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History of Bangladesh

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The history of Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

as a nation state began in 1971, when it seceded from Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. Prior to the creation of Pakistan in 1947, modern-day Bangladesh was part of ancient
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

, classical
Pala Empire
The Pāla Empire was one of the major middle kingdoms of India existed from 750–1174 CE. It was ruled by a Buddhist dynasty from Bengal in the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent, all the rulers bearing names ending with the suffix Pala , which means protector. The Palas were often described...

, medieval
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 and colonial
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

The area's early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 for dominance. Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 made its first appearance during the 12th century when Sufi missionaries arrived. Later, occasional Muslim raiders reinforced the process of conversion by building mosques, madrassas and Sufi Khanqah
Khanqah
A Khanqah, Khaniqah , ribat, zawiya, or tekke is a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood, or tariqa, and is a place for spiritual retreat and character reformation...

.

The borders of present-day Bangladesh were established with the partition of Bengal and India
Partition of India
The Partition of India was the partition of British India on the basis of religious demographics that led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India on 14 and 15...

 in 1947, when the region became East Pakistan
East Pakistan
East Pakistan was a provincial state of Pakistan established in 14 August 1947. The provincial state existed until its declaration of independence on 26 March 1971 as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan recognized the new nation on 16 December 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal...

, part of the newly formed Islamic State
Islamic State
An Islamic state is a type of government, in which the primary basis for government is Islamic religious law...

 of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. However, it was separated from the western wing
West Pakistan
West Pakistan , common name West-Pakistan , in the period between its establishment on 22 November 1955 to disintegration on December 16, 1971. This period, during which, Pakistan was divided, ended when East-Pakistan was disintegrated and succeeded to become which is now what is known as Bangladesh...

 by 1600 km (994 mi) of Indian territory. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination, as well as economic neglect by the politically-dominant West Pakistan, popular agitation led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a Bengali nationalist politician and the founder of Bangladesh. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its Prime Minister. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its...

 grew against West Pakistan
West Pakistan
West Pakistan , common name West-Pakistan , in the period between its establishment on 22 November 1955 to disintegration on December 16, 1971. This period, during which, Pakistan was divided, ended when East-Pakistan was disintegrated and succeeded to become which is now what is known as Bangladesh...

, resulting in the Bangladesh Liberation War
Bangladesh Liberation War
The Bangladesh Liberation War was an armed conflict pitting East Pakistan and India against West Pakistan. The war resulted in the secession of East Pakistan, which became the independent nation of Bangladesh....

 of 1971, which the Bengali people
Bengali people
The Bengali people are an ethnic community native to the historic region of Bengal in South Asia. They speak Bengali , which is an Indo-Aryan language of the eastern Indian subcontinent, evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages. In their native language, they are referred to as বাঙালী...

 won with the support of India. After independence, the new state endured famine
Bangladesh famine of 1974
The Bangladesh famine of 1974 refers to a period of mass starvation beginning in March 1974 and ending in about December of the same year. The famine is considered the worst in recent years; it was characterised by massive flooding along the Brahmaputra river as well as high...

, natural disasters
Floods in Bangladesh
The South Asian country of Bangladesh is prone to the natural disaster of flooding due to being situated on the Ganges Delta and the many tributaries flowing into the Bay of Bengal. The coastal flooding twinned with the bursting of Bangladesh's river banks is common and severely affects the...

 and widespread poverty
Poverty in Bangladesh
Poverty in Bangladesh is widespread, with the nation estimated to have 30% of the population below the poverty line as of 2011.- General Overview of the Bangladesh Economic :...

, as well as political turmoil and military coups
Military coups in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has faced several military coups since its independence from Pakistan in 1971.-15 August:The coup of 15 August 1975 was organized by officers of Bangladesh Army. They were led by Major Syed Faruqe Rahman and Major Rashid...

. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative calm and economic progress.

Etymology of Bengal



The exact origin of the word Bangla or Bengal is unknown. According to Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, Purana, Harivamsha Vanga was one of the adopted sons of king Vali
Vali
Vali or Wali can refer to:* Váli * Váli* Vali * The Vali tribe, a Sarmatian tribe of Ptolemy* Ferenc A. Váli, Hungarian-born lawyer, author and political analyst* Al-Walee, one of the Names of God in the Qur'an...

 who founded the Vanga kingdom. The earliest reference to "Vangala" (Bôngal) has been traced in the Nesari plates (805 AD) of Rashtrakuta
Rashtrakuta
The Rashtrakuta Empire was a royal dynasty ruling large parts of the Indian Subcontinent between the sixth and the 10th centuries. During this period they ruled as several closely related, but individual clans. Rastrakutas in inscriptions represented as descendants of Satyaki, a Yadava well known...

 Govinda III
Govinda III
Govinda III was a famous Rashtrakuta ruler who succeeded his illustrious father Dhruva Dharavarsha. He was militarily the most successful emperor of the dynasty with successful conquests from Cape Comorin in the south to Kannauj in the north, from Banaras in the east to Broach in the west...

 which speak of Dharmapala
Dharmapala of Bengal
Dharama Pala was the second ruler of the Pala Empire of Bengal region in the Indian Subcontinent. He was the son and succeessor of Gopala , the founder of the Pala Dynasty. He greatly expanded the boundaries of the Pala Empire founded by his father and made the Palas the most dominant power in...

 as the king of Vangala. Shams-ud-din Ilyas Shah took the title "Shah-e-Bangalah" and united the whole region under one government for the first time.

Vanga Kingdom
Vanga Kingdom
Vanga orBengal was a kingdom located in the eastern part of the Indian Subcontinent, comprising part of West Bengal, India and present-day modern Bangladesh. It was a seafaring nation of Ancient India.- References in Mahabharata :...

 (also known as Banga) was a kingdom located in the eastern part of the Indian Subcontinent, comprising part of West Bengal, India and present-day modern Bangladesh.Vanga and Pundra were two dominant tribes in Bangladesh in ancient time. The Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 epic Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

 mentions that the Vanga and Pundra kings took part in the battle of Kurukshetra. Kouravas and Pandavas fought this battle near Delhi about three thousand years back.

Pre-historic Bengal



Stone tools provide the earliest evidence of human settlements. Prehistoric stone implements have been discovered in various parts of West Bengal in the districts of Midnapur, Bankura
Bankura
Bankura is a city and a municipality in Bankura District in the state of West Bengal, India. It is the headquarters of the Bankura District.-Etymology:...

 and Burdwan. The original settlers spoke non-Aryan
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

 languages—they may have spoken Austric
Austric languages
The Austric language superfamily is a large hypothetical grouping of languages primarily spoken in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and the eastern Indian subcontinent. It includes the Austronesian language family of Taiwan, the Malay Archipelago, Pacific Islands, and Madagascar, as well as the...

 or Austro-Asiatic languages
Austro-Asiatic languages
The Austro-Asiatic languages, in recent classifications synonymous with Mon–Khmer, are a large language family of Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout India and Bangladesh. The name Austro-Asiatic comes from the Latin words for "south" and "Asia", hence "South Asia"...

 like the languages of the present-day Kola, Bhil
Bhil
Bhils are primarily an Adivasi people of Central India. Bhils are also settled in the Tharparkar District of Sindh, Pakistan. They speak the Bhil languages, a subgroup of the Western Zone of the Indo-Aryan languages....

, Santal
Santals
The Santhal , are the largest tribal community in India, who live mainly in the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, and Assam. There is also a significant Santal minority in neighboring Bangladesh, and a small population in Nepal....

, Shabara and Pulinda peoples. At a subsequent age, peoples speaking languages from two other language families—Dravidian
Dravidian languages
The Dravidian language family includes approximately 85 genetically related languages, spoken by about 217 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, and...

 and Tibeto-Burman
Tibeto-Burman languages
The Tibeto-Burman languages are the non-Chinese members of the Sino-Tibetan language family, over 400 of which are spoken thoughout the highlands of southeast Asia, as well as lowland areas in Burma ....

—seem to have settled in Bengal. The discoveries at Pandu Rajar Dhibi
Pandu Rajar Dhibi
Pandu Rajar Dhibi is an archaeological site in Ausgram block in the sadar subdivision of Bardhaman district in the Indian state of West Bengal. It was the first Chalcolithic site discovered in West Bengal...

 in the valley of the Ajay River
Ajay River
The Ajay River is a major river in Jharkhand and West Bengal. The word “Ajay” means “not conquered”.-Geography:The Ajay River originates on a small hill about 300 metres high, south west of Munger in Bihar. It then flows through Jharkhand and enters West Bengal at Simjuri, near Chittaranjan...

 (near Bolpur
Bolpur
Bolpur-Santiniketan is a municipality in Birbhum District in the state of West Bengal, India. It is 145 km north of Kolkata and is best known for the proximity to Visva Bharati, the university set up by Rabindranath Tagore the Nobel laureate poet...

) in Burdwan district
Bardhaman District
'Bardhaman district is a district in West Bengal. The headquarter of the district is Bardhaman, though it houses other important industrial towns like Durgapur and Asansol...

 and in several other sites on the Ajay, Kunar and Kopai River
Kopai River
The Kopai River is a tributary of the Mayurakshi River. It flows past such towns as Santiniketan, Bolpur, Kankalitala and Labhpur in Birbhum district in the Indian state of West Bengal...

s have thrown fresh light on Bengal's prehistory. Pandu Rajar Dhibi
Pandu Rajar Dhibi
Pandu Rajar Dhibi is an archaeological site in Ausgram block in the sadar subdivision of Bardhaman district in the Indian state of West Bengal. It was the first Chalcolithic site discovered in West Bengal...

 represents the ruins of a trading township, which carried on trade not only with the interior regions of India, but also—possibly indirectly—with the countries of the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Basin
In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin refers to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation...

.

Bengal in mythology


Some references indicate that the early people in Bengal were different in ethnicity and culture from the Vedic beyond the boundary of Aryandom and who were classed as 'Dasyus'. The Bhagavata Purana classes them as sinful people while Dharmasutra of Bodhayana prescribes expiatory rites after a journey among the Pundras and Vangas. Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

 speaks of Paundraka Vasudeva
Paundraka Vasudeva
Paundraka Vasudeva was the king of Pundra Kingdom. He was an ally of Jarasandha, the king of Magadha. He had enmity with Vasudeva Krishna. He imitated the attire of Krishna. Later he was killed by Krishna in battle...

 who was lord of the Pundrasand who allied himself with Jarasandha against Krishna. Mahabharata also speaks of Bengali kings called Chitrasena and Sanudrasena who were defeated by Bhima. Kalidas mentions that Raghu defeated a coalition of Vanga kings and established a victory column in the Gangetic delta.

Proto-History



Hindu scriptures such as the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

 say that Bangladesh was divided among the Janapadas: Vanga
Vanga Kingdom
Vanga orBengal was a kingdom located in the eastern part of the Indian Subcontinent, comprising part of West Bengal, India and present-day modern Bangladesh. It was a seafaring nation of Ancient India.- References in Mahabharata :...

