We sometimes feel frustrated that however we try to protect the real history of the independence of our beloved Bangladesh, somewhat it faces distortion. On many occasions, we had to take shelter of pen and paper to protest against those who try to demean our greatest achievement in 1971 under the visionary leadership of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But such mean attacks towards our history keep coming back as we notice another such attempt recently and felt the urge to protest again.
Only a few days back, an article of a former Chicago-based educator Nazarul Islam titled as “Carrying the torch�.” was published. The article was published in three parts on consecutive days. We appreciate the writer’s true feelings towards his Bangladeshi friend but must object towards few lines he used to describe or indicate our 1971 liberation war as those we felt were demeaning.
We are stranding at the doors of 50 years of our independence but the mentioned author repeatedly termed Bangladesh as ‘East Pakistan’ or ‘Eastern wing of Pakistan’ and we have objection towards that identity. Bangladesh was always known as ‘Bongo’ in different forms. ‘United Bangla’ was almost achieved in 1947 but due to some political turmoil, that did not happen and for 24 years, the people of Bangladesh had to go through discrimination and torture in terms of culture, language, economy and opportunity. We want everyone to identify our sovereign nation as ‘Bangladesh’, while our history is somewhat touched.
Nazarul Islam lives in America and though he was brought up in Bangladesh, neither he nor his friend participated in the liberation war as we can assume from the article. Quickly after the independence, he moved to Karachi and stayed there for a great part of his life. Though he migrated to the USA, we feel his affection towards Pakistan is very much reflected in his writings. He mentioned at the first part of the mentioned article as we quote: “Because, we have (boastfully) lived through genocide and liberation war”. Here, by using the word ‘boastfully’, he actually expressed his lack of commitment towards an independent Bangladesh.
Here, we will quote almost a full para of the article: “The inevitable happened in the elections held on the 2nd day of December, 1970. The verdict was clear. This eastern wing of Pakistan had voted to charter its own future. And thus began a movement in history, that led people to choose an armed rebellion and say goodbye to the federation of Pakistan. In the wee hours of March 26, 1971 East Pakistan had declared its own political independence. That had brought confusion and chaos. Indiscriminate killing led to genocide, and simultaneously a massive reprisal against those who supported Pakistan. Life had lost meaning and value in a state of lawlessness.”
The quoted para above has been one of the greatest examples of history alteration. After different political turmoil and continuous deprivation of the rights of the Bangladeshis (the then East Pakistanis) by the West Pakistani rulers, Bangabandhu led Awami League won the 1970 General Election of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won that election based on his 6-point movement even on the face of disagreement of the veteran Bangladeshi leaders like Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani as participating in that election was seen as a step to legalize a set election under the full control of the West Pakistani rulers.
But Bangabandhu pocketed the people’s mandate and the West Pakistani rulers had to reject the idea of handing over power to Mujib as the basis of his campaign, the 6-points, was itself ‘silent independence’ of the East Pakistan. Even after winning the election, the power was not transferred and small-scale crackdowns by the West Pakistani military were occurring at different parts of East Pakistan. Not handing over the power even after winning the election was the greatest form of human rights violation.
On March 7, 1971 Bangabandhu from a historic public meeting at the then Racecourse ground, called for the preparation of an armed liberation war as that being seen as the last resort to ensure and instill the rights of the Bangladeshis. Before the 1970 election, an independent Bangladesh was not directly an agenda on the table but the refusal of the West Pakistani rulers to hand over power set the stage to call for complete independence. As a result, the liberation war started after West Pakistani military crackdown on Mar 25, 1971.
The barbaric coward attack of the Pakistani military junta on the innocent mass people of Bangladesh took place in the history as one of the fiercest genocides. Bangabandhu was captured on the same night and taken away to West Pakistan. But the great leader was able to circulate his message of independence of Bangladesh before he was captured as he called for full armed war until the achievement of complete victory and millions of discriminated and tortured Bengalis respond to that call.
The writer of the mentioned article did not mention this context of the liberation war rather he marked our most glorious achievement as a sudden unruly activity of the Bangladeshis. He also used the words like “chaos” and “confused”, which are often used by anti-liberation forces like Jamaat-e-Islami while describing the history of the liberation war. He also said that, the liberation war brought massive reprisal against those who supported Pakistan. But there is no way to forget the role of those who supported Pakistan during the liberation war of 1971 as their role took away the lives of millions of innocent Bangladeshis as well as the honor of thousands of Bangladeshi women. While saying a story of friendship, the writer tactically falsified the history of Bangladesh’s independence and demeaned our achievement.
Currently, we are going through the birth centenary of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which has been declared as ‘Mujib Year’. Moreover, we will celebrate the 50 years of independence next year. We have found several so-called intellectuals to come up with distorted and false history of our nation’s independence in recent months.
We have also noticed that, different groups are actively trying to destabilize Bangladesh as the progress and development of Bangladesh during the last decade under the leadership of Bangabandhu’s daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been exemplary. We are having a feeling that a deep conspiracy by the anti-sovereignty and anti-liberation forces is shaping up. This type of articles, which distorts and demeans our history tactically, may be the part of that conspiracy.
Our media also should play a good role to foil such conspiracies for the sake of progress of Bangladesh. Both print and electronic media should not allow any articles or reports which vandalizes our true history.
Keeping the Victory Day in mind, anti-liberation forces are getting active. Hefazat-e-Islami and other Islamic groups are making the situation in Bangladesh vulnerable on ‘statue’ issue. BNP is becoming active with its ally Jamaat-e-Islami in the name of ‘Democracy Killing Day’. And the anti-sovereignty intellectuals and media are also turning active to create real chaos and confusion. In this type the article by Nazarul Islam is very much unexpected.
We are all going through a very tough time due to the Covid-19 pandemic globally. According to the experts, tougher times are ahead. Many conspiracies are forming to harm the communal harmony, development and economy of Bangladesh. Along with insiders, we believe foreign forces are also active in this attempt. We believe Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s farsighted leadership will foil all ill-attempts while all of us play our constructive roles with care and caution.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and
Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Centre (DRC)