We have had the good fortune of witnessing fifty-one victory days. We dissolve in a unique sensation of life’s joy on this day. I can recall the first day of victory. How novel and memorable, and how desirable that day was! It still generates a feeling of thrill and excitement. General Manekshaw was urging peremptorily: “Put down your weapons. We have surrounded you from all sides. There is no escape-route”.
We were listening to ‘Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra’ and other radio stations. Our expectations had reached sky-high. We were waiting for that moment with all our heart and soul – when would the surrender take place? It was the morning of 16 December. Suddenly, there were choruses of ‘Joi Bangla’ on all four sides. There were piercing shouts and euphoric sounds of choruses: ‘Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu’. The flag of Bangladesh was hoisted atop all dwellings. I could not believe my own eyes. On rushing out of the house, I saw long processions of the masses from one end of the highway to another that stretched up to the alleyways. Everyone had a flag in hand. There were slogans all over. There were none inside the residence on the day. People irrespective of their age and gender had come out.
The surrender was to take place in the afternoon. That last and extraordinary act of this Great War had to be seen with own eyes. One had to become a witness of history. Would have to see with own eyes….the surrender of the brutal, barbaric and blood thirsty Pakistan army, who had dyed their hands with the blood of Bangalis during nine months of brutal war.
It was one minute past five in the afternoon. The surrender document was signed at the Ramna Racecourse Ground (at present Suhrawardy Udyan) by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora on behalf of the Indo-Bangladesh joint command and Lieutenant General Niazi on behalf of the eastern regional command of the Pakistani forces. The victory in the great liberation war was concluded through the surrender of the invading Pakistani military to the allied forces. There was no more space to stand inside and around the racecourse ground. The voices of the masses were raised to the highest pitch. Just as there were slogans of ‘Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu’, similarly abusive words were being hurled at the defeated enemies.
But above the tidings of joy, there was an infinite emptiness deep inside everybody’s mind. Where was our leading spirit – the greatest Bangali of all time, the Father of the Bangali Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman? He was supposed to be here today, but he was not present. He was being held captive for long nine months inside the dark cell of a Pakistani prison. How was he? When we were engrossed in the great euphoria of victory, he was counting his days at a jail in Mianwali of Pakistan after being sentenced to death by hanging. His grave was being dug beside his cell. He was even shown that grave. But he did not bow down.
Bangladeshis should remember on this day of victory how a man of this soil who was brought up at Tungipara fought throughout his life to rid his birthplace and nation of enemies with such extraordinary strength, sharpness of intellect, and iron-like resolve in order to free the country from all exploitations and deprivations. We should also remember that the Father of the Nation’s daughter Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been advancing the country in line with the ideals of her father in order to build a Golden Bangla of his dreams. A developing Bangladesh is now set to step on to the ladder of a developed nation.
Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury is a Bangladeshi educationist. Translation: Dr HelalUddin Ahmed