EXACTLY 214 years after Bangla's sun of independence set in the mango grove of Polashi in Behrampur on June 23, 1757, the resting sun rose once more to glory in an unknown village in Meherpur, Kushtia through the announcement of independence of then East Pakistan by the Awami League. This unknown village became the temporary capital Mujibnagar in the sovereign, independent Bangladesh.
The mouthpiece of independent Bangladesh, the weekly newspaper Joy Bangla, began publication from Mujibnagar from May in 1971. People who did not personally experience the events in the nine months preceding the liberation of Bangladesh cannot really understand how the paper changed hands in different villages and areas, evading the perpetually watchful attention of thousands of Pakistani soldiers. The role of the weekly Joy Bangla is truly incomparable in protecting the collective martial conscience of all the defenseless people who stood in protest against the well-armed Pakistani force; the homeless people who were breaking down in frustration after suffering inhuman misery day after day; and every young man and woman, mother and father, brother and sister who took up arms to immerse themselves in overt and implicit combat against the enemy. Joy Bangla was an even more dangerous, a much sharper weapon than the guns and cannons of the enemy. The Bangalis living in and outside Bangladesh from April to mid-December 1971 will realise the truth of my statement to the very core of their hearts. was not just a political slogan; it was the mantra Joy Bangla or isme azam of our liberation movement. There was only one purpose for this mantra and that was the attainment of an objective. The same goes for isme azam. The sole goal of this mantra or isme azam was to gain the independence of the country and to carefully nurture this earned freedom.
The person who discovered this mantra was the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. When Sheikh saab uttered this isme azam in his amazingly baritone voice, the infallible mantra was echoed and reverberated by millions of voices at the speed of light from one end of the country to another. The latent conscience of their hearts was awakened while their suppressed realisation was resuscitated. They realised that they were not limited to the identity of a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian or Muslim -- they were Bangalis, they belonged to this country. A small segment of selfish, treacherous people openly or implicitly opposed the mantra of Joy Bangla by giving it a fictitious spin and claiming it to be un-Islamic. They are trying to be friendly with us now but their ideologies haven't yet been completely annihilated. In the guise of patriotism and violent nationalism, many amongst them make public appearances in different organisations and areas of the country. They've forgotten that everything that glitters is not gold; taking a rope as a snake is just an illusion, not the truth; the days of deception are now over; the citizens of the country have awakened. In the past the countrymen had foiled all their hostile attempts; at present all their visible and invisible attempts will also fail.
Today, we are awakened and free thanks to the inspiration of Joy Bangla. This inspiration helped us create a new history in the world; a new and astonishing history. Who has ever heard of a nation being successful in announcing its independence without any expectations of earning its freedom with limited arms? With the exception of a few Bibhishans and Mir Zafars, which country can claim that its population of seventy million people (except the remaining half million who were traitors) stood firm against the enemy by involving themselves with the liberation movement? 3 million people of the country, including the elderly, students, adolescents, teenagers and innocent children, laid their lives for the sake of the country's freedom. Which country in the world earned its independence in nine months after defeating a brutal and vile occupation army that consisted of a quarter million well-educated, well-equipped soldiers who had the most modern arms and ammunition? Which country forced the commander of its enemy country, who boasted of his gallantry all over the world, to surrender trembling and shaking like a coward to his foes, along with his 95,000 warring soldiers? Just six months after their independence, which state earned the recognition of every superpower, save one, along with 57 other states of the world? And which new state of the world has been successful in establishing a unanimous constitution and ordinance in the very language of the country's citizens within a year of independence? All of this is an inseparable part of an unimaginable and unprecedented history of the Bangali nation.
It goes without saying that the poignant political cry of Joy Bangla formed the magic words or the key to the forever closed doors of history. This mantra was adopted as the slogan of the new-born state in Mujibnagar of Meherpur in the district of Kushtia on April 17, 1971. The independent, sovereign state of Bangladesh was born. Even though the role Joy Bangla played since that time until eight months later was not a ceaseless one, it played an important, indispensable part as a great source of inspiration that ignited genuine patriotism amongst people. That's why Joy Bangla is now considered a main ingredient in our liberation movement. If the history of our liberation movement is penned without the appropriate mention of this ingredient, then it will never be considered as a correct or complete account of history.
The writer was a famous researcher, litterateur and educationist.
Source: Bengali, Bangladesh and Bangabandhu, Monaem Sarkar, February 2000.