March 7, 1971: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech at the Racecourse Ground

Sheikh Mujib addresses a huge crowd at the Dhaka Racecourse: makes his historical call to the Bangalees to “build a fortress in each and every household…” and to “fight for their freedom…” (Image source: Uttorshuri)

On March 7, 1971, there was a meeting on the Racecourse ground (now called the Suhrawardy Udyan) to mark a dramatic turn in the Bangali struggle. All eyes were centered on the dais where Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was expected any moment.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered a speech where he mentioned a further four-point condition to consider the National Assembly Meeting on March 25:

1. The immediate lifting of martial law.
2. Immediate withdrawal of all military personnel to their barracks.
3. An inquiry into the loss of life.
4. Immediate transfer of power to the elected representative of the people before the assembly meeting March 25.

Bangabandhu also unfolded a program of several directives that was the extent of the civil disobedience movement. Those were :

1. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman asks the people not to pay taxes and asks the government servants to take orders only from him.
2. The secretariat, government and semi-government offices, High court and other courts throughout East Bangla will observe Hartals. Appropriate exemptions will be announced from time to time.
3. Railway and ports may function, but railway and port workers will not cooperate if railway or ports are used for mobilizing of forces for the purpose of repression against the people of East Bangla.
4. Radio, television and newspapers shall give complete versions of Bangabandhu’s statement and shall not suppress news about the people’s movement, otherwise Bangali worker in these establishment shall cooperate.
5. Only local and inter-district telephone communication shall function.
6. All educational institution shall remain closed.
7. Banks shall not effect remittances to the Western wing either through the State Bank or otherwise.
8. Black flags shall be hoisted on all buildings everyday.
9. Hartal (strike) is withdrawn in all other spheres but complete hartal may be declared at any moment depending on the situation.
10. A ‘Sangram Parishad’ should be organized in each union, mohallah, thana, sub-division – under the leadership of the local Awami League units.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman exhorted his people to turn every house in East Bangla into a fortress.

Finally, raising his fist Bangabandhu cried out at the top of his voice : “OUR STRUGGLE THIS TIME IS A STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM, OUR STRUGGLE THIS TIME IS A STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE. JOY BANGLA.

The March 7 Address (Pdf file)

An English Translation (from Banglapedia)

Audio Excerpts
(from BBC’s Bangladesh Timeline)

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