1947: Partition of India
The Indian subcontinent is divided into two separate nations, India and Pakistan, based on religious demographics. The eastern part of Bengal becomes part of Pakistan and is known as East Pakistan.
1952: Language Movement
On February 21, students in Dhaka protest against the imposition of Urdu as the sole national language of Pakistan. The Language Movement becomes a significant cultural and political movement advocating for the recognition of Bengali as an official language. The movement gains momentum, and people participate in large-scale demonstrations, strikes, and rallies.
1954: United Front Election
In the provincial elections of East Pakistan, the United Front, a coalition of political parties, secures a majority and forms the government. The victory of the United Front strengthens the demand for regional autonomy and self-governance in East Pakistan.
1966: Formation of Awami League
The Awami League is founded by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, known as Sheikh Mujib, with a focus on advocating for the rights and autonomy of East Pakistan. The party gains popularity and support, becoming a leading force in the movement for greater regional autonomy.
1969: Mass Uprising
Following the death of the revered Bengali nationalist leader Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, mass protests erupt throughout East Pakistan. Demonstrations demanding democracy, autonomy, and an end to military rule are met with brutal suppression by the Pakistani authorities.
March 7, 1971: Historic Speech by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivers a historic speech in Dhaka, known as the "Mujib's March 7 Speech." The speech articulates the grievances of the Bengali people and their demand for self-determination. Sheikh Mujib's call for unity and resistance inspires the Bengali population to stand up against oppression.
March 25, 1971: Operation Searchlight
Following the brutal crackdown, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, now imprisoned by the Pakistani authorities, declares the independence of Bangladesh. The proclamation of independence, known as the "Declaration of Independence," is read on behalf of Sheikh Mujib by Major Ziaur Rahman. The declaration marks the official beginning of the Bangladesh Liberation War.
March-December 1971: Liberation War
The Bangladesh Liberation War rages on for nine months, with the Bengali people fighting for their freedom. The Mukti Bahini, a guerrilla resistance force comprising Bengali freedom fighters, launches attacks on Pakistani military installations and collaborates with the Indian Armed Forces. The conflict witnesses large-scale violence, atrocities, and mass displacement as Pakistani forces and their collaborators target the Bengali population. The war also sees the emergence of prominent leaders and commanders such as General M. A. G. Osmani and Colonel Muhammad Ataul Gani Osmani.
December 3, 1971: Indo-Pak War
India officially enters the war in support of the Bangladesh cause after Pakistan launches air strikes on Indian airfields. The Indian Armed Forces launch a full-scale offensive against the Pakistani forces in both East and West Pakistan.
December 16, 1971: Victory Day
The Pakistani forces surrender to the joint forces of the Mukti Bahini and the Indian Army. Bangladesh achieves its independence, ending the nine-month-long Liberation War. Victory Day is celebrated on December 16 each year to commemorate the freedom and sacrifice of the Bengali people.
The timeline of the independence of Bangladesh portrays the struggles, sacrifices, and triumphs of the Bengali people in their quest for freedom. From the Language Movement to the historic March 7 speech, the declaration of independence, and the subsequent Liberation War, Bangladesh's journey to independence is marked by resilience, determination, and the united spirit of its people. The victory on December 16, 1971, represents a pivotal moment in the nation's history and continues to be celebrated as Victory Day. The timeline provides a more comprehensive view of the significant events that led to the birth of Bangladesh as an independent nation.