Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of victory against Pakistan

Insight Online News

By Mir Afroz Zaman

Dhaka, Dec 16 : On the occasion of Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary of its victory, the valiant freedom fighters who fought and made the supreme sacrifice to free the country from the Pakistani occupation forces are being remembered.

Paved with the blood, toils, tears and sacrifice of a generation of heroes, the road to freedom for Bengalis here was long, arduous and often forlorn.

Even in the darkest days of the nine-month-long war sparked by the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman against a formidable foe, people’s unwavering hope of breaking the shackles of tyranny lit the way forward.

Against all odds, the ultimate triumph was earned on December 16, 1971 with the surrender of the Pakistani occupation forces, crystallising Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent nation.

The country marks 50 years of victory in the Liberation War against Pakistan on Decmebr 16, with its sight firmly set on a golden future. As the red and green flies proudly across Bangladesh and the world, it continues to serve as a testament to the nation’s resolve to resist and fight back against oppression, no matter its form.

This is the indomitable spirit embodied and transmitted by Bangabandhu, the country’s founder. Fittingly, the golden jubilee of the heroic victory coincides with the celebrations marking the birth centenary of the greatest Bengali to have ever lived.

Greeting his countrymen on the 50th Victory Day, President Abdul Hamid has urged everyone to work towards turning Bangabandhu’s dream of a prosperous and self-sufficient Bangladesh into reality.

“Let us contribute more from our respective positions towards the implementation of the goals and spirit of the Liberation War to take the country and the nation forward on the path of development and prosperity,” he said.

In her message to Bangladeshis, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for the ideals of the country’s liberation struggle to be passed from generation to generation.

Highlighting the strides taken by the country in the last 50 years under the guidance of the Father of the Nation and his party, the Awami League, Hasina said, “I firmly believe that if the current trend of our development continues, this country will become the hunger-free and prosperous ‘golden Bangladesh’ of Bangabandhu’s dream by 2041.”

As the British colonial rule ended in 1947, Bengalis were once again shackled, this time by West Pakistan.

But the people of the then East Pakistan soon found a champion for their cause in Bangabandhu, who would go on to deliver on his promise to break the chains of West Pakistani oppression.

As the discontent simmered after over two decades of West Pakistani rule, the Pakistan Army swooped down on the unarmed innocent Bengalis on the night of March 25, 1971 to subjugate their struggle for freedom.

However, the undisputed leader of the Bengalis had effectively announced the nation’s independence at the historic March 7 rally at the Race Course grounds, when he proclaimed in a thundering voice: “This time the struggle is for our freedom. This time the struggle is for our independence.”

Bengalis put up a valiant resistance and snatched victory on Dec 16 after nine months of Liberation War.

Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niyazi, the martial law administrator of the then East Pakistan, signed the official document of surrender sitting next to Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, the joint commander of Indian forces and the Mukti Bahini of Bangladesh, at the Ramna Race Course ground, now Suhrawardy Udyan.

Bangladesh stands on a unique pedestal as one of a few countries in the world to celebrate Victory Day alongside its Independence Day.

But within a few years of gaining independence, tragedy struck in one of the darkest chapters of Bangladesh’s history unfolded.

On August 15, 1975, a group of rogue army soldiers assassinated Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family. The country fell into almost two decades of military dictatorship.

In 1996, Bangabandhu’s party the Awami League, led by his daughter Sheikh Hasina, formed government with its ascendence coinciding with the silver jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.

The twists and turns of politics, however, saw the Awami League lose power in 2001 before taking the reins once again in 2009.

The party has remained at the helm for over a decade since, breaking new grounds in terms of growth and development. Its graduation from a least developed country to a developing country is one of the highlights of the country’s 50-year journey.

The country has gone from strength to strength, particularly in the last decade, with its progress signified by various indicators, including economic growth, poverty reduction and women’s empowerment. Bangladesh’s goal now is to reach the status of a developed country.

Once dubbed as a “bottomless basket” by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Bangladesh’s red and green flag is now up space with the launch of Bangabandhu Satellite-1.

The government has also completed mega infrastructure projects such as the Padma Bridge with its funds. The Dhaka Metrorail project is nearing completion while the country is also setting up its first nuclear power plant.

Five decades after its independence, Bangladesh has proved Kissinger utterly wrong.

But the path to progress continues to throw up challenges, with the plague of communalism, in particular, rearing its ugly head every now and then.

Despite the obstacles, Bangladesh continues to be driven forward by a host of unsung heroes, namely farmers, workers, day labourers and migrant workers.

On the 50th year of victory, freedom fighter Sheikh Taiyebur Rahman wants to see the ideals of patriotism and national pride shine through in citizens.

“The citizens of Bangladesh have to be patriotic first. Then they have to be responsible and transparent. They must put duty above party affiliation.”

“As a freedom fighter, I want people to respect each other in the Bangladesh of the future. They should respect each other despite their differences.”

Taiyebur also found ‘great solace’ in witnessing the trial of war criminals in his lifetime.

“In the country founded by Bangabandhu, the Razakars (local cohorts of the Pakistan army) have been tried under the leadership of his daughter. This is an ineffable relief. The country has progressed immensely in these 50 years. There have been a few slipups but it is common in every country. We hope for even greater advancement of the country in the future. “

On the 50th year of victory, Farzana Alam, a young filmmaker, wants to see an end to discrimination in Bangladesh.

Focussing on the non-communal ideology on which the Liberation War was predicated, she said, “Bangladesh is now 50 years old and as a member of this generation, I want a non-communal, non-discriminatory state for all.”

“As a representative of this generation, I expect assurance of the fundamental rights of all. The economic benefits that Bangladesh has harnessed must reach every citizen,” she added.

The plan to celebrate Bangabandhu’s birth centenary and the golden jubilee of independence on a large scale was hampered in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Later, the ‘Mujib Year’ celebrations were extended from March 16, 2020, to December 16, 2021.

Bangladesh celebrated the golden jubilee of independence on Mar 26 this year, together with the birth centenary of its founding father.
The heads of state and governments of several countries also took part in the festivities.

This time, a two-day programme will mark the golden jubilee of victory in the Liberation War.

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has already arrived in Dhaka to take part in it.

The celebrations will begin at the National Memorial in Savar where people from all walks of life will pay homage to the valiant freedom fighters.

A colourful Victory Day parade was held at the National Parade Square, which saw for the first time, members of the armed forces of friendly countries such as India, Bhutan, Russia, and Mexico in attendance.

The main event will be held in the afternoon at the South Plaza of parliament. The programme will begin at 4.30 pm with a pledge to mark the golden jubilee and Mujib Year under the direction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

After the ceremony, President Hamid and his Indian counterpart Kovind will join a discussion session presided over by Hasina.

Minister of Liberation War Affairs AKM Mozammel Haque and Parliament Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury will speak on the occasion. Chief Coordinator of the National Implementation Committee Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury will deliver the welcome address.

Fakhrul in his message said independence was the best fruit of the past century and that the freedom fighters fought for independence envisaging a happy and prosperous Bangladesh by establishing democracy and ensuring economic emancipation.

He urged the people to unite in a movement to free BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, who is now hospitalised.

He also urged the country people raise voice for allowing Khaleda Zia for treatment abroad The first day’s programme will come to an end at 8 pm. The second day’s festivities will be kicked off by a cultural programme at 5:30 pm which will continue till 7 pm.

The two-day programme will be broadcast live on various media, including the state-run BTV and Bangladesh Betar.


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