Tag Archives: awami league


January: The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution (termed a constitutional coup) establishes a one party rule by the newly formed Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL); Mujib cites widespread corruption and failure of the goverment to address the needs of the poor. Bangladesh switched over to the presidential system of governance and Bangabandhu took over as President of the republic.

On June, all political parties were banned and were asked to join the newly formed BAKSAL. Many Newspapers were banned. All these triggered massive resentment against Mujib Government.


August 15: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is assassinated by a group of Army officers led by Col. Faruk Ahmed, Col. Rashid, and a Maj. Dalim; among the dead are Mujib’s wife, his three sons including the eight year old Shiekh Russel, and two daughters-in-law.

The only family members of Mujib who survive are his two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana; they were abroad at the time with their respective families.

The coup was staged by army officers repatriated from Pakistan after the War. Because of their anti-communist leanings, some role of CIA (who were engaged in similar operations across the Latin America at the time) is widely suspected.


Khondkar Moshtaque Ahmed becomes the President; the four key figures from the Mujibnagar Government, who had sidelined Moshtaque for his suspected subversive activities in Calcutta, West Bengal during the War, are brutally murdered in Dhaka Central Jail. Moshtaque’s first (and last) major directive is to design a National Costume (for men only, apparently) that includes his favorite Islamic cap.


The lower ranks in the army stage a coup; Col. Taher quells the uprising and rescues Ziaur Rahman, now a Maj. Gen.; Zia later assumes full control and declares Martial Law.

Col. Abu Taher, one of the 11 Sector Commanders and a valiant Freedom Fighter who had lost a leg in action, is tried behind closed doors as a “conspirator” in the November 7 “Sipoy Mutiny” and hanged under Zia’s directives.

March 1971

March 01: People tuned their radios and turned their TVs on because President Agha Yahiya Khan was supposed to address the nation. However, someone else read out a statement that President Yahya Khan has announced the postponement until “a later date” of the National Assembly. He termed it Pakistan’s “gravest political crisis.” Hundreds of thousands of enraged people took the streets.

Mujib reacts and calls for emancipation of Bengalees. Mujib held a press conference and said that this was not democracy but dictatorship and as a sign of revolt the people would observe a general strike on 2nd March in Dhaka and the whole country on the 3rd. He also said further announcements would be held on March 7th.

Mr. Shirajul Alam Khan (the man with the idea), ASM Rab and Shajahan Shiraj of Chhatra (Student) League believed that only an armed revolution to create an independent socialist Bangladesh was the way. They demanded the independence of Bangladesh right away.

For the first time in Bengali history, slogans demanding independence for Bangladesh were heard: “Bir Bangali ostro dhoro Bangladesh shwadhin koro (Courageous Bengalis, take up arms and free Bangladesh)”.

Governor East Pakistan Admiral S.M.Ahsan, who refuses to open fire on the Bengalis if they go on strike, is replaced by General Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan.

“In response to a request from the Government of Pakistan, a decision was reached in Washington on March 1 to divert to West Pakistan 150,000 tons of wheat intended for disaster relief in East Pakistan. The request was triggered by grain shortages and rising prices in West Pakistan.” –WSAG minutes

March 2: Curfew was clamped in Dhaka from 8 am to 7 pm. However, the indomitable Bangalees took to the streets. Many were gunned down by the Pakistani troops.

Bengalees reacts. Mujib denounced firing on unarmed men and declares province-wide Hartal on each day from 3rd March 1971 to the 6th March, 1971 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. in all spheres.


Defiant students (Central Students Action Committee) at Dhaka University led by A. S. M Abdur Rab (VP of the student government), Shajahan Siraj (GS of student govt), Nur-e-Alam Siddiqui, and Abdul Kuddus Makhan held a massive rally. Here for the first time the Independent Bangla Flag (currently Bangladesh flag is the same just without the golden map of Bangladesh inside the red circle) was raised by Rab at the historic Battala at the University of Dhaka.

March 3: Rab and Siraj read out the declaration of Independence of Bangladesh at a public rally in the presence of Sheikh Mujib fearing that since Mujib was in negotiations with Yahiya the revolutionary spirit was on the wane. But Mujib called for a non-violent non-cooperation movement instead of revolution. This day which was to have been the day for the sitting of the National Assembly was observed as a day of national mourning. Mujib demands in a meeting “Withdraw forces, transfer power“.

Curfew imposed in Sylhet, Rangpur, Chittagong, and Khulna. Angry mob burned the Pakistani flag angered by the decision to postpone the Assembly session.

Yahya Khan continues to posture for negotiations while non-bengali regiments of soldiers are surreptitiously flown into Dhaka from West Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman rejected the invitation of President Yahya Khan to attend the proposed meeting of the leaders of all the parliamentary groups in the national assembly on March 10.

March 4: Non cooperation movement continued. Mujib congratulates people for stirring response to his call. He had asked the Govern­ment and non-Government offices where employees have not yet been paid their salaries, to function between 2-30 p.m. to 4-30 p.m. for the purposes of disbursing salaries during the next two days of Hartal.

US Embassy’s communication confirms:

“Mujib has admitted to several foreign correspondents “off the record” that he will announce the equivalent to independence for East Pakistan on Sunday (March 7). He did, however, go on to say that the East and West wings should write their respective constitutions and thereafter discussions over the form of linkage could take place.