 (southern Bengal), Pundra
Pundra Kingdom
Pundra was an eastern kingdom located in West Bengal, Bangladesh and Purnia . A Pundra king challenged Vasudeva Krishna by imitating his attributes. He called himself Paundraka Vasudeva. He was later killed by Vasudeva Krishna in a battle...

 (northern Bengal), and Suhma
Suhma Kingdom
Suhma was an eastern kingdom located in regions now occupied by West Bengal, India and Bangladesh. This kingdom was mentioned in the epic Mahabharata along with its neighbouring kingdom Prasuhma, which was in the present day Bangladesh...

 (western Bengal) according to their respective totems. Scriptures identify Vanga and Anga
Anga
Anga was a kingdom that flourished on the eastern Indian subcontinent in the 6th century BCE until taken over by Magadha in the same century. Counted among the "sixteen great nations" in Buddhist texts like the Anguttara Nikaya, Anga also finds mention in the Jain Vyakhyaprajnapti’s list of...

 in Bangladesh as Indo-Aryan. While western Bangladesh, as part of Magadha
Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

, became part of the Indo-Aryan civilization by the 7th century BCE, the Nanda Dynasty
Nanda Dynasty
The Nanda Empire originated from the region of Magadha in Ancient India during the 5th and 4th centuries BC. At its greatest extent, the Nanda Empire extended from Bengal in the east, to Punjab in the west and as far south as the Vindhya Range...

 was the first historical state to unify all of Bangladesh under Indo-Aryan rule.

Overseas Colonization


The Vanga Kingdom
Vanga Kingdom
Vanga orBengal was a kingdom located in the eastern part of the Indian Subcontinent, comprising part of West Bengal, India and present-day modern Bangladesh. It was a seafaring nation of Ancient India.- References in Mahabharata :...

 was a powerful seafaring nation of Ancient India. They had overseas trade relations with Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

 and Siam (modern day Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

). According to Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
The Mahavamsa is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the kings of Sri Lanka...

, the Vanga
Vanga Kingdom
Vanga orBengal was a kingdom located in the eastern part of the Indian Subcontinent, comprising part of West Bengal, India and present-day modern Bangladesh. It was a seafaring nation of Ancient India.- References in Mahabharata :...

 prince Vijaya Singha conquered Lanka
Lanka
Sri Lanka is the name given in Hindu mythology to the island fortress capital of the legendary king Ravana in the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata...

 (modern day Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

) in 544 BC and gave the name "Sinhala" to the country. Bengali people
Bengali people
The Bengali people are an ethnic community native to the historic region of Bengal in South Asia. They speak Bengali , which is an Indo-Aryan language of the eastern Indian subcontinent, evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages. In their native language, they are referred to as বাঙালী...

 migrated to the Maritime Southeast Asia
Maritime Southeast Asia
Maritime Southeast Asia refers to the maritime region of Southeast Asia as opposed to mainland Southeast Asia and includes the modern countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, East Timor and Singapore....

 and Siam (in modern Thailand), establishing their own colonies there.

Gangaridai Empire




Though north and west Bengal were part of the Magadhan empire southern Bengal thrived and became powerful with her overseas trades. In 326 BCE, with the invasion of Alexander the Great the region again came to prominence. The Greek and Latin historians suggested that Alexander the Great withdrew from India anticipating the valiant counter attack of the mighty Gangaridai
Gangaridai
Gangaridai was an ancient state found around 300 BC where the Bengal region lies today . It was described by the Greek traveller Megasthenes in his work Indica...

 empire that was located in the Bengal region. Alexander, after the meeting with his officer, Coenus, was convinced that it was better to return. Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 mentions Gangaridai to be the most powerful empire in India whose king possessed an army of 20,000 horses, 200,000 infantry, 2,000 chariots and 4,000 elephants trained and equipped for war. The allied forces of Gangaridai Empire
Gangaridai
Gangaridai was an ancient state found around 300 BC where the Bengal region lies today . It was described by the Greek traveller Megasthenes in his work Indica...

 and Nanda Empire (Prasii) were preparing a massive counter attack against the forces of Alexander on the banks of Ganges. Gangaridai, according to the Greek accounts, kept on flourishing at least up to the 1st century AD.

Early Middle Ages


The pre-Gupta period of Bengal is shrouded with obscurity. Before the conquest of Samudragupta
Samudragupta
Samudragupta , ruler of the Gupta Empire , and successor to Chandragupta I, is considered to be one of the greatest military geniuses in Indian history according to Historian V. A. Smith. His name is taken to be a title acquired by his conquests...

 Bengal was divided into two kingdoms: Pushkarana and Samatata. Chandragupta II
Chandragupta II
Chandragupta II the Great, very often referred to as Vikramaditya or Chandragupta Vikramaditya in Sanskrit; was one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta empire in northern India. His rule spanned c...

 had defeated a confederacy of Vanga
Vanga
The vangas are a group of little-known small to medium-sized passerine birds restricted to Madagascar and the Comoros. They are usually classified as the family Vangidae. There are about 22 species, depending on taxonomy...

 kings resulting in Bengal becoming part of the Gupta Empire.

Gauda Kingdom


By the 6th century, the Gupta Empire ruling over the northern Indian subcontinent was largely broken up. Eastern Bengal
East Bengal
East Bengal was the name used during two periods in the 20th century for a territory that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Bangladesh. Both instances involved a violent partition of Bengal....

 became the Vanga Kingdom
Vanga Kingdom
Vanga orBengal was a kingdom located in the eastern part of the Indian Subcontinent, comprising part of West Bengal, India and present-day modern Bangladesh. It was a seafaring nation of Ancient India.- References in Mahabharata :...

 while the Gauda
Gauḍa region
Gauda , was a territory located in Bengal in ancient and mediaeval times.-Location and extent:The Arthashastra of Chanakya refers to it along with Vanga, Pundra and Kamarupa. This geographical idea continues with some of the ancient texts...

 kings rose in the west with their capital at Karnasuvarna (Murshidabad
Murshidabad
Murshidabad is a city in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state in India. The city of Murshidabad is located on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganges River. It was the capital of undivided Bengal during the Mughal rule. Nawabs of Bengal used to rule Bengal from this...

). Shashanka
Shashanka
Shashanka is often attributed with creating the first separate political entity in a unified Bengal called Gauda and as such is a major figure in Bengali history. He reigned in 7th century AD, and some historians place his rule approximately between 590 AD and 625 AD. He is the contemporary of...

, a vassal of the last Gupta Empire became independent and unified the smaller principalities of Bengal (Gaur, Vanga, Samatata) and vied for regional power with Harshavardhana in northern India. But this burst of Bengali power did not last beyond his death, as Bengal descended afterwards into a period marked by disunity and foreign invasion.The development of the Bengali calendar
Bengali calendar
The Bengali calendar or Bangla calendar is a solar and sidereal Hindu calendar used by the Bengali people. It is used in the eastern Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura and in Bangladesh...

 is also often attributed to Shashanka
Shashanka
Shashanka is often attributed with creating the first separate political entity in a unified Bengal called Gauda and as such is a major figure in Bengali history. He reigned in 7th century AD, and some historians place his rule approximately between 590 AD and 625 AD. He is the contemporary of...

 as the starting date falls squarely within his reign(600 AD–626 AD).

The Pala dynasty


Pala dynasty were the first independent Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 dynasty of Bengal. The name Pala (Modern
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

  pal) means protector and was used as an ending to the names of all Pala monarchs. The Palas were followers of the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 and Tantric
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 schools of Buddhism. Gopala
Gopala (Pala king)
Gopala was the founder of the Pala Dynasty of Bengal. The last morpheme of his name pala means "protector" and was used as an ending for the names of all the Pala monarchs...

 was the first ruler from the dynasty. He came to power in 750 in Gaur
Gaur, West Bengal
Gour, or Gaur , as it is spelt mostly in modern times, or Lakhnauti is a ruined city, in the Malda district of West Bengal, India, on the west bank of the Ganges river, 40 kilometers downstream from Rajmahal.-History:...

 by a democratic election
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

. This event is recognized as one of the first democratic elections in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 since the time of the Mahā Janapadas
Mahajanapadas
Mahājanapadas , literally "great realms", were ancient Indian kingdoms or countries...

. He reigned from 750-770 and consolidated his position by extending his control over all of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

. The Buddhist dynasty
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 lasted for four centuries (750-1120 AD) and ushered in a period of stability and prosperity in Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

. They created many temples and works of art as well as supported the Universities of Nalanda
Nalanda
Nālandā is the name of an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India.The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from the fifth or sixth century CE to 1197 CE. It has been called "one of the...

 and Vikramashila. Somapura Mahavihara
Somapura Mahavihara
Somapura Mahavihara in Paharpur, Badalgachhi Upazila, Naogaon District, Bangladesh is among the best known Buddhist viharas in the Indian Subcontinent and is one of the most important archeological sites in the country...

 built by Dharmapala
Dharmapala of Bengal
Dharama Pala was the second ruler of the Pala Empire of Bengal region in the Indian Subcontinent. He was the son and succeessor of Gopala , the founder of the Pala Dynasty. He greatly expanded the boundaries of the Pala Empire founded by his father and made the Palas the most dominant power in...

 is the greatest Buddhist Vihara
Vihara
Vihara is the Sanskrit and Pali term for a Buddhist monastery. It originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", and referred to "dwellings" or "refuges" used by wandering monks during the rainy season....

 in the Indian Subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

.
The empire reached its peak under Dharmapala
Dharmapala of Bengal
Dharama Pala was the second ruler of the Pala Empire of Bengal region in the Indian Subcontinent. He was the son and succeessor of Gopala , the founder of the Pala Dynasty. He greatly expanded the boundaries of the Pala Empire founded by his father and made the Palas the most dominant power in...

 and Devapala
Devapala
Deva Pala , was a powerful emperor from the Pala Empire of Bengal region in the Indian Subcontinent. He was the third king in the line and had succeeded his father, emperor Dharamapala...

. Dharmapala extended the empire into the northern parts of the Indian Subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. This triggered once more for the control of the subcontinent. Devapala
Devapala
Deva Pala , was a powerful emperor from the Pala Empire of Bengal region in the Indian Subcontinent. He was the third king in the line and had succeeded his father, emperor Dharamapala...

