1969 East Pakistan mass uprising

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1969 East Pakistan uprising
Part of 1968–69 Pakistan revolution
A student procession at the University of Dhaka campus during the mass uprising of 1969.
DateJanuary 1969 – March 1969
Caused byAuthoritarianism
GoalsResignation of President Ayub Khan, Withdrawal of Agartala Conspiracy Case and Autonomy for East Pakistan Six Points
MethodsProtest march
Resulted inAyub Khan's resignation
Yahya Khan becomes president
Lead figures

The 1969 East Pakistan uprising (Bengali: ঊনসত্তরের গণঅভ্যুত্থান, lit.'69’s Mass uprising') was a democratic political uprising in East Pakistan. It was led by the students backed by various political parties such as the Awami League and National Awami Party and specially their student wings against Muhammad Ayub Khan, the president of Pakistan in protest of the military rule, political repressions, Agartala Conspiracy Case and the incarceration of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other Bengali nationalists.

The uprising consisted 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. It culminated in the resignation of Ayub Khan. The uprising also led to the withdrawal of the Agartala Conspiracy Case and acquittal of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other defendants.[1]


In October 1958, General Ayub Khan seized power in Pakistan through a coup.[2]

The Agartala Conspiracy Case was filed in 1968 as a sedition case by the government of Pakistan against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the then leader of the Awami League and East Pakistan, and 34 other people.[3] The case is officially called State vs. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and others, but are popularly known as Agartala Shoŗojontro Mamla (Agartala conspiracy case) as the main conspiracy was purported to have taken place in the Indian city of Agartala in Tripura state, where Sheikh Mujib's associates met Indian military officials.[4]

Timeline of events in 1969[edit]


Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad (All Party Students Action Committee) was formed on 5 January 1969. It was formed through the joining of the East Pakistan Students' Union (Matia), East Pakistan Chhatra League, East Pakistan Students' Union (Menon), and student leaders of Dhaka University Students Union (DUCSU). The Parishad created an Eleven Points Program that was based on the 1965 Six Point program of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Awami League. The Parishad was based in the University of Dhaka and it became the principal political entity of East Pakistan. The Parishad spread to different universities in East Pakistan. The Parishad called a meeting on 17 January despite the Police placing section 144. The police and students clashed in the streets which injured many students and an EPRTC bus was burnt down.[5]

7–8 January: Formation of a political coalition named the Democratic Action Committee (DAC) to restore democracy. The Awami League mobilized against President Ayub Khan government.[6] Democratic Action Committee spokesman was Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan.[7] The DAC called for the release of Khan Abdul Wali Khan and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.[7]

20 January: The Parishad called a strike on 20 January throughout the province. Amanullah Asaduzzaman, a leftist student leader, was killed by police firing in the strike. The Parishad in response called strikes and processions from 21 to 24 January. On 24 January clashes took place throughout the province between strikers and police personal. Two protesters were killed in Mymensingh due to police action. Many were injured throughout the province. Matiur Rahman Mallik, a class nine student of Nabakumar Institution, and Rustam Ali were killed in Dhaka. 61 activists were killed in the protests. The student league formed Kendriya Chhatra Sangram Parishad on 12 January 1970 thus ending Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad.[5]

Asaduzzaman's death reported in The Azad newspaper on 21 January 1969
Deepa Sen, leading the procession by University of Dhaka students (25 January 1969)

24 January: Matiur Rahman Mallik, a teenage activist, is gunned down by the police. This day is observed as the Mass Upsurge Day in Bangladesh.[8]


Pakistan Muslim League in East Pakistan called for the release of detained students and the removal of Abdul Monem Khan as governor of East Pakistan. The Pakistan Muslim League also re-elected President Ayub Khan as party president for a two year term.[7]

15 February: Sergeant Zahurul Haq, one of the convicts of Agartala Conspiracy Case, is assassinated in the prison of Kurmitola Cantonment.[9] Haq's death led to more street protests and state guest house and other government buildings were burned down and the "February 15 Bahini" was created as the first armed opposition.[10]

18 February: Shamsuzzoha of the University of Rajshahi is killed as the police open fire on a silent procession in Rajshahi.[11]

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.[12]

23 February: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is accorded a grand reception, where he is given the title Bangabandhu (friend of Bengal).[1] The Awami League derived its popularity from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who had been released after two years imprisonment.[6] He received a hero's welcome in East Pakistan.[6]


Ayub Khan calls for a round-table meeting with the opposition. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman submitted a draft constitution based on the six point movement and the eleven point movement.[6]

On 25 March 1969, martial law was declared in Pakistan and Ayub Khan hands over power to General Yahya Khan, the army Chief of Staff of Pakistan Army.[6] Ayub Khan had remarked before handing over power that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's draft "would liquidate the central government and army".[6]


