Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her firm determination of building a non-communal, hunger-free and prosperous Bangladesh as dreamt by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with collective efforts.
“The Father of the Nation dreamt of building a non-communal, hunger-free and prosperous Bangladesh, resisting all imminent conspiracies and inspired by the spirit of the Great Liberation War. We will fulfill that dream with unity, In-sha Allah,” she said in a message on the eve of the Homecoming Day of Bangabandhu.
The premier prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the occasion of his Homecoming Day.
Sheikh Hasina said, “The legendary comet in the history of Bengali liberation struggle, the greatest Bangali of all times, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned home on this day in 1972 after being freed from captivity in Pakistan’s prison”.
In absence of this great leader, there was an imperfection in the ecstasy and excitement of the final victory in the Liberation War, just as his assumption to the stewardship in the reconstruction of the newly independent war-ravaged country was much awaited in the universal perception, she said.
So, on January 10, the people of Bangladesh felt the true taste of ultimate victory when they got back their beloved leader, the premier continued.
The Father of the Nation struggled for 24 long years to unfetter the Bengali nation from the shackles of subjugation, she said, adding he led on all fronts from the language movement to the war of freedom.
“Endured prison-torture always made far-sighted decisions and organized the party well beyond personal interests. Bangladesh Awami League won an absolute majority in the 1970 elections under his (Bangabandhu) leadership,” the premier said.
Sheikh Hasina added: “He (Bangabandhu) became the undisputed leader of Bengal. But the Pakistani military Junta ignored the verdict of the people and started a farce”.
Noting that unarmed people of Bengal were shot and killed indiscriminately, she said, “To achieve the ultimate independence, Father of the Nation declared in a crowd of a million at the Race Course Maidan on March 7, 1971, ‘……..turn every house into fortress…..The struggle this time is a struggle for emancipation. The struggle this time is a struggle for independence”.
The Pakistani occupation forces launched a brutal killing mission on the innocent Bengalis in the deep dark of the 25th March in 1971, the premier said, adding that Bangabandhu proclaimed the Independence of Bangladesh in the first hour of the 26th of March.
Soon after the declaration of independence, the Pakistani forces arrested the Father of the Nation and sent him to a solitary prison in Pakistan, where he was subjected to inhuman torture, the head of the government said.
He (Bangabandhu) rejoiced in the spirit of Begalees while counting the moments of execution as a convict in the ridiculous trial, Sheikh Hasina said, adding he was the flame of life to the freedom fighters.
“Under his unwavering leadership, the Bengali nation fought to the death and snatched victory. The defeated Pakistani rulers were compelled to free Bangabandhu in the early hours of January 8, 1972,” she said.
Mentioning that Bangabandhu landed in London at 0636hrs on the same day, the premier said there he immediately agreed to accept Bangladesh’s membership to the Commonwealth at the proposal of its Secretary-General, met the British Prime Minister, and held a press conference there.
The Father of the Nation kissed the ground of Bangladesh on January 10, 1972 at 1340hrs with a short break in Delhi in the morning, the Prime Minster said, adding in a speech to an ocean of crowd at the Race Course that day, he described the brutal torture of the Pakistani military junta and called on the United Nations to bring the Pakistani army to justice for committing heinous crimes and genocide during the Great War of Liberation.
On 12 January 1972, the Father of the Nation assumed as the Prime Minister and deployed all efforts to rebuild war-torn Bangladesh, she said, adding due to his strong move, the Indian allied forces left Bangladesh on 15 March 1972.
“On 14 December 1972, he signed the first constitution of Bangladesh. In response to his (Bangabandhu’s) call, various international organizations and friendly countries, including the United Nations quickly recognised Bangladesh,” the premier said.
Under the charismatic leadership of Bangabandhu, Bangladesh was uplifted as a prominent country in the world within a very short time and emerged as a least developed country in just three and a half years from a mess of war-devastation, she continued.
