The immortal poem of March 7 and the emergence of Bangladesh

Professor Dr. Syed Shamsuddin Ahmed


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The outstanding contribution of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is intertwined in the history of the freedom struggle. From the great language movement to the attainment of independent-sovereign Bangladesh, his immense courage, boundless sacrifice, strong leadership and the right direction in the path of this long friend has led the nation to the desired goal.

Following this, on March 7, 1971, the great architect of independence, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, ignoring the bloody eyes of the then Pakistani ruling class, bravely called for independence in front of millions of people on the racecourse grounds.

He said, ‘... this time the struggle is for our liberation, this time the struggle is for freedom. Joy Bangla. '

Basically this was the call for freedom. However, before his arrest, in the early hours of March 26, 1971, the Father of the Nation declared the long-awaited independence of the Bengali nation.

We achieved an independent-sovereign Bangladesh through a long nine-month armed liberation war under the leadership of Bangabandhu. Therefore, the importance and significance of the speech of March 7 is immense in achieving our independence.

Containing this speech, the brave boys of Bengal fought to the death. He has devoted himself to patriotism in the way he has had the opportunity.

Although Bangabandhu was imprisoned in West Pakistan for nine months of the war, he was with the people of Bengal all the time. The people of this country used to shed blood in his thunderous speech. That is why they have liberated the country from the enemy with their lives in the midst of hundreds of hardships.

Today, the historic speech given by Bangabandhu at the largest public meeting of the commemoration period at the then Racecourse Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan) has been recognized by UNESCO as an important authentic heritage of the world.

The speech is included in the Memory of the World International Registrar. UNESCO has compiled this list with the aim of preserving the information-based heritage of the world and benefiting the next generation.

In this context, for the first time, the government is celebrating the 'historic 7th March' as a national day. In the Covid-19 situation, the day is being celebrated in different ways, though the program is limited.

The setting of March 7 was set against the backdrop of a series of political movements. Pakistan's twenty-four year history was one of exploitation and deprivation. The artificial state established on the basis of bi-ethnicity was hostile to the Bengalis from the very beginning. Ever since then, under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib, the Bengalis have continued to struggle for the establishment of their rights and dignity. Thus Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became the symbol of hope and aspiration of the Bengali nation.

In the meantime, no general election had been held in Pakistan in the 23 years since its establishment as an independent state. The first general election was held in January 1971. In that election, the Awami League led by Bangabandhu won 167 of the 189 seats in the National Assembly in the province of East Pakistan.

The National Assembly of Pakistan had 300 seats. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) came in second with 83 seats in West Pakistan. That election was the verdict of the people against Bangabandhu's 6 points.

After the Awami League won an absolute majority in the elections, Pakistan's military-civilian bureaucracy, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Qayyum Khan's Muslim League, etc., went beyond democratic norms and started conspiring.

All in all, it was clear from their behavior that they would not hand over power to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib. On the other hand, they were wasting time on various tactics and were making military preparations to attack the Bengalis.

Meanwhile, Bangabandhu remained steadfast in the customs of democratic politics. On 3 January 1981, he administered the oath of office to the public representatives of his party at a public meeting at Suhrawardy Udyan.

Compose the constitution on the basis of 6 points and take an oath to remain faithful to the verdict of the people. Meanwhile, on 13 February, President General Yahya Khan convened a session of the National Assembly in Dhaka on March 3.

At a press conference on February 15, Bhutto said he would not attend the National Assembly session in Dhaka. He will boycott the session.

As a reason for this, he mentioned, if the constitution is written on the basis of 6 points, there is no guarantee of a stable future for Pakistan. Apart from that, if he comes to Dhaka, his party members will be held hostage. These were part of his irresponsible statements and conspiracies.

On February 22, President Yahya abruptly dismissed his cabinet. People's Party spokesman Abdul Hafiz Peerzada claimed that the president had canceled his cabinet under pressure from their party. Seeing these signs, Bangabandhu could understand that there was a deep conspiracy of the West Pakistani ruling class against the people of Bangladesh.

Bhutto told reporters in Karachi that forming an Awami League government would be a "dictatorship of the majority" or a dictatorship of the majority.

Bangabandhu did not raise his voice in protest of such provocative statements. However, on February 28, he said that Bhutto's statement was against democracy. In a democracy, the majority party forms the government.

Bangabandhu said Mr. Bhutto's wish was to establish a dictatorship of minority parties in Pakistan, the dictatorship of the minority would not be accepted by the people of Bengal.

"We will not impose 6 points on anyone," he said. If a member also makes a reasonable claim, it will be accepted.

Bangabandhu said that he had discussed the latest political situation in the country with Maulana Bhasani, Nurul Amin, Ataur Rahman Khan, Mozaffar Ahmed and others.

