Remembering the martyrs of Bangladesh

December 16 might seem like a normal day to anyone,just like any other day in the calendar. But this day is very important to every single person from Bangladesh.After 9 months of struggle we got our own identity on this very day in 1971. This day is celebrated as Victory Day of Bangladesh.

On August 14, 1947, two countries, India and Pakistan got independence from the British rulers. At the time Pakistan was divided into two zones, Western and Eastern. The Western zone was popularly (and for a period of time, also officially) called West Pakistan and the Eastern zone (modern-day Bangladesh) was called East Bengal and later, East Pakistan.

Although West Pakistan was larger than East Pakistan, EastPakistan was blessed with more resources and talents. So, between the years of 1948 to 1960, 70 percent of total revenue came from exports earned by EastPakistan but it only received 25 percent of the income. This was due to the fact that all of Pakistan was controlled by the government of West Pakistan, and the government of East Pakistan had no real power. Moreover,West Pakistan was influencing its power over East Pakistan. The people of East Pakistan had tolerated every illegal activity West Pakistan had enforced over them including torture, but at one point the deeds of West Pakistan went beyond the endurance limits of East Pakistan.Mohammad Ali Jinnah declared in Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan, that “Urdu, and only Urdu,” a language that was only spoken in the West by Muhajirs and in the East by Biharis, would be the sole official language for all over Pakistan, despite the fact that Bangla was spoken by the majority of people in 1948. East Pakistan revolted and several students and civilians lost their lives on February 21, 1952. The day is revered in Bangladesh and in West Bengal as the Language Martyrs’ Day. Bitter feelings among East Pakistanis never ceased to grow, especially with repeated arrivals of military rulers.And this was the first step for the people of East Pakistan to raise their voice against the misdeeds of the government of West Pakistan.

After that East Pakistanis gradually became more conscious of their rights and they were becoming stronger in protesting against West Pakistan that went beyond their privilege. Several years later, after the night of March 25 in 1971, when the Operation Searchlight was started, the West Pakistani Army killed thousands of Bengali people in only one night and as a result, the Bangladesh liberation war broke out. On that night, the main reinforcement was Dhaka, Khulna, Chittagong, Comilla, Jessore, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Saidpur and Sylhet, areas where West Pakistani army units were concentrated. The Pakistani Army also arrested Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other top class political leaders, intellectual persons and some students. But the next day on March 26 in 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared Bangladesh’s independence. Two days later, Major Ziaur Rahman made another announcement of Bangladesh’s independence.Now, March 26th is celebrated as Independence Day in Bangladesh.

Afterwards, the war for liberation began, this war was not just for the separation of East Pakistan from the control of West Pakistan, but was a war for identity and self-respect, and to gain their own rights and Independence.

West Pakistan was empowered with well-equipped Military forces whereas East Pakistan had a few well-trained Military and manpower. But the Bengali people had strong will and courage, so people from all walks of life joined the liberation war and they fought fiercely to maintain their identity. After a long hard fight and lots of sacrifices from both the freedom fighters and innocent Bengali citizens, a new nation with a new flag got her recognition in the world map.

This year we are going to celebrate the 46th Victory Day of Bangladesh to remember all the martyrs who sacrificed themselves for Bangladesh. The 16th is not just a day,it’s a day that represents our pride.

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