Secular New Year

Kabir Ahmed, Assistant Editor,, Dhaka
Photo: Noor e Alam

Photo: Noor e Alam

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The last sun of 1430 Bengal had risen and set. The day is over, like every day at 12 o'clock. The sun that rises in the morning of April 14 is the New Year.

I don't think about what we want in the new; we don't even think about what our disappointment is in the past. The normal day-night cycle of normal life. What we want is not a discussion; the discussion is our Bengaliana and celebration. May everyone celebrate Pahela Boishakh. May it be a universal celebration? There is a well here, there will be; let it be however, by slapping them, let the Bengali New Year shine brightly.

Like every year, lakhs of people will take to the streets on Pahela Boishakh, it is a festival for them. It is pointless to find Bengaliana among all these outcasts. Purity is not possible in one day, one festival, one embrace—it takes time. In the past few years, as people are coming out on the streets in such a festive spirit, the narrow minded are hiding holes, peeking and finding that hole as their shelter. This is our place of hope. This trend should continue.

Even in rural areas, I have seen people buy new clothes on the day of Pahela Boisakh. Apart from Eid-Puja, the mentality of recognizing it as a festival among marginalized people is a great joy. This is how it will change, first by celebrating with enthusiasm, then by finding the honey inside.

This time there was a long Eid holiday before the Pahela Boisakh holiday. People are celebrating five consecutive days of holidays including Eid, weekend and Pahela Boisakh. This holiday is a call to break through old and new ways. In the words of DL Roy—❛Nutan aloke nutan pulke/ dao go vasae bhuloke-dyuloke/ nutan haite basnarashite/ jivan moran bhaye pae ke...❜ This abahan, this call belongs to the desired, the much-desired man, too. Beyond this the outward form is largely a visualization of the mask.

The Bengali mind of this period is much divided. Being a Bengali ethnic, many deny their roots. Borrowed or imported culture is a group desperate to express their own culture. Loud people can't stand other people's party. Bengali culture, Bengali festivals are repeatedly attacked here. There are religious explanations. Many of the upper class people who call the celebration of Pahela Boisakh Hindu culture also put the religious culture on the table. Not only Pahela Boisakh, a group of people are now standing in the country who are questioning the observance of the holy Shaba Barat and Shaba Qadr of 27 Ramadan. Questioning Kadambusi touching the feet of elders. Prayer after prayer is also impure to many. There are various debates about how far the clothes will be worn. This debate, rather than a relevant or logical division, is more of a factional campaign.

Where religion is also in question for them, it is not uncommon to have questions about Pahela Boishakh, the festival of Bengali life. But on April 14, Pahela Baishakh of Bangladesh is a ❛Secular New Year❜. Because after various discussions and research, Bangladesh has decided when the Bengali New Year will be. Here, there is a slight difference between West Bengal and Bangladesh. Bengali New Year in Bangladesh is on April 14, while in India it is April 14 or 15. Bangladesh adopted the reform to keep Bangladesh's history and national special days on the same date in the BC-AD. West Bengal did not accept the reforms, so New Year is still a religious calendar for them. Maybe 16 December, 21 February, 26 March are not connected with their history.

In an interview-based report published in Deutsche Welle a few years ago, Farhad Khan, the former director of Bangla Academy, gave a logical explanation of ❛why Bangladesh chose April 14 as Pahela Boishakh❜. There he said—❛In undivided Bangladesh, Pandit Smarta Raghunandan of Nabadwip edited Bengali Calendar. Then again in 1869 edition. Later it was published in printed form. Then in 1890 the publication of Panjikas continued according to the pure decision. In 1952 Meghnad Saha was given the task of reforming the calendar by the Government of India. He is the one who reformed the century. According to that century, the first Boisakh is on April 14. This reform of Meghnad Saha also caused a great stir in Bangladesh. In 1963 Bangla Academy with Dr. Shahidullah as the president, Panjika started reforming. Earlier it was 30, 31, 32 days. Then it is OK, the first 5 months will be 31 days, the remaining 7 months will be 30 days. Then in 1995, the calendar was again reformed in Bangladesh. That calendar is recognized by the state. In this, Boishakh to Bhadra is 31 days, Ashwin to Chaitra is 30 days and Falgun month is 31 days in leap year of Christian calendar. That is, the leap year in the Christian year is also the leap year in the Bengali year. When this reform was brought up, the year 1971 was remembered, our month of glory, our month of mourning, our month of victory. In 1971, Bangla Academy made this reform to keep together the days of Christian saints like 16th December, 26th March and 21st February. As it stands now, according to the official calendar, February 21 is 9 Falgun, March 26 is 12 Chaitra and December 16 is 2 Paush. It will never change.❜ [Deutsche Welle, 16 April 2018]