On 28 November 1969, President Yahya Khan announced that national elections will take place in October 1970.[6] The newly elected assembly will frame the constitution of Pakistan according to Yahya Khan.[6] Khan also announced that West Pakistan would be broken into separate provinces.[2]

On 31 March 1970, President Yahya Khan announced a Legal Framework Order (LFO) which called for direct elections for a unicameral legislature. Many in the West feared the East wing's demand for countrywide provincial autonomy.[13] The purpose of the LFO was to secure the future Constitution which would be written after the election[14] so that it would include safeguards such as preserving Pakistan's territorial integrity and Islamic ideology.[15]

The integrated province of West Pakistan, which was formed on 22 November 1954, was abolished and four provinces were retrieved: Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and the North-West Frontier Province. The principles of representation was made on the basis of population, and since East Pakistan had more population than the combined population of the four provinces of West Pakistan, the former got more than half seats in the National Assembly. Yahya Khan ignored reports that Sheikh Mujib planned to disregard the LFO and that India was increasingly interfering in East Pakistan.[16] Nor did he believe that the Awami League would actually sweep the elections in East Pakistan.[17]

General elections were held in Pakistan on 7 December 1970 to elect members of the National Assembly. They were the first general elections since the independence of Pakistan and ultimately the only ones held prior to the independence of Bangladesh. Voting took place in 300 general constituencies, of which 162 were in East Pakistan and 138 in West Pakistan. A further thirteen seats were reserved for women (seven of which were in East Pakistan and six of which were in West Pakistan), who were to be elected by members of the National Assembly.[18]


  1. ^ a b Sirajul Islam; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir, eds. (2012). "Mass Upsurge, 1969". Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. OL 30677644M. Retrieved 17 May 2024.
  2. ^ a b Wilcox, Wayne (1941-02-12). "Pakistan in 1969: Once again at the Starting Point". Asian Survey. 10 (2): 73–81. doi:10.2307/2642241. ISSN 0004-4687.
  3. ^ "'Agartala conspiracy case was not false'". bdnews24.com. 23 February 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  4. ^ Talbot 1998, p. 190 "The case against them became known as the Agartala Conspiracy Case since it was at Agartala that the accused were alleged to have met Indian army officers"
  5. ^ a b Rahman, Gazi Md. Mizanur. "Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad". Banglapedia. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Rashiduzzaman, M. (1970). "The Awami League in the Political Development of Pakistan". Asian Survey. 10 (7): 574–587. doi:10.2307/2642956. ISSN 0004-4687.
  7. ^ a b c Department Of State. The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs. "Document 006". 2001-2009.state.gov. Retrieved 2023-08-27.
  8. ^ "Historic Mass Upsurge Day observed". Dhaka Tribune. 2021-01-24. Retrieved 2023-07-11.
  9. ^ Islam, Sirajul (2012). "Haq, Zahurul". In Islam, Sirajul; Rahman, S M Mahfuzur (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  10. ^ Ahmed, Afsin (15 December 2015). "Flags through the ages". The Daily Star. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Shamsuzzoha, Shaheed Mohammad - Banglapedia". en.banglapedia.org. Retrieved 2023-08-27.
  12. ^ "Agartala case and February 22, 1969". The Daily Star. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  13. ^ Ian Talbot (1998). Pakistan: A Modern History. St. Martin's Press. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-312-21606-1. When this duly arrived. the western wing's nightmare scenario materialised: either a constitutional deadlock, or the imposition in the whole of the country of the Bengalis' longstanding commitment to unfettered democracy and provincial autonomy.
  14. ^ Ian Talbot (1998). Pakistan: A Modern History. St. Martin's Press. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-312-21606-1. Yahya had made some provision to safeguard the constitutional outcome through the promulgation of the Legal Framework Order (LFO) on 30 March 1970. It set a deadline of 120 days for the framing of a constitution by the National Assembly and reserved to the President the right to authenticate it.
  15. ^ Ian Talbot (1998). Pakistan: A Modern History. St. Martin's Press. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-312-21606-1. It would also have to enshrine the following five principles: an Islamic ideology...and internal affairs and the preservation of the territorial integrity of the country
  16. ^ Ian Talbot (1998). Pakistan: A Modern History. St. Martin's Press. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-312-21606-1. He also refused to countenance intelligence service reports both of Mujib's aim to tear up the LFO after the elections and establish Bangladesh and of India's growing involvement in the affairs of East Pakistan.
  17. ^ Ian Talbot (1998). Pakistan: A Modern History. St. Martin's Press. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-312-21606-1. From November 1969 until the announcement of the national election results, he discounted the possibility of an Awami League landslide in East Pakistan.
  18. ^ Baxter, Craig (1971). "Pakistan Votes -- 1970". Asian Survey. 11 (3): 197–218. doi:10.2307/3024655. ISSN 0004-4687.

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