At least one Pakistani air force C-130 has been seen flying into Dacca and there are recurrent reports of forces being flown into Dacca via the Pakistani commercial airline and of the movement of troops from the West via ship….It is known that there is pressure from some elements in the military to make a quick repressive strike against the East Pakistani leaders in hopes of cowing them and the rest of the province.”

General Khan resigns protesting Yahya’s refusal to visit East Pakistan; General Tikka Khan takes over as Governor East Pakistan.

March 5: Public demonstrations against a West Pakistani scheme to prevent the Bengalees from forming a Government are brutally suppressed. 300 killed in army actions on protesters. Army Withdrawn to Barracks- East Wing protest continues- Firing in Tongi, Rajshahi.

March 6: President Yahiya Khan announced that the Assembly session would be held on the 23rd of March and appointed General Tikka Khan as the Governor of East Pakistan. Text of the address to the nation by the President Yahya Khan, broadcast over
Radio Pakistan network.
Minutes of senior review group meeting in US Department of state including Henry Kissinger:

Another reason for our not taking the lead is that West Pakistan is very suspicious that we are supporting a separate East Pakistan state. If we tell Yahya to call off the use of force, it will merely fuel this suspicion.

March 7: Mujib said after two day long AL working committee meeting:

“It is only too clear to the people of the country and indeed the world that it is a minority group of Western Wing which has obstructed and is continuing to obstruct the transfer of power”.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced his decision to participate in the National Assembly session provided his four-point demand was accepted before the session. This negligence, he said, towards the leaders of the majority party was in fact a dishonour shown to the seven crore people of Bangla Desh.


Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech at the Racecourse Ground in front of about a million people.

“Mujib announced 4 preconditions for participating in the Assembly session. 1. Withdrawal of the martial law 2. Return of the troops back to their barracks. 3. Power handed back to the elected people’s representatives. 4. Proper investigation into the killings of unarmed civilians.

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.”

He asked that every house become a fort and attack the enemy wherever they can.

March 8: “People’s rule” by Bangabandhu, became the order of the day. The Bangalis were supremely disciplined and dedicated in this matter. Every man, woman and child scrupulously following the dictates of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Mujib asked for black flags to be raised on roof-tops for a week. He again asked for total shutdown and that no money be transmitted from the East to the West for an indefinite period.

In the evening Tajuddin Ahmad issued several clarifications and exemptions to mitigate public hardship and to prevent damage to the East Bangla economy.

March 9: Maulana Bhasani held a mammoth rally at Paltan Maydan extending his support to Mujib. 2 Bhasani asked Yahiya Khan to acknowledge the independence of Bangladesh.

Tikka Khan had arrived in Dhaka a few days after the non-cooperation movement had started, to take up the dual role of Governor and Martial Law Administrator for the Eastern part. But he had not yet sworn it. Finally he decided to be formally sworn in as Governor and summoned the chief justice of East Bangla for the purpose of administering the oath. Justice Siddique very politely declined. So did the other judges of the Dhaka High Court. This proved that Bangabandhu’s directives were being obeyed even at that top level.

Leftist forces of Bangla in exile formed the Bangladesh Jatiyo Mukti Songram Somonnoy Committee (Bangladesh National Freedom Struggle Organizing Committee) with Bhasani as the leader at Beleghata, Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India.

The Bangladesh government in exile also formed the All Party Advisory Committee under Bhasani’s leadership. The others were Moni Singh (Founder of the Communist Party of Bangladesh) and Muzaffar Ahmed (NAP), Monoranjan Dhar, Tajuddin Ahmed and Khondokar Mushtaq Ahmed.

March 10: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sent a telegram to the UN Secretary General informing him that the human rights of the Bangalees (Bengalis) were being trampled. He asked for UN Secretary General’s help in stopping the flow of arms and ammunition from the west that were being used to kill the Bangalee civilians. Japanese, German and UN workers were withdrawn to their respective countries.

March 11: Keep economy in full gear in the name of Bangladesh: Tajuddin

Chances of a political situation – from a telegram of US consulate:

It is difficult to be completely objective in Dhaka in March when, out of discretion rather than valor, our cars and residences sport balck flags and we echo smiling greetings of ‘Joy Bangla’ as we move about the streets. Daily we lend our ears to the outpouring of the Bengali dream, a touching admixture of bravado, wishful thinking, idealism, animal cunning, anger and patriotic fervor. We hear on Radio Dacca and see on Dacca TV the impressive blossoming of Bengali nationalism and we watch the pitiful attempts of students and workers to play at soldiering.

March 12: Air Marshall Asgar Khan at Lahore said that if Bangladesh gains independence then, West Pakistan wont survive 5 years.

Memorandum from U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to Secretary of State on possible outcomes of the crisis.

March 10-13: Pakistan International Airlines canceling most of it’s international services, concentrated all available aircraft of ferrying “Government Passengers” to Dhaka. But those were the troops in civilian dress.

Yahia gives explicit warning that force would be used against any move for separation.

Asked by a foreign journalist if he planned to go for a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI), Mujib sounded ambiguous: “Independence? No, not yet.” At around the same time, when another foreign newsman questioned Mujib’s challenging of the authority of the Pakistan government in the province, the Awami League chief snapped: “What do mean by government? I am the government.”

