THE timeline for Bangladesh's Liberation War stretches from March 25, 1971, to December 16 of the same year. The responsibility of documenting the History behind Bangladesh's War for Liberation was handed down to the Muktijuddho Itihash Likhon O Mudran Prokolpo (The Project to Document the Liberation War) based on the collection of documents and data from all the incidents around the world which were related to Bangladesh's War of Independence. The project started under the aegis of the Ministry of Information of the Government of Bangladesh in January 1978.
Even though the original responsibility was of writing the history, the project later decided to collect and publish documents and data related to the war. To document the history of any event, especially an event as important as Bangladesh's Liberation War in an unbiased and fair method is extremely difficult unless there are supporting documents and data behind each piece of information. And this was the reason we prioritised the presentation of documents and data related to the war, rather than the history of it in itself. And resulting from it the data and documents will tell the story, will conserve the whole events unfolding through a chronological order, and will conserve the order of related incidents to the event during its lifetime.
The project thus decided to publish the documents and data presented within a few volumes keeping such a view in mind. Correlated to this a special judgement posed itself in front of the project, which was: even though the gathered documents of events paralleled and were inclusive of the Liberation War, there remained a huge backdrop behind the Liberation War itself. The Liberation War cannot be studied by removing it from this background. The events behind this story – which can be christened as the Struggle for Independence – were the main causes which made the Liberation War absolutely necessary. And that is the reason why it is impossible to even discuss the Liberation War without introducing the Struggle for Independence first. The project in this situation had thus accepted the decision to dedicate its resources to gather documents and data regarding this background to be presented in two volumes along with Bangladesh's Liberation War – Documents and History. (…)
We had to change our decision of the initially agreed upon publication of 7,200 pages, since the gathered data was too great to be contained in such a limitation. According to the new decision, a budget was passed so that each volume would amount to nearly 900 pages – 15,000 pages for the whole publication – so that all the collected documents could be printed completely in the publication. We continued working based on this foundation.
We kept the process of gathering data and documents on a very transparent and free level. But on the other hand, we have been very conservative about salvaging and accepting data and documents for the background. We have decided to only include those documents for the volumes dealing with the background which are directly related with the existence of current Bangladesh and the sentiments of the people residing within the country. That is to say that only those documents directly related to the events unfolding during the Struggle for Independence including the protests and processions taking place in this area of the world instigated by the people residing here were included in those volumes in chronological order. And thus we did not have to go through ancient history to uphold the history from this angle. We started with the documents unearthed dating back to 1905, when Bengal was divided to give this background an apt meaning and start. We are of the opinion that this timeline marks the start of the Struggle for Independence with precision and logic and void of superfluity.
Documents concerning the backdrop are included in two volumes. The first volume ends with the timeline of Aiyub Khan's rule in 1958. The segmentation has been put into effect keeping in mind the ease of pagination for the whole publication only – not keeping in mind any political or historic scenario as one might begin to think. (…)
Our most important aim was to publish actual accounts of events through authentic documents in the right amounts. There are no personal opinions of ours, nor did we try misleading the reader, nor any personal descriptions or reasoning provided by us. We have tried to maintain an unbiased form of the accounts from the beginning to the end. Our main aim was to collect the documents, edit them and then place them in order while keeping such a sentiment always in mind. We have kept this aim and upheld it in surgical precision so as not to break any sort of correspondence linked to the project. Each article upholds all names worthy of importance in their actual and deserved weight, according to the data. And so, the general population naturally is the protagonist in every case. The leader rises up from the general masses only when there is an unquenchable thirst for change within the masses and when they become unstoppable in pursuing their dreams. The same had happened in Bangladesh's case. And that is why even documents of events caused by parties and organisations have been included who were never directly or even remotely involved in Bangladesh's politics or governance. That is because the struggle for independence in Bangladesh predates 1971 and was always existent within the hearts and minds of its people who kept the sentiment alive through their own revolutions. In reality, the surrounding shrubs and bushes at the edge of a forest start defining it as it gets thicker while traversing towards its heart. One has to learn of all the plants within the forest before actually knowing it. (…)
We have collected documents and data containing approximately 3.5 lakh pages. Now we are publishing only 15,000 pages of documents and data. So a major portion of the collection will remain unpublished. Besides that the continuous search for document will enrich our collection progressively… The whole effort of documenting the Liberation War will obviously widen the scope of doing more research and publishing more books on the Liberation War. To create wider scope for work on the Liberation War is extremely important for the nation. Because the more the nation will learn about the Liberation War the more it will progress. (…)
Those, during Bangladesh's War of Independence, who sacrificed themselves, were victimised, who realised their losses, who in every circumstance – no matter how dire – kept their hearts' flames alight for the love of this country, and to those who have patronised us towards our work at every turn and instance, we dedicate this anthology of the Documents and History of Bangladesh's War for Independence with deep affections, great admiration and undying gratitude and hand it over to the people of Bangladesh.
Translated by Hasan Ameen Salahuddin of The Daily Star.
Source: History of Bangladesh War of Independence: Documents, Edited and Published by Ministry of Information , December 1985.