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Bangladesh Table of Contents


Table A. Chronology of Important Events


Ancient Empires

ca. 1000 B.C.
     Settlement of Bengal (see Glossary) by Dravidian-speaking

ca. 550-486 B.C.
     Life of Siddartha Gautama--the Buddha; founding of Buddhism

ca. 320-180 B.C.
     Mauryan Empire; reign of Asoka (273-232 B.C.); spread of

A.D. ca. 319-ca. 540
     Gupta Empire; Classical Age in northern India

     North Indian empire of Harsha

     Pala Dynasty

     Sena Dynasty

Coming of Islam

     Turkish armies led by Mahmud of Ghazni raid into Indian

     Turkish conquerors defeat Sena Dynasty and overrun Bengal

     Establishment of Delhi Sultanate

     Bengal achieves independence from Delhi; Dhaka established as

The Mughal Period

     Babur lays foundation of Mughal Empire

     Akbar the Great expands and reforms the empire

     Bengal conquered by Mughals

     Reign of Jahangir; British East India Company opens first
     trading post in 1612

     Reign of Aurangzeb, last great Mughal ruler

     Capital of Bengal moved from Dhaka to Murshidabad

     Lesser emperors; decline of the Mughal Empire

British Period

Company Rule
     Battle of Plassey--British victory over Mughal forces in Bengal; 
     British rule in India begins

     Britain imposes Permanent Settlement (Landlease) Act on Bengal, 
     establishing a new landlord system, which turns out to be 
     disastrous for farmers

     Institution of British education and other reform measures

     Revolt of Indian sepoys (soldiers) against British East India Company

     British East India Company dissolved; rule of India under the British
     crown--the British Raj--begins; marks formal end of Mughal Empire

Empire to Independence
     Indian National Congress (Congress) formed

     Partition of Bengal into separate provinces of East Bengal 
     (including Assam) and West Bengal

     All-India Muslim League (Muslim League) founded

     Morley-Minto reforms: separate electorates for Muslims

     Partition of Bengal annulled

     Congress-Muslim League Pact (often referred to as Lucknow Pact) signed

     India Act

     Government of India Act

     Muslim League adopts Lahore Resolution; "Two Nations" theory
     articulated by Muslim League leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah and others

     "Direct action day" of Muslim League, August 16

Independent Pakistan

August 15, 1947
     Partition of British India; India achieves independence and 
     incorporates West Bengal and Assam; Pakistan is created and
     incorporates East Bengal (the East Wing, or East Pakistan) and
     territory in the northwest (the West Wing, or West Pakistan);
     Jinnah becomes governor general of Pakistan; Liaquat Ali Khan
     becomes prime minister

October 27, 1947
     Undeclared war with India begins

September 11, 1948
     Jinnah dies; Khwaja Nazimuddin becomes governor general

January 1, 1949
     United Nations-arranged ceasefire between Pakistan and India
     takes effect

October 16, 1951
     Liaquat assassinated; Nazimuddin becomes prime minister;
     Ghulam Mohammad becomes governor general

October 6, 1955
     Iskander Mirza sworn in as governor general, succeeding Ghulam
     Mohammad, who had retired in ill health the previous month

March 23, 1956
     Constitution adopted; Mirza becomes president

August 8, 1956
     Muslim League leader Choudhry Mohammad Ali tenders resignation
     as prime minister and is succeeded the following month by
     Awami League (People's League) leader Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy

October 7, 1958
     President Mirza abrogates constitution and declares martial law

October 27, 1958
     Mirza sent into exile; General Mohammad Ayub Khan begins rule
     August-September 1965
     War with India

March 25, 1969
     Ayub resigns as result of public pressure; General Agha 
     Mohammad Yahya Khan assumes power; East Pakistani Awami League
     leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Mujib) arrested and jailed in
     West Pakistan

December 7, 1970
     First general elections; Awami League under Mujib secures
     absolute majority in new Constituent Assembly; West
     Pakistan-dominated government declines to convene assembly