March 14: People did not go to work in defiance of martial orders.

Mian Mumtaz Muhammad Khan Daultana, Chief of the Council Muslim League said that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s demands were quite reasonable and should be accepted to end the present political crisis in Pakistan. (The Dawn, Karachi March 14, 1971)

Syed Siddiqul Hasan Gilani, Chief of the Parliamentary Affairs of the Jamaati­ Islami, said that the responsibility for the present crisis lay with Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, the People’s Party Chief, who had aggravated the situation by threatening to boycott the National Assembly session on March 3. (The Dawn, Karachi March 14, 1971)

Maulana Mufti Mahmud, leader of the Jamiatul Ulema-i-Islam Parliamentary Party said:

“In spite of the disastrous gravity of the situation in East Pakistan, of the tremendous heat and pressure generated there and the scope thus given to disrup­tive forces, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has shown his stature and his firm commit­ment to the solidarity of Pakistan, by putting in the present crisis four demands that are not in the least parochial or regional, but exclusively based on a national approach.”

Mr. Zulfikar All Bhutto, Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party addressing a public meeting in Nishtar Park said there were two Wings of the country. The People’s Party was in majority in this Wing and the Awami League in East Pakistan. If power was to be transferred to the majority parties of the two Wings, it should be given to the Awami League in East Pakistan and to People’s Party in West Wing.

March 15: Mujib claims he has taken over administration of East Pakistan except for the cities of Dhaka, comilla and Jessore – Central Intelligence Bulletin

Announcement of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – issued 35 directives (laws) to carry on with civilian rule.(THE DAWN, Karachi-March 16, 1971):

– Non-co-operation movement to go on.
– Peoples determination commended.
– Fresh action programme as struggle enters 3rd week.

President Yahiya Khan arrived along with several other generals at Dhaka at 2:20 pm to meet Mujib for “negotiations”.

March 16: Mujib arrived at the President House hoisting a black flag to protest the horrendous massacre for the so-called negotiations.

Pakistan’s Peoples Party cannot be ignored in country’s governance” says Bhutto in a press conference.

Minority parties leaders in West Pakistan criticise Bhutto’s speech.

Air Marshal Asghar Khan says “Bhutto’s stand is self contradictory“:

On the one hand, Mr. Bhutto has opposed the “grouping” of provinces in West Wing and on the other is suggesting the transfer of power to the “majority party in West Pakistan”. “Politically there is no West Pakistan. There are four provinces in this Wing of the country. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is at present “holding the Country together.” Because, if East Pakistan goes, West Pakistan will also disintegrate.

West Pakistan political leaders slate Bhutto-Press report on March 16, 1971 (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 16, 1971)

Professor Ghulam Azam, Amir of the Jama’at-i-Islami said that it had been crystal clear from the statement of Mr. Bhutto that he did not want to see Pakistan United. The Jama’at leader alleged that Mr. Bhutto had engaged himself in ” a conspiracy” immediately after the last general elections to divide the nation to fulfill his desire. He made an appeal to the President “not to help Mr. Bhutto in any way to break Pakistan”.

Prof. Azam said that immediate lifting of Martial Law and transfer of power to the elected representatives of the people could only save the nation from crisis.

March 18: Second day of “negotiations”. Mujib declines to accept probe body set up by the Martial Law Administrator Zone B “to go into the circumstances which led to the calling of the Army in aid of civil power in various parts of East Pakistan between March 2 and March 9″.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mujib has sent Capt. Mansur Ali, leader of the Parliamentary party in the East Pakistan Assembly. Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed, Vice-President, East Pakistan Awami League and Mr. Abidur Reza Khan, MNA-elect to Chittagong to make an on the spot inquiry into the recent firings and other incidents there.

March 19: Clash near Dacca – Curfew clamped in Joydevpur.

After 90 minutes of heated discussion with Yahiya, Mujib heard that the military had fired upon people at Tongi, Joydebpur and other places. Hearing this he found no reason to continue talks.

Mujib condemned the killings and said:

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.

March 20: Mujib and Yahiya talked for 2 hours, this time with their advisors.

March 21: Mujib and Yahiya talked again as thousands agitated in the streets of Bangladesh. Pakistan People’s Party chief Z. A. Bhutto came to Dhaka for “talks” with Mujib. With Bangabandhu finally consenting to Bhutto’s joining the talks, Yahya Khan had him come over to Dhaka. Angry crowds of Bengalis dogged Bhutto and his team all the way to the Sheraton.

March 22: The concept of a united Pakistan had dwindled, owing to the stiff position adopted by the Awami League, to the issue of a confederal arrangement for the two wings of the country. After talks, Yahiya again postponed the session of the National Assembly.

Daultana, Wali, Mufti resent postponement of the National Assembly.

Political crisis will be resolved” – says President Yahya Khan in a message.

In the message given on the occasion of bringing out of special supplements captioned, “Emancipation of Bangla Desh” by most dailies, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman described the present movement as the struggle for total emanci­pation of seven crores (70 million) Bengalees. This struggle will continue until the final goal is achieved, he said and added, the people of Bangla Desh could no more be silenced by bullets, guns, and bayonets because they are united today (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 23, 1971).

