Bangalees clashed with soldiers | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 19, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 19, 2012

26th March

Bangalees clashed with soldiers

On this day in 1971, clashes between Bangalee civilians and the army led to the death of two civilians and three soldiers being badly wounded in Joydevpur, following which a curfew was imposed by the authorities. The problem was triggered by local citizens putting up a barricade on the road to prevent the return to Dhaka of a military commander, who had earlier travelled down to Joydevpur. The commander's visit was widely seen as a move by the soldiers toward preparing for eventual action against the civil disobedience movement. The shootings by the army drew a swift response from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who noted that if the junta thought it could suppress a popular movement by military action, it was living in a fool's paradise.
In Dhaka, the negotiations between the Awami League and the regime appeared to be going nowhere. General Yahya Khan and his advisers kept up the old refrain of a vacuum that would result if martial law were withdrawn and power handed over to an elected government. For their part, Bangabandhu and his team insisted that a presidential proclamation could easily deal with the difficulty. In the evening, the president's advisors had a fresh meeting with the Awami League team. But that too did not seem to be going anywhere. Meanwhile, the suspicion grew that the regime was only trying to buy time and rumours began to make the rounds of an army build-up taking place in order for the regime to strike at an opportune moment. At the other end, pressure mounted on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for a declaration of independence for Bangladesh. He withstood the pressure, on the ground that such precipitate action would provoke the wrath of the army.
It was interesting that even on the third day of the Mujib-Yahya talks, there was little or no mention of whether ZA Bhutto would join the negotiations. He was certainly observing developments in Dhaka from distant Karachi.

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