Today is the 40th Homecoming Day of Sheikh Hasina, Awami League President and Bangladesh’s longest-serving Prime Minister who has taken the country to new heights braving a barrage of obstacles.
On May 17 in 1981, Sheikh Hasina returned home from India after nearly six years in exile following the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members by a group of disgruntled army officers on August 15, 1975.Both the daughters of Bangabandhu -- Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana -- survived the carnage as they were in Germany at that time.
The capital turned into a city of procession as people had welcomed Hasina braving storms and heavy rainfall. The then Kurmitola International Airport and Sher-e-Banglanagar turned into a human sea to welcome her.
Tens of thousands of people with the immortal slogan -- Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu -- thronged the capital to have a glimpse of Hasina who was elected AL president in her absence in the party’s national council session held on February 14-16 in 1981.
“I’ve returned to the country not to be a leader of Awami League but to participate in the struggle for freedom staying by the people,” said the AL president in a heart-touching reception awarded to her by nearly 1.5 million people at the airport at that time.
She added: “I want to stay by you as your sister, as your daughter, and as a worker of Awami League, who believes in the ideals of Bangabandhu.”
Returning home, Hasina started her struggle to regain people’s rights, lost after the assassination of Bangabandhu.In doing so, she had to overlook the red-eyes of the military rulers by risking her life. For her pro-people efforts, she was recognised as the daughter of democracy.
In her long political career, Hasina helped AL assume office in 1996, 21 years after the assassination of Bangabandhu. Her party again assumed office in 2008 under her dynamic leadership and continued in the office for the 3rd consecutive term through the January 5, 2014 and December 30, 2018 general polls.
The country has also attained the status of a developing country from the least development one this year under her prudent leadership.
The Prime Minister also vowed to turn the country into a middle-income one by 2021 and a developed one by 2041.
Marking the day, Awami League has chalked out a two-day programme ending today.
AL insiders said Hasina’s Homecoming Day is being celebrated in a scaled-back manner this year too due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dhaka North City unit of AL will arrange a discussion on Bangabandhu Avenue at 11:00am while AL’s Dhaka South City unit will hold a doa mahfil and discussion at Mahanagar Natyamancha at 3:00pm today.
Special doa and prayer sessions will be held at mosques, temples, churches and pagodas marking the day.
In a message issued on the occasion, President Abdul Hamid described the return of Sheikh Hasina as a milestone in the history of Bangladesh’s democracy.
“The country is now going forward under the farsighted and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and for various welfare-oriented activities despite various obstacles,” he said.