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Occupation-free Tentulia: Centre for Swadhin Bangla in 1971

By Mamun Islam

RANGPUR, March 25, 2015 (BSS) - Beginning from volatile March, the northernmost upazila of Tentulia with 74 square kilometre area turned into a spirited centre for conducting major activities of the freedom fighters as the place remained occupation-free in 1971.

Tentulia was a Thana in Panchagarh in 1971 to become well-known in the international arena then as the top organisers of the War of Liberation, political leaders in exile and freedom fighters conducted their activities from there for national independence.

In fact, Tentulia turned into a spirited centre for the War of Liberation creating severe threat to the Pakistani army as recruitment of freedom fighters with training, supply of arms, ammunitions and planning of attacks were being conducted freely from there.

As a result of stiff resistances created by freedom fighters, Tentulia Thana under Sector No-6 remained completely free from occupation of the Pakistani army in 1971 stimulating the War of Liberation towards ultimate independence.

The freedom fighters and common people of Tentulia still feel proud of resisting the Pakistani army from crossing their last defense position at Amarkhana point under Panchagarh Sadar upazila during the whole nine-month war period in 1971.

Following fierce attacks and resistances from the freedom fighters during the War of Liberation, the Pakistani army could never touch the sovereignty of Tentulia, surrounded by Indian territories from the three directions of west, east and north.

Tentulia become an important place to reflect aspirations of the independence- seeker Bangalees as many foreign journalists visited the place, observed the War of Liberation, interviewed freedom fighters and collected information for global media coverage.

Many renowned international journalists, including Mark Tully and William Crowley, visited Tentulia, photographed the War of Liberation in Bhajanpur fronts and interviewed heroic freedom fighters, common people and refugees for global media coverage. Talking to BSS, local elderly people Delwar Hossain, Morsheda Siddique and Basir Uddin of different villages under Tentulia upazila said the upazila remained a completely independent part of Swadhin Bangla during the nine month war periods in 1971.

Kazi Habibur Rahman of Kazipara village said all of the hats and bazaars functioned in Tentulia upazila keeping common life normal and the freedom fighters were going to India and coming back freely to liberate the country.

Principal of Bhajanpur Degree College in Tentulia upazila Shafikul Islam and former Headmaster of Tentulia Pilot High School Jahirul Haque said they frequently took part in the pro-liberation processions and chanted slogans 'Joy Bangla' in free atmosphere.

Prime Minister of the Bangladesh government in exile Tajuddin Ahmed, Finance Minister Captain Mansur Ali, Home Minister AHM Kamruzzaman, Acting President Syed Nazrul Islam and Colonel MAG Osmani frequently visited Tentulia in 1971.

Sector Commander MK Bashar, Sub-sector Commander Squadron leader Sadruddin, Captain Nazrul, Captain Shahriar, Lieutenants Masud and Matin were stationed at Tentulia Sub-sector headquarters of Sector No-6 to conduct the War of Liberation.

The 'Weekly Sangrami Bangla', edited by Emdadul Haque, was being published regularly from Tentulia during the War of Liberation inspiring every independence-seeker Bangalees and freedom fighters to strengthen their moral courage.

One day, Tajuddin Ahmed with other leaders in exile came to Tentulia and addressed a huge public rally participated by thousands of independence-seeker Bangalees, freedom fighters, political leaders, activists and foreign journalists, said Principal Shafikul Islam.

In his speech, Tajuddin Ahmed highly appreciated the heroism and bravery of the people of Tentulia, called upon them and the people of the country not to lose courage to continue the war until the ultimate and assured victory was achieved.

While commenting on the radio speech delivered then by Pakistani junta Yahya Khan, Tajuddin Ahmed in the rally said, "The speech reflects that their (Pakistani army) moral courage has been destroyed and our victory is quite evident."

The then Circle Officer (Development) of Tentulia Thana Matiur Rahman expressed his loyalty under the Mujib Nagar government and conducted all administrative activities accordingly in the nine-month period during the War of Liberation, he said.

Headmaster Jahirul Haque, who was also President of Tentulia unit of All-party Chhatra Sangram Parishad, and businessman Mokhlesur Rahman, said they still feel exceptionally proud of becoming residents of Tentulia during the War of Liberation.

"The Tentulia High School ground factually turned into a mini cantonment for freedom fighters as they conducted the War of Liberation during the whole nine-month periods from there to ultimately defeat the occupation forces," they said.

However, they regretted that Tentulia is yet to get official recognition and honour for remaining an occupation-free area during the whole period of the War of Liberation to contribute maximum in liberating the nation ultimately in December 1971.

Tentulia Upazila Muktijoddha Commander Kazi Mahbubur Rahman thanked the government for constructing monument 'Swadhinotar Tirthobhumi Tentulia' and former Deputy Commissioner Banamali Bhowmick for constructing 'Muktanchol of 1971' Gate to immortalise legendary role of occupation-free Tentulia during the War of Liberation.