Dhaka – The nation pays homage to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for his landmark speech that he had delivered for the emancipation of the Bengali and eventually liberated them from the subjugation and repression unleashed by the then Pakistani rulers.
On this day in 1971 (March 7), Bangabandhu made the clarion call to his people to get prepared with whatever they had against the enemies. The call was responded by millions to join a bloody war to liberate their homeland.
Bangladesh observes the day every year to commemorate the historic speech, but, this year the significance of the observance of the day is carrying more value since the nation is poised to celebrate his birth centenary and the government has announced Mujib Year to be celebrated from March 19, 2020- March 26 2021. Bangladesh will celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday paid tributes to the Father of the Nation by placing a wreath at the portrait of Bangabandhu at his historic home at Dhanmondi that was turned to a museum after his assassination in 1975.
After laying the wreath, Hasina stood in solemn silence for sometime as a mark of respect to the memory of Bangabandhu, the architect of the independence. She also placed wreath at the portrait as the chief of her ruling Awami League party.
Bangladesh’s liberation war began 18 days after he delivered the speech and Bangabandhu formally announced it on early March 26 immediately before he was taken into custody and the Pakistani soldiers launched Operation Searchlight against unarmed civilians in the then East Pakistan.
The speech was recognized by the UNESCO as part of the world’s documentary heritage on October 30 in 2017. It was included in the Memory of the World International Register, a list of world’s important documentary heritage maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
In his historic speech at a mammoth crowed in the then Race Course Ground in central Dhaka and now Suhrawardy Udyan, Bangabandhu directed the freedom-loving Bangalees for waging a decisive struggle against the Pakistan occupation forces.
In the 19-minute extempore speech before millions of people Bangabandhu in unequivocal term said in Bangla “Ebarer sangram amader muktir sangram, ebarer sangram swadhinatar sangram” (The struggle this time is for our emancipation, the struggle this time is for our independence).
During his deliberations amid thunderous slogans and applause, he also made a fervent appeal to the roaring people from all walks of life to take preparations for armed struggle against the tyranny, exploitation, subjugation and deprivation by Pakistani military junta with whatever they possessed and transforming every house into a fortress.
The people were overwhelmed and imbued with the spirit of Bangabandhu’s speech of independence regarded only as comparable to the Gettysburg Speech of slain US President Abraham Lincoln.
The whole nation responded spontaneously to Bangabandhu’s call with thunderous slogan “Bir Bangalee Astra Dharo, Bangladesh Swadhin Karo” (Brave Bangalees take up arms and free Bangladesh from occupation).
The speech inspired people of all walks to prepare for the war, which eventually began after the Pakistani regime on March 25 launched the worst genocide in the history. The war continued for the next nine months.
Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech has been selected as one of the most rousing and inspirational wartime speeches in the last 2,500 years. The dynamic speech had changed the course of the country’s history.
The tantalizing speech literally had a mesmerizing and sparkling effect on the entire population of this soil and they became united under his capable and farsighted leadership to bravely fight for liberating the motherland from the clutches of the Pakistani occupation forces.
As soon as the Pakistani forces began the genocide, Bangabandhu declared independence of the motherland instructing the people to put up strong resistance and fight against them till the liberation is achieved.
At the instruction of Bangabandhu, the nation fought war and ultimately liberated Bangladesh from Pakistani occupation forces on December 16, 1971 with the assistance of the allied Indian forces.
Political analysts say the 7th March speech of Bangabandhu was not only a call for the Bangalee nation to fight for freedom, it was, rather a direction for all nations.
Different political, socio-cultural, student and professional organizations have drawn up elaborate programmes including laying wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu and holding discussions and rallies.
The ruling Awami League has also drawn up different programmes to observe the day.
The party flew national and party flags atop the Bangabandhu Bhaban and party offices and placed wreaths at Bangabandhu’s portrait on the Bangabandhu Bhaban premises at Dhanmondi in the morning.
A discussion is scheduled at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) auditorium at 3.30pm. Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will chair the discussion while party leaders and distinguished personalities will address it.
The Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television as well as private television channels and radio stations have been airing special programmes while national dailies brought out special supplements marking the auspicious occasion.