16th December: Recounting the glory of Victory Day

Mahbubar Rahman
Thursday, December 14th, 2017


“What is our aim?


Victory, Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; Victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival”

Sir Winston Churchill.


Basking in crisp winter sunlight of a mid-December day, at last the Victory smiled on braves, on 16th December, 1971, who fought ceaselessly a nine month long War of Liberation to free the motherland from the Pakistani occupation forces.


Long 45 years have passed since our Great War of Liberation took place when the freedom fighters, most of who are now visibly walking into the twilight of life, were in their prime time of youth with inexhaustible agility and steam of life as could be seen metaphorically as ‘the right time to go to war’. Engaged in an enduring war for long nine months to destroy the last enemy from the soil of the dear motherland, freedom fighters going hand in with the people, at last saw the dream of great Victory Day come true on the 16th December 1971.


Recounting the great occasion of Victory Day in 2016, along with most of the freedom fighters, caught-up with the fever of nostalgia; I also fall back upon a reverie with the reminiscence of tumultuous days of 71 in the battle field when our dear motherland fell prey to ghouls and monsters of occupying military junta of Pakistan who vowed to obliterate this brave nation from the surface of the earth.


Emerging from mellow land standing on alluvial soil of world’s biggest deltaic region, Bengalis are ever peace-loving nation living in the serenity and sublime beauty of nature enriched with hundreds of rivers and tributaries running with the rippling sounds to savor the souls of the teeming million.


In good old days people of this part of the world lived in peace and harmony with granaries in full brim, ponds full of varieties of fishes, cattle sheds full in live stocks and above all melodious voices in enormity with chorus of happiness in the air. Milk and honey flowed as much as was required to make the life nourished and nurtured in purity. Nature was full of bounties with hues and colors: shady giant banyan trees, dwarf herbal floras alluring the colorful butterflies to drink the nectar from deep inside the core were the indelible events in memory to be relished for the long time to come. There we saw dancing streams in serpentine choreography flowing around the sprawling landscape, which inspires the shepherd boys to create a sweet and melancholic melody playing the bamboo flute and apathetic boatmen to create a magic of their mystic songs.


These were the scenarios of those bygone days that are now popping through the windows of my mind, as briefly described, on this auspicious Victory Day. It is an attempt to ‘look longer back to see further ahead’ of the drama of life being staged in our surroundings in the continuous process.


Life was so precious and easy-going in those pre-liberation and pre-partition days for the Bengalis till the time this beautiful land came under the political and economic subjugation of Pakistani rulers for long 23 years following the British packed up their baggage in 1947 after ruling this land for long about 200 years. Rulers of Pakistani evil force in the garb of pseudo Muslim brotherhood did not feel themselves contended only to bring the Bengalis under their jackboot, but finally cracked down on Bengalis in the fateful night of March 25, 1971 with their all out monstrous force and fire-power to wipe out this nation once for all.


To be briefer at this point, with his long enduring and charismatic political career of trials & tribulations, sufferings of oppression and incarceration caused by the Pakistani ruler, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who by then became an undisputed leader and de-facto head of the country made his historical announcement on March 7, 1971 mammoth gathering in the Race Course maiden (Shuharawardy Uddan) clearly telling a prelude to the declaration of Independence in his poetic grandeur.


Bangabandhu’s clarion call to his nation on March 7, 1971 largely infuriated the Pakistani military junta. Under the camouflage of political dialogue, they were in fact silently building military power, troops and ammunition for genocide. People from all walks of life, regardless of age and sex took preparation for an all-out liberation war under the leadership of Bangabandhu except those traitors; sons of Quislings and Mir Zafars from Jamat-e-Islam and Muslim League political outfits.


On 25th March 1971, there were fears, distrusts and rumors everywhere. At last the gate of hell was opened at mid-night as per blueprint and the Pakistani marauders attacked the armless innocent Bengalis and played the orgy of death with monstrous force. They raided with armored vehicles, artilleries and tanks to kill unarmed innocent civilians. Thousands of people in the streets, university campus were brutally killed on that fateful night by the Pakistani bloodthirsty military. It was an unprecedented genocide in the known history.


Before the crackdown on the people by the Pakistani forces, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib declared independence at the first hour of 26th March, 1971. Through the EPR wireless network, his proclamation was transmitted to Chittagong. People from all walks of life spontaneously took to the streets and created barricades with whatever they had in their possession. People with fury and rage came out with naked sword to behead Tikka Khan while some with Machete to make boty kebab out of Yahiya Khan’s flesh. Some of them were chanting outrageous slogans to pulverize Bhutto for making roti (brad) for the next morning breakfast, while some others remained happy and complacent with the declaration of Independence and absorbed in playing cards lazily over the night. This is how I witnessed at Chittagong the journey of a nation that began at the first hour of 26th March 1971 and with responding to the clarion call of Bangabandhu, among many others, took up arms and became a part of Liberation War. At the break of dawn, the armed bandits came out from their holes, removed barricades and shot down whoever they found within the firing range. The buzzing city swiftly turned into the valley of death and soon the freedom fighters from all walks of life turned back to their heels and engaged in an all-out War of Liberation to eliminate the enemies from the soil of Bangladesh. After a long nine months of war which is the part of our unparallel glorious history, at last Victory Day came on 16th December, 1971 with occupying forces coming down to their knees and surrendered to the joint commands in the Race Course maiden where Banabandhu delivered his historic speech on March 7, 1971.


Needless to emphasize that 16th December Victory Day was a day of great joy for all the people of Bangladesh. Freedom fighters with flaunting weapons hung on their shoulders were warmly greeted in their respective areas. Holding freedom fighter in their arms, people were chanting Joy-Bangla slogan at the top of their voices.


