THE LIBERATION WAR OF BANGLADESH
The Liberation War of Bangladesh, The began on 26 March 1971 and ended with the liberation of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971. The armed struggle was the culmination of a series of events, situations and issues contributing to the progressively deteriorating relations between East and West Pakistan. The questions of land reforms, state language, inter-wing economic and administrative disparities, provincial autonomy, the defense of East Pakistan and many other consequential questions had been straining the relations between the two wings of Pakistan ever since independence of the country from Britain in 1947.
The general elections of 1970 had made sheikh mujibur rahman , the leader of the awami league which bagged 167 seats out of 169 allotted for East Pakistan, the sole spokesman of the people of East Pakistan and majority leader in the Pakistan National Assembly. But the Pakistan civil and military ruling clique had refused to transfer power to the majority leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party. Sheikh Mujib also refused to yield to the pressure put on him for undue accommodation. Sheikh's historic address on 7 March 1971 made this point quite clear to the Pakistani military junta. Then began the civil disobedience movement. Meanwhile talks started between Mujib and Yahya to resolve the outstanding issues. While holding talks, the Pakistani military junta was bringing more troops to Bangladesh and at the same time wantonly killing innocent civilians all over the country. This clearly showed that they were totally insincere about handing over power to the elected representatives of Bangladesh. No sooner the talks failed, the genocide began, with the Pakistan army's crackdown on the people of East Pakistan on the midnight of 25 March 1971. The Bengali soldiers serving in the then Pakistan Armed Forces and para militia forces declared instantly their solidarity with the people's liberation war.
The Pakistan Army was ordered to launch operation on Bengali people at midnight of 25 March. According to the plan for operation Search Light two headquarters were established. Major General Rao Farman Ali with 57 Brigade under Brigedier Arbab was responsible for operation in Dhaka city and its suburbs while Major General Khadim Raja was given the responsibility of the rest of the province. Lieutenant General Tikka Khan assumed the overall charge of the operation.
The students and the nationalist political activists put up resistance outside the cantonment. Road blocks were raised to obstruct the march of the Pakistani column to the city areas. The wireless set fitted jeeps and trucks loaded with troops groaned on the streets of Dhaka City at midnight of 25 March.
The first column of the Pakistan army faced obstruction at Farmgate about one kilometre from the cantonment due to a huge road block created by placing big tree trunks across the road. The hulks of old cars and unserviceable steam roller, were also used. Several hundred people chanted the slogan Joi Bangla which lasted for about 15 minutes. But soon guns silenced them. The army moved into the city before scheduled time and started the genocide .
The military forces killed everybody in sight on the footpath and destroyed everything on their way. The tanks roared through the streets of Dhaka blasting indiscriminately at the people and official and residential buildings. They gunned down clusters of settlements and set fire on them. Scores of artillery bursts were pounded, while the tanks rumbled into the city roaring the main streets. The student halls of residence at Dhaka University were raided and numerous students residing there were brutally killed and maimed. They also killed many teachers of Dhaka University. The Hindu concentrated areas of old Dhaka were particularly targeted. They started killing the people, burnt their houses, looted their valuables and raped their women. The genocide that was perpetrated on the unarmed people was flashed in the world press.