What happened on Tuesday, March 2, 1971
The entire country was on strike. Not a single car, rickshaw or scooter was seen on the road. Not even the vegetable markets in the Dhaka city area were open. Students, workers and political parties, including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, called for a full-scale strike in bazaars, offices, courts and factories. The people of the country were observing the strike in full force.
At a historic student gathering held at Bot tola (Banyan tree) of Dhaka University, the flag emblazoned with the map of Bangladesh was hoisted into the air. In this huge gathering, it was determined that any sacrifice for the establishment of independent Bangladesh was acceptable and the struggle would continue till the end. At the beginning of the meeting, the assembled student groups took a solemn oath to continue the struggle for independence under the leadership and instructions of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
All the students, labor organizations and political parties in Dhaka organized meetings to finalize their programs. One such event was jointly organized by East Pakistan Chhatra League and DUCSU (Dhaka University Central Students’ Union) at 11 am at Bot tola and 3 pm at Paltan Maidan. National Awami Party, NAP held a meeting at the Central Shaheed Minar at 11 am and at Paltan Maidan in the afternoon. On that day, NAP’s meeting was supported by East Pakistan Students Union (পূর্ব- পাকিস্তান ছাত্র ইউনিয়ন), Trade Union Centre (ট্রেড ইউনিয়ন কেন্দ্র) and Farmers’ Association (কৃষক সমিতি). The meeting of the East Pakistan National League was held at Baitul Mukarram premises at 3.30 pm.
All parties ended their meetings by starting protest rallies. Shots were fired at these processions. Almost fifty people were shot including the students of Tejgaon Polytechnic School named Aziz Morshed and Mamum. The injured were brought to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Aziz died after being brought to the hospital.
In the evening, the military administrator announced the imposition of curfew in Dhaka city through radio. It was announced that the curfew would continue from 7 pm to 7 am until further notice. In an immediate response to this news, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made a strong condemnation at a press conference. Sheikh Mujib called for a half-day (6 am to 2 pm) nationwide strike from March 3 to March 6.
As soon as the curfew was announced, students from different dormitories and workers from different areas marched with bold slogans against the curfew. Their slogans were- “Let’s disobey nocturnal curfew” (সান্ধ্য আইন মানি না), “Triumphant Bangla” (জয়বাংলা), “Valiant Bangalis, pick up your weapons – To create an independent Bangladesh” (বীর বাঙালি অস্ত্র ধরো- বাংলাদেশ স্বাধীন করো), etc. Barricades were formed in all cities to break the curfew. At around 9:30 pm, the military opened fire on the crowd in front of the Daily Morning News office and at the corner of D.I.T Avenue. When a large crowd broke the curfew and marched towards the governor’s house, shots were fired on them as well. Shots were fired on curfew violators in different parts of the city too.
Translated by Masuma Begum
Editorial contribution by Arghya Raihan
Researched, compiled & Edited by Sagar Lohani