, successor of Dharmapala, expanded the empire to cover much of South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 and beyond. His empire stretched from Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

 and Utkala in the east, Kamboja (modern day Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

) in the north-west and Deccan in the south. According to Pala copperplate inscription Devapala exterminated the Utkalas, conquered the Pragjyotisha (Assam), shattered the pride of the Huna, and humbled the lords of Gurjara, Pratihara
Pratihara
The Gurjara Pratihara , often simply called Pratihara Empire, was an imperial Indian dynasty that ruled much of Northern India from the 6th to the 11th centuries. At its peak of prosperity and power , the Gurajara-Pratihara Empire rivaled or even exceeded the Gupta Empire in the extent of its...

s and the Dravidas.
The death of Devapala ended the period of ascendancy of the Pala Empire and several independent dynasties and kingdoms emerged during this time. However, Mahipala
Mahipala
Mahipala I is considered the second founder of the Pala dynasty. Gopala I established the dynastic rule of the Palas in the middle of the 8th century CE. The Pala Dynasty ruled Bengal and Bihar for about four centuries from the middle of the 8th century CE...

 I rejuvenated the reign of the Palas. He recovered control over all of Bengal and expanded the empire. He survived the invasions of Rajendra Chola and the Chalukyas. After Mahipala I the Pala dynasty again saw its decline until Ramapala
Ramapala
Ramapala was the successor to the Pala king Shurapala II, and fifteenth ruler of the Pala line reigning for 53 years. He is recognised as the last great ruler of the dynasty, managing to restore much of the past glory of the Pala lineage. He crushed the Varendra rebellion and extended his empire...

, the last great ruler of the dynasty, managed to retrieve the position of the dynasty to some extent. He crushed the Varendra
Varendra
Varendra was a region of Bengal, now in Bangladesh. It included the Pundravardhana or Pundra Kingdom region.According to Cunningham the boundary of Varendra was the Ganges and the Mahananda on the west, the Karatoya on the east, the Padma on the south and the land between Koochbihar and the Terai...

 rebellion and extended his empire farther to Kamarupa, Orissa and Northern India.

The Pala Empire can be considered as the golden era of Bengal. Never had the Bengali people reached such height of power and glory to that extent. Palas were responsible for the introduction of Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

, Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

 and Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

. The Pala had extensive trade as well as influence in south-east Asia. This can be seen in the sculptures and architectural style of the Sailendra Empire
Sailendra
Sailendra is the name of an influential Indonesian dynasty that emerged in 8th century Java.The Sailendras were active promoters of Mahayana Buddhism and covered the Kedu Plain of Central Java with Buddhist monuments, including the world famous Borobudur.The Sailendras are considered to be a...

 (present-day Malaya
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

, Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

).

Sena dynasty



The Palas were followed by the Sena dynasty
Sena dynasty
The Sena Empire was a Hindu dynasty that ruled from Bengal through the 11th and 12th centuries. At its peak the empire covered much of the north-eastern region in the Indian Subcontinent. They were called Brahma-Kshatriyas, as evidenced through their surname, which is derived from the Sanskrit,...

 who brought Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 under one ruler during the 12th century. Vijay Sen
Vijay Sen
Vijay Sen was the founder of the Sen dynasty of Bengal, which ruled for more than 100 years. His ancestors came from the Karnat country. It appears from his records that he inherited the position of a subordinate ruler in Rarh under the Palas...

 the second ruler of this dynasty defeated the last Pala emperor
Pala Empire
The Pāla Empire was one of the major middle kingdoms of India existed from 750–1174 CE. It was ruled by a Buddhist dynasty from Bengal in the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent, all the rulers bearing names ending with the suffix Pala , which means protector. The Palas were often described...

 Madanapala
Madanapala
Madanapala was the successor to the Pala king Gopala III, and eighteenth and final ruler of Pala lineage reigning for 18 years. He was succeeded by Govindapala, whose lineage of that name is questionable....

 and established his reign. Ballal Sena
Ballal Sena
Ballal Sen was the second ruler of the Sen dynasty of Bengal. Son and successor of Vijay Sen, Ballal Sen is known from the extant Kuljigranthas to have introduced social reforms in Bengal, especially the system of Kulinism.-See also:* Prithvi Raj Chauhan* List of rulers of Bengal* History of...

 introduced caste system in Bengal and made Nabadwip
Nabadwip
Nabadwip is a city and a municipality in Nadia district in the Indian state of West Bengal. Its name means "9 islands" in the Bengali language. The islands are named Antardwip , Simantadwip, Rudradwip, Madhyadwip, Godrumdwip, Ritudwip, Jahnudwip, Modadrumdwip, and Koladwip...

 the capital. The fourth king of this dynasty Lakshman Sen
Lakshman Sen
Lakshman Sen was the fourth king of the Sen dynasty of Bengal, who ruled for about 28 years. Lakshman Sen succeeded his father Ballal Sen...

 expanded the empire beyond Bengal to Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

. Lakshman fled to eastern Bengal under the onslaught of the Muslims without facing them in battle. The Sena dynasty brought a period of revival in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 in Bengal. A popular myth comprehended by some Bengali authors about Jayadeva
Jayadeva
Jayadeva was a Sanskrit poet circa 1200 AD. He is most known for his composition, the epic poem Gita Govinda, which depicts the divine love of Krishna-an avatar of Vishnu and his consort, Radha, and it is mentioned that Radha is greater than Hari, and is considered an important text in the...

, the famous Sanskrit poet of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 (then known as the Kalinga
Kalinga (India)
Kalinga was an early state in central-eastern India, which comprised most of the modern state of Orissa/Utkal , as well as the Andhra region of the bordering state of Andhra Pradesh. It was a rich and fertile land that extended from the river Damodar/Ganges to Godavari and from Bay of Bengal to...

) and author of Gita Govinda
Gita Govinda
The Gita Govinda is a work composed by the 12th-century poet, Jayadeva, who was born in Kenduli Sasan near Puri in Orissa. It describes the relationship between Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavana, and in particular one gopi named Radha...

, was one of the Pancharatnas (meaning 5 gems) in the court of Lakshman Sen (although this may be disputed by some).

Late Middle Ages - arrival of Islam


Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 made its first appearance in Bengal during the 12th century when Sufi missionaries arrived. Beginning in 1202, a military commander from the Delhi Sultanate
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

, Bakhtiar Khilji, overran Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

 and Bengal as far east as Rangpur
Rangpur, Bangladesh
Rangpur is one of the major cities in Bangladesh. Rangpur is considered as the centre of northwestern Bangladesh. Recently established public university of Bangladesh named as "Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur" is situated in the southern part of the city. Earlier Rangpur was the headquarter of...

, Bogra
Bogra
Bogra is a town, and one of the oldest towns in northern Bangladesh. It is a centre of commerce and trade within the Bogra District and located under the Rajshahi Division. Bogra is sometimes described as the nerve centre of Northern Bangladesh. Amongst many notable activities, it has been hosting...

 and the Brahmaputra River
Brahmaputra River
The Brahmaputra , also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia. It is the only Indian river that is attributed the masculine gender and thus referred to as a in Indo-Aryan languages and languages with Indo-Aryan influence...

. The defeated Laksman Sen and his two sons moved to a place then called Vikramapur
Munshiganj District
Munshiganj also historically known as Bikrampur is a district in central Bangladesh. It is a part of the Dhaka Division and borders Dhaka District.-Geography:...

 (present-day Munshiganj District
Munshiganj District
Munshiganj also historically known as Bikrampur is a district in central Bangladesh. It is a part of the Dhaka Division and borders Dhaka District.-Geography:...

), where their diminished dominion lasted until the late 13th century.

Hindu states continued to exist in the Southern and the Eastern parts of Bengal till the 1450s such as the Deva dynasty
Deva dynasty
Deva Dynasty was a Hindu dynasty of early medieval Bengal, ruled over eastern Bengal after the Sena dynasty. The capital of this dynasty was Bikrampur in present-day Munshiganj District of Bangladesh. The end of this dynasty is not yet known.This Hindu Vaishnava dynasty is different from an...

. Also, the Ganesha dynasty began with Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha was a Hindu ruler of Bengal, who overthrew the Ilyas dynasty rule from Bengal. The Indo-Persian historians of the medieval period considered him as an infidel usurper. The dynasty founded by him ruled over Bengal from 1415-1435. His name mentioned in the coins of his son, sultan...

 in 1414, but his successors converted to Islam. There were several independent Hindu states established in Bengal during the Mughal period like those of Maharaja
Maharaja
Mahārāja is a Sanskrit title for a "great king" or "high king". The female equivalent title Maharani denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The widow of a Maharaja is known as a Rajamata...

 Pratapaditya of Jessore and Raja Sitaram Ray
Raja Sitaram Ray
Raja Sitaram Ray was an autonomous king, vassal to the Mughal Empire, who revolted against the Empire and established a short lived sovereign Hindu dominion in Bengal.-Ancestry:...

 of Burdwan. These kingdoms contributed a lot to the economic and cultural landscape of Bengal. Extensive land reclamations in forested and marshy areas were carried out and intrastate trade as well as commerce were highly encouraged. These kingdoms also helped introduce new music, painting, dancing and sculpture into Bengali art-forms as well as many temples were constructed during this period. Militarily, these served as bulwarks against Portuguese and Burmese attacks. Many of these kingdoms are recorded to have fallen during the late 1700s. While Koch Bihar Kingdom
Koch Bihar
Koch Bihar was a small kingdom located south of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, west of the upper Brahmaputra valley Ahom kingdom, and north-east of the Ganges plain and Bengal. It was formed when the Kamata Kingdom under the Koch dynasty split following the death of Nara Narayan in 1586. The...

 in the North, flourished during the period of 16th and the 17th centuries as well as weathered the Mughals also and survived till the advent of the British.

Deva Kingdom


The Deva Kingdom
Deva dynasty
Deva Dynasty was a Hindu dynasty of early medieval Bengal, ruled over eastern Bengal after the Sena dynasty. The capital of this dynasty was Bikrampur in present-day Munshiganj District of Bangladesh. The end of this dynasty is not yet known.This Hindu Vaishnava dynasty is different from an...

was a Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 dynasty of medieval Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 that ruled over eastern Bengal after the collapse Sena Empire. The capital of this dynasty was Bikrampur
Bikrampur
Bikrampur pargana is situated 12 miles south of Dhaka, the modern-day capital of Bangladesh. It lies in the Munshiganj District of Bangladesh. It is a historic region in Bengal. The region is famous for its early Buddhist scholarships and in the later period for its cultural influences...

 in present-day Munshiganj District
Munshiganj District
Munshiganj also historically known as Bikrampur is a district in central Bangladesh. It is a part of the Dhaka Division and borders Dhaka District.-Geography:...

 of Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

. The inscriptional evidences show that his kingdom was extended up to the present-day Comilla
Comilla District
The district of Comilla consists 4543 mosques, 379 temples, 98 churches, 34 Buddhist temples and six tombs.-Places of interest:Important landmarks include Kotbari, a cantonment, or military installation and Kandirpar, considered the heart of the Comilla district...

-Noakhali
Noakhali District
Noakhali is a district in South-eastern Bangladesh. It is located in the Chittagong Division.-Geography:Noakhali District located in Chittagong Division, Bangladesh...

