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Bangabandhu’s speech of 7 March: A stair of our independence

Bangabandhu’s speech of 7 March: A stair of our independence

Iqbal Hossain

On the basis of infamous two-nation theory the British divided India into two parts- Pakistan and India in 1947. The people of East Pakistan and West Pakistan whose language and culture were different and where the distance between the two was about twelve hundred miles apart had begun to live together, having only religion in common.

The Bangalees, as inhabitants of Pakistan, had thought that at the end of the British rule, they themselves would rule the country and live in peace in Pakistan but their dreams began to fizzle out very soon. The leaders of West Pakistan began to deceive the Bangalees immediately after creating Pakistan. Attacking our language was their first attempt.

The Bangalees, under the leadership of Sher-e-Bangla A.K Fazlul Haque, Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardi, Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman started their movement. Language movement of 1952, 21 point movement of 1954, education movement of 1962 and 1964, six-point movement of 1966, Agartata conspiracy trial and mass upsurge of 1969 were the historic events of Bangalees.

The then government of Pakistan was forced to hold general election in 1970. In this election, the people of East Pakistan, under the leadership of the Awami League and on the basis of 6-point programme clinched an unprecedented victory. The Bangalees hoped naturally that they would get the responsibility to rule the country. Even President Yahia Khan said to Bangabandhu, ‘You will be the future Prime Minister of Pakistan.’ In reply Bangabandhu said, ‘If I am Prime Minister, then you will be the President.’ But due to Zulfikar Ali Bhutta’s conspiracy this cordially conversation was not lasting. They had stubbornly refused to give up power to Bangalees, led by Bangabandhu. Yahia Khan, at the end called the session of the National Assembly in Dhaka on March 3 in 1971, but due to Bhutta’s opposition, Yahia cancelled the session on March 1. Soon after Yahia’s radio speech, people burst into furious agitation across the country.

The’ Chattra Sangram Parisad’ hoisted Bangladesh’s flag at the Dhaka University on March 2 torching the Pakistani flag. Bangabandhu called a non-violent non-co-operation at a public meeting at the paltan maiddan on March 3. Half-day hartal was observed from March 4 to 6. Some people were killed by the army in Rangpur, Dhaka and Chittagong. In this situation, a public meeting was called on March 7. This was a significant day in Bangalees’ life. Bangabandhu gave the people a stirring call for independence struggle on that day. It was an unprecedented revolt. There were unrestrained and thunderous slogans everywhere like ‘Heroic Bangalee take up arm, create an independent Bangladesh’ (Bir Bangalee Astro Dhoro, Bangladesh Shadhin Koro).

In this historical public meeting, which was held at 4 pm, Bangabandhu gave speech only for 18 minutes but within this time, he focused in brief about deceit, oppression and neglect on Bangalees in the last 23 years by the rulers of Pakistan. On the other hand, he, criticizing the Yahya government’s activities and conspiracy about power transfer called upon the people to remain prepared for struggle for independence. Bangabandhu said in his speech: ‘We gave blood in1952 and even after winning in the election, did not get ruling power in 1954. President Ayub Khan imposed military rule in 1958 and made us slaves for ten years. It was given 6-point in 1966 and afterwards, the military rulers killed many of my innocent brothers’. After fall of Ayub Khan in the mass upsurge of 1969, Yahya Khan took power and said that he would give back the power to the people. We all know the incidents in later times. Mujib gave direction to the Bangalee service-holders to go for non-co-operation to all acts of the government.

He gave directives to close down all government, non-government, autonomous offices, secretariat, courts and educational institutions etc for certain period. At last, he declared the struggle for the independence of Bangladesh. Mujib said, ‘And if a single bullet is shot on my man, make fort in every house. We have to encounter the enemies taking up whatever we have’. He said, ‘If I fall to give further orders, you will shut down everything. This struggle is for our freedom, this struggle for independence’. In fact, Bangladesh became independent since March 7, 1971 and Bangabandhu was its hero. He took over on March and issued 35 directives. After getting directive in on March 7, people began to take military training under the leadership of the Awami League.

The Pakistani army committed inhuman massacre in the EPR headquarters (Pilkhana), police headquarters and students’ halls of Dhaka University at the dead of night on March 25 and arrested Bangabandhu. As a result, only Bangabandhu’s directives of March 7 were in Bangalees’ hands.

The news of the massacre in Dhaka by the Pakistani army was known across the country on March 26. Farmers, workers, students, young people and general masses were bursting into agitation. They closed all highways, railways and river ways of East Pakistan. They started procuring sticks, choppers, scissors and axes etc. Afterwards Bangalees waged a liberation war against the occupation army of Pakistan and brought liberation on 16 December 1971 and the new country Bangladesh was born.

The writer is a columnist and retired deputy director, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

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