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Essay : The Significance of 7th March Speech

The Significance of 7th March Speech

Introduction : Throughout history, people in any country have been persuaded by political leaders of fight and even to sacrifice their lives for their motherland and the betterment of its people. A few political leaders not all deliver their speeches in a way that can create effective appeal to the people and influence not only to believe but also to act on their speeches. The speech of the 7th March of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was of that kind that was not limited only to a clarion call for emancipation of the 75 million people of Bangladesh but his speech brought about a revolutionary change in the psyche of the nation that persuaded people to snatch away independence from the clutches of West Pakistan. The aftermath of the brave speech is our freedom. It still persuades the people of Bangladesh to sacrifice anything for our beloved country. The recent UNESCO’s declaration of the 7th March speech as an important documentary heritage will get the world to know about the speech’s significance and our glorious Liberation War. 

Background : Pakistan was created in 1947, during the partition of India, as a Muslim homeland in South Asia. Its territory comprised most of the Muslim majority provinces of British India, including two geographically and culturally separate areas, one east of India and the other west. The western zone was popularly called West Pakistan. The eastern zone (At present Bangladesh) was called East Bengal and then East Pakistan. West Pakistan dominated the country politically, and its leaders exploited the east economically. 

In 1966, the Awami League, led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, proposed the Six Point Movement. The Pakistani establishment rejected the league’s proposals and the military government arrested Sheikh Mujib and charged him Agartala Conspiracy Case. 

In 1970, the Awami League, the largest East Pakistani Political pary, won a landslide victory in national elections, winning 167 of the 169 seats allotted to East Pakistan and a majority of the 313 seats in the National assembly with the right of forming a government. However, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party and a member of the Sindhi ethnic group, refused to allow Sheikh Mujib to become Prime Minister. 

On 1st March, the convening of the National Assembly was postponed for sine die, leading to an outcry across East Pakistan. Violence broke out in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rangpur, Comilla, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Khulna and the security forces killed dozen of unarmed protesters. On the basis of situation on 5th March Yahya Khan called assembly on 25 March. There ware open calls for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to declare independence from Pakistan and the Awami League called a large public gathering at Dhaka’s Ramna Race Course on 7th March to respond. 

The 7th March Speech of Bangabandhu : The 7th March Speech was a speech given by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh on 7th March 1971 at the Ramna Race Course in Dhaka to a gathering of over two million people. It was delivered during a period of escalating tensions between East Pakistan and the powerful political and military establishment of East Pakistan. 

The Bangladesh Liberation War began 18 days later, when the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight against Bengali civilians, intelligentsias, students, politicians and armed personnel. 

The Speech : Bangabandhu Started with the lines, “Today, I appeared before you with a heavy heart. You know everything and understand as well. We tried with our lives. But the painful matter is that today, in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur, the streets are dyed red with the blood of our brethren. Today the people of Bengal want freedom, the people of Bengal want to survive, the people of Bengal want to have their rights. What wrong did we do?” 

He mentioned four conditions for joining the National Assembly on 25 March : 
  1. The immediate withdrawal of martial law; 
  2. The immediate taking back of all military personnel to their barracks; 
  3. A proper inquiry into the loss of life during the conflict; 
  4. The immediate transfer of power to elected representatives of the people. 
The speech concludes with, ‘Our struggle, this time, is struggle for our freedom. Our struggle, this time, is a struggle for our independence. Joy Bangla!’ It was a de facto declaration of Bangladesh’s independence. The historic 7th March speech of Bangabandhu was one of the shortest public speeches ever. 

UNESCO’s Recognition of the 7th March Speech : Recently, UNESCO has recognized the historic 7th March Speech of Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as an important documentary heritage. 

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, announced the decision on October 30, 2017, and included the speech in the Memory of the World International Register, a list of world’s important documentary heritage maintained by UN organization. The world will now get to know more about our Father of the Nation and our glorious ‘Liberation War’

The memory of the World Register, a list of documents having global significance, now includes a total of 427 documents and collections from all continents. 

The objective of creating the International Register is to ensure preservation of and access to documentary heritage in various parts of the world. 

The 7th March Speech and its Significances : The speech had electrifying effects. It transformed then 75 million people with the exception of a few, into a national people’s arms ready to fight till their last blood for the independence of their motherland. In reality, it proved to be so when the call for action came in the early hours of 26th March 1971 after the Pakistanis let loose a reign of terror that included indiscriminate killing, murder, rape and arson in the name of heinous ‘Operation Searchlight’. The atrocities continued to be committed against the unarmed people till the final victory on the 16th December 1971. In the struggle for freedom 3 million people laid down their lives and two lacs of women lost their honour. The victory was achieved at a great cost and misery of the millions of the people. But one thing that guided and remained as beacon of light and hopes to the struggling freedom-loving people was the speech of their great leader, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. 

Conclusion : The 7th March Speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman provided inspiration to the Bengali people in their quest for freedom and emancipation. The speech also energized the entire nation and prepared the people for the forthcoming liberation struggle. It also served as the ultimate source of inspiration struggle. It also served as the ultimate source of inspiration for the countless freedom fighters who joined the Mukti Bahini. Bangabandhu’s speech is played throughout the country during the various national occasions and continues to reverberate in hearts and minds of Bengali people. This speech continues to enthral our people and will continue to inspire succeeding generations.

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