"The people of Bangla had taken the demand as a right to live and it was actually that demand"
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the historic six-point demand declared by Bangabandhu blossomed before the Bangalees as their demand of freedom at that time and they had taken it as a right to live.
"The people had taken the six-point demand in such a way that I don't know whether such a demand did get so much popularity and at so much speed in any country of the world," she said.
Sheikh Hasina added: "The people of Bangla had taken the demand as a right to live and it was actually that demand."
The prime minister said this while presiding over a pre-recorded discussion marking the historic 'Six-Point Day'.
She joined the discussion titled "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Six-point Demand: Charter for Freedom of Bangalees" from her official Ganabhaban residence.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee organised the discussion as well as a quiz competition on the occasion.
Sheikh Hasina said the people of the country not only extended support to the six-point demand, but they also accepted the demand of autonomy as their own demand.
"The six-point demand blossomed as a demand of freedom of the people at that time," she said.
Highlighting the background of the six-point demand, the prime minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had placed the demand for establishing the rights of the Bangalee nation.
"There was a background of the six-point demand. It was seen during the 1965 Pakistan-India war that the people of Purba Banga meaning East Pakistan was completely unprotected," she said.
Sheikh Hasina mentioned that the then Pakistani rulers did not take any step to save Purba Banga which was their province. "After remaining unprotected at that time, it seemed we lived on the kindness of India," she said.
Noted writer Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam was present as the chief discussant at the event, while Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzak and Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni also took part in the discussion from Bangladesh Television studio.
Chief Coordinator of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury moderated the event.
The discussion was aired at digital platform including on television, radio, online and social media due to the current global situation for coronavirus, organisers said.
The prime minister said after the war all party opposition convened a meeting in Lahore in which Bangabandhu joined with the Awami League representatives.
"At the meeting, Bangabandhu placed the six-point demand and its main message was to protect the people of our country, make them self-reliant and develop the region socioeconomically," she said.
"Other goals of the demand were to keep the region well-protected and highlight the existence of the Bangalees," she added.
Sheikh Hasina said when Bangabandhu placed the demand, many leaders opposed it. "It's a matter of regret some leaders of other parties of Bangladesh also opposed it," she said
The prime minister said the conference was held on June 5 and 6 and Bangabandhu placed the six-point demand on June 6. "In the conference he (Bangabandhu) raised the demand of autonomy of all provinces of Pakistan, saying it's not only a demand of ours, every province will get this scope," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said after returning to Dhaka, the Father of the Nation highlighted the six-point demand at the airport briefly.
"Later, the Awami League Working Committee at a meeting adopted the demand and it was also accepted in the AL Council Session," she said.
The prime minister said Bangabandhu had taken initiatives to publicise the demand and involved the leaders of Chhatra League, Sramik League and Sramik Union in this regard.
She said the Father of the Nation toured across the country for publicity of the demand and held 32 meetings in only 35 days. "He was arrested when and where he went and in this way, he was held for eight times," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said when Bangabandhu returned to Dhaka after staging the last meeting at Adamjinagar, Narayanganj, police arrested him from her Dhanmondi residence. "After that, he didn't get bail," she said.
"Not only Bangabandhu, but numerous party leaders were also picked up by the police, and protesting it, the people launched a massive movement across the country," she added.
"But the Pakistani rulers didn't sit idle. When movements were waged, they arrested numerous leaders and workers of the Awami League and the common people," she said.
The prime minister said the Father of the Nation in his 'Karagarer Rojnamcha' (Prison Diary) book clearly wrote how the Pakistanis unleashed torture and repression on mass people including AL leaders and workers after the six-point was placed.
Sheikh Hasina said the people of the country aroused when Bangabandhu placed the six-point demand and it was the biggest matter at that time.
The prime minister said the Father of the Nation launched movement for establishing the rights of the people for mother tongue which was snatched by the Pakistani rulers.
"We've also seen that our political, cultural and economic rights were snatched time and again and protesting it, Bangabandhu always waged struggle," she said.
She said when the people of Bangladesh were marching towards the path of movements and struggles and whoever got the charge of the general secretary of Awami League used to be arrested.
Despite the continued torture and oppression to suppress the movement, the people of Bangla became more conscious, more organised and more united, the premier said.
"Of course, there was exception for some traitors (Dalal). There are always some betrayers, which is a problem," she said.
The prime minister said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib on January 18, 1968 was taken to Dhaka Cantonment from Dhaka Central Jail after being arrested in a case titled 'Agartala conspiracy case' framed by the Pakistani government against Bangabandhu and 34 other civil and military officers and persons.
Bangabandhu, she said, was made as the number-1 accused in the case. In this case, the main charge was brought that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib tried to secede Purba Banga from Pakistan through an armed revolution.
But the people of Bangladesh burst into protest against the case, the premier said adding that Chattra Sangram Parishad waged movement in a united manner turning it into a mass upsurge.
The prime minister said Ayub Khan was compelled to withdraw the case on the face of mass movement on February 21, 1969. And Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released from the jail on February 22, 1969, she added.
Sheikh Hasina said the 1970 general election was held in the backdrop of the Six-Point and Bangladesh Awami League won the election and got majority seats in the entire Pakistan.
"June 7, the day the historic Six-Point was placed in 1966, is very important for us as we got the independence for the Six-Point Day. We had to protect the dignity of mother language and earned the right of speaking in the mother tongue by shedding blood in 1952," she said.
Highlighting the disparity between the erstwhile East Pakistan and the West Pakistan, she said the larger chunk of the revenue used to come from Bangladesh, but its lion share was used to spend in (West) Pakistan.
"Bangabandhu raised the issues of disparity and deprivation time and again and struggled against it and
we earned independence marching alone the way of his struggles," she said.
Sheikh Hasina also recalled Bangamata Fazilatunnesa Mujib saying that she had a significant role from the historic June-7 hartal (general strike) to this six-point demand movement.