Dhaka – Bangladesh on Thursday observed the historic homecoming day of the country’s independence architect Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as he returned home on this day in 1972 after languishing in Pakistani jail for nine months.
Bangabandhu, the supreme commander of Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war, was arrested by the Pakistani forces soon after he declared independence of the country earlier on March 26, 1971.
The nation fought the war and came victorious on December 16 the same year prompting the Pakistani junta to release the undisputed Bangladeshi leader.
On his return via London and New Delhi on January 10 in 1972, Bangabandhu was given the hero’s welcome in independent Bangladesh.
Ruling Awami League party and its associate bodies, other political parties and socio-cultural-professional have took elaborate programmes to mark the day.
The day began with hoisting of the national and party flags at the AL central office, Bangabandhu Bhaban in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi, and party offices across the country in the dawn. The leaders of the party placed floral wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu in the morning.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over a discussion in Dhaka’s Krishibid Institution Bangladesh (KIB) in the afternoon.
President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Hasina in separate messages remembered Bangabandhu’s contributions for independent Bangladesh and his thoughts for shaping Bangladesh towards a developed nation.
“Though we achieved ultimate victory on 16 December in 1971 through armed struggle but the true essence of victory came into being upon returning home of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu,” Hamid said.
Recalling the memories on January 10, 1971, the President said in front of hundreds of thousand people gathered at the Racecourse Maidan, he (Bangabandhu) said, “The dream of my life is fulfilled today. My Sonar Bangla is now free….a sovereign state has been emerged”.
The anti-liberation forces, however, wanted to wipe out the ideal and principle of Bangabandhu and tried to tarnish the image of sovereign Bangladesh through the assassination of Bangabandhu and his family members on 15 August 1975, Hamid said.
“But the Bangali is a nation of intrepidity. As long as Bangladesh and the Bangali exist, Bangabandhu will remain as the eternal source of our inspiration,” he said adding Bangladesh would continue to prosper under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, the illustrated daughter of Bangabandhu.
He called upon all concerned to continue the advancement of the country by implementing the unfinished tasks of Bangabandhu.
Prime Minister Hasina said under the undisputed leadership of Bangabandhu, the Bangali nation earned the ultimate victory waging the nine-month solemnly-vowed war.
“The defeated Pakistani rulers were compelled to free Bangabandhu,” she said, adding that while speaking before a mammoth gathering at the then Racecourse Ground, Bangabandhu narrated the inhuman torture of the Pakistani military junta meted out on the people of Bangladesh.
After his return, the Father of the Nation devoted all his efforts to rebuild the war-ravaged Bangladesh, Hasina said.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib had engaged himself in the struggle to build a “Golden Bangladesh” reconstructing the war-torn country, but the anti-liberation forces assassinated Bangabandhu along with most of his family.
Referring to Awami League’s landslide victory in the December 30 polls, Hasina vowed to turn Bangladesh into a developed nation by 2041.
On the night of March 25, 1971, Pakistan army arrested Bangabandhu from his Dhanmondi residence and sent him to a West Pakistani jail the following day.
“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 at a news conference in London.
Immediately after the proclamation of independence, Bangabandhu was arrested by Pakistani military junta and then flown to West Pakistan to keep him in prison there.
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.
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 Maidan (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.