M. A. HannanSoon after the Pakistani army crackdown on the night of March 25, 1971,the first declaration of independence was made over the radio by M. A. Hannan. Very few people heard this declaration and Major Zia’s famous “Ami Major Zia Bolchhi” declaration over Chittagong radio on March 27 was picked up by foreign news agency and was given wide publicity.

The first declaration

The first declaration

In English

“Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dhaka. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between EPR and Police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pindi on the other, are going on. The Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May God aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla.”

Zia’s declaration

Excerpted from The History of the Liberation Movement in Bangladesh, Author J. S. Gupta

The historic Kalurghat radio station

The historic Kalurghat radio station

 …meanwhile a message in the form of a telegram reached the hands of a few students from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The students were excited to receive Mujib’s message to the people, but were at a loss to decide what should be done with it. At last it struck them that the message could be broadcast from Agrabad Station of Radio Pakistan…

..The message was translated into Bengali by Dr. Manjula Anwar. As they took the message to the radio station. announcer Kazi Hosne Ara was picked up on the way…

..The Armed police guards posted there were Bengali’s who immediately opened the locks and allowed them to go in. Kazi Husne Ara rushed out and brought with her Mahbub Hassan, Belal Ahmed and Abul Kashem Sandwipi.

Making hurried trips between AGrabad broadcasting station and its transmission center at Kalurghat they failed to secure permission from higher authorities to run the station…

It was decided that they should go back to the other side of Kalurghat bridge where rations had just been delivered to the jawans of East Bengal Regiment under the command of Major Ziaur Rahman and plead with them for assistance to run the Kalurghat transmitter as a broadcasting station…

Inside the Kalurghat Station

Inside the Kalurghat Station

…The engineer [Ashikul Islam] had an interview with the commandant who agreed to send some military guards to protect the Kalurghat Transmitter…

..As the Bengali soldiers took positions to guard the transmission centre, the rebels put their heads together and secured the help of a few engineers of the Kalurghat industrial complex to convert it into a broadcasting station.

As Kalurghat was getting organized into a nerve-centre for coordinating the liberation struggle, Baluch troops had invaded the EBR barracks where under the command of Major Zia a bloody battle raged. Major Zia had to retreat and with a battalion of troops came to Kalurghat. He was made commandant of the rebel forces at Kalurghat where the transmitter was now ready for broadcasting. As contact could not be established between the leaders of the Awami League, Major Zia was requested by the rebel station to broadcast a message of independence to the people of Bangladesh.

At 7:45 pm on 26th March 1971, Major Zia broadcast the message which became historic in the struggle for independence.

“This is Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. I, Major Ziaur Rahman, at the direction of Bango Bondhu Mujibur Rahman, hereby declare that the independent People’s Republic of Bangladesh has been established. At his direction, I have taken command as the temporary head of the republic. In the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I call upon all Bengalis to rise against the attck by the west Pakistani Army. WE shall fight to the last to free our motherland. By the grace of Allah, victory is ours. Joy Bangla.”

…Major Zia’s message was picked up by a Japanese ship anchored mid- stream in Chittagong harbour. When the news of this declaration was broadcast by Radio Australia, the rest of the world came to know of it…

Here is an excerpt from the declaration: