Nine months, which undeniably felt much longer than they were, had passed and thousands of lives had been lost. The lionhearted freedom fighters who had been in constant battle for days and nights persevered with every ounce of strength and courage they had left in them. Their resilience and unity had managed to weaken the nerves of the enemy to a significant extent and when the Indian forces joined the war on the third of December 1971, the 'Pak-bahini' was left reeling from licking their wounds.
“You could often hear and see fighter aircrafts flying across the sky,” recollected A.M. Amanullah, who was a university student back then. In her personal narrative “The Exodus,” in the book “Stories from the Edge,” Zakia Rahman recalled a similar experience when the Indian Air Force was bombing strategic targets around Dhaka city and her house was very close to one of them. “… a thunderous sound rocked our home and we heard sounds of glass shattering,” she wrote.
In the coming days, the Muktibahini, with its new ally – the Indian forces, attacked the common enemy with full force. News about one region after another becoming free could be heard on broadcasts made by the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. A sliver of hope began to spark in the hearts of the Bengali masses.
“My father came home for a short while to give us the news that victory was imminent,” Ghulam Faruque Alam spoke, reminiscing a night in December'71. His father, S.M. Yusuf, was a leading freedom fighter in Sector 2.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani army started to strategize more desperately when they realized their time was almost up. With a wicked view to cripple the unborn nation, the military junta mapped out a vile plan and slaughtered over a thousand prominent intellectuals across the nation on the 14th of December 1971.
Everyone's hearts sank in deep sorrow when the news broke. Their hopes were rattled in these trying times, but they had to keep believing in that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, and the darkest hour that heralds dawn.
Finally, on 16th December, 1971, the Pakistani army surrendered at the same ground – Suhrawardy Udyan – where 9 months earlier, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had called out for freedom and independence. Scores of people gathered, without any fear or worry, on the streets in celebration as the Liberation War had finally come to an end.
Over the span of the year of 1971, many had lost their lives and loved ones.
Many had left their beloved homeland.
Many were left injured, physically and/or mentally.
But at the cost of all this, freedom was finally achieved.
It was a freedom costly bought for a right to nurture the language of the ancestors, and the right to proudly hold dear the green and red flag, till the ends of time.
Star Lifestyle extends its thanks to photographer Abdul Hamid Raihan for sharing the photo.