Country set to face a political disaster | 2017-03-24 |

Historic March 1971

Country set to face a political disaster

Amir Hossain     24th March, 2017 02:05:08 printer

Country set to face a political disaster

Today, Friday, is the 24th day of March, the month of start of our Liberation War. On this day in 1971 the country was in liberation struggle and the nation was heading for final showdown with the Pakistani rulers.


On 23 March aides of Bangabandhu and Yahya Khan met twice to finalise the “Compromise Formula”.

Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed and Dr. Kamal Hossain represented Bangabandhu and MM Ahmed, Justice Cornelius and General Peerzada represented Yahya Khan. On Behalf of Bangabandhu a draft of the constitution was placed for the President.


By 24 March almost all the reporters, covering the political developments, were become clear that the talks had failed and the country was set to face a political disaster.


On 24 March too there were hectic activities at all camps. Meetings and sittings took place as usual at different levels. On this day, the last round of discussions between the aides of Bangabandhu and Yahya Khan was held. Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed and Dr. Kamal Hossain represented Bangabandhu while Yahya Khan was represented by MM Ahmed, Justice A R Cornelius and Lt. General Peerzada. They had decided to hold another round of talks later in the day to determine the framework of understanding. But that final round of talks was never held.


It was in the evening of 24 March. Flanked by some of his party leaders, Bangabandhu was sitting in a big room at the ground floor. I was among a group of journalists present there. Bangabandhu seemed unusually indifferent, depressed and enigmatic that evening as it was clear to all by then that Bangabandhu-Yahya talks were on the brink of collapse.


The journalists wanted to know from him the outcome of his talks with Yahya Khan. In reply Bangabandhu recited slowly:


‘হবে জয়, হবে জয়, হবে জয়।

মানবের তরে মাটির পৃথিবী,

দানবের তরে নয়।’


And then suddenly he took the journalists to some other issues. He spoke of the tales of the sufferings and deprivation of Bangalees over the two decades and also that of their relentless struggle for establishing the rights. Meanwhile, whenever the journalists interrupted with a question on the results of the crucial talks Bangabandhu repeatedly recited the lines of the lyric.


‘হবে জয়, হবে জয়, হবে জয়।

মানবের তরে মাটির পৃথিবী,

দানবের তরে নয়।’


One of the journalists told him: Bangabandhu we are witnessing in you two conflicting things at the same time. Some time you look pale but within next few moments you become jubilant again. We see a pall of gloom on your face, and again we find you smiling cheerfully. Does it have any significance?


Bangabandhu replied, “I can smile even in hell, as long as my people are with me.”

One of the reporters asked him, “Bangabandhu, do you feel the urge to tell the people anything special right at this moment?”  In reply Bangabandhu did not say anything directly, but recited slowly from Tagore:  


‘নাগিনীরা চারিদিকে ফেলিতেছে বিষাক্ত নিঃশ্বাস,

শান্তির ললিত বাণী শুনাইবে ব্যর্থ পরিহাস,

বিদায়ের আগে তাই ডাক দিয়ে যাই-

দানবের সাথে যারা সংগ্রামের তরে,

প্রস্তুত হতেছে ঘরে ঘরে।’


We did not relaise the real significance then and there but understood only on the following day that it was not just recitation from the poem of Tagore, but tacit expression of his belief and the message from the core of his heart.


On 24 March night, I had the opportunity to have a few words with Tajuddin Ahmed. I wanted to know from him the ‘actual outcome’ of Bangabandhu-Yahya talks.  He was not ready to say anything. He got annoyed when I was pressing repeatedly. He told me in a tone of rebuke,”, you are working  in daily Ittefaq, roving between President’s House and Bangabandhu’s House as well as Bhutto’s hotel. You are   observing so many things, hearing from all sides. If even then you fail to understand the outcome of the talks, what type of journalism will you do?”


I replied humbly, “What I understand and what I hear from you are not the same thing. And that is why I am asking you repeatedly the same question.”


Tajuddin Ahmed kept quiet for a while and then said, “ The die is cast.”


In fact the die was then cast and consequent upon the secret preparations for execution of a blue-print titled “Operation Searchlight’, the unprecedented genocide on the soil of Bangladesh by Pakistan army was just hours away.