March 3, 1971: Protests raged like wildfire

Curfew imposed in Dhaka, Sylhet and Rangpur

On this day, back in 1971, a complete strike was observed all over East Pakistan. Dhaka observed the second day of hartal, with every office, court, factory, transport and education institute closed.

Dhaka turned into a city of processions that converged in a rally at Paltan Maidan, organised by the Swadhin Bangla Chhatra Sangram Parishad.

At different places in the country, spontaneous processions brought out by general people were fired upon, killing many in Dhaka and Chittagong. The then Pakistan government imposed a curfew in Dhaka, Sylhet and Rangpur.

President Yahya Khan, from the President’s House in Rawalpindi, announced that a round table conference of political leaders would be held on March 10 to resolve the gathering political crisis in the country.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman rejected the invitation and announced a non-cooperation, non-violent movement from the Paltan Maidan rally. From the rally, Bangabandhu announced that all tax payments would be suspended until the government stopped its repressive measures. He asked the people to join the March 7 Race Course rally, where he would announce his next course of action.

He said in the public meeting, “People of Bengal pay rent, pay taxes to run the state, not for the state to shoot them.”

Bangabandhu also called for continuing the movement in his absence. “Maybe this is my last speech in front of you,” he said.

“I am scheduled to speak at the Race Course next Sunday. But who knows, I may not be given that opportunity. So, today I am telling you and through you to the people of Bangla, if I am not there, the movement should not stop,” he said.

He said that his colleagues would lead the movement if he was not there. “And if there is no one, then the movement has to continue. Every Bangali in every house of Bengal must become a leader and carry on the movement without fear – the rights of Bengal must be snatched from the oppressors at any cost.”


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