Mujibnagar Memorial Complex

Mujibnagar Memorial Complex

Md. Ziaul Haque Howlader

The historic Mujibnagar is a very important part of our glorious history of independence that we achieved in 1971. This place is widely known to the researchers, academicians and journalists at home and abroad. Earlier known as Boidyanathtola, this is the very place where on 17 April 1971 the provisional government of independent Bangladesh sworn in. In fact, on 10 April 1971, elected parliament members of 1970s election from East Pakistan formed Provisional Government of Independent Bangladesh in exile. Inaugurating the government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on April 17, the national anthem Amar Sonar Bangla was sung in chorus. Although Sheikh Mujib was declared the first President, Syed Nazrul Islam was appointed acting president and hoisted the flag of Bangladesh. Tajuddin Ahmed was appointed the first prime minister. The Vice President of Bangladesh, Syed Nazrul Islam, performed the ceremony at Mujibnagar in the role of Acting President, because the President, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was detained in Pakistan throughout the war.

Mujibnagar now is a town in the Meherpur District of Bangladesh. Meherpur was earlier a part of Kushtia District. The place 'Boidyanathtola' was later renamed Mujibnagar by the proclamation of independence, in honour of Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who declared Bangladesh independence through his historic 7th March Speech. 

Mujibnagar, a renowned historical place is frequently visited by many a number of domestic and foreign tourists. Here, a memorial complex covering 20.10 acres (8.13 ha) has been built at the site where the ministers of that first government took their Oaths. Throughout the war with the Pakistan Army, the Mujibnagar government would serve as the nominal head of the pro-independence guerrilla militias, mainly the Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters). Although the state gained independence that was recognized by other countries only in December 1971, the Mujibnagar government is recognized as the first official government of Bangladesh.  

The Mujibnagar government’s legacy is largely that of providing leadership, unity and direction to the guerrilla war for independence. Many historians believe that without the explicit and organized government-in-exile, the guerrilla resistance to Pakistani forces would have been fragmented, disorganized and ineffectual. Many scholars and political observers believe that the Mujibnagar government was a symbolic center of the nationalist struggle, and served the essential purpose of lifting the morale of revolutionaries and those who supported the Awami League’s campaign for Bangladesh. The Mujibnagar government sought to serve as a credible alternative and counterpart to the Pakistani government, a system of political leadership distinct from the Indian government and a major contender for territorial control. 

 The Mujibnagar government was manned by activists and politicians of the Awami League, nationalist militias, students and rebel Bengali officers and soldiers. The government-in-exile established important bases in New Delhi and Kolkata to garner financial and political support from Indian sympathizers, while its envoys traveled across the world in a bid to win the support of foreign nation. Mujibnagar personnel received extensive resources, support and training from the Indian Army, which aided the Mukti Bahini in the guerrilla war.

The Mujibnagar government sought to coordinate guerrillas within East Pakistan as well as Awami League sympathizers and activists who had been forced to go underground owing to the Pakistani army’s campaign of political suppression. The government organized attacks against Pakistani state forces and their Bengali allies, but proved unable to combat the systematic killings of Bengali intellectuals, Hindus and civilians across the country. The Pakistani government projected the Mujibnagar entity as a figurehead and stooge of India. Without Sheikh Mujib, political in-fighting soon erupted between government members, notably between Tajuddin Ahmed and Khondaker Mostaq Ahmed.

When the Indian Army obtained the surrender of Pakistani forces on December 16, 1971, the Mujibnagar government moved to the capital Dhaka and took ceremonial control of the new state’s institutions. Upon his release, Sheikh Mujib returned to Dhaka on January 10, 1972 and assumed the presidency of Bangladesh. On January 12, Sheikh Mujib dismissed Tajuddin Ahmed (a move widely suspected to be the outcome of the power struggle between Tajuddin Ahmed and Khondaker Mostaq Ahmed) and appointed himself prime minister. A provisional parliament would be organized, formally replacing the Mujibnagar system.

The present government took all policy decisions with respect to the liberation war. Bangladesh government adapted "Declarations of Independence" on 10th April 1971. This has been the legal basis of the Bangladesh constitution after the final victory