|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 43, Tuesday March 30, 2004|
In our last week's issue we discussed little pieces of our history in our 'Essentials' column. We gave the name of the person, who designed our national flag, wrote a little piece on the brave attempts by the teachers of Engineers University during the war of Independence and more. We also wanted to tell you, which was the first country to recognise Bangladesh as a sovereign nation. In order to do so we had to do a little research, go through a few books. Our intention was to give you authentic information.
While doing our little research on the recognition topic, we came across some very confusing information. Few books ascribe Bhutan as the first country that recognised Bangladesh as an independent country. In some other books the name India keeps coming up. Our memory recalls the name Bhutan whenever we tried to read up on it. Amidst all these confusion, the whole idea was dropped from the write-up.
A dispute about such an issue is obviously very pressing. It seemed that a very important part of our history is in disarray. We wanted to clear the confusion that made us delete some very important lines from our write-up. To eliminate the confusion we decided to do some more research on the topic.
Here is how it went. We spoke with Rashed Khan Menon, president of Bangladesh Workers Party and also a very prominent face in our politics. We wanted to hear from someone who belonged to the 1971 generation and also from a person who felt the passion during the war of independence. "It was Bhutan", he said. "I was in Calcutta during that time and heard about it on the radio" he added. We randomly questioned senior citizens around us who experienced the heat of the war and witnessed the events during that time. Trying to rearrange all the memories each and everyone pointed out on Bhutan.
We also wanted to
see what the History Department of DU teaches on this issue. We spoke
with Dr. Zaheda Ahmed who teaches "Emergence of Bangladesh".
Among the reference books she gave us the names of two that she uses
as support document. The books are Bangladesh: Constitutional Quest
for Autonomy by Modhu Dey and Bangladesher taarikh by Muhammad Habibur
Rahman. Both these books support India as the first nation. In page
49 of the book Bangladesher Taarikh, it said "on December 6th India
recognised Bangladesh and on 7th December Bhutan followed".
While speaking with scholars we also went through some more books written about the War of Independence, about the emergence of Bangladesh. In page 336 of Doosho seshotti diney shwadhinota written by Muhammad Nurul Quadir it is said, "Bhutan was the first country to recognise Bangladesh. But it did not get that much publicity because Bhutan was a very small country". No date was mentioned, however it was mentioned in the book that, "India recognised Bangladesh on December 6th". We also went through the book Bangladesher shwadhinota juddho, dolilpotro. It is an 18-part book published by the Information Ministry, research conducted by Hasan Hafizur Rahman. Part 14 of the book is about the public opinions from around the world. This part deals with news that was printed in different newspapers around the world in 1971. In page 951 there is a news clipping and an editorial in the next page. Both the items were taken from the Indian newspaper Jugantor, December 7, 1971. These two items were written on Bangladesh getting recognition from India on December 6th and emerging as a sovereign nation. There was no news on Bhutan.
Now we are even more confused. Feeling helpless we went to the Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh hoping that they would be able to help. There was no written document but some officials told us that it was Bhutan. Verbal information was obviously not enough. Our last resort the Ministry for War of Independence. We discovered with disappointment that they have no written documents either. However they cited part 3 of Bangladesher Shwadhinotajuddo, dolilpotro. This part consists of the letter from the Indian government that announced the recognition on 6th December 1971.
After all these books, research and all, the question still persists in to our minds. Which country was it to recognise Bangladesh first? Was it Bhutan or was it India? This small piece of our history may appear insignificant to many of us after all these years, yet it is this little course of event that helped us appear as a recognised sovereign nation in the face of the earth. We need to recover it from getting blurred, without any further delay.
By Shahnaz Parveen
a world of great taste
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