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Armed resistance in Joydevpur, Bangabandhu boycotts talks

DHAKA, March 17, 2015 (BSS)- The third days' meeting between the elected leader of Pakistan, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the military ruler of the same country, General Yahya Khan, on March 19, 1971 was overshadowed by the news of the death of innocent people by the Pakistan army in Joydevpur.

Apparently the Pakistan army had ordered people to remove the barricades on the road and railways which people refused. The army then asked its troops to do it. But Bengali troops led by Major Shafiullah refused to do so, as it would involve firing on unarmed civilians. But the Pakistan army command insisted. Shafiullah refused to back down.

"We cannot shoot our own people," he was quoted as saying.

Reinforcement from Dhaka led by a Brigadier of the Pakistan army went to Joydevpur to "sort out" the problem. They were immediately resisted by the people and the Bengali troops stationed there.

The Pakistan army opened fire and killed a number of civilians. To protect the army from the wrath of the enraged villagers, the administration imposed curfew throughout Joydevpur.

Naturally, the issue came up for fierce discussion between Bangabandhu and Yahya. After 90-minutes of recriminations when Yahya obstinately refused to relent and continued justifying the action taken, Bangabandhu walked out, in protest.

An infuriated Bangabandhu condemned the killings in no uncertain terms and told pressmen in front of the presidential guest house, now "Shugandha", where the talks were being held:

No sacrifice would be considered enough to emancipate the people of "Bangla Desh". Bangla Desh cannot be suppressed by force. If necessary we shall give the last drop of our blood to see that our posterity lived happily as a free citizen in a free country.

The next day's newspapers printed the following stories:


Press report on March 20, 1971

DACCA, March 19 : Curfew was imposed this evening in Joydevpur town, about 22 miles from here following exchange of fire between the local people and the Army personnel resulting in casualties to both sides, it was officially stated here tonight. The trouble started when the armed crowd put up barricades to block the way of the Commander who was returning to Dacca this afternoon after a routine visit to his troops in Joydevpur.

As he was coming back, his way obstructed by placing a train on the level crossing in Joydevpur Bazar. The crowd was persuaded to clear the obstruction but they refused to comply. The Army troops tried to push the train aside to make their way but they were fired upon by the crowd. Three soldiers were seriously wounded. The troops returned the fire, killing two persons and injuring another five.

At the Joydevpur roundabout the troops were again fired upon by a violent crowd. The tyres of Army vehicle were deflated and glasses smashed. The crowd rushed to snatch away weapons from the soldiers who fired in self-defence killing one person. The Commander and the troops reached Dacca in the evening after clearing about half a dozen barricades on the Dacca-Mymensingh highway.


Meanwhile, it was officially stated here that Army personnel did not injure any labourer or truck driver near Dacca Airport or Mahakhali Railway Crossing on Thursday, as alleged in a section of the Press.

The authorities, denying the allegation, said that the Army is not manning any check post on the Dacca-Mymensingh highway. Therefore there can be no question of either stopping any vehicle or forcing any body to remove the black flag.

The authorities also denied the reports of "harassment " and " torture " by the Army personnel in Jessore-Khulna sector, as alleged in a section of the Press.

The authorities added that with large-scale collection of arms by anti-social elements from arms shops, rifle clubs and private, individuals, etc., the incidence of violence and lawlessness has generally increased. These incidents, they added were being maliciously attributed to the Army which is already back in the barracks.

(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 20, 1971)


Awami League Chief ready to meet any West Wing Leader. Sheikh Mujibur Press Conference on March 19, 1971, at Dacca

The fateful talks between President Yahya Khan and the Awami League Chief, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, were resumed at the President's house here today. The dialogue lasted 90 minutes. Another round of talks will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Later in the evening three advisers of the Awami League Chief had a meeting with the advisers of the President.

Although the Awami League Chief, talking to newsmen after the meeting, did not say if any formula had been proposed to end the present constitutional deadlock the agreement to hold meeting at advisers' level itself indicates that some ground has been broken at the third round of talks between the President and

, the Awami League Chief today.

It is also significant that the advisers' level meeting will be followed up by another meeting between the President and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman when the latter will be accompanied by six leaders of his party.

A cheerful Sheikh Mujibur Rahman told newsmen at his residence after his meeting with the president that the discussions would continue. He said Awami League's stand (vis-a-vis constitution-making) was clear and the whole world knew why the people of Bengal had made sacrifices. He, however, pointed out that it was not an easy problem and sufficient time was needed to solve it.

Step forward

The result of the third round of the talks-the decision to have meeting of the advisers-was seen as a definite step forward towards a determined search for solution of the present crisis. This coupled with the decision to continue talks between the President and the Awami League Chief has raised hopes that a way out of the current impasse may be found.

But Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made no comment when a newsman asked him if the increased activities was any sign of progress in the talks. The Awami League Chief told the journalists: " You may make your own assumption ".

He also would not say whether he was satisfied with the talks. He said whether he was satisfied or not " I always hope for the best and prepare for the worst ".

Asked whether any particular formula was being discussed. Sheikh Mujib said his advisers would discuss with the President's advisers " what formula they give."

