Bangabandhu and the Fascinating Speech of the 7th March 1971

Hiren Pandit
Today is historical March 7. A unique day in the history of the Bengali nation’s long freedom struggle and liberation war. On this day in 1971, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for the freedom struggle of Bangladesh, standing in a huge crowd at the historic Race Course ground (now Suhrawardy Udyan). On this day, in the presence of millions of freedom-seeking people, this great leader announced in a thunderous voice, ‘When I have given blood, I will give more blood, I will free the people of this country, God willing. This struggle is the struggle for our liberation, this struggle is the struggle for freedom.
March 7 is an unforgettable day in the history of the freedom struggle and independence of the Bengali nation. On this day in 1971, the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, gave a thunderous speech at the then Racecourse ground, which contained the call for the liberation of Bengalis. Independence is Bengali’s greatest achievement. But it was not achieved in a day. Bangabandhu’s immense courage, boundless sacrifices, strong leadership and right direction led the nation to the desired goal on the long friend’s path from the great language movement to the final victory of 1971.

In the general elections of 1970, the Awami League won the absolute majority, but the Pakistani ruling group began to struggle to hand over power. Non-cooperation movement started on March 1 under the leadership of Bangabandhu. Following this, on March 7, 1971, Bangabandhu ignored the bloody eyes of the then-Pakistani ruling group and gave a historic speech to millions of people at the Race Course Maidan.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic speech on March 7, 1971, later became the main message and slogan of the freedom struggle. Similarly, this speech is not only a political document but also a possibility for the cultural identity of the nation. Bangabandhu exposed the Bengali nation to the dream of freedom. Not only did he dream, but he set a unique example in the world meeting by turning that dream into reality. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave numerous speeches throughout his life. But the speech with which he encouraged the oppressed Bengali nation to jump into the liberation war and attain independence, is the speech of March 7, 1971. It is said that a million people attended the March 7 speech at the Racecourse ground. The 19-minute fiery speech not only motivated the freedom-crazed people of that day, but many also said that the March 7 speech was a green signal for us. His speech on March 7 greatly moved the new generation later. His speech still inspires the younger generation to break the chains.

March 7, 1971, is an unforgettable day in the thousand-year history of the Bengali nation. On March 7, 1971, Dhaka, the city of slogans, was heated by the march of millions of people. More than 10 lakh freedom-seeking people are waiting in the crowd at the Racecourse ground. Just waiting for an announcement or a call, the previous day seven and a half million Bengalis spent a sleepless night in excitement – what will Bangabandhu say today – what will he instruct the nation! The only wish of the brave Bengalis is a favorite four-letter word ‘Swa-dhi-na-ta’ Freedom! On this historic day in 1971, the greatest Bengali of all time, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for the independence of the Bengali nation. In a huge public meeting at the Racecourse ground, he thunderously announced, ‘This time’s struggle is our liberation struggle, this time’s struggle is the struggle for freedom, Joy Bangla.’ The demand for the lives of the people of Bengal echoed in this timeless speech of the father of the nation to the crowd at the race course. In this speech, the image of killing, oppression and torture of Bengalis emerges. To face the enemy, he instructed the Bengali nation, ‘Be prepared with everything you have.’ Inspired by this hypnotic speech of the father of the nation, the Bengali nation started preparing for the armed liberation war.

At midnight on Saturday 6th March, a Brigadier went to Dhanmondi’s residence and delivered President Yahya’s message to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. On the one hand, Yahya Khan spoke on the telephone and sent messages on the teleprinter urging Sheikh Mujib to refrain from declaring independence. Dhaka GOC J. Khadim Hossain made it clear to Raja Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, ‘If independence is declared on March 7, the military will attack the public meeting with all its might. In a word, Dhaka will be destroyed, and there will be no one to rule. If necessary, airstrikes will be carried out at public meetings. It is to be noted that the cannon was deployed from Dhaka Cantonment targeting the March 7 public meeting. An olive-colored helicopter patrolled the rally that day. In other words, if Sheikh Mujib had declared independence that day, the Pakistani military would have fired indiscriminately at the public gathering and it would have been no surprise that not just thousands, but millions of people had been killed.

What will Bangabandhu do- on the one hand the pressure of student leaders to declare independence – on the other hand the demands of the people – how much damage or accidents can happen to the people with a little wrong decision and even a nation can be completely wiped out. That day on March 7, he developed a fever of 104 degrees and came to the Racecourse with this fever. Bangabandhu gave examples of many countries of the world and also told the family about the dire consequences of a unilateral declaration of independence. At this critical moment of indecision, when Bangabandhu presented many examples to his family members, Bangamata Begum Fazilatunnesa (Begum Mujib) said, ‘No, it will not be right to do this. Through the six points, their leader has made a permanent seat in the heart, this announcement can cause them a lot of damage. The Pakistani Army is waiting for Bangabandhu’s announcement. They will kill Bangabandhu; They will also destroy the beloved Bengali nation of the country.’ After listening to Begum Mujib, Bangabandhu sat silently holding his pipe for a while. Begum Mujib was a great politician, thinker and philosopher despite being a housewife.

