Know real history of Liberation War: PM to children

17-03-16-President_PM_Tongipara-7#bangabandhu -Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called upon the children to know the real history of victory in the Liberation War and the long struggle for the country’s independence alongside grooming themselves as “good citizens” following the ideals of Bangabandhu.

“After the tragic assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, the spirit of the War of Liberation was foiled and the people of the country were deprived of knowing the true history of independence for 21 years and that there was something for which they could feel proud,” she said.

The Premier said but days have changed today. “The children of the country now know and see the true history of the Liberation War as we after coming to power again are projecting it before them,” she added.

She said: “We want that the children would develop themselves with such a mindset that they would know that we are a victorious nation and Bangabandhu gave us the flag of that victory.”

The Prime Minister said this while addressing a children’s rally marking the 97th birthday of Father of the Nation and National Children’s Day today on Bangabandhu Mausoleum Complex here. The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and Gopalganj district administration jointly organized the rally joined by schoolchildren of different educational institutions of Tungipara, the birthplace of Bangabandhu. Rafiatur Zaman, a student of a local school, presided over the function while State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki was present as the special guest. Rittik Zidan, also a student, gave the welcome address.

Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Nasima Begum, Dhaka Divisional Commissioner Zillar Rahman and Deputy Commissioner of Gopalganj Khalilur Rahman were present on the dais. Ministers, parliament members, cabinet secretary, chiefs of the three services, political leaders, senior civil and military officials were also present at the function. Sheikh Hasina also advised the children to follow the guidelines of their teachers, parents and guardians as well as maintain discipline in all spheres of life to make their future meaningful. Mentioning the education as the most “valuable asset” in life, the Prime Minister said none could ever snatch this wealth.

“That is why, her government has created better opportunity for the children’s education to flourish their latent talent and merit,” she said. In this regard, she urged the children to be more dedicated and attentive in their regular academic studies, sports and cultural activities to develop themselves as worthy citizens. Urging the children to follow the ideals of Bangabandhu, Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu, the greatest Bangalee of all time, always had special affection and love for the children and juveniles.

The Prime Minister said Bangabandhu was the leader of the exploited and deprived people across the world and he used to help his poor classmates and distressed people from his boyhood. She said Bangabandhu had proved through his sacrifice that how much love he (Bangabandhu) had for the people. “As his children, we feel proud as he brought the self-identity and success for the nation,” she said. She said Bangabandhu established Bangalees as a victorious nation and there is nothing to be prouder than it. But the evil forces whom we defeated in 1971 took revenge by carrying out the 15th August massacre in 1975.

“The defeated forces of 71 along with their collaborators assassinated the Father of the Nation, his family members including minor children like Russell and Babu to take revenge of their defeat,” she said. Sheikh Hasina said the killers and their collaborators diverted Bangladesh towards opposite direction from the path of the spirit of the great War of Liberation. The Premier said Bangabandhu, who endowed the Bangalee nation with the freedom and independence through his 23-year-long struggles, gave priority to education to build a dignified nation before the world.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu soon after liberation, made the primary education free of cost to allow every child to have access to education for building up future generation and leadership. Following in the footprint of the great leader, she said, her government also nationalized over 26 thousand primary schools and formulated the National Children Policy 2011 to ensure their welfare. She said the verdicts of the trial of killers of Bangabandhu have been executed while the trial of war criminals for their crimes against humanity like killing, rape and looting is progressing.

“That is why, the country is being freed from the curse and advancing towards development and prosperity,” Sheikh Hasina said. In this connection, the Premier said the conspiracies of the anti-liberation forces are still on. “But the plots could not misguide the people,” she said. The Prime Minister said Bangabandhu had dreamt of building Bangladesh as a peaceful country in the world free from hunger and poverty. “We are working tirelessly to materialize that dream,” she said.

Later, Sheikh Hasina distributed prizes among the children who participated in literary, cultural and art competition organized marking the 97th birthday of the Father of the Nation and the National Children’s Day. She also handed over sewing machines among some distressed women and inaugurated a book fair on the mausoleum complex.

97th birthday of Bangabandhu observed


#bangabandhu – The 97th birthday of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the chief architect of an independent and sovereign Bangladesh, has been observed with an elaborate programme today. The nation has also observed Bangabandhu’s birthday as the National Children’s Day. Since re-assumption of state power in 1996, the ruling Awami League has been observing the day as the National Children’s Day.

On this day in 1920, Bangabandhu, the indomitable leader of Bangalee nationhood and the chief architect of an independent Bangladesh, was born in a respectable Muslim family at remotest Tungipara village of Gopalganj sub-division now district.

