Unite to Move Forward

26 March evokes in us a feeling of pride as well as pain even after all these years. Painful memories re-emerge to remind us of the day on which the reign of terror was let loose on the helpless Bengalis. But ever since then we had been celebrating this day with a mixed feeling of sorrow and joy. It was the day we resolved to fight for our rights and dignity, and in spite of being the majority in the country, resolved to sever all links with the rest.

This year there are more reasons to be happy and we should have been celebrating this Independence Day with more fervour, enthusiasm and zeal than otherwise, it being celebrated under a democratic political dispensation after two years of a caretaker rule. But it is on a more sombre and painful note than usual that we celebrate this year's Independence Day. The celebrations will be muted by the events that took place at Peelkhana just a month ago today. 73 young and precious lives were prematurely cut short by the bullets of the mutineers leaving the nation shocked and traumatised. Our grief is exacerbated.

But we would like to see that tragedy bring the nation closer than before cutting across lines of party, religion, caste, creed or colour, as we did on 26 March 71. If anything the sad episode must cause us to eschew divisiveness because that is what the enemies would want to see happen.

It is therefore a day to resolve to forge ahead together, in spite of our political differences. And whatever path we may choose to take the final destination for the nation must be the same. If we fail to unite the sacrifice of the martyrs will have been in vain.

This year's supplement contains articles of some who were participants in the war. We have accounts of a very young Bengali army officer at the time describing the moments of truth in Feb 1971. We have an account of a Bengali civil servant's plight in Pakistan till he managed to escape from that country. Two eminent personalities dealing with law and war crimes have touched on several important facets of the issue of trial of war criminals. I thank all the contributors for their efforts.

We hope that the readers will derive great value from the articles.