Going down the memory lane
with 'Phire Dekha 71'
Photo: Rezwan Ahmed
"We need to understand Bangladesh's history in order to create a better future,” said Omar Rahman, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB), at 'Phire Dekha 71', an event organised by the University's Engineering and Computer Science department (SECS) on December 1, 2011.
The programme which saw clippings of various newspaper articles and videos describing the liberation war of 1971, was organised with an aim to provide students a better understanding of the events that took place during the war. The documents exhibited in the programme were collected from the National Archive of Bangladesh.
“The days of 1971 have been imprinted in my mind. It's almost impossible to describe them,” said Dr Muhammad Anwar, director, SECS. “I hope that students get a fair idea of the kind of situation that we were in through these documents being exhibited,” he added.
Newspaper Articles of 1971, displayed at the 'Frames Gallery', revealed the various stages of the liberation war. An article written by Indian writer Khushwant Singh for instance, described the horrible situation of the refugees arriving from East-Pakistan. A news-feature from the Observer wrote about the participation of Bangladeshi women in the liberation war. Another clipping displayed the various training disciplines imparted to the guerilla outfits. With several articles displaying countless angles of the war, the gallery almost managed to provide a first-hand experience of the events that had taken place.
“It's a good initiative. Showing us documents like these improves our knowledge and helps us form our own opinions,” said Ahmed Ishtiaque, a third year student from IUB. Video clips of the war along with the newspaper articles, gained a lot of interest from students and faculty members. The significance of the documents was reiterated by the University's Pro-Vice Chancellor as he emphasised on the safe-keeping of the archives. “These documents are sacred and need to be digitised before we lose our history forever,” said Omar Rahman.
Apart from the showcasing of documents from the war-archives, the event also witnessed former freedom fighters narrate their own experiences of the war. Compelling tales of organising rallies against the Pakistani army with nothing more than half-broken pistols and bamboo sticks and the manner in which universities were raided, students killed, provided several first-hand descriptions of the war. “We weren't afraid to get killed back then, the revolutionary feelings made all our fears disappear,” said Dr Abdus Sobhan, a professor from IUB.
Echoing Dr Sobhan's sentiments, Dr Towhid Samad, Chairman of the governing council of IUB, said that it was the youth of the previous generation that brought the required change in 1971. He therefore emphasised the importance of today's younger generation. “The future of the country will depend on the opinion of the youth,” he said.
With the lack of portals created for documents related to the liberation war, the exact details of the events that took place in 1971 are still hard to come by for the common public. 'Phire Dekha 71' was a required initiative that provided an opportunity for several students to know the exact details of the war that created Bangladesh.