Flashback March 1971
AL refuses to talk indefinitely with Yahya
Published : Wednesday, 25 March, 2020 at 12:00 AM Count : 501
On March 24, two sessions of discussion meetings took place between the representatives of both parties regarding economic issues of the draft constitution submitted by the Awami League. During the discussion while Awami League representatives proposed insertion of 'confederation' instead of 'federation' in the draft constitution, the government party protested and termed it as a basic change in the principles of the Awami League.
In the evening a meeting was arranged between Awami League and the government side in the President's residence where Awami League leaders Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed and Kamal Hossain were present. After the two hour meeting Tajuddin Ahmed told waiting journalists that Awami League has given their part of the speech. And they have said that Awami League is not willing to continue the talks for an indefinite period.
He expressed his anxiety at the military activities in East Pakistan. In a press conference Sheikh Mujib uttered a note of caution that the Bangalis would not yield to any decision under pressure. He instructed to carry on the movement with more determination. The advisers of Yahiya and Mujib met.
From Morning to night without any rest, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman continued to deliver speeches for the many processions that arrived at his doorsteps. He said we don't want any more discussions now we want an announcement. He said if no solution is reached within tomorrow, Bangladeshis will find a solution for themselves, no conspiracy can now hold us back, and we are united. If any decision is forced on us, that will not be accepted in any way.
"Whatever conspiracy you indulge in you will not succeed in suppressing the demands of the people. We would not bow our heads to any force. We will free the people of Bangladesh," Bangabandhu said.
From midnight of March 23 to March 24 morning, the Pakistan Army surrounded the Sayedpur Army Cantonment along with the surrounding areas of Botlagari, Golahaat and Kundul Gram and killed almost a 100 villagers people and leaving at least 1000 others injured. In the city, curfew was clamped and along with non-Bengalis the Army and set fire to houses of Bengalis. A handful of civilians and fought a pitched battle with the Pakistan army in front of the Rangpur Medical College and centering which the army carried a carnage in the surrounding areas killing 50 unarmed civilians.
Tajuddin Ahmed, the then General Secretary of Awami League, urged the people to be vigilant and to be ready to make any sacrifice to defeat the conspiracies of anti-people forces.
People's Party chief went and joined the meeting at the President's Residence in the afternoon and later came out and told journalists that the present situation here [East Pakistan]is very dire and extremely unfortunate. He also said that he has immense love for the people of Bangladesh but he has a national responsibility in the face of such a grave crisis where he is ready to give up his life to ensure that Pakistan remains united.
Rumors abound that Yahya would hand over power on March 25. Bhutto stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel (Sheraton Hotel).
Curfew was imposed in Dhaka. The army along with non-Bengalis carried out arson attacks on the houses of Bengalis.
CIA in its confidential report for the president (US) only writes on the issues of March 24 in 1971 "The disputants appear to have made some progress behind the scenes toward a political agreement, despite their sharply conflicting public statements. Bhutto says he is examining an "agreement" reached by Mujib and President Yahya. Presumably this is the one noted in The President's Daily Brief yesterday calling for an end to martial law, the start of civilian governments in the provinces, and the formation of an interim central cabinet.
Bhutto may be overemphasizing the progress made thus far in an attempt to enhance his own role and to forestall other West Pakistani leaders now in Dacca from eroding his position. Mujib, for his part, denies the existence of any agreement. However as far as the discussions have gone, Mujib may believe that unsettled matters such as the division of powers between the provinces and the central government are more important than any of the agreed points. At least until this is settled, he would be loath to admit to agreeing to anything short of full provincial autonomy."