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March 3, 1971: Awami League launches a non-violent non-cooperation movement

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman rejects Yahya Khan’s proposal for a conference of political leaders.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called a nationwide strike and launched a non-violent non-cooperation movement. The upsurge by then had spread to the other parts of the country. Every where the people responded to the great leader Bangabandhu’s appeal and the movement became more orderly and effective.

Bangabandhu also ordered “Continuous Strikes” – a daily shutdown from 7am to 2pm. Accordingly, everything in the country ceased function during those hours.

There was serious trouble in Chittagong that night when the authorities tried to unload the MV Swat which had arrived with troops and a cargo of ammunition. Dock workers spread this news. Soon thousands of people were locked in battle with West Pakistan soldiers and sailors. The trouble gained a new dimension when a unit of the East Pakistan Rifles refused to fire on Bangali demonstrators. This action gave a sharper edge to Bangali resentment.

It was in that situation that Lt.-Gen. Tikka Khan flew into Dhaka. Tikka Khan was an old hand at quelling disturbances. He had already acquired the reputation of ” Butcher of Baluchistan”.

After the daily strikes ended in Dhaka at 2pm meetings were held at the stadium and other places. On one occasion 341 prisoners who had broken out of Dhaka jail joined the stadium meeting.

As the intensity of the movement was increasing so did the demand for independence. All eyes were being turned to the racecourse at Dhaka where Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman expected to proclaim independence on March 7, 1971.

On the other side Yahya Khan saw the remedy only in terms of applying greater force – a military solution for a political problem.

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