Bhutto said in a press conference he had a “satisfactory meeting” with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and hoped to meet him again. Bhutto said they were examining the broad agreement reached between the President and Awami League Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and assured that his party would make every effort to reach an understanding to end the present crisis.


March 23: Mujib declared 23rd March as a holiday. At his residence in Dhanmondi, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman raised the Bangladesh flag, to the cheers of the crowd gathered on the road outside his gate. It was the Bangladesh flag that was displayed on his car as it wound its way through the streets and into the President’s House for a fresh round of negotiations with President Yahya Khan. The Awami League submitted a draft of what was considered its final proposals regarding a transfer of power to the Yahya Khan team on the day. General Peerzada promised to get back to the AL the next day.

March 24: The advisors of Yahiya and Mujib met. Mujib warns against bid to impose decision:

“Whatever conspiracy you indulge in you will not succeed in suppressing the demands of the people. We would not bow our heads to any force. We will free the people of Bangla Desh”.

Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed, General Secretary of East Pakistan Awami League, urged the people to be vigilant and to be ready to make any sacrifice to defeat the conspiracies of anti-people forces.

Rumors abounded that Yahiya would hand over power on the 25th. Bhutto and his heavy bodyguard stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel (Sheraton Hotel).

Major Ziaur Rahman and M. R. Choudhury asked Major Rafiq to abandon his (Rafiq’s) plans of pre-emptive attack on the Pakistanis to disarm them before they got a chance to attack. Zia and Choudhury said that the Pakistanis would not do anything and Rafiq’s ill-conceived plans would result in all of their deaths.

March 25: Daytime -newspaper headlines read that 150 people were killed in various parts of the country by the armed forces. Mujib regrets delays and fears that the talks were decoys. Mujib condemns attempts to divide Bengalees and Mohajir.

Sheikh Mujib gave a call for a general strike throughout ‘Bangla Desh’ on March 27th as a mark of protest against heavy firing upon the civilian population in Saidpur, Rangpur, and Joydevpur.

Mujib orders resumption of jute trade telecom links to function via Manilla.

“Only way out is to accept Awami League demands”, statement by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The staff and employees of the Hotel Intercontinental ceremoniously hoisted a regular sized ‘Joy Bangla flag’ replacing the smaller one at the main mast. The new flag measuring 100 x 60 inches was unfurled in the presence of a large number of people including foreign journalists.

Rumors flew around of imminent military action against the Awami League, indeed against the population.

Mr. Z. A. Bhutto’s Press conference in Dacca on March 25, 1971: Mr. Bhutto said that the quantum of autonomy sought by the Awami League was something which could be termed as “more than autonomy “. It was bordering on sovereignty.

Yahiya and his generals secretly fled Dhaka by 6 pm. Three battalions took up position in Dhaka as per previous plans.

Around 11 PM the army pounced on sleeping citizens of Dhaka to execute operation searchlight. The goal was to “crush” Bengali resistance in which Bengali members of military services were disarmed and killed, students and the intelligentsia systematically liquidated and able-bodied Bengali males just picked up and gunned down. By midnight, Dhaka was literally burning, especially the Hindu dominated eastern part of the city. Although the violence focused on the provincial capital, Dhaka, the process of ethnic elimination was also carried out all around Bangladesh. Hindu areas all over Bangladesh suffered particularly heavy blows.

Death squads roamed the streets of Dacca, killing some 7,000 people in a single night. It was only the beginning. Within a week, half the population of Dacca had fled, and at least 30,000 people had been killed. Chittagong, too, had lost half its population.

Thus began the worst genocide in history… a genocide that many would like to forget and many would like that the new generation does not hear about. The international media and reference books in English have published casualty figures which vary greatly, from 5,000–35,000 in Dhaka, and 200,000–3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole.

The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major town in Bengali hands in mid-May.

These systematic killings served only to enrage the Bengalis, which ultimately resulted in the secession of East Pakistan later in the same year.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested by the Pakistani Army late at night. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto watched from the window of his suite at the Sheraton and saw the offices of The People newspaper blazing.

More on operation searchlight -from the “Witness to Surrender” by Siddiq Salik.

Hamoodur Rahman Commission’s report on the state of preparedness of the
armed forces.

March 26: The violence unleashed by the Pakistani forces on March 25, 1971, proved the last straw to the efforts to negotiate a settlement. Following these outrages, a declaration from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was distributed widely:

Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night, West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dhaka. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between E.P.R. and Police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pakistan on the other are going on. The Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May Allah aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla. (source)

A telegram containing the text of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s declaration reached some students in Chittagong in 26th of March early hours.

Soon after the Pakistan army took over Dacca Betar Kendro in the early hours of March 26, 1971. The Pakistanis renamed the radio station as “Radio Pakistan Dacca” and used it to announce martial law orders. On the evening of that same day, a small radio station started broadcasting defiantly in the face of the Pakistan military’s bloody onslaught on the Bengalis. The clandestine radio station, located in Kalurghat north of the city of Chittagong called itself Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro -SBBK (Free Bengal Radio Station).

