Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The 15th August, the Generations and the History Learning

Source: News from Bangladesh
Published on: August 14, 2007

By: Md. Anwarul Kabir, Bangladesh

The members of the generation who were mere children during our liberation war and who finished their major parts of their schooling in the post 1975 era and the generation afterwards are deprived of the true history of our liberation war. As a member of one of such generations, I consciously feel how the misguided distorted history has succeeded to rot us dividing the nation into pro and anti liberation shibirs. This, in turn, politically put the country in a turmoil and volatile state as we perceive now.

1971 united the whole nation (except a few collaborators of the Pakistani army) with the spirit of liberation war. People of all walks of life became freedom fighters in one way or another. Some actively joined the war and millions other, though did not take part directly in the war, gave moral support to our war of independence. These are the people, in fact, are the silent freedom fighters among whom many sacrificed their lives, wealth and efforts for the great cause. In essence we may claim that the emergence of Bangladesh was possible due to the collective efforts of the people of the soil. So, naturally, after the liberation, these collective efforts should have led Bangladesh to a prosperous one, following the spirit of the liberation war as envisioned by many. Ironically, Bangladesh has miserably failed to achieve the very objective of the liberation.

To unveil the causes behind this failure, we need to shed light on the 15th August, 1975, the blackest day of our national history. The 15th August, 1975 can be marked as a turning point for our country, from the light to the dark-- from the hope to the despair. On this day, with the brutal killing of Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujib, the monumental icon of independence and founding father of Bangladesh, the nation had to burry all the spirits of the liberation war. So, in the independent Bangladesh, in 1975 the freedom fighters were defeated and the enemy of the liberation war, the collaborators of the Pakistani army won reversing the history by implementing their well designed conspiracy!

Customarily history of a country is written by the victors, if we closely analyse then it can be ascertained. For instance, the British historians, during the reign of the British Raj assailed the character of Nawab Sirajuddoula of Bengal objectively. Nawab Sirajuddoula as a vanguard of the independent Bengal in 1757 AD fought against the East India Company, the forerunner of the British regime. Unfortunate defeat of Sirajuddowla and the victory of the Robert Clive led the British regime to write the biased history demeaning Siraj and his associates. Similarly, the victors of 1975, the defeated forces of 1971 of Bangladesh objectively distorted the history, especially that of our liberation war.

In fact, the enemy of our country, the collaborators of Pakistani occupying forces are very shrewd. And so after the fall of the patriotic freedom fighters in 1975, they started to fabricate the history of liberation in their own ways. Indeed they were aware of the implication of the history and its long term impact on the nation. They knew that the exposure of the true history of our liberation war would trash them in the dustbin and eventually they never would be able to come to the power centre.

The process of history distortions has been initiated during post Mujib era, especially in the texts of school and college. They knew that if the new generations, who have not witnessed the war of independence could be kept in the dark concerning our history of the liberation then one day they would be in a state of success. Their forecast has been deemed to be true at the later phases.

The new generations have learned the biased history in the text books as fabricated by the victors of 1975. This history has not revealed all the truth; rather it has created smokescreens surrounding 1971, the glorious event of the Bengali nation. For instance, in our history text in the school, we have read the freedom fighters fought against the occupying forces in 1971, but who were the occupying forces, there is no answer there. Similarly in the text we have seen the role of Sheikh Mujib in the liberation war is limited to only two or three sentences. Rather the role of the late president General Ziaur Rahman (the then major of the Pakistan Army) has been overemphasised depicting him as the key organiser of our war of independence.

This over emphasis has been marked to such an extent that one may think that unless Zia declared the proclamation of our independence, the emergence of Bangladesh would not be possible. Shamelessly our history text deleted the fact that Ziaur Rahman announced the said proclamation on behalf of Sheikh Mujib. (Even if Ziaur Rahman were alive then he must have been felt ashamed realising this fabrication of the history!)

Again the text of our history books in the school has not revealed the roles of Jamat-i-islami and its infamous leaders like Golam Azam, Motiur Rahman Nizami, and Al Mujahid who notoriously collaborated with the Pakistani army in 1971. Even studying the history in our student life we have not learned the role of the former president General Ershad in our liberation war who as a chairman of a special tribunal in Lahore cantonment tried the freedom fighters from the stranded Bengali army in the then West Pakistan who tried to flee to India with a view to participating in our war of independence. Had the true roles of the above stated heinous people in our liberation war been reflected in the text of the history then certainly they had not been able to come to the power centre of the country.

Our history courses, in our student life has utterly failed to teach us the background and the spirit of the liberation war. This history has not indicated that the war of independence was in fact a continual struggle from 1952 to 1971. Our history texts either at the school or at the college levels have not focussed on the historical 6 points or 11 points demands which can be regarded as the charters of independence. The fabricated history does not address the Agartala Conspiracy case against Sheikh Mujib which in turn transformed him into Bangabondhu. Even in the history which we have learned in our student life has not indicated the significance of the address of the 7th March of Bangabondhu which can be compared with the address of Gettysburg delivered by Abraham Lincoln, the great leader of America.

Nationalism, secularism and socialism were the major spirits of our liberation war. Abandoning the much hatred ‘two nation theory’ in 1971, people of this land embraced the Bengali nationalism and secularism as basic mantras for the salvation. But in our history texts this reality has not been reflected at all.

The manipulated history as designed by the beneficiaries of 1975 and the collaborators of 1971 has successfully confused the generations. Perhaps due to this confused state, the people from the younger generations who missed to be witnesses of 1971 voted and elected (as the lion share of the voters are from these generations) the identified collaborators of 1971 as the members of the Parliament. For the same reason people did not raise their voice much when the war criminals like Motiur Rahman Nizami or Al Mujahid emerged as ministers in the last alliance government.

The change in 1/11 and subsequent vibrant utterance of the army chief General M U Ahmed have instigated rays of hope among the conscious citizen of the country. The incumbent army chief has categorically mentioned the urgency of honouring Bangabondhu at the state level as well as the installation of the true history of the liberation war. Moreover, pointing at the war criminals of 1971 he has also become vocal to bring them behind the bar. However, we are not sure whether his utterances are merely a political stunt or these reflect his sincere obligation to the nation. Only the time will reveal the truth.

Md. Anwarul Kabir is an educationist, working at the Computer Science Department of AIUB and a freelance writer

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