Ground of Rebellion
Photos: Prabir Das
Formerly known as Ramna Race Course Maydan, Suhrawardy Uddan is known for hosting historical events of our country from a much earlier time. From being one of the most prominent legal horse racing course to being the resting place of three prominent countrymen; A.K. Fazlul Huq , Hossain Shaheed Suhrawardy and Khaza Nazimuddin. Mir Jumla the second, prominent Subhadar of Bangladesh also built the prominent Dhaka gate in this land, making it one of the prominent structures of Dhaka city.
The famous speech delivered by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, known as the Shaatei Marcher speech (Speech delivered on March 7) was delivered here. The event brought together patriots from all over, and experienced the voice of rebellion against the then Pakistan government. Bangabandhu delivered the famous speech to the people of then East Pakistan in which he unofficially declared independence. The speech is considered as the pre act which led to the 1971 liberation war against West Pakistan.
After the National assembly got 'postponed' on March 3, a massive outcry across East Pakistan took place. Thousands protested the delay which they felt was the last nail in the coffin for a united Pakistan. Cities such as Dhaka, Chittagong, Rangpur, Comilla, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Khulna were submerged in violence which saw the security forces killing dozens of unarmed protesters. As the atmosphere became more tense, Bengalis began hoisting the flag of a future independent Bangladesh. There were open calls from the masses for their leader Sheikh Mujib to declare independence from Pakistan.
The Awami League then called a massive public gathering at Dhaka's historic Race Course Maydan on March 7 to respond to the boiling tension across the province.
'Ebarer Sangram Amader Muktir Sangram, Ebarer Sangram Swadhinatar Sangram' (This time the struggle is for our freedom), is what the creators of the nation's independence eminently pronounced. A huge rally took place before the speech where people from all parts of Bangladesh joined and marched towards the Race Course ground. Bangabandhu spoke of increasing tensions between East Pakistan and the powerful political and military establishment of West Pakistan. The people were inspired to prepare for a potential war of independence unless the power restores to the election winners.
During the speech, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman also announced the civil non-compliance movement in the province, calling for "every house to turn into a fortress". Following his declaration, people across the country- from the capital Dhaka to remote villages- continued to raise slogans like: `Sab Kothar Shesh Kotha, Bangladesher Swadhinata` and `Bir Bangalee Austro Dhoro, Bangladesh Shadhin Koro`.
Famous historian Jacob F Field in his book "We Shall Fight on the Beaches: The Speeches That Inspired History" included Bangabondhu's speech as one of the best speeches ever given.
This historical place still dominates a lot of space inside the Dhaka University area. People are either taking a stroll or mingling with friends and family.
Many of the Bengali festivals, programmes and events take place at the Suhrawardy Uddyan, including Bengali New Years, Chaitra Shankranti, etc. In fact, for the last two years, a part of the Ekushey Grantha Mela is being set up at the Suhrawardy grounds as well, adding another significant gathering.
Suhrawardy Uddyan will always be the place where the revolution took place. Without that occurrence, the history might have been written differently.