Today is the 16th day of March, the month of start of our War of Liberation. In 1971, President Yahya Khan arrived in Dhaka on 15 March for holding talks with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which was, in fact, a smock-screen to cover up his heinous plan to suppress the Bangalee nation by brutal use of force.
Bangabandhu-Yahya meeting was scheduled for March 16.But the proposed meeting failed to generate any optimism about a positive outcome. However, some people yet thought that their talks may help ease the situation and avert a direct confrontation between the people and the army.
The much talked about meeting between Bangabandhu and Yahya Khan started at the President’s House on March 16 to ‘resolve’ the political crisis. Bangabandhu went to President’s House with a black flag hoisted on the bonnet of his white-colour car. He was accompanied by senior party leaders including Syed Nazrul Islam and Tajuddin Ahmed.
But the talks were nothing but a mockery and ploy to kill time by the junta to launch the final assault on the Bangalees. On the other hand, Bangabandhu joined the talks on tactical and strategic grounds.
In the opening session, Bangabandhu and Yahya Khan had a closed-door discussion for an hour. Yahya explained the reasons behind the sudden postponement of the National Assembly session. But Bangabandhu refused to accept that explanation and condemned the postponement. Local and foreign journalists were waiting at the gate of the President’s House. When Bangabandhu came out at the end of the first day’s of talks journalists tried to know the details from him. But Bangabandhu did not stop and later briefed the newsmen about the progress of the talks at his residence.
I had the opportunity as a senior staff reporter of the daily Ittefaq to cover the political developments that took place in March and the period that preceded. Since the beginning of the Non-Cooperation Movement the administration of Pakistani rulers had virtually collapsed and Bangladesh was being run under the directives of Bangabandhu. Specially after his historic 7th March speech everybody in Bangladesh took him as the lawful and real authority of Bangladesh and obeyed his order. It was due to this fact that the then Chief Justice of Dhaka High Court Justice BA Siddiqui refused to administer oath of office to ‘Butcher of Beluchistan’ general Tikkah Khan who was appointed governor of ‘East Pakistan’ replacing moderate Shahebzada Yakub Khan.
(Amir Hossain was the acting editor of daily sun. He wrote this article before hid demise.)