2501Published on August 15, 2018
Bangladesh is observing National Mourning Day commemorating the assassination of its independence architect Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Wednesday.
The Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujib, then President of the new republic, was killed along with most members of the family on Aug 15, 1975 by a group of disgruntled army officers at his Dhanmondi residence in Dhaka.
The day -- a public holiday -- began with the flying of the national flag at half-mast at all government, semi-government and autonomous organisations, educational institutions, private establishments and Bangladesh missions abroad.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid their homages by placing wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu in front of Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi Road No. 32 on Wednesday morning.
The president and the prime minister, also the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu, stood in solemn silence in front of the portrait for some time.
A contingent of Bangladesh Armed Forces gave state salute at that time, while the bugle played a tune of grief. A special prayer was offered along with the recitation of the Quran seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of the Aug 15 carnage victims.
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Awami League presidium members, secretaries and executive council members also paid their respects.
The museum later opened for all and thousands of people poured into the venue to place wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu.
On this day 43 years ago, a handful of renegade army officials killed the Father of the Nation along with his wife Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib, sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel, daughters-in-law Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal, younger brother Sheikh Abu Naser, nephew Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni and brother-in-law Abdur Rab Serniabat, Moni’s wife Begum Arju Moni and Serniabat’s daughter Baby, son Arif and grandson Sukanto Babu.
Bangabandhu’s security chief Col Jamiluddin Ahmed, police’s Special Branch Sub-Inspector Siddiqur Rahman, three guests and four domestic helps were the others to fall.
Bangabandhu’s daughters Hasina and Sheikh Rehana escaped the massacre as they were abroad at that time.
Bangabandhu was buried at his birthplace Tungipara in Gopalganj but other family members have been buried in Banani graveyard in Dhaka.
Hasina and other Awami League leaders placed wreaths on their graves in Banani and offered special prayers.
Special prayers will be offered at mosques, temples, pagodas, churches and other places of worship throughout Bangladesh.
Awami League will distribute food among disadvantaged people marking the day.
President Abdul Hamid is likely to attend a special prayer session in Bangabhaban in the afternoon.
Different parties and cultural organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes to mourn.
State broadcaster Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar and other private television stations will air special programmes on the day. The national dailies will publish special reports and supplements.
Born on Mar 17, 1920 at Gopalganj’s Tungipara, Bangabandhu burst onto the political scene with the formation of Purba Pakistan Chhatra League following the end of the British rule in the Indian sub-continent.
He continued to rise in national politics because of his active involvement in the Language Movement in 1952, 1954 general elections, and Six-Point Declaration in 1966.
His arrest in the Agartala conspiracy case catapulted him onto the national stage, making him the undisputed leader of the Bengalis' freedom struggle against Pakistani exploitation.
He was given the title 'Bangabandhu' after he was freed from jail in 1969.
On Mar 7, 1971, he delivered the historical speech at Race Course Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan), which inspired the Bengalis to wage an armed struggle to win independence from Pakistan.
It was under his leadership that Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign country.
The Aug 15 massacre was not commemorated for 20 years from 1975 to 1995 at national level. It was declared National Mourning Day by the Awami League after it came to power in 1996, which was again scrapped by the BNP-Jamaat government in 2001.
The day has been observed as National Mourning Day since 2008 following a High Court order.