Dhaka Seminar on Role of Indian Left in The Liberation War of Bangladesh
By Special Correspondent
THE liberation war of Bangladesh was absolutely a struggle of Bangladeshi people to get rid of the tyranny and get freedom from Pakistan. None had created Bangladesh from outside. The people of Bangladesh had wanted liberation because of deprivation, which was spontaneous, said Biman Basu, member of the Polit Bureau of CPI(M) while speaking as the chief guest in a seminar held at Dhaka on March 5 last. The seminar was organised by the Workers Party of Bangladesh and the topic was “Role of Indian Left parties in the Liberation War of Bangladesh.”
The seminar was held at the Institute of Diploma Engineers Auditorium in Dhaka which was packed to its capacity. Apart from leaders and members of Workers Party, Mujahedul Islam Selim, president, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Nuh Ul Alam Lenin, presidium member of ruling Awami League, Haider Akbar Khan Rano of CPB, Kamal Lohani, one of the pioneer of historic language movement of 1952 and president of Udichi cultural organisation, Khalequzzaman, president of Bangladesh Socialist Party, Mainuddin Khan Badal, working president of Bangladesh National Socialist Party and many Left leaders and intellectuals were present. The seminar was presided over by Workers Party president and civil aviation and tourism minister Rashed Khan Menon. Gautam Das, member of the Central Committee of the CPI(M) was the special guest.
At the outset, Workers Party of Bangladesh general secretary, Fazle Hussein Badsha said that Indian Left parties, particularly CPI(M) had played a very important role in the liberation struggle of Bangladesh but that was never highlighted in Bangladesh. That is why the Workers Party felt it necessary to organise such a seminar for making aware the people of Bangladesh about the role of Left parties in India.
Biman Basu thanked the Workers Party leadership for organising the seminar and said Bangladesh’s liberation war did not take place suddenly and added that the preparation for the war had started since the linguistic movement in 1952. He said that the CPI(M) from the very beginning had stood firmly with the people of Bangladesh and demanded recognition of the Bangladesh government. A big mass rally was organised in Kolkata by the united Left parties of West Bengal on this. He opined, the then prime minister of India Smt Indira Gandhi had delayed in giving recognition to the Bangladesh government. Biman Basu said that apart from mobilising the Indian people to create pressure upon the government of India for recognising the Bangladesh government, the CPI(M) and other Left parties formed ‘Bangladesh Solidarity and Aid Committee’ under the leadership of Jyoti Basu, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) and collected money and other relief materials for the freedom fighters of Bangladesh and the refugees who had taken shelter in India. He informed that he personally participated in money and relief materials collection.
Briefly narrating the present situation in both the countries, Biman Basu urged upon the Left parties of both India and Bangladesh to unitedly fight against the religious fundamentalist forces and against the imperialists.
Gautam Das congratulated the Workers Party leadership for giving an opportunity to vindicate the role of CPI(M) after 45 years of independence of Bangladesh and narrated the sequence of events during the almost nine months long liberation struggle of the people of Bangladesh and in various stages the role played by the CPI(M). After the people’s upsurge in the then East Pakistan, the Pakistani military junta was forced to concede the demand of national and provincial assembly election. In the national assembly election of Pakistan held on December 7, 1970, Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman got an absolute majority by winning 151 seats in the 272 member national assembly. Commenting on the election results of Pakistan on December 9, Jyoti Basu expressed hope that democracy in Pakistan will be well-established and friendly relations will be established between India and Pakistan. But the Pakistani military rulers were not in a mood to transfer power to the elected representatives of the people and were making preparations for military crackdown upon the people of East Pakistan. On March 7, 1971, in a huge rally at Dhaka, Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman called upon his countrymen to prepare for a liberation struggle. At his call, demonstrations and strikes started all over East Pakistan. Pakistani military started firing and killing in different places. Gautam Das said that on March 16, 1971, the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had issued the first statement extending warm fraternal greetings to the brave people of East Bengal for the glorious struggle for their autonomy and for democracy.
