Joy Bangla: A Slogan and Source of Inspiration

Hiren Pandit: ‘Joy Bangla’ has been made the national slogan. The government issued a gazette declaring “Joy Bangla” as the national slogan of Bangladesh. Teachers and students have been instructed to use the slogan at the end of daily assemblies. People holding constitutional posts, officers and employees at public, autonomous and statutory bodies, working in the country and abroad, must chant the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ at the end of all national day celebrations and other state and government functions. On 20 February this year, the Cabinet ordered declaring “Joy Bangla” as the national slogan.

Earlier, a writ petition was filed with the High Court seeking an order to declare “Joy Bangla” as the national slogan. In the light of that petition, there are also instructions from the court in this regard. Following the petition, the apex court issued a show-cause notice asking the authorities concerned as to why “Joy Bangla” would not be declared Bangladesh’s national slogan. After hearing the arguments from the petitioner and the state attorneys, the court delivered its verdict in 2020 declaring “Joy Bangla” as the national slogan.

When and where to use the Joy Bangla slogan? The Cabinet Division mentioned in the judgment that three or four categories were mentioned in the judgment. Constitutional office bearers, all officials and employees of the state will chant the slogan at the end of the state or government ceremony. Besides, all the educational institutions including schools-colleges-madrasas-universities, if they have any meeting-seminar, assembly or any kind of assembly, they have to give Joy Bangla slogan there.

All the freedom fighters are happy with such a decision. There are national slogans in about sixty countries of the world. We didn’t have. ‘Joy Bangla’ is a symbol of our national unity and inspiration. The slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ mixed with the spirit of Liberation War has been made the national slogan. It is a matter of pride as well as hopeful news.

According to the Bangla Academy Dictionary, the word ‘Joy’ means – ‘Success, Victory etc. Joy Bangla means victory of Bengali language, Bangladesh and Bengali nation. The use and effectiveness of this slogan in our existence is much more extensive. ‘Let Bengal be Bengali, let Bengal be victorious, let Bengal be victorious.’ This indestructible line of the rebellious poet Kazi Nazrul Islam took concrete shape through this national slogan. The slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ cherished in the hearts of Bengalis resounded in seven crore voices.

Since 1947, Sheikh Mujib, the leader of the Awami League, has been at the forefront of the independence movement. Agartala conspiracy case was filed against Bangabandhu for treason. The same slogan Joy Bangla, Joy Sheikh Mujib was given all over Bengal. Through this naming, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his thunderous slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ became the slogan of all freedom-loving people.

On the 21st day of the non-cooperation movement, the capital Dhaka was engulfed in flames due to the steadfast march of thousands of freedom-loving people. A procession of people from all walks of life with slogans like ‘Joy Bangla’ and ‘Joy Bangabandhu’ marched towards the central Shaheed Minar. From there the procession went to Bangabandhu’s residence with the oath of liberation.

The slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ united everyone in the war of liberation irrespective of race and religion. But after the independence of Bangladesh, that unity cracked. ‘Joy Bangla’ is the slogan of the liberation war. There are various discussions about how this slogan came to be in Bangladesh. Before reaching the final stage of the mass uprising of 1969, the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ was being chanted in the procession of students in the streets.

In a press conference on November 28, 1970, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib said, “One million people have died in the cyclone and will give another one million lives to achieve independence.” In the general elections of 7 December 1970, out of a total of 169 seats in East Pakistan, the Awami League under the leadership of Bangabandhu won 167 seats with the sound of ‘Joy Bangla’. The thunderous unity of the Bengali nation is proved.

‘Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu’, ‘Your leader and our leader, Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Mujib’, ‘Hold the Bir Bangali weapon, make Bangladesh independent’, ‘ Your and our address, Padma Meghna Jamuna’, ‘Jago Jago, Bangali Jago’. ‘Joy Bangla, Joy Bangla, Joy Bangla …’.

