Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's speech in a public meeting at Dacca on March 3, 1971




DACCA, March 3 : Awami League Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman today urged the authorities to withdraw the forces from the city and hand over the power to the elected representatives of the people.


The authorities must realise that the people wanted self-rule and if they were resisted by force they would not hesitate to sacrifice their life, the Awami League Chief said while addressing a massive public meeting at Paltan Maidan here this afternoon.


He also issued directives to the people of Bangla Desh not to pay any taxes until and unless power was transferred to the people's representatives.


The massive public meeting was organised by the Students' League as a part of the province-wide hartal call given by the Chief of the Awami League.


" By obstructing the constitutional method the authorities have virtually compelled the people to shed their innocent blood for realising their legal rights. This is absolutely intolerable. I appeal to the authorities concerned to immediately stop this wrong course by withdrawing Martial Law and transferring power to the elected representatives."


The massive public meeting was presided over by the Students' League Chief, Mr. Nure Alam Siddiqi. The meeting was also addressed, among others, by the General Secretary of Jatiya Sramik League Mr. Abdul Mannan, the General Secretary of the Students League, Mr. Shahjahan Siraj, and the General Secretary of the Dacca University Central Students Union (DUCSU) Mr. Abdul Quddus Makhan.


In an emotion choaked voice, the Sheikh in his 30-minute speech, called upon the people to continue their struggle in a peaceful and organised manner.


He urged the people to be alert against agent-provocators and to maintain complete peace and discipline, otherwise the purpose of the movement would be spoiled.


He called upon the people from all walks of life to rise to the occasion and protect the life and property of everyone living in this part of the country, whether Hindu or Muslim, Bengali or non-Bengali.


Reminding the authorities that he as well as the people of Bangla Desh were ready to die for the realisation of people's Icgitimate rights, he declared in clear-cut terms that the people were ready to face all the eventualities.


He said that he would never betray the cause of the people of Bangla Desh even facing death.


The Awami League Chief said that the authorities had taken action against those who had been asking for peaceful transfer of power.


Announcing his programme of action upto March 7 next, he said that he would seek help and co-operation from all shades of opinion for the success of the movement.

He said that the hartal would be observed throughout Bangla Desh everyday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. After the hartal the vehicles should be allowed to move. He suggested and urged the people to pay a bit more to the rickshaw pullers to cover their day's earnings.


He will address a mass rally at the Race Course Maidan at 2 p.m, on Sunday. He said that hartal was to be observed in all organisations, including Government offices, secretariat, High Court and other courts, semi-Government and autonomous corporations, PIA, Railway and other communication services, trans­ports, all mills, factories, industrial and commercial establishments and markets.


He said that the forces were being maintained for protecting the country, and they could not be used against the common masses. Sheikh Sahib urged the authorities to pull back the forces to their barracks without further delay.


Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said that he had no language to condemn the incidents that took place in the city last night.


Sheikh Sahib made it clear that the present situation in the country was not the creation of his or any other people of Bangla Desh, but of the conspirators who had been trying to sabotage the peaceful transfer of power to the elected representatives of the people. The majority party had been even ignored while taking important national decisions, he said.


Sheikh Sahib advised each and every person of Bangla Desh to observe the hartal according to schedule in a peaceful and disciplined manner.


He, however, said that exemptions were to be extended only to ambulances, Press cars, hospitals, medicine shops, water and electricity supply.


Sheikh Sahib said that the speech at Paltan Maidan today might be his " last speech " and advised the people to continue their struggle in full swing even if he was absent. He said that there were a chain of leaders, among his companions who would be able to continue the struggle without any trouble.


The Sheikh who was earlier scheduled to lead a huge procession after the meeting, announced that the procession would not be led. Instead he led a prayer for the salvation of the departed souls of the martyrs who had, he maintained, died in the struggle for democracy.


Other speakers at the meeting called upon the people to maintain peace and harmony among the people, and desist from looting and other anti-social activities.


They declared in unequivocal terms that the people of Bangla Desh could not be suppressed any more and they must achieve their goal at any cost.


The meeting in a resolution condemned the firings in different parts of the city during the last two days and prayed for the salvation of the departed souls. It expressed its,deep sympathy with the members of the bereaved families.


In another resolution, the meeting called upon the people from all walks of life to take active part in the movement for the realisation of the people's rights under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.


The meeting took a fresh vow for the establishment of a society in Bangla Desh. where there would be no exploitation and people would live in peace.


Sheikh Mujib gave call for " peaceful satyagraha " movement for the realisation of the rights of the people of Bangla Desh and appealed to the people to main­tain peace for the success of the struggle.


Sheikh Mujib also appealed to the people to guard against looting and arsor, and to maintain peace at all costs. Any attempt to disrupt peaceful life must be resisted, because without strict discipline no mass movement could attain any success


Sheikh Mujib appealed for communal peace and added the Biharis non-Muslims "are our sacred trust".


He referred to the sacrifice of lives by Bengalis during the last 23 years and during yesterday's observance of hartal in the City.


He said " I do not know how many people died yesterday," adding that he himself heard the firing of machine-gun. He also led the prayer at the meeting for those who died. The dead bodies of a few persons, who died yesterday, were also brought to the public meeting.


Sheikh Mujib said he wanted to spell out the future course of action, and added if the attitude of the Government remained unchanged till March 7 he would give out his mind at the race course, where he is scheduled to address a public meeting. He said if he failed to turn up for any unforeseen reasons, there would be others to announce the future course of action.


He said the maintenance of discipline was the prerequisite for the success of any mass movement. Without discipline no movement could achieve any tangible results " no matter how many lives we sacrifice." He particularly reminded the volunteers of their responsibilities in this connection.


Sheikh Mujib said " we are not responsible for the present state of affairs". He said they as the majority party in the country were in favour of the National Assembly session on February 15, but Mr. Z. A. Bhutto wanted it to be deferred to the first week of March, and when it was summoned to meet today he (Bhutto) oppose it again.


The Awami League Chief regretted the stand taken by the People's Party chief on the session of the National Assembly, which was to begin today, and added although they " were ready to attend the session the use of arms was " directed at the Bengalis. He also referred to threats of PPP chief to set afire West Pakistan if the session was not postponed.


Sheikh Mujib, in an apparent reference to West Pakistan leaders, said " If you do not want to frame one constitution let us frame our own constitution and you frame your own. Then let us see if we can live together as brothers."


The Awami League Chief said the people of Bangla Desh freed him from jail at the cost of their lives and shed their blood in the last. "We are ready to make further sacrifices and give more blood." He added: " You cannot suppress the Bengalis by killing 70,000,000 Bengalis."


Sheikh Mujib said if he died his soul would be there to be happy to find the Bengalis free and that they have two square meals a day to survive.


Sheikh Mujib said he did not have any grudge against the poor people of West Pakistan. They had been trying to live together for the last 23 years but West Pakistan now wanted to secede because they knew it well by now that they could not perpetuate their exploitation on them.


The Awami League leader also called upon the Press not to obey any restric­tion on them. if an}, and if they failed to resist it they should refuse to attend their offices. He told the Press that •` it is a national struggle ". and everyone's participation µas essential.


(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 4,1971)



Source: Bangladesh Documents, vol-1, page no. 195-197