-Chittagong
Chittagong District
Chittagong District is a district located in the south-eastern region of Bangladesh. It is a part of the Chittagong Division. The port city of Chittagong, second largest city in Bangladesh, is located in this district.-History:...

 region. A later ruler of the dynasty Ariraja-Danuja-Madhava Dasharatha-Deva extended his kingdom to cover much of East Bengal
East Bengal
East Bengal was the name used during two periods in the 20th century for a territory that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Bangladesh. Both instances involved a violent partition of Bengal....

. The end of this dynasty is not yet known.

Khilji maliks


The period after Bakhtiar Khilji's death in 1207 devolved into infighting among the Khiljis - representative of a pattern of succession struggles and intra-empire intrigues during later Turkic regimes. Ghiyasuddin Iwaz Khalji prevailed and extended the Sultan's domain south to Jessore and made the eastern Bang province a tributary. The capital was made at Lakhnauti on the Ganges near the older Bengal capital of Gaur
Gaur, West Bengal
Gour, or Gaur , as it is spelt mostly in modern times, or Lakhnauti is a ruined city, in the Malda district of West Bengal, India, on the west bank of the Ganges river, 40 kilometers downstream from Rajmahal.-History:...

. He managed to make Kamarupa and Trihut pay tribute to him. But he was later defeated by Shams-ud-Din Iltutmish
Iltutmish
Shams-ud-din Iltutmish was the third ruler of the Mamluk dynasty of Delhi of Turkic origin. He was a slave of Qutub-ud-din-Aybak and later became his son-in-law and close lieutenant. He was the Governor of Badaun when he deposed Qutub-ud-din's successor Aram Shah and acceeded to the throne of the...

.

Mameluk rule


The weak successors of Iltutmish encouraged the local governors to declare independence. Bengal was sufficiently remote from Delhi that its governors would declare independence on occasion, styling themselves as Sultans of Bengal. It was during this time that Bengal earned the name "Bulgakpur" (land of the rebels). Tughral Togun Khan added Oudh and Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

 to Bengal. Mughisuddin Yuzbak also conquered Bihar and Oudh from Delhi but was killed during an unsuccessful expedition in Assam. Two Turkic attempts to push east of the broad Jamuna and Brahmaputra rivers were repulsed, but a third led by Mughisuddin Tughral conquered the Sonargaon
Sonargaon
Sonargaon is the ancient capital of Isa Khan's kingdom in Bengal. It is located near the current-day city of Narayanganj, Bangladesh....

 area south of Dhaka to Faridpur
Faridpur District
Faridpur is a district in central Bangladesh. It is a part of the Dhaka Division. Faridpur District has a population of over 1.7 million people and is situated on the banks of the Padma river . It is bordered by Madaripur, Narail, Rajbari, Magura, Shariatpur, Gopalgonj, Dhaka and Manikganj...

, bringing the Sen Kingdom officially to an end by 1277. Mughisuddin Tughral repulsed two massive attacks of the sultanate of Delhi before finally being defeated and killed by Ghiyas ud din Balban
Ghiyas ud din Balban
Ghiyasuddin Balban was ninth sultan of the Mamluk dynasty who ruled from 1266 to 1287.-Biography:He was son of a Central Asian Turkic noble of the Ilbari tribe, but as a child he was captured by Mongols and sold as a slave at Ghazni...

.,

Mahmud Shahi dynasty


Mahmud Shahi dynasty started when Nasiruddin Bughra Khan declared independence in Bengal. Thus Bengal regained her independence back. Nasiruddin Bughra Khan and his successors ruled Bengal for 23 years finally being incorporated into Delhi Sultanate by Ghyiasuddin Tughlaq.

Ilyas Shahi dynasty



Shamsuddin Iliyas Shah founded an independent dynasty that lasted from 1342-1487. The dynasty successfully repulsed attempts by Delhi to conquer them. They continued to reel in the territory of modern-day Bengal, reaching to Khulna
Khulna
Khulna is the third largest city in Bangladesh. It is located on the banks of the Rupsha and Bhairab rivers in Khulna District. It is the divisional headquarters of Khulna Division and a major industrial and commercial center. It has a seaport named Mongla on its outskirts, 38 km from Khulna...

 in the south and Sylhet
Sylhet
Sylhet , is a major city in north-eastern Bangladesh. It is the main city of Sylhet Division and Sylhet District, and was granted metropolitan city status in March 2009. Sylhet is located on the banks of the Surma Valley and is surrounded by the Jaintia, Khasi and Tripura hills...

 in the east. The sultans advanced civic institutions and became more responsive and "native" in their outlook and cut loose from Delhi. Considerable architectural projects were completed including the massive Adina Mosque
Adina Mosque
Adina Mosque is a mosque located in Malda district of West Bengal, India. It was constructed in the 14th century. In medieval times, the mosque was considered to be the largest undivided Bengal, as well as the entire Indian subcontinent.-Establishment:...

 and the Darasbari Mosque which still stands in Bangladesh near the border. The Sultans of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 were patrons of Bengali literature
Bengali literature
Bengali literature is literary works written in Bengali language particularly from Bangladesh and the Indian provinces of West Bengal and Tripura. The history of Bengali literature traces back hundreds of years while it is impossible to separate the literary trends of the two Bengals during the...

 and began a process in which Bengali culture and identity would flourish. The Ilyas Shahi Dynasty was interrupted by an uprising by the Hindus under Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha was a Hindu ruler of Bengal, who overthrew the Ilyas dynasty rule from Bengal. The Indo-Persian historians of the medieval period considered him as an infidel usurper. The dynasty founded by him ruled over Bengal from 1415-1435. His name mentioned in the coins of his son, sultan...

. However the Ilyas Shahi dynasty was restored by Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah.

Ganesha dynasty


The Ganesha dynasty began with Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha was a Hindu ruler of Bengal, who overthrew the Ilyas dynasty rule from Bengal. The Indo-Persian historians of the medieval period considered him as an infidel usurper. The dynasty founded by him ruled over Bengal from 1415-1435. His name mentioned in the coins of his son, sultan...

 in 1414. After Raja Ganesha seized control over Bengal he faced an imminent threat of invasion. Ganesha appealed to a powerful Muslim holy man named Qutb al Alam, to stop the threat. The saint agreed on the condition that Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha was a Hindu ruler of Bengal, who overthrew the Ilyas dynasty rule from Bengal. The Indo-Persian historians of the medieval period considered him as an infidel usurper. The dynasty founded by him ruled over Bengal from 1415-1435. His name mentioned in the coins of his son, sultan...

's son Jadu would convert to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and rule in his place. Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha was a Hindu ruler of Bengal, who overthrew the Ilyas dynasty rule from Bengal. The Indo-Persian historians of the medieval period considered him as an infidel usurper. The dynasty founded by him ruled over Bengal from 1415-1435. His name mentioned in the coins of his son, sultan...

 agreed and Jadu started ruling Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 as Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah was the son and successor of Raja Ganesha. He ruled Bengal in two phases first 1415 to 1416 and then 1418 to 1433. He was converted to Islam by Qutb al Alam and was named Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah...

in 1415 AD. Qutb al Alam died in 1416 AD and Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha
Raja Ganesha was a Hindu ruler of Bengal, who overthrew the Ilyas dynasty rule from Bengal. The Indo-Persian historians of the medieval period considered him as an infidel usurper. The dynasty founded by him ruled over Bengal from 1415-1435. His name mentioned in the coins of his son, sultan...

 was emboldened to depose his son and accede to the throne himself as Danujamarddana Deva. Jalaluddin was reconverted to Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 by the Golden Cow ritual. After the death of his father he once again converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and started ruling his second phase. Jalaluddin's son, Shamsuddin Ahmad Shah
Shamsuddin Ahmad Shah
Shamsuddin Ahmad Shah was a ruler of Bengal. He was the son and successor of Sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah. After his father's death, he ascended the throne at the age of 14.-History:...

 ruled for only 3 years due to chaos and anarchy. The dynasty is known for their liberal policy as well as justice and charity.

Hussain Shahi dynasty


The Habshi rule gave way to the Hussain Shahi dynasty
Hussain Shahi dynasty
Hussain Shahi dynasty that ruled from 1494-1538. Alauddin Hussain Shah, considered as the greatest of all the sultans of Bengal for bringing cultural renaissance during his reign. He conquered Kamarupa, Kamata, Jajnagar, Orissa and extended the sultanate all the way to the port of Chittagong, which...

 that ruled from 1494-1538. Alauddin Hussain Shah
Alauddin Hussain Shah
Ala-ud-din Husain Shah was an independent late medieval Sultan of Bengal, who founded the Hussain Shahi dynasty. He became the ruler of Bengal after assassinating the Abyssinian Sultan, Shams-ud-Din Muzaffar Shah, whom he had served under as wazir...

, considered as the greatest of all the sultans of Bengal for bringing cultural renaissance during his reign. He extended the sultanate all the way to the port of Chittagong
Chittagong
Chittagong ) is a city in southeastern Bangladesh and the capital of an eponymous district and division. Built on the banks of the Karnaphuli River, the city is home to Bangladesh's busiest seaport and has a population of over 4.5 million, making it the second largest city in the country.A trading...

, which witnessed the arrival of the first Portuguese merchants. Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah
Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah
Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah 1519–1533 , son of Sultan Alauddin Hussain Shah, was sultan of Bengal from 1519 until his assassination in 1533...

 gave refuge to the Afghan lords during the invasion of Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

 though he remained neutral. However Nusrat Shah made a treaty with Babur and saved Bengal from a Mughal invasion. The last Sultan of the dynasty, who continued to rule from Gaur
Gaur, West Bengal
Gour, or Gaur , as it is spelt mostly in modern times, or Lakhnauti is a ruined city, in the Malda district of West Bengal, India, on the west bank of the Ganges river, 40 kilometers downstream from Rajmahal.-History:...

, had to contend with rising Afghan activity on his northwestern border. Eventually, the Afghans broke through and sacked the capital in 1538 where they remained for several decades until the arrival of the Mughals.

Suri dynasty


Sher Shah Suri
Sher Shah Suri
Sher Shah Suri , birth name Farid Khan, also known as Sher Khan , was the founder of the short-lived Sur Empire in northern India, with its capital at Delhi, before its demise in the hands of the resurgent Mughal Empire...

 established the Sur dynasty
Sur Dynasty
The Suri Empire was established by a Muslim dynasty of Afghan origin who ruled a vast territory in the Indian subcontinent between 1540 to 1557, with Delhi serving as its capital...

 in Bengal. After the battle of Chausa he declared himself independent Sultan of Bengal and Bihar. Sher Shah was the only Muslim Sultan of Bengal to establish an empire in northern India. The Delhi Sultanate
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

 Islam Shah appointed Muhammad Khan Sur as the governor of Bengal. After the death of Islam Shah, Muhammad Khan Sur became independent. Muhammad Khan Sur was followed by Ghyiasuddin Bahadur Shah and Ghyiasuddin Jalal Shah. The Pashtun rule in Bengal remained for 44 years. Their most impressive achievement was Sher Shah's construction of the Grand Trunk Road
Grand Trunk Road
The Grand Trunk Road also formerly known as Uttarapatha, Shah Rah-e-Azam or Sadak-e-Azam or Badshahi Sadak is one of South Asia's oldest and longest major roads...

 connecting Sonargaon
Sonargaon
Sonargaon is the ancient capital of Isa Khan's kingdom in Bengal. It is located near the current-day city of Narayanganj, Bangladesh....

, Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 and Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

.

Karrani dynasty


The Sur dynasty was followed by the Karrani dynasty. Sulaiman Khan Karrani
Sulaiman Khan Karrani
Sulaiman Khan Karrani was a ruler of Bengal from 1565 to 1572 ascending to the throne in 1565 after the death of his elder brother Taj Khan Karrani...

 annexed Orissa to the Muslim sultanate permanently. Daoud Shah Karrani
Daoud Shah Karrani
Daud Khan Karrani was the youngest son of Sulaiman Khan Karrani. During his father's reign, he commanded a massive army of 40,000 cavalry, 3,600 elephants, 1,140,000 infantry and 20,000 cannons. He invaded the southwestern regions of India....

 declared independence from Akbar which led to four years of bloody war between the Mughals and the Pashtuns. The Mughal onslaught against the Pashtun Sultan ended with the battle of Rajmahal
Rajmahal
Rajmahal is a city and a notified area in Sahibganj district in the Indian state of Jharkhand. Rajmahal is the only sub-divisional town in Sahibganj district. It is one of the most historic place in Jharkhand...

 in 1576, led by Khan Jahan. However, the Pashtun and the local landlords (Baro Bhuyans) led by Isa Khan
Isa Khan
Isa Khan is the most famous of the Baro Bhuiyans of medieval Bengal. He was the ruler of a region named Bhati. Throughout his reign he put resistance against Mughal invasion. It was only after his death, when the region went totally under Mughals.-Early life:It is estimated that he was born in 1529...

 resisted the Mughal invasion.

Mughal period



Bengal came once more under the control of Delhi as the Mughals
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 conquered it in 1576. At that time Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and the principal city of Dhaka Division. Dhaka is a megacity and one of the major cities of South Asia. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka, along with its metropolitan area, had a population of over 15 million in 2010, making it the largest city...

 became a Mughal provincial capital. But it remained remote and thus a difficult to govern the region especially the section east of the Brahmaputra River remained outside the mainstream of Mughal politics. The Bengali ethnic and linguistic identity further crystallized during this period, since the whole of Bengal was united under an able and long-lasting administration. Furthermore its inhabitants were given sufficient autonomy to cultivate their own customs and literature.

In 1612, during Emperor Jahangir
Jahangir
Jahangir was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1605 until his death. The name Jahangir is from Persian جهانگیر,meaning "Conqueror of the World"...

's reign, the defeat of Sylhet completed the Mughal conquest of Bengal with the exception of Chittagong
Chittagong
Chittagong ) is a city in southeastern Bangladesh and the capital of an eponymous district and division. Built on the banks of the Karnaphuli River, the city is home to Bangladesh's busiest seaport and has a population of over 4.5 million, making it the second largest city in the country.A trading...

. At this time Dhaka rose in prominence by becoming the provincial capital of Bengal. Chittagong was later annexed in order to stifle Arakanese raids from the east. A well-known Dhaka landmark, Lalbagh Fort, was built during Aurangzeb's sovereignty.

History repeated itself as the frontier Bengal province broke off from a Delhi-based empire around the time Aurangzeb's death in 1707.

The Nawabs of Bengal (1717–1880)


Murshid Quli Khan
Murshid Quli Khan
Murshid Quli Khan was the first Nawab of Bengal. In fact circumstances resulted in his being the first independent ruler of Bengal post the death of Emperor Aurangzeb...

 ended the nominal Mughal rule in 1717 when he declared Bangladesh's independence from the Mughal empire. He shifted the capital to Murshidabad
Murshidabad
Murshidabad is a city in Murshidabad district of West Bengal state in India. The city of Murshidabad is located on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganges River. It was the capital of undivided Bengal during the Mughal rule. Nawabs of Bengal used to rule Bengal from this...

 ushering in a series of independent Bengal Nawab
Nawab
A Nawab or Nawaab is an honorific title given to Muslim rulers of princely states in South Asia. It is the Muslim equivalent of the term "maharaja" that was granted to Hindu rulers....

s.

From 1717 until 1880, three successive Islamic dynasties — the Nasiri, Afshar and Najafi — all related by bloodlines, ruled Bengal:

The first dynasty, the Nasiri, ruled from 1717 until 1740. The founder of the Nasiri, Murshid Quli Jafar Khan, was born a poor Deccani Oriya Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 before being sold into slavery and bought by one Haji Shafi Isfahani, a Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 merchant from Isfahan who converted him to Islam. He entered the service of the Emperor Aurangzeb and rose through the ranks before becoming Nazim
Nazim
A nazim is the coordinator of cities and towns in Pakistan. Nazim is the title in Urdu of the chief elected official of a local government in Pakistan, such as a district, tehsil, union council, or village council....

 of Bengal in 1717, a post he held until his death in 1727. He in turn was succeeded by his grandson and son-in law until his grandson was killed in battle and succeeded by Alivardi Khan
Alivardi Khan
Ali Vardi Khan was the Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa during 1740 - 1756. He toppled the Nasiri Dynasty of Bengal and took power as Nawab.-Early life:...

 of the Afshar Dynasty in 1740.

The second dynasty, the Afshar, ruled from 1740 to 1757. They were succeeded by the third and final dynasty to rule Bengal, the Najafi, when Siraj Ud Daula, the last of the Afshar rulers was killed at the Battle of Plassey
Battle of Plassey
The Battle of Plassey , 23 June 1757, was a decisive British East India Company victory over the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies, establishing Company rule in South Asia which expanded over much of the Indies for the next hundred years...

 in 1757. The Najafi ruled till 1880.

Nawab Alivardi Khan
Alivardi Khan
Ali Vardi Khan was the Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa during 1740 - 1756. He toppled the Nasiri Dynasty of Bengal and took power as Nawab.-Early life:...

 showed military skill during his wars with the Marathas. He completely routed the Marathas from Bengal. He crushed an uprising of the Afghans in Bihar and made the British pay 150,000 Tk for blocking Mughal and Armenian trade ships.

Europeans in Bengal


Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 traders and missionaries were the first Europeans to reach Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 in the latter part of the 15th century. They were followed by representatives from the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

. The Mughal Subahdar
Subahdar
Subahdar was one of the designations of a governor of a Subah during the Mughal era of India who was alternately designated as Sahib-i-Subah or Nazim. The word, Subahdar is of Persian origin...

 of Bengal Kasim Khan Mashadi completely destroyed the Portuguese forces in the Battle of Hoogly (1632). About 10,000 Portuguese men and women died in the battle and 4,400 were sent captive to Delhi.

During Aurangzeb
Aurangzeb
Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir , more commonly known as Aurangzeb or by his chosen imperial title Alamgir , was the sixth Mughal Emperor of India, whose reign lasted from 1658 until his death in 1707.Badshah Aurangzeb, having ruled most of the Indian subcontinent for nearly...

's reign, the local Nawab sold three villages, including one then known as Calcutta, to the British. Calcutta was Britain's first foothold in Bengal and remained a focal point of their economic activity. The British gradually extended their commercial contacts and administrative control beyond Calcutta to the rest of Bengal. Job Charnock
Job Charnock
Job Charnock was a servant and administrator of the English East India Company, traditionally regarded as the founder of the city of Calcutta.-Early life and career:...

 was one of the first dreamers of a British empire in Bengal. He waged war against the Mughal authority of Bengal which led to the Anglo-Mughal war for Bengal (1686–1690). Shaista Khan
Shaista Khan
Mirza Abu Talib, better known by his title Shaista Khan , was a Subahdar and general in the army of the Mughal Empire. A maternal uncle to Emperor Aurangzeb, he served as the Mughal governor of Bengal from 1664 to 1688, and was a key figure during the rule of his nephew, the emperor...

, the Nawab of Bengal
Nawab of Bengal
The Nawabs of Bengal were the hereditary nazims or subadars of the subah of Bengal during the Mughal rule and the de-facto rulers of the province.-History:...

, defeated the British in the battles of Hoogly as well as Baleshwar and expelled the British from Bengal. Captain William Heath with a naval fleet moved towards Chittagong
Chittagong
Chittagong ) is a city in southeastern Bangladesh and the capital of an eponymous district and division. Built on the banks of the Karnaphuli River, the city is home to Bangladesh's busiest seaport and has a population of over 4.5 million, making it the second largest city in the country.A trading...

 but it was a failure and he had to retreat to Madras.

British rule



The British East India Company gained official control of Bengal following the Battle of Plassey
Battle of Plassey
The Battle of Plassey , 23 June 1757, was a decisive British East India Company victory over the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies, establishing Company rule in South Asia which expanded over much of the Indies for the next hundred years...

 in 1757. This was the first conquest, in a series of engagements that ultimately lead to the expulsion of other European competitors. The defeat of the Mughals and the consolidation of the subcontinent under the rule of a corporation was a unique event in imperialistic history. Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata , formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it was the commercial capital of East India...

 (Anglicized as "Calcutta") on the Hooghly became a major trading port for bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

, tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

, sugar cane, spices, cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, muslin
Muslin
Muslin |sewing patterns]], such as for clothing, curtains, or upholstery. Because air moves easily through muslin, muslin clothing is suitable for hot, dry climates.- Etymology and history :...

 and jute
Jute
Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which has been classified in the family Tiliaceae, or more recently in Malvaceae....

 produced in Dhaka
Dhaka
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and the principal city of Dhaka Division. Dhaka is a megacity and one of the major cities of South Asia. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka, along with its metropolitan area, had a population of over 15 million in 2010, making it the largest city...

, Rajshahi
Rajshahi
The city of Rajshahi is the divisional headquarters of Rajshahi division as well as the administrative district that bears its name and is one of the six metropolitan cities of Bangladesh. Often referred to as Silk City and Education City, Rajshahi is located in the north-west of the country and...

, Khulna
Khulna
Khulna is the third largest city in Bangladesh. It is located on the banks of the Rupsha and Bhairab rivers in Khulna District. It is the divisional headquarters of Khulna Division and a major industrial and commercial center. It has a seaport named Mongla on its outskirts, 38 km from Khulna...

, and Kushtia.

Scandals and the bloody rebellion known as the Sepoy Mutiny prompted the British government to intervene in the affairs of the East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

. In 1858, authority in India was transferred from the Company to the crown, and the rebellion was brutally suppressed. Rule of India was organized under a Viceroy
Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

 and continued a pattern of economic exploitation. Famine racked the subcontinent many times, including at least two major famines in Bengal. The British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 was politically organized into seventeen provinces of which Bengal was one of the most significant. For a brief period in the early 20th century, an abortive attempt was made to divide Bengal
East Bengal
East Bengal was the name used during two periods in the 20th century for a territory that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Bangladesh. Both instances involved a violent partition of Bengal....

 into two zones, West Bengal and East Bengal & Assam.