A meeting of the parliamentary party of the Awami League was held on March 1 at Purbani Hotel in preparation for attending the National Assembly session on March 3. At the same time, it was announced on the radio that the President had adjourned the session of the National Assembly.

The people of Bangladesh were already outraged by the authoritarian behavior of the ruling class. But with Yahya's speech on the radio, people took to the streets, regardless of party affiliation.

Their slogans like 'Your and my address, Padma Meghna Jamuna', 'Pindi Na Dhaka — Dhaka, Dhaka' etc. became popular all around.

The whole city of Dhaka became crowded. In this situation Bangabandhu gave a six-day program. That is - full strike in Dhaka on March 2 and strike across the country on March 3.

Bangabandhu announced that he would address a public meeting on March 7 at Racecourse Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan). The visionary leader Bangabandhu also said, "Apart from Bhutto's party and Qayyum Khan's Muslim League, we will be able to formulate a constitution."

At the same time, it was informed that the next program will be announced in the public meeting on March 7. In such a context, Bangabandhu gave a speech at the racecourse ground. His speech is exceptional and unique in the history of the best political speeches in the world. All the other best speeches were written. But Bangabandhu's speech is unwritten.

He spontaneously spoke his mind to the crowd. Sheikh Mujib started his 19-minute speech by addressing the crowd as ' My brothers'.

He said ‘you all know and understand’. He considered the crowd as his companions. He was aware of all the sorrows and pains of his companions.

Only the people of Bengal were alive in his mind. So he presented a poem of their grief on behalf of all in his historical speech

At one stage of the speech, the speaker-listener did not notice when the present crowd turned from 'you' to 'you' by mixing the feelings of the common people of Bengal with their own feelings.

Bangabandhu said, ‘... I have a request to you, build forts in every house. You have to deal with the enemy with everything you have and all the roads in your life if I can't give orders, you will stop .... Remember, when I have given blood, I will give more blood. I will release the people of this country Inshallah. '

Through this speech, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman directed a guerrilla war. At the end of the speech, the streets of Dhaka became pro-independence. Bangabandhu actually declared independence on March 7. Sheikh Mujib, the leader of the people, was very careful about this.

In the late sixties, separatist movements were going on in many countries of the world. Biafra was fighting for independence in Nigeria under Colonel Ozuku. There was bloodshed but the rebels were not getting international support. The movement was also going on in Indonesia. Bangabandhu had an idea about the negative aspects and weaknesses of those movements.

He realized that the consequences of recklessness are not good and that reckless leaders never get the support of the world. At that time, international media reports showed that Bangabandhu had the support of the international community for his restrained behavior and the opposition government of Pakistan was condemned.

He declared independence so cleverly that the Pakistani army did not dare to attack the rally despite Yahya Khan's instructions and preparations.

In an intelligence report from the Pakistan Army, an official said that Sheikh Mujib had tactfully left with the declaration of independence, but we could not do anything (Deutsche Welled, 31 October 2017).

Bangabandhu delivered a fluent speech using common language and words understood by the common people. He also pointed out that people were dying every day at the hands of Pakistani forces. Yahya also mentioned in his speech that the National Assembly would convene on March 25 in Dhaka. He highlighted the background of 23 years of politics in Pakistan.

Bangabandhu said, "... he called the assembly on the 25th. The blood stains did not dry out. With blood on the ground, on the martyrs, the assembly will not be open. ... I don't want to be prime minister. We want the rights of the people of the country .... When we have learned to die, no one can control us. '

He also addressed his fiercest opponents and enemies with courtesy. Bangabandhu said, Mr. Yahya Khan, Mr. Bhutto. He announced four conditions for resolving political issues and joining the National Assembly that no one could say was unreasonable. That is why the people of the world supported the liberation war of Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu was a visionary leader. This popular and democratic leader wanted to keep the way open for the people of Bangladesh to achieve their rights through peaceful means. He had been in talks with Yahya and Bhutto since March 7.

They wanted to suppress the Bengalis with arms. Prohibiting the Pakistani troops, Bangabandhu said in his speech, '... you are my brother, you stay in the barracks, no one will tell you anything. But don't try to shoot us in the chest anymore. We can't keep seven crore people under control. When we learn to die, no one can stop us. '

But the unarmed Bengalis jumped to destroy the armed forces. The Bengalis did not accept anymore, they resisted.

Bangabandhu prepared the exploited and oppressed Bengali nation for independence. It was in his speech on March 7, 1971 that a new horizon of liberation war and freedom struggle was opened.

We are going to celebrate the golden jubilee of independence; we have celebrated the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation. This year is historic. In this context, this speech is still the inspiration of our national life. Bangabandhu is not there, but his direction remains the same today. Under that direction, Bangladesh, Joy Bangla will move forward under the leadership of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Author-Vice-Chancellor, Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib University of Science and Technology; Jamalpur. E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]