Historical 6 point demand was the charter of freedom

Tofael Ahmed
ছবি: সংগৃহীত

ছবি: সংগৃহীত

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Every year June 6, the 'Six Point Day', returns to our national life and we observe the day with due dignity. This time the 'Coronavirus' has spread worldwide in the form of a pandemic to protect public health. State and party ceremonies on the occasion of Mujibborsho, Independence day, victory day, Sheikh Hasina’s home coming day have been observed in limited ways. Hopefully, through proper coordination under the direction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the government and the people at all levels of the country will be able to overcome this terrible disaster by showing responsible behavior.

In the history of our national liberation struggle, the importance of June 6 is immense in realizing the six-point demand. Later, at the beginning of the mass movement of '69, we gained independence in exchange for a sea of blood with the mandate of the people in the historic election of '70 under the leadership of Bangabandhu. Bangabandhu was a prudent leader. Flowing deep in his heart was the independence of Bangladesh. He had no other thoughts outside of freedom. He has led the way in liberating Bangladesh from the shackles of subjugation by enduring imprisonment, oppression and torture.

The people of Bengal went on a general strike on June 6 against the ruling party of Pakistan led by Awami League demanding independence and release of all political prisoners including Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib. The dictator Ayub Khan wanted to enslave the Bengali nation. Against this, Bangabandhu proposed to include in the agenda of the Convention of the Opposition Parties held in Lahore on 5 February 1966, raising the famous 'Six Points', the 'Charter of Liberation of Bengalis'. Chowdhury Mohammad Ali, the chairman of the meeting, refused to discuss the 'six points'. Bangabandhu returned to the erstwhile East Pakistan on 11 February and gave details at a press conference at Dhaka Airport. At the meeting of the Awami League's working committee on February 20, 'Six Points' was adopted as a party program. Addressing the people of Chattogram he said, 'One day, ignoring the coercive rule of the British government in the whole of Pak-India, the heroic sons of Bir Chattala flew the flag of independence on the Jalalabad hill in Chittagong. I want the people of Chattogram to fly the flag of struggle for the deprived people of East Pakistan in Chattogram for the first time. '

After the public meeting in Chattogram, he held a public meetings one after another to present the rationale of 'Six Points' before the forthcoming council of the party. The council sessions of the Awami League were held on March 18, 19 and 20, 1968. The booklet was distributed at the council meeting. The inaugural session of the conference began with singing of Rabindranath Tagore's song 'Amar Sonar Bangla Ami Tomay Bhalobasi' under the chairmanship of Syed Nazrul Islam, senior vice-president of the party. The 1443 councilors present at the council meeting elected Bangabandhu as party president, Tajuddin Ahmed as general secretary and Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury as organizational secretary. The revised party constitution was approved on the basis of 'six points'. The 'six-point program' caused a stir among the party leaders and workers. Later, 'Six Points' became so popular that this booklet was carefully preserved in every house in Bengal. Bangabandhu used to tell us about the 'Six Points', 'I gave the bridge to move from freedom to independence.' In the unfavorable weather on the last day of the council, Bangabandhu appealed to the leaders, workers and the people at the public meeting of the paltan to carry forward the message of 6 point demand.

He informed every person in the remote province of East Pakistan that for the sake of the country, for the sake of ten, for the sake of future generations, the leaders and workers of Awami League are coming forward for a six-point movement in a systematic way. There is no compromise on the question of points. There is no short cut in politics. The Awami League is no longer confident even in the unity of the leaders. The Awami League believes in the unity of the specific ideology and the dedicated workers for the implementation of that ideal. The Awami League leader's party is not an organization of workers. These six points need to be realized through peaceful and democratic movement. No threat can stop the six-point movement. The six points are the charter of liberation of Bengalis. 'In his natural voice, the poet sang,' If no one comes to hear your call, then let's go alone ', quoting,' If we have to walk alone in the streets in this movement, we will go. Future history will prove that this is the right path for the liberation of Bengalis. 'This council of the Awami League was a turning point in the history of Bengalis which set the stage for the great mass uprising of '69, the historic elections of '70 and the great liberation war of '71.

