Bangabandhu’s Six- Point: Bill of Rights for Bengalis


Published on June 1, 2021
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Md. Abul Basar:

After the partition from India in 1947, Pakistan born with two wings, East Pakistan and West Pakistan. Since it's beginning, visible partiality were observed between to wings by it's colonial and authoritarian modes of governance. East Pakistan were exploited economically, almost in every aspects. All important government offices like the head offices of the State Bank of Pakistan, all public and private institutions and national and foreign industrial organizations were located in West Pakistan. As a result, East Pakistan's earning s from trade and industry, deposits of banks, government resources, etc were transferred to West Pakistan. Ninety per cent of the bank deposits invested in West Pakistan. The main source of two-thirds of Pakistan's foreign currency earning was from east Pakistan's main cash crop Jute. Entire earnings from Jute exports were invested in West Pakistan without investing minimum to the East.

Most shockingly, almost all the foreign aid and loans were taken against foreign exchange earned by the Eastern wing, used in the West, but instalments and interest on these loans were charged to East Pakistan to pay. East Pakistan had paid annually Rs. 100 crore interests of foreign loans. Systemically East wing's flourishing weaving industry was made to suffer decay, Salt industry was destroyed and the Beedi industry was dragged to ruination. Imparity between two wings became highly visible during India Pakistan 1965 war. Geographically, East Pakistan is surrounded by India from three sides and thousand miles away from West Pakistan. During the war with India in September 1965, only half a division of soldiers was stationed in East Pakistan. Sovereign protection felt neglected than ever before with an uncovered military posture. Moreover, in 1965 & 1966 military expenditures were increased at the expense of agricultural production of East Pakistan, at the same time allocated provincial economic development fund was reduced.

In the midst of such helplessness of the peoples of East Pakistan, Six Point Formula for the autonomy of East Pakistan was adopted. Programme placed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 5th of February 1966 at the N0ational conference organized by the opposition leaders of West Pakistan at Lahore and urged the subject committee of meeting to include this issue in the agenda of next day of conference. His proposal was rejected, therefore he boycotted the conference on 6tb February and returned to Dhaka. Later on, during the Awami League Council meeting at Dhaka in February, proposal of six points was placed before the meeting of the working committee of Awami League on 21 February and was accepted unanimously. At the same time Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected President of the Awami League. This six point demand of Bangabandhu is considered as the "Charter of Independence" for Bangladesh. It was the bill of rights for east Pakistan peoples.

If we look at the six point formula, in first two points, Sheikh Mujib embodied clearly about provincial autonomy and constitutional structure. A parliamentary government with supremacy of legislature. This two point would allow east Pakistan to act independently with all residual subjects other than only defense and foreign affairs. The third, fourth, fifth point of formula fully defended east Pakistan's economic issues. Demands of two separate but freely convertible currencies for two wings and one currency for the whole country as well as the power of taxation and revenue collection, two separate accounts for foreign exchange earnings were raised in these three points. These demands would ultimately Safeguard east wings resources from transferring back to West Pakistan. In the process, establishment of the regional Reserve Bank would strengthen East Pakistan economy. More importantly, Sheikh Mujib demanded to establish own military or paramilitary force as well as Naval headquarters in East Pakistan which would maintain sovereignty of East Pakistan from foreign invasion.
With the six demand Sheikh Mujib challenged the political and economic monopoly of West Pakistan. Overall, this Programme strongly reminded that economic priority is not only for West Pakistan but also for east Pakistan. His six point programme appeared as a ray of hope to all sects of East Pakistan people's and entire nation accepted it whole heartedly. The formula were so time worthy and bold that it inspired all nationalists forces, gained a strong support amongst the lower middle class, workers, students and general intelligentsia, eventually turned into a nationalists movement rapidly. On June 7 in 1966 the Awami League called a countrywide strike in East Pakistan to press the demand of Six point. During strike, 13 activists were killed and Sheikh Mujib were arrested along with others. 7th June is "Six point day" since then.

In response to Six Point formula, entire Pakistan governance condemned the six point plan in the harshest possible terms. Ayub Khan denounced it as a separatist or secessionist move. Infamous Governor of provincial Pakistan Monem Khan threatened Sheikh Mujib to put under chain. Despite all the naked threats and ruthless disturbances, fearless Sheikh Mujib, Awami league and East Pakistan student league invested all their energies and resources to mobilize and motivate the general masses in favor of self-government. Sheikh Mujib responded boldly against the threat saying no naked threats can distract our peoples from their goal. Thus, a long road to freedom started with Sheikh Mujibs "Six point Programme". It leaded the way for 1969 student mass surge, landslide victory in 1970's general election and finally led to an armed war of Independence in 1971 through which nation was liberated. All these historic events derived from Sheikh Mujib's “Six Point Programme”.

It was the courage, leadership and diplomacy of Bangabandhu and support of whole nation which let the struggles for freedom to continue. If it was not him in lead during that particular military regime, quest for freedom would have stopped at that moment only under ruthless torture of bloodsucking military. Bangabandhu was the One man, for One Nation. In return, One Nation was for One Man. Respecting the dedication and sacrifice what Bangabandhu offered for Bangladesh, anyone can courteously claim “Bangabandhu is Bangladesh, Bangladesh is Bangabandhu”.