The reform of Bangladesh with the Bengali calendar makes the history of the country alive. Tajuddin Ahmed, the first Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh, started writing dates in Bengali on government documents. This rule was strengthened after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became the Prime Minister. This rule has been made mandatory since 1987 in view of this Dr. Shahidulla

Although the Bengali calendar was ordered to be prepared by accepting the recommendations of the committee, complications arose in the area of leap year calculation. In 1995, a task force consisting of physicists, mathematicians, language and cultural experts was formed under the then director general of Bangla Academy, Harun-ur-Rashid. This committee made 20 recommendations based on the original recommendations of Meghnad Saha and Dr. Shahidullah Committee. Even then, the Gregorian calendar and the Bengali calendar were not rooted in the national days. As a result, in 2015, the reform committee was formed for the third time to remove the inconsistencies of the Bengali calendar and make the national days completely science-based. Bangla Academy Director General Shamsuzzaman Khan was the chairman of the committee, which included Dhaka University physics professor Ajay Roy, physicist Jamil Chowdhury, Professor Ali Asgar, academy director Aporesh Kumar Banerjee and others. Bangladesh adopted the reforms of this committee in 1426 Bengal.

In 2019, the Ministry of Public Administration issued a notification about the Bengali calendar. According to the 1995 reform, Boishakh, Jaishtha, Ashar, Sravan, Bhadra—the first five months of the year were counted as 31 days. But from 1426 Bangal, five months other than Falgun month have started observing 30 days. Phalgun is a 29-day month, only in leap years Phalgun will be a 30-day month. Mohammad Mubarak Hossain, director of research, compilation and dictionary and encyclopedia department of Bangla Academy, said about the reason for this reform, ❛Important national days like February 21, December 16, March 26 will be celebrated on the same day as they were held according to Bengali calendar.❜ That is, in 1971 on March 26 and December 16 and on February 21, 1952 in the Bengali calendar, Lifetime Bangladesh will be observed on the same date from now on.

It goes without saying that those who try to divide the Bengali calendar reform and this date and celebration of the Bengali New Year in a narrow-minded campaign are wrong. April 14 is Pahela Boishakh, so secular New Year. It is glory and history to glorify the day on which it happened.

Longlife Bangladesh is getting the same date in the new reform, which happened on February 21, 1952 in the Gregorian calendar and then in the Bengali calendar. Similarly, all national days including December 16, March 26, birth and death dates of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam are also based on two calendars.

❛❛The passion of the juice is dried up, let us come / Bring it, bring it, but let the conch shell of the deluge / Mayer's kujjhtijal let it go away.❜❜

Happy New Year 1431!


OC directed to take action against MP Anwar Khan

District Correspondent,, Lakshmipur
photo: Collected

photo: Collected

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The OC of Ramganj Police Station has been instructed to take action against Anwar Hossain Khan, Member of Parliament of Lakshmipur-1 (Ramganj) Constituency.

Returning officer Prionkya Dutta gave this written instruction to take action against the MP who raised allegations of violation of code of conduct in Ramganj Upazila Parishad elections.

The letter to the OC mentions that in the election campaign and favoring the rival candidate in violation of the Election Conduct Rules has been filed against Anowar Hussain Khan MP of Laksmipur -1 constituency. A copy of the complaint has been sent herewith for taking necessary action as per the rules regarding the said complaint.

On Sunday (May 19) night, this instruction was given based on the complaint made by Imtiaz Arafat, the candidate for the chairman of the upazila parishad election.

Imtiaz Arafat, candidate with the pineapple symbol, made a written complaint to the Returning Officer on Saturday (May 18) in this regard.