The first persons to broadcast that “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has declared the 75 million people of East Pakistan as citizens of the sovereign independent Bangla Desh.” in the evening on March 26, 1971 from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro in English were Ashikul Islam, a WAPDA engineer, and in Bengali, Abul Kashem Sandwipi. Later in the evening M. A. Hannan also broadcast the declaration from the telegram in a speech. (Bangladesh Observer, April 23, 1972)

March 26, 1971 is considered the official Independence Day of Bangladesh.

As evening descended on March 26, Bhutto arrived back in Karachi, to tell waiting newsmen: “Thank God, Pakistan has been saved.” In the evening, General Yahya Khan addressed Pakistanis to announce an outlawing of the Awami League and a determination to punish Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for his “act of treason” in challenging the authority of the government of Pakistan.

Memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon:

“The West Pakistani army has moved to repress the East Pakistan secession movement. Our embassy believes that the military probably has sufficient strength to assert immediate control over Dacca and other major cities, but is not capable of maintaining control over an extended period.”

Minutes of the Washington special actions group meeting:

“After reviewing the situation in East Pakistan, the WSAG agreed that the U.S. should continue its policy of non-involvement in the dispute between West and East Pakistan. In particular, the U.S. should avoid being placed in a position where it could be accused of having encouraged the break-up of Pakistan. The WSAG agreed that the U.S. should delay action on any request that might be forthcoming for recognition of an independent East Pakistani regime.”

Excerpt from the Book – Shadhin Bangla Betar kendra, by Belal Mohammed. Published in 1983, Fuldol Publications.

March 27: The Kalurghat Bridge area was controlled by an East Bengal Regiment under Major Ziaur Rahman who revolted against the Pakistani army. Bengali soldiers were requested to guard the station. On request of Belal Mohammed of the Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, Major Ziaur Rahman broadcast announcement of the declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur:

I, Major Ziaur Rahman, on behalf of our great national leader Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, do hereby declare the Independence of Bangladesh.

Major Ziaur Rahman brodcasted the declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which was a moral boosting impact to the nation that an army major is on the side of Sheikh Mujib. He was quoted in international media as the provisional Commander-in-Chief of the Liberation Army.

Audio of Zia’s announcement (An interview with Belal Mohammed who requested Zia to give the speech)

Read more: Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro And Bangladesh’s Declaration Of Independence – Mashuqur Rahman & MMR Jalal (also published in Prothom Alo and the Daily Star)

Shaheed Minar (Monument to commemorate the martyrs of the Language Movement) was blown up by the army with demolition charges.

Archer Blood, the American Consular General sent a telegram to different American consulate offices and embassies around the world expressing extreme horror at the systematic killing.

1. Here in Decca we are mute and horrified witnesses to a reign of terror by the Pak[istani] Military. Evidence continues to mount that the MLA authorities have list of AWAMI League supporters whom they are systematically eliminating by seeking them out in their homes and shooting them down.

2. Moreover, with the support of the Pak[istani] Military. non-Bengali Muslims are systematically attacking poor people’s quarters and murdering Bengalis and Hindus.

A telegram from the Embassy in India to the Department of State on the subject of
Government of India’s reaction to East Pakistan Developments.

During the debate in Lok Sabha Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India made an intervention and talked
about the political situation in East Pakistan
. She also discussed about it in Rajya Sabha:

“We are interested in this matter for many reasons, firstly as one Member has said, that Shri Mujibur Rahman has stood for the values which we ourselves cherish the values of democracy, the values of secularism and the values of socialism. We are also concerned with the truly wonderful and unique way in which the people there had stood behind him and behind these values. We are no less full of sorrow and grave concern and even agony at what is happening there but I can only appeal to the Hon. Members that this is not a moment when the Government can say anything more and whatever the Government may or may not be able to do it would not be wise if this becomes a matter for public debate.”

March 28: Memorandum From Samuel Hoskinson of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger).

March 28: Sidney H. Schanberg was one of 35 foreign newsmen expelled Saturday morning from East Pakistan. He cabled his dispatch from Bombay, India titled “IN DACCA, TROOPS USE ARTILLERY TO HALT REVOLT

March 29: New York Times said 5,000-7,000 people were killed in Dhaka. The Sydney Morning Herald said, 10,000 – 100,000 were killed.

Rain exposed two mass graves, one at Zahrul Huq Hall and the other at Rokeya Hall.

US department of State secret memo predicts Indian future response to situation:

a. Tolerate privately provided cross-border assistance to the East Bengalis ; This assistance could range from propaganda support to weapons and explosives.
b. Permit East Bengal dissidents to use India as a refuge and to conduct cross­border activities from within India.
c. Covertly provide supplies, including weapons, and perhaps some training, to East Bengal dissidents.

Telephone conversation between President Nixon and Kissinger.

Archer Blood sends another telegram:

American priests in old Dacca reports that army acted with no provocations on part of Bengalis except barricade erection. Army exclusively responsible for all fires. Technique was to set houses afire and then gun down people as they left their homes. Stated army looking for Awami Leaguers but more indiscriminate rather than selective in approach. Most army destructions on 25th and 26th night, lesser on March 27th and March 28th.

We have received reliable reports of troops engaged in looting homes. Military reportedly is standing by while non-Bengalis looting Bengali dwellings.

Police were simply executed in Mohammadpur and elsewhere as Army considered them as potential threat. 800 Police killed in surprise attacks. The East Pakistan Rifles camp in Peelkhana had 1000 EPRs present. 700 Killed, 200 overpowered and 100 escaped.