Bengal Renaissance




The Bengal Renaissance
Bengal Renaissance
The Bengal Renaissance refers to a social reform movement during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the region of Bengal in Undivided India during the period of British rule...

 refers to a social reform movement during the nineteenth and early 20th centuries in Bengal during the period of British rule
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

. The Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 renaissance can be said to have started with Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1775–1833) and ended with Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore , sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European Nobel laureate by earning the 1913 Prize in Literature...

 (1861–1941). Nineteenth century Bengal was a unique blend of religious and social reformers, scholars, literary giants, journalists, patriotic orators and scientists, all merging to form the image of a renaissance, and marked the transition from the 'medieval' to the 'modern'.

Creation of Pakistan



As the independence movement throughout British-controlled India began in the late 19th century gained momentum during the 20th century, Bengali politicians played an active role in Mohandas Gandhi's Congress Party
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

 and Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Muslim League, exposing the opposing forces of ethnic and religious nationalism
Religious nationalism
Religious nationalism is the relationship of nationalism to a particular religious belief, dogma, or affiliation. This relationship can be broken down into two aspects; the politicisation of religion and the influence of religion on politics....

. By exploiting the latter, the British probably intended to distract the independence movement, for example by partitioning Bengal in 1905 along religious lines. The split only lasted for seven years.

At first the Muslim League sought only to ensure minority rights in the future nation. In 1940 the Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution
Lahore Resolution
The Lahore Resolution , commonly known as the Pakistan Resolution , was a formal political statement adopted by the Muslim League at the occasion of its three-day general session on 22–24 March 1940 that called for greater Muslim autonomy in British India...

 which envisaged one or more Muslim majority states in South Asia. Non-negotiable was the inclusion of the Muslim parts of Punjab and Bengal in these proposed states. The stakes grew as a new Viceroy Lord Mountbatten of Burma
Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS , was a British statesman and naval officer, and an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

 was appointed expressly for the purpose of effecting a graceful British exit. Communal violence in Noakhali and Calcutta sparked a surge in support for the Muslim League, which won a majority of Bengal's Muslim seats in the 1946 election. Accusations have been made that Hindu and Muslim nationalist instigators were involved in the latter incident. At the last moment Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was a Pakistani-Bengali politician and statesman who served as 5th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1956 till 1957, and a close associate of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, first Prime minister of Pakistan...

 and Sarat Chandra Bose
Sarat Chandra Bose
Sarat Chandra Bose was a barrister and Indian freedom fighter. He was the elder brother of Subhash Chandra Bose.-Early life:His forefathers had served the Afghan rulers of pre-Mughal Bengal with great distinction....

 came up with the idea of an independent and unified Bengal state, which was endorsed by Jinnah. This idea was vetoed by the Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

.

British India was partitioned and the independent states of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 were created in 1947; the region of Bengal was divided along religious lines. The predominantly Muslim eastern half of Bengal became the East Bengal
East Bengal
East Bengal was the name used during two periods in the 20th century for a territory that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Bangladesh. Both instances involved a violent partition of Bengal....

 (later renamed East Pakistan
East Pakistan
East Pakistan was a provincial state of Pakistan established in 14 August 1947. The provincial state existed until its declaration of independence on 26 March 1971 as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan recognized the new nation on 16 December 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal...

) state of Pakistan and the predominantly Hindu western part became the Indian state of West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

.

Pakistan's history from 1947 to 1971 was marked by political instability and economic difficulties. In 1956 a constitution was at last adopted, making the country an "Islamic republic within the Commonwealth". The nascent democratic institutions foundered in the face of military intervention in 1958, and the government imposed martial law between 1958 and 1962, and again between 1969 and 1971.

Almost from the advent of independent Pakistan in 1947, frictions developed between East and West Pakistan, which were separated by more than 1,000 miles of Indian territory. East Pakistanis felt exploited by the West Pakistan-dominated central government. Linguistic, cultural, and ethnic differences also contributed to the estrangement of East from West Pakistan.

When Mohammad Ali Jinnah died in September 1948, Khwaja Nazimuddin became the Governor General of Pakistan while Nurul Amin
Nurul Amin
Nurul Amin , was a prominent Bengali leader of Pakistan's Muslim League who served as the 8th Prime Minister of Pakistan, and the only first and the last Vice President of Pakistan from 1970 till 1971...

 was appointed the Chief Minister of East Bengal. Nurul Amin continued as the Chief Minister of East Bengal until 2 April 1954. The abolition of the Zamindari system in East Bengal (1950) and the Language Movement
Language Movement
The Bengali Language Movement, also known as the Language Movement , was a political effort in Bangladesh , advocating the recognition of the Bengali language as an official language of Pakistan...

 were two most important events during his tenure.

The Bengali Language Movement




The Bengali Language Movement, also known as the Language Movement Bhasha Andolon, was a political effort in Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 (then known as East Pakistan
East Pakistan
East Pakistan was a provincial state of Pakistan established in 14 August 1947. The provincial state existed until its declaration of independence on 26 March 1971 as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan recognized the new nation on 16 December 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal...

), advocating the recognition of the Bengali language
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

 as an official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. Such recognition would allow Bengali to be used in government affairs.

When the state of Pakistan was formed
Partition of India
The Partition of India was the partition of British India on the basis of religious demographics that led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India on 14 and 15...

 in 1947, its two regions, East Pakistan (also called East Bengal
East Bengal
East Bengal was the name used during two periods in the 20th century for a territory that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Bangladesh. Both instances involved a violent partition of Bengal....

) and West Pakistan
West Pakistan
West Pakistan , common name West-Pakistan , in the period between its establishment on 22 November 1955 to disintegration on December 16, 1971. This period, during which, Pakistan was divided, ended when East-Pakistan was disintegrated and succeeded to become which is now what is known as Bangladesh...

, were split along cultural, geographical, and linguistic lines. In 1948, the Government of Pakistan
Government of Pakistan
The Government of Pakistan is a federal parliamentary system, with an indirectly-elected President as the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Pakistani Armed Forces, and an indirectly-elected Prime Minister as the Head of Government. The President’s appointment and term are...

 ordained Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 as the sole national language, sparking extensive protests among the Bengali-speaking majority of East Pakistan. Facing rising sectarian tensions and mass discontent with the new law, the government outlawed public meetings and rallies. The students of the University of Dhaka
University of Dhaka
The University of Dhaka is the oldest university in Bangladesh. It is a multi-disciplinary research university and is among the top universities in the region. Established on July 21, 1921, as per the Government of India Act, 1920, it was modelled on the Universities in England and soon gained...

 and other political activists defied the law and organised a protest on 21 February 1952. The movement reached its climax when police killed student demonstrators on that day. The deaths provoked widespread civil unrest led by the Awami Muslim League
Awami Muslim League
Awami Muslim League Pakistan is a Pakistani political party formed in June 2008 by Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad.- NA-55 :This is a national assembly seat fought by Sheikh Rashid Ahmed of the Awami Muslim League Pakistan on February 24, 2010 but lost by a margin of more than 28000 votes...

, later renamed the Awami League. After years of conflict, the central government relented and granted official status to the Bengali language in 1956. In 2000, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 declared 21 February International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999...

 for the whole world to celebrate, in tribute to the Language Movement and the ethno-linguistic rights of people around the world.

The Language Movement catalysed the assertion of Bengali national identity in Pakistan, and became a forerunner to Bengali nationalist movements, including the 6-point movement and subsequently the Bangladesh Liberation War
Bangladesh Liberation War
The Bangladesh Liberation War was an armed conflict pitting East Pakistan and India against West Pakistan. The war resulted in the secession of East Pakistan, which became the independent nation of Bangladesh....

 in 1971. In Bangladesh, 21 February is observed as Language Movement Day
Language Movement Day
Language Movement Day or Language Revolution Day , which is also referred to as Language Martyrs' Day or Martyrs' Day , is a national day of Bangladesh to commemorate protests and sacrifices to protect Bangla as a national language during Bengali Language Movement of 1952.-Background:In 1952,...

, a national holiday. The Shaheed Minar
Shaheed Minar
The Shaheed Minar is a national monument in Dhaka, Bangladesh, established to commemorate those killed during the Language Movement demonstrations of 1952....

 monument was constructed near Dhaka Medical College in memory of the movement and its victims.

Politics: 1954–1970


The first election for East Bengal Provincial Assembly was held between 8 March and 12 March 1954. The Awami Muslim League
Awami Muslim League
Awami Muslim League Pakistan is a Pakistani political party formed in June 2008 by Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad.- NA-55 :This is a national assembly seat fought by Sheikh Rashid Ahmed of the Awami Muslim League Pakistan on February 24, 2010 but lost by a margin of more than 28000 votes...

, Krishak-Sramik Party and Nezam-e-Islam formed the United Front, on the basis of 21-points agenda.

Notable pledges contained in the 21-points were:
  • making Bengali one of the main state languages
  • autonomy for the province
  • reforms in education
  • independence of the judiciary
  • making the legislative assembly effective


The United Front won 215 out of 237 Muslim seats in the election. The ruling Muslim League got only nine seats. Khilafat-E-Rabbani Party got one, while the independents got twelve seats. Later, seven independent members joined the United Front while one joined the Muslim League.

There were numerous reasons for the debacle of the Muslim League. Above all, the Muslim League regime angered all sections of the people of Bengal by opposing the demand for recognition of Bangla as one of the state languages and by ordering the massacre of 1952.

The United Front got the opportunity to form the provincial government after winning absolute majority in the 1954 election. Of the 222 United Front seats, the Awami Muslim League had won 142, Krishak-Sramik Party 48, Nezam-i-Islam 19, and Ganatantri Dal
Ganatantri Dal
The Ganatantri Dal was a socialist political party in East Pakistan . It was founded in 1952 by Haji Mohammad Danesh, a veteran communist activist of the Tebhaga movement. It became part of the United Front coalition under the leadership of A. K. Fazlul Huq, which routed the ruling Muslim League...

 13.

The major leaders of the United Front were Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani of Awami Muslim League and A. K. Fazlul Huq
A. K. Fazlul Huq
Not to be confused with the cricket ground in Dhaka Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium Sher-e-Bangla Abul Kashem Fazlul Huq was a well-known Bengali statesman in the first half of the 20th century...

 of Krishak-Sramik Party. Suhrawardy and Bhasani did not take part in the election and Fazlul Huq was invited to form the government. But a rift surfaced at the very outset on the question of formation of the cabinet. The unity and solidarity among the component parties of the United Front soon evaporated. Finally, on 15 May, Fazlul Huq
A. K. Fazlul Huq
Not to be confused with the cricket ground in Dhaka Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium Sher-e-Bangla Abul Kashem Fazlul Huq was a well-known Bengali statesman in the first half of the 20th century...

 arrived at an understanding with the Awami Muslim League and formed a 14-member cabinet with five members from that party.

