Bangladesh Independence Day is celebrated annually on 26 March to commemorate the country’s independence from Pakistan in 1971.
The day is marked by a range of events, including parades, speeches, fairs, and ceremonial activities, which all aim to honour the historic moment when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared Bangladesh’s independence.
The Partition of India in 1947 led to the creation of Pakistan as a separate nation. The region now known as Bangladesh was then recognised as East Bengal, and later East Pakistan.
During the 1970 Pakistani general election, held under the military rule of President Yahya Khan, the Awami League, led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, secured a decisive victory in both the East Pakistan national seats and provincial assembly.
The government, however, refused to hand over power to Rahman, sparking demand for independence from East Pakistan.
The situation in East Pakistan grew more severe as the West Pakistan government started arresting army personnel from East Pakistan, leading to forced disappearances.
On 25 March 1971, the Pakistan Army declared “Operation Searchlight,” which led to the killing of approximately 3 million Bengalis indiscriminately.
Finally, on 26 March 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the independence of East Pakistan from West Pakistan.
The struggle for independence continued for nine months, leading to many more deaths. This period was known as the “Bangladesh War of Independence,” which finally ended on 16 December 1971, after Pakistan surrendered.
Bangladesh then became an independent country, marking the beginning of a new era.