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Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad


Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad consisted of the main student organisations on 5 January 1969 with an objective of forging movement for the implementation of the demand for autonomy in East Pakistan and for putting an end to the autocratic rule of President Ayub Khan. The Chhatra Sangram Parishad had the pre-eminent role in organising and consolidating the mass upsurge of 1969. After the end of the Indo-Pak War of 1965, the Awami League Chief Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was vocal against the utter neglegence and indifference of the central government in respect of the defense and security of East Pakistan. On the other hand, the leaders of the opposition parties of West Pakistan convened a national conference at Lahore on 6 February 1966 with an object of assessing the post-war trend in politics. The six points proposal placed by Sheikh Mujib in the conference having been denounced the Awami League working committee on 21 February resolved the launching of movement for materialization of the demands. But after the mass movement on 7 June (1966) most of the leaders and workers of Awami League were brought behind the bar. The government arrested Sheikh Mujib in May 1966. While he was in jail, Mujib was shown arrest on 18 January 1968 on charge of treason and conspiracy against the State of Pakistan later came to be known as the agartala conspiracy case. The leading opposition party, East Pakistan Awami League was involved in internal dissension on the issue of Six Points. The other opposition parties and political fronts like the Pakistan Democratic Movement, National Awami Party, East Pakistan Communist Party (then banned), Jamat-i-Islami Pakistan, Nezam-e-Islam Party, Pakistan Muslim League (Council), National Democratic Front and People's Party failed to show any substantial action in the movement. Consequently, the political movement in East Pakistan showed some sort of infirmity. In this backdrop, the students community, especially the East Pakistan Chhatra League, East Pakistan Student Union (Menon), East Pakistan Student Union (Matia), eight student leaders of Dhaka University Student Union (DUCSU) united themselves to float the Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad in January 1969. In the third week of January, the government sponsored student organisation NSF had a rift and one faction (Mahbubul Hoque Dolan, Ibrahim Khalil, Nazim Kamran) joined the Sangram Parishad. The Chhatra Sangram Parishad declared its eleven points Programme on 14 January.

A public meeting of Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad at Paltan

The focal point of the activities of the Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad was the Dhaka University and the city of Dhaka. But the programme of the Parishad was followed by all sections of the people including the students, teachers, peasants, labours in other divisional and district towns. Even the students of West Pakistan launched movement in support of the Eleven Points. Due to internal dispute and ideological difference among the big political parties and for want of able leadership in the parties, the Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad emerged as the main political power.

The Sangram Parishad convened the first student meeting on 17 January on the occasion of the observance of 'Demand Day' and launched a procession violating the Section 144 (effective from 7 December 1968). But the police dismantled the procession of the students by throwing tear gas, red water from the riot-car and by lathi charge. In the encounter between the students and police force huge number of students including Mosharraf Hossain, a third year student of the Department of Bangla of Dhaka University, were wounded. During the strike in all the educational institutions in Dhaka on 18 January against the atrocities and oppression of the police force, the students set on fire in a double decker bus of the EPR. Two students of the Engineering University were then arrested. The student of the Engineering University called strike on 19 January in protest of the arrest of the students, and while in a procession eight students were arrested by the police. The Sangram Parishad called province wide all out student strike in the educational institutions on 20 January as a protest against the oppression of the government with demand for release of the students arrested and in support of the Eleven Points. On the day, the students in Dhaka launched a procession in support of the strike. But Asad (Asaduzzaman), a student leader of the East Pakistan Student Union (Menon), was killed by a shot of a police officer in front of the Dhaka Medical College. On the day, the students of all the educational institutions in Chittagong and Rajshahi launched procession and there were encounters between the students and the police. In memory of Shaheed Asaduzzaman, the Chhatra Sangram Parishad declared general hartal in Dhaka on 21 January and arranged for gaebana janaja of Asaduzzaman. On 21 January, the Sangram Parishad declared three days long programme thoughout the province, procession and protest meetings on 22 January, mashal procession on 23 January and hartal on 24 January.

During the execution of hartal programme of Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad on 24 January there were clashes between the police and the hartal activists. Two persons were killed by police firing and 20 picketers were wounded in Mymensingh and nine in Tangail. Clashes took place between the workers and police in Narayanganj. In Dhaka, Matiur Rahman, a student of class ix of Nabakumar Institute, and one Rustam Ali were killed by police firing. Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad in a press release in the evening urged upon the students for execution of the following programme:

1. To form Sangram committee by the initiative of Sarbadaliya Chhatra Samaj in all the educational institutions in the district, sub-division, thana, village and mahalla and in every labour area. To arrange and lead the movement with discipline and unity, and to make liaison between the local committees and the sangram committee;

2. To print and distribute pamphlets and to propagate by microphone by the initiative of these sangram committees with an object of propagating the programme of the movement and to make wide public liaison;

