The prime minister recalls the turbulent times when the movement for the rights of Bangalis in Pakistan began to gain momentum
The independence of Bangladesh is rooted in the Six-Point Demand formula, the “Charter of Freedom” for Bangladeshis, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said, reiterating her pledge to build the country as a developed and prosperous one in line with the spirit of the Liberation War.
“We [the Awami League] won the 1970 general election [of Pakistan] and achieved Bangladesh’s independence on the basis of the Six-Point Demand… We, the family members of Bangabandhu, at least knew it as he always told us that the Six Points were basically one point – independence. Now, we are an independent nation,” she said.
The prime minister said this in a recorded speech for a special discussion titled “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Charter of Freedom for Bengalees,” held virtually to mark the historic Six-Point Demand Day, as the nation celebrates it every year on June 7.
Organized by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee, the meeting was broadcast by Bangladesh Television, private televisions online and on social networking sites.
Sheikh Hasina, also the president of the ruling Awami League, said that June 7 (1966) was a significant day for the Bangali nation, and the day was inscribed as a red letter one as 11 people including labour leader Monu Mia sacrificed their lives in the hands of Pakistan occupation forces while they were enforcing a nationwide hartal demanding realization of the six-point formula and the release of the father of the nation from jail.
Referring to several speeches by Bangabandhu to drum up support in favour of the Six-Point Demand, the prime minister said the father of the nation knew well before that Bangladesh would be an independent country.
She quoted Bangabandhu as saying: “In this country, the Awami League first bears the message of every struggle. It is true that they [Awami League leaders and activists] were going through torture. But the movement did not go in vain. The Six-Point Demand will also not fail. We will overcome the struggle through sacrifices. InshaAllah, the victory will be ours.”
The prime minister said the Six-Point Demand was the outcome of Bangabandhu’s vision relating to establishing the rights of the East Pakistani people, as there was massive discrimination between the East and West Pakistani people in every sector, particularly in civil and military jobs.
Another reason behind declaring the Six-Point Demand came to surface during the Indo-Pak war in 1965, when the people of East Pakistan remained unprotected as the central government of Pakistan did not deemed it important to protect this region, she went on saying.
She also recalled the contribution of her mother in making the nationwide hartal on June 7, 1966 a success to pursue the Six-Point Demand Movement by organizing the party activists, evading the eyes of the Pakistan intelligence agencies, in absence of Bangabandhu as he was in jail at that time.
The prime minister said the father of the nation placed the six-point formula before a meeting of all the opposition parties in Lahore on February 5, 1966, adding that the meeting did not endorse it and even ignored enlisting it in the agenda while some Bangladeshi politicians did not support it.
She added that Bangabandhu, who announced the Six Points as Awami League’s general secretary, later briefed the media about it after calling a press conference in Dhaka.
Bangabandhu later became the president of the Awami League in the party conference on March 19, 1966 and started extensive visits across the country.
He gave speeches at mass gatherings in big districts like Mymensingh, Chittagong, Sylhet, Jessore, Khulna, and Narayanganj to mould public opinion in favour of the demand, she said, adding that he was accused in a number of cases and was captured time and again following the meetings as the Pakistanis treated it as a move to separate East Pakistan from Pakistan.
The prime minister said Bangabandhu struggled throughout his life in order to ensure a better and improved life for his countrymen, for which he took various socio-economic initiatives, but could not materialize them as he was assassinated brutally along with most of his family members on August 15, 1975.
“The father of the nation is no more within us. We had lost the ideology of the Liberation War after 1975, which has again returned to us. Bangladesh now stands with dignity, keeping its head high on the world stage with the ideology of the father of the nation. Bangladesh will definitely go ahead and be established as a developed and prosperous ‘Golden Bangladesh,’” she said. “Bangladesh is marching forward, will continue it in the future.”
Seasoned politicians and Awami League Advisory Council members Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed, and Prof Nazma Shaheen also spoke at the virtual discussion moderated by Dr Nuzhat Chowdhury.