Sheikh Hasina said on 15 August 1975, the anti-liberation and war criminal faction brutally killed the Father of the Nation and his family members, and introduced the politics of killing, coup and conspiracy in this country.
They obstructed the way for trial of Bangabandhu killing by issuing an indemnity ordinance on September 16, 1975, the Prime Minister said, adding the Mostaq-Zia gang rewarded the killers with diplomatic status in Bangladesh embassies and also established them politically.
They ruined democracy by declaring Martial Law, distorted the glorious history of “our” independence, defaced the constitution and chocked press freedom, she said, adding that the BNP-Jamaat government continued the trend.
“After 21 years of a long struggle and many sacrifices, Bangladesh Awami League formed the government in 1996. On 12 November of the same year, the parliament passed the ‘Indemnity Ordinance Repeal Act 1996’. Through this, all obstacles to the trial of Bangabandhu’s assassination were removed,” the premier said.
She also said: “We won a landslide victory in the 2008 election by declaring a ‘charter of change’ in our manifesto and also were elected by popular vote three times in a row. We have executed the verdict of the murderers of the Father of the Nation, held the trial of war criminals by establishing the international Criminal Tribunal and ensured the voting right of the people through the fifteenth amendment to the constitution, thus stopped the illegal seizure of power”.
In the last twelve years, the Awami League (AL) has made unprecedented progress in all indicators of development, the head of the government said, adding that Bangladesh has been ranked among the top five countries in the world in terms of economic growth.
“We have brought the poverty rate below 20.5 percent. We have raised the per capita income to 2,064 US dollars. The average life expectancy of our people is now 72.6 years. We are providing electricity facility to 99 percent of people,” the premier continued.
With the installation of all the spans of the Padma Bridge, the two banks of one of the fastest flowing rivers in the world are now connected and construction of metro rail and expressways in the capital and tunnels under the Karnaphuli River is progressing rapidly, Sheikh Hasina said, adding, “We have modernized the road, rail and air connectivity”.
Noting that the benefits of digital Bangladesh are at the doorsteps today, she said, the number of internet users has exceeded 11crores.
“We have created immense employment opportunities based on information technology, established sovereignty over the vast maritime zone of the Bay of Bengal,” the premier said.
Mentioning that the door is now open for blue- economy, the head of the government said with the successful implementation of the first `Bangladesh Perspective Plan’, the achievement of Vision-2021 is almost over.
“In the Mujib Year, we have promised that no one will be left homeless. We will extend all the facilities of the city to remote rural areas. We are working on the principle of ‘Zero Tolerance’ to eradicate militancy, terrorism and drugs,” Sheikh Hasina said.
“We have formulated the second perspective plan to achieve the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ by 2030 and to build a developed and prosperous Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty by 2041. We have also adopted a master plan called `Bangladesh Delta plan 2100,” she added.
To celebrate the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation with due dignity, the premier said, “We have declared the year 2020-2021 as the ‘Mujib Year’ and we will celebrate the golden jubilee of independence on 26 March 2021”.
Since the hostile coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread like a pandemic across the world, she said, adding: “Keeping the pre-scheduled plan limited to digital platform, we have started fighting for life intending to get rid of this superbug”.
“I have given a 3-point instruction, appointed doctors, nurses and technicians for tackling the situation. To stand by the poor and helpless people, to keep the wheels of the economy in motion, and to continue the development works on the track, we have disbursed incentives involving Taka 121,353crore under 21 packages,” the Prime Minister said.
Despite the corona pandemic, the country has achieved 5.24 percent GDP growth, she added.
“On this auspicious occasion of the Father of the Nation’s Homecoming Day, let us pledge that we will uphold the spirit of our liberation, achieved at the cost of the life of three million martyrs and honor of 200,000 abused mothers and sisters, even in exchange for any further supreme sacrifices if necessary,” Sheikh Hasina said. -BSS