Syed Nazrul Islam, Deputy Leader of Awami League Parliamentary Party in the National Assembly and a Vice-President of East Pakistan Awami League. Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, General Secretary, East Pakistan Awami League, and Dr. Kamal Husain will act as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's advisers today.

Khandkar Mushtaq Ahmed and Mr. Mansoor Ali Vice-Presidents of East Pakistan Awami League, Mr. Kamruzzaman, General Secretary of All-Pakistan Awami League, Dr. Kamal Husain, Syed Nazrul Islam, and Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, will accompany Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the President's House tomorrow.

Replying to a question the Awami League Chief' said he would be very happy to receive any leader from West Pakistan. He would be happy to welcome any individual person from West Pakistan to his residence. " I welcome them to come and have talks with me ", he said when a correspondent asked whether he would have talks with visiting West Pakistani leaders.

When asked whether any document figured in his discussions, Sheikh Mujib said: " nothing of the kind."

He added: " my advisers will discuss this evening to decide on what formula and how they will proceed."

Whether he was assisted by his aids in today's talks, Awami League Chief said that both the President and he (Mujib) were alone.

Asked whether he was ready to meet West Pakistani leaders, including Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, Sheikh Mujib said that anybody coming from West Pakistan was welcome. He said that he had no objection in meeting them " my doors are open ".

" It was never closed ", he added.

When asked about the progress of talks, Sheikh Mujib said: " I have nothing to say. It is up to you to guess. You can assume anything you like ".

" I can't say ", Sheikh Mujib said when a correspondent asked whether his Meeting tomorrow would be the final round.

Replying to another question as to who will be assisting the President in his talks tomorrow Sheikh Mujib said: " I don't know".

He declined to answer a question on the rejection of the Inquiry Commission set up by the Martial Law Administrator, Zone "B".

When asked whether the "Joy Bangla" slogan raised by him after he emerged from the President's House indicated something hopeful, the Awami League Chief said that he always uttered this slogan. This slogan he would utter at the time of death also along with Kalima.

Earlier apparently in jovial mood, the Awami League Chief came out of the President's House after his 90-minute talks and drove straight to his residence.

Several thousand people who waited all the time outside the security area of the President's House broke the security cordon and mobbed the car of the Sheikh. The crowd was so intense in front of the President's House that the waiting newsmen could not approach the car of Sheikh Saheb.

Sheikh Mujib came out of the car and requested the people to allow him to go.

He also requested the newsmen to go to his residence. Following the request, the slogan-chanting crowd left the place and allowed the car of the Sheikh to move towards its destination.

Many enthusiastic people also gathered in front of Sheikh Mujib's residence to know the outcome of the talks.

"Please wait and see our wonderful land and its unfortunate people" the Sheikh told a foreign newsman when he wanted to know when the progress of the talks would be known to newsmen.

Replying to a question as to when he was going to laugh last, Sheikh Saheb, with his traditional broad smile replied, "This is difficult to answer. You yourself assess ".

(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 20, 1971)

MUJIB CONDEMNS FIRING Statement on March 19, 1971 at Dacca

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, President of Awami League, strongly condemned tonight the firing on the unarmed people, at Joydevpur earlier in the day.

Talking to newsmen, he said: " If they think they can suppress people's struggle by bullet and force, they simply live in a fool's paradise ".

He added it was an "uncalled for" action.

The Awami League Chief said he wondered how Army could go to the Joydevpur Bazar when Martial Law authorities had stated that troops had already been withdrawn to the barracks.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said the people of Bangla Desh were no doubt in favour of peaceful settlement of the problems but that could not mean that the people "can be frightened by the use of force. No power on earth can suppress the people when they are prepared to shed blood".

In reply to a question, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said he had already sent some of his partymen to the spot and added it could not be ascertained as yet how many persons were killed.

He said curfew had been imposed in the area and as such it was difficult even to pick up the injured persons from there.

Asked if his party leaders, who went in the evening to meet the President's adviser would bring the incident to the notice of the Martial Law authorities, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said: "Is it not natural?"

Later in the evening Sheikh Mujibur Rahman warned that no amount of force could suppress the demands of seven crores of Bengalees. No matter in what manner it was being used against the unarmed Bengalees.

Addressing a gathering of Bishkhubdha Biggan Carmachari Union in front of his house, who had come in a procession, the Sheikh declared that no sacrifice would be considered enough to emancipate the people of "Bangla Desh".

The Sheikh said the roads and lanes of "Bangla Desh" were stained with the blood of martyrs for the cause of the people. Today again, the roads of Joydevpur had been besmeared with the blood of Bengalees, he said.

Sheikh Mujib told the slogan shouting crowd: "We wanted to resolve the problem peacefully but they want to rule us by force, with the help of weapons."

The Awami League leader declared that the people of Bangla Desh could not be suppressed by force. People would realise their rights at any cost, he added. He assured the people that he would never betray the blood of the martyrs and asked them to repose their confidence in him.

" If necessary we shall give the last drop of our blood to see that our posterity lived happily as a free citizen in a free country ".

Earlier, the processionists paraded the city street chanting slogans in support of Sheikh's non-violent non-co-operation movement for the emancipation of the people of " Bangla Desh ".

(MORNING NEWS, Karachi and Dacca-March 20, 1971)