BSS, Chittagong :The overall situation in the port city Chittagong became volatile with the spontaneous protest of Independence starving general masses since March 1 in 1971 when the then Pakistani dictator had postponed the scheduled March 3 session of National Assembly as part of their continued conspiracy against the peaceful and legitimate democratic movement of Bengalese.Recalling the situation of that time, Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman , the then leading Chhatra League leader said thousands of people came out on the streets spontaneously under the banner of Sarbadaliyo Chhatra Sangram Parishad and Sramik Sangram Parishad to demonstrate their protest and demanding immediate hand over power to Awami League, the party which secured brute majority in 1970 general election.Public and private offices and business activities came into a total halt, academic activities of the educational institutions were suspended while production in mills and factories throughout the city remained stopped for an indefinite period as a result of spontaneous protest that turned the city into a place of hot movement.To gear up the movement by cashing the hit generated in the political field, Awami League had launched a hartal programme on March 2 on the following day (March 3) in greater Chittagong area in conformity with the central programme and announced to hold public meeting at Laldighi Maidan in the afternoon of March 3.Different political parties and students organizations including NAP, Chattra League and Chattra Union (Matiya group) expressed their support to hartal call. Total general strike was observed in the city paralyzing the civic lives and business activities. Post hartal rally at Laldighi Maidan held with the then acting president of city Awami League Serajul Haq Miah in the chair followed by burning of Pakistani flags which soon spread all over the city. Late Abdullah Al Haroon, who was a frontline student leader once his reminiscence said that agitated people took the programme with renewed spirit and started setting ablaze the Pakistani flags here and there in a bigger way to show their mental readiness to say goodbye to Pakistan for an Independent Bangladesh. As the people continued burning Pakistani flags, a fierce riot broke out between the Bengalese and the Urdu speaking Biharees in Bihari populated areas in the city. Harun said about one hundred people were killed while hundreds of people were injured when Pakistani troops and their collaborators opened fire and attacked the protesting Bengalese in the name of controlling the riot. Series of protest meeting were also held at Laldighi Maidan when dead body of Awami League activist Abul Kalam who was killed in a riot in Bihari colony area. Bihari dominated Wireless Colony, Pahartali and Ambagan area have turned into a place of horror following the spreading of bloody riot that continued up to March 4 .The brutal attack and killing of innocent people had fuelled fiery minds of the protesting people and the movement got new momentum with more vigorous protest at most of the parts of the city and districts. The non-stop hartal had been observed since March 4 which continued up to March 6 to protest the killing. The Daily Azadi newspaper reported that at least 70 people were killed while hundreds of people injured in the riot. Later various local and Dhaka based dailies mentioned that the figure rose up to 120.Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman, the author of huge volume book titled ” Bangaleer Jatiyatabadi Sangram: Muktijudde Chattagram” said different political parties and trade union bodies including Awami League, NAP, Chattra League, Chattra Union (Matiya), Kelafate Rabbani Party and Jammat Islam in statements condemning the incident and made general appeal to stop the riot.Awami League also requested the people to donate blood for the injured people under treatment at hospitals. AL central and local leaders visited the injured AL leaders and workers in the Chittagong Medical College Hospital on March 5 in 1971. The all party peace committee was formed to stop riot in Chittagong in a meeting held at Rifle Club auditorium. AL leader M R Siddiqui was made convenor of the party peace committee. According to the decision of the meeting, peace committees were formed in every look and corner of the city to stop further spread of riot and maintain law and order in the city.
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