Dhaka, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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Students raise the flag of freedom

DHAKA, March 1, 2015 (BSS) - Demonstrators had defied the curfew imposed the night before on March 1, 1971. The Pakistan army had opened fire in a number of places and several people had died but the protestors were undaunted.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman condemned the killing and called for a nation-wide hartal to protest the atrocities. The hartal was to be observed between 6 am to 2 pm, everyday, till March 7, when he would announce his next course of action.


Meanwhile from early morning, people started thronging the Battala in front of the Arts' Building of Dhaka University where the "Swadhin Bangla Chatra Sangram Parishad" had announced a public meeting.

By 10 o'clock in the morning, when the meeting was scheduled to start, the entire area and the streets around had turned into a sea of people waiting to hear the student leaders.

The student leaders Nur-e-Alam Siddiqui, president of the Students' League, Shajahan Siraj, general secretary of the Students' League, A S M Abdur Rab, vice president of the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) and Abdul Kudus Makhan, general secretary of DUCSU were in the make-shift podium which was the hanging balcony of the Building's gate.

Before the meeting, Sheikh Zahid Hossain, general secretary of the city unit of the Students' League, ran up to the podium with a flag that had a rising sun in a bottle green field with a map of Bangladesh etched in gold in the middle of the sun.

Immediately everybody knew what it was: It was the flag of independent Bangladesh! A roar went up as the crowds chanted "Bir Bangalee Ostro Dhoro/Bangladesh Shadhin Koro" (Valiant Bengalis pick up arms and free your motherland).

The slogans ended with the overarching slogans of the day "Joi Bangla" and "Amar Neta Tumar Neta, Sheikh Mujib, Sheikh Mujib".

The student leaders in their speeches deliberated on the prevailing political situation and said that now that the Pakistanis had shown their fangs Bangabandhu should respond in kind. And that nothing short of independence would be acceptable to them. They asked the people to prepare for an armed struggle to attain their right of self-determination.

By the time, the meeting was over everybody knew that the days of coexisting with Pakistan were over.

The student leaders also called for another public meeting the next day at Paltan Maidan (now Moulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium) at 3 in the afternoon.

As usual, curfew was enforced by the Pakistani authority in the evening which was violated en masse across the country. But the firings were fewer.

At the Bangabhaban then Governor House the Pakistani governor Rear Admiral S M Ahsan resigned in protest at Yahya's announcement and handed over authority to the Zonal Martial Law Administrator Lieutenant General Shahebzada Yakub Khan.