What happened on Tuesday, June 8, 1971
Bilateral agreements were signed between India and the Soviet Union during Indian Foreign Minister Sardar Sharan Singh’s visit to Moscow. The agreement included issues of moral support and cooperation in the liberation struggle of the people of Bangladesh.
The Pak army launched a massive attack on the freedom fighters base on the Bhandura railway station on the bank of Seloneah River in Feni. The freedom fighters retreated from their position and moved to the main defense base of Belonia. The Pak army advanced as far as Anandapur and took up a strong position there. The freedom fighters suffered heavy losses in the fight.
In Dhaka, the Number One Special Military Court tried Awami League leaders Tajuddin Ahmed, Tofail Ahmed, Syed Nazrul Islam, Abdul Mannan and editor of Peoples, Abidur Rahman on charges of treason, in absentia. Each of the five was sentenced to 14 years of rigorous imprisonment and the confiscation of 50 percent of their assets.
Bogra National Assembly member Habibur Rahman severed ties with the Awami League in a statement, saying that, “I have no connection with the separatists (Freedom fighters). I will continue to serve the country as a genuine Pakistani.” He thanked General Yahya Khan for defending East Pakistan at the right time and congratulated the Pakistan Armed Forces.
British Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas Hume said in London that, “Britain can influence Pakistan for a political solution before agreeing to a new economic aid project. But we cannot impose a political solution on an independent country.”
Speaking at the Royal Commonwealth Society’s London headquarters, Bangladesh’s representative Justice Abu Sayeed Choudhury said, “As soon as you open the newspaper, you will see the news that the citizens of East Bengal fleeing the country. They are going to India and taking refuge in refugee camps, but what is the reason? When did the massacres begin? Who is responsible for this humanitarian abuse? I want to make it clear that the people of East Bengal have long been plagued by the imperfection of their expectations and aspirations and by political rule and economic exploitation,” he said. “In December 1970, people went to the polling stations, keeping their political and economic exploitation in mind. They voted to bring Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League to power. Because the Awami League gave power to the province in the demands set out in the 6 points, on foreign trade and other issues, so that by recognizing a common foreign and defense policy, the two regions can go hand in hand towards the goal of peace and development of one Pakistan.” The Bangladesh envoy said, “Yahya’s advisers did not like the Awami League’s victory in 167 of the 169 seats. The military dictators realized that it was time to hand over power to the people’s representatives. Upon this realization, they pulled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had only 30 seats, to their side. Bhutto announced that he would boycott the March 3 National Assembly session. Under pressure, Yahya canceled the council session. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman lawfully protested the decision and went on strike. The entire population of East Bengal joined his movement. Because the people of East Bengal had accepted Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as their legitimate leader. Justice Choudhury said that “In this situation, Yahya invited Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to sit down for talks with him. Sheikh Mujib accepted this offer. And when Sheikh Saheb participated in the talks, ship-loaded weapons and Pak army units were being sent from West Pakistan. Then came the most barbaric event in history. It started on Thursday night, March 25th. While students and professors were sleeping in the dormitories and apartments of the university, the whole city of Dhaka had fallen asleep, then the army came down and killed the students and professors indiscriminately. He said, “The people of East Bengal have woken up, and raised the voice of freedom. A new country has emerged, which is today’s Bangladesh. Whether a country recognizes Bangladesh or not for strategic reasons, the reality is that Yahya’s forces have turned Dhaka into a ruin. The whole nation has rejected this occupying force. It is not possible for anyone to keep Bangladesh under the control of the army. Seven and a half crore people cannot be held captive like this.” Abu Sayeed Choudhury went on to say, “It is not true at all that the government of West Pakistan and the Pak army are controlling East Bengal. No country can ever be run under the control of minorities by terrorizing the people. The people of East Bengal know that this rule of Pakistan, this raging of the Pak army will not last long. We now know very well that we will secure the dignity of our independence from the colonial forces.” We are unique in lifestyle, culture and language,” he asserted. “Our people are different. We have the right to defend ourselves on the basis of the UN Charter.”
Translated by Mohammad Towhidul Islam
Editorial contribution by Arghya Raihan
Researched, compiled & Edited by Sagar Lohani
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