March 26-28, 1971
     East Pakistan attempts to secede, beginning civil war; Mujib,
     imprisoned in West Pakistan, declared provisional president

April 17, 1971
     Formal declaration of independence of Bangladesh issued; Mujib
     named president

December 3, 1971
     Pakistan launches preemptive air strikes against India

December 4, 1971
     India invades East Pakistan

December 6, 1971
     India recognizes Bangladesh

December 16, 1971
     Pakistani military forces in East Pakistan surrender to Indian
     armed forces, marking Bangladeshi independence

Independent Bangladesh

January 10-12, 1972
     Mujib returns from prison in West Pakistan; promulgates 
     interim constitution and is sworn in first as president, then
     as prime minister

November 4, 1972
     Parliamentary Constitution adopted

March 7, 1973
     Mujib's Awami League wins overwhelming victory in 
     parliamentary elections

February 22, 1974
     Pakistan recognizes Bangladesh

September 17, 1974
     Bangladesh admitted to United Nations

December 28, 1974
     State of emergency declared as political situation 
     deteriorates; fundamental rights under Constitution suspended

January 25, 1975
     Constitution amended, abolishing parliamentary system and 
     establishing presidential system with de facto one-man rule 
     under Mujib

February 25, 1975
     Mujib abolishes all parties but one--the Bangladesh Krishak
     Sramik Awami League (Bangladesh Peasants, Workers, and
     People's League), the new name of the Awami League--which is
     under his direct control

August 15, 1975
     Mujib assassinated in "majors' plot"; Khondakar Mushtaque
     Ahmed installed as president

November 3-7, 1975
     Major General Khaled Musharraf killed in coup; Mushtaque
     resigns; Supreme Court chief justice Abu Sadat Muhammad Sayem
     becomes president and chief martial law administrator on
     November 7

November 30, 1976
     Army chief of staff Ziaur Rahman (Zia) becomes chief martial
     law administrator

April 21, 1977
     Sayem forced to resign because of "ill health"; Zia becomes

May 30, 1977
     Zia wins 98.9 percent of votes in referendum on his
     continuance as president

June 3, 1977
     Supreme Court justice Abdus Sattar named vice president

April 1978
     Zia announces new elections and independent judiciary; lifts
     ban on political parties

June 3, 1978
     Zia elected president

February 18, 1979
     Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party wins 207 out of 300 seats
     in parliamentary election

April 6, 1979
     Martial law revoked; Constitution restored in full; Fifth 
     Amendment ratifies all actions of Zia's martial law

May 30, 1981
     Zia assassinated; Sattar becomes acting president

November 15, 1981
     Sattar elected president

March 24, 1982
     Sattar ousted in coup engineered by Lieutenant General
     Hussain Muhammad Ershad; Constitution suspended, Parliament 
     dissolved, and political parties abolished; Ershad assumes
     full powers as chief martial law administrator

February 14-15, 1983
     Student riots mark first major expression of public
     opposition to Ershad's martial law administration

March 1982-December 1983
     Interim presidency of Abdul Fazal Muhammad Ahsanuddin 

December 1983
     Ershad assumes presidency

March 21, 1985
     General referendum supports Ershad's administration

May 7, 1986
     Parliamentary elections give pro-Ershad Jatiyo Party 
     (National Party) majority in Parliament

October 15, 1986
     Ershad elected president

November 10, 1986
     Parliament passes Seventh Amendment to Constitution,
     ratifying all actions of Ershad's martial law 
     administration; martial law withdrawn; Constitution restored
     in full

November 10-12, 1987
     "Siege of Dhaka," mass demonstrations by united opposition
     parties against Ershad's government

December 6, 1987
     Ershad dissolves Parliament

March 3, 1988
     Parliamentary elections reaffirm Jatiyo Party control of

June 7, 1988
     Eighth Amendment establishes Islam as state religion

Data as of September 1988

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