National Victory Day of Bangladesh: A brief History

The National Victory Day of Bangladesh is a significant event celebrated on December 16th each year. Victory Day is a national holiday in Bangladesh celebrated on 16 December to commemorate the defeat of the Pakistan Armed Forces in the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 and the Independence of Bangladesh. It commemorates the day when Bangladesh achieved its long-awaited victory over Pakistan in 1971, resulting in the independence of the country. This day holds immense importance for the people of Bangladesh as it symbolizes the hard-fought struggle for liberation and the sacrifices made to attain independence. It commemorates the Pakistani Instrument of Surrender, wherein the commander of the Pakistani Forces, General AAK Niazi, surrendered to the Mukti Bahini and their Indian allies, ending the nine-month Bangladesh Liberation War and 1971 Bangladesh genocide and marking the official secession of East Pakistan to become the new state of Bangladesh.


The origins of Victory Day can be traced back to the long-standing political and social tensions between East and West Pakistan (now Bangladesh and Pakistan, respectively) during the late 1960s. The people of East Pakistan, who felt marginalized and deprived of their cultural and political rights, began demanding greater autonomy and recognition of their distinct identity. The origins of this historic day trace back to the deep-rooted political and cultural divide between East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan. The East Pakistanis felt marginalized, and their calls for self-governance eventually led to a full-fledged liberation movement.

The conflict escalated in March 1971 when the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight, a brutal military crackdown against the Bengali population. The Bengalis, led by the Awami League, declared their independence, forming the provisional government of Bangladesh and establishing a guerrilla force called the Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters). For months, Bangladesh fought against the well-equipped Pakistani Army, struggling against staggering odds. The movement for autonomy gradually transformed into a full-fledged war for independence, ignited by the Pakistani military crackdown on the night of March 25, 1971. The brutal action of the Pakistani forces led to widespread atrocities, including mass killings, forced disappearances, and systematic gender-based violence.

File Photo: National Martyrs’ Memorial

The Bengali population, under the leadership of the Bangladesh Awami League and their charismatic leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, fought back with unwavering determination. A guerrilla resistance movement was formed, known as the Mukti Bahini (Liberation Army), to counter the highly equipped Pakistani military. Finally, on December 16, 1971, after nine months of intense fighting, the Pakistani forces surrendered to the joint forces of the Mukti Bahini and the Indian Army, marking the end of the Bangladesh Liberation War. Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign nation, with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman becoming its first President.

The Liberation War, which lasted for nine months, saw tremendous sacrifices and heroism from the Bangladeshi people. From urban centers to rural areas, freedom fighters from all walks of life joined forces to resist the oppressive regime. Women played a particularly significant role during this time, providing support and fighting alongside their male counterparts.

The turning point in the war came on December 16, 1971, when the Pakistani forces surrendered to the joint forces of the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini. General A. A. K. Niazi, the commander of the Pakistani forces in East Pakistan, signed the Instrument of Surrender at the Ramna Race Course in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. This monumental event marked the birth of the independent nation of Bangladesh.

The National Victory Day is observed throughout the country with great enthusiasm. The day begins with the hoisting of the national flag atop public and private buildings, accompanied by a national anthem playing in the background. Various cultural programs, parades, and processions take place, showcasing the rich heritage and diversity of Bangladesh. The day is also marked by paying homage to the martyrs of the liberation war through special ceremonies and prayers.  The President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh also pay their respects at the National Martyrs’ Memorial in Savar, where they lay wreaths in honor of the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives. Schools, colleges, and universities hold special events to teach students about the significance of the day and its historical context. The media plays a crucial role in spreading awareness by broadcasting documentaries, interviews, and special programs related to the Liberation War.

File Photo: Surrender of Pakistani force

In addition to the nationwide celebrations, the government awards individuals and organizations who have made exceptional contributions to the nation with the ‘Swadhinata Padak’ (Independence Day Award). These awards recognize the bravery, resilience, and dedication displayed by the freedom fighters during the war.

File Photo: freedom-prize

Furthermore, this historic day serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters and the resilience of the Bangladeshi people. It is a time for national unity, reflection, and gratitude towards those who fought for the freedom and independence of the nation.

The National Victory Day has deepened the sense of patriotism and nationalism among the people of Bangladesh. It serves as a reminder of the immense courage and sacrifice exhibited by the freedom fighters, who fought for a better future for their nation. This day symbolizes the triumph of justice, democracy, and the indomitable spirit of the Bangladeshi people.

In conclusion, Victory Day in Bangladesh is a celebration of the nation’s hard-fought victory and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. It symbolizes the collective efforts and sacrifices of the Bangladeshi people in their quest for independence. This significant day holds profound historical and cultural significance, reminding the current and future generations of the importance of freedom, unity, and resilience. The National Victory Day of Bangladesh on December 16th commemorates the historic moment when Bangladesh achieved independence from Pakistan after a long and arduous struggle. It is a day of remembrance, reflection, and celebration of the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters. This significant event holds immense importance in the hearts of every Bangladeshi, reminding them of their resilient spirit and patriotism.

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