Dhaka Courier

Timeline to Bangladesh

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7 March 1971: At a massive public rally in Dhaka, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tells Bengalis: ‘The struggle this time is the struggle for emancipation. The struggle this time is for independence.’

1970

7 December: General elections in Pakistan, the first in the country’s history, result in an outright victory for the Awami League. It ends up winning 167 out of 313 seats at the National Assembly election in Pakistan.

The Pakistan People’s Party emerges as the second largest party with 88 seats.

1971

1 March: General Yahya Khan postpones National Assembly meeting. Protests erupt in East Pakistan as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman launches a non-violent non-cooperation movement.

7 March: At a massive public rally in Dhaka, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tells Bengalis: ‘The struggle this time is the struggle for emancipation. The struggle this time is for independence.’

15 March: President Yahya Khan arrives in Dhaka for talks on the crisis with the Awami League leadership.

16 March: Bangabandhu and Yahya Khan, along with their delegations, commence negotiations at President’s House.

21 March: On getting a green signal from the junta, Pakistan People’s Party chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto arrives in Dhaka with his team. Tripartite talks involving the regime, the Awami League and the PPP begin.

23 March: On Pakistan Day commemorating the adoption of the Lahore Resolution in March 1940, Bengalis defy the state of Pakistan through hoisting Bangladesh flags all over Dhaka.

24 March: Bangabandhu and the Awami League propose a confederation for Pakistan. The junta promises to get back to them on the proposal but never does.

25 March: General Yahya Khan and his team leave Dhaka stealthily in the evening. The Pakistan army launches Operation Searchlight in East Pakistan and goes into a spree of killing at Dhaka University, the headquarters of the East Pakistan Rifles and the Rajarbagh police lines.

26 March: Minutes after midnight, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declares the independence of Bangladesh. Sometime later, he is arrested by the Pakistan army and taken to Dhaka cantonment, whence he will be flown to West Pakistan a few days later. A day later, Awami League leader M.A. Hannan and Major Ziaur Rahman, in that order, announce the independence of Bangladesh on Bangabandhu’s behalf from Kalurghat radio station in Chittagong.

17 April: The Bangladesh Provisional Government, comprising Acting President Syed Nazrul Islam, Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed and ministers A.H.M Quamruzzaman, M. Mansur Ali and Khondokar Moshtaque Ahmed, is formed in Meherpur, Chuadanga. The spot becomes known as Mujibnagar. Col. Ataul Gani Osmany is appointed commander-in-chief of the liberation forces. Professor Yusuf Ali reads out the Proclamation of Independence.

May - December: Bangladesh government sets up Mukti Bahini, segments the country into eleven sectors and wages guerrilla warfare against the Pakistan occupation army.

11 August: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is put on secret trial before a military court in Pakistan. He is accused of waging war against Pakistan. He will be sentenced to death in November of the same year by the military court.

3 December: War breaks out between India and Pakistan as Pakistan launches air strikes on Indian bases in the western sector. Over the next couple of weeks, Indian and Bangladesh forces form a joint military command, landing devastating blows on the Pakistan military in occupied Bangladesh.

13-15 December: Local collaborators of the Pakistan occupation army, the Al-Badr and Al-Shams Razakars, pick up leading Bengali intellectuals even as Pakistan is collapsing in Bangladesh and torture them to death at various points in Dhaka. Their bodies are then dumped on the brickfields of Rayerbazar.

16 December: 93,000 Pakistani military officers and jawans surrender to the Indo-Bangladesh Joint Command at the Race Course in Dhaka. Pakistan’s military commander Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi signs the instrument of surrender, following which his men become prisoners of war.

Nine months and three million Bengali deaths later, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is born.

1972

8 January: The Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is released by the new government of Pakistan, led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He flies to London.

10 January: Bangabandhu returns home and is welcomed by millions of people.

  • DhakaCourier
  • Syed Badrul Ahsan
  • Issue 23
  • Vol 36
  • Timeline to Bangladesh

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