Ekushey Padak awardee and Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra singer Fakir Alamgir is one of the leading exponents of Gono Sangeet -- the songs of the masses, in the country. He played an important role as a member of Kranti Shilpi Gosthi and Gono Shilpi Gosthi, during the mass upsurge in 1969. On the Independence Day of Bangladesh, he looks back on 1971.

The days of March 1971 will always be unforgettable for me. After the Language Movement of 1952 and the 1960s, we were determined for revolution, and soon enough, the mass uprising and the Liberation War followed. I am a freedom fighter. At the time of Bangabandhu's iconic speech on 7th March 1971, my peers and I were college goers.  

We did something remarkable on March 23, 1971. On that day, people were throwing out Pakistani flags and putting up Bangladeshi flags in different areas and neighborhoods; so, my peers and I did the same. I put up flags of Bangladesh in my neighbourhood, Khilgaon. It was a moment of pride for us. From March 24, we began different cultural activities through Kranti Shilpi Gosthi and Gono Shilpi Gosthi, which were well received by the public. We continued our cultural programmes till March 25.

I don't think any of us were prepared for what was coming then. Brutalities and cowardly attacks were carried out by the Pakistani occupation forces on our people that night. We were unarmed. I was woken up by loud gunshots. Somehow, we managed to go out to Ulon, Badda, and stayed there. Curfews were imposed on March 26 and 27. After those were lifted, I set out for hometown, Faridpur, from Maora, on foot.  I contacted many of my friends in Faridpur once I got there after my tiring journey. Soon, we started training for the war, which was a momentous step for us.

In July, I set out for Kolkata. On the way, we witnessed thousands of deaths. Kolkata had already established Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra by this time. I stayed at Kankurgachi in northeast Kolkata.

As I started working in Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, I grew close to Kamal Lohani, Abdul Jabber, Apel Mahmud, Kaderi Kibria and many other noted artistes. My songs, which aired live on the wartime radio station, were a huge source of inspiration for those at the battle grounds. We began travelling to different places around Kolkata with our music. We were clear in our intentions to work for an independent Bangladesh.

I remember we were performing a chorus rendition of the song, Bijoy Nishan Urche Oi, when we received the news of Bangladesh's independence. Needless to say, it was an emotional moment for us, and we were all weeping out of sheer joy.



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