being killed, more being uprooted and a bleeding nation on the
cusp of being born -- it's a bleak, unsparing tale, but one that
needs to be told. A dozen of Bangladesh's celebrated artists,
supported by their Indian counterparts, have organised a painting
exhibition here to mark the 40th anniversary of the Bangladesh
"For our future generations and those who know little about the
Bangladesh freedom battle, art and cultural advocates have
initiated a campaign in and outside the country on the occasion of
the 40th anniversary of the liberation war," famed Bangladeshi
artist Qayyum Chowdhury told IANS.
"India's bordering states -- West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya and
Assam - gave us 'anna, ashray and asthra' (food, shelter and
arms). We are showcasing this great support," he added.
The four-day exhibition, inaugurated by Tripura Chief Minister
Manik Sarkar Sunday, is being jointly organised by the Dhaka-based
Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts and Kirat, an organisation of artists
of northeast India.
Besides Chowdhury, other artists whose work is on display include
internationally acclaimed Samarjit Roy Choudhury, Bangladesh's
highest civilian award 'Ekushey Padak' winner Hashem Khan, and
Unesco fellowship recipient Abdus Shakoor Shah.
The canvas and watercolour paintings depict the atrocities on
women during the 1971 war, the sacrifices of the warriors and the
combative spirit of the people during the nine-month long ordeal.
In his message for the exhibition, Bangladesh High Commissioner in
New Delhi Tariq A. Karim said: "The vibrancy of this collection of
30 paintings by 12 legendary artists would be a brilliant
showcasing of the rich blending of the treasures of Bangladesh
traditional life with modern verve and style."
After the partition of India in 1947, the territory which is today
Bangladesh was part of Pakistan, and was known as East Pakistan.
India had provided economic, military and diplomatic support to
the Mukti Bahini (Bangladeshi freedom fighters) against the
Pakistani forces in the 1971 war.
On Dec 16, 1971, allied forces of the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini
decisively defeated the Pakistani forces. It resulted in the
largest surrender, in terms of the number of prisoners of war,
since World War II.
Chief Minister Sarkar said: "Forces inimical to Bangladesh and
India are still active in both countries. Everyone, specially the
artists, must continue their crusade against these negative
Renowned political analyst and columnist Gautam Das recalled:
"During the war, over one crore (10 million) Bangladeshi nationals
took shelter in Indian states."
"Over 1,600,000 Bangladeshi citizens had taken shelter in Tripura
alone," he said.
Das, who has personal experience of the 1971 war, said that
veteran communist leader Jyoti Basu had played a key role in
providing relief to Bangladeshi refugees.
According to historian and writer Bikash Chowdhury, Tripura had
six to seven camps from where the 'Muktijoddhas' (freedom
fighters) fought the Pakistani forces.
Bangladesh freedom fighter and renowned writer Haroon Habib said:
"Pakistani troops, aided by their local Islamist collaborators,
killed an estimated three million people, raped over 300,000
women, destroyed innumerable homes and forced millions more to
leave their homes."
"The freedom fighters displayed unparalleled bravery in the war,"
Habib said. "We are grateful to the Indian people, including the
people of Tripura, for their unforgettable gestures to our freedom
fighters and millions of refugees."
Many distinguished foreigners, including former heads of state,
organisations and Indians, would be honoured by the Bangladeshi
government in Dhaka Dec 16 on the occasion of the 40th victory
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)