The six-point programme was announced by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a historic conference arranged by the then opposition parties in Pakistan in order to stage an all-out movement against the military dictator Ayub Khan. Ayub Khan had been ruling the country ruthlessly for 10 years. By declaring his six-point, Bangabandhu made it categorically clear that the problem of the people of East Pakistan was a bit different. Their demand was definitely to oust Ayub and his military regime but simultaneously the people of East wanted a comprehensive change in the socio-politico-economic order through a constitutional amendment based on his six-point. The West Pakistan leaders were not be happy.
In his six-point, Bangabandhu raised the most fundamental issue of the Pakistan i.e., the disparity between the two wings- the East and the West under the patronage of the central government controlled absolutely by the Pakistan military Junta. The demand was exclusively to safeguard the interest of the people of East Pakistan. In fact Sheikh Mujib, on behalf of the people of East Pakistan, placed the six-point before the people of West so that the interest of the people of East Pakistan could be served.
The announcement of six-point at Lahore made the citizens of the West believe that Sheikh Mujib was antagonistic to Pakistan. The military rulers took it seriously and felt that the demand placed by Sheikh Mujib if implemented would challenge the very existence of Pakistan. Ayub declared Sheikh Mujib an enemy to West Pakistan and promised violence in return for the six-point programme.
No other leader of the East had the courage to declare such a programme on the soil of West Pakistan. The declaration of that programme not only agitated the West but also many of the East who started saying that Sheikh Mujib wanted to dismantle Pakistan. Parties like Muslim League, Jamaat and the so-called pro-Pakistani elements started campaigning against Bangabandhu as the disintegrator of Pakistan. Even Maulana Bhashani, after the declaration of six-point programme being influenced by the pro-Chinese radicalist, spoke against six-point.
The movement launched by Sheikh Mujib gained momentum and got support of 95% of the population, except a few agents of Muslim League and the religious fanatics i.e., the Jamaat and its stooges. From Teknaf to Tetulia, the entire population got inspiration from the programme. The six-point became the Magna Carta of the East Pakistan.
By declaring six-point programme, Sheikh
Mujib exposed disparity between the two wings
of Pakistan. The people of East realized that
only Sheikh Mujib could save the people from
the tyrannical rule by the West
Meanwhile, the governor of East Pakistan Monem Khan informed General Ayub Khan about the volatile situation in East Pakistan. At his order, Monem Khan declared that Sheikh Mujib would not be allowed to see light of the day. Criminal cases were filed against Sheikh Mujib one after another dragging him from one jail to another. No other political leader in the country suffered so much at the hands of General Ayub Khan. What happened ultimately? Sheikh Mujib became the absolute leader of the Bangalees due to his valiant stance. Sensing the grave situation ahead the Pak government lodged the Agartala conspiracy case against Sheikh Mujib.
The idea was to hang him with the charge of sedition, with the six-point programme being the subject. The trial was held secretly and Bangabandhu was taken to the Kangaroo court from his cell, where he was shot at. But the man who died was Sergeant Zahurul Huq who had similar appearance with Sheikh Mujib. The incidence gave a clear idea as to what kind of trials were going on in the cantonment.
But the situation outside the cantonment was so volcanic that the demand for freeing Sheikh Mujib by physical force became the talk of the day and the students launched the movement with their 11-point programme. So the mass movement turned into an explosive situation and the Pak military Junta was compelled to release Sheikh Mujib unconditionally. The next day Sheikh Mujib became Bangabandhu in an unprecedented gathering staged by all-party student council. Bangabandhu, the only absolute leader of the people of Bangladesh compelled General Yahiya to declare the general election. In 1970 the election was held on the basis of six-point as mandate of the election securing 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan. He became the mouthpiece of the people. Bangabandhu demanded transfer of power to the elected representatives.
The parliament session was called on 1st March. The constitution of Pakistan had to be framed to remove disparity between the two wings. The Pak military Junta had no hesitation to realise what Sheikh Mujib had been aspiring for. The date fixed for the parliament session was cancelled. The next day, Bangabandhu called for the non-cooperation movement. He issued circulars to the people of East Pakistan. Bangladesh virtually became an independent country under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib. General Asgar Khan then came to East Pakistan and said “None could save Pakistan except Sheikh Mujib.” He (Mujib) took full control of East Pakistan.
The onslaught started on 25th March. In one night they killed some 25 thousand people. Just before his arrest, Sheikh Mujib declared the independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of 26th March.
If we discuss the impact of six-point on our national independence, we must admit that if there was no six-point movement, the people could not be united in the face of the kind of religious sentiment that was prevailing in the country. By declaring six-point programme, Sheikh Mujib exposed disparity between the two wings of Pakistan. The people of East realized that only Sheikh Mujib could save the people from the tyrannical rule by the West.
The propaganda of the West was that if East Pakistan was separated, Islam would be at a stake. But they said nothing about the disparity. The people had no trouble in understanding the essence of six-point programme. As a result, Sheikh Mujib became the emancipator of the people. It was that sort of unity and determination of the people that made our independence a reality and established Sheikh Mujib as the real leader of the Bangalees and the greatest Bangalee that the country ever produced. He is the father of the nation. He did all that was required to make Bangalees free from the sub-colonial rule by Pakistan over 23 years.
Dr S A Malek is former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and Columnist.