Mass Upsurge of 1969


The 1969 uprising in East Pakistan, observed on 24 January as Mass Uprising Day, was a democratic political movement in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

The uprising consisted of a series of mass demonstrations and sporadic conflicts between government armed forces and the demonstrators.


Although the unrest began in 1966 with the Six point movement of Awami League, it got momentum at the beginning of 1969 and culminated in the resignation of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the first military ruler of Pakistan.

The uprising also led to the withdrawal of Agartala Conspiracy Case and acquittal of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his colleagues from the case.



The main goals and objectives of the student community & politicians in this historic mass uprising were:

       Full implementation of democracy

        establishment of autonomy, good governance

       elimination of existing inequalities

        eradication of anti-people forces,

       abolition of military and civilian bureaucracy



Mass Upsurge, 1969 started with the student unrest of 1968 against the tyrannical rule of ayub khan, President of Pakistan.

The Agartala conspiracy case was considered as the main reason for the mass uprising and its main aim was to establish autonomy of East Bengal. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was made the number one accused in the Agartala conspiracy case and the students took to the streets to vigorous protest against this fabled and fake case.

The 6 points of 1966, known as the charter of liberation of Bengalis and the 11 points of All Student Action Committee simultaneously paved the way for a mass uprising.



5 January: Shorbodolio Chatro Shongram Porishad (The All Party Student Action Committee) puts forth its 11-point agenda.

7–8 January: Formation of a political coalition named Democratic Action Committee (DAC) to restore democracy.

20 January: Student activist Amanullah Asaduzzaman dies as the police opens fire on the demonstrators.

24 January: Matiur Rahman Mallik, a teenager activist, is gunned down by the police.

15 February: Sergeant Zahurul Haq, one of the convicts of Agartala Conspiracy Case, is assassinated in the prison of Kurmitola Cantonment.

18 February: Shamsuzzoha of the University of Rajshahi is killed as the police open fire on a silent procession in Rajshahi.

22 February: Withdrawal of Agartala Conspiracy Case. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, leader of the All-Pakistan Awami League, released from his prison cell in the Dhaka cantonment.

23 February: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is accorded a grand reception, where he is given the title Bangabandhu (friend of Bengal).

10–13 MarchAyub Khan calls for a round-table meeting with the opposition.

25 March: Ayub Khan hands over power to General Yahya Khan, the army Chief of Staff.



1966 March 23: 6-Point Formula – Bengali's Right to Live by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Six-point Programme, a charter of demands enunciated by the awami league for removing disparity between the two wings of Pakistan and to put an end to the internal colonial rule of West Pakistan in East Bengal.

The Awami League demanded that changes would be made in regard to East Pakistan. These changes were embodied in Mujib's Six Points Plan, which he presented at a meeting of opposition parties in Lahore in 1966.

1966 March 24:

President Ayub Khan burst out on those ‘six points demands’, they believed them as separatist demands – the West Pakistani establishment and their military regime could not receive those as the demands of justice and honor of the East Pakistanis.

1968 January: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arrested on the charge of the Agartala Conspiracy Case.

Agartala Conspiracy Case was a sedition case in Pakistan during the rule of Ayub Khan against Awami League, brought by the government of Pakistan in 1968 against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The case is officially called State vs. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, but are popularly known as Agartala Shoŗojontro Mamla (Agartala conspiracy case) as the main conspiracy was alleged to have taken place in the Indian city of Agartala in Tripura state, where Sheikh Mujib's associates met Indian military officials.

The case was filed in early 1968 and implicated Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and others in conspiring with India against the stability of Pakistan.

The government of Pakistan brought charges against 35 political personalities including three eminent civil servants officials under civil law.[

1969, January 8:

The leaders of the East Pakistan Students Union formed the Students' Action Committee (SAC) and declared their 11-point Program.

Significant aspects of the 11 point programme offered by the student community were:

1. Granting autonomy to East Bengal on the basis of 6 points

2. Restoration of parliamentary democracy on the basis of universal suffrage

3. Providing autonomy to universities

4. Nationalization of industrial institutions including bank, insurance.

5. Freeing the farmers from extra burden of tax

6. Withdrawal all political and false cases including Agartala.

When 11 point demands of the students became very consolidated, the eight political parties, including Awami League and NAP (Muzaffar) formed the Democratic Action Committee (DAC) on 8 January 1969.



1969 January 20-March 25:

Section 144 was enacted in Dhaka from January 20, 1969 and police opened fire as students marched on the Shaheed Minar in violation of section 144 . In the procession police opened fire and Asaduzzaman, a leader of the Students Union (Menon), was killed.

The situation of Dhaka went beyond control of the police when Matiur, a student of class IX and a rickshaw puller died of police firing on 24 January, giving further momentum to the movement to remove the Ayub Khan regime from power

Army was deployed in the city and curfew was imposed for an indefinite period. Indiscriminate firing of the army and the EPR caused death to a woman while feeding her baby.

Sergeant Zahrul Huq, an under-trial prisoner in the Agartala Conspiracy Case, died of bullet injury in the Dhaka Cantonment on 15 February 1969.

On 16 February, Maulana Bhasani proclaimed in a glowing voice, 'if anything happened to Mujibur Mia, there would be no more Pakistan’.

On 18 February 1969 Dr Mohammad Shamsuzzoha, Proctor of the Rajshahi University, was bayoneted to death..

On February 22, The Pakistani Government Set free Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other political prisoners from the Agartala Conspiracy Case.

On 23rd February Student leader Tofail Ahmed gives Sheikh Mujibur Rahman honorary title of 'Bangabandhu' (Friend of Bengal).

On 25th March,General Yahya Khan captured the power by a hidden coup in which Yahya forced Ayub Khan to hand over his powers and resign.



Along the path of this mass uprising, the Bengali nation achieved great independence through a bloody armed liberation war.

Martial Law was re-imposed, but simultaneously it was agreed that elections would be arranged soon on the basis of universal adult franchise, and parliamentary democracy would be introduced.

Fear of police and civil and military bureaucrats minimised to a very great extent .

Class consciousness grew and advanced a step forward.

The demand for a separate state became stronger than ever before among the people of Eastern Bengal.

Bangali nationalism became sufficiently strong to sustain during the war of liberation in 1971

For the honor of Shahed Asad, the Students' Action Committee proposed to change few places' name, these are;

• Ayub Nagar to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar

• Ayub Gate to Asad Gate

• Ayub children's park to Matiur children's Park etc.

Also, Sergeant Zahurul Haq were honoured by the naming of a students' residential hall of the University of Dhaka after him.



The importance and significance of the mass uprising of 1969 was immense. Some fundamental changes were achieved through mass uprising. They were:

        1. Conclusion of Ayub Khan's dictatorship

        2. Abstraction of Agartala case

        3. Parliamentary democracy and recognition of voting

        4. Increasing status of Bangla language

        5. Economic freedom

        6. Development of Bengali nationalism

        7. Inspiration of independence



The journey from six demands to eleven demands and finally to one demand (that of sovereignty) should be seen as a natural progression toward a common goal—and every movement that we waged pushed us one step closer to that goal.

This event taught us how to stand up against wrong doing. It was an epic tale of Bengali aspirations being articulated and Bengali ambitions finding fulfillment. It all began with the Mass Upsurge taking shape in January 1969.

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