The proud nation is celebrating its 53rd Independence and National Day today in a befitting manner, commemorating the declaration of the country’s independence from the clutches of Pakistan.
In the early hours of March 26, 1971 Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed country’s independence following the heinous attack on unarmed Bangalees by Pakistan forces on the midnight of March 25.
Defecting Bangalee military and paramilitary as well as civilians by forming ‘Mukti Bahini’ started guerrilla warfare against the Pakistan occupation forces.
Jamaat-e-Islami opposed the independence of erstwhile East Pakistan and formed militias such as Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams which massacred Bangalee civilians.
Bangladesh gained independence after a nine-month bloody war against Pakistan through supreme sacrifices of three million people. Two lakh women also lost their chastity during the war.
With the declaration of independence on this day in 1971, people took up arms to free the country from the clutches of Pakistan and eventually liberated the soil of the land on December 16 of that year.
A thirty-one gun salute at dawn was herald the day while President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lead the nation in paying tribute to the martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Memorial at Savar at 5:57am.
The national flag was hoisted atop the government, semi-government and private buildings on the occasion.
On the eve of the day, President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Raushon Ershad greeted the nation in separate messages.
In his message, the President said people-oriented and sustainable development, good governance, social justice, transparency and accountability must be ensured in the country in order to achieve the desired goal of independence.
He said forbearance, human rights and the rule of law have to be consolidated for institutionalising democracy. “It’s our sacred duty to ensure a safe, happy, beautiful and prosperous Bangladesh for the new generation,” he said.
Extending his heartfelt greetings and warm felicitations to the fellow countrymen living at home and abroad, the President said Bangladesh is moving towards the highway of development at an inexorable pace.
“We’ve achieved enormous success in various areas of socio-economic development, including poverty alleviation, education, health, human resources development, women empowerment, reduction of child and maternal mortality rates, elimination of gender discrimination and increase in average life expectancy,” he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in her message, called upon all Bangladeshis to nurture the spirit and ideals of the Great Liberation War and participate in building hunger-poverty-free, self-confident, and self-respecting 'Golden Bangladesh' as dreamt by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“I remember with the most profound respect the greatest Bangalee of all time, the great architect of Bangladesh, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, under whose firm and far-sighted leadership we got an independent country,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina remembered the four national leaders, including the war organisers, who steered the War of Liberation with their able guidance.
The debt of the blood of three million martyrs and the self-sacrifice of two lakh mothers and sisters will never be repaid, she said.
Newspapers brought out special supplements on the occasion.
State-run Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar and private radio and TV channels are airing special programmes on the day.
Different political, social and cultural organisations have also chalked out elaborate programmes to mark the day.
Public buildings and places have been illuminated and decorated with buntings and festoons.
Improved food will be served in hospitals, jails, orphanages, vagrant homes, Muktijoddha Kendra and charity homes.
Security has been beefed up across the country, including the capital, to foil subversive activities on the occasion.
Ruling Awami League has also outlined a two-day programme to mark the day.
It hoisted national and party flag atop Bangabandhu Bhaban and all the party offices across the country.
Sheikh Hasina, also AL president, placed wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu at Dhanmondi at 6:45am.
AL leaders also placed wreaths at the grave of country’s founding President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Tungipara.
The ruling party will hold a discussion at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital on tomorrow.
AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to chair the programme.