The nation celebrated its 49th Independence and National Day on Tuesday with a fresh vow to take the country forward being imbued with the spirit of Liberation War.
People from all walks of life saluted the courage and supreme sacrifices of those who rose in revolt against Pakistan occupation forces in 1971 and finally earned the country’s independence after a nine-month bloody war.Carrying banners inscribed with different slogans for a violence- and communalism-free country, thousands of people walked to the National Memorial in Savar to pay respects to the martyred freedom fighters.
Youths paying homage to the martyrs demanded that Pakistan authorities apologise for committing mass killing and raping women during the War of Independence.
The day was heralded with a pre-dawn 31-gun salute.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in paying tribute to the martyred war heroes by placing wreaths at the memorial around 6:00am.
President Hamid first placed a wreath at the altar of the memorial followed by the prime minister.
After placing wreaths, the president and the prime minister stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of respect to the martyrs of the War of Independence.A smartly turned-out contingent drawn from Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force presented a state salute on the occasion while the bugles played the last post.
Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, members of the cabinet, prime minister’s advisers, members of parliament, chiefs of the three services, freedom fighters, foreign diplomats and high civil and military officials were present.
Flanked by senior leaders of ruling Awami League, Sheikh Hasina then laid another wreath at the National Memorial on behalf of the party she leads.
Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Mia also paid homage to the war heroes of 1971 by placing wreaths at the National Memorial.
Later, the premier paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing a wreath at his portrait at Dhanmondi.
She then went to Bangabandhu National Stadium to attend a children’s programme.
Jatiya Party co-chairperson Raushan Ershad and secretary general Moshiur Rahman Ranga also paid homage to the martyrs by placing a wreath at the memorial.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam along with party leaders also paid tribute to the martyred war heroes by placing wreaths at the National Memorial.
He was critical of the ‘absence of democracy’ in the country as his party chief remains in jail.
“There is no democracy in the country. People are not getting their rights. They have no security,” he said, adding that his party will fight for restoring democracy and setting Khaleda Zia free from jail with the support of people.
After placing wreaths, Awami League joint general secretary Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif blamed the BNP-Jamaat quarter for its conspiracy against the government’s efforts to get international recognition of March 25 as Genocide Day.
“Due to their conspiracies, Bangladesh is yet to get international recognition of the brutal attacks carried out by Pakistani occupational forces on the innocent Bengalis on the black night of March 25 in 1971,” he said.
“It is a part of conspiracy of BNP leader Khaleda Zia as she raised a question about the number of the martyrs of the Liberation War. Khaleda Zia showed favour towards Pakistan by raising question about the number of martyrs,” he added.
Different political parties, government and non-government organisations, socio-cultural and professional bodies as well as educational institutions celebrated the day with due solemnity.
Factions of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Workers Party, Samyabadi Dal, Gono Azadi
League, National Awami Party, Gono Forum, Liberal Democratic Party, NAP (Bhasani), Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal, Samajtantrik Front, Muktijoddha Sangsad and Bangabandhu Parishad placed wreaths at the memorial.
Bangla Academy, Bangabandhu Society, Sector Commanders’ Forum, Press Club, Dhaka Reporters Unity, Crime Reporters’ Association of Bangladesh, Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University and National University also celebrated the day.
The day was a public holiday.
The national flag was hoisted atop government and private buildings while major streets and intersections were decorated with national and multi-coloured miniature flags and festoons.
Important buildings and establishments as well as thoroughfares and islands were illuminated with colourful lights on the occasion of the Independence Day.
Newspapers published special supplements while Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television and private radio stations and TV channels aired special programmes, highlighting the significance of the day.
Special prayers were offered at mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship across the country, seeking divine blessings for the martyrs and welfare of the nation.
The ruling Awami League will hold a discussion at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital at 3:30pm today. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will chair the programme.