Dhaka – Bangladesh celebrates homecoming day of the country’s independence architect Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Wednesday to recall the return of its founder after whose name people from all strata fought a bloody war to liberate the homeland more than four and a half decades ago.
The undisputed leader of Bangladesh and the supreme commander of the country’s Liberation War returned to Dhaka via London and New Delhi on January 10 in 1972, after 290 days of captivity in Pakistan jail.
Bangabandhu was arrested soon after he announced Bangladesh’s independence on March 26, 1971, and he was thrown into the jail in the then West Pakistan.
To mark the day, the ruling Awami League party, its associate bodies, other political parties and socio-cultural-professional organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes for Wednesday.
The day’s program will start with hoisting of the national and party flags at the AL central office, Bangabandhu Bhaban, and party offices across the country around 6:30am. AL leaders and workers will lay wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu in the morning.
Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina is expected to chair a discussion at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the afternoon.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Hasina gave separate messages paying homage to Bangabandhu.
The hard-earned independence of Bangali truly completed after the homecoming of Bangabandhu as a triumphant hero on 10 January in 1972, the President said in his message.
He said on that day in an emotional speech in front of thousands of people at the Race Course Maidan, Bangabandhu said, “The dream of my life was fulfilled today. My Sonar Bangla is now free and a sovereign State”.
“If anybody wants to snatch the independence of Bangladesh, then Mujib will sacrifice his life first to protect it,” Hamid quoted from Bangabandhu’s speech on his homecoming day.
The President said on 15 August 1975, Bangabandhu kept his word by shedding his blood along with his family members.
Abdul Hamid said the present government under the leadership of Bangabandhu’s daughter has been putting all out efforts for the progress and development of the country.
He called upon the nation to continue the collective endeavours to build a non-communal and democratic Bangladesh imbued with the spirit and ideology of Bangabandhu.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said under the undisputed leadership of Bangabandhu, the Bangali nation earned the ultimate victory waging the nine-month war.
Hasina said the defeated Pakistani rulers were finally compelled to free Bangabandhu and on his return, he delivered a speech before a mammoth gathering at the Race Course Maidan where he narrated the inhuman torture of the Pakistani military junta meted out on him.
The anti-liberation forces in collusion with war criminals halted the march-forward of Bangladesh through assassination of Bangabandhu along with most of his family members on the August 1975, she said.
The armed usurpers marred the democracy, defaced the constitution and distorted the glorious history of our independence and halted the path of progress and development, she said.
“The democracy has been re-established after a protracted struggles and sacrifices. The Awami League government has uplifted the living standard of the people through tireless efforts. Bangladesh is now a universal model of development,” she added.
Bangabandhu was subjected to inhuman torture in the Pakistan jail where he had been counting moments for the execution of his death sentence that was pronounced in a farcical trial.
“I was a prisoner in the condemned cell awaiting hanging. From the day I went into jail, I didn’t know whether I was to live or not. I was mentally ready to die. But I knew Bangladesh would be liberated,” Bangabandhu spoke emotionally of his ordeal in Pakistani prison in a news conference in London.
On the Pakistani army’s slaughter of Bengalis, “Mujib declared: “If Hitler could have been alive today, he would be ashamed.”
Though the final victory in the nine-month-old War of Independence was achieved defeating Pakistani occupation forces on December 16 in 1971, the nation’s expectations were fulfilled and the people got the real taste of victory with the homecoming of Bangabandhu on January 10 in 1972.
On his return to Dhaka (Tejgaon) airport in the afternoon on January 10, Bangabandhu was greeted by tens of thousands of jubilant people who had been eagerly waiting to see the beloved leader since the final victory on December 16 in 1971.
From the airport, Bangabandhu was moved to the Racecourse Ground (now Suhrawardy Udyan) where he addressed a spontaneous reception accorded to him by the cheerful countrymen believed to be one million.
He recalled with respect the contribution of all during the war and urged the people to rebuild the war-ravaged country.
Bangabandhu took oath of office as the country’s Prime Minister on January 12, 1972.