Dhaka,  Wednesday
29 May 2024

Mujibnagar Government

Leadership in absence of Bangabandhu 

Published: 09:39, 17 April 2024

Update: 20:27, 18 April 2024

Leadership in absence of Bangabandhu 

Photo: Messenger

On the night of March 25, 1971, Pakistan initiated the implementation of its scorched policy by launching a bold attack on the defenceless Bengali population while they were asleep. Given the circumstances, Bangabandhu proclaimed in the early hours of March 26th, "From today, Bangladesh is independent..." in an effort to realise the Bengali people's aspiration for an independent state. The entire Bengali nation was shocked by the abrupt and brutal massacre that occurred during the night. The Pakistani military, under the leadership of Yahya Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, perpetrated mass killings of political leaders, journalists, university professors, and students hailing from many locations. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the unequivocal leader of the Bengali nation and the leader of the predominant political party in Pakistan at the time, was apprehended. Numerous civilians sought refuge in India to evade genocide.

During the tenure of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Indian government and its citizens showed remarkable kindness by providing refuge to the people of this nation. Amidst the absence of a leader, political leaders from various parties, such as the Awami League, sought refuge in neighbouring India to evade genocide and strategise on the subsequent course of action. Several political leaders, like Tajuddin Ahmad, attempted to establish interaction with the Indian administration and requested Indian aid and assistance in carrying out the liberation war.

Tajuddin Ahmad faced initial difficulties in securing India's backing. In the economic context of India, it was not feasible for them to participate in an international conflict. If it were not for Indira Gandhi's leadership as prime minister, or the presence of someone as charismatic, the war's outcome would not have been as favourable for Bangladesh. When the Indian administration expressed the notion that establishing a well-organised government would facilitate India's efforts in the war and enhance collaboration. Following consultations with Indira Gandhi's office, a gathering was organised at the boundary of Kushtia district involving the MNAs and MPAs of Awami League. Taking into account the recommendations of all participants, Tajuddin Ahmad assumed the responsibility of establishing the government of Bangladesh. The formation of the Government of Bangladesh's cabinet took place during this session. All of these Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) and Members of the Provincial Assembly (MPAs) emerged victorious in the general elections of 1970. In an ideal case where conditions were normal, these MNAs and MNPAs would have established the government of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Tajuddin Ahmad notified the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, during a meeting with her that, by Bangabandhu's directives, Bangladesh declared independence on March 26 and a government is formed, comprising elected delegates from the Constituent Assembly and the National Assembly. And so commenced the expedition of the exiled government of Bangladesh. The primary goal of the Bangladesh government in exile was to seek international support for Bangladesh, provide military training and weapons to young individuals interested in joining the War of Liberation, and coordinate relief and medical aid for the refugees from Bangladesh. Tajuddin Ahmad has effectively expressed the passionate thirst for freedom of the Bangladeshi people to the Indian government. The Government of India seriously considered the matter of providing military training and supplying weapons to the youth of Bangladesh, recognising their potential to independently secure the liberation of their nation.

The prompt establishment of the Bangladeshi government and the coordination of all aspects of the liberation war within a fortnight of the Pakistani army's genocide is unquestionably a blow to the Pakistani army and a manifestation of the Bengalis' yearning for freedom on the global platform. The government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh was established on April 10, with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman serving as the President, Syed Nazrul Islam as the Acting President, Tajuddin Ahmad as the Prime Minister, Captain M Mansur Ali as the Finance Minister, Khandaker Mostaq as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Law and Parliamentary Affairs, and AHM Kamaruzzaman as the Minister of Home, Relief, and Agriculture. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the People's Republic.

On April 17, 1971, the first Bangladesh Government was sowrn in in the Baidyanathtala, which was mainly a mango grove located in Meherpur, when it was a sub-division of Kushtia. The Indian border goes around three sides of the area, making it a safe and important strategic location. This spot was chosen to avoid the risk of a Pakistani airstrike. The Pakistani army would have had to violate Indian airspace to fight from this spot. The area was then named Mujibnagar in honor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Abdul Mannan conducted the sowrning in the ceremony of the Mujibnagar Government. Mahbubul Alam, who was in charge of Jhenaidah Police at the time, SDPO Mahbub Uddin Ahmad presented Acting President Syed Nazrul Islam with a guard of honour with a few fellow police officers and members of the Ansar battalion. As the national anthem played, "Amar sonar Bangla, ami tomay bhalobasi…" the acting president hoisted the flag of Bangladesh.

Professor M. Yusuf Ali asserted the declaration of the independence of Bangladesh, which was primarily declared on April 10, 1971. This text provides a detailed outline and justification of the historical struggle behind the independence movement in Bangladesh. It also expresses the aspiration for a peaceful, well-organised, and equitable nation in the global context. This statement provided instructions for the role of Bangladesh in the War of Liberation. This declaration served as a crucial directive to the emancipated population of Bangladesh.

The liberation war in Bangladesh was a mass revolt. There was a lack of guerilla or military strategy or plan to achieve the goal of independence for Bangladesh. There were barely any forces that had received formal military training. Within a short span of one to two months of training, individuals from various professions such as workers, farmers, university/college students, teachers, political activists, and housewives have all transformed into experienced warriors. This inadequately prepared Mukti Bahini engaged in a nine-month-long conflict, causing one of the most formidable warriors in the world, the Pakistani army, to go through exhaustion.

An outstanding initiative undertaken by the first government of Bangladesh was the promotion and advocacy of the country's interests on the global stage. To this matter, individuals such as Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, Barrister Amirul Islam, Rehman Sobhan, Abdus Samad Azad and Bangladeshi expatriates have significantly contributed on behalf of Bangladesh. Despite the support of Western governments for Pakistan, the government of Bangladesh has effectively employed a strategy of engaging to the people of various nations, which has greatly contributed to garnering sympathy for Bangladesh on the international stage.

The Pakistani authorities had anticipated that apprehending or incarcerating Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh, would crush the aspirations for independence among the people of this nation. However, Bangabandhu's political allies, who had been groomed over many years, dashed the hopes of the Pakistani authorities by swiftly establishing an independent government for Bangladesh. Subsequently, this government orchestrated the activities during the liberation war. The establishment of the initial government of Bangladesh and its subsequent actions thwarted the Pakistani objective of creating a leadership vacuum in Bangladesh. The Bengalis fiercely struggled for their independence, swearing a powerful commitment.

The writer is a lecturer and Director (Additional Duty), BDU Career Center, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University, Bangladesh.