By Engr Mamun Islam
RANGPUR, Dec 3, 2020 (BSS) – The whole area of Tentulia Thana remained free from occupation of the Pakistani army as the unconquerable centre for ‘Swadhin Bangla’ since March in 1971 stimulating the War of Liberation towards the ultimate victory.
The freedom fighters and common people of Tentulia still feel proud of resisting the Pakistani army from entering Tentulia Thana area (currently Tentulia upazila town in Panchagarh) during the nine-month war period.
Following frequent attacks and stiff resistance from the freedom fighters since March in 1971, the Pakistani army could never touch the sovereignty of Tentulia, surrounded by Indian territories from three directions.
Talking to BSS, local freedom fighter Aiyub Ali said the then Tentulia Thana remained a completely independent part of struggling Bangladesh in 1971.
“Recruitment of the freedom fighters with training, supply of arms and ammunition and planning of attacks were being conducted from Tentulia turning the place into a strong centre for the freedom fighters,” he said.
He said hats and bazaars functioned in Tentulia Thana with 74 square-kilometre area keeping common life normal and the freedom fighters were going to India and coming back freely after getting training to liberate the country.
Former Principal of Bhajanpur Degree College in Tentulia upazila Shafikul Islam said hundreds of the Bengalese frequently participated in the pro-liberation processions arranged at Tentulia chanting slogans ‘Joy Bangla’ in free atmosphere.
Former Headmaster of Tentulia Pilot High School Jahirul Haque said 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 during the War of Liberation.
“One day, Tajuddin Ahmed came to Tentulia and addressed a public rally participated by thousands of independence-seeker Bengalese, freedom fighters, political leaders and activists and foreign journalists,” he said.
Tajuddin Ahmed in the rally highly appreciated bravery of the Tentulia people and called for not losing courage until the ultimate victory was achieved as frequent fierce attacks of freedom fighters already destroyed moral courage of the enemies.
“While commenting on the radio speech delivered then by Pakistani junta Yahiya Khan, Tajuddin in the rally said that Yahiya’s speech reflects that moral courage of Pakistani army has been destroyed and our victory is evident,” Islam mentioned.
Retired school teacher Zahidul Islam said Tentulia was then known as the ‘Muktanchol’ (free from invasion) across the globe.
“Sector Commander MK Bashar, Sub-sector Commander Squadron leader Sadruddin, Captain Nazrul Haque and Captain Shahriar were stationed at Tentulia to organise and conduct the War of Liberation,” he said.
Former Member of the Parliament from Panchagarh-1 constituency Nazmul Hoque Prodhan said Tentulia became an important place to reflect aspirations of the independence-seeker Bengalese in 1971.
“Many foreign journalists, including Mark Tully and William Crowley, visited the Tentulia area, photographed the war in Bhajanpur fronts and interviewed the freedom fighters, common people and refugees for global media coverage,” Prodhan said.
The Pakistani army started retreating from Panchagarh as their defeat became evident since November following intensified attacks of the freedom fighters and allied force.
“After organising fierce attacks from Tentulia since November 20, the freedom fighters and allied force defeated the Pakistani occupation forces in the battles one after another and liberated Panchagarh town on November 29, 1971,” Prodhan added.
The government has constructed ‘Swadhinotar Tirthobhumi Tentulia’ at Tentulia and ‘Muktanchol of 1971 Gate’ at Amarkhana near Tentulia to immortalise the legendary role of occupation-free Tentulia during the War of Liberation.