'Lead us back to crescent and star flag’ – Pial recounts tale of Zia’s attempts to turn Bangladesh into Pakistan

Published : 10 Mar 2022 12:20 AM | Updated : 10 Mar 2022 01:54 PM

March 7, 1971 goes down in the history of Bangladesh as the day when Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's historic speech set the ball rolling towards independence.

But on the same day in 1976, months after he was brutally murdered on August 15 in 1975, military ruler General Ziaur Rahman made a nefarious attempt to revert to the 'crescent and star' flag of Pakistan.

Lashing out at Zia's initiatives to restore the anti-liberation elements, blogger Omi Rahman Pial said ‘Siratunnabi Mehfil’ took place on March 7 in 1976 on the same spot where Bangabandhu had delivered his speech in 1971.

“Though Zia did not make it to the venue, he delegated the responsibility to his deputy Air Vice Marshal M G Tawab. Convicted war criminal Delwar Hossain Sayedee was the key speaker. The ambassadors from Pakistan and Libya were present too,” Pial said in a webinar organised by online platform GURUKUL titled “My opinion”.

“The slogan 'Tawab Vai, Tawab Vai, Chand Tara Pataka Chai (O Tawab, O Tawab, Lead us back to Crescent and Star Flag)' was being raised at the spot intermittently. This testify to Zia's effort to revive anti-liberation elements and who he considered as friends,” he said.

The UN agency, UNESCO, recognised the historic March 7 speech of Bangabandhu on 30 October 2017 by adding it to the Memory of the World Register as a documentary heritage.

UNESCO said the speech “effectively declared the independence of Bangladesh”.

“The speech constitutes a faithful documentation of how the failure of post-colonial nation-states to develop inclusive, democratic society alienates their population belonging to different ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious groups.”

The speech was extempore and there was no written script. However, the speech survived in the audio as well as AV versions.