated with fairs, parades, concerts, displaying the national flag, and many other activities. From morning to night, there are special TV shows, and in the morning, there is a 31-gun salute. Since it’s a national holiday, a lot of people get the day off.
2. International Celebrations
Bangladeshis living all over the world celebrate Independence Day together. It is also often celebrated in India since the Indian army helped Bangladesh win its independence. Independence Day celebrations have been put on by groups like the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America (FOBANA).
3. Discover the Bangla Language
The language was one of the things that led to the Liberation War. West Pakistan only wanted Urdu to be the official language of the country. But at the time, 56% of the population was made up of people who spoke Bengali. The Language Movement was started in 1948 as a way to protest the removal of Bengali script from money, stamps, and other public places.
Bengali is known as the “sweetest” language in the world. Tagore, Tahmima Anam, Rashid Askari, and many other well-known writers have written in Bengali.
4. The Independence Day Award
Since 1977, the Independence Day award has been given to talented people who have made a difference in literature, science, education, public service, and other fields. This award is called Swadhinata Puroskar in Bengali. It is the top award for a state in the whole country.
5. Spend Time with Family and Friends
Bangladesh’s Independence Day is the best time to spend time with friends and family more than anything else. Families often get takeout, watch movies, and eat their favorite foods together.
6. Bangladesh is a Name
East Pakistan changed its name to Bangladesh after the Liberation War. This means the Bengali Nation or Country of Bengals in English.
How East Pakistan Became Bangladesh?
On August 14, 1947, Pakistan got its independence from Britain and was split from India. This was called the Partition of India. After this, the area that is now Bangladesh was called East Bengal, but it was later changed to East Pakistan.
But in 1970, President Yahya Khan, who was from the minority province of West Pakistan, was in charge of the whole country. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was chosen as the leader of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) after the general elections. Rahman was not given power by the government.
So, the people of East Pakistan asked to be on their own. The East Pakistan government started arresting East Pakistani army soldiers, which led to people being taken away against their will. On the night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistan Army announced “Operation Searchlight.” This was a military operation that was basically a Bengali genocide, and it led to the killing of about 3,000,000 Bengalis without any regard for who they were or what they looked like.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman finally declared East Pakistan’s independence from West Pakistan on March 26. Sad to say, the story didn’t end there. Over the next nine months, both areas fought for their freedom, and many people died in the process. Pakistan finally gave up on December 16, 1971. This was the end of the fight, which became known as the “Bangladesh War of Independence.”
India’s Involvement in Bangladesh’s Independence
In 1971, when Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan, India was a big part of it. In March 1971, the Pakistan Army started a crackdown on the Bengali people, who they saw as a threat to their rule. This was the start of the fight for independence in Bangladesh. The crackdown led to a lot of violence and violations of people’s rights.
Millions of Bengali refugees who had fled to India to get away from the violence were given shelter and help by India. The Indian government also gave the Bengali freedom fighters military training and weapons. These groups were led by the Awami League and the Mukti Bahini.
India officially joined the war on December 3, 1971, when the Pakistan Air Force attacked Indian airfields before they were attacked. In response, the Indian Air Force attacked back and destroyed most of the planes of the Pakistani Air Force. After this, the Indian Army went on the offensive on the ground, which led to the Pakistani Army giving up on December 16, 1971, and Bangladesh becoming its own country. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Manekshaw was the head of the Indian Army. He was known as “Sam Bahadur” by most people.
India’s involvement in the conflict was a big part of what happened in the end, and the Indian government got a lot of praise for its part in Bangladesh becoming independent. Hundreds of thousands of people died in the conflict, and millions were forced to move, but in the end, it led to Bangladesh becoming an independent country.
Pakistan won independence from Britain and separated from India in 1947, leading to the formation of East Pakistan, which was later renamed Bangladesh. In 1971, the East Pakistan administration began arresting East Pakistani army soldiers, resulting in forced disappearances and the Pakistan Army’s Operation Searchlight, which resulted in the indiscriminate killing of 3,000,000 Bengalis. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced East Pakistan’s independence from West Pakistan on March 26, but the two regions fought a liberation struggle until December 16, 1971, when Pakistan surrendered.
You Can Read More: Bangladesh Victory Day