Historic March 7 today
All is set to observe the historic March 7 today, commemorating the landmark 19-minute elegy of independence by the roaring speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that immediately united the Bengalis irrespective of caste, creed race and religion to prepare for the Liberation War in 1971.
The historic 7th March is a red-letter day in the history of the Bengalis long and arduous freedom struggle. Bangabandhu declared the programme of non-cooperation movement through his guideline speech delivered at the Ramna Race Course (now Suhrawardy Udyan) in Dhaka in front of over two million people.
"All eyes were centered on the dais where Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was expected any moment. In his 19-minute speech, Bangabandhu slowly and accurately narrated the long twenty-three years of history of discrimination of the Bengalis by the West Pakistani rulers. He announced a civil disobedience movement in the province, calling for every house to turn into a fortress," Prof Sayed Anwar Hossain said.
"He [Bangabandhu] started from 4.23 pm before millions of people of former East Pakistan, Bangabandhu in unequivocal term said, "We spilled our blood…we are ready to shed more blood, the people of the country shall be freed, Insha Allah!" Prof Anwar added.
Bangabandhu started with the lines, "Today, I appear before you with a heavy heart. You know everything and understand as well. We tried with our lives. But the painful matter is that today, in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur, the streets are dyed red with the blood of our brethren. Today, the people of Bengal want freedom, the people of Bengal want to survive, the people of Bengal want to have their rights. What wrong did we do?"
"The speech inspired the whole Bengali people even some Urdu speaking Pakistani's living in West Pakistan," Prof Anwar Hossain said.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered a pre-scheduled speech in the Race Course with guidelines for movement. In the speech he highlighted four vital points: a) withdrawal of martial law, b) retreat of the army to the barracks, c) to investigate into the killing of the people in the province and d) transfer of power to the elected representatives.
'This struggle is for freedom, this struggle is for independence', Bangabandhu declared in his roaring voice at the public meeting," He said. "Our struggle, this time, is a struggle for our freedom. Our struggle, this time, is a struggle for our independence. Joy Bangla!"
About the speech Late President of Bangladesh and founder of BNP Ziaur Rahman wrote in the magazine Bichittra (now defunct) on March 26 in 1974, that 'the speech had inspired him to take part in the 1971 Liberation War'.
The Historic 7th March speech of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a de facto declaration of Bangladesh's independence, has been recognised as part of world's documentary heritage by UNESCO.
From March 7 the international media descended upon East Pakistan for the speech amidst speculation that Sheikh Mujib would make a unilateral declaration of independence from Pakistan.
Besides, on the same day he declared 10-point programme of the movement for the following week. He declared the closure of all offices, courts and educational institutions sine die. The government press note accounted that 172 persons were killed and 358 persons were injured during the six days of non-cooperation movement. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made a clarion call to the people to get them ready for liberation movement and to make the utmost sacrifice.
The Non-Cooperation Movement got new momentum after March 7. All the departments of the government of East Pakistan began to follow the instructions of the Awami League. The Purba Bangla Samanvaya Committee of the Communist revolutionaries urged upon the people to establish independent Bangladesh through guerilla fighting.
The speech inspired Bengali people to prepare for a war of independence amid widespread reports of arms mobilization by Pakistan government. Bangladesh Liberation War began 18 days later, when the Pakistan army launched Operation Searchlight on the Bengali people in the then East Pakistan.
Bangabandhu gave several directives for a civil disobedience movement and a clear-cut instruction for the officials working in the government, semi-government, autonomous and private organizations.
His speech in a human sea was virtually the declaration of Bangladesh's independence as Bangabandhu, in his fiery voice, called upon Bengalis to wage struggle against the Pakistani oppressors until the freedom was achieved.
The whole nation responded spontaneously to Bangabandhu's call.
The vigorous speech inspired people of all walks of life to prepare for the war, which eventually began after the Pakistani regime on March 25 launched on the unarmed Bengalis the genocide.
After the March 7 speech, people became united under his capable and farsighted leadership to bravely fight for liberating their motherland.
As soon as the Pakistani occupation forces started the genocide on the night of March 25, Bangabandhu declared independence of the motherland and instructed the people to put up strong resistance and fight.
At the instruction of Bangabandhu, the brave nation fought successfully the nine-month war and liberated Bangladesh on December 16.