After the successful conclusion of the Awami League Council, Bangabandhu addressed a total of 32 public meetings across the country in 35 days. Public opinion in favor of the 'Six Points' became stronger in the speeches given in the public meetings. As a result, brutal arrests and tortures fell on Bangabandhu and other Awami League leaders. The process of arresting Bangabandhu continues with warrants issued from every district. During the 'Six Points' campaign, Bangabandhu was arrested a total of 8 times in just two and a half months. Bangabandhu returned home at 1 pm on May 6 after addressing a workers' rally in Narayanganj to commemorate the latest 'May Day'. The dictator Ayub termed the giving of 'six points' as a crime, termed Bangabandhu as a 'separatist' and arrested and tortured the Awami League under the National Defense Act. In protest, Awami League called for a 'Protest Day' on May 13 in the entire province. The public support for the 'Six Points' was expressed in the public meeting on the day of protest. When the party's newly-elected general secretary Tajuddin Ahmed was arrested, organizing secretary Mizan Chowdhury took over as acting general secretary. A meeting of the Awami League working committee on May 20 called for a general strike on June 7 to protest the arrest and torture of the leaders. During the strike on 7 June, the agitated people of East Bengal raised their voices demanding independence and release of all political prisoners including Bangabandhu.

I was then a student of Dhaka University, a full-time activist of Chhatra League, Iqbal Hall (now Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haque Hall) elected VP of Chhatra Sangsad. Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni, Sirajul Alam Khan, Syed Mazharul Haque Baki, Abdur Razzak, Amir Hossain Amu, Abdur Rauf, Khaled Mohammad Ali, Noor Alam Siddiqui and many others - we make all preparations to observe the hartal program on that day. Police fired indiscriminately on the orders of the government to disperse the students during the strike. Manu Mia, a laborer in Tejgaon, Mujibullah and 11 others were martyred in the police firing and about 700 people were arrested. Chhatra League leaders and activists observed a successful strike in Tejgaon industrial area. From the great language movement of 1952 to the 'education movement' of '62; ‘Six-Point Movement’ of ‘66; 'Mass movement-mass uprising' of '69; Issuing a 24-hour ultimatum on February 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 after continuous struggle demanding withdrawal of Agartala case and unconditional release of all political prisoners including Bangabandhu. After the release of all political prisoners on 22 February, Bangabandhu was released and on 23 February, at the historic Racecourse Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan) in the presence of more than 10 lakh people, the title of 'free man Sheikh Mujib' was given to Bangabandhu and demand of dictator Ayub Khan’s resignation  Chhatra League has led the movement for the national liberation struggle of Bengalis since the fifties. Through these glorious struggles, Chhatra League achieved constitutional behavior and democratic culture, won the hearts of the people of Bengal, and created history. Under the direction of Bangabandhu, the Awami League-Chhatra League leadership successfully carried out the program on June 7 and set a unique example on the path to independence. That is why Bangabandhu said, ‘The history of Chhatra League is the history of Bengalis.’ And the hardworking people of Bengal, in the immense glory of self-sacrifice, informed the whole world including the ruling class that the ‘six points’ given by Bangabandhu is the only way of national liberation of Bengalis. In fact, June 7 was the starting point for complete independence from subjugation. The foundation of our freedom consciousness was laid on this day.

In the context of realizing the six-point demand, Bangabandhu wrote in his book 'Karagarer Rojnamcha' on June 5, 'Awami League workers have suffered a lot. Only when they made a six-point demand to the country was it ready that they would have to suffer. It is not a struggle for power, it is a struggle to save the people from exploitation. 'He added,' I believe the selfless workers of Awami League and Chhatra League are with them. A number of labor leaders who truly campaigned for workers will certainly give active support. Even after making so many arrests, they could not be suppressed. They have been holding street rallies and processions for the June 7 strike. Even though the posters have been torn down, new posters are being put up and pamphlets are being taken out. I really could not have hoped so much. Expressing immense confidence in the people of Bengal, he wrote on June 7, ‘I know the people of East Bengal, they will go on strike. They want the release of political prisoners. Six points will support.’‘ Abandonment will not go in vain, it will never go away. We may not be able to enjoy ourselves, we may not be able to see, but future generations will be able to enjoy freedom. The stone wall of the prison made me stoned too.

