Sunday, October 22, 2017

Awami League cancels Pahela Baishakh procession, citing public sufferings

  • Staff Correspondent
    Published: 2017-04-13 19:15:31 BdST


After opposing Islamists' demand for scrapping Bangla New Year celebrations, the Awami League has cancelled its own procession to mark the Pahela Baishakh, citing public sufferings as the reason.

The ruling party took the decision at a meeting of its Working Committee chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Ganabhaban on Wednesday.

The Dhaka city unit of the party had organised the procession from Old Dhaka until last year. Central leaders had also taken part in it.

Hasina on Tuesday approved of the demand by Hifazat-e Islam and some other Islamist organisations for removing a statue from the Supreme Court premises, drawing criticism from various organisations.

She, however, on Wednesday made it clear that the Bangla New Year was a cultural heritage and it had nothing to do with any religion. She urged the people not to be confused over the issue.

In reply to queries about the matter at a press conference on Thursday, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said: “We have cancelled the Pahela Baishakh procession taking into account public sufferings."

After the UNESCO put one of the main events of the Pahela Baishakh celebration, a procession called 'Mangal Shobhajatra', on the List of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ last year, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor in February announced a plan to spread the programme across the country.

But some radical Islamist organisations like Hefazat and Awami Olama League called for the government to cancel the plan, branding such celebrations as conflicting with Islam.

With these in the backdrop, Quader was asked for more explanation on cancelling the party procession.

"In the past, the Dhaka city Awami League procession continued from Bahadur Shah Park to Bangabandhu Avenue. This time we have thought that such programmes cause public sufferings. We have been against any procession for a long time," he said.

He noted that the party earlier cancelled a 'mass reception' planned for the prime minister on her arrival from India recently.

Hasina scrapped the programme keeping public sufferings in mind, according to Quader.

Awami League leaders will celebrate the Pahela Baishakh with the prime minister at the Ganabhaban.