The role of the police in the liberation war


The Bangladesh Police Liberation War Museum at Rajarbagh Police Lines in Dhaka Mahmud Hossain Opu / Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh Police Liberation War Museum at Rajarbagh Police Lines showcases the force’s turbulent history, including the struggle for independence

The first real defense of Bangladesh, which had declared independence from its oppressors in Pakistan, came when the country’s law enforcement took a stand against a Pakistani military attack on police lines from Rajarbagh to Dhaka. March 25, 1971.

This first instance of defense encouraged many Bengalis to take up arms against the invaders, ultimately leading Bangladesh to independence on December 16 of the same year.

At least 751 police officers have been martyred in their efforts to resist Pakistan throughout the liberation war, according to government data.

Photographs, artifacts and weapons from different eras at the Bangladesh Police Liberation War Museum showcase the long history of law enforcement in Bangladesh, including the crucial role the police played during the struggle for independence.

The museum is housed in a two-story building at Rajarbagh Police Lines. It has a Bangabandhu corner and a library on the first floor, while most of the artefacts, including some dating from the British Colonial era, are kept on the second floor.

Guns and mannequins wearing old uniforms on display at the Bangladesh Police Liberation War Museum at Rajarbagh Police Lines in Dhaka | Mahmud Hossain Opu / Dhaka Tribune

Artifacts on display at the museum include horse drawn carriages and the .38 revolver used by Bengali revolutionary Pritilota Waddar in the early 20th century.

The museum also includes a plaque with the names of policemen martyred in 1971. Deputy Inspector Abdul Jalil Biswas, Sergeant Sabed Dewan, Constable Zahid, Mohiuddin and Aftab Uddin Ahmed are among the names on the plaque.

A photo shows police providing security during the 1970 general election. Even before the war began, then Inspector General of Police Taslim Ahmed expressed his allegiance to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as Bangladesh’s elected leader after Bangabandhu’s landslide victory in the polls.

A museum radio was used by Abdul Khaleque, then director of the Sardah Police Academy, to get war of liberation notifications broadcast on Shwadhin Bangla Betar Kendra.

According to museum data, around 14,000 police officers refused to report to Pakistan in 1971. The Pakistani administration issued a notice summoning absent law enforcement officials, but Khaleque urged the police to continue their revolt and to fight for independence.

Resistance

A museum bell rang during the Pakistani attack on police lines in Rajarbagh on the night of March 25, 1971. Constable Abdul Ali, the bodyguard of the then Inspector General of Police , rang to warn his comrades of the attack.

1971 Liberation War Photos and Documents on Display at the Bangladesh Police Liberation War Museum at Rajarbagh Police Lines in Dhaka | Mahmud Hossain Opu / Dhaka Tribune

Hearing the bell, members of the police gathered at the guard of salami (a raised platform for saluting). They took weapons and ammunition from the arsenal, shouted “Joy Bangla” and hoisted the flag of independent Bangladesh before taking up a position.

After the attack on the Rajarbagh police lines, Abdul Khaleque moved to Kolkata. He was subsequently appointed Director General of Police, which is equivalent to the current post of Inspector General of Police.

The uniforms, weapons and objects used by the martyred police officers during the initial resistance are on display at the museum. In addition, photographs show police resisting the Pakistani occupation army in Barisal, Rajshahi, Khulna, Comilla, Noakhali, Dinajpur, Pabna and Kushtia.

Rajshahi DIG range Mamun Mahmood was the top police official to sacrifice his life for independence.

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