Proudly We Celebrate the Victory Day

Introduction: The Victory day (Bijôy Dibôs in Bangla), December 16, is one of the three National days in Bangladesh, the other two being, ‘The Independence Day (26th March)’ and ‘The Language Movement Day (21st February)’.

National Days are celebrated by the whole nation: The Government and the People, so is the Victory Day. To keep the nation free from daily works the day is declared as ‘a closed holiday’ for offices and institutions, so that the celebration can be done wholeheartedly and completely. Holidays on National Days are not meant to be spent as leisure or go for isolation.

Every citizen has responsibilities towards these days: To refresh the memories of the history and pass on the spirit of the day to our future generations. That is the reason why The Victory Day celebration in Bangladesh is so important. It has a spirit to boost up our morale that will push us forward to develop as a united and proud nation.

Background History: In 1971 people of this part of the world, now called Bangladesh, fought the War of Liberation against Pakistan to become an Independent country, which resulted in the   of the East wing of the country, formally known as, ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ and established the sovereign nation called Bangladesh. Pakistan and India, two neighboring countries, got independence from British colonial rule in August 1947, principally as Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. Pakistan had two wings; East and West, located more than two thousand kilometres apart.

Pakistan had total 5 (Five) provinces: East Pakistan was a province speaking Bangla language, and West Pakistan had four other provinces speaking four different languages: Punjabi (Panjab), Pashto (Frontier Province), Sindhi (Sindh), and Balochi (Balochistan). In addition to the differences of language, the East and the West had many other differences. Demanding justice against disparity and establishment of democracy whole East Pakistan was violent and took to the streets, under the fierce leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibor Rahman. As the Pakistani army attacked unarmed Bengali police and civilians on the night of 25th March 1971, on 26th March independence of the country was declared and ‘The War of Liberation’ started. India, archival of Pakistan since their birth in 1947, came forward to help Bangladesh with all out support. The war pitted East Pakistan and India against West Pakistan (now Pakistan), and lasted for a duration of nine months. This war witnessed large-scale atrocities, the exodus of millions of refugees and the killing of in-numerous people.

India stood firmly in favor of Bangladesh in international diplomacy and took bold steps in the United Nations. Pakistan declared war against India on 3rd December 1971. On 6th December 1971, first Bhutan and the India recognized Bangladesh as an independent country. Receiving all out support from Bangladeshi Freedom Fighters (FF), both civil and military, Indian Army Captured Dhaka on 16th December 1971. On the same day Pakistan Army surrendered. Lieutenant General A. A. K. Niazi, the commander of Pakistan Eastern Command, signed the instrument of surrender in Dhaka at Ramna Race Course Maidan (later renamed as Sohrawardy Udhyan) in the afternoon of 16th Dec 1971, in the presence of Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, Commander of the Allied Forces (called Mitra Bahini) that was comprised of the Indian forces and the Bangladesh Forces (that included Army, Navy & Air Force elements and thousands of Freedom Fighters). The Commander of Bangladesh Forces was Colonel (later General) Mohammad Ataul Gani Osmani. Unfortunately, in the surrender ceremony his presence was not ensured. The text of the Instrument of Surrender document started with the sentence: “The PAKISTAN Eastern Command agree to surrender all PAKISTAN Armed Forces in BANGLA DESH to Lieutenant-General JAGJIT SINGH AURORA, General Officer Commanding in Chief of Indian and BANGLA DESH forces in the Eastern Theatre.—–”, whereas no representative of “BANGLADESH forces” was present in the signing ceremony. In addition to Gen Aurora and Gen Niazi, other defense officers present were Indian Navy Vice Admiral Krishnan, Indian Air Force Air Marshal Dewan, Lt Gen jagjit Singh and Major General JFR Jacob of Indian Army. A large Bangladeshi crowd present at the race course was very jubilant and shouted anti-Niazi and anti-Pakistan slogans.

Celebration: In Bangladesh 16th December is celebrated as with due honour and respect. The celebration of Victory Day has been taking place since 1972.In 1996, the Bangladesh Bank issued a 10 Taka note with an overprint commemorating Victory Day’s Silver Jubilee (the 25th anniversary).

The Bangladesh War of Liberation became a topic of great importance in our literature, cinema, and history lessons at school, the mass media, and the arts in Bangladesh. The government celebrates it through different functions, like:The ceremonial Gun Salute at day-break, Military Parade by Bangladesh Armed Forces at the National Parade Ground, ceremonial meetings, speeches, lectures, receptions and fireworks. Victory Day in Bangladesh is a joyous celebration in which popular culture plays a great role. TV and radio stations broadcast special programs and patriotic songs. The whole country is decorated with national flags. Different political parties and socioeconomic organizations undertake programs to mark the day in a befitting manner, including the paying of respects at Jatiyo Smriti Soudho, the national memorial at Savar in Dhaka District.

Since this was one of the Indo-Pak wars, India also commemorates victory over Pakistan on the same day, i.e. 16th December, in 1971 as Vijay Dibas.

Conclusion: In 2018, the nation is going to celebrate the 47th Victory Day, marking Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent country after a bloody nine-month war against the Pakistan occupation forces. Bangladeshis are marking the day with various programs and paying respects to the millions of people who sacrificed their lives and honor for the cause of an independent country.

On this day we should refresh the memory of our long struggle, the supreme sacrifice of our FFs and pass them on to our future generations. We must respectfully remember the spirit of the War of Liberation: establishment of justice, the rule of law and democracy, in resonance of the spirit of Freedom and Liberty around the world. We must not allow 16th December becoming a day of lifeless rituals and display of political rivalry. It should be a day contributing towards our national unity and progress.

Colonel Z. R. M. Ashraf Uddin,

psc, G (Retired): An educationist, researcher and poet

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