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Independence Day of Bangladesh 2024

Authored by British Online Archives
Published on 26th March, 2024 2 min read

Independence Day of Bangladesh

Today (26/03/2024) marks Independence Day in Bangladesh. On 26 March 1971 Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan. When Pakistan was created in 1947 it consisted of East Pakistan, present day Bangladesh, and West Pakistan, present day Pakistan. The two areas were not just geographically distant, but were also distinct in terms of culture and language. Due to this, Bengali nationalist movements had been active for many years. 

Independence for Bangladesh had been a long time coming. In the 1970 general election in Pakistan, the political party, Awami League, which was led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a clear majority in East Pakistan. However, the West Pakistani leadership did not trust him. Consequently, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the president at the time, Yahya Khan, refused to hand over power to Sheikh Mujibur. This catalysed the struggle for independence in East Pakistan. Independence was declared by Sheikh Mujibur on the 26 March 1971. 

The night before Bangladesh declared independence, Pakistan initiated Operation Searchlight, in an effort to curb the Bengali nationalist movement by taking control of major cities. This saw the Pakistan Armed Force murder many Bangladeshi nationalists. Between 200,000 to 400,000 Bengali women became the victims of mass rape by many Pakistani troops. This widespread violence resulted in the Bangladesh Liberation War. The nine month war saw major bloodshed. The capital city Dhaka witnessed many massacres, such as the Dhaka University massacre. India joined the war on 3 December 1971, on Bangladesh’s side. On 16 December 1971 Pakistan surrendered. This remains the largest surrender of armed personnel since the Second World War. The Bangladesh Liberation War resulted in Bangladesh gaining its independence from West Pakistan, but this came at the enormous human cost of over three million lives. 

The Bangladesh Liberation War altered the geopolitical landscape of South Asia and marked the emergence of Bangladesh as a free independent nation. Independence Day is a national holiday in Bangladesh and is often celebrated by parades, speeches, fairs, gun salutes, and ceremonies.

Authored by British Online Archives

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