But this cabinet lasted for only fourteen days. The Muslim League could not concede defeat in the elections in good grace. So, they resorted to conspiracies to dismiss the United Front government. In the third week of May, there were bloody riots between Bengali and non-Bengali workers in different mills and factories of East Bengal. The United Front government was blamed for failing to control the law and order situation in the province.

Fazlul Huq was then quoted in an interview taken by The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

correspondent John P Callaghan and published in a distorted form that he wanted the independence of East Bengal. Finally, on 29 May 1954, the United Front government was dismissed by the central government and Governor's rule was imposed in the province, which lasted till 2 June 1955.

Curiously enough within two months of his sacking, Fazlul Huq was appointed the central Home Minister. As Home Minister, Fazlul Huq utilised his influence to bring his party to power in East Bengal. Naturally, the United Front broke up. The Muslim members of the United Front split into two groups. In 1955 the Awami Muslim League adopted the path of secularism and non-communalism, erased the word 'Muslim' from its nomenclature and adopted the name "Awami League".

Great differences began developing between the two wings of Pakistan. While the west had a minority share of Pakistan's total population, it had the largest share of revenue allocation, industrial development, agricultural reforms and civil development projects. Pakistan's military and civil services were dominated by the fair-skinned, Persian-cultured Punjabis
Punjabi people
The Punjabi people , ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ), also Panjabi people, are an Indo-Aryan group from South Asia. They are the second largest of the many ethnic groups in South Asia. They originate in the Punjab region, which has been been the location of some of the oldest civilizations in the world including, the...

 and Afghans
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

. Only one regiment in the Pakistani Army was Bengali. And many Bengali Pakistanis could not share the natural enthusiasm for the Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

 issue, which they felt was leaving East Pakistan more vulnerable and threatened as a result.

Independence




After the Awami League won all the East Pakistan seats of the Pakistan's National Assembly in the 1970-71 elections, West Pakistan opened talks with the East on constitutional questions about the division of power between the central government and the provinces, as well as the formation of a national government headed by the Awami League.

The talks proved unsuccessful, however, and on March 1, 1971, Pakistani President Yahya Khan
Yahya Khan
General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan Qizilbash, H.Pk, HJ, S.Pk, psc was the third President of Pakistan from 1969 to 1971, following the resignation of Ayub Khan...

 indefinitely postponed the pending National Assembly session, precipitating massive civil disobedience in East Pakistan.

On March 2, 1971, a group of students, led by A S M Abdur Rob, student leader & VP of DUCSU (Dhaka University Central Students Union) raised the new (proposed) flag of Bangla under the direction of Swadhin Bangla Nucleus.

On March 3, 1971, student leader Sahjahan Siraj read the Sadhinotar Ishtehar (Declaration of independence) at Paltan Maidan in front of Bangabandhu Shaikh Mujib along with student and public gathering under the direction of Swadhin Bangla Nucleus

On March 7, there was a historical public gathering in Paltan Maidan to hear the guideline for the revolution and independence from Shaikh Mujib, the frontier leader of movement that time. Although he avoided the direct speech of independence as the talks were still underway, he influenced the mob to prepare for the separation war. The speech is still considered a key moment in the war of liberation, and is remembered for the phrase, "Ebarer Shongram Muktir Shongram, Ebarer Shongram Shadhinotar Shongram...." ("This time, the revolution is for freedom; this time, the revolution is for liberation....").

Formal Declaration of Independence


After the military crackdown by the Pakistan army began during the early hours of March 26, 1971 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a Bengali nationalist politician and the founder of Bangladesh. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its Prime Minister. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its...

 was arrested and the political leaders dispersed, mostly fleeing to neighbouring India where they organized a provisional government afterwards. Before being held up by the Pakistani Army Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave a hand note of the declaration of the independence of Bangladesh and it was circulated amongst people and transmitted by the then East Pakistan Rifles' wireless transmitter. Bengali Army Major Zia-Ur-Rahman captured Kalurghat Radio Station in Chittagong and read the declaration of independence of Bangladesh. Later that day, Major Zia read the declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,

"I, Major Zia-ur-Rahman, on behalf of our great national leader and supreme commandar Sheikh Mujibur Rahman do hereby proclaim the independence of Bangladesh."


The Provisional Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Provisional Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
The Provisional Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh , popularly known as the Mujibnagar Government, was the government in exile of Bangladesh based in Kolkata, India during the Bangladesh Liberation War...

 was formed in Meherpur, (later renamed as Mujibnagar
Mujibnagar
Also See: Provisional Government of the People's Republic of BangladeshMujibnagar , formerly known as Baidyanathtala is a town in the Meherpur District of Bangladesh...

 a place adjacent to the Indian border). Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was announced to be the head of the state. Tajuddin Ahmed became the prime minister of the government. There the war plan was sketched with armed forces established named "Muktibahini" (freedom fighters). M. A. G. Osmani
M. A. G. Osmani
General Muhammad Ataul Ghani Osmany, popularly referred to as Bangabir General M.A.G. Osmany was the Commander-in-Chief of Bangladesh Forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971...

 was assigned as the Chief of the force. The land sketched into 11 sectors under 11 sector commanders. Along with this sectors on the later part of the war Three special forces were formed namely Z Force, S Force and K Force. These three forces name were derived from the initial letter of the commandar's name. The training and most of the arms and ammunitions were arranged by the Meherpur government which were supported by India. As fighting grew between the Pakistan Army and the Bengali Mukti Bahini
Mukti Bahini
Mukti Bahini , also termed as the "Freedom Fighters" or FFs, collectively refers to the armed organizations who fought against the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War. It was dynamically formed by Bengali regulars and civilians after the proclamation of Bangladesh's independence on...

, an estimated ten million Bengalis, mainly Hindus, sought refuge in the Indian states of Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

, Tripura
Tripura
Tripura is a state in North-East India, with an area of . It is the third smallest state of India, according to area. Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on the north, south, and west. The Indian states of Assam and Mizoram lie to the east. The capital is Agartala and the main languages spoken are...

 and West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

.

The crisis in East Pakistan produced new strains in Pakistan's troubled relations with India. The two nations had fought a war in 1965, mainly in the west, but the pressure of millions of refugees escaping into India in autumn of 1971 as well as Pakistani aggression
Operation Chengiz Khan
Operation Chengiz Khan was the code name assigned to the pre-emptive strikes carried out by the Pakistani Air Force on the forward airbases and radar installations of the Indian Air Force on the evening of 3 December 1971, and marked the formal initiation of hostilities of the Indo-Pakistani war...

 reignited hostilities with Pakistan. Indian sympathies lay with East Pakistan, and on December 3, 1971, India intervened on the side of the Bangladeshis. On December 16, 1971, Pakistani forces surrendered 90,000 in number, and the nation of Bangla Desh ("Country of Bengal") was finally established the following day. The new country changed its name to Bangladesh on January 11, 1972 and became a parliamentary democracy under a constitution. Shortly thereafter on March 19 Bangladesh signed a friendship treaty with India.

Swadhin Bangla Nucleus


Serajul Alam Khan, Abdur Razzak, Kazi Arif Ahmed formed Swadhin Bangla Nucleus (1962); a secret organisation, which spearheaded the war of independence in 1971.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 1972–75



Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a Bengali nationalist politician and the founder of Bangladesh. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its Prime Minister. He headed the Awami League, served as the first President of Bangladesh and later became its...

 came to office with immense personal popularity but had difficulty transforming this popular support into the political strength needed to function as head of government. The 1972 constitution adopted as state policy the Awami League (AL) four basic principles of nationalism, secularism, socialism, and democracy.

The first parliamentary elections were held in March 1973, with the Awami League winning a massive majority. The new Bangladesh government focused on relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of the economy and society. In December 1974, in the face of continuing economic deterioration and mounting civil disorder, Mujib proclaimed a state of emergency, limited the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, banned all the newspaper except four government supported papers, and introduced one-party system baning all the other parties.

Despite some improvement in the economic situation during the first half of 1975, criticism of Mujib grew. In August 1975, Mujib, and most of his family, were assassinated by mid-level army officers. A new government, headed by former Mujib associate Khandakar Moshtaque Ahmed, was formed.

Ziaur Rahman, 1975–81


Successive military coups resulted in the emergence of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ziaur Rahman ("Zia") as strongman. In the historic 7 November 1975, "Jatiyo Biplob O Shanghoti Dibosh" the army captured the power freed Major Zia. He pledged the army's support to the civilian government headed by President Chief Justice Sayem. Acting at Zia's behest, Sayem dissolved Parliament, and instituted the Martial Law Administration (MLA).

In November 1976, Zia became Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) and assumed the presidency upon Sayem's forced retirement five months later, promising national elections in 1978.

As President, Zia announced a 19-point program of economic reform and began dismantling the MLA. Zia won a five-year term in June 1978 elections, with 76% of the vote. Democracy and constitutional order were fully restored when the ban on political parties was lifted, new parliamentary elections were held in February 1979. It was however controlled election by the military so it cannot be called as full restoration of democracy. The AL and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party
Bangladesh Nationalist Party
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party , commonly referred to as the BNP, is the mainstream center-right political party in Bangladesh. BNP ruled Bangladesh total 18 years since her independence, the longest than any other party in Bangladesh...

 (BNP), founded by Zia, emerged as the two major parties.

In May 1981, Zia was assassinated in Chittagong by dissident elements of the military. The conspirators were either taken into custody or killed. Vice President Justice Abdus Sattar was sworn in as acting president, and elected president as the BNP's candidate six months later. Sattar followed the policies of his predecessor and retained essentially the same cabinet.

Hussain Mohammed Ershad, 1982–90


In March 1982 Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. H.M. Ershad suspended the constitution and declared martial law citing pervasive corruption, ineffectual government, and economic mismanagement. The following year, Ershad assumed the presidency, and won overwhelming public support for his regime in a national referendum in March 1985, although turnout was small. Political life was liberalized through 1985 and 1986, and the Jatiya (National) Party was established as Ershad's vehicle for the transition back to democracy.

Parliamentary elections were held in May 1986, but were boycotted by the BNP, now led by President Zia's widow, Begum Khaleda Zia. The Jatiya Party won a modest majority of the 300 elected seats in the National Assembly. The participation of the Awami League—led by the late President Mujib's daughter, Sheikh Hasina Wajed—lent the elections some credibility, despite widespread charges of voting irregularities.

Ershad retired from military service in preparation for the presidential elections in October 1986, and won 84% of the vote. Protesting that martial law was still in effect, both the BNP and the AL refused to put up opposing candidates. In November 1986, martial law was lifted, and the opposition parties took their elected seats in the National Assembly.