The Father of the Nation was assassinated along with most of his family members on the fateful night on August 15, 1975 when he was only 55 years old. The programmes of the day included placing of wreaths at the portrait of the Father of the Nation, doa and milad mahfils, offering of specials prayers, discussions, cutting of cakes, marches, cultural shows, book fair, voluntary blood donation camps, medical treatment free of cost, screening of documentary films, painting competitions and distribution of prizes.

The day’s programme started with the hoisting of the national and party flags atop offices of the ruling Awami League, its associate and likeminded bodies and other socio-cultural-professional organisations in the morning. Awami League president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid deep homage to Bangabandhu placing wreaths at his portrait Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi Road-32 at about 7 in the morning.

Later, Sheikh Hasina as the president of ruling Awami League along with party stalwarts placed another wreath there. At that time, Awami League Advisory Council members Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed, presidium members Begum Matia Chowdhury, Mohammad Nasim and Obaidul Quader, general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam, joint general secretaries Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif, Dr Dipu Moni and Advocate Jahangir Kabir Nanak were present, among others.

As soon as the Prime Minister left the premises of Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, hundreds of leaders and workers of Dhaka City AL, Awami Juba League, Awami Swechchasebak League, Jatiya Sramik League, Krishak League, Mahila AL, Juba Mahila League, Chhatra League and other socio-cultural-professional bodies and people from all walks of life placed wreaths and showered petals there on the occasion. At 10 in the morning, President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placed wreaths at the Memorial Mausoleum of Bangabandhu at Tungipara in Gopalganj district paying deep respect to the Father of the Nation.

A smartly turned out squad of the three forces presented guard of honour to the President and the Prime Minister. Later, the President and the Prime Minister participated in a munajat session (special prayer) there seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of the martyrs of the August 15, 1975 carnage. Besides, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also participated in the milad and doa mahfil, children’s rally and discussion and inaugurated a book fair and attended a cultural function organised on the premises of Bangabandhu Memorial Mausoleum there.

The Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Information Ministry, Jatiya Grantha Kendro, DFP and the Mass Communication Directorate have taken initiative to hold week-long book fairs and screening documentaries on the life of Bangabandhu and the war of liberation at district and upazila headquarters marking the day. The day was also observed at Bangladesh missions abroad in a befitting manner. The speech of independence of Bangabandhu delivered at the historic Race Course Maidan, renamed as Suhrawardy Udyan was played on mikes throughout the day today.

Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and other private TV channels and radio stations aired special programmes highlighting the significance of the day in the life of Bangalees. The national dailies published special supplements on the occasion. The day was a public holiday. Milad and doa mahfils have been organised at mosques and prayer sessions at other places of worship across the country seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of Bangabandhu and his family members.

On the occasion of Bangabandhu’s birthday, a special medical service programme was observed at public hospitals and healthcare centres throughout the country from 8 am to 5 pm. Alongside, improved diet was served to the patients and voluntary blood donation camps was organised in public medical colleges. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University observed the day by extending medical treatment service of specialist physicians free of cost and holding a blood donation camp and a painting competition. Later, a discussion and prize giving ceremony was held at Dr Shaheed Milon Hall of the university. Vice-chancellor of the university Prof Dr Quamrul Hasan Khan presided over the discussion in which Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammad Nasim attended as the chief guest and distributed prizes among the winners.

In observance of Bangabandhu’s birthday, leaders and members of the National Press Club paid glowing tributes to Bangabandhu placing wreaths at his mural at its entrance. Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) organised a discussion at the National Press Club. DUJ president Shaban Mahmud chaired the discussion, also addressed, among others, by Prime Minister’s media adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury and BFUJ secretary general Omar Faruque. Bangabandhu Parishad organised a discussion at the VIP lounge of the National Press Club with Awami League Advisory Council member and Parishad general secretary Dr SA Malek in the chair.

Besides, Bangabandhu Shishu-Kishore Mela, Dhaka University, Suhrawardy Medical College, Bangabandhu Gabeshana Parishad, Amra Muktijoddhar Santan, Patuakhali Journalists Forum of Dhaka, Muktijoddha Foundation, the Central Command Council of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad, Sheikh Russell Jatiya Shishu-Kishore Parishad, Bangabandhu Peshajibi Parishad, Dhaka City College, Dhaka College and other political parties and socio-cultural-professional organisations also observed the day with extensive programmes.

The ruling Awami League will organise a discussion at the city’s Bangabandhu International Conference Centre at 3-30 pm tomorrow (Friday-March 18). Awami League president Sheikh Hasina will chair the discussion.

