49 Years of Victory: Nation renews resolve to uproot fundamentalism
The nation yesterday celebrated Victory Day, saluting the supreme sacrifice of the gallant sons and daughters of the soil and vowing afresh to uproot fundamentalism.
There were restrictions on public gatherings due to the pandemic, but the virus scare could not dampen the spirit as hundreds of people, irrespective of age and gender, gathered at memorials across the country.
Imbued with the spirit of the Liberation War, they paid rich tributes to the freedom fighters who had unflinchingly sacrificed their lives to translate the national dream of an independent motherland into reality.
Forty-nine years ago on December 16, 1971, Bangladesh was liberated under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and after the sacrifice of the lives of three million people.
On this day, the Pakistan Army surrendered to the allied forces of Bangladesh and India in the capital's Suhrawardy Udyan after the nine-month war.
The journey of a non-communal Bangladesh began 49 years ago but the spirit of non-communalism has been attacked time and again. Just weeks before this Victory Day, radical Islamist groups opposed the government plans to construct Bangabandhu's statues.
In her address to the nation on the eve of Victory Day, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a stern warning to religious extremists.
"We won't allow anyone to create any division and anarchy in the name of religion."
The day began with a 31-gun salute at National Parade Square, followed by rich tributes by President Abdul Hamid and the prime minister at the National Martyrs' Memorial in Savar to the martyrs who laid down their lives for the emancipation of the nation.
On behalf of the president, his military secretary SM Shamim-uz-Zaman and on behalf of the prime minister her military secretary Maj Gen Naqib Ahmed Chowdhury placed floral wreaths at the memorial.
A smartly turned out contingent drawn from the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy, and Bangladesh Air Force presented a state salute on the occasion when bugles played the last post.
After the president and the prime minister paid their tributes, different socio-political, educational, cultural institutions and organisations placed floral wreaths at the memorial in Savar.
Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader after paying homage to martyrs in Savar said poisonous fundamentalist forces should be uprooted from the society.
"There will be no compromise with anyone on the questions of Liberation War and independence," he said.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam after paying tributes said they were struggling to restore democracy in the county.
Communist Party of Bangladesh General Secretary Md Shah Alam told The Daily Star that the people established language based nationalism in place of communal nationalism. Secularism is the essence of language based nationalism, he said.
"The party which led the Liberation War is in power now but we are making compromises. Textbook changes took place on the demand of Qawmi and Hefajat forces," said Shah Alam, also a freedom fighter.
"We will need to keep the people, workers, and farmers away from the ideologies of Hefajat, Qawmi and Jamaat, for a sustainable secular Bangladesh."
Jatiya Party, Gonoforum, Ganashanghati Andolan, Nagorik Oikya, Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, and other political parties also paid tributes.
Freedom fighters, government and non-government organisations, and universities in the capital also paid tributes at Savar.
People from all occupations poured on to the streets around the memorial in Savar to join different programmes to celebrate the day, a public holiday.
Many were seen visiting the memorial dressed in red and green, colours of the national flag. At the gate of the memorial some were seen selling national flags and green and red scarves. Some painted their faces red and green.
The national flag was hoisted atop government, semi-government and private offices as well as offices of autonomous bodies across the country.
Different government and non-government offices and establishments were decorated with colourful lights. Patriotic songs played over loudspeakers in many areas.
The president and the prime minister issued separate messages on the occasion and national dailies across the country published special supplements.
State-owned and private televisions channels and radios broadcast month-long special programmes highlighting the Liberation War. Different organisations held discussions where Liberation War related documentaries were screened.
Special prayers were offered in mosques and other places of worship, seeking eternal peace for the souls of the martyrs, and peace, progress and prosperity for the country.
Special dishes were served in jails, hospitals, orphanages, and vagrant homes across the country.
The poor and disadvantaged children had parks and other recreational centres opened to them for free across the country.
Celebrating victory, Bangladesh missions abroad observed the day with various programmes.