The 13th and 15th Century
From the 13th century A.D. the Buddhists and Hindus were swamped by the flood of Muslim conquerors and the tide of Islam up to 18th century. Sometimes there were independent rulers like the Hussain Shahi and Ilyas Shahi dynasties, while at other times they ruled on behalf of the Imperial seat of Delhi.
From the 15th century, the Europeans, namely Portuguese, Dutch, French and British traders exerted an economic influence over the region. British political rule over the region began in 1757 A.D., when the last Muslim ruler of Bengal was defeated at Palassey. In 1947 the subcontinent was partitioned into India and Pakistan. Present Bangladesh became the Eastern Wing of the then Pakistan. But the movement for autonomy of East Pakistan started within a couple of years because of language and cultural differences and economic disparity between the two wings.
The Language Movement
The Language Movement of 1952 to recognize Bangla as a state language may be termed as the first step towards independence.
Political and economic deprivation of the Bengalees prompted Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, to put forward in 1966 his historic six points, the “Magna Carta” which in effect structured the foundation for East Pakistan’s future independence.
The War of Liberation
In the 1970 elections, even though the Awami League emerged as the largest party in Pakistan Parliament, it was not allowed to form the government by the ruling military junta. In the backdrop of a non-cooperation movement launched against the military regime by Awami League.
Bangabandhu declared at a historic public meeting held at Ramna Race Course (renamed Suhrawardy Uddyan) on 7 March, 1971, attended by around 2 million people, “The struggle this tune is the struggle for freedom, the struggle this tune is the struggle for independence.” It was a defacto declaration of independence.
Thus in a preplanned manner on 25th March 1971. The Pakistan army embarked on what may be termed as history’s worst genocide. A military crackdown was ordered, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib was arrested and taken away to West Pakistan. But just before he was arrested he sent out a call for the liberation war to begin. Known as the Declaration of (lie War of Independence, this hurriedly written historic document read as follows:
“Pak Army suddenly attacked EPR Base at Pilkhana, Rajarbagh Police Line and killing citizens. Street battles are going on in every street of Dacca. Chittagong. I appeal to the nations of the world for help. Our freedom fighters are gallantly fighting with the enemies to free the motherland. I appeal and order you all in the name of Almighty Allah to fight to the last drop of blood to liberate the country. Ask Police, EPR, Bengal Regiment and Ansar to stand by you and to fight. No compromise. Victory is ours. Drive out the enemies from the holy soil of motherland. Convey this message to all Awami League leaders, workers and other patriots and lovers of freedom. May Allah bless you. Joy Bangla”.
After nine months of war, the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered in Dhaka on 16th December. 1971 after killing an estimated three million people. Due to the heroic resistance and supreme sacrifices of the valiant freedom fighters Bangladesh finally became an independent sovereign state.
Father of the Nation Bangahandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the founder- president of Bangladesh. He was subsequently assassinated on 15th August, 1975 by a group of conspirators. After 21 years of military and authoritarian rule, Bangabandhu’s party-Bangladesh Awami League led by his illustrious daughter Sheikh Hasina, swept hack to power through a very free and fair parliamentary election held under a Caretaker Government in June. 1996.