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Bhashani supports Bangabandhu; chief justice refuses to swear in governor Tikka Khan

DHAKA, March 8, 2015(BSS) - After Bangabandhu's March 7 meeting the country, by and large, looked forward to Yahya's talks with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Despite Lt-General Tikka Khan's helicopter maneuvers word had got around that Yahya would be arriving soon.

Concerned people also knew that Yahya Khan had talked to Bangabandhu, on the eve of the March 7 meeting, and promised to meet his demands after Yahya came to Dhaka. For the time being, Yahya appealed restraint on the part of Bangabandhu and particularly asked him to refrain from a Unilateral Declaration of independence (UDI). Yahya also promised that he would be arriving in Dhaka on the 10th and the modus operandii of a peaceful transfer of power would be worked out through talks.

Bangabandhu agreed, considering all factors including the fact that "UDI" was a dirty word in international politics and it had been made more so lately by then "rebel" prime minister of (Southern) Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, Ian Smith.

The example of Nigeria's breakaway province Biafra's abortive attempt at secession was also fresh in his mind. Therefore, Bangabandhu decided to just say as much as was necessary, stopping just short of an UDI.

Bangabandhu did not trust Yahya but nevertheless decided to take a chance for a peaceful resolution of the political stalemate through a negotiated settlement. But both sides prepared for the worst.

Meanwhile, Moulana Bhashani, president of the communist-dominated National Awami Party (NAP, pro-Peking) held a mammoth rally at Paltan Maidan extending support to Bangabandhu and his program. Bhashani asked Yahya to acknowledge it, too.

The "Red" Moulana, as he was often called by the Western press, also demanded a "sovereign, independent East Pakistan" based on the Lahore Resolution. He also reminded the audience that he had said "Assalamualikam" (Good-bye) to the Pakistanis in 1957 when he had broken away from the Awami League to form the NAP.

The new Pakistani representative Lt-General Tikka Khan, who was also known as the "Butcher of Baluchistan", had arrived in Dhaka a few days earlier, on March 6, in the middle of the political upheaval to replace the "dovish duo" naval chief, Admiral Ahsan, who was the governor of what was then the province of East Pakistan and Lieutenant-General Shahebzada Yakub Khan, the zonal martial law administrator.

Tikka faced his first obstacle in assuming the dual role when he could not find anybody to swear him in as governor.

The chief justice of East Pakistan Justice B A Siddiqui, a Bengali, refused to swear him in when he was asked to do so on March 9, 1971. So did the other judges of the East Pakistan High Court. This once again proved that Bangabandhu's directives were being obeyed even at the highest level, voluntarily.