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Independence Day celebrated

Independence Day celebrated

The 54th Independence and National Day was celebrated across the country on Tuesday (Mar 26), commemorating the Liberation War heroes whose sacrifices ensured its freedom from Pakistani oppression in 1971, local media reported.

The government took elaborate programmes marking the day. The day's programmes began by heralding gun salutes early in the morning as a mark of profound respect to the heroic struggle of this nation, which suffered a protracted subjugation under foreign rule from time to time till achieving its Independence in 1971.

Marking the day, President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid rich tributes to the Liberation War martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Martyrs' Memorial in Savar, the outskirts of the capital, early in the morning. Besides, Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who is now on a four-day official visit to Bangladesh at the special invitation of Bangladesh President Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the 54th Independence Day celebrations, also paid respect to the Liberation War heroes by placing wreath at 5:57 a.m.

As part of marking the day, the President first placed the wreath at the altar of the memorial at about 5:56 a.m., followed by the PM and the Bhutanese King.

Bhutan is the first country to recognize Bangladesh as an independent state on Dec 6, 1971. After a long 11 years, Wangchuck along with his wife came to Dhaka to attend the Independence Day function of Bangladesh.

Earlier, the king and queen visited Bangladesh in 2013.

After laying the wreaths, the President, the Premier and the King stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the martyrs of the Great War of Liberation in 1971. A smartly turned-out contingent drawn from the Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force presented a state salute at that time while the bugles played the last post.

The head of the state, the head of the government and the Bhutanese King and Queen Jetsun Pema also signed the visitors' book kept on the memorial premises.

Flanked by her party leaders, Sheikh Hasina, also the President of the Bangladesh Awami League, paid glowing tributes to the Liberation War martyrs by placing another wreath at the National Memorial on behalf of her party. Representatives of parliament, the Speaker, chief justice, ministers, advisers, senior politicians, leaders of the Awami League-led 14-party alliance, members of parliament, valiant freedom fighters, chiefs of the three services, diplomats, representatives of different development partners and high civil and military officials, among others, were present there.

Awami League Presidium Member and Deputy Leader in House Matia Chowdhury, party's General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Presidium Members Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Shajahan Khan, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Abdur Rahman and Khairuzzaman Litton, Joint General Secretaries - Dr Hasan Mahmud, Mahbubul Alam Hanif and AFM Bahauddin Nasim, Organizing Secretary Ahmed Hossain, Publicity Secretary Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap, Information and Research Secretary Dr Selim Mahmud, Office Secretary Barrister Biplab Barua, Deputy Office Secretary Sayem Khan, among others, were present.

Later, people from all walks of life, including families of Bir Shreshthas, war-wounded freedom fighters, members of the diplomatic corps, leaders of different political parties, social, cultural and professional bodies, placed wreaths at the National Memorial.

After returning from the National Memorial, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing a wreath at his portrait in front of Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi 32 in the capital in the morning.

After laying the wreath, she stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memory of Bangabandhu, also the great architect of independent Bangladesh and the greatest Bangalee of all time. Bangabandhu's younger daughter and only sister of the Premier, Sheikh Rehana, was also present there. Besides, a smartly turned out contingent drawn from the Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force presented a state salute at the time.

Flanked by party leaders, Sheikh Hasina, also the President of the Awami League, paid rich tribute to Bangabandhu by placing another wreath in his portrait on behalf of the party.

Marking the day, the Prime Minister later released a commemorative postage stamp, a first-day cover and a data card at her official Ganabhaban residence here.

A delegation of Awami League Central Working Committee led by its organizing secretary SM Kamal Hossain, MP, paid rich tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing a wreath at his mausoleum at Tungipara in Gopalganj. Awami League organizing secretary Afzal Hossain, executive member Iqbal Hossain Apu, Gopalganj district Awami League president Mahabub Ali Khan, Tungipara upazila Awami League president Abul Bashar Khair, its general secretary Md. Babul Sheikh, Municipal Mayor Sheikh Tozammel Haque Tutul, a large number of leaders and activists of Awami League and associate bodies, among others, were present.

After laying the wreath, the leaders stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memory of the Father of the Nation. Later, they offered prayers seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of Bangabandhu and other martyrs of the Aug 15, 1975, carnage.

Doa Mehfils (special prayers) were also arranged at the mosques across the country, including Baitul Mukarram National Mosque after Zohr prayers.

Christian community members arranged special prayers at Mirpur Baptist Church at one minute past zero hours, Buddhist community members held prayers at International Buddhist Monastery at Merul Badda at 10 a.m. and Hindu community members arranged prayers at Dhakeshwari National Temple at 11 a.m.

National dailies brought out special supplements, while Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television, private radio stations and television channels aired special programmes on the Liberation War highlighting the significance of the day.

Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bangla Academy, National Museum, Liberation War Museum, Bangladesh Shishu Academy and other social and cultural organisations arranged discussions, cultural programmes and sports competitions while painting competitions, essay and debate competitions were organised for children.

Liberation War-based documentaries and movies were screened at cinema halls across the country.

Receptions were accorded to the freedom fighters and the members of martyred freedom fighters at city, district and upazila levels, while the Bangladesh Post Office published commemorative postage stamps.

Improved meals were served to the inmates of hospitals, jails, old homes and orphanage centres to mark the day.

The country's all children's parks and museums remained open for all. Ships of the Bangladesh Navy and Coast Guard were kept open for the public at Chittagong, Khulna, Mongla and Payra ports and Dhaka's Sadarghat, Narayanganj's Pagla, Barisal and Chandpur BIWTA dockside from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The missions abroad also celebrated the day through similar programmes. Marking the Independence Day, the Awami League will hold a discussion at the party's Dhaka district unit office in the capital's Tejgaon at 11 a.m. on Mar 27. Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will chair and address the discussion.

Every year, Mar 26 brings the most tragic reminiscence of history's blackest episode, which heralded a nine-month bloody ordeal from the night of Mar 25, 1971, achieving on long-cherished independence on Dec 16 the same year at the cost of a sea of blood.

In the wake of the military crackdown, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who became the undisputed leader of the then Pakistan following the massive victory of his party, Awami League, in the 1970 general elections, declared the independence of Bangladesh through the then EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) wireless at 00-30 hours on Mar 26 (the night following Mar 25) in 1971 at his historic Road-32 residence at Dhanmondi in Dhaka.

The great leader also called upon the people to build up strong resistance against the Pakistani occupation forces. The Pakistani military junta, in a bid to stop the legitimate movement of the Bangalees, arrested Bangabandhu on that night following his declaration of independence. Later, Bangabandhu was taken to the then West Pakistan where he had to spend nine months in a dark condemned cell. Bangabandhu wrote down the declaration of independence soon after the Pakistani army cracked down on the fateful night of Mar 25, 1971.

The declaration of independence was soon put on air by wireless. The declaration was first broadcast by Awami League leader M A Hannan from Kalurghat Radio Station in the port city of Chattogram on Mar 26, 1971. The Pakistani military junta in their monstrous outburst unleashed a bloody holocaust, breaking the silence of the night following Mar 25 in 1971, when they mercilessly killed hundreds of innocent sleeping Bangalees, including teachers, students, police, soldiers, pedestrians and rickshaw-pullers in Dhaka. The nation soon launched the War of Liberation at the call of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the early hours of Mar 26.

Bangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign country on Dec 16, 1971 with the surrender of the Pakistani occupation forces, who killed three million innocent civilians, perpetrated atrocities on two lakh Bangalee women and burnt down thousands of houses across the country during the nine-month bloody war.