The Roaring Nation and the Slogans
No uprising is imaginable without slogans, whether in our country or elsewhere in the world.
The thunderous chorus of thousands chanting slogans in the streets was central to the nation’s liberation struggle.
For all the latest news, follow the Daily Star’s Google News channel.
Many slogans became immensely popular during the movements between 1948 and 1971, as they were the rallying cries of the masses, expressing their patriotism, bravery and spontaneity.
The zeal for self-determination and independence of the Bangalees was reflected in these slogans, also representing East Pakistan’s anger and retaliation against the blatant exploitation, injustice and discrimination of the rulers of West Pakistan.
“The slogans were an integral part of the liberation struggle. They not only caught the attention of the popular masses, but also encouraged them to take action,” said Muntassir Mamoon, a liberation war researcher and historian. .
Another important aspect of slogans is their creativity and pace. They have literary value, he says.
“Slogane Slogane Rajniti”, a recently published book by the valiant freedom fighter, journalist Abu Sayeed Khan, describes how historical events have been documented in such slogans.
“Slogans are an integral part of politics. They reflect the demands and political goals of certain groups and parties. Slogans indicate the identity of political parties as well as the characteristics of movements,” says Sayeed.
Sayeed’s book and Siddiqur Rahman Shapan’s “Bangladesher Gano Andolone Slogan, Placard O Poster” compiled many slogans which were used during the liberation struggle and other movements.
According to the books, during the Mass Upsurge in January 1969, the students, under the banner of Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad (All Student Party Resistance Council), started chanting the slogan Joy Bangla (Victory in Bengal).
Sayeed wrote in his book that the slogan was first introduced by a Chhatra League activist at a meeting of the student organization on September 15, 1969.
He became popular and was adopted by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This later turned into a battle cry during the liberation war in 1971, said Sayeed, who now works as an advisory editor of Samakal, a Bengali daily.
Joy Bangla was not just a political slogan. It has become a statement of commitment to the homeland and a symbol of national spirit and patriotism. Inevitably, it became the national slogan of Bangladesh.
“Students started using the Joy Bangla slogan in 1969. But it became a popular slogan of the country during the liberation war. It was also used to greet others back then,” Muntassir Mamoon said.
The slogan united the Bangalees to fight the Pakistani regime, he added.
Siddiqur in his book said that during the Mass Upsurge, the uniqueness of the Bangalees became more evident. Slogans like Pakistan Zindabad (Long Live Pakistan) started losing their appeal.
During this period, slogans, such as Tomar Desh Amar Desh Bangladesh, Bangladesh (your country, my country, Bangladesh, Bangladesh), Tumi ke Ami Ke, Bangalee Bangalee (Who are you, who am I, we are Bangalee), were chanted frequently.
The Mass Upsurge began with student unrest against the tyrannical rule of Ayub Khan. Peasants, artisans and laborers joined the movement, which followed another massive protest against Pakistan’s leadership following the Agartala conspiracy case against League leader Awami Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and others.
In an interview, Sayeed recalled the days saying that people in general as well as members of nationalist and left-wing political parties gave slogans like Jago Jago Bangalee Jago (Bangalees, stand up), Tomar Amar Thikana Padma Meghna Jamuna (Padma, Meghna, Jamuna are our address), Tomar Amar Thikana Khet Khamar Karkhana (Fields, farms and mills are our address), Joy Janata (Victory to the people), and many more.
He said left-wing parties widely used the slogan Keu Khabe to Keu Khabe Na Ta Hobe Na Ta Hobe Na (Some will eat while others will go hungry – this will not be accepted) during the Mass Uprising. Nationalist parties later used the slogan.
Following the Mass Upsurge, the Awami League won an outright majority in the 1970 general election, but Pakistani leaders refused to cede power, sparking a massive protest known as the Non-Cooperation Movement.
It intensified during March 1971 when Pakistani leaders postponed the session of the National Assembly.
During the non-cooperation movement, slogans like Bir Bangalee Ostro Dhoro Bangladesh Swadhin Koro (Valiant Bangalees, take up arms and liberate Bangladesh), Swadhin Koro Swadhin Koro Bangladesh Swadhin Koro (Free Bangladesh), Aposh Na Sangram Sangram Sangram ( No compromise, only fight, fight and fight), Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu, Tomar Neta, Amar Neta, Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Mujib (Victory of Bengal, Victory of Bangabandhu! Your leader, my leader, Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Mujib! ) and others, resonated across the country.
