Friday, March 6, 2009

Ekushey February: A Timeline -- 12

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1966 (February 12):
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman launched his famous Six-Point Programme, for full regional autonomy of East Pakistan, in the All-Party meeting in Lahore, West Pakistan [where in 1940, Sher-e-Bangla Fazlul Huq had moved the historic 'Lahore Resolution' for a confederation of "independent" Muslim states].

1966 (March):
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Tajuddin Ahmed were elected President and General Secretary respectively of the Awami League party.

In the same month, General Ayub Khan comes to East Pakistan and launches his attack on the Six-Point Programme by saying that it "would spell disaster for the country and turn the people of East Pakistan into slaves."

1966 (May 9):
Police arrest Sheikh Mujibur Rahman under the Public Safety Act. During a general strike in the main cities and towns of East Pakistan, 10 people were killed and many injured in police firing.

1966:
Sometime in this year, the government of Monaem Khan in East Pakistan banns the import of books, newspapers, magazines and movies from Calcutta, India. Rabindra Sangeet (Bangla songs of Nobel-laureate Rabindranath Tagore) is also banned from all East Pakistani stations of the Radio Pakistan. The government does not want that the mind of the Muslims of East Pakistan get contaminated with the Hindu and "alien" ideas and influences!

1968 (January 6):
The military regime of General Ayub Khan (including the 'stooge' Governor Monaem Khan) wants to take revenge on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his group for demanding regional autonomy through the Six-Point Programme. For this purpose, the government set up a case, famously known as Agortola Shorojontro Mamla (Agortola Conspiracy Case).

On this day, the government issue a statement that 28 people have been arrested on the charge of conspiring to secede East Pakistan from Pakistan with the help of Indian agents.

On June 19, 1968, a Special Tribunal in Dhaka Cantonment starts the trial of 35 persons, including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the main accused. He was first released from Dhaka Central Jail on January 18 and immediately rearrested and confined to the Cantonment for the trial.

1968 (November 8):
In support of the accused and in protest against the conspiracy case, there were continuous strikes and rioting that had serious effects on the public services, education, commerce and industry. In February, 1969, the government was forced to withdraw the conspiracy case and release all the accused, including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

1969 (February 21):
East Pakistanis were extremely active politically due to the Agortola Conspiracy Case, repressive measures of the government, and police shooting and killing. People realized well that the ruling class would never honour their wishes and rights, but trample them on any excuse.

So the Ekushey February of this year was not only the observance of the Martyrs' Day, but also their stronger determination for securing their rights. Black flags were hoisted on house-tops.

After 10 years, the government declared this day a public holiday for government and non-government offices and educational institutions. Special programmes were in the only state-run Radio and Television stations. Artists and painters had their special arts exhibits.

1969 (March 11):
To ease the political situation, Ayub Khan calls for a Round Table Conference of all political parties in Rawalpindi, where Sheikh Mujibur Rahman demanded the implementation of the Six-Point Programme. Maulana Moududi of Jamaat-e-Islami party opposes Sheikh Mujib. On March 13, Ayub Khan announced that he would accept the principle of parliamentary form of government and direct elections but he refused to consider the autonomy of East Pakistan or to restore the four provinces of West Pakistan.

1969 (March 17):
The Pakistan government confirms reports that "ships loaded with troops, tanks and armaments" sailed from Karachi for East Pakistan.

1969 (March 25):
After the Round Table Conference of All Parties, Ayub Khan asked the Army Chief General Yahya Khan to take steps as he thought fit. Yahya Khan advised him to declare the Martial Law and hand him the power.

On this day, President Ayub Khan announced his resignation in a broadcast. Governor Monaem Khan, too, resigned. General Yahya Khan then declares Martial Law and takes over the power of the Chief Martial Law Administrator. The Constitution was abrogated and the Central and Provincial Assemblies dissolved, and the offices of the President, the Central and Provincial Ministers, and the Provincial Governors were removed. The Constitution of 1962 was revived under an "ordinance of continuance."

1969 (July 28):
An Election Commission was formed, headed by a Bangali Supreme Court Judge.

1969 (November 28):
Yahya Khan announces the country-wide election to be held on October 5, 1970 on the basis of adult franchise. He also mentions that West Pakistan would have its former provinces restored.

(Continued)
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