Any victory is great and the glory of the victory is greater than the victory itself. The sixteenth of December is the victory day for the people of Bangladesh. It is a red-letter day for the Bangla-speaking people around the world. We got our beloved motherland liberated with the surrender of the Pakistan Army to the Joint Command of Bangladesh and Indian forces after a nine-month of bloody War of Liberation in 1971.
With the surrender of the Pakistan occupation army, Bangladesh emerged as a new, independent and sovereign nation on the world map. Since then, the sixteenth of December is celebrated with due honour as the Victory Day every year. This auspicious day will continue to be celebrated as the National Victory Day as long as Bangladesh itself will continue to exist. After the nine-month-long War of Liberation, the people of Bangladesh defeated world’s one of the mightiest armies and snatched victory on 16 December, 1971 when the Pakistan Army was forced to lay down their arms at the historic Racecourse ground from where Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, made a clarion call to the nation to fight until victory is achieved. The people of Bangladesh, who were being suppressed and oppressed by the Pakistani military rulers, took that call as an obligatory directive and fought a fierce war to make Bangladesh an independent nation.
In fact, the glorious moment of the independence of Bangladesh did not come just in a day. It took lives, blood and valuable time. There had been a long history of struggle waged by the mass people led by their leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Bangabandhu could feel the pulse of the oppressed people and could understand the real demand and basic needs of his people. After decades of struggle for the cause of the common people, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the champion of Bengali nationalism, got the nation ready to deal a final blow on the Pakistani military rulers.
According to the plan, Sheikh Mujib started scaling up the struggle phase by phase and in an opportune moment he put forward the historic charter of demand known as the Six-Point on behalf of the nation. With that demand, the country was united under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and finding no other alternative, Ayub Khan was compelled to resign. General Yahya Khan took over the power of Pakistan and a general election was held in 1970. In the election, the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujib got the absolute majority to form the government in Pakistan. But the military rulers in connivance with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, hatched a deep-rooted conspiracy against the people of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). They cracked down on the unarmed and innocent and sleeping people of Bangladesh in a military offensive codenamed Operation Search Light. The Pakistani military indiscriminately killed millions of people during the nine months and it came to be regarded as the worst possible genocide ever committed against humans in the world. Responding to that brutal mass killing, our valiant freedom fighters took up arms and after nine-month-long guerrilla warfare finally fought a decisive war. After the 13-day final phase of war, the Pakistan army was defeated and we got our long-cherished victory.
As the valiant commander of the 24-year-long struggle the greatest Bengali of thousand years, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, will always shine like a bright star in the annals of world history.
Bangabandhu means Bangladesh. Bangabandhu means freedom. Bangabandhu means our new entity. His existence belongs to every inch of the 55 thousand square miles of the land.
Pakistan army killed millions of people of this land including the old, women and children with the object of making us bow down and making us subjects to their wanton rule. But their evil dream never came true. They were defeated and we achieved victory. We are proud of our victory. But this victory was won with heavy price. More than three million innocent people had to sacrifice their lives for this victory. Unprecedented sorrow and pain marked the victory in the Liberation War of Bangladesh. It was a war which established the sovereign nation called Bangladesh. The war was one of the most fierce wars of the 20th century; it witnessed large-scale atrocities, the exodus of 10 million refugees and the killing of 3 million people.
On 16 December, 1971, the Pakistan occupation army headed by Lieutenant General Niazi was compelled to surrender to Lieutenant General Sri Jagjit Singh Aurora, Joint Commander of Indian and Bangladesh Forces, and sign the instrument of surrender amid thousands of cheering crowds at the racecourse.
Sharif Shahabuddin is Editor in Chief, Bangladesh Post