By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
December 16th is celebrated as the Great Victory Day of Bangladesh. This day, is unique for the Bangali nation as Bangladesh earned ultimate victory same day in 1971, after 23 years of intense political struggle and a 9-month bloody war against the Pakistani occupation forces.
Four national leaders, three million martyrs, two hundred thousand dishonored women and the bravest sons of the soil—the freedom fighters, paid the price to ensure that Bangladesh earned her Long-cherished freedom and independence.
The Bangalee nation prepared for independence under the undaunted leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman through Language Movement of I952, Education Movement of I962, 6-point Demand of I966, and 11-point Movement and Mass Upsurge of I969. The Awami League secured an absolute majority in the general elections of 1970.
However, Pakistanis’ prevented Bangalee from assuming the power. Father of the Nation realized that the oppression, persecution and deprivation meted out to the Bangalee nation would not be ended without achieving independence.
On the fateful night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistani occupation forces launched a brutal onslaught and committed genocide on the unarmed Bangalees. Bangabandhu declared independence of Bangladesh at the early hours of March 26, 1971 resulting in the formal War of Independence.
The first government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formed with Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as President. Syed Nazrul Islam as Vice-President and Tajuddin Ahmed as Prime Minister which was sworn-in on April 17, 1971 at the historic Mujibnagar and led the Liberation War.
The valiant freedom fighters earned the victory on December 16, 1971, by defeating Pakistani occupation forces and their local collaborators- rajakars, aIbadars and alshams.
“We achieved an independent-sovereign country. Holding the red-green flag high the victorious Bangalees are marching forward towards the progressive part,” said the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a message to mark the 48th anniversary of the Great Victory Day.
Also speaking at the anniversary which was celebrated at the High Commission of Bangladesh in Abuja, Nigeria, Sheikh Hasina noted that her party has been in government for the last three consecutive terms since 2009 and has relentlessly been working for uplift of the people, adding that Bangladesh, one of the top five countries in the world in economic growth, is a ‘Role Model’ for development.
Speaking on the journey so far, she said, “In the last Fiscal, we achieved record 8.13 percent GDP growth. The poverty rate has now decreased to 21 percent. Our per capita income has risen to US$1,909 and literacy rate 73.9 percent. Country’s 95 percent people are under electricity coverage. The average life expectancy of the people has jumped to 72 years.
“We are implementing a number of mega infrastructure development projects such as Padma Bridge, metro-rail, elevated expressways, rail, and waterways across the country. Our government is working with adherence to the ‘zero tolerance policy’ against militancy, terrorism and drug menace. We have established the rule of law in the country and executed the verdict of the trial of the killers of the Father of the Nation and the trial of the war criminals.
“We have peacefully resolved the land boundary issue with India. Disputes with India and Myanmar on maritime boundary have also been resolved. Bangladesh’s contribution to the various international forums for establishing global peace has been lauded. We have also joined the elite club of the satellite technology as the 57th nation of the world through launching Bangabandhu Satellite-l”, she stated.
Regardless of what it went through, Bangladesh has not been deterred, as it has been working to become a middle income country by 2021, and a developed-prosperous one by 2041.
Sheikh Hasina also called on all to play their due role from their respective positions to accelerate the development, uphold democratic polity and establish good governance.
In the same vein, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Nigeria, H. E, Mr. Md Shameem Ahsan in his welcome remarks at the Anniversary, paid tribute to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, martyrs, women and freedom fighters whose sacrifices and support led the country to the final victory.
Mr. Ahsan urged the Bangladesh diaspora to come forward to realize the dream of “Sonar Bangla” envisioned by the Father of the Nation and to implement “Digital Bangladesh” by 2021 and a “Developed Country” by 2041 under the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He also noted that Bangladesh and UNESCO will jointly celebrate the birth centenary of Bangabandhu next year, as well as the Golden Jubilee of Independence.
The 48th Great Victory Day celebration had several programmes such as; hoisting of the national flag with national anthem at the Chancery, special prayer for the salvation of the departed souls of all martyrs, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, martyred family members and for the continued progress and prosperity of the country.
In the second part of the celebration, at the outset, floral wreath was placed on the portrait of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which was followed by one minute silence as a mark of respect to the Father of the Nation and all martyrs. A video documentary on the glorious life of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the War of Liberation was screened.
Meanwhile, Brigadier Gen. Jitendra Singh of Indian Army, currently participating at the National Defence College Course, Nigeria, while speaking at the occasion, shared his satisfaction for the very special relationship between the two friendly countries, and touched on the role of the Eastern Command during the War of Liberation.
The High Commissioner handed over copies of the publication ”Liberation War: Friends of Bangladesh” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which contains the list of foreign friends to Brig. Jitendra Singh and Col. Yam Bahadur Sapkota of Nepalese Army, and expressed profound gratitude for the role of India and Nepal during the epic struggle.
The programme which ended with a special prayer, was attended by Nigerian guests including journalists, community members, Officials of the High Commission and their families, and General Md. Nurul Anwar of the Bangladesh Army who is also currently participating at the National Defence College Course, Nigeria.
The guests were hosted to a dinner of traditional Bangladeshi cuisine.