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Historic March 7: When the call to freedom came

  • Published at 11:46 pm March 6th, 2021

Bangabandhu delivered a 19-minute speech where he made a fervent appeal to the people to resist and struggle against tyranny

Bangladesh on Sunday is observing the anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic address at the Race Course grounds.

On this day in 1971, Bangabandhu called upon the nation to join the struggle for independence.

The Father of the Nation inspired the people with his stirring call to arms ahead of the Liberation War. The speech was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) as part of the world’s documentary heritage in 2017.

Bangabandhu arrived at the Race Course, attired in a white punjabi topped by a black coat. When he took to the stage, around a million people greeted him with raucous applause and chants of “Joy Bangla.”

Once the crowd had quieted down, Bangabandhu delivered a 19-minute speech where he made a fervent appeal to the people to resist and struggle against the tyranny, exploitation, subjugation and deprivation by the Pakistani military junta.

“Since we have learned to give blood, we shall give more of it. We shall free the people of this land by the grace of Almighty Allah,” Bangabandhu said.

“Ebarer sangram amader muktir sangram, ebarer sangram swadhinatar sangram (The struggle this time is for our emancipation, the struggle this time is for our independence),” the great leader added.

“We shall transform every house into a fortress,” he further said.

The whole nation responded spontaneously to Bangabandhu’s call with the thunderous chant: “Bir Bangalee Astro Dharo, Bangladesh Swadhin Karo (Brave Bengalis, take up arms and free Bangladesh from occupation).”

The war began 18 days later, on March 25, when the Pakistan army launched “Operation Searchlight” to slaughter unarmed Bangladeshi civilians, intellectuals, academics, students, soldiers, policemen, EPR personnel and politicians. Bangladesh’s declaration of independence followed shortly afterwards.

Under the direction of Bangabandhu and with the assistance of allied Indian forces, Bangladesh defeated Pakistan in the nine-month-long War of Liberation and gained independence on December 16, 1971.

On October 30, 2017, Unesco recognized the historic speech that had inspired the people to victory as part of the world’s documentary heritage. It has been included in the Memory of the World International Register, a list of the world’s important documentary heritage aspects maintained by Unesco.

This year, the observance of the anniversary of the speech is more significant as the nation prepares to celebrate the golden jubilee of the country’s independence on March 26. Furthermore, the yearlong celebration of Bangabandhu’s birth centenary, dubbed Mujib Year, is also ongoing.

To mark the day, various socio-cultural and political organizations, as well as student and professional bodies have drawn up elaborate programs, including the laying of wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu and holding of discussions while maintaining health guidelines in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

The national flag is to be hoisted at all public and private buildings in the country as well as at the nation’s diplomatic missions abroad.

The ‘Historic March 7’ National Day observance program is being arranged at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) at 3pm to mark the occasion. It will be joined by Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on a virtual platform as the chief guest.

Islamic Foundation has called for arranging special prayers at all mosques across the country to seek the eternal peace of the departed souls of Bangabandhu, his family and the 1971 Liberation War martyrs.

Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television as well as private television channels and radio stations are to broadcast and telecast special programs. National dailies will carry special supplements to mark the auspicious occasion.