Our Correspondents from Mymensingh, Manikganj, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Bhahmanbaria, Khulna, Narayanganj, Narsingdi, Noakhali and Nawabganj (Dhaka) districts reported observance of Bangabandhu’s birthday in a befitting manner.

“To Each My Blood and Other Hymns”- 1971 poems from Papua New Guinea

bangabandhu finest hour-rrajowan : The immense struggle, sacrifice and bravery of the Bangalee nation in 1971 war of liberation emotionally moved the intelligentsia of Papua New Guinea and prompted this Oceania nation to publish a collection of poems titled, “To Each My Blood and Other Hymns” and attract world attention in favour of Bangalees.
It was published from Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea in 1971 and was edited by Prithwindra Chakroborti.
There were 16 poems written by 15 poets in the collection of poems. Prithwindra Chakroborti and Ulli Beier translated the Bangla poems into English. The poets whose poems were published in the collection were: Jasimuddin, Subhash Mukhopadhyay, Al Mahmud, Abdul Gani Hazari, Anisuzzaman, Asad Chowdhury, Ram Basu, Hasan Hafizur Rahman, Siddheshwar Sen, Ahsan Habib, Tushar Moulik, Shamsur Rahman, Kaisul Haque, Sanat Bandyopadhya and Alwal Joy. Ahsan Habib was the only poet whose two poems were published in the collection.
The book was dedicated to martyrs of Language Movement of 1952 and freedom fighters of Liberation War of March in 1971. The poem of Alwal Joy was the largest one in the collection and it covered five pages. He (Joy) is not familiar as a poet. The last line of his poem was “Joy Bangla for each drop of blood.”
Few lines of Sanat Bandyopadhya’s poem titled Bangladesh were: “I cannot leave you, even if I want to. Cannot efface your memory, Engraved in me even if I want to. When I leave you. You follow me like the fairy girl. Winds of gold and silver in the hands, you reach me quietly, my Bangladesh.”
Noted historian Professor Dr Muntassir Mamoon in an article “Papua New Guinea Thekeo Bangladesher Kabita Sangkolon Ber Hoi” (Collection of poems of Bangladesh even published in Papua New Guinea) in his edited book “Muktijuddher Chhinna Dalilpatra” gave a description on it.
Immediately after the nine-month war that began on March, 1971, thousands of people of different countries stand behind Bangladesh. George Harrison, an English musician, singer and songwriter organized the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh with Ravi Shankar while Poet Allen Ginsberg will also be remembered by Bangalees for calling the world’s attention to the suffering of victims during the Liberation War in 1971.
Ginsberg wrote his legendary 152-line poem, “September on Jessore Road”, after visiting refugee camps and witnessing the plight of millions fleeing the violence. Hundreds of others people held rallies and processions supporting the war and collected donations for the 1971 victims.
BY Asraful Huq and Mahmudul Hasan Raju

