History of Chittagong

Chittagong (Bengali: চট্টগ্রাম, Chôţţogram) is Bangladesh's main seaport and its second-largest city and the 11th largest city within the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and also the 56th largest urban agglomation in the world.[5] The capital of the eponymous district and division, it is situated in the southeastern portion of the country, and was built on the banks of the Karnaphuli River, and has a population over of over 2.5 million.

Nestled between the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the Bay of Bengal, Chittagong is a major commercial center and Bangladesh's busiest seaport. Much of Bangladesh's export and import passes through the Port of Chittagong. The port has extensive modern facilities which are awaiting further development in the coming years in order to cater to the economies of Bangladesh, North East India, Nepal, Bhutan, Southwest China and parts of BurmaAccording to a report released by International Institute for Environment and Development, a UK-based policy research non-governmental body, Chittagong is one of among the 3 Bangladeshi cities, which have made it (10th) into the list of 100 fastest growing cities in the world.Mzuch of the city is surrounded by hilly terrains.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the city had been a Portuguese colony before falling under Mughal rule. During the British Raj, it became a hot bed for revolutionary activities. In the Second World War, Chittagong served as a major lifeline for Allied forces fighting in the Burma Campaign. After the Partition of India, the city became a part of East Pakistan. During the Bangladesh Liberation War, Chittagong witnessed some of the heaviest fighting with the Mukti Bahini attacking Pakistani navy ships and the Indian navy firing missiles at Pakistani naval installations. It was in Chittagong where Awami League leader M A Hannan and liberation war hero and future Bangladeshi president Ziaur Rahman famously announced the declaration of independence of the country on behalf of independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Chittagong was also where the assassination of President Ziaur Rahman had taken place during a failed mutiny in 1981.

Panorama of Chittagong

More than six hundred years ago an Islamic preach Hazrat Badar Aawlia arrived in this city from the seas and chose Cheragi Pahar as his vantage point to spread the message of Islam among the locals. It was at the apex of this hill that the pious messenger lit a chati (lamp) and called out (ajaan) for people to join him in saying prayer to God. Chittagong's etymology can then be traced unmistakably back to "chati." And the hills are at the core of Chittagong's mythology

Another theory is that the first group of kulin brahmins to have settled in this region (after it was incorporated into Bengal from the Arakanese) were 'chatt-upadhyays'. Hence this region came to be known as chatto-gan (gan [with a chandrabindu] is the prakrit/bengali term for village). A fact confirming this theory is that the majority of the kayastha of this region were of the kashyap gotra, which is also the gotra of the Chattopadhyays.

History of Chittagong

Ships moored off Chittagong in the late 1820s.

Chittagong has been a seaport since ancient times. Arabs traded with the port from the 9th Century AD. The Chittagong region was under the Vesali kingdom of Arakan during the Sixth to Eighth Centuries and under the Mrauk U kingdom of Arakan in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Chittagong had been under the control of the Arakanese or kings of Arakan for hundreds of years. An account by historian Lama Taranath has revealed a Buddhist king Gopichandra had his capital at Chittagong in the Tenth Century, and according to Tibetan tradition, Chittagong was the birthplace of the Buddhist Tantric Tilayogi, who lived and worked in the Tenth Century.[13] In the Fourteenth Century, explorer Ibn Battuta passed through Chittagong during his travels.

Sultan Fakruddin Mubarak Shah of Sonargaon conquered Chittagong in 1340. Sultan Giasuddin Mubarak Shah constructed a highway from Chittagong to Chandpur and ordered the construction of many lavish mosques and tombs. After the defeat of Mahmud Shah in the hands of Sher Shah in 1538, the Arakanese regained Chittagong. From this time onward, until its conquest by the Mughals, this region was under the control of the Portuguese and the Magh pirates (a notorious name for Arakanese) for 128 years.

The Mughal Commandar Shaista Khan and his son Buzurg Umed Khan expelled the Arakanese from the area in 1666 and established Mughal rule there. They renamed Chittagong as Islamabad. The city was occupied by Burmese troops shortly in First Anglo-Burmese War in 1824 and the British increasingly grew active in the region and it fell under the British Empire. The people of Chittagong made several attempts to gain independence from the British, notably on November 18, 1857 when the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th companies of the 34th Bengal Infantry Regiment stationed at Chittagong rose in rebellion and released all the prisoners from jail but were suppressed by the Kuki scouts and the Sylhet Light Infantry (10th Gurkha Rifles).

Chittaong grew at the beginning of the twentieth century after the partition of Bengal and the creation of the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. The construction of the Assam Bengal Railway to Chittagong facilitated further development of economic growth in the city. However, revolutionaries and opposition movements grew during this time. Many people in Chittagong supported Khilafat and Non-Cooperation movements.