3. To organise and create public opinion in favour of the movement;

4. To communicate the message of the movement to remote rural areas;

5. To form disciplined volunteer corps in nook and corner of the country;

6. To involve all sections of the people with the movement including the students, workers, peasants, to make the movement a success;

7. To maintain discipline in the movement and to be cautious about all sorts of governmental instigations;

8. To maintain communal harmony and to organise united movement.

9. To follow and abide by the directives of the Central Chhatra Sangram Parishad unquestionably.

The Eleven Points of the Sangram Parishad included the rights and interests of the people of all classes and interests. Hence the student movement got involved with the national politics as well. Between 25 and 31 January the student movement emerged to have been the mass upsurge. On 27 January the Sangram Parishad expressed ovation to the heroic role of the workers of Adamji Jute Mills and of Narayanganj. Thus the Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad continued to issue directives for continuing the movement. Thus arose a situation when the Chhatra Songram Parishad emerged as the focal point of political leadership. In response to the declaration of the Ayub government on 29 January for holding a Round Table Conference with the opposition political parties, the Chhartra Sangram Parishad put up pressure on the political leadership. Their demand was that no reconciliation was acceptable to them unless and until the Eleven Point demands were materialised and the political leaders were released unconditionally. The Sabadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad observed 'Oath Day' on 9 February 1969. On that very day the student leaders in a public meeting at Paltan Maidan placed some resolutions as under:

(a) The meeting expresses deep mourning for the martyrs in the Eleven Points Movement including' Asad, Matiur, Milan, Alamgir, and Rustam Ali. It is to be noted that in 1969 a total of 61 activists were killed in East Pakistan of whom 21 were students;

(b) The meeting takes solemn oath to continue movement and struggle till the end of autocratic rule, establishment of democratic system and implementation of Eleven Points demand;

(c) To withdraw all political cases including the Agartala Conspiracy Case; to release the political leaders and activists confined under the black laws as State Security Act and Safety Act; to annul all black laws; to give compensation to the families of the martyrs in mass upsurge of 1969; and the leaders of the opposition parties will not be allowed to attend the Round Table Conference unless and until these demands are fulfilled;

(d) Declaration of 21 February as government holiday and the hoisting of black flag. The meeting resolved that Ayub Nagar shall be renamed as Shere Bangla Nagar, Ayub Gate as Asaduzzaman Gate, and Ayub Children's Park as Shaheed Matiur Rahman Park.

General Mohammad Ayub Khan left Dhaka on 12 February and he showed reluctance to withdraw the Agartala Conspiracy Case. The killing of Sergeant Zahurul Haque, an accused in the Agartala Conspiracy Case, on 15 February, and the killing of Dr Muhammad Shamsuzzoha, the Reader and Proctor of Rajshahi University, on 18 February, intensified the movement of the Sangram Parishad. The government was compelled to withdraw curfew on 19 February. All the political prisoners including Sheikh Mujib were unconditionally released on 22 February. The day following, the Sangram Parishad in a mammoth gathering in Race Course Maidan conferred upon Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the epithet of 'Bangabandhu'. The fulfilment of some demands of the students by General Aga Muhammad Yahya Khan after his taking over power on 25 March (1969), and rift in the student organisations caused the students movement immobile.

After the mass upsurge of 1969 when Yahya's military government began to take a bit lenient attitude, the student leaders were busy in consolidating their respective organisations. The second conflict in the Chhatra Sangram Parishad acrued on the issue of the deadline for the resignation of the members of the National Assembly and of the members of the local bodies. Earlier the Chhatra Sangram Parishad declared 1 March as the deadline for their resignation. But the Student League proposed the extension of the date up to 3 May, and the proposal was carried in the face of objection from both the groups of Student Union. Conflict arose in a meeting of the Chhatra Sangram Parishad held on 7 March on the issue of the extension of the deadline for the resignation of 80 thousand basic democrats of the Ayub government, and the Student Union (Menon) took decision to secede from the Chhatra Sangram Parishad. The student organisations continued their activities through separate programme. With the formation of the Kendriya Chhatra Sangram Parishad by Student League on 12 January 1970 excluding both Student Union (both groups) and NSF, the Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad had a formal extinction. But the Eleven Points Programme of Chhatra Sangram Parishad was contributory to the landslide victory of the Awami League in the general election of 1970 and the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent sovereign state. [Gazi Md. Mizanur Rahman]

See also eleven points programme.

Bibliography Bangladesher Swadhinata Juddha, vol. 11 (2nd), Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, 1982; Lenin Azad, Unsatturer Gono-abhyuthan: Rastra, Samaj O Rajniti, Dhaka, 1997; Prof. Salah Uddin Ahmad and others ed, Bangladesher Muktisangramer Itihasa (1947-1971), Dhaka, 1999; Wali Ahad, Jatiya Rajniti (1945-1975), Dhaka, 2002.