In his letter to the returning officer, Imtiaz alleged that MP Anwar Hossain Khan is making various plans to win over his rival candidate Delwar Hossain Dewan Bachchu by violating the code of conduct. Former Chairman of Noagaon Union and former President of Union Awami League Rana was picked up from Noagaon Bazar and took him to Khan Tower. He took him there and threatened him in various ways to do election work for Dewan Bachchu. Later, Rana managed to escape from there which is against the electoral code of conduct.

When asked about the letter, Ramganj Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Mohammad Solaiman said on Sunday night, "I have not received the letter." Action will be taken according to the letter if received.

It is to be noted that the 2nd phase of the Sixth Upazila Parishad election will be held on May 21 in Ramganj of Lakshmipur.


Lawmaker Anwarul Azim goes missing in India

Staff Correspondent,
photo: Collected

photo: Collected

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Member of Parliament from Jhenaidah-4 Constituency Anwarul Azim Anar went to India and went missing for four days, his family said.

The family has informed the Detective Police (DB) that the MP's relatives have been out of touch since Thursday (May 16) after he went to India for treatment. Relatives are worried about this.

Anwarul Azim's daughter Mumtarin Ferdous went to the Dhaka Metropolitan Detective Police (DB) office on Sunday afternoon. He met Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Additional Commissioner (DB) Mohammad Harun-or-Rashid and informed about the matter.

Mumtarin Ferdous told reporters at the DB office that her father went missing in India. He came to the DB office to report the matter.

DB Mohammad Harun-or-Rashid told reporters, "Member of Parliament Anwarul Azim uses a Bangladeshi mobile phone and an Indian mobile phone in India. Numbers of two are sometimes found closed and sometimes open. The issue is also being discussed with the Indian police force. Trying to find out what happened to Anwarul Azim is going on.

Anwarul Azim's personal assistant Abdur Rauf told reporters that on May 12, MP Anwarul Azim went to India through the Darshana border for treatment. He was in contact with the family till May 14. However, on May 16, Abdur Rauf received a call from the MP's cell phone. He could not pick up the phone. Later, when he called again, the phone was switched off. Since then, contact with the Member of Parliament has been lost.


Chuknagar Massacre: A of 1971 Bangladesh Genocide

Pradip Kumar Dutta
File Photo: Collected.

File Photo: Collected.

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The pogrom initiated by Pakistanis began on March 25, 1971, with Operation Searchlight, marking the onset of widespread genocide.

Bangabandhu proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of March 26, and the country entered into a protracted War of Liberation, known as the Muktijuddho. Throughout the nine months of this war, the Pakistani army and their collaborators committed genocidal offenses on a daily and hourly basis.

During this time, countless people were forced to flee their homes and businesses to save their lives, properties, and dignity. Many ended up in refugee camps in India or became internally displaced, living with relatives in remote villages. Tragically, many were robbed, tortured, and tormented by Pakistani collaborators as they sought safety. Some were killed, while others died from hunger and exhaustion.

Chuknagar, a remote village bazar in Dumuria, Khulna district, became a crucial transit point for refugees heading to India. Located near the Indian border on the banks of the Bhodra River, it offered an escape route for people from southwestern Bangladesh (Khulna, Bagerhat, Jashore, Barishal, and Faridpur districts) who arrived by boat, on foot, and in bullock carts. After resting and eating in Chuknagar, they continued their journey. On the night of May 19, an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 men, women, and children took refuge in schools, temples, mosques, and villagers' homes in and around Chuknagar. Many spent the night in paddy fields and open spaces, preparing a simple meal before resuming their journey.

By 10 am on May 20, three truckloads of Pakistani soldiers, accompanied by Bihari and Bengali collaborators, arrived at Chuknagar bazar. Armed with light machine guns and automatic rifles, they began firing in all directions at the refugees. The first victim, a local farmer named Chikan Ali Morol, was killed when he tried to protest. The soldiers continued their killing spree unimpeded, targeting anyone in their path. The carnage lasted for about five hours, with an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 refugees killed.

