logo
POST TIME: 15 December, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 December, 2019 10:52:46 PM
We are still awaiting our final victory
Only Bangladesh in the subcontinent achieved its independence through armed struggle
Abdul Gaffar choudhury

We are still awaiting our final victory

Every year we observe our victory day. This year will not be an exception. On this day there will be the usual military parade, cultural functions and political leaders will utter all sorts of rhetoric about victory and independence. Most of them will shed crocodile tears for the martyrs and for the thousands of women who lost their honour in our great war of liberation. But they will not do anything to help them settle in life and to rehabilitate those heroes who are still not accepted by their families or society. After coming to power Sheikh Hasina has been trying to rehabilitate the families of the martyrs and these heroic women but many of them are still unsettled, homeless and jobless. They fought for victory but could not taste the fruits of this victory. The benefits of independence did not reach to the grassroots of the society.

We have already passed 48 years of our victory, which is almost half a century. When we fought for independence our population was 7 crore. It is now 16 crore. The growth of our economy is far behind our population growth. The country is still suffering from natural and man-made disasters. Democracy was uprooted just three and a half years after independence. For long 21 years the country suffered from pseudo-fascist rule. Democracy could not flourish so victory could not fulfil the aspirations of people. The upper classes of the society enjoyed it and observed the day with festivity. The ordinary people though not much benefitted by it still joined the festivity.  

This has been going on for at least the last 20 to 30 years. After Awami League returned to power under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina they are trying to rebuild the pillars of victory. These pillars are— secularism, socialism, democracy and nationalism. When generals came to power they tried to abolish these pillars and changed the constitution accordingly without people's mandate. The country also witnessed the rise of violent fundamentalism which was also against the four pillars of our identity. They distorted our history of the war of independence to defame our national leaders including our father of the nation, Sheikh Mujib and conspired to change our national anthem and flag which are the symbols of our independence and victory. Thus the observance of 16th December, has become a day of rituals, not a reminder of the sacrifice of our people and their ideals.

After the Second World War  Churchill of Britain and Roosevelt of America met in a warship in the Atlantic and signed a charter known as The Atlantic Charter. In this charter they promised to the people of the whole world that they will enjoy the benefits of the victory of this war and there would be no scope for the rise of Fascism again. Fascism would be resisted unitedly and for that a world organization would be established called the United Nations. In a news conference Churchill was asked what sort of independence the people of the world will enjoy and whether the African and Asian people would be freed from the colonial rules of the West. Churchill did not reply this question and remained silent. President Roosevelt was asked what sort of independence he will allow the Latin American people. He replied that they will not be given full independence at once but will gradually attain full independence.

Roosevelt put strong pressure on Churchill to allow India full independence. India was divided into two countries-India and Pakistan but did not attain full independence. At first both countries got dominion status from the British government and got Heads of State nominated by the British Queen. Gradually both India and Pakistan became fully independent states. There is a difference between Bangladesh’s achieving full independence from India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan achieved their independence by compromising with their rulers and discussing the terms of independence in a discussion table. On the other hand Bangladesh, under the leadership of Bangabandhu had to take arms and fight a fierce battle to get their full independence. Bangabandhu became head of the state by his own people not by a foreign ruler.

India and Pakistan after getting independence did not declare any positive state policy. They said that they will follow the western type of democracy. In addition India will follow a mixed economy and socialistic administration and Pakistan declared that they will follow Islamic principles. A journalist asked . Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan whether Pakistan will be a state based on religion. He categorically said that no, it will be a fully western type of democratic country, only with basic principles of Islam. A friend of Jinnah, who was a member of the Indian socialist party warned him that a democratic state cannot be built upon the principles of religion and ultimately it will become a state totally taken over by fundamentalism. His prophesy proved correct. Pakistan became a full fundamentalist country before the death of Jinnah and the country is still under the influence of ultra-Sunnism. After the death of Nehru in India, Indian democracy could not prevent the rise Hindutva to take over the country.  

Only Bangladesh in the subcontinent did not achieve independence by compromising with rulers but with armed struggle. Its victory in independence war was based on four pillars. When the military fascism captured power and ruled the country for 21 years, they tried to abolish these four state ideals. They erased it from the constitution and also tried to make the independence meaningless for the people. During those period the victory day was observed by the autocrats also but the spirit of victory was absent there. After Awami League came to power under Sheikh Hasina these state ideals are being rebuilt. One pillar, socialism could not be rebuilt because it has collapsed throughout the world. In our constitution it is now known as 'social justice'. Another pillar secularism, could not be re-established in our constitution fully and is replaced by another term 'equality for all religion'. Hasina's regime is trying to uphold the other two state ideals-democracy and non-communal nationalism. The slogan of our liberation war 'Jai Bangla' has come back to our national life and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib got back his place in the national life as the father of the nation.

But the spirit of victory has not reached the grass roots people and they did not get its full benefits though we celebrate the day with full pomp and glory. Here we may recall the historical utterances of Bangabandhu on 7th March, "This is the war for our independence, this is the war for our liberation". When he was asked why he used the word liberation along with independence because both words are synonymous, Bangabandhu replied that the two words are not the same. Independence means freedom from foreign rulers. Liberation means freedom from hunger, poverty and many other things. He pointed out that after this independence our people will have to fight to make themselves free from hunger, poverty disease and repression. Only after that they will have full victory. He added, 'My first phase of revolution is finished. In the second phase of revolution I will fight for full liberation of my people from all sorts of social injustice and class differences'.

After making a free country Bangabandhu immediately started his second revolution for the emancipation of the exploited people. He gave his life for these causes. Bangabandhu left behind him a legacy of an unfinished political revolution. Sheikh Hasina with her government and party is trying to achieve Bangabandhu's goal of second revolution by a slow democratic process. It has both good and bad sides. The good side is, though slowly but steadily she is trying to achieve it in a peaceful, democratic method without bloodshed. The bad side is that during the autocratic rule in Bangladesh, a vested interest rapidly grew and has captured the whole society. They have international connections also. Religion is one of their weapons. Bangabandhu was murdered by the conspiracy of this vested interest. Sheikh Hasina fortified her position by creating people's awareness and a strong administrative structure. One may hope she would reach the ultimate goal. But many people fear that the vested interest will strongly strike her. In Bangladesh the war of independence and liberation is still continuing. Every year we observe the victory day but our final victory is still awaiting us.

London, Thursday 12 December, 2019