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Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra


Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra radio broadcasting centre established by the Bangladesh government in exile soon after the declaration of the war of liberation. The Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, in fact, evolved from the Kalurghat (chittagong) transmission centre from where the declaration of independence was made by ziaur rahman on behalf of bangabandhu sheikh mujibur rahman. The Kalurghat radio centre was abandoned when it was heavily shelled by the Pakistan Air Force on March 30. The centre, however, resumed its second phase of activities from 3 April 1971 at Bagafa (Tripura State) with a short wave transmitter. The centre was later shifted to Shalbagan and Bagafa-Belonia Forest Hills Road, Agartala. The key person in organising the centre in its early stage was Belal Muhammad, a scriptwriter and artiste of Radio Pakistan. Several other liberation activists who joined later included Abdullah-Al-Faruque, Abul Kashem Sandwip, Kazi Habibuddin Ahmed Moni, Aminur Rahman, Rashidul Hussain, A M Sharfuzzaman, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Syed Abdus Shaker, and Mustafa Monwar. The damaged transmitter that they brought with them from Kalurghat was made operative by engineer Syed Abdus Shaker. The daily programme in this phase consisted of a morning transmission between 8.30 and 9 and an afternoon session between 5 and 7.

On May 25, the centre was shifted to Calcutta where it started functioning on the same day. With the arrival of new and experienced radio personnel from Dhaka, the centre became fully operative technically. From May 26, it was named Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. In August, appointment letters were issued for various positions with effect from June 1971.

Two most popular programmes of Swadhin Bangla Betar were 'Charampatra' and 'Jallader Darbar'. Jallader Darbar written by Kalyan Mitra was a satiric serial exposing the inhuman and beastly nature of General Yahya Khan who was depicted in it as 'Kella Fateh Khan'. Raju Ahmed acted in the main role. Charampatra, a satirical composition, was planned by Abdul Mannan, a Member of National Assembly, and written in typical Dhaka dialect by M R akhter mukul , who himself used to read it out. The programme proved to be immensely popular. It evinced exceptional sense of humour and a nationalist spirit that helped keep the morale of the freedom fighters high.

Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra was renamed Bangladesh Betar on 6 December 1971, when India gave formal recognition to independent Bangladesh and its provisional government. The Bangladesh government moved to Dhaka on 22 December 1971 and Bangladesh Betar started broadcasting in independent Bangladesh on the same day. [M Siddiqur Rahman]