Previously, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s 1966 six-point program for regional self-government had brought an important turning point in national politics, Sayeed said.
During this period, the Bangalees chanted the slogans Jago Bangalee Jago (Get up Bangalees, get up), Pindi na Dhaka? Dhaka Dhaka (Dhaka or Pindi? Dhaka, Dhaka), Punjab Na Bangla, Bangla Bangla (Bangla or Punjab? Bangla, Bangla).
“These slogans highlighted the fact that Bangladesh was different from Pakistan geographically, politically and socially. They also highlighted that the Bangalans as a nation were different from the Pakistanis,” Sayeed explained.
Reflecting on the history of the movements in Bangladesh, Sayeed said that “Rashtro Bhasha Bangla Chai” was the first slogan imbued with the spirit of nationalism based on the Bengali language.
During the language movement, the Bangalees erupted in protests saying slogans like Rashtro Bhasha Bangla Chai (We want Bangla as the state language), Postcard, Stamper Lekha Bangla Chai (We want writings on postcards and stamps in Bengali).
On February 21, 1952, Pakistani leaders imposed Article 144. Police opened fire on unarmed male and female students who defied the article that day.
The demonstrators chanted slogans, such as Rashtro Bhasha Bangla Chai, 144 Dhara Manbo Na (We want Bangla as the state language, we will not respect [Section] 144), Cholo Cholo Assembly Cholo (Let’s go to Assembly).
In 1954, the Awami League, Krishak Sramik Party, Nizam-e-Islam and Ganatantri Dal formed the United Front, for the East Bengal Legislative Assembly elections.
During the ballot battle, there were also slogan battles. Among the slogans used by supporters of the Muslim league were Noukai Vote Dile Bibi Talak Hoe Jabe (If you vote for Boat, you will divorce), Huq, Bhashani Hindustaner Dalal (Huq and Bhashani are agents of India). United Front workers roared Purba Bangla Shayottoshashon Kayem Koro (Establish East Bengal Autonomy), Bichar Bibagh Prithak Koro (Separate Judiciary), Bhashani Bhashaichhe Nouka Haq Shaheb Tar Majhi (Bhashani Floated Boat, Haq is the boatman), League Shashoner Durgati, Dui Anay Matchbati (The wretched state of the League is evident as a box of matches costs two annas).
The Kagmari conference convened by Maulana Bhashani in 1957, witnessed slogans carrying anti-Western sentiments like Ingo-Markin Shamrajyobaad Dhongsho Hok Nipat Jaak (Down with American and British imperialism) and Seato Cento Tyag Koro (Leave the pacts Seato and Cento).
Democracy-loving Bangalees took to the streets immediately after the 1958 coup. They pronounced Samarik Ain Manina (We do not accept martial law), Ganotantrik Sarkar Chai (We want democratic government), Ayub Shahi Dangsho Hok (Down with Ayub) and others.
Students led a movement against an education commission known as the Sharif Commission in the early 1960s, chanting slogans such as Shikkha Bay Komate Hobe (education costs should be reduced), Shikkha Khetre Baishamya Cholbe Na (There shall be no discrimination in education), Roman Harafe Bangla Lekha Cholbe na (Bangla cannot be written in Roman letters).
The students launched slogans in favor of a democratic system as well as freedom of the press. They raised slogans like Ganatantrik Babostha Kayem Koro (Establish a democratic system), Sangbadpatrer Swadhinata Dite Hobe (Freedom of newspapers must be guaranteed).
Siddiqur Rahman said in his book that a widely used slogan Jalo Jalo Agun Jalo (light the fire, light the fire), a translation of a Hungarian slogan, was introduced during the protests against the Sharif Commission.
People in Bangladesh chanted slogans against communalism when communal riots hit Dhaka and its adjoining areas in 1964. The slogans have been in the souls of the Bangalees for centuries, manifesting their bold and rebellious spirit against oppression and poverty. ‘injustice.