House to house searches underway with ex Bengali servicemen being special target and shot at site whenever found. “No police seen anywhere in Dhaka”.

26 hour chronicle of Dacca drama” -A diary through the eyes of Robert Kaylor of UPI of what happened in Dacca when the Pakistani Army took control.

March 30: Telegram from Archer Blood:

The university professors believed they were subject to a pre-planned purge and the burning of university documents suggested that the army wanted to eliminate all traces of the current “trouble making” elements at the university.

Six naked female bodies were found with bits of rope dangling from the ceiling fans at Rokeya Hall. Apparently the girls were raped, shot and hung from the heels.

The army burned Hindu and Bengali (Bangalee) areas in the Old Dhaka and shot ocupants as they came out. Hindus undeniably were specual focus of military brutality. Large fires burned on 30 and 31 March mostly in Hindu predominant areas. There were steady gunfire (1 shot every 10 seconds) in those areas. Large number of prisoners were taken into the EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) base.

First signs of ressistance: A British report said that army unit faced ressistance was in a desparate situation near Pabna.

Telephone conversation between Nixon and Kissinger.

March 31: Another Telegram from American consulate in Dhaka on the number of atrocities prdicts 4000-6000 death.

More on Army terror campaign and evidence that military faced some difficulties elsewhere.

Letter from Yahya Khan to Kissinger.

Minutes of meetings at US Deaprtment of state:

Dr. Kissinger: Does the government have Mujibur Rahman?
Mr. Blee: They captured him. Presumably he is in West Pakistan, perhaps in Quetta.
Dr. Kissinger: Will they execute him?
Lt. Gen. Cushman: Yahya accused him of treason. Possibly he has been shot already or was shot inadvertently.
Dr. Kissinger: Are we going to keep VOA quiet about reports coming from our Consul?

From an editorial in New York Times:

The United States, having played a major role in training and equipping Pakistanis armed forces, has a special obligation now to withhold any military aid to the Yahya Government. Economic assistance should be continued only on condition that u major portion be used to help bind up East Pakistan’s grievous wounds.

February 1971

February 1: Possibility of East /West Pakistan split -Yahya. US ambassadors view on this (pdf).


February 2: Pres. Yahya’s views on Mujibur, Bhutto, and Pakistani politics

February 4: Indian airliner Ganga, which was hijacked on January 30 by alleged Kashmiri freedom fighters to Lahore, was destroyed by the hijackers. They had released the passengers before detonation. India banned all Pakistani aircraft from flying over its territory in retaliation to the incident. It is feared that this move will lead to severe communications problems between the two wings of Pakistan.

February 9: Mujib regrets delay in convening National Assembly session

February 10: Pakistan: In search of a consensus -Research study – Bureau of Intelligence and research, USA

Telegram to Department of State on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

February 11: US Dept of States commends Consul General Blood for skillful handling of Awami League leader Alamgir’s approach for US support for independent East Pakistan.

February 13: National meets on March 3, Dacca is venue – President’s order

February 13: Bhutto met with the American Ambassador:

“Bhutto indicated quite clearly that he wanted to “turn over a new leaf’ in his relation with the US and pointed out that, as a concrete gesture of good will on his part. He said he was wondering what would be the attitude of the US if the PPP could not agree on a “Modus Vivendi” with the Awami League on the constitution. I wanted him to know that the policy of the US has been and continues to be that of supporting the independence, unity and integrity of Pakistan.”

February 14: A report on the East Pakistan Awami League Working Committee Meeting.

February 15: Sheikh Mujib cautions against conspiracy – Transfer of power early

Bhutto refuses to accept Mujib’s leadership in the Central Assembly. The chaos which defined Pakistani politics effectively began on February 15, 1971, the day Z A Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party and putative leaderof the opposition in the National Assembly on the strength of the 88 seats his party had come by at the elections, publicly declined to attend the parliament session called by President Yahya Khan for March 3 in Dhaka..

February 16: Bhutto, whose Pakistan People’s Party controls more than half of the Assembly seats from West Pakistan, has asserted that he is the spokesman for the West.

Bhutto says no to constitution making.

Sheikh Mujib bitterly criticised the demand of Bhutto and said:

“The demand of Bhutto sahib is totally illogical. Power has to be handed over to the only majority party, the Awami League. The people of East Bengal are now the masters of power.”

February 19: Awami League Apprehensions:

Alamgir said Mujib had on February 19 asked him to check out reports that Pak army was making significant troop dispositions. He hadreported back to Mujib that he found no such evidence. Placement of anti-aircraft guns around airport and other nearby locations is viewed by Awami League as primarily psychological move to indicate to people that air of tension with India exists.

February 21: Mujib called a meeting of all the political leaders of Pakistan to discuss the 6-point demand before it would be placed at the National Assembly session.

February 22: The generals in West Pakistan took a decision to crush the Awami League and its supporters. “Kill three million of them,” said President Yahya Khan at the February conference, “and the rest will eat out of our hands.” (Robert Payne, Massacre [1972], p. 50.)

Pakistan: Implications of political separation

February 24: Mujib announced that there was a conspiracy to undermine the election results.

February 25: US Ambassador’s discussion with Yahya on political situation- he is worried about the impasse of Bhutto-Mujib talks.

