Bangladesh is set to remember Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic 7th March speech that outlined the path to independence 50 years ago

The day has come with a different fervour amid Bangabandhu’s birth centenary celebrations. The country is also set to celebrate the golden jubilee of independence.

Programmes will be held for 10 days from Mar 17 to Mar 26 to celebrate the occasions simultaneously. The celebrations have so far been limited mostly to virtual events amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee to implement the programmes of Bangabandhu’s birth centenary celebrations released two e-posters on Saturday, commemorating the historic speech.

Bangabandhu addressed tens of thousands who gathered at the Racecourse ground, now the Suhrawardy Udyan, in Dhaka on Mar 7, 1971. He proclaimed: “The struggle this time is for our freedom. The struggle this time is for independence.”

Eighteen days later, the Pakistani military launched its killing operation and Bangladesh gained independence after a bloody war of nine months.

In the words of poet Nirmalendu Goon: “Since that day the word ‘independence’ is ours.”

UNESCO has added Bangabandhu’s speech to the Memory of the World Register, recognising its importance as part of the world’s documentary heritage’.

President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in messages marking the day urged all to continue their efforts to materialise the dreams of the Father of the Nation to turn Bangladesh into a prosperous nation.

“How an address can awaken the whole nation, inspire them to leap into the War of Liberation for Independence, Bangabandhu’s historic 7 March Speech is a unique example,” Hamid said.

Bangabandhu sensed an inevitable war and advised the nation to get prepared for it with whatever they have in their hands, Hasina said.

The appeal of Bangabandhu’s speech is everlasting and it will always motivate the deprived, exploited and freedom-loving people of the world, she said.

The political parties, social, cultural and professional bodies are organising programmes to mark the day.

The ruling Awami League will hold a discussion at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre at 3 pm. Hasina will join the programme via video conferencing from the Ganabhaban.

Electronic media outlets are airing special programmes and newspapers are publishing special supplements on the occasion.

THE SPEECH

As negotiations with Pakistan’s military junta appeared to go nowhere, Sheikh Mujib turned up at the Racecourse around 3:20 pm on Mar 7, 1971, wearing his trademark white pyjama-panjabi and a sleeveless black coat.

To the milling crowd, he began by saying: "Today, I come to you with a heavy heart. You know everything and understand all that has been going on. We tried our best.

“But every time we have talked, the streets of Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur have gone red with the blood of our brothers. People of Bangladesh today want freedom. They want to live. They want to secure their rights."

In his extempore speech before a million freedom-loving people of erstwhile East Pakistan, he proclaimed amid slogans, "This struggle is for our freedom. This struggle is for our independence.”

His address cut across the social divide and struck a chord with 70 million Bengalis of East Pakistan.

The towering leader, a powerful orator, called for a civil uprising and declared war against the then Pakistani junta.

He said: “We have given so much blood and we will give more of it. But this time, we will definitely liberate the country In Sha’a Allah… Turn every house into a fort and face [the enemy] with whatever you have.”

He also called upon the Bengalis to prepare for an armed struggle against the Pakistani military junta.

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