The 1965 Indo-Pak War came as an eye-opener for the Bangalees. During the War, East Bengal became completely isolated from the rest of the world.
East Pakistanis were left to their fate, without military defence and security, while the Pakistani rulers kept themselves busy in defending the West Pakistani frontiers. In this backdrop, soon after the end of the War, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman raised the historic 6-point demand, a charter for the economic emancipation from the exploitative Pakistani colonial state-system. The six points were as follows:
Point 1: Pakistan shall be a Federal State. There shall be a parliamentary government formed by a legislature elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.
Point 2: The federating units or the provinces shall deal with all affairs except foreign relations and defence.
Point 3: There shall be two separate but easily convertible currencies for the two wings of Pakistan. Or alternatively, there may by a single currency with the provision that the Federal Bank shall take adequate measures to stop the siphoning off from East Pakistan to West Pakistan.
Point 4: The federating units or provinces shall reserve the rights to levy taxes. The central government, of course, shall have some share of the tax proceeds.
Point 5: Separate accounts shall be maintained for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings. The foreign exchange earned from foreign trade shall be under the control of the respective wings. The federating units shall be independent in conducting trades with foreign countries.
Point 6: The federating provinces shall be able to raise para-militia or para-military forces for their own defences.
No sooner had the 6-point programme been published than Ayub Khan declared it ‘secessionist’ and styled its author Bangabandhu as the enemy number one of Pakistan. Ayub also threatened to use brute force to suppress this charter of demands. But Awami League and its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman remained undaunted by such threats. Bangabandhu started a 3-month long mass-contact programme which took him to every nook and corner of Bangladesh. Mujib was arrested eight times in the first three months of the 6-point movement. By then, Bangabandhu had become the President of Awami League. He was finally thrown into jail on May 8, 1966, a general strike was observed all over East Pakistan in support of the 6-point programme and for the release of Mujib. Police fired in Tejgaon, Tongi and Narayanganj killing 13 people. This was followed by large-scale arrests of the leaders and followers of Awami League throughout the country. All these measures taken by the Ayub regime proved counter-productive. 6-point programme became the heartfelt demand of the common masses. Students put forward their 11-point programme which complemented the 6-point charter of demands. Thus the political situation in East Pakistan became extremely volatile: the stage was set for a great explosion of popular anger through an all-out mass-movement against the Ayub rule.