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Friday, March 18, 2011

Notes From My Memory, Part V, by Mir Thebo: 4th March 1967: A Day That Gave Sindh A New Beginning

During Ayub era, divisional commissioners were more powerful than the ministers. They were all powerful and behaved like kings in their divisions. They wanted to exert complete control over everything under their ‘domain’ including the universities. Bureaucrats never have any regard for the educational institutions though they were students themselves once before reaching their positions of authority. There is always a conflict between bureaucrats and heads of educational institutions. Some educational administrators including Vice Chancellors of universities never allow the bureaucracy to interfere in their institutions. They have high regard for the highest seats of learning. They keep the dignity above everything. They never allow the police or army to take over the educational institutions or interfere in the policy matters of the institutions.
General Ayub Khan

In the Ayub regime, commissioners were also the members of university syndicate with governors being the chancellors. At that time the governor of West Pakistan was the Iron-Man, the Nawab of Kalabagh, Malik Amir Mohammad Khan. During a Sindh University syndicate meeting, Vice Chancellor of Sindh University, Hassan Ali Abdul Rehman, a highly educated man from a reputed educationist family, put forward a proposal that commissioners should not be members of the university syndicate. The Commissioner Hyderabad Division, Masroor Ahsan and the Governor didn’t like VC's proposal. After the meeting, the governor used a bad word for VC. Though Nawab Kalabagh was also student of Atchison and Oxford but rulers damn care about the education.

Apart from that proposal, they both were against the introduction of Sindhi language in M.A. examinations. Punjabis are a curious nation. They love Pakistan but they don’t like their own mother tongue. Punjabi language never developed or introduced even in Punjab. They love conquerors, Iranians, Arabs, Central Asians and Afghans, who butchered and robbed the people of the Indian sub-continent. They hate heroes who resisted foreigners. Any way, the idea of choosing and imposing Urdu as a national and official language, has a link to the policy to rule and subjugate other nations in Pakistan. In 1952, Bengalis resisted imposition of Urdu and sacrificed their lives. Government ultimately bowed down and accepted the Bengali language as a national language. But Sindhis were not so politically aware to put forward the demand forcefully.
Gov. Amir Mohammad Khan

Commissioner Masroor Ahsan couldn't tolerate VC Hassan Ali Abdul Rehman and wanted to get rid of him. When university students came to know of the moves to remove the VC, the activist students started to wake up the politically ‘sleeping’ Sindhi students.

Politically Unaware, Raw Youth:

At that time, Sindhi students were not politically charged as they are today. They were like ‘raw youth’ in Dostoyevsky’s short story of that name. They were never engaged in any political activities in the past. If you would go to them asking for boycotting the classes, they would be very reluctant and would say ‘no, our parents have not sent us for politics’. Many students would not feel happy if in a class when a teacher was giving them a lecture, some students came and asked them to boycott the class. In such conditions, we have to do some ugly things for the greater cause. Political workers are trained for this so we knew the art of exploiting the emotions of our politically virgin students.

In 1967, Yousuf Laghari was a very popular student leader. He was the president of the Sindh University Students Union. He was also president of Hyderabad Students Federation (HSF) affiliated with Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP). Jam Saqi was General Secretary and I was the Press Secretary. Yousuf was not the member of CPP but he was a sympathizer of the party. We always tried to put him under party discipline but Yousuf never cared about the rules. He was free like a bird. He was the student of political science. Though he didn’t have money, he never cared about that. Sometimes he couldn’t pay the mess bill. He was staying at very shabby hostel in Guru Nagar in a barrack like room with four other teacher students in MED. He would always be smiling and make jokes with everybody. Every one liked him very much. To show love for him, students used to call him Mama (maternal uncle). The people who knew him then would vouch that he still is the same whether he is a renowned lawyer or advocate general of Sindh. (He recently resigned from that position). Sometimes he uses vulgar language with friends but they don’t mind.
Yousuf Laghari

When Yousuf Laghari knew that the government was planning to replace the VC, he took in confidence the students of Sindh University, Liaquat Medical College (now university) and SU Engineering College (also a university now) and took out every day a procession with students inside the buses because he knew they were shy and also a little bit in fear and will not come on the streets. He was a good tactician. So everyday, the students shouted slogans from inside the buses, Masroor Kuta (DOG) Hi Hi. Buses would come from Jam Shoro through the city to the commissioner's office. Sometimes raised advanced slogans like One Unit Murdabad. Students would become mad at us and will say: 'you people will put us in a hell. Don’t raise such slogans. We are not political'.

4th March 1967:

It became an everyday routine. It was a very peaceful movement: no strike, no shops closed and no violence. It was like “Intifada” of Sindhi students. After some time the city administration became tired and irritated, so they decided to stop it with force. It was the morning of 4th March, 1967 when as the students coming from Jam Shoro on the buses, reached near the place where now Rajputana Hospital stands (in those days both sides of the road were nothing but water logged land filled with saline water), huge contingents of police blocked the road and stopped the buses and very ruthlessly started taking the students out of the buses and beating them mercilessly. Some students ran into the dirty water to get away but police caught them and beat them up.
General area where the 4th March incident took place. Photo from Internet
 Many students were injured and admitted in the city hospital. 207 students were arrested and sent to the central prison. Yousuf Laghari, Yousuf Talpur, Masood Noorani and Kamil Rajpar were among the arrested students. In the evening, rumors spread that many students were killed but in fact no one was killed. It was a gloomy evening. SU old campus looked like a ghost place. Jam Saqi was arrested from the old campus. I was not arrested on that day and as the press secretary of HSF, I went to the press offices to condemn high handedness of the authority. For the first time, the press was very much sympathetic and expressed sorrow at the event. In those days, the press was not as outspoken as it is today. The newspapers were afraid of the administration and journalists would not even like to meet or have a cup of tea with us. Today many newspapers give a look of political pamphlets. Sometimes it is more political than the politicians and more nationalist than the nationalists.
Sindh University, Old Campus

Two days after the incident, all Sindhi papers wrote editorials in support of students. Two Urdu journalists, Mubin from Huriat and Iqbal Hamid from Jang also sympathized with us but a line was drawn between the Urdu and Sindhi students because the commissioner was Urdu speaking and VC was Sindhi speaking. The party (Communist Party) tried hard to unite the students. In this connection, we arranged a joint demonstration at Gari Khata, Hyderabad to break the 144 rule with trade union workers and students. Most of trade union workers were Urdu speaking. Because of the harassment, we were only two students in the demonstration, me and Ghulam Qadir Palijo. He was student of Agriculture College Tando Jam (now university). We all were arrested. Authorities never liked to see students unite with the workers. After arresting us, S.P. said in a hatred: 'you stupid, why are you with the workers'? They didn’t like solidarity between students and workers.

The news of the incident spread throughout Sindh like wild fire. All sections of the society, lawyers, Doctors, shopkeepers and some landlords were sympathetic to us. R.B. Palijo became very active for the release of the students. Lawyers Defense Committee was formed. The most inspired section of the population was the writers and poets. They started writing poetry and stories with full of national sentiments. Shaikh Ayaz wrote the famous verse "Sindhri Te Sir Ker Na Deendo Sahando Ker Mayaar O Yaar, Jhol Jhali Jadehn Bhitai, Kiranda Kandh Hazaar O Yaar'. It was really a new beginning in Sindh with people rising from a long slumber.

All the students were released in a few days.

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