Gautam Das said, after the military crackdown upon the people of East Pakistan on March 25, 1971, mass killing in Dhaka and other places and arrest of Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman by General Yahya Khan led military junta, unarmed civilian people, both men and women started fleeing their country to take shelter in bordering states of India including Tripura, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Assam etc. By March 26, a large number of men, women and children took shelter in the Indian territory. He informed that on March 27, 1971 the then general secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) P Sundarayya issued a statement supporting the struggle of the people of Bangladesh. Gautam Das informed that CPI(M) was the first political party in India which supported the liberation struggle of the people of Bangladesh. Das said, CPI(M) supported the liberation struggle of Bangladesh from the stand point of working class internationalist outlook. He also informed that in Tripura, a delegation led by Nripen Chakraborty, the then secretary of the Tripura state committee of CPI(M), met the chief secretary of the state administration on that day and demanded the opening up of the borders of Tripura for free entry of the people of Bangladesh who were under severe and brutal attack by the Pakistani military and to open relief camps for them. The people of Tripura observed total and spontaneous strike at the call of the Students’ Federation of India, Tripura state unit supporting the liberation struggle of the people of Bangladesh and also demanding the government of India’s recognition to Bangladesh. CPI(M) workers, leaders and cadres of different Left mass organisations started collection of money, food, baby food, medicines, cloth and other articles and distributed these in different refugee camps.
Das also informed that at the request of Jyoti Basu, captain of Jhansi Rani Brigade of Subhas Chandra Basu’s Azad Hind Fouz, Dr Laxmi Saigal, ‘Revolutionary Daughter of Chittagong’ Kalpana Datta (Joshi) look part in the relief collection in Delhi. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and then secretary of West Bengal state committee, Pramode Dasgupta addressed a huge gathering at Agartala and demanded immediate recognition of the provisional government of Bangladesh.
Gautam Das said, apart from mobilising people in support of the liberation struggle of Bangladesh, collection of relief materials, CPI(M) leadership also contacted several Left wing parties and groups of Bangladesh so that they can unitedly participate in the liberation war.
By June 1971, the number of refugees sheltered in Tripura outnumbered the population of the state. Supply of essential commodities and infrastructure of health care system were inadequate to meet the situation. People’s Relief Committee of West Bengal sent many doctors to Tripura who rendered tireless medical services in the refugee camps in different parts of the state. Few doctors and medical students of Bangladesh also joined in the People’s Relief Committee medical team in the state. Medical and sales representative union, leaders and workers of the Left mass organisations collected medicines for the refugees. CPI(M) leaders of Tripura also helped the Bangladesh Mukti Bahini doctors to set up field hospitals in Jhumer Dhepa, Sonamura, where hundreds of injured Mukti Juddhas were treated. Both the Lok Sabha members of the CPI(M) from the state, Dasaratha Deb and Biren Datta demanded to the government of India for taking urgent steps for supply of essential commodities to the people of Tripura as well as for the Bangladeshi refugees. They also sent telegrams to the union home minister for giving permission to the state treasury so that they can accept Pakistani currency from the refugees.
Many artists and intellectuals of Bangladesh had taken shelter in Tripura. Cultural artists and activists from Tripura and Bangladesh jointly organised cultural programmes to rouse the people.
Gautam Das also informed that the Jan Sangh (now BJP) and some other parties were putting pressure upon the government of India for armed intervention against Pakistan. The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) in its statement issued on June 16, 1971 said any armed intervention by the government of India in Pakistan would transform the essentially democratic struggle in Bangladesh into that very conflict between India and Pakistan which the Yahya Khan military clique and its patrons want it to appear. This will have a catastrophic effect on the resistance movement in Bangladesh itself.
Das also informed that American imperialists made a demand in the United Nations to send observers to the border of Bangladesh and India, which the CPI(M) had cautioned is a ploy to help the military regime of Yahya Khan in suppressing the national liberation movement of Bangladesh.
He informed that on December 4, 1971 the military junta of Pakistan formally declared war against India and on that day itself, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Jyoti Basu issued a statement and said in view of the large scale attack by the Pakistan armed forces against India, our people and territory must be defended. The same day, CPI(M) general secretary P Sundarayya issued a statement urging upon government of India to repulse Pakistani government’s attack and help the victory of Bangladesh people’s struggle. After recognition of Bangladesh by the government of India, the Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) held an emergency meeting on December 6, 1971 and welcomed the decision of the government of India to accord recognition to the government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
The CPI(M) also denounced American government’s move to send the 7th fleet to the Indian ocean.
On December 16, 1971, the Pakistani army surrendered before the joint command of Mukti Bahini of Bangladesh and Indian forces in Dhaka. The CPI(M) Polit Bureau hailed the victory of the people of Bangladesh over the occupation regime.
Briefly underlining the present situation, Gautam Das appealed the Left and progressive forces of Bangladesh to work together with the Left and progressive forces of India against the imperialist forces led by US imperialism and for a closer cooperation for maintaining peace and for all round development of the people of both the countries.
Rashed Khan Menon lauded the role of the CPI(M) for their immense contribution to the liberation struggle of the people of Bangladesh. He also narrated how they faced a difficult situation during the liberation war which was not known to the people of Bangladesh. He requested the historians and researchers to bring to the fore the true facts about the role of the Left parties of India and Bangladesh.