Bangladesh comes into being



E-Bangladesh is a News/Headlines service and a group blog aimed at bringing the news and analysis from Bangladesh to its readers.

[Click here on the photo for a PDF of the complete 4 page issue of The Observer (Bangladesh Observer) from December 18, 1971.]

[Mashuqur Rahman, USA.]

The erstwhile Pakistan Observer newspaper, renamed The Observer, published its first issue in independent Bangladesh on December 18, 1971, two days after the Pakistan army surrendered to the joint forces of the Indian army and the Mukti Bahini. The banner headline read “Bangladesh comes into being.”

The hurriedly published front page report read:

The sovereign state of Bangladesh, the dream of 75 million of people has come into being. The barbarous Pakistan Army which had let loose a reign of terror in the fertile soil of Bangladesh for the last nine months unconditionally surrendered to the allied forces of India and Mukti Bahini in Dacca on Thursday thus bringing to an end of a chapter of this deltaic region by West Pakistan cliques.

The flag of Bangladesh was hoisted on housetops and business concerns soon after the news of surrender of the Pakistan Army was spread.

The new state which has already received recognition from its great neighbour and friendly state of India and the mountain kingdom of Bhutan is expected to get similar recognition from other countries who believe in the right of humanity and the oppressed people.

The full cost of the war in lives lost and destroyed was not apparent on the first day of publication. Over the next months, as news began to come in from all corners of Bangladesh — of mass graves, of rapes, of razed villages, of slaughterhouses — did the full magnitude of the genocide become apparent.

Even the murders of the Bengali intellectuals just two days before liberation was not yet known. However, a small item on the last page of the newspaper raised a question whose answer we now unfortunately know. The item asked “Where are they?”:

The Al-Badar, the collaborating student political wing of the occupation forces in Bangladesh took into their custody a number of persons mostly journalist and university lecturers last week by raiding their houses. The Al-Badar students, mostly affiliated with the extreme rightist political party Jamaat-e-Islam, a boot-licking political force of the occupation army.

The arrested persons are Mr. Shahidullah Kaiser, Joint Editor of the Daily Sangbad, Mr. Nizamuddin Ahmed, former Bureau Chief of PPI and a Correspondent of BBC, Mr. Syeed Abdul Mannan, a Senior Sub-editor of the former Pakistan Observer, Mr. Serajuddin Hossain, News Editor of the Ittefaq, Mr. Gholam Mustofa, a Senior Sub editor of Purbodesh, Prof. Munier Chowdhury, Head of the Dept. of Bengali, Dacca University and Prof. Santosh Banerjee of the Dept. of History, Dacca University, Dr. Rabbi, a Professor of the Dacca Medical College.

Thirty six years ago Bangladesh emerged after a bloody confrontation with the Pakistan army and its Islamist allies. At the cost of three million lives Bangladesh earned its birth as a secular democracy. The Pakistan army is long gone, but the Islamists remain. They have festered in the Bangladeshi body politic like an untended wound. Today with the collapse of democracy in Bangladesh, the Islamists once again are ascendant.

Last year, on the 35th anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation, I had written that the future of secular Bangladesh hung in the balance. After the military takeover of Bangladesh last January, it appears the scales have tipped in favor of the Islamists. Sadly, more than three decades after independence Bangladesh is still fighting for its secular dream against ever increasing odds.

The dream of Shonar Bangla remains illusive and under threat.

Mashuqur Rahman [] is one of the highest read Bangladeshi-American bloggers. Critically acclaimed for his incisive analysis on Bangladesh, US foreign policy and dedicated advocacy of human rights.

[Read posts by Mashuqur Rahman]


E-Bangladesh is a News/Headlines service and a group blog aimed at bringing the news and analysis from Bangladesh to its readers.

2 Responses to “Bangladesh comes into being”

  1. Author Image

    Bushehr Ahmad

    Great post! Miss Bangabandhu very much. Miss his charisma and grandeur in today’s politically and historically incorrect Bangladesh. It has been 36 years since our independence. Bangabandhu and family were brutally killed just three years into independence.

    What have the rest done in the remaining 33 years:

    1. Allowing assassins to flee and seek refuge in the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.

    2. Freeing all collaborators from prison by Zia in December, 1975.

    3. Bowing to reactionary pseudo-Islamist Saudi pressure to give citizenship to the worst war criminal in history — Golam Azam — by Zia.

    4. Induction of war criminals in cabinet by Zia and his widow Khaleda.

    And on and on …….

  2. Author Image


    A summary of thirty-six years: The biggest beneficiary of the nation-state of Bangladesh? The army. The beneficiary of the assassination of Sheikh Mujib? The army. The beneficiary of the jail killings? The army. The beneficiary of Zia killing? The army. The beneficiary of the Ershad regime? The army. The sustenance of Khaleda Zia? The army. The biggest land grabber in Dhaka city? The army. The biggest contract granters in the country? The army. The biggest drain on the national exchequer? The army. Show me a proud national moment, and I will slap myself.

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