1600Published on January 10, 2020
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today inaugurated the countdown for yearlong celebration of the “Mujib Year” marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, coinciding with his 1972 return home from Pakistan captivity.
“I open the countdown,” she said at a grand ceremony at the Old Airport, the scene where Bangabandhu first touched the soil of his independent Bangladesh on his return home, celebrated as his historic Homecoming Day.
Accompanied by Bangabandhu’s younger daughter Sheikh Rehana and grandson Sajeeb Wazed Joy on the podium, Sheikh Hasina expected the people to put Bangladesh in a dignified position on the world stage by establishing “Sonar Bangladesh” as dreamt by the Father of the Nation.
“He had handed over to us the victory torch and we want to move forward with it,” said the premier, Bangabandhu’s elder daughter.
Weeks after the December 16, 1971 Victory from the Pakistani occupation, Bangabandhu landed at the then Dhaka International Airport at Tejgaon while a British Royal Air Force aircraft, a C-130J jet, carried the country’s founding father from London en-route New Delhi.
A recently procured British C-130J aircraft, identical to the jet carrying Bangabandhu, was set on the airport’s tarmac while a laser light symbolized Bangabandhu with a waving hand.
The light was slowly moved to the red carpet depicting Bangabandhu descending from the aircraft amid a 21-gun salute, to be greeted with wreaths in an effort to resemble the January 10, 1972 scene at the airport.
A contingent of army, navy and air force troops offered an honour guard in line with the event on that day 48 years ago.
One hundred pigeons along with green and red balloons were released while Shandhya Mukherjee’s “Bangabandhu feere ele tomar shopner swadhin banglaye” was played ahead of landing of the aircraft.
“The nation was waiting with all their eagerness for the return of Bangabandhu since the December 16 (1971) Victory,” the premier said revisiting the memory lane.
She recalled that on that day, her mother, younger sister and she herself were following the radio commentary on the historic event from their house as they could not move to the scene with minor children, including her son Joy and youngest brother Russell.
Sheikh Hasina termed the January 10 as a very important day of the nation as “on that day we got back the great leader who sacrificed his entire life (for the people), spent his valuable time of his life in jail for the cause of the distressed people of Bangla”.
The premier said even the then Pakistan dictator general Ayub Khan, who wanted to gag his voice, in his diary acknowledged in a different way Bangabandhu’s belief that Bangladesh would eventually emerge as an independent nation.
“He used to move raising his head high . . . he would utter ‘Joy Bangla’ slogan every time when he was taken to court (while in captivity in Pakistan),” she quoting the general’s diary as saying.
“Bangabandhu completely dedicated his life to the people of the country and his dream was that they can get food, clothing, education and better life as well,” she said.
The prime minister said the people of Bangladesh jumped into the Liberation War by chanting this slogan and they sacrificed their life unhesitatingly.
“We are unfortunate that whom the Pakistani occupation forces tried to kill had to give his life within three and a half years of independence when he was engaged in taking the war ravaged country towards development,” she said.
After the killing, the spirit and the history of the Liberation War were erased and Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech and Joy Bangla slogan were banned.
The prime minister said the Father of the Nation used to deeply love the people of the country and wanted them to get a beautiful life.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu in his speech at Race Course Maidan on January 10 in 1972 had replied the quote of Poet Rabinndranath Tagore’s poem titled “Bangamata” where the poet said – “Sat koti santanere, he mughdho janani rekhecho Bangalee kore, manush koroni”
The Father of the Nation said in the speech that “Kabiguru” comes to see that the seven crore people have become human beings and they secured victory in the war.
“We want to move with the victory torch that the Father of the Nationhanded over to us. We want to build a hunger and poverty-free prosperous and developed Bangladesh as dreamt by Bangabandhu and the country would advance on the world stage by keeping its head high and with dignity,” she said.
The prime minister said: “In the middle, a black chapter had gone from our life and we want that black chapter never to put shadow on our life and the people of the country could place Bangladesh in a dignified position by establishing Sonar Bangladesh”.
Noting that the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a historic moment, she said, “Through the celebration, the limitless contribution and boundless courage of Bangabandhu for the independence of the nation can be transcended from generation to generation.”
Sheikh Hasina said the Father of the Nation proclaimed independence in the first hour of the 26 March 1971. “Just after his declaration of independence, he was arrested and subsequently sent to solitary confinement, and he was subjected to inhuman torture in jail where he had been counting moments for being executed after his death sentence was pronounced in a farcical trial,”
The premier said even learning that death is imminent, he rejoiced the spirit of Bangalee nation. “Under his undisputed leadership and direction, we achieved our independence on 16th December 1971 after the ninth month of blood-shedding war of liberation,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina, the elder daughter of Bangabandhu said, though Bangladesh achieved independence on December 16 in1971, the independence did not get completeness unless his return home on January 10 in 1972.
The premier said she, her mother, sister Sheikh Rehana and little Joy were detained and we got freed under the leadership of Indian Major Ashok Tara in the morning of December 16. “We heard the Joy Bangla slogan and victory jubilation from the prison and we also uttered Joy Bangla slogan from the jail,” she said.
“After the release we had seen tears in the eyes of the people in one hand, while smiles of the victory on the other hand and also waited eagerly when their beloved leader will return (home),” she said.
When Bangabandhu returned home on January 10, lakhs of people welcomed him at the airport, she said adding that the life of the people who lost their near and dear ones in the Liberation War was made complete and they tried to forget their pain through getting their beloved leader.
Sheikh Hasina said the defeated Pakistani rulers were compelled to free Bangabandhu due to international pressure. “The Father of the Nation got freed from the captivity of Pakistan on 8 January 1972 and was flown to London and then returned to his motherland-independent Bangladesh and our long cherished victory attained fulfillment,” she said.
“Bangabandhu was in the dark isolated prison for more than 13 years but never compromised to his ideology and commitments and he brought our independence following the path of honesty and truth,” the premier said.
Sheikh Hasina said the Father of the Nation made the clarion call on his historic 7 March speech to the nation to take part in the Liberation War.
“His 7 March speech is now recognized as one of the most inspiring and motivational speeches in the world in the history of two thousand and five hundred years. The UNESCO has included this speech as a part of world’s documentary heritage,” she said.
The prime minister thanked the friendly countries, including India, which gave shelter to the refugees and imparted training to the freedom fighters with arms and those extended support to Bangladesh in the United Nations.
“The people of almost all of the countries of the world stood beside the freedom-loving people of Bangladesh at that time,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina specially thanked the National Implementation Committee for the Celebration of the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Armed Forces Division and law enforcement agencies, ministries, divisions and other organizations for smoothly completing the today’s arrangement at the memorable Tejgaon Old Airport.
Dr Kamal Hossain, who accompanied Bangabandhu from Pakistan to Bangladesh, and national Professor Anisuzzaman were present as witnesses to today’s ceremony along with some 2,000 guests and another 10,000 spectators.
Chairman of the Bangabandhu’s birth centenary celebration national implementation committee National Professor Dr Rafiqul Islam and its chief coordinator Dr. Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury handed over to the premier the Mujib Borsho logo at the ceremony.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will also celebrate the Mujib Borsho along with Bangladesh in line with the decision of its 40th General Assembly held at its headquarters in Paris.
Awami League and its different wings have chalked out many programmes across the country throughout the ‘Mujib Year’ along with the government while the year-long event is expected to draw major world leaders and global figures to Dhaka.
Several of them are expected to join the grand opening of the ‘Mujib Year’ in the capital on March 17, Bangabandhu’s birthday.
The figures included Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr Yousef A Al-Othaimeen, former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, former Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh
Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and former UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.
Bangladesh’s 77 missions abroad have taken 261 programmes, including introduction of ‘Bangabandhu Chair’ in a number of universities abroad as well as naming roads after Bangabandhu, foreign ministry officials said.
The government formed a National Committee and a National Implementation Committee to stage the Mujib Year events.
The celebration committee selected over 299 proposals of programmes, piloted by people at home and abroad, which will be observed across the ‘Mujib Year’.