Provisional Government 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. Formed in early April 1971, the provisional government confirmed the declaration of independence of East Pakistan made earlier by Bengali nationalist leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 26 March. Sheikh Mujib was subsequently detained in West Pakistan while the leaders of the Bengali liberation movement led by the Awami League fled Dhaka amid a brutal crackdown by the Pakistan Army.

Senior leaders of the Awami League and Bengali defectors from Pakistani civil and armed services formed a provisional government for Bangladesh on 10 April, 1972. A formal swearing in ceremony was held on 17 April at a mango orchard in the border town of Baidyanathtala in Meherpur District in northwestern Bangladesh. Baidyanathtala was also renamed Mujibnagar (City of Mujib) by the provisional government as a tribute to the immense popularity of Sheikh Mujib, whose fate was unknown at the time as he was detained in West Pakistan awaiting a trial for treason. The government in exile came to be popularly termed as the Mujibnagar Government.

The Mujibnagar government coordinated war efforts from a colonial mansion on 8 Shakespeare Sarani in Kolkata (then Calcutta) with the active support of the Indian government. During the course of the war, the majority of Bengali civil servants and diplomats serving Pakistan began defecting. They subsequently joined the Mujibnagar government, and operated a secretariat in Kolkata as well as foreign missions in several Asian, European and North American capitals. A group of leading Bengali intellectuals were appointed Special Envoys and began touring western capitals advocating the Bangladesh cause while leading Bengali cultural figures and activists operated the radio station Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra (Free Bengal Radio Station).