In July 1987, after the government hastily pushed through a bill to include military representation on local administrative councils, the opposition walked out of Parliament. As the opposition organized protest marches and nationwide strikes, the government arrested scores of opposition activists. After declaring a state of emergency, Ershad dissolved Parliament and scheduled fresh elections for March 1988.

The elections were held despite an opposition boycott, and the ruling Jatiya Party won 251 of the 300 seats. The Parliament passed a large number of bills, including in June 1988 a controversial constitutional amendment making Islam Bangladesh's state religion.

On December 6, 1990, following general strikes, increased campus protests, public rallies, and a general disintegration of law and order, Ershad resigned. On February 27, 1991, an interim government headed by Acting President Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed oversaw what most observers believed to be the nation's most free and fair elections to that date.

Khaleda Zia, 1991–96


BNP won a plurality of seats and formed a government with Khaleda Zia, widow of Ziaur Rahman, becoming prime minister. The electorate approved changes to the constitution, formally re-creating a \In March 1994, controversy over a parliamentary by-election, which the opposition claimed the government had rigged, led to general strikes and an indefinite boycott of Parliament by the opposition. In late December 1994, the opposition resigned en masse from Parliament, and pledged to boycott national elections scheduled for February 15, 1996.

In February, Khaleda Zia was re-elected by a landslide in voting boycotted by the three main opposition parties. In March 1996, following escalating political turmoil, the Parliament amended the constitution to allow a neutral caretaker government to assume power and conduct new parliamentary elections.

Sheikh Hasina, 1996–2001


Elections were held in June 1996 which were found by international and domestic election observers to be free and fair. The Awami League won a plurality of the seats, and formed the government with support from the Jatiya Party of deposed president Ershad. AL leader Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister.

In June 1999, the BNP and other opposition parties again began to boycott Parliament, and stage nationwide general strikes. A four-party opposition alliance formed at the beginning of 1999 announced that it would boycott parliamentary by-elections and local government.

Four Party Aliiance led by BNP, 2001–2006


The four-party alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party
Bangladesh Nationalist Party
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party , commonly referred to as the BNP, is the mainstream center-right political party in Bangladesh. BNP ruled Bangladesh total 18 years since her independence, the longest than any other party in Bangladesh...

 (BNP) won over a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Begum Khaleda Zia was sworn in on October 10, 2001, as Prime Minister for the third time.

An grenade attack
2004 Dhaka grenade attack
The 2004 Dhaka grenade attack was an attempt to kill Sheikh Hasina, the then-former Prime Minister of Bangladesh, on August 21, 2004. The attack left at least 23 dead and injured many others, including Hasina....

 on a rally of Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina is a Bangladeshi politician and current Prime Minister of Bangladesh. She has been the President of the Awami League, a major political party, since 1981. She is the eldest of five children of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh and widow of a reputed nuclear...

 killed 23 people on August 21, 2004. On August 17, 2005, near-synchronized blasts
17 August 2005 Bangladesh bombings
On 17 August 2005, around 500 bomb explosions occurred at 300 locations in 63 out of the 64 districts of Bangladesh. The bombs were exploded within a half hour period starting from 11:30 am. A terrorist organization, Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh claimed responsibility for the bombings...

 of improvised explosive devices in 63 out of 64 administrative districts targeted mainly government buildings and killed two persons. An extremist Islamist group named Jama'atul Mujahideen, Bangladesh (JMB) claimed responsibility for the blasts, which aimed to press home JMB's demand for a replacement of the secular legal system with Islamic sharia courts. Hundreds of senior and mid-level JMB leaders were arrested.

In February 2006, after sporadic boycotts, the AL returned to Parliament, demanded early elections and requested significant changes in the electoral and caretaker government systems to stop alleged moves by the ruling coalition to rig the next election. Dialogue between the Secretaries General of the main ruling and opposition parties failed to sort out the electoral reform issues.

In July 2001, the Awami League government stepped down to allow a caretaker government to preside over parliamentary elections. In August, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina agreed to respect the results of the election, join Parliament win or lose, forswear the use of hartals (violently enforced strikes) as political tools, and if successful in forming a government allow for a more meaningful role for the opposition in Parliament. The caretaker government was successful in containing the violence, which allowed a parliamentary end

Caretaker Government, Oct. 2006–Jan. 2009



On January 3, 2007, the Awami League announced it would boycott the January 22 parliamentary elections. The AL planned a series of country-wide general strikes and transportation blockades.

On January 11, 2007, President Iajuddin Ahmed
Iajuddin Ahmed
-Early life:Ahmed was born in Bikrampur of Dhaka District, erstwhile Bengal province, British India . As the son of Moulvi Ibrahim Mia, Ahmed obtained his B.Sc. and M.S. at the University of Dhaka in 1952 and 1954 respectively and later received his M.S. and Ph.D...

 declared a state of emergency, resigned as Chief Adviser, and indefinitely postponed parliamentary elections. On January 12, 2007, former Bangladesh Bank governor Fakhruddin Ahmed
Fakhruddin Ahmed
Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed is a noted Bangladeshi economist, civil servant, and a former governor of the Bangladesh Bank, the country's central bank...

 was sworn in as the new Chief Adviser, and ten new advisers (ministers) were appointed. Under emergency provisions, the government suspended certain fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution and detained a large number of politicians and others on suspicion of involvement in corruption and other crimes. The government announced elections would occur in late 2008. As of November 19, 2008, elections were scheduled for December 8, 2008.

In the summer of 2007 the government arrested Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, Bangladesh's two most influential political leaders, on charges of corruption. Hasina and Zia have challenged the cases filed against them under the Emergency Power Rules, which deny the accused the right to bail. While the cases are under judicial review, the two leaders continue to be imprisoned as of March 2008.

Grand Alliance January 2009–present


On 19 November 2008 Awami League & Jatiya Party agreed to contest the elections jointly under the Caretaker Government to be held on 29 December 2008. Out of the 300 Constituencies in the Parliament, Ershad's Jatiya Party will contest from 49 seats and Awami League and members of a leftist wing Fourteen Party Coalition from the rest 250 seats. Thus the Grand Alliance emerged in Bangladesh; known as Mohajote in Bangla

On December 29, 2008 Bangladesh went to the polls and the nation elected the Grand Alliance which was led by Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina is a Bangladeshi politician and current Prime Minister of Bangladesh. She has been the President of the Awami League, a major political party, since 1981. She is the eldest of five children of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh and widow of a reputed nuclear...

's Awami League and backed by Hussain Mohammed Ershad's Jatiya Party. On the other hand Khaleda Zia
Khaleda Zia
Begum Khaleda Zia is the former First Lady of Bangladesh , and then Prime Minister of Bangladesh, having served from 1991 to 1996, becoming the first woman in the country's history and second in the Muslim world to head a democratic government as prime minister. She served again from 2001 until...

's BNP-led Four Party Alliance plagued by allegations of Khaleda Zia's and her infamous son Tareq Rahman
Tareq Rahman
Tarique Rahman is a Bangladeshi politician. He is the Senior Vice Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party . His nickname is Pino, which is less used by the public than the nickname, Coco, of his younger brother Arafat Rahman...

's corruption allegations, suffered the most embarrassing defeat ever in Bangladesh's history.

Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister and formed the government and a cabinet which included ministers from Jatiya Party although any post for Hussain Mohammed Ershad, is yet to be decided as the earlier agreed Presidency seems elusive.

The mutiny of borderguards (BDR)
2009 Bangladesh Rifles revolt
The 2009 Bangladesh Rifles revolt was a mutiny staged on 25 and 26 February 2009 in Dhaka by a section of the Bangladesh Rifles , a Bangladeshi paramilitary force mainly associated with guarding the borders of the country. The headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles is situated in Pilkhana...

 took place from 25 to 27 February 2009. More than a thousand BDR soldiers took over the BDR headquarters, and held many of their officers hostage. By the second day fighting spread to 12 other towns and cities. The mutiny ended as the mutineers surrendered their arms and released the hostages after a series of discussions and negotiations with the government. 52 army died in the incident.

See also


  • East Bengal
    East Bengal
    East Bengal was the name used during two periods in the 20th century for a territory that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Bangladesh. Both instances involved a violent partition of Bengal....

  • East Pakistan
    East Pakistan
    East Pakistan was a provincial state of Pakistan established in 14 August 1947. The provincial state existed until its declaration of independence on 26 March 1971 as the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan recognized the new nation on 16 December 1971. East Pakistan was created from Bengal...

  • History of Asia
    History of Asia
    The history of Asia can be seen as the collective history of several distinct peripheral coastal regions such as, East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East linked by the interior mass of the Eurasian steppe....

  • History of Assam
    History of Assam
    The history of Assam is the history of a confluence of people from the east, west and the north; the confluence of the Indo-Aryan, Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman cultures...

  • History of Bengal
    History of Bengal
    The history of Bengal includes modern day Bangladesh and West Bengal, dates back four millennia. To some extent, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers separated it from the mainland of India, though at times, Bengal has played an important role in the history of India.- Etymology :The exact origin...

  • History of Bangladesh (1947-1971)
    History of Bangladesh (1947-1971)
    The history of Bangladesh from 1947 to 1971 covers the period of Bangladesh's history between its independence as a part of Pakistan from British colonial rule in 1947 to its independence from Pakistan in 1971.-Post-partition difficulties:...

  • History of Bangladesh after independence
    History of Bangladesh after independence
    The history of Bangladesh after independence begins in 1971 with the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan.-Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 1972-75:...

  • History of India
    History of India
    The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

  • History of Pakistan
    History of Pakistan
    The 1st known inhabitants of the modern-day Pakistan region are believed to have been the Soanian , who settled in the Soan Valley and Riwat almost 2 million years ago. Over the next several thousand years, the region would develop into various civilizations like Mehrgarh and the Indus Valley...

  • History of South Asia
    History of South Asia
    The term South Asia refers to the contemporary political entities of the Indian subcontinent and associated island. These are the states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the island nations of Sri Lanka and the Maldives....

  • List of Indian Princely States
  • List of Presidents of Bangladesh
  • List of Prime Ministers of Bangladesh
  • List of rulers of Bengal
  • Politics of Bangladesh
    Politics of Bangladesh
    Politics of Bangladesh takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Bangladesh is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the...

  • Timeline of Bangladeshi history
    Timeline of Bangladeshi history
    This is a timeline of Bangladeshi history. It also includes historical events that occurred in the regions now known as West Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Pakistan.-Prehistory and early history :1600 BC: Chalcolithic period...



Sources

  • CIA World Factbook (July 2005). Bangladesh
  • US Department of State (August 2005). "Background Note: Bangladesh"
  • Banglapedia
    Banglapedia
    Banglapedia, or the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, is the first Bangladeshi encyclopedia. It is available in print, CD-ROM format and online, in both Bangla and English. The print version comprises ten 500-page volumes...

    . History of Bangladesh
  • Library of Congress
    Library of Congress
    The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

     (1988). A Country Study: Bangladesh

External links