Guns of freedom fighters were rattling in the air all around in jubilation and celebration. The defeated forces were proceeding in convoy for cantonment for surrender. They were booed and jeered by the people. Out of vengeance, the surrendering evil forces fired at the onlookers. Lives were lost even on the Victory Day in independent Bangladesh. Remaining days of December 1971 passed in merriments and jubilation. We were all breathing free air and taking the real taste of independence. The economy was war-torn and infrastructure shattered, but people were still in festive mood and Great Spirit. Razakars and collaborators went in hiding. Few o them were caught by the freedom fighters and were made to pay with their lives for the treachery they committed with the nation but the majority of them were saved from the fury of the people because of timely intervention of the Indian Army.


On Victory Day, dreams of Golden Bangladesh have been translated into reality and people were eagerly looking forward to reap the harvest of long cherished independence. Having had no experience of real drama of life, we were too patriotic and too emotional to imagine a new-born Bangladesh with an egalitarian society where all the people would enjoy the equal right and justice.


Alas! following Bangabandu’s assassination in 1975, with the wind blowing from the opposite direction carrying eye-blinding smoke unleashed from the gate of hell, grossly imperiled and molested our peoples’ burgeoning hopes and visions; The freedom fighter officers fell prey to the diabolical act of vindictiveness and vengeance of those ruling political bigots who nourished and nurtured an active monster within, good for trampling the values and spirit based on which Bangladesh emerged as an independent country at the cost of a stream of blood.


The usurpers of power turned with a trademark of democracy (!!) and with their festering partisan chauvinism that acceded to state power, a massive crackdown and character assassination of freedom fighters and process of rehabilitating the anti Bangladesh element with the extreme audacity of making some identified war criminals as ministers in the cabinet began. A vile attempt was purportedly made to obliterate the name and towering image of Bangabandhu from our national psyche.


It is long since we have had the occasion of enjoying the taste and flavor of Victory Day in 1971 in Jubilation and celebration in our prime time of youth. The local collaborators of the defeated forces went in hiding but their conspiracy to hit back on the core value of our independence did not end. Soon in 1975 when Bangladesh was gradually returning out of the trauma of war, the perpetrators with the deadly venom of vengeance, succeeded in assassinating the father of the nation along with all his family members except two daughters who were then abroad in the fateful night of Aug 15, 1975. The independent Bangladesh which was emerged from a stream of blood of the martyrs was again pushed back into a blind alley of regression infested with festering poison of conspiracy and intrigue and remained incarcerated with chains & shackles till 2008 when people got back free Bangladesh of their cherished values and dreams after pushing aside the agents & cohorts of the defeated forces through a ballot revolution under the dynamic leadership of Bangabandhu Kannay Sheikh Hasina. Iron-dome alike seat of devilish power of the perpetrators were shaken and collapsed like a pack of cards. Heavyweight collaborators and suspected war- criminals have been brought to the dock. They have already walked the gallows, while a few more are on the queue to have the noose fastened around their neck after a due process of law.


Victory Day 2016 has brought about a new dimension in the life of every citizen of Bangladesh to see at least in their life time that war criminals have been handed heavy punishment for their unpardonable crime causing to the martyrdom of 3 million beleaguered sons and daughters who laid their lives in the altar of Independence before a new sun with glow rose in the eastern horizon on Victory Day 1971. It is heartening to see that the sun of Victory Day with true spirit of Liberation War is now again in the middle sky with equal glare & flex from the state of long oblivion caused by being eclipsed for long 21 years under an ominous shadow from 1975 to 2008. It has indeed ushered in a new era with long cherished hopes of making a real Bangladesh; rearing in mind the formidable spirit and values of Great Liberation War and Victory Day.


Before I conclude, on this glorious Victory Day, with great honor and veneration I remember the name of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibar Rahman who shaped Bangladesh under his charismatic leadership and with long enduring struggle and later was assassinated gruesomely in the hands of perpetrators and enemies of Bangladesh in 1975. Further, with deep adulation I remember the names of our four great national leaders i.e. Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain Mansoor Ali and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman who, in the absence of Bangabandhu, led the Mujibnagar government in exile and later in post liberation Bangladesh were brutally massacred in the vile hands of the enemies of Bangladesh in 1975. Names of three millions beleaguered sons and daughters of Bangladesh including valiant freedom fighters in the battle field who had sacrificed their lives, have a permanent place in the hearts of all Bengalis believing in the spirit of our great Liberation war and Bangladesh; are duly remembered in Victory Day with great honor and reverence. Equally, I remember with deep gratitude and honor, at this point, name of late Indian prime minister Mrs. Indira Ghandi and her government in 1971, who lent unwavering, both moral and material, support to the Liberation war; and also to those brave soldiers of the Indian army who fought neck to neck with brave freedom fighters against the Pakistani occupation forces, and sacrificed their lives toward paving the way for great Victory Day on 16th December, 1971. I will be failing in my duty if, at this point, I do not mention with deep gratitude the bold role the erstwhile Soviet Union played during our Liberation War and extended their support including three strong vetoes they used against the U.N. resolution calling for ceasefire at the crucial hour when Pakistani forces were cornered and pushed to the brink of surrender.


Great Victory Day visits us every year on 16th December to rejuvenate our spirit of Liberation War and recount its glory for which Bangali nation had to pay a big price. On this auspicious day, let us pray that we remain united and steadfast to uphold the flambeau of Victory of our national pride as stronger than as ever before.


Long live Great Victory Day. Long live Bangladesh. Joy Bangla. Joy Bangabandhu.


Mahbubar Rahman is a former Civil Servant

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