MARCH 8, 1971: The day after the thunder | Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 08, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:35 AM, March 08, 2019

MARCH 8, 1971: The day after the thunder

After Bangabandhu's speech the previous day, the winds of the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, had changed.

The March 7 speech had urged supreme obedience and dedication in every Bangalee. Every man, woman and child thoroughly followed the orders of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The undisputed leader of the Bangalee nation delivered one of the greatest speeches in history at the Race Course Maidan (now Suhrawardi Udyan), stopping short of directly declaring independence.

His words no less changed the path of the nation going forward.

On March 8, the radio station in Dhaka aired Bangabandhu's Race Course speech at 8:30am. Other radio stations in the then East Pakistan followed.

By now, “civil disobedience” was launched and Bangabandhu's edicts were being fully observed. Sharing the dreams of freedom, Bangalees of all ages took the responsibility of achieving it with a passion.

The Pakistani rule continued to be rejected.

Support for Bangabandhu's powerful words poured in. The then Chhatra League president Nur-e-Alam Siddiqui, General Secretary Shahjahan Shiraj, DUCSU Vice-President ASM Abdur Rob and it's General Secretary Abdul Quddus Makhan shared their support for the speech.

They jointly stated that this fight for liberation would be termed the “Freedom Fight” and Bangabandhu “the Father of the Nation”.

The impact of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's speech was gaining visibility both inside and outside the country.

Almost 10,000 Bangladeshis living in Britain gathered in front of the Pakistani High Commission in London to demand an independent Bangladesh.

In Rajshahi, military authorities imposed an indefinite curfew from 9:00pm. This was deemed unreasonable and the military was urged to withdraw it.

In the morning, Bangalees working in Pakistani International Airlines marched out of the Airport and brought out a procession to Sheikh Mujib's Dhanmondi residence.

Later that night, in a statement by general secretary of the Awami League, he said the press note released by the military authorities gave a gross and wrong depiction of the events, as they significantly lowered the number of casualties and deaths of innocent civilians during their crackdown.

In Islamabad, Peoples' Party Chairman ZA Bhutto declined to make a comment on the conditions Bangabandhu had given to join the National Assembly on March 25.

Black flags waved on the rooftops of every Bangalee, following the orders made by Bangabandhu and signifying the approach of war.

(Source: Liberation War Museum)

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