17 April Mujibnagar Day and Bangabandhu’s Declaration of Independence

Hiren Pandit: The Declaration of Independence of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was announced on this occasion. From this day the place came to be known as Mujibnagar. On the night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistani army started an unjust and traitorous war against the unarmed Bengalis, and in the early hours of March 26, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman officially declared the independence of Bangladesh through wireless. In continuation of that, on April 10, the elected representatives of the absolute majority of the Awami League in the National Assembly elected in the free area of the border area of Meherpur met in a special session and formed the government of the independent-sovereign People’s Republic of Bangladesh. April 17, 1971, is an unforgettable day in the history of Bangladesh’s freedom struggle. On this day, the first government of the independent-sovereign People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formally sworn in at Amrakanan in Baidyanathala, the then Meherpur subdivision of Kushtia district.

Bangladesh attained independence on December 16, 1971, through a 9-month armed liberation war under the successful leadership of the Provisional Government. The Declaration was written on March 25, 1971, when the Pakistani invasion forces started attacking the Bengalis based on the declaration of independence by the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Bangabandhu was arrested by Pakistani forces after the declaration of independence of Bangladesh. That same night, Bangabandhu was taken prisoner in West Pakistan. They thought that the Bengalis could be stopped only by arresting Sheikh Mujib. But in 1971, more than the free Mujib, the imprisoned Mujib became a source of inspiration for the people of Bengal. Therefore, the Bengali nation united and took a firm oath for the independence of Bangladesh, regardless of caste and religion.

On April 10, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formed with Bangabandhu as the President. In this swearing-in ceremony of the newly-born nation, the people of Bangladesh are called upon to fight to the death with an indomitable spirit to achieve freedom against the invading forces of Pakistan through their bravery, courage, and revolutionary activities. The newly formed government played a very important role in creating international public opinion for the newly independent Bangladesh and in conducting the liberation war, and under the competent leadership and guidance of this government, the liberation war moved towards a successful conclusion at the earliest.

The Mujibnagar government is an integral part of the liberation war. The liberation war of 1971 was led by this government. Bangladesh emerged as an independent sovereign state in exchange for an ocean of blood. After 54 years of independence, Bangladesh is progressing in many ways. The Padma Bridge is self-financed. Metrorail has started. Bangladesh is ahead of neighboring countries in various social and economic indicators. To sustain this progress, the spirit of the liberation war must be maintained and the new generation must be enlightened in the spirit of the liberation war. Any distortion of history must be prevented.

In the declaration Bangabandhu was declared the President of the Republic and Syed Nazrul Islam the Vice President until the constitution was made. Apart from this, Tajuddin Ahmad was appointed as the Prime Minister, Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed as the Foreign Minister, Captain Muhammad Mansoor Ali as the Finance Minister and AHM Kamaruzzaman as the Home, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister. On the other hand, General Ataul Ghani Osmani was appointed the Commander-in-Chief of the Mukti Bahini, and Major General Abdur Rab as the Chief of Staff. Initially, the government was formed with 7 ministries and 4 ministers held the responsibilities of these 7 ministries.

On April 17, early in the morning, Awami League leaders traveled to Meherpur from Kolkata with local and foreign journalists. BSF provides them with the necessary security. By 11 am a small convoy crossed the border and entered Meherpur and stayed at Amrakunj Baidyanath la adjacent to the border. A small stage was built with some tool tables from a local church. Foreign journalists are arranged to sit in front. The director of the program MP, MA Mannan briefed everyone about the program. In a very brief ceremony, Member of Parliament Professor Yusuf Ali first read the Declaration of Independence. Then Bangabandhu was declared the President, Syed Nazrul Islam was Vice-President and a four-member cabinet was formed. Constituent Assembly Speaker Yusuf Ali read the original Declaration of Independence there.

Professor Yusuf Ali read the oath to the members of the cabinet and the vice president in the ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, Vice President Syed Nazrul Islam, and Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed gave a short speech to the people and journalists present. They called on other countries of the world to help and support the liberation war of Bangladesh. During the War of Independence, the main office of the Mujibnagar Government was shifted to House No. 8, Historic Theater Road, Kolkata, mainly to facilitate security and leadership in the Liberation War. Political, military and diplomatic affairs were conducted from there during the liberation war. The Provisional Government had to coordinate with the Government of India, manage differences among themselves and shape international public opinion. Justice Abu Saeed Chowdhury was appointed as the government’s special envoy to the outside world. Bangladesh government representatives are spread all over the world.

It is remembered forever as ‘Mujibnagar Day’ in the pages of history. The day was a historic moment in the making of the heroic saga of the nation. After hundreds of struggles, agitations, sacrifices, imprisonments, oppressions, tortures, oppressions, exploitations, and terrors by foreign and colonial and occupying rulers, the Bengalis who reached the threshold of their freedom – this day commemorated and accelerated the freedom struggle under the leadership of the Mujibnagar government. Based on which independent Bangladesh, was later included in the constitution.

The Provisional Government was able to shape world opinion through political, diplomatic and propaganda activities. As a result of this government’s efficiency, Bangladesh was freed from the invading Pakistanis in just 9 months.Bangladesh’s freedom struggle is not an accidental event. It has a long movement-struggle continuity. This long preparation required steady political leadership. Bangabandhu led that long movement and struggle. Although he was not physically present for 9 months of the war, he was in the presence of seven and a half crore people, he was the main driving force. That fact was established on April 17 at Amrakanan in Meherpur. Where in his absence the revolutionary government was formed with him as the leader. That government became the Mujibnagar government by taking the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This is the significance of the Mujibnagar government.

At the call of Bangabandhu, independence-loving Bengalis first started a war of resistance within the country. As the Pakistani army continued to massacre and devastate every town and village, fighting from within the country became difficult, forcing the political leadership to cross the border and take refuge in India. In late March, Awami League general secretary Tajuddin Ahmed crossed the border with his associate Ameer-ul-Islam, with the help of Jhenaidah’s then SDPO Mahbub Uddin Ahmed PSP and Meherpur SDO Taufiq Elahi Chowdhury CSP, and met Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Delhi on 3 April. Seeks the help of the Government of India. International media reported that General Yahya Khan of West Pakistan announced that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would be tried in a military court. With the announcement of this military trial, Indira Gandhi appealed to all the world leaders to save Bangabandhu’s life. In a meeting in Moscow in September 1971, he said, ‘What is happening in Bangladesh cannot be avoided as an internal matter of that country. About 1 crore people have taken refuge in our country. Do those people not have the right to live or work in their own country? Now the leaders of the world should see that these helpless people can return to their countries without fear.

On July 7, US President Richard Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger arrived in India. In the discussion of the situation in Bangladesh, Kissinger said that America will not stand by India if India advances in a war centered on Bangladesh. Kissinger secretly traveled to China from India via Pakistan. Indira’s advisors PN Haksar, DP Dhar, TN Kaul, and LK Jha (the then-Indian ambassador to the US) advised the prime minister to seek help from Soviet Russia. A month after Kissinger’s Sino-meeting, the ‘Russia-India alliance’ agreement was signed on August 9, 1971. As a result, Yahya Khan was afraid to order the execution of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The internal administration of the Mujibnagar government played one of the roles in the establishment of an independent sovereign Bangladesh. The internal administration was divided into military and civil. Military administration was controlled by the Ministry of Defense. The main work of this ministry was to divide the entire war zone of Bangladesh into 11 sectors and appoint commanders and supervise the war. Among the civil administrations, the most important were the General Administration and the Department of Information and Radio. Refugee problems, proper coordination of regional military civil affairs etc. were the main tasks of the regional administration. Apart from this, an important part of the internal administration was the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. The Mujibnagar government appointed Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Justice Abu Saeed Chowdhury as a special envoy to the outside world and tried to garner support and public opinion in the outside world for the liberation war. As a result of such activities, news headlines were published in favor of the liberation war in those countries. On April 10, 1971, Justice Chowdhury met British Foreign Minister Sir Alec due to concern about Bangabandhu’s physical health and death and confirmed about Bangabandhu’s physical health. On May 14, the House of Commons of the British Parliament unanimously passed a resolution that the British government should use its influence in the international arena to force Pakistan to withdraw its army.

Mohiuddin Ahmad, second secretary assigned to the Pakistan High Commission in London, expressed his loyalty to the Bangladesh government by resigning from the service of Pakistan. On August 1, AMA Muhith, Economic Counselor of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington expressed his loyalty to the Bangladesh government. On August 4, a total of 15 Bengali diplomats of the Pakistani mission at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington and the United Nations Office in New York resigned simultaneously and expressed their loyalty to the Bangladesh government. Lutful Matin, Director of Audit and Accounts of the Pakistan High Commission in London, expressed his loyalty to the Bangladesh government on August 5. A large public meeting was held in London’s Hyde Park on August 11 to protest the trial of Bangabandhu. On October 4, Humayun Rashid Chowdhury broke ties with the Pakistani Embassy in New Delhi and openly joined the Bangladesh movement.

Mujibnagar Govt. Justice Chowdhury went to the USA on May 24. Within a few days, he met the ambassadors of Norway, Sweden, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, etc., and various people in the United Nations. As a result, different countries got a clear idea about the liberation war. As a result, Bangladesh started getting the status of an independent country during the liberaOn December 16, 1971, the commander of the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan, Lt. General Niazi joint commander of the Indian and Bangladesh forces in the eastern region. General Jagjit Singh formally surrendered to Arora at 4.31 pm. The Mujibnagar government was a government made up of elected representatives of the people. Its influence on the Liberation War was far-reaching. Exactly 214 years after the independence sun of Bengal set on June 23, 1757, on Amrakanan of Palashi, that is, on April 17, 1971, on another Amrakanan of Baidyanathtala village, may the setting sun of Bengal rise again.

Hiren Pandit is an essayist, researcher and a columnist.

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