Every country has a history. Bangladesh vis-à-vis Bengal has a buoyant, vibrant family heritage galvanized with spirit de corps of nationalism. The military history of Bangladesh invigorates with the zeal of Pan-Bengalism.
To cut the long story short, after British annexation of India in 1757, Sylhet staged a coup d’etat in 1782 just after 25 year of colonial rule against British collector Robert Lindsay when two brothers Syed Mahdi (MadaMian) and Syed Hadi (HadaMian) embraced martyrdom with most of their followers. In 1831 Syed Mir Nisar Ali (Titumir) fought and died with his followers resisting the British hegemony and local Hindu Zamindars combined. The legend of his bamboo fort in NarikelBaria near Barsohal, West Bengal, brings the blood of every Bengali to a boiling point even today. The explosion on the carriage of Magistrate Kingsford in Mozafforpur, Bihar in 1908 by Profulla Chaki and Khudiram, resistance movement organized by Fakir Majnu shah (Famously Known as Fakir Revolt) in the northern part of Bangladesh, looting of armory in Chittagang in 1931 by Master Da Shurjo Sen, the fifth column movement of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, all give testimony to the heroism, nationalism, patriotism of Persona Bravado Bangla.
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The greatest thrust of our most patriotic and sacrosanct freedom movement in 1857 just after 100 year of British occupation which was applauded by Karl Marx was the brain child of Bengal and was also disseminated from Bengal- which was about to crush the British existence in India but at the last moment the table was turned by the Punjabis brought from Punjab who fought against their motherland. Since then the vindictive ruler followed the policy of punishing Bengal by curtailing their recruitment in military and depriving them of their right and privileges. Even the 1943 famine in Bengal in which 3.5 million people died was also artificially created by the predators championed by Winston Churchill to avenge their grudge of 1857 rebellion as a main concern. That famine was brilliantly portrayed by Shilpacharjaya Jainul Abedin as his revolt against the tyrant. At that juncture of history in 1857 British bureaucrat Macaulay coined the term non-martial race for Bengalis and martial race for Punjabis who betrayed their motherland fighting as mercenaries. The Punjabis carried the baton of the so called martial race after the partition of India. In 1948 when 1 & 2 Bengal were raised by Maj. A. Ghani with the approval of first C-in C of Pakistan Gen. Sir Frank Walter Messervy and the salute was taken by the first Governor General of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Punjabis continued to look down upon the Bengalis as non-martial and inferior race. Although the Bengal regiments always displayed their superiority in swimming and football but the Punjabis tarnished them as non-martial game. What about boxing? Boxing- of course was the mother of all martial sports.In 1950 in a boxing championship 1 Bengal exhibited a brilliant showdown against 3 and 8 Punjab. Out of the 11 bouts ,1 Bengal knocked out the Punjab regiments in 8 bouts and won the remaining three on points having an allout victories over the entire series.
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During 1965 Indo-Pak war- 1 Bengal created a history by capturing 17 gallantry award while protecting Khemkharan and Bdian sector– the highest by a single battalion in Pakistan’s military history. The same year GHQ wanted to implement their long awaited design to mix the Bengal regiments. But because of the blowing whistle from the Bengali military heavy weights like Gen. Wasiuddin, Col. Osmany, Maj. Khalilur Rahman and billowing smoke from East Pakistan the reluctant GHQ placed their alternative scheme. Under that scheme 1 Bengal had to undergo many tests and trials for one month.If they failed, then the 1and 2 Bengal would be mixed, if they passed they would remain unmixed. Maj. Gen. K. M. Sheikh was put as commander of this ritual. Gen. Sheikh was a ruthless, honest, hard-task master. Out of so many tests, two tests were most difficult compatible for a commando battalion. In the 1stone , 1 Bengal had to survive for three nights and three days on a single blanket and on a single meal in the mountain of Jhelum in winter. In the 2ndone they had to cross 18 miles in the mountainous terrain carrying all the heavy weapons of an infantry battalion under pitched darkness. When the result was published, Gen. K. M. Sheikh congratulated 1 Bengal and wished every battalion of Pakistan army were of such superb military ability. What damaged the GHQ plot was the last paragraph of the report. “I have no doubt in my mind as to how such a superb standard was achieved by these Bengali soldiers. It is because they are unmixed and each soldier considers himself as an ambassador of East Pakistan. If they are mixed, this feeling will be gone and the looser will be Pakistan Army”. Back in 1950 when Lt. Col. Osmany took over the command of 1 Bengal in Jessore he groomed his battalion exactly the way he anticipated .That soon the question of mixing the Bengal regiments would crop up. Nom de guerre of Bengal regiments was paraphrased by Osmany as ‘Tiger’ and all the ranks and files of the East Pakistani military personnel honored him by conferring the title “Papa Tiger”. As he espoused with 1 Bengal, Osmany chalked out a comprehensive plan to reach his desired goal. He subjected his troops to a very, very difficult routine and discipline. He conditioned them for extreme climate pertaining to West Pakistan exposing them to rigorous training bare breasted in winter for a prolonged period over here in East Pakistan. He paid all the attention to PT, Parade, drill, long march, exercise, night training, combat, tactics, game , sports and health monitoring. Once he made the entire battalion fighting fit, he concentrated on to raise their morale, pride, patriotism, nationalismand Bengali ethos. Osmany branded the, ”Chal, chal, chal “ of Bengali rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam as the marching song of the Bengal regiment. “Bratachari Dance” was made the regimental dance. He inducted Rabindranath Tagore’s “Gram chhara oi rangamatir path” and
ijendralal’s,” Dhonodhannaypushpaybhora”- the two songs with full military band for the tigers.By then the political heat in East Pakistan was fomenting fast and the demand for recruiting Bengalis in military and raising the number of Bengal regiments became insurmountable in the sixties and the nervous GHQ finally yielded and raised the number of Bengal regiment from two to eight which remained so until 1971.