Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said the historic Six-Point Demand had emerged before the people of this part of Bengal as their demand for freedom since they had taken it as their right to live.
"The people had taken the Six-Point Demand in such a way that I don't know whether such a demand could draw so much popularity so rapidly in any country of the world. The people of Bangla had taken it as their rights to live. And it was actually that demand,” she said while chairing a virtual online discussion marking the historic Six-Point Day.
The National Implementation Committee for the Celebration of the Birth Centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arranged the discussion as well as an online quiz completion with participation of the young generation.
Prime Minister Hasina said the people of the country not only extended support to the Six-Point Demand, they also accepted the demand of autonomy as their own. “And thus the Six-Point emerged as the demand of freedom of the people of Bengal,” she said.
Focusing on the context of the Six-Point Demand, Sheikh Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had placed the demand for establishing the rights of the Bangalee nation.
"It was seen the people of East Bengal meaning East Pakistan was completely unprotected during the 1965 Pakistan-India war," she said adding that the then Pakistani rulers did not take any step to save the East Bengal.
The Prime Minister said the Pakistani rulers arrested numerous leaders and activists of the Awami League and the general people during the six-point movement.
The Father of the Nation in his 'Karagarer Rojnamcha' (Jail Diary) clearly wrote how the Pakistanis unleashed torture and repression at that time, she said.But the people of Bangladesh were marching forward along the path of movements and struggles.
“With continuation of the tortures and oppressions to suppress the movement, the people of Bangla became more conscious, more organised and more united. Of course, there was exception for some collaborators. Some collaborators are always there, which is a problem,” she said.
Bangabandhu on January 18, 1968 was taken to Dhaka Cantonment from Dhaka Central Jail after his arrest and a case -- which became famous as Agartala conspiracy case -- was framed by the Pakistani rulers against Bangabandhu and 34 other civil and military officers and persons.
Bangabandhu was made the number-1 accused in the case, said Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu.
In this case, the main charge was that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tried to secede East Bengal from Pakistan through an armed revolution, she mentioned.
But the people of Bangladesh burst into protest against the case. Chhattra Sangram Parishad waged movement in a united way and mass upsurge took place, she said.
Ayub Khan was compelled to withdraw the case in the face of mass movement on February 21, 1969. And Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released from jail on February 22, 1969, she added.
The Prime Minister said the 1970 general election was held in the backdrop of the six-point movement and Bangladesh Awami League won the election and got majority seats in entire Pakistan.
“June 7, the day the historic Six-Point was placed in 1966, is very important for us as we got the independence for the Six-Point Day,” she said.
Highlighting the disparity between the erstwhile East Pakistan and the West Pakistan, she said the larger chunk of the revenue used to come from this part, but the lion's share used to be spent in (West) Pakistan. The prices of goods had been higher in Bangladesh than those in Pakistan, she added.
Sheikh Hasina said the larger share of foreign currency used to be earned from jute, tea and other goods of the East Bengal, but more than 70 percent used to be spent for the western part (West Pakistan).
Bangabandhu raised the issues of disparity and deprivation again and again, she said. “Bangabandhu struggled against the deprivation and we got the independence marching along the way of his struggles.”
She recalled the Father of the Nation saying that he had motivated the Bengali nation with the spirit of the independence gradually through his timely steps and brought the independence for the people of this country.
Sheikh Hasina also recalled Bangamata Fazilatunnesa Mujib saying that she had a significant role from the historic June 7 hartal (general strike) to this Six-Point demand movement.
Noted writer Prof Syed Manzoorul Islam was present as the chief discussant at the event, while Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque and Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni also took part in the discussion.
The six points included having a federal structure of government based on the spirit of the Lahore Resolution of 1940, with a parliament elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.
It also asked for the central government’s authority only in defence and foreign affairs and vesting all other subjects in the federating units of the state of Pakistan.
It proposed two freely convertible currencies for the two wings of Pakistan or two separate reserve banks for the two regions of the country; vesting power of taxation and revenue collection in the federating units; and two separate accounts for foreign exchange reserves for the two wings of Pakistan.