September 24, 2021

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‘Indian authorities don’t like it at all’

Then on 10 April 1971 the draft of the Declaration of Independence was finalized in Kolkata. Members of Parliament elected to the National and Provincial Assemblies from East Pakistan in 1970-71 implemented the Declaration on 26 March 1971, the day after the brutal attack on the people of Bangladesh by Pakistani forces. On the basis of this legal cover, the members of the expatriate government were sworn in as the government of an independent country on 16 April at an Amrakan in Meherpur. The Battle of Plassey took place in the historic Amrakanne 200 years ago to resist the British army. Until then, Amrakanan was free from Pak occupation. The entire event was organized under the supervision of Tawfiq Elahi Chowdhury, a member of the then SDO Pakistan Civil Service in Meherpur, and a guard of honor was arranged under the leadership of SDPO Mahbub Uddin. As soon as the swearing-in ceremony was over, the newly formed government shifted to Theater Road in Kolkata. This government started an armed struggle against the Pak aggressors for the independence of Bangladesh on the basis of full cooperation of the logistics and shelter of the Indian government.
By the time the freedom fighters were fully organized by May 1971, the Pakistani forces were able to consolidate their position in the capital Dhaka and most of the district headquarters without much resistance.

At the same time, through the propaganda of the whole world, this struggle of Bangladesh began to be predicted as a long protracted war in the style of Vietnam. This created an obstacle in the way of getting help and assistance from outside for the independence of Bangladesh. In the meantime, I formed a small team and set up an external propaganda department for the government in the office of Mr. Hussain Ali, the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan, on Circus Avenue No. 9, Kolkata. There he formed a cell to conduct research on various issues, give briefings to foreign news and media, prepare and distribute campaign books, and prepare important position papers to help the government of Tajuddin Ahmed.
The timing was thrilling and exciting throughout. At this time we analyzed the latest situation of the war and started publishing an English weekly bulletin called Bangladesh and arranged for its promotion all over the world. At the same time, I present various reports almost daily under the pseudonym of ‘Bangladesh Betar’, a news channel of the Liberation War, which was started all over the country through ‘Bangladesh Betar’ established in collaboration with the Government of India. Thus twenty-four hours a day became deeply involved with the struggles of my daily life.
In the interest of publicizing our war situation through the media, I made close connections with a number of foreign journalists to enter the areas free from the influence of the Pakistani occupying forces at that time. However, the Indian authorities did not like the matter at all. John Pilzer, a well-known journalist, made a sensational headline on the front page of the Daily Mirror, the world’s most widely circulated newspaper, with a circulation of 20 million. I remember, among others, arranging an hour-long illustrated report on the liberation situation in our country with Michael Charlton, the producer of the BBC’s one-hour ‘Panorama’ program, which was enjoyed by countless audiences around the world. The report shook the world after it was broadcast on the BBC. For similar reporting, I spent hours with Martin Ulacat of the Guardian, Lauren Jenkins and Tony Clifton of Newsweek magazine, and Andre de Burchgrave of Time magazine, among many others. Throughout the war, I briefed about two and a half hundred journalists, as a non-party volunteer, on a monthly allowance of Rs 300, a shirt, a pair of pants washed once a week, slept on a sofa and worked incessantly.
By the end of May, nearly one crore refugees had crossed the border to seek refuge in camps along the Indian border, fearing for their lives and escaping torture, looting, rape and arson by Pakistani forces. The largest of these camps were in and around Kolkata. During this time, US Senator Edward Kennedy visited various refugee camps, including the Salt Lake area of ​​Kolkata, which received worldwide publicity throughout the week and played a huge role in collecting the largest relief supplies of all time. But even then, the news coverage of the war in Bangladesh was facing various obstacles. When I telephoned my close friend Peter Hazelhust, a well-known correspondent for The Times in Delhi, to write about Bangladesh, Peter said, “I can’t do that. There is nothing new to write about and this war will continue. ” I asked, “What can be done right now to keep Bangladesh alive through global media?” Peter said, “I can only persuade my editor to report on this if you can arrange for me to have an interview with your prime minister, Tajuddin.” You are claiming that the Bengalis are fighting under his leadership. We want proof of that. ” Peter hung up the phone.
Tajuddin was then running the government sitting on Theater Road in Kolkata. Although we did not officially acknowledge it, there was a state of war around Bangladesh at that time. As soon as I called Amir-ul Islam, Tajuddin’s chief assistant barrister, he realized the importance of this and we decided to arrange an interview. The next day I called Peter and told him that our Prime Minister had agreed to an interview. “Excellent,” Peter said as he prepared to be interviewed. He also got permission from the editor of his newspaper in London.
When Peter arrived in Kolkata in the last week of June, the rainy season had arrived. According to earlier arrangements, Amir-ul-Islam sent Tajuddin from Kolkata in the morning to the border. They stopped at a place in Meherpur. Because, this place was still out of the control of Pak army. An hour later, Peter and I arrived. We were waiting for Tajuddin in a pre-arranged mud room. At that time, Tajuddin Ahmed, wearing an automatic rifle, boots, helmet and military uniform, was seen walking towards us from inside a dense mango orchard. He looked like a guerrilla soldier fighting against the occupying Pak army. Tajuddin greeted Peter with a natural smile. He seemed to be a man of determination and full confidence in leading the fight. They sat on a stool under the shed and talked, and the two of us stood outside, watching.

The interview lasted about 40 minutes. At one point, after the roar of the cannon came from a distance, Tajuddin immediately said goodbye to Peter and hurried to where the sound was coming from. He showed a sense of urgency to return to his fighting forces. The next day, the interview was published in three columns in The Times of London. It had a picture of Tajuddin in a guerrilla-armed rifle and the headline was ‘Bengalis determined to win the war. At one point I arranged a similar interview for the well-known Andre de Burch Grave, senior editor of Time magazine in America. It was, of course, arranged in Kolkata.

(Continued ..)

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Moudud Ahmed on remand (7)
Moudud Ahmed on remand (7)
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Moudud Ahmed on remand (10)
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Moudud Ahmed on remand (12)

 

Source : Taken from the book