Bangladesh to remember Bangabandhu’s Mar 7 speech, ‘an everlasting source of inspiration’

Bangladesh will on Thursday commemorate historic Mar 7 remembering Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s 1971 Race Course Maidan address that inspired the nation into an armed struggle for independence from Pakistan.

President Md Abdul Hamid has called the speech “an everlasting source of inspiration”.

In a message marking the day, Hamid said: “Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech will not only remain as an everlasting source of inspiration for us but also for the people of the world.” 

The speech is a unique example of how an address aroused an entire nation to wage a war for gaining independence, the president said.

UNESCO has added Bangabandhu’s speech to the Memory of the World Register, recognising its importance as part of the world’s ‘documentary heritage’, he noted.

Hamid also mentioned that Bangabandhu’s birth centenary will be observed in 2020 and the golden jubilee of independence will be observed in 2021.

Bangabandhu’s daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a separate message, urged the citizens to work in unison for building a secular, happy and prosperous Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty to materialise the founding father’s dream.

On this day in 1971, he delivered an earth-shattering speech at what is now Dhaka’s Suhrawardy Udyan, declaring the War of Liberation.

Eighteen days later, the Pakistani military began its operation and after a bloody nine-month war, Bangladesh achieved independence.

Pakistan surrendered at the Suhrawardy Udyan on Dec 16, 1971.

To observe the day, the ruling Awami League will hoist national and party flags at its offices and Bangabandhu Bhaban early in the morning.

The party leaders will place wreaths at the portrait of Sheikh Mujib at Bangabandhu Bhaban.

Hasina is scheduled to join a discussion at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka in the afternoon.

Different political parties, social, cultural and professional bodies have drawn up programmes to mark the day.

Electronic media outlets are airing special programmes and newspapers are publishing special supplements on the occasion.

THE SPEECH

On March 7, 1971, as negotiations with Pakistan’s military junta appeared to go nowhere, Sheikh Mujib turned up at the Race Course around 3:20pm, wearing his trademark white pyjama-panjabi and a sleeveless black coat.

To the tens of thousands gathered, he began by saying: “Today, I come to you with a heavy heart. You know everything and understand all that has been going on. We tried our best.

“But every time we have talked, the streets of Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur have gone red with the blood of our brothers. People of Bangladesh today want freedom. They want to live. They want to secure their rights.”

In his extempore speech before a million freedom-loving people of erstwhile East Pakistan, he proclaimed amid slogans, “This struggle is for our freedom. This struggle is for our independence.”

His address cut across the social divide and struck a chord with 70 million Bengalis of East Pakistan.

The towering leader, a powerful orator, called for a civil uprising and declared war against the then Pakistani junta.

He said: “We have given much blood and we will give more. But this time, we will definitely liberate the country In Sha’a Allah… Turn every house into a fort and face [the enemy] with whatever you have.”

He also called upon the Bengalis to prepare for armed struggle against the Pakistani military junta.

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