February 26: Yahiya holds a secret meeting with Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party.

February 28: Bhutto announced that the National Assembly session should be postponed. He said that the people of West Pakistan vetoed the 6-point.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto said: “We cannot go there only to endorse a constitution already prepared by a party, and return humiliated… We have a duty to those millions who elected us.” He proposes that the PPP should control West Pakistan while the Awami League could rule over East Pakistan. He has also warned his newly elected delegates to the National Assembly that he will break the legs of any party member who dares to attend the March 3 session.

January 1971

January: Mujib wants Six Points as the basis for a new constitution and autonomy for East Pakistan.

January 3: Awami League called a meeting at the Racecourse ground (Shurwardi Udyan) to mark its overwhelming victory.

January 8: President Yahiya Khan arrived in Dhaka to meet Mujib to discuss issues. He mentions Mujib as “the next Prime Minister of Pakistan”.

January 11: Awami League alone competent to form Central Government – Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

January 14: US Ambassador call on Bhutto:

“Bhutto said first job was to write constitution, and he would try to work it out with Mujib. He did not know whether Mujib would follow “taking it or leave it” posture on Six Points, but in any event there should be agreement on very major degree of autonomy for each province. (Bhutto told Canadian Hicomer that he would hold out for a general legislature if Mujib insisted on Six-Point formula.)”

January 14: Yahya affirms desire for early transfer of power. Mujib Future Prime Minister – President Yahya Khan’s statement at Dacca.

January 29: The dialogue (with Mujib) should continue -Bhutto in Dacca


Jabuary 7: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Freign Policy Views, Electoral Strategy

“Asked by Mr. Sober what would happen if the constituent assembly elected on October 5 fails to agree on a constitution within the specified period of 120 days, Sheikh Mujib responded, “We will try. We will try. If we cannot agree, then we cannot agree.” The import of Mujib’s reply was not clear. He seemed to Mr. Killgore to be implying that if East and West Pakistan could not agree then they might go their separate ways.”


January 31: The Strategy for Autonomy

“Whilst his present tactics will allow Mujib to capture a majority of the seats from East Pakistan, he obviously cannot get a constitution of his choice on the basis of his strength in one province alone… In West Pakistan, there is hardly any political group today which will not insist on deleting some popular provisions of the Six Points including perhaps establishment of regional re­serve bank, separate Exchange Control and a Federal Government shorn of fiscal power.

In response to these pragmatic considerations, if Mujib tries, as it is argued, to re-adjust his position after the general election, he will find such options highly dangerous. After the tremendous build up of mass feelings through his campaign for Six-Points and chanting of Joi-Bangla, any search on his behalf for a workable compromise with his West Pakistani associates will be looked upon by the average man, including his party youngsters, as a crude attempt to barter away some of the Province’s unfulfilled rights.”

February 13: While the western wing seems to be tantalised by Bhutto’s promises to put an end to capitalist exploitation, in the east wing Mujib attacks West Pakistan as the capitalist exploiter.

Interestingly, neither of the two leaders enjoys much support beyond his own part of the country. Meanwhile, there are also those who are contesting elections in the name of religion. Hardline religious parties claiming that “Islam is in danger” view both Bhutto and Mujib as agents and purveyors of anti-Islamic ideas.

More here: Political Assessment- Status Report on Election Campaign

March 3: Conversation with NAP/R President Wali Khan:

“Wali Khan is convinced that if Pakistan is to be strong, it must inevitably have a weakened Center. Given the strength of regional sentiment in both the East and West Wings, only the devolution of greater autonomy to the provinces can provide the basis for unity through the accommodation of diverse and divergent aspirating. Insofar as West Pakistan is concerned, the dismemberment of One Unit is a complete necessity.”

March 28: Texts of President Yahya Khan’s Address to the nation.

March 30: Legal Framework Order, 1970

May 7: Awami League Manifesto

May 22: The Pakistani political scene

June 2: East Pakistan: Sheikh Mujib in serious mood

Mujib threatened, “I will proclaim independence and call for guerilla action if the army tries to stop me. It is primarily fear of communist exploitation a Vietnam type situation which has kept me patient this long.”

June 4: US ambassador meets Bhasani

“In short, he (Bhasani) struck us as a figure with considerable nuisance value but probably not posing any serious threat to the government or to the anticipated electoral process.”

June 8: Pakistan cannot be destroyed, says Mujib

“Sheikh (Mujib) repeatedly held out the assurance that Islam was in no danger on the sacred soil of Pakistan, and lashed out at those who raised cries of “Islam in danger” on flimsy grounds, to promote their own political ends. He censured the Jamaat-i-Islami for what he called their anti-East Pakistan role and for trying to deprive the people of this province of their legitimate rights by creating confusion in the name of Islam.”

June 30: Suhrawardy’s death was not natural

July 28: Election Assessment (10 weeks to go)

President Yahya Khan’s address to Nation

August 15: Elections shifted to December – Decision due to floods

August 31: Constituent post report on current political scene

October 25: Polls, a referendum on autonomy.