The Great Chittagong Uprising of 1930 and the Aftermath

Revolution was never far from the surface and one group of Bengali youths under the leadership of Masterda Surya Sen formed the secret Republican Army. He set up camps for revolutionary youths to train in guerilla tactics against the British occupation of India. The members of the revolutionary groups believed in armed uprisings for Indian independence to liberate India from the oppressive and exploitative British colonial rule. The leader was Masterda Surya Sen. Apart from Surya Sen, the group included Ganesh Ghosh, Lokenath Baul, Nirmal Sen, Ambika Chakrobarty, Naresh Roy, Sasanka Datta, Ardhendu Dastidar, Harigopal Baul, Tarakeswar Dastidar, Ananta Singh, Jiban Ghoshal, Anand Gupta, Pritilata Waddedar, Kalpana Dutta and Suresh Dey. Also among them was 14-year-old Subodh Roy (d. August 27, 2006). He too was jailed in the Andaman Islands but released in 1940.

Surya Sen devised the strategy of capturing the two main armouries in Chittagong and then destroying the telegraph and telephone office, followed by capital punishment of the notorious members of the "European Club", the majority of whom were government or military officials involved in maintaining British Raj in India. Firearms retailers were also to be raided; and rail and communication lines were scheduled to be disrupted. The plan was put into action at 10 o'clock on April 18, 1930. As per plan, the armoury of the police was captured by a group of revolutionaries led by Ganesh Ghosh and another group of ten, led by Lokenath Baul took over the Auxiliary Force armoury. Unfortunately they could not locate the ammunition. The revolutionaries also succeeded in dislocating telephone and telegraph communications and disrupting the movement of the trains. Total sixtyfive revolutionaries took part in the raid, which was undertaken in the name of the Indian Republican Army, Chittagong branch. After the successful raids, all the revolutionary groups gathered outside the police armoury where Surya Sen took a military salute, hoisted the National Flag and proclaimed a Provisional Revolutionary Government. The revolutionaries left Chittagong town before dawn and marched towards the Chittagong hill ranges, looking for a safe place

After a few days, the police traced some of the revolutionaries. They were surrounded by several thousand troops while taking shelter in the Jalalabad hills on the outskirts of Chittagong on the afternoon of April 22, 1930.

Over 80 British troops and 12 of the revolutionaries were killed in the ensuing gunfight. Surya Sen decided to disperse into neighbouring villages in small groups and the revolutionaries escaped accordingly. Very few revolutionaries fled to Calcutta (present Kolkata), while some revolutionaries were arrested in Chittagong.

Many of the revolutionaries managed to reorganize the broken group. On 24 September 1932, 8 young rebels led by Pritilata Waddedar attacked the European Club. During 1930-32 , 22 officials and 220 non- officials were killed by the revolutionarists in separate incidents.

The so-called "first armoury raid case" (i.e. The Great Chittagong Uprising) concluded in January 1932 and the judgement was delivered on March 1, 1932. The sentences were deportation for life for 12, three years' imprisonment for 2 and the rest of a total of 32 persons on trial were acquitted. The Chittagong revolutionaries suffered a fatal blow when Masterda Surya Sen was arrested on February 16, 1933 from Gairala village, because of a tip-off from a traitor in the group. He was tried and was hanged on January 12, 1934.

World War II

During World War II, the British used Chittagong as an important military base. Frequent bombardment by the Japanese air force,[clarification needed] notably in April 1942 and again on 20 and 24 December 1942, resulted in military relocation to Comilla. Neverless the war had a major negative impact on the city, with the growth of refugees and uneveness in fortune, reflected in the Great Famine of 1943.[13]he port was blocked during the liberation war

Post World War and Liberation of Bangladesh

After the war, rapid industrialisation and development saw the city grow beyond its previous municipal area, particularly in the southwest up to Patenga, where Chittagong International Airport is now located.[13] The former villages of Halishahar, Askarabad and Agrabad became integrated into the city. The Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) was established by the government of East Pakistan in 1959 to manage this growth and drew up a master plan to be reviewed every five years to plan its urban development. By 1961 the CDA had drawn up a regional plan covering an area of 212 sq mi (549 km2) and a master plan covering an area of 100 sq mi (259 km2).[13] Over the decades, especially after the losses of 1971, the master plan developed into several specific areas of management, including the Multi-Sectoral Investment Plan for drainage and flood-protection of Chittagong City and a plan for easing the traffic congestion and making the system more efficient.

During the Bangladesh War of Liberation of 1971, Chittagong suffered massive losses in people and buildings given that they denied the occupation army access to the port. The first public announcement ever made over the radio declaring Independence and the start of the War of Liberation was also made in the city, from the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra located at Kalurghat, Chittagong. Following the independence of Bangladesh the city underwent a major rehabilitation and reconstruction programme and retained its functioning as a port within a few years.