Travelling back to a war | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 09, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 09, 2011

Travelling back to a war

Y.M. Bammi appreciates a historical work


Bullets of '71: A Freedom Fighter's Story, Nuran Nabi, Author House

The book is an excellent personal account of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh by Dr Nurun Nabi. It offers a remarkable first-hand view of the freedom struggle from the author's personal experiences as a freedom fighter. The book distinguishes itself from other works by providing a vast canvas ranging from the author's early childhood days to his participation in the freedom struggle.
The book is divided into two parts; Born in Bengal and Bullets of '71. Part I covers the experiences of young Nabi through his Dacca University days. Part II details his experiences participating in the freedom struggle and emerging victorious over the Pakistan armed forces.
In Born in Bengal, Nabi describes his early years and the events that lead a young village lad to become a politically-aware student at Dacca University. He recounts his happy childhood indulging in boat trips and catching fish in village ponds. He anguishes over leaving his mother for boarding school and later his grief at her passing. He describes his college days, sports activities, and close relationships with teachers. He talks vividly about the wave of discontentment flowing against the domination and ill-treatment by West Pakistan.
Nabi includes a brief account of the history of the region, which takes the reader through the independence of India and the political events in Pakistan leading to the elections of 1970. He provides bone chilling accounts of the political conspiracy hatched by Yahya and Bhutto to deny Sheikh Mujibur Rahman his legitimate democratic right to head the government of Pakistan, the crackdown by the Pakistan Army, and the atrocities committed on the innocent people of East Bengal. The reader experiences the patriotic fervor and is roused by the emotional description of the Dacca rallies of Mujibur Rahman. Part I ends with Nabi and many of his friends being inspired to join the freedom struggle for the liberation of East Pakistan and creation of their own country, Bangladesh.
Bullets of '71 is the main area of focus, in which Nabi narrates his experiences as a Tangail Mukti Bahini freedom fighter under the leadership of Tiger Kader Siddiqui. He talks about the rigorous training and the detailed planning and coordination activities for conducting raids. He describes his harrowing experiences trying to evade the Pakistan army under the cover of darkness through the forests and rivers in the region. He details the role played by Mukti Bahini in assisting the Indian Army in joint operations, including the airborne operations. All through the narration the strong spirit of Bangladesh, her fight and struggles, and her sacrifices stand out clearly.
In a chapter dedicated to the Bangladesh Genocide 1971, Nabi covers the gruesome atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army on their Muslim brothers and sisters as well as Hindu minority people of East Pakistan. His narration is heartbreaking and authentic and he quotes reliable western sources, including Senator Ted Kennedy, on the plight of the innocent Bangladeshis. He notes the humanitarian assistance given by India and the world, and the international reactions to the crisis, both positive and negative.
Part II ends with the reader experiencing the joyful events leading to the fall of Dacca, the surrender of the Pakistan army, and the jubilation on the Bangladesh victory on December 16, 1971. Here, Nabi describes his joy at meeting with his leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman where he and his fellow fighters were lauded for their role in the freedom movement. Thereafter, Nabi returns to Dacca University to resume his studies.
The book is a must read for the present generation of Bangladesh as it narrates the events leading to the Liberation War and Independence of their country. It is of immense value for other readers as it describes the role played by other countries in the crucial period of the liberation of Bangladesh and covers various actions taken by the Tangail Mukti Bahini against a much stronger and well equipped Pakistan Army.
The book is a tribute to the people of Bangladesh, all the freedom fighters, and especially to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whose leadership inspired the Bengali population.
Lt Gen (Retd) Y M Bammi saw action in Bangladesh's War of Liberation and was in Dhaka with his General Officer Commanding, Maj. Gen Nagra, on 16 December 1971 to accept the surrender of the Pakistan army.

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