Six-point programme will not destroy Pakistan or Islam

November 12: 1970 Bhola cyclone and inefficiency of West Pakistan Government in handling reliefs


November 26: Mujib deplores apathy towards cyclone victims

“Despite the advance information avai­lable through SUPARCO and the weather satellites, almost two whole days before the cyclone struck, no proper or adequate warning was given to the unwary inhabitants of the coastal areas, left alone any attempts being made to evacuate at least some of them.

We are confirmed today in our conviction that if we are to save the people of Bangla Desh from the ravages of nature, as of their fellowmen, we must attain full regional autonomy on the basis of the 6-point/11-point formula. We must have plenary powers to manage our economy.”

November 27: Polls on schedule – East Pakistan must have maximum autonomy -President Yahya Khan

December 3: President Yahya Khan’s address to the nation

December 7: Awami League wins election, PPP refused to allow Sheikh Mujib as Prime Minister

December 10: Assessment of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

“Mujib the man is hard to characterize. He is primarily a man of action-a mass leader. In private meetings he is charming, calm and confident. He is well traveled and urbane. He knows Europe, particularly the UK, as well as China and the U.S. On the rostrum he is a fiery orator who can mesmerize hundreds of thousands in pouring rain. As a party leader he is tough and authoritative, often arrogant. Mujib has something of a messianic complex which has been reinforced by the heady experience of mass adultation. He talks of “my people, my land, my forests, my river.” It seems clear that he views himself as the personification of Bengali aspirations.”

December 21: Quantum of Autonomy by Mutual Accord

December 30: Call on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman


February: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected party president. Awami League declares the Six Point Movement.


March 23: 6-Point Formula-Our Right to Live by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

“I know of no nobler battle than to fight for the rights of the exploited millions. We believe that this feeling of absolute equality, sense of inter-wing justice and impar­tiality is the very basis of Pakistani patriotism. Only he is fit to be a leader of Pakistan who is imbued with and consumed by such patriotism, a leader who zealously holds that any one who deliberately or knowingly weakens any limb of Pakistan is an enemy of the country.”


Ayub Khan with opposition leaders

(Image credit: Doc Kazi from Flickr)

March 24: President Ayub’s outburst on secessionist demands:

“His attacks on the Opposition became more virulent and he referred openly to the possibility of Pakistan breaking apart. The Awami League, he claimed, nurtured the “horrid dream” of a greater sovereign Bengal. It could only spell disaster for the country, the people of East Pakistan would be turned into slaves, and he reminded them how they had been dominated by Hindus during British days. Islamic countries flourished in history at times when a strong central authority existed and fell into decadence at times of weak central authority.

He said that the Nation should be prepared to face even a civil war if thrust upon it ‘by disruptionists.’ The Government would not tolerate any attempt to tamper with the unity and solidarity of the Nation and expressed his concern at the activities of Opposition parties. If necessary, we would have to use ‘the language of weapons’.”

His talk of resorting to weapons and civil war was badly judged and resented by almost all East Pakistanis.

April 28: Popularity of the six point programme

“The the left wing National Awami Party (N.A.P. – Bhasani) has given considerable support, for instance, to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Six Point Programme for further autonomy for East Pakistan. The Government appears to have lost patience with Mujibur Rahman. He was arrested on 18 April, released on bail, re-arrested on another charge and finally again released on bail.”

May 5: General Yahya becomes chief of Pakistan army

The political scene in East Pakistan: Growing popularity of Awami League

“AL is gaining its popular support following the Government’s harassment of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Its six point autonomy agenda is widely supported by other political parties and civil societies.”

May 18: Political affairs in East Pakistan: Rioting in Chittagong

“Influential minority communities such as the Ismailis are badly upset by an ugly affair in Chittagong, when a Memon girl was prevented by her family from marrying a Bengali boy, and Bengali-nationalist rioting following”


February: Once again Sheikh Mujib was arrested under the Public Security Act.

June: Martial Law ends, national assembly elected. The National Assembly consisted of 150 seats from each province to be elected by the Basic Democracy (BD) members with an additional 3 seats for women from each province to be elected by the members of National Assembly.The ban on political parties is lifted. Sheikh Mujib was freed.


The Pakistan Muslim League splits into two groups – Council and Convention. The Convention Muslim League is backed by President Ayub.


March: Governor Gurmani declares presidential rule in West Pakistan.

May: Sheikh Mujib resigned from the cabinet in response to a resolution of the Party to strengthen the organization by working for it full-time.

June-July: Maulana Bhashani resigns as President of the Awami League; forms the National Awami Party (NAP)


August: Sheikh Mujib went on an official tour of China and the Soviet Union.

October: Suhrawardy lost support in the National Assembly and was forced to resign. Chundrigar is sworn in as the new PM.

December: Malik Feroz Khan Noon replaces Chundrigar as Prime Minister.

An unequal rate of growth between the two wings of the country seems to have been an important feature of economic development since the independence: only one-fifth of large-scale manufacturing is located in East Pakistan after ten years.


February: Pakistan becomes an Islamic Republic, constitution adopted, Bangla becomes a state language along with Urdu.

Awami League leaders, during a meeting with the Chief Minister, demanded that the subject of provincial autonomy be included in the draft constitution.


September: Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, the seasoned politician from East Pakistan replaced Chaudhry Mohammad Ali as Prime Minister of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujib joined the coalition government, assuming the charge of Industries, Commerce, Labour, Anti-Corruption and Village Aid Ministry.