What happened on Monday, March 1, 1971
In a sudden move, President Yahya Khan adjourned the session of the National Assembly in Dhaka indefinitely on March 3 through radio. He said that the decision was taken because the People’s Party, a major party in Pakistan, and several other parties had expressed a desire not to attend the session of the National Assembly held on March 3.
As soon as the National Assembly session was called off by the President, Dhaka, the capital, was engulfed in violent protests. People of all classes, regardless of party affiliation, came down to the streets. All the shops in the city closed spontaneously.
The cricket match between the BCCP and the International XI at the Dhaka Stadium was called off. The spectators left the stadium and joined the procession. The processions started moving towards Hotel Purbani in Motijheel to receive instructions from Awami League Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
After the news of the adjournment of the session spread, the airlines stopped taking off from Dhaka. The staff of the Motijheel office of Dhaka Airport and Pakistan International Airlines, PIA left their offices spontaneously. As a result, flights from Dhaka Airport to various provincial and international routes were suspended.
In separate statements, the political leaders of Bangladesh lodged their fierce protests against the adjournment of the National Assembly session and termed the President’s announcement as an initiative to thwart the restoration of the sovereignty of the people and the transfer of power to the people’s elected representatives.
After the meeting of the Parliamentary Party, Awami League Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman vigorously protested the announcement of the adjournment of the National Assembly session by the President in a crowded press conference at the Hotel Purbani and said that the people of Bengal had rejected President Yahya’s decision. He announced a strike in Dhaka city on March 2 and in the whole of Bengal on March 3 and a public meeting on March 7 at Racecourse Maidan as part of an all-out movement to protest the decision.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said he would announce the full course of action of the all-out movement at the public meeting on March 7. He said he would discuss the current situation with other political leaders immediately.
At night, Sheikh Mujib met with various political leaders at his residence in Dhanmondi No. 32 to discuss the changed political situation. Later in the evening, he sent his representative to Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani in Santosh to discuss the matter.
When the Chief of the Pakistan Muslim League Abdul Qayyum Khan welcomed the President’s announcement as “the only right decision”, Secretary General Khan A. Sabur announced his resignation as a party member and secretary in protest.
That night, the President and Chief Martial Law Administrator General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan appointed the military ruler of the East Pakistan region Lt. General Sahebzada M. Yaqub Khan as the civilian ruler of the province. Later in the night, the military administrator of East Pakistan region issued a new order directing newspapers not to publish any news or pictures that went against the country’s integrity and sovereignty.
The general strike called by the People’s Party in West Pakistan on March 2 in protest of the March 3 National Assembly session was called off in the evening following a presidential announcement.
Translated by Masuma Begum
Editorial contribution by Arghya Raihan
Researched, compiled & Edited by Sagar Lohani