The massacre left bodies scattered across paddy fields, village yards, schools, mosques, temples, and the Bhodra River. Survivors had no chance to escape, as soldiers chased and shot them. Many boatloads of refugees were also attacked, and those who tried to swim to safety were killed by snipers. The water of the Bhodra River turned red with blood, and corpses floated in the river.

After the massacre, local people came out to help, but there was little they could do as almost everyone had been killed. Over the next few days, the locals buried some bodies in mass graves while others were dumped in the river. The Chuknagar refugee trail was mainly followed by the poorer sections of southwestern Bangladesh, whose relatives either died or could not return to Chuknagar after the war.

Slowly, this tragic massacre faded into oblivion, remembered only by a few patriotic Bangladeshis led by Prof. Shafiqul Islam of a local college. They tried to keep the memory alive and draw attention to the largest mass killing in the shortest time in human history. Their efforts eventually led to some recognition, but the world has largely ignored the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide, which is the biggest Genocide after the Holocaust and other Genocides during WW2.

The atrocities committed by the Pakistani forces are documented in various sources, including newspapers, the Blood Telegrams, Senator Kennedy's report, Oxfam's "Testimony of Sixty," and the International Union of Jurists' inquiry.

However, the world has yet to officially recognise the genocide, contradicting the global pledge of "Never Again" to genocides.

Recognising and punishing the genocide is crucial to preventing future atrocities and ensuring justice for the victims.

While remembering the victims of the Chuknagar massacre, we urge the Bangladesh Government to be more proactive in seeking international recognition of the genocide. The Foreign Minister recently mentioned plans to create a special cell to coordinate these efforts. The sooner this cell starts working, the better. We have ample evidence to prove the genocide, and organisations of genocide scholars worldwide, including IAGS, Lemkin Institute, Genocide Watch, and ICSC, have recognised it and called for international recognition.

The involvement of Bangladesh's intelligentsia, civil society, diaspora, progressive political, and student parties is essential for achieving international recognition. The responsibility lies with all of us, especially our government.

The writer is a researcher and traveler.


Police box set to fire in Kalshi, 1 injured

Staff Correspondent,, Dhaka
Police box set to fire in Kalshi, 1 injured

Police box set to fire in Kalshi, 1 injured

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Autorickshaw drivers clashed with the police at Kalshi in Mirpur of the capital in protest against the ban on battery-powered auto rickshaws. At one point, the protesters set fire to the traffic police box at Kalshi intersection. One person has been shot and traffic movement is blocked.

On Sunday (May 19) around 4:20 pm, the protesters set fire to the traffic police box located at Kalshi intersection.

Confirming the matter, Inspector (Investigation) of Pallabi Police Station Mokhlesur Rahman said that the agitators are carrying out violent agitation in Kalshi. They set fire to a police box located at Kalshi intersection. This is a traffic police box. We are on the spot, taking necessary action in this regard.

Earlier autorickshaw drivers stopped traffic on this road and set it on fire. Apart from this, there was a police chase incidents with the autorickshaw drivers on road number 4 of Banarasi Polli in Mirpur. Autorickshaw drivers also vandalized some cars there. At that time, the passengers in the bus panicked and got down from the bus.

Around 1:30 PM, autorickshaw drivers blocked the Kalshi road and stopped the traffic. At this time, sticks are seen in the hands of many people. They also tend to vandalize cars. They pulled the rope in the middle of the road and stopped the traffic. At one point, they forced the bus drivers to park their vehicles diagonally on the road. Thousands of passengers who use that road suffer because of this. People can be seen leaving on foot to go to their destination.

Eyewitnesses said that when the police left the bus on one side at Mirpur-10 Gole Chattar around 2.30 pm, the excited auto-rickshaw drivers started vandalizing the bus by throwing sticks and bricks. At that time, the passengers in the bus panicked and got down quickly. During the afternoon incident, the agitators vandalized a few buses besides BRTC and Alif Paribahan at Mirpur-10.

Meanwhile, Mirpur Zone DC Jasim Uddin said that no one involved in vandalism in public transport will be spared. He said that all those involved in vandalism will be brought under the law. The police showed a lot of patience. A few policemen were injured. Although the agitators were removed peacefully, they later vandalized again. Whether there is someone behind them will also be investigated.