Cultural Paradise

 Our amazingly diverse, beautiful and awe inspiring world is the result of the combined works of nature and human creativity



Bangladesh


History


Bangladesh is an independent sovereign country and Dhaka is its capital and premier city. It gained its independence in 1971 after a nine months bloody war of liberation against the Pakistani military occupation force. Although the actual Liberation War lasted for nine months the people of this land had struggled for centuries to become free from foreign rule.


Sometimes the full significance of the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 is neither fully appreciated nor adequately understood by everyone. Very few individuals realise that the people of this land have become the masters of their own destiny after one thousand years of outside domination. Foreign rule started in the late eleventh century with the Hindu Sena rulers who came from southern India and gradually increased their territories after replacing the previous Buddhists Palas. By the early twelfth century Sena rule was firmly establish throughout Bengal. Although their capital city was Vijayapura in West Bengal they had a second capital in Vikrampur, not far from Dhaka city.


The Muslim rule of Bengal started with Ikhtiyar Al-Din Muhammad Bin Bhakhtiyar Khalji who overthrew the last Sena ruler Lakshaman Sena in 1203/5. It continued for about five hundred and fifty years, lasting until the Battle of Plassey in 1757, when the ruler Nawab Sirajuddaula was overthrown by the British. Half a millennia is a very long time and many things happened during that period in Bengal, including local people's interactions with north western India, Afganistan, Iran, Arabia, Central Asia, etc. However, unfortunately our knowledge of the cultural, educational and economic development and inter-communal/religious relations, etc. of that period is very limited indeed.


The British ruled Bengal as part of their British Indian Empire until 1947 when the subcontinent was divided on religions lines and Pakistan was created by carving two chunks of land out of the Indian territories. People of Bangladesh were very hopeful that this time they would be free. However, very soon it began to dawn on them that the Pakistan project, for which they sacrificed so much to help achieve, was not going to deliver the freedom and dignity that they were seeking. They continued to fight for their rights and freedom, but a bloody unjust war was imposed on the innocent people of Bangladesh on 26 March 1971, by the military ruler of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan, after the 1970 election produced a result not anticipated by the dictator.


According to the 1970 election result Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the political party called Awami League based in the then East Pakistan, should have become the new ruler of Pakistan. Instead the military dictator plotted a crackdown on the Bengali population while pretending to negotiate a transition into civilian rule. This pretension continued between December 1970 and March 1971 until the launch of the bloody war on 26 March of the same year. However, the Bengalis were not going to be cowed down by the overwhelming force of the military crackdown. Rather, the unjust attack triggered a reaction of defiance and determination to fight for freedom and independence. The hero and champion of the freedom struggle of the Bengalis of East Pakistan at that time was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the majority of the people of the land called him Bangabandhu.


After nine months of sacrifices Bangladesh became an independent country on 16 December 1971 and in the history of the people of this land a new chapter had begun. Dhaka was the natural and only contender city within Bangladesh to become the capital of this new republic.


National Martyrs' Memorial situated at Savar, about 35 km north-west of Dhaka City (two pictures on the bottom right).