BNP banned Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech, says Obaidul Quader

Only Bangabandhu had the right to proclaim Bangladesh's independence, according to the Awami League leader

Staff Correspondent
Published : 7 March 2023, 07:42 AM
Updated : 7 March 2023, 07:42 AM

The BNP had banned Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic March 7 speech, says Awami League leader Obaidul Quader, accusing the rival party of disregarding the spirit of the Liberation War.

Quader paid homage to the Father of the Nation by placing a wreath at his portrait in Dhanmondi to mark the 52nd anniversary of the landmark address on Tuesday.

On this day in 1971, Bangabandhu addressed tens of thousands gathered at the Ramna Racecourse, now known as the Suhrawardy Udyan, and set the tone for Bangladesh's struggle for independence. His rousing speech has since become the subject of worldwide acclaim.

In a rousing speech, he proclaimed: “This time, our struggle is for freedom. This time, our struggle is for independence!”

Bangabandhu’s grandson Radwan Mujib Siddiq placed a wreath at his portrait earlier in the day on behalf of his family.

Around 8 am, senior Awami League leaders led by General Secretary Quader paid tribute to the architect of Bangladesh's independence.

“While in power, the BNP had banned the March 7 speech, a speech that UNESCO has recognised as one of the greatest in the world. Therefore, we don’t think they believe in this day or to be precise, the spirit of the Liberation War,” Quader told reporters.

"Mar 7 is a watershed moment in the history of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu’s speech to the sea of people on that day was the main call for the independence of Bangladesh.”

The declaration of independence broadcast at 12:30 am on Mar 26, 1971 following Bangabandhu's arrest was nothing but a formality, according to Quader. "The call for independence was clearly made in Bangabandhu’s historic speech on Mar 7 at the Suhrawardy Udyan. Twenty-three years of our struggle for rights was channelled into the struggle for independence through the speech.”

Only Bangabandhu had the right to proclaim the country's independence as he was an elected public representative, Quader added. His party, the Awami League, secured 167 of the 169 parliamentary seats in then East Pakistan.

“Therefore, no one else had the legitimacy to proclaim independence. Those who are the self-proclaimed announcers of independence are mere readers. They just read out the announcement. A reader and a proclaimer are not the same,” said Quader.

The Awami League general secretary blamed the BNP for ‘annihilating democracy’ in the country. “Democracy is a long process and it can’t be institutionalised overnight. We’re trying to do it and gradually, democracy in our country is getting institutionalised. Whatever progress we made came under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina.”

"They use the word democracy as it is quite interesting. But we should focus on how they [BNP] practised democracy during their governance. It is a political party devoid of any democratic practice. How will they establish democracy in the country?”

Awami League Joint General Secretary Hasan Mahmud highlighted the importance of Bangabandhu’s speech on Mar 7. “In reality, Bangabandhu proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh in his speech on Mar 7,” he said.

Mahmud said the anti-liberation forces are still active in the political arena of Bangladesh and the BNP patronises them. “We must pledge to unite against the forces opposing the Liberation War that want to establish Pakistani culture and push Bangladesh backwards,” he said.