Bangabandhu family was in risk of being last 1971 casualty

slider-7 : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other members of Bangabandhu family, who were in Pakistani captivity even until a day after the December 16 Victory, were exposed to high risks of being massacred by frightened enemy guards, as last casualty of 1971, two crucial witnesses said.
“The Pakistani soldiers guarding the house were looked frightened but arrogant . . . visibly they were unaware of the surrender even on that morning of December 17,” one of the top Bangabandhu aides, Hazi Golam Morshed, told BSS in an interview coinciding with the Victory Day anniversary.
Morshed, now 85, was the man who escorted the four-man squad of Indian soldiers led by gallantry award winning Major Ashok Tara to the house at road number 18 of Dhanmandi where Begum Mujib, Sheikh Russel, Sheikh Rehana and Sheikh Hasina and her newborn son were in captivity at that moment.
“Major Tara approached the (Pakistani) soldiers in bare hands keeping his weapon to his men behind . . . One of the guards shouted, asking him not to proceed a single step further if he wanted to avoid being shot,” he recalled. Morshed described the subsequent few minutes to be highly delicate as it appeared that the “frustrated, frightened and directionless” Pakistani guards were going to kill the Bangabandhu family. In separate media interviews, Tara, 29, at that time, supplemented him saying from a close distance he also understood how the captive inmates of the house were desperately seeking to be rescued sensing the Pakistani guards could kill them all.
“It was a very sensitive and important operation, and had anything gone wrong, it would have brought a very bad name to the Indian government and the Indian Army,” recalled Tara, now 71, whom Bangladesh honoured conferring the “Friend of Bangladesh” award on him two years ago.
Morshed happened to be also the last man to accompany Bangabandhu until the Pakistani troops invaded his 32 Dhanmandi residence on the black night of March 25 and himself too was arrested to languish in Dhaka cantonment and subsequently in Dhaka Central Jail until November 25. On his release he found out that Bangabandhu’s family was detained in that house at Road No 18 of Dhanmandi, heavily guarded by the Pakistani troops even on December 17 morning, a situation that prompted him to bring to the notice of the allied force about their captivity.
“I heard that the Indian army has setup a (makeshift) camp at the Circuit House in Kakrail . . . my cousin Engineer Abu Elias Majid, now staying in the United States, drove me there in his car and we found Major General BF Gonzales sitting on a chair on the veranda,” Morshed recalled. After some initial conversation, he said, the Indian general asked him if we had any car with us and getting an affirmative reply he wanted a lift to the airport, which was being guarded by Indian soldiers to secure VIP movements with Tara being their commander.
“Gonzales introduced me to Tara and then entrusted him with the task of rescuing the Bangabandhu family,” Morshed recalled. According to Morshed, the Indian troops right that moment did not have vehicles at the scene and therefore they had to approach a Bengali gentleman who happened to be there with a car and driver and “the man instantly agreed to lend his car for the rescue mission”.
“Tara got onboard in our car driven by my cousin while three Indian soldiers including a JCO (junior commissioned officer) followed us in the other car,” he said. As the two cars reached near the house a crowd stopped them and cautioned Tara about the situation pointing towards a bullet-ridden car near the house with its unknown dead driver inside, whom they killed overnight apparently due to fright or nervousness. They also told him that on the previous night they also killed five people including a woman as they were passing by the house. Tara then came out of the car and handed his sten gun over to the JCO and asked his three men to stay on one side of the road and began a slow walk to the house when a sentry on the rooftop warned him that he would be shot if he took another step further being visibly confused seeing the Indian army appearance at the scene.
“See, I am an Indian Army officer standing unarmed in front of you . . . If I have reached unarmed in front of you, it means your army has surrendered, you can ask your officer,” Tara recalled shouting back in a mix of Punjabi and Hindi. After few moments the Pakistani havildar shouted back saying “I have no contact with the officer”. The Indian major recalled that he later came to know that a Pakistani captain had abandoned his post and the news of the surrender had not yet reached the lower ranks as communications were disrupted. Incidentally at that time, he said, few Indian helicopters flew overhead and “I pointed to them and shouted — look our helicopters are flying in the sky and look behind me, our jawans are inside Dhaka”. Tara again started walking slowly towards the house telling the guards “you have a family with children as I do; if you lay down your arms and come out peacefully, I guarantee you a safe passage to your camp or wherever you want to go to”. But as he reached the entrance a young Pakistani soldier aged only about 18 appeared from the bunker at the gates pointed his rifle at him.
“The young boy was shivering. It was probably the first time he saw an Indian army officer at such close quarters . . . I locked eyes with the boy even as I was talking to the havildar on the rooftop . . . I kept up the conversation and softly pushed the barrel of the gun away from my body,” he said. Tara, a Bengali who retired as a highly decorated colonel of Indian army later said the conversation lasted for about 10 minutes when he spoke to the captors in fluent Hindi and Punjabi and the tense situation was finally dispelled without any casualties.
“And as soon as I entered the house, (Bangabandhu) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s wife hugged me and said I was her son sent by God from the heaven (to save the family),” he recalled. Tara also recalled that an Indian newspaper later commented “the release of Begum Mujibur Rahman along with the other family members has been as thrilling as the fall of Dacca or for that matter the liberation of Bangladesh”.
“Many a time I thought that neither I nor the Indian officer (Tara) will survive this. It is a new lease of life for us,” the report quoted Begum Mujib as saying later in an interview. Tara remembered that inside the house, there was barely any furniture and the family had been sleeping on the floor and “there were hardly enough rations either . . . I saw only biscuits”.
Tara recalled clicking a picture of the 24-year-old Sheikh Hasina with her baby in her arms. The Pakistani troops tracked Bangabandhu family down from a house in Moghbazar area few days after the war began and his elder son Sheikh Kamal joined the Liberation War in the first chance as he left 32 Dhanmandi hours ahead of the March 25 crackdown. His younger brother Sheikh Jamal later also managed to escape the makeshift Dhanmandi jail and eventually joined the resistance, while the rest of the family members were detained until December 17 and for the last two days Sheikh Hasina’s nuclear scientist husband also could not enter the house where he too was staying with the family. A