KHULNA, Mar 12: Khulna city turned into a living volcano from March 1 in 1971 as Bangabandhu Sheikh Muzibur Rahman was practically running the country from Road no. 32 of Dhanmondi in Dhaka when the then Pakistani President Yahia Khan's rule became ineffective in the East Pakistan.
While describing the situation of Khulna during the period, Md. Yunus Ali Inu, former Chhatra League leader, told The Daily Observer that they took mental preparation to form Khulna Chhatra Sangram Parishad (CSP) as per the directive received from the central leaders of Swadhin Bangla Chhatra Sangram Parishad.
"Thousands of people took to the streets in the city chanting slogans against the Pakistani junta, demanding shift of power to Bangabandhu, leader of Awami League, which bagged the highest number of seats in the National Assembly during the 1970 polls," he said.
Inu said an eight-member convening committee was formed at a meeting held at Shaheed Hadis Park led by Chhatra League leader S M Babar Ali. Humayun Kabir Balu was nominated the joint convener while Sheikh Abdul Quyaum, Haider Gazi Salauddin Runu, Hekmot Ali Bhuyian, Abul Kashem, Sirajul Haque Fakir and Mahbub Alam Harun were nominated members of the committee.
Also the Deputy Commander of Muzib Bahini (BLF) during the War of Liberation, Inu said senior Awami League leaders were then guiding the committee members to launch non-cooperation movement against the Pakistani rulers in Khulna region.
"Public and private offices as well as business activities came to a complete halt while the educational institutions suspended academic activities to join the non-cooperation movement against the Pakistani rule.
Both public and private mills as well as other industries including shrimp enclosures in the region remained off from production.
To gear up the movement, Khulna Chhatra Sangram Parishad took a bold decision to hoist the flag of independent Bangladesh in the morning on March 23, 1971 at Shaheed Hadis Park.
Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life under the banner of CSP joined the flag hoisting ceremony.
Meanwhile, CSP followed the decision of central leaders and observed hartal, blockade, rally and protest procession.
Different political parties and labour and student organisations expressed their solidarity with all CSP programmes.
In the industrial belt of Khalishpur and Daulatpur areas, the workers played a vital role in carrying forward the non-cooperation movement.
"I looked after all the movements in this zone since the 1966 six point movement of Bangabandhu," Inu said.
At that time, Khulna was divided into 12 unions and zones and the freedom movement was being led by 12 conveners of CSP as per the directive of Khulna central CSP.
"Khulna Betar Kendra and a weekly newspaper Desher Dak, published by Lutfar Rahman Jahangir, played a vital role to mould the public opinion at that time," said freedom fighter and member of CSP Sheikh Abdul Quyum.
Quyum, also the present chairperson of Khulna Citizen Forum, told The Daily Observer that the freedom loving people attended all CSP programmes, set ablaze the Pakistani flags elsewhere and showed their mental preparation to say goodbye to Pakistan.
Recalling the history of mass movement in March of 1971, Quyum became emotional while saying that Hadis, an employee of a laundry shop, was the first martyr in Khulna before the start of the Liberation War.
Hadis was killed and 50 others were injured when the Pakistani police opened fire on a procession of CSP that paraded from Bangladesh Bank intersection to the-then Gandhi Park in the first week of March.
"At a meeting, it was decided that the park should be named after the first martyr of Khulna. Ultimately, the park has been named as Shaheed Hadis Park," Quyum said.
Awami League used to hold meeting at this park every day after the killing of Hadis. All latest news along with directives about the non-cooperation movement was circulated from the park everyday at that time.