DHAKA : Today is the great Independence and National Day. Bangladesh entered its 52nd year after the golden jubilee of independence. On this auspicious occasion, I extend my sincere greetings and congratlations to all the Bangladeshi citizens living in the country and abroad.
I remember with the most profound respect the greatest Bengali of all time, the great architect of Bangladesh, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, under whose firm and far-sighted leadership we got an independent country. I remember the four national leaders, including the war organizers, who steered the liberation war with their able guidance. The debt of the blood of 3 million martyrs of the liberation war and the self-sacrifice of 2 hundred thousand mothers and sisters will never be repaid. I pay my deep respects to all the fearless freedom fighters, including the war-wounded. I am grateful to all the friendly countries, organizations, institutions, and individuals, particularly the then Prime Minister of India, Shrimati Indira Gandhi, for their generous support during the War.
Young student leader Sheikh Mujib, who was studying in the Department of Law at Dhaka University, had dreamed of establishing a sovereign state in this land since the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Pakistanis’ social, economic, and political discriminatory attitudes became clear day by day. Sheikh Mujib remained steadfast in defending the rights and dignity of the Bengalis in return for any sacrifice. The two organizations of his far-reaching thoughts are the Chhatra League and the Awami League, where he was deeply involved from the beginning until the end of his life. From the language movement of ’52 to the victory of the United Front election of ’54, the anti-Ayub movement of ’62, six points of ’66, and the mass upsurge of ’69, these two organizations had an immense role in the struggles. In the face of public outrage, Ayub Khan was forced to repeal the Agartala conspiracy case. Sheikh Mujib became the beacon of hope and aspiration of Bengalis, Bangabandhu. On December 5, 1969, on the death anniversary of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib declared, “From today, the name of this eastern part of Pakistan will be solely Bangladesh, instead of East Pakistan.”
The Awami League, led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, won a single majority in the National Assembly in the ’70 elections. However, the Pak-military junta started procrastinating without transferring power. Sheikh Mujib called for a non-cooperation movement and, in his historic speech on March 7, gave a clear outline of the goal of liberation from the long 23 years of rule and exploitation. On March 23, the flag emblazoned with the map of Bangladesh was hoisted all over the country. At midnight on March 25, Pakistani troops started killing unarmed Bengalis in the name of ‘Operation Search Light.’ Pak junta arrested Sheikh Mujib at an early hour on March 26. He made the official declaration of independence before he was arrested. The Bengali leader of the people was imprisoned in the Mianwali jail in Pakistan and subjected to inhumane torture. At the call of the Father of the Nation, the freedom-loving people of Bengal, inspired by the slogan ‘Joy Bangla,’ started fighting, taking up arms for the liberation of the motherland. On April 17, the Mujibnagar government swore in designating Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as President, Syed Nazrul Islam as Vice President, Tajuddin Ahmad as Prime Minister, Captain M Mansur Ali, and AHM Kamaruzzaman as Minister. After a long 9-month armed struggle, independent sovereign Bangladesh was liberated on December 16 with the help of the allied forces.
The Father of the Bengali Nation, President Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was released from Pakistan, returned to his beloved independent motherland on January 10, 1972, and devoted himself to rebuilding the war-torn country. With the help of allies, though there was an empty treasury, he rehabilitated the displaced people, restored and developed the infrastructure, and put the production sector and the economy on a solid foundation. He approved a constitution within nine months of independence. He made the country the Least Developed Country in just three and a half years; the UN endorsed that. Bangladesh gained recognition from 123 countries and membership in 27 international organizations through his diplomatic efforts. But our misfortune is that the defeated anti-independence clique of ’71 continues to conspire against him. Incumbent President Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was martyred along with his family members on August 15, 1975, by the brutal bullet of the assassin. The murderous Mostaq-Zia and their successors illegally seized power and established a dictatorship in the country. The BNP tarnished the proud history of the Bengali nation by placing the perpetrators of the infernal massacre on March 25, criminals against humanity, war criminals, and killers of the Father of the Nation, in the government.
Bangladesh Awami League, after a long 21 years, in 1996, won the people’s mandate and got the responsibility of running the government. We took on the mission of transforming the lives of poor and marginalized people by introducing social security programs; making the country self-sufficient in food production; setting up community clinics to provide primary health care to marginalized people; and building houses for homeless people by taking shelter projects. We strengthened the local government system; and made mobile phones and computer technology readily available. Our government signed a 30-year Ganges water-sharing agreement with India in 1996. To establish peace in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, we signed the historic peace agreement in 1997 and repatriated the Chakma refugees who had taken refuge in India to Bangladesh. On March 8, 1997, we announced the women’s development policy. Awami League provided approval for launching privately-owned terrestrial and satellite television channels. We started the trial for killing the Father of the Nation by repealing the Indemnity Ordinance; established the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, and human rights; and re-established the liberation war values in society and national life by preventing distortion of history. Our government’s 1996-2001 term was a journey towards a brighter future, breaking the shackle of backwardness, underdevelopment, and poverty.
Bangladesh Awami League has been running the government since 2009 with the people’s unwavering support in all the national elections. We transformed Bangladesh into a developing country by implementing Vision 2021, created a digital Bangladesh, and brought 100 percent of people under electricity coverage. Our government opened the door to the blue economy by establishing sovereignty over the vast sea area. Implementing the land boundary agreement with India ended the enclaves’ long-standing misery. We have constructed the Padma Bridge with our own funds and inaugurated Metrorail. Besides, mega-projects like Matarbari Power Project, Rooppur Nuclear Power Station, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under Karnaphuli, Sonadia Deep Sea Port, Elevated Expressway, and so on are also progressing faster. We launched the Bangabandhu-1 satellite into space; and inaugurated 100 bridges and 100 roads and highways in a single day. Currently, our per capita income has risen to US$ 2,824. We formulated the Second Perspective Plan, Vision-2041, for the next 20 years and have started implementing it. Bangladesh in 2041 will be a ‘Smart Bangladesh.’ We are implementing the ‘Bangladesh Delta Plan-2100’ for our future generation.
We established the rule of law in the country by enforcing the verdict on trial against the killers of the Father of the Nation and the war criminals against humanity. We published four volumes of the ‘Records of Proceedings, Agartala Conspiracy Case’ filed by Pakistani rulers against Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, 11 volumes out of 14 of the ‘Secret Documents of Intelligence Branch on Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1948-1971),’ including The Unfinished Memories, The Prison Diaries, and New China 1952. I believe that by reading these books, the new generation will clearly understand the firm footprints of the Father of the Nation in the history of independence.
Awami League government believes in the philosophy of upgrading the fate of the people. We are running our government through immediate, short, medium, and long-term plans to make life easier for ordinary people and develop the country. Moreover, we regularly monitor the implementation progress of our election manifesto. Due to these reasons, people’s trust and strong support for Awami League continues.
On this auspicious occasion of Independence Day and National Day, I call upon all Bangladeshis to nurture the spirit and ideals of the Great Liberation War and participate in building the hunger-poverty-free, self-confident, and self-respecting ‘Golden Bangladesh’ of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s dream.
Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu
May Bangladesh Live Forever.
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