What happened on Saturday, March 6, 1971
Bengal was astir with meetings, rallies and processions. During the sixth day of the strike in Dhaka, crowds from all walks of life came down to the streets.
After the peaceful strike called by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, various banks and private offices which had not made salary payments beforehand were open for payment of salaries from 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm, on his instructions.
At around 11 am, 341 prisoners escaped by breaking the gate of Dhaka Central Jail. During the escape, 7 prisoners were killed by police fire and 30 others were injured.
Pakistan’s President Yahya Khan announced convening of a session of the National Assembly on March 25 in a radio announcement at noon. In the speech, he said, “No matter what happens, as long as the Pakistan Army is under my command and I am the Head of State of Pakistan, I will ensure full and absolute unity of Pakistan”.
Immediately after the President’s announcement, a joint emergency meeting of the working committee of the central and provincial branches of the Awami League was held at Mujib’s residence. The closed-door meeting, which lasted for several hours, discussed in detail of the latest political situation in the country after the President’s radio announcement.
Soon after Yahya Khan’s radio announcement, several protest processions spontaneously took place in Dhaka and Narayanganj.
Welcoming President Yahya’s speech in Rawalpindi, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, chairman of the People’s Party, said at a press conference that his party wants to establish a rough structure of the constitution through discussions before the inaugural session of the National Assembly on March 25.
The rally on March 7 at the Racecourse Maidan continued to be promoted throughout the day. The slogan for the day’s processions was, “Boot on Bhutto’s face- For Bangladesh’s independence” (ভুট্টোর মুখে লাথি মারো, বাংলাদেশ স্বাধীন করো).
Throughout the day, student leaders pressured Sheikh Mujib to declare independence at the rally on Sunday.
Council Muslim League leader Air Marshal Nur Khan, of Lahore, said in an interview that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had the legitimate right to govern the country. All obstacles to the transfer of power had to be removed immediately. Nur Khan expressed regret over the President’s radio announcement blaming Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for the deteriorating situation.
Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, Head of the Pakistan Muslim League in Peshawar, congratulated the decision to convene a session of the National Assembly on March 25, saying in a statement that President Yahya had made the right decision. PDP Chief Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan and Council Muslim League Chief Mia Mumtaz Daulatana welcomed Yahya Khan’s announcement.
President and Chief Martial Law Administrator General Yahya Khan appointed Lt. General Tikka Khan as the Governor of East Pakistan.
In a statement, the Students League and Dhaka University Central Students Union leaders demanded that Mujib’s speech should be broadcast live from the Racecourse Maidan on March 7 to all radio stations in East Pakistan.
Translated by Masuma Begum
Editorial contribution by Arghya Raihan
Researched, compiled & Edited by Sagar Lohani
Gratitude to Christina Rozario