Only Bangabandhu had 'mandate' to proclaim independence, says Quader

The Awami League leader calls for unity to defeat communal forces as the nation celebrates Independence Day

Published : 26 March 2024, 07:41 AM
Updated : 26 March 2024, 07:41 AM

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has said that only Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had the legitimate right to declare independence for Bangladesh, paving the way for the nation's emergence on the world map through victory over Pakistan in the 1971 Liberation War.

As Bangladesh celebrates the 53rd anniversary of its independence on Tuesday, Quader addressed the longstanding controversy stirred by claims that BNP founder Ziaur Rahman had made the historic declaration.

"A debate persists over who officially declared our country's independence, a discussion that has continued for years. In our eyes, merely reading out the declaration does not make one its announcer," Quader said after paying tribute to the martyrs of the independence struggle at the National Memorial.

"Many, including Abul Kashem and MA Hannan, read the declaration. Zia also proclaimed independence on behalf of Bangabandhu. The real question is, who was the true announcer? This debate will only end when we seek the truth. Bangabandhu, through the mandate given by the people in the 1970 elections, had the sole right to declare independence."

Before being detained by Pakistani forces in the early hours of Mar 26, 1971, Bangabandhu broadcast a message declaring Bangladesh's independence. This message was circulated via EPR's wireless broadcast.

Throughout Mar 26, Bangabandhu's declaration of independence was promulgated through English and Bangla flyers across Chattogram, facilitated by Awami League leader Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury.

MA Hannan, on behalf of Bangabandhu, and later Major Ziaur Rahman also read the declaration from the Kalurghat Radio Station. This has led the BNP to claim Zia as the 'proclaimer' of independence.

However, a High Court judgment on Jun 21, 2009, by Justice ABM Khairul Haque and Justice Mumtaz Uddin Ahmed, affirmed Bangabandhu, not Ziaur Rahman, as the declarer of independence.

“Bangabandhu was the greatest Bengali of a thousand years. Not only was he the foremost freedom fighter and herald of freedom, but his declaration of independence on Mar 26, 1971, echoed across the country and is referenced in the Constitution’s Preamble.”

In a message to citizens on Independence Day, Quader called for unity against the 'BNP-led' communal forces that threaten to undermine the country's greatest achievement.

"Our commitment today is to resist, overcome, and defeat these forces to build the Golden Bangladesh envisioned by Bangabandhu under the leadership of his daughter Sheikh Hasina."

Addressing a recent opposition campaign to boycott Indian products, Quader said, "Opposition has always existed, even since the Pakistan era. Without a political issue, the anti-India sentiment persists. There’s nothing new about it.”