THE HISTORY OF THE FLAG OF BANGLADESH
The national flag of Bangladesh was a product which first came into idea of painter Quamrul Hasan. On the 3rd March 1971, ASM Abdur Rab the then VP of Dhaka University Students´ Union had the honour of hoisting the first flag of Independent Bangladesh at the Dhaka University premise popularly known as Bat-tala.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman hoisted the flag of independent Bangladesh at his residence, 32 Dhanmondi R/A, at the outskirt of Dhaka, on the 23rd March 1971. It was an unknown Awami League worker who hoisted the first flag of independence at the historical meeting at the then Ramna Race-course on the 7th March 1971 where Sheikh Mujib tacitly called for armed struggle against Pakistani occupation Army.
For Quamrul Hasan, making and shaping of the flag needed several months to complete.
Unique features of the first flag of Independent Bangladesh was absence of the crescent and star (as in the Pakistan´s flag) , symbol of the Islamic states. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Bangalees dreamed for the secular Bangladesh.
The red circular disc with map of Bangladesh symbolizes blood of thousands of Bangalis killed by the Pakistanis since 1947 in the Golden Bangla. The green backdrop is, nevertheless to say, symbolizes the vitality, youthfulness, greenery and of course symbolizes also our land as the agrarian since the pre- Vedic age.
Many western writers have written in their books while interpreting on the green backdrop of the Bangladesh flag as colour of Islam which is essentially a wrong information.
Please note the Lonely Planet’s Bangladesh 1996 edition. Here the author wrongly writes “First flown officially from the rebel Bangladesh embassy in Calcutta when the War of Liberation began”. Writing partially correct “The Bangladesh flag is green for the lush country, not for Islam, as some fundamentalists would prefer”.
The CIA world factbook 1997 has also made the same mistake!
The present flag , quite different from the first one,is bottle green in the background, voided of golden- coloured map of Bangladesh, rectangular in size in the proportion of length to width 10:6. The red circle has a radius of one-fifth of the length of the flag. Red circle´s centre is placed on the intersecting point of the perpendicular drawn from the nine-twentieth part of the length and the horizontal line drawn through the middle of its width.
The flag of Bangladesh was first hoisted in the UN September 1974. China used her veto against admission of Bangladesh in the UN 1972 and repeated in the year 1973. The Bangladesh flag appeared later in the UNs´ stamp series “Flag of the member state”.
A Bangladeshi now living in exile in Sweden Mr. Mahbubul Haque had the rare opportunity of being actively involved in the Flag Hoisting ceremony of independent Bangladesh at Bat-Tala premises of Dhaka University on the 3rd March 1971.
According to him the more radical wing of the Bangladesh Chatra League led by ASM Abdur Rab hastily arranged an extra emergency meeting at Madhu’s Canteen in the midnight between 2nd and 3rd March 1971 of the executive committee of BCL(Rob). As the time was passing very fast and the then Pakistani military junta led by Gen.Yahya Khan odered inflow of the Pakistani Army to Dhaka at a rate of one Boeing 707 filled with Pakistani soldiers every day.
Anticipating the imminent Pakistani onslaught, Rab reasoned that there was no other alternative than hoisting the National flag of independent Bangladesh at 11:00 hrs on the 3rd March and in the afternoon Swapan Choudhury of BCL(Rab) would read the proclaimation of the Independence of Bangladesh. Swapan Choudhury died later in a combat action during the war of liberation 1971.
Rab hoisted the flag as it was planned in the emergency meeting of the Bangladesh Chatra League (Rab), he did not forget to burn the Pakistani flag seconds before he hoisted the flag of Bangladesh.
The author of the text asked ASM Rab during a river cruise with him at the Karnaphuli river in Chittagong, November 1996 if he still possessed the same flag at his collection. He remained silent.
Mahbubul Haque was then a BCL(Rab) activist ,organised active participation of students of Dhaka College in the armed srtuggle against the Pakistani occupation army1971.He now lives with his family in the outskirt of Stockholm. ASM Abdur Rab is now minister of shipping and riverine transport of the Bangladesh Government.
MARCH 12, 2014