Bangladesh’s Independence Day events muted by virus outbreak

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2020-03-26 10:29:55 BdST


Bangladesh is celebrating the 49th anniversary of independence from Pakistan amid restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The nation had prepared for massive celebrations for the day as it has come just after the birth centenary of independence hero Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, but the COVID-19 outbreak had already forced gatherings to be restricted even before the Mujib Barsha started.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a televised address to the nation on the eve of the day, said it was going to be observed in different circumstances this year considering the public health risk due to the coronavirus.

She urged all to refrain from organising programmes with gatherings to prevent the contagion from spreading further, saying the government’s top priority is to save the people.  

Such curbs on programmes to celebrate the day in independent Bangladesh are unprecedented.

The government has cancelled major events, including placing of wreaths at the National Memorial in Savar to pay tributes to the martyrs of the nine-month Liberation War that started on this day in 1971.

President Md Abdul Hamid scrapped a party at the Bangabhaban, set for the day, while the authorities cancelled gathering of children and parade at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka and reception of freedom fighters in districts.

The Pakistan Army swooped down on the unarmed innocent Bengalis on the night of Mar 25 that year to subjugate their struggle for freedom following 23 years of suppression.

They carried out genocide in the first hours of that night in Dhaka, codenaming the attack the ‘Operation Searchlight’.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, before being arrested by the Pakistani forces on that night, declared independence.

But the undisputed leader of the Bengalis had effectively announced the nation’s independence at the historic Mar 7 rally at the Race Course grounds, when he proclaimed in a thundering voice: “This time the struggle is for our freedom. This time the struggle is for our independence.”

Breaking the shackles of suppression, Bengalis put up a valiant resistance and snatched victory on Dec 16 after nine months of Liberation War.

Hamid said in his Independence Day message that Bangladesh will enter into a new chapter as the golden jubilee of the country’s independence will be observed in 2021 with great enthusiasm.

“With the concerted efforts of all, let our beloved motherland be a poverty-free developed one; it is my expectation on Independence Day,” he added.

Hasina in her message urged all to unite in the spirit of the Liberation War and maintain the continuation of development and democracy by foiling any sort of conspiracy.

The heads of state and government also extended greetings to the Bangladeshis at home and abroad.