The blessings of millions and millions of mothers and sisters of this country are upon us. We will win. The ideal is won only through sacrifice. In response to the successful strike on June 7, he wrote,' After 12 o'clock the news was confirmed that the strike had taken place. The people went on strike spontaneously. They supported 6 points and wanted my release. They want to live, they want to eat, they want individual freedom, they want the just demands of the workers, the fair demands of the peasants, the demands of the peasants for their survival, the proof of this has already happened in this strike. 'Abandonment will not be in vain. When the people of this country have learned to give their lives for the realization of their just rights, victory will come, only time will tell. The workers have come out of the factory. Farmers have stopped work. Merchants have closed their shops. The students have left schools and colleges. Has there ever been such a big protest in Pakistan? The six-point demand for the lives of the people of East Bengal - the exploiters of West Pakistan, the puppets of Western colonialism and imperialism - will no longer be able to exploit the oppressed poor people of East Bengal.

Especially in the June 7 protest that the people in the villages of Bengal have spontaneously erupted, no ruler's eyes will be able to suppress them. For the good of Pakistan, the ruling class should accept the six points. The blood that came out of the chests of my brothers of my country today and made the black roads of Dhaka red, cannot be wasted.  No, I will continue the struggle. Whatever is in fortune will be so. People paid the price of abandonment. The demands of the people have to be realized through sacrifice.

The ruling party of Pakistan has hatched many conspiracies to thwart the 'six points'. Bangabandhu was thrown in jail. One case after another has been filed against him. Even then, when the 'six points' movement could not be stopped, the dictator Ayub Khan filed a 'State vs. Sheikh Mujib and Others' or Agartala case to carry out the heinous conspiracy to hang Bangabandhu and silent him forever. On that day, in order to realize the 'six points' demand and to get Bangabandhu released from prison, we students formed an all-party Student Struggle Council consisting of 4 student organizations on January 4, 1969 on the founding anniversary of Chhatra League. Spread to the factory. The result was a mass tide in favor of the six-point, eleven-point movement. A revolutionary situation arose in the country. The ruling class portrayed us as 'separatists' to thwart the mass movement. In response to their mischievous attempt, I raised the slogan in the crowd on the oath-taking day of the All-Party Student Struggle Parishad at Paltan Maidan on February 9, 1969, 'I swear I will release Mujib, I swear I will release you, I will release you. We have implemented the first part of the slogan by releasing the prisoners and the second part of the slogan by freeing the country from the enemy on December 16 by waging armed struggle on March 26, 1971 at the behest of the Father of the Nation.

The dictator Ayub Khan was terrified by the successful strike on 7 June. News papers were forced to prohibits the publication of reports on six points. Angered by the role of Daily Ittefaq in creating public opinion in favor of 'six points', Editor Tafazzal Hossain Manik Mia was arrested on June 16, 1966 and confiscated The New Nation Printing Press. The mass uprising of '69 forced the dictator to return the daily Ittefaq. On June 7, many memories floated in my mind. Especially the memory of Bangabandhu is deeply felt. My life is blessed with the affection of Bangabandhu. This conscious day of June 7 has become immortal in the national life. Today, I remember with utmost respect all the martyred brothers who paved the way for the liberation of the people of Bengal with fresh blood. In the tradition of struggle for their immortal lives, an independent and sovereign Bangladesh has been established in exchange for a sea of blood. Today, a new horizon of development has begun under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu, on the basis of Mujib Ideals, climbing the blood ladder of martyrs. I think it is our duty to pay homage to the martyrs on this historic day, the 7th of June, the day of our consciousness and freedom.

Author: Awami League leader; Member of Parliament; Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Commerce.