Birth of Bangladesh

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Birth of Bangladesh- Get involved give us your thought!


Early Independence Period, 1971-72 : The "independent, sovereign republic of Bangladesh" was first proclaimed in a radio message broadcast from a captured station in Chittagong on March 26, 1971. Two days later, the "Voice of Independent Bangladesh" announced that a "Major Zia" (actually Ziaur Rahman, later president of Bangladesh) would form a new government with himself occupying the "presidency." Zia's selfappointment was considered brash, especially by Mujib, who in subsequent years would hold a grudge. Quickly realizing that his action was unpopular, Zia yielded his "office" to the incarcerated Mujib. The following month a provisional government was established in Calcutta by a number of leading Awami League members who had escaped from East Pakistan. On April 17, the "Mujibnagar" government formally proclaimed independence and named Mujib as its president. On December 6, India became the first nation to recognize the new Bangladeshi government. When the West Pakistani surrender came ten days later, the provisional government had some organization in place, but it was not until December 22 that members of the new government arrived in Dhaka, having been forced to heed the advice of the Indian military that order must quickly be restored. Representatives of the Bangladeshi government and the Mukti Bahini were absent from the ceremony of surrender of the Pakistan Army to the Indian Army on December 16. Bangladeshis considered this ceremony insulting, and it did much to sour relations between Bangladesh and India.
At independence, Mujib was in jail in West Pakistan, where he had been taken after his arrest on March 25. He had been convicted of treason by a military court and sentenced to death. Yahya did not carry out the sentence, perhaps as a result of pleas made by many foreign governments. With the surrender of Pakistani forces in Dhaka and the Indian proclamation of a cease-fire on the western front, Yahya relinquished power to a civilian government under Bhutto, who released Mujib and permitted him to return to Dhaka via London and New Delhi.
On January 10, 1972, Mujib arrived in Dhaka to a tumultuous welcome. Mujib first assumed the title of president but vacated that office two days later to become the prime minister. Mujib pushed through a new constitution that was modeled on the Indian Constitution. The Constitution--adopted on November 4, 1972--stated that the new nation was to have a prime minister appointed by the president and approved by a single-house parliament. The Constitution enumerates a number of principles on which Bangladesh is to be governed. These have come to be known as the tenets of "Mujibism" (or "Mujibbad"), which include the four pillars of nationalism, socialism, secularism, and democracy. In the following years, however, Mujib discarded everything Bangladesh theoretically represented: constitutionalism, freedom of speech, rule of law, the right to dissent, and equal opportunity of employment.

Fall of the Bangabandhu, 1972-75 : The country Mujib returned to was scarred by civil war. The number of people killed, raped, or displaced could be only vaguely estimated. The task of economic rehabilitation, specifically the immediate goal of food distribution to a hungry populace, was frustrated by crippled communications and transportation systems. The new nation faced many other seemingly insurmountable problems inhibiting its reconstruction. One of the most glaring was the breakdown of law and order. In the wake of the war of independence, numerous bands of guerrillas still roamed the countryside, fully armed and outside the control of the government. Many fighters of the Mukti Bahini joined the Bangladesh Army and thus could legally retain their weapons, but many others ignored Mujib's plea that they surrender their weapons. Some armed groups took the law into their own hands and set up territories under their own jurisdiction. In time these challenges to central authority contributed to Mujib's suspension of democracy.
Mujib had an unfailing attachment to those who participated in the struggle for independence. He showed favoritism toward those comrades by giving them appointments to the civil government and especially the military. This shortsighted practice proved fatal. Mujib denied himself the skill of many top-level officers formerly employed by the Pakistan Civil Service. Bengali military officers who did not manage to escape from West Pakistan during the war and those who remained at their posts in East Pakistan were discriminated against throughout the Mujib years. The "repatriates," who constituted about half of the army, were denied promotions or choice posts; officers were assigned to functionless jobs as "officers on special duty." Schooled in the British tradition, most believed in the ideals of military professionalism; to them the prospect of serving an individual rather than an institution was reprehensible. Opposed to the repatriates were the freedom fighters, most of whom offered their unquestioning support for Mujib and in return were favored by him. A small number of them, associated with the radical Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal (National Socialist Party), even proposed that officers be elected to their posts in a "people's army." From the ranks of the freedom fighters, Mujib established the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini (National Defense Force), whose members took a personal pledge to Mujib and became, in effect, his private army to which privileges and hard-to-get commodities were lavishly given . Despite substantial foreign aid, mostly from India and the Soviet Union, food supplies were scarce, and there was rampant corruption and black marketeering. This situation prompted Mujib to issue a warning against hoarders and smugglers. Mujib backed up his threat by launching a mass drive against hoarders and smugglers, backed by the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini. The situation only temporarily buoyed the legitimate economy of the country, as hoarding, black marketeering, and corruption in high offices continued and became the hallmarks of the Mujib regime.
Mujib's economic policies also directly contributed to his country's economic chaos. His large-scale nationalization of Bangladeshi manufacturing and trading enterprises and international trading in commodities strangled Bangladesh entrepreneurship in its infancy. The enforced use of the Bangla language as a replacement for English at all levels of government and education was yet another policy that increased Bangladesh's isolation from the dynamics of the world economy.
Most Bangadeshis still revered the Bangabandhu at the time of the first national elections held in 1973. Mujib was assured of victory, and the Awami League won 282 out of 289 directly contested seats. After the election, the economic and security situations began to deteriorate rapidly, and Mujib's popularity suffered further as a result of what many Bangladeshis came to regard as his close alliance with India. Mujib's authoritarian personality and his paternalistic pronouncements to "my country" and "my people" were not sufficient to divert the people's attention from the miserable conditions of the country. Widespread flooding and famine created severe hardship, aggravated by growing law-and-order problems.
In January 1975, the Constitution was amended to make Mujib president for five years and to give him full executive powers. The next month, in a move that wiped out all opposition political parties, Mujib proclaimed Bangladesh a one-party state, effectively abolishing the parliamentary system. He renamed the Awami League the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (Bangladesh Peasants, Workers, and People's League) and required all civilian government personnel to join the party. The fundamental rights enumerated in the Constitution ceased to be observed, and Bangladesh, in its infancy, was transformed into a personal dictatorship.
On the morning of August 15, 1975, Mujib and several members of his family were murdered in a coup engineered by a group of young army officers, most of whom were majors. Some of the officers in the "majors' plot" had a personal vendetta against Mujib, having earlier been dismissed from the army. In a wider sense, the disaffected officers and the several hundred troops they led represented the grievances of the professionals in the military over their subordination to the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini and Mujib's indifference to gross corruption by his political subordinates and family members. By the time of his assassination, Mujib's popularity had fallen precipitously, and his death was lamented by surprisingly few.
The diplomatic status of Bangladesh changed overnight. One day after Mujib's assassination President Bhutto of Pakistan announced that his country would immediately recognize the new regime and offered a gift of 50,000 tons of rice in addition to a generous gift of clothing. India, however, under the rule of Indira Gandhi, suffered a setback in its relations with Bangladesh. The end of the Mujib period once again brought serious bilateral differences to the fore. Many Bangladeshis, although grateful for India's help against Pakistan during the struggle for independence, thought Indian troops had lingered too long after the Pakistan Army was defeated. Mujibist dissidents who continued to resist central authority found shelter in India.