On behalf of Swadhin Bangla Chhatra Sangram Parishad, the then Chhatra League leader A.S.M. Abdur Rab hoisted the first flag of Bangladesh on March 2, 1971, at Dhaka University. At the same time, the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ was uttered again and again. The curfew was broken. Bengalis were overwhelmed by the sound of ‘Joy Bangla, Joy Bangla’. Numerous freedom-loving people were killed on the highway in the attack of the Pak army! On March 3, 1971, the service was performed at Paltan Maidan. As well as hoisting our national flag, the proclamation of the establishment of independent Bangladesh was propagated.

At the direction of Bangabandhu given on 7th March, all the people of the country jumped into the battle of death saying ‘Joy Bangla’ to conquer this Bengal, to liberate the enemy from whatever they have. The main tool of this war was the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ which was echoing in the air and vibrating in the chest and mouth of everyone.

Before reaching the final stage of the mass uprising of 1969, the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ was being chanted in the procession of students in the streets. The student leaders also chanted this slogan at the time of Bangabandhu’s release from prison in the face of the student movement. The war of independence of Bangladesh took place on the basis of some basic principles against Pakistan in 1971. At the root of this were Bengali nationalism and secularism. The slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ united everyone irrespective of caste and creed in 1971. The way for the freedom fighters to gain courage in the war of liberation was to raise their voices in the sky and give the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’. The language of expressing their heroism was also ‘Joy Bangla’.

During the liberation war, freedom-loving people repeatedly chanted the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’. At that time a weekly magazine called ‘Jay Bangla’ was published from the battlefield. Everyone had the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’, ‘Joy Bangla’, ‘Joy Bangabandhu’ and ‘Joy Bangla’ on their chests and mouths. During the war of liberation, the pro-Pakistan forces tortured and killed millions of innocent people who supported our independence by calling them ‘people of Joy Bangla’. Finally, the heroic Bengali defeated the Pakistani occupation forces in the 9-month-long battle and on 16 December 1971, at 5 pm, the Pakistani troops surrendered unconditionally to the Allied forces of Bangladesh and India at the Race Course Ground in Dhaka. Mujib’s ever-desired independent Bangladesh was established.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the world-renowned heroic Bengali nation, set foot on the soil of the war-torn country on January 10, 1972, after being released from prisons in Pakistan and passing through London and Delhi. In everyone’s voice, ‘Joy Bangla’ was the welcome slogan to welcome the beloved leader.

‘Joy Bangla’ is our most powerful and successful tool! Basically, with this tool, we have defeated the monstrous opponent. We have conquered our real identity Bengali nationalism, mother tongue Bangla language and motherland Bangladesh. But our new generation does not know it properly!

‘Joy Bangla’ is the most inspiring, significant slogan in the country. Joy Bangla is now being used nationally following the Supreme Court verdict. Joy Bangla has come here today after going through many ups and downs.

During the liberation war, “Joy Bangla” was used at different times by Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. The signature music of this radio station was Joy Bangla, Joy of Bengal. The first radio address of Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed, aired on 11 April 1971 on Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, ended with the slogan “Joy Bangla, Joy Swadhin Bangladesh”.

Those who are the new generations of free Bangladesh have not seen the war. However, for the first time, the power of ‘Joy Bangla’ was felt during the formation of the People’s Court in 1992 under the leadership of Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam. For the second time in 2013, without any party-political leadership got a taste of the unseen liberation war during the mass awakening at Shahbagh. After many years, the whole country was shaken by the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’ which was lost with blood. Joy Bangla is not a party slogan; its owner is Bangladesh.

At one time the word Bangabandhu was banished but Bangabandhu came back more vigorously. It has become much easier to re-establish ‘Joy Bangla’. Since the Supreme Court has declared Joy Bangla as the national slogan and the party leading the liberation war is running the country, the task has become easier. The freedom fighters used to confront the Pakistani forces with the slogan ‘Joy Bangla’. The slogan of victory was originally started during the mass uprising in 1969. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu chanted this slogan in 1969 when he was released from prison in Pakistan. From the politics of division, the slogan of liberation war has also been disputed by showing it as a party slogan. Finally, Joy Bangla has been recognized as the national slogan.

The writer is a columnist and researcher

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