Is this Bangladesh we had dreamt of?
Syed Wasiful Islam
The whole night was spent in anxiety. Will Gen Niazi surrender or will Dhaka be flattened by Indian air force bombardment? Shahed Atiq my school friend and comrade in arms and myself were staying the night at my Khala’s house in Rd 30. Early morning radio messages started with the news that Pak Army had surrendered. We were ecstatic, beyond joy and happiness along with an immense sense of relief. Is the nightmare really over? Will the sun come up on a free Bangladesh? Soon we got a call from the UN office based in the then hotel intercontinental. They were looking for Muktijodhas within Dhaka city.
Who would help maintain the safety of the officers and staff as well as family members of Governor House as well as the Governor Mr. Abdul Malek. Atiq, myself and we rang up Shahan younger brother of Sheru, Shamsher Mubin to come and join us. We got a jeep from somewhere and started from Rd 30 Dhanmondi towards hotel intercontinental. I sat ?on the bonnet of the jeep, we were shouting Bangladesh Zinda bad, Joy Bangla we are free , we are free. People in the streets could hardly believe their ears nor their eyes. They kept staring at us incredulously. Thinking , where did these crazy people come from? Next I asked for a flag, a stick also appeared from nowhere , I joyfully unfurled the flag , Green, red and a yellow bangladesh map in the middle.. Probably the first Bangladesh flag to be unfurled in a free Dhaka.We crossed Rd 32. I sent someone to raise a flag on top of the house of Bangabandhu. That was the second flag. Soon we reached the hotel. There the UN officials made sure we were genuine freedom fighters.. Booked us in a room with free meals etc. They handed us a list of about 300 people along with the deposed Governer who were seeking asylum with the UN authorities.
We were entrusted with the task of guarding them and maintaining; their well being. We called in more if our boys from the city to help keep guard. While was standing guard out in the crossing in front of Shakura. Some Pak soldiers from the radio station next door came and surrendered. I sent someone to raise the flag on top of the radio station building. The next day when Captain Hyder came with the first contingent of Mukti Bahini soldiers we handed over the list to him. Was Oderland the GM of Bata was with us on behalf of the UN. Around afternoon some of our journalist friends from ABC and NBC asked us to go with them to Dhaka Cantonment for a surrender ceremony. Thus took place before the official surrender held at then race course grounds with Gen Niazi in front of Gen Aurora of Indian Army. In the cantonment we found Gen Rao Farman Ali of Pak army and many Pak army officers who were gathered to lay down their arms in front of the Indian Army officers. No Bangladeshi were present their accept us. Pak Army officers fell in line and laid down their arm at a command shouted in Hindi ,with tears rolling down their cheeks. Next we visited Shipars house whose whole family had helped us out in the days gone past. Then we went to Dhaka central jail to get Chullu Bhai released from captivity. We brought him to our house with a heroes welcome. Shooting our guns in the air.
Our house was crowded with people while my mother and my sister Shaheen, were happily cooking food for friends and strangers alike. It was open house for maybe a week. By then Dkaka had turned into a grand mela. People were out in thestreets singing, dancing, shouting , loud speakers blaring, and what not. Night came and we slept with our guns by our sides. We enjoyed a well earned ,perhaps the first restful sleep in nine months. Atiq , Shahan Chullu bhai, so many have passed away . I am left to count the days. Can not believe it’s been 50 years!
Today, a question keeps arising in my mind. Is this the Bangladesh we had dreamt of ? Is this the Bangladesh for which our brothers and comrades laid down their lives? Who will bring to fruition the “Sonar Bangla” of Bangabandhu? When will we become a truly free country? Maybe we had won a battle, the war goes on. Against corruption, deceit, hate, pettiness, immorality, etc. etc.