At 3.15 pm, when Bangabandhu, dressed in a white pajama-Punjabi and black Mujib coat, came on the stage, more than 1 million brave people of Bengal welcomed their beloved leader with applause and loud slogans. Chhatra (Students) Sangram Parishad and Chhatra League leaders chanted slogans from the stage. The sky of Bengal roared with incessant fire. Tajuddin Ahmad, Syed Nazrul Islam, Captain M Mansoor Ali, AHM Qamaruzzaman and many others were also present on the stage.

Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech was supposed to be broadcast live on Dhaka Radio, but it could not be broadcast that day due to the intervention of the Pakistani government. The Dhaka radio came to a standstill in the immediate strike. The Pakistani military authorities were later forced to broadcast Bangabandhu’s recorded speech the following morning. In a speech that shook the whole world, Bangabandhu uttered in a thunderous voice, ‘This time’s struggle is our liberation struggle, this time’s struggle is the struggle for freedom.

This earth-shaking historic speech of only 19 minutes was a reflection of the passion of a thousand years, a dream of a thousand years, a desire of a thousand years, which was a strong promise of Bengali liberation. Bangabandhu pronounced in a bright voice, ‘When I have given blood, I will give more blood, I will free the people of this country, God willing.’ It was this historic speech under the leadership and guidance of Bangabandhu that motivated the freedom-seeking Bengali nation to jump into an armed struggle against the invading Pakistanis in the Great War of Liberation, and it was through this speech that the future destiny of Bengalis became clear.

‘Each house builds a fort. You must fight the enemy with all you have and the roads with all you have – you will be closed unless I give the order. When I have given blood, I will give more blood, I will free the people of this country, inshallah. This struggle is our liberation struggle. This struggle is a struggle for freedom. Joy Bangla.’

Bangabandhu spoke in a highly symbolic style. On the one hand, he asked the freedom-seeking people to be ready for a long struggle, while on the other hand, he pointed his thumb at the Pakistani rulers. Bangabandhu was not only a shrewd politician, but he was also a world-class diplomat. In his March 7 speech, he revealed everything like a diplomat. He said the past 23 years are a history of deprivation. He talked about the language movement, the 1954 elections, the 1958 military rule, the 1966 six-point plan, the 1969 mass uprising, the 1970 elections and the deprivation of Bengalis in then Pakistan. Gave an unwritten statement. Pakistanis did not understand the meaning of the historic speech of 7th March. As teenagers and students then, everyone’s only demand was freedom – we will not accept any other declaration. Bangabandhu ended his March 7 speech after giving a speech of only 19 minutes. A sea of 16 crore people said ‘Joy Bangla’ – which is one of the greatest speeches in the history of today’s world. Bangabandhu ‘Joy Bangla’ will be seen in Dhaka’s ‘Dainik Ittefaq’, ‘Dainik Pakistan’, ‘Dainik Azad’, ‘Dainik Sangbad’, ‘Dainik Sangram’, ‘Morning News’ and ‘Pakistan Observer’ newspapers published on Monday, March 8, 1971. Bangabandhu’s historical speech of March 7 will always be a source of inspiration for us.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s March 7 speech was a declaration of independence for the country as it directed the people to fight for freedom from Pakistani occupation. The March 7 speech is not only Bangabandhu’s best speech but also one of the best speeches recognized worldwide by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The speech contains instructions to the people to achieve independence in the country. The speech highlighted Pakistan’s 23-year history of misrule, exploitation, oppression and deprivation and called for a non-cooperation movement. Bangabandhu ordered the liberation of Bengalis from Pakistani exploitation and rule and outlined preparations for the liberation war and guerilla warfare in 1971.

Bangabandhu tackled the divide between political gains and social rights and prioritized his duty to fight for justice by associating himself effectively with the common struggle of all Bengalis, attaching his duty to the people. From that point on, the speech facilitated the work of all the parties involved as one – affecting the Awami League, affecting the whole of East Pakistan; Shooting an innocent Bengali is like shooting our hearts.

Most interestingly, Bangabandhu was referred to as ‘clever’ in Pakistani army intelligence reports. An intelligence officer wrote in the report, “Sheikh Mujib cleverly declared independence, but we couldn’t do anything.” The next day, March 8, the main headlines of the media were like this, “Clever Sheikh Mujib cleverly declared the independence of Bangladesh.”

Historians from different parts of the world are constantly researching the March 7 speech. It should be noted here that almost all of the world’s greatest historical speeches were written. But Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech is unwritten. Bangabandhu himself did not know what to say or how to begin.

When Bangabandhu took the stage and began to speak, it seemed as if he was writing the greatest epic in the history of the Bengali nation. Hence, the March 7 speech is Bangabandhu’s immortal work, Bengali’s greatest epic poem, which is composed of the Bengali nation’s struggle and cherished dream of independence. Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech will give encouragement, enthusiasm and inspiration to oppressed, oppressed and freedom-loving people of all societies.

Hiren Pandit is a columnist
and a researcher.

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