President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have paid tribute to the martyrs of the Liberation War on the 52nd anniversary of Bangladesh’s emergence as a sovereign nation.
The heads of state and government laid wreaths in memory of the fallen heroes at 5:57 am on Sunday at the National Memorial in Savar.
Hamid was the first to pay his respects, followed by the prime minister.
Bugles rang out a mournful tune as they observed a minute of silence in reverence to the martyrs while a contingent of the Armed Forces presented the state salute.
Before leaving the memorial, the president and the prime minister signed the visitors’ book.
Later, Hasina paid homage to the martyrs as the chief of the Awami League, accompanied by senior ruling party leaders.
As the Bengalis were preparing for an armed struggle after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for independence in his historic March 7 speech in 1971, the Pakistani forces swooped down on innocent civilians in one of the most horrific genocides in world history in the night of Mar 25 that year. Before being arrested by the Pakistani forces, Bangabandhu formally declared independence on Mar 26.
Bangladesh finally defeated the Pakistani forces on Dec 16 that year and Bangabandhu returned home on Jan 10, 1972, ushering fully-fledged celebrations, but three million lives were already lost in the war.
Bangabandhu was assassinated in the massacre of his family three and a half years later after he laid the foundation for development while rebuilding the war-torn nation.
Decades after the country’s journey backwards during military rules, the Awami League returned to power with Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina at the helm.
Awami League stalwarts, including deputy leader of the parliament Matia Chowdhury, General Secretary Obaidul Quder, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Jahangir Kabir Nanak, paid tribute to the martyrs alongside Hasina.
Afterwards, Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique went up to the memorial altar, followed by a delegation of the Awami League's 14-party alliance and foreign diplomats led by State Minister Shahriar Alam.
Wounded freedom fighters and the families of decorated war heroes also paid homage to the martyrs.
The National Memorial was later opened to the public as people from all walks of life, including political, social, and volunteer organisations, and representatives of universities, streamed into the memorial to pay their respects.