Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on March 24 said if no specific announcement was made following his next meeting with President Yahya Khan, they wouldn’t sit for another discussion and they wouldn’t accept any decision if it was forced.
If there is no solution by tomorrow, the people of East Bengal will find it, he said, adding that no conspiracy can push them back as they are united.
Starting from morning till night, Bangabandhu addressed all the processions that arrived at his doorstep.
Warning the Pakistani power mongers, he said, “Whatever conspiracy you indulge in, you will not succeed in suppressing the demands of the people. We would not bow our heads to any force. We will free the people of Bangladesh.”
Bangabandhu instructed people to continue the movement with more determination.
On the same day, Awami League general secretary Tajuddin Ahmad urged the people of East Pakistan to remain vigilant and ready to make sacrifices to defeat the anti-people conspiracies.
While describing the incidents of the day, veteran lawyer and politician Kamal Hossain in his ‘Bangladesh: Quest for Freedom and Justice’, writes that by the morning of March 24, the Awami League team had concluded discussions of the economic provisions and draft proclamation that it prepared as the outcome of the dialogue between Sheikh Mujib and Yahya.
Awami League representatives proposed insertion of ‘confederation’ instead of ‘federation’ in the draft constitution but the regime termed it as a basic change and suggested using the word ‘union’ instead.
According to Kamal Hossain, “The Awami League team also sensed that the situation outside was becoming very grave. The army had moved to unload the MV Swat in Chittagong through the use of military force when hundreds of thousands of civilians blocked the road leading to Chittagong Port. Reports of military operations also came from Rangpur. We heard that the army was preparing to launch an assault. It was, therefore, felt that the meeting on the evening of the 24th should be a conclusive one, where the discussions should be brought to a close as there was little point in further prolonging technical discussions.”
The Pakistan Army kept the Saidpur Cantonment and neighbouring villages, including Botlagari, Golahaat and Kundul, cordoned from March 23 morning.
Excessive force was used in the areas. About 100 people were killed and around 1,000 people got injured by the army men.
A curfew was imposed in Saidpur. The army, along with non-Bangalees, set fire and carried out carnage in the Bangalee houses there.
When the brutal military attacked, some civilians resisted in front of Rangpur Medical College.
Consequently, the army launched a massacre in the surrounding areas where shots were fired, killing 50 unarmed civilians.
Tajuddin Ahmad in a statement said that since opinion has been already submitted on the table, there is no need for further discussion on the part of Awami League.
A discussion took place between Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Yahya Khan on the day but most of the politicians, experts and advisors of West Pakistan left East Pakistan.
Tensions and the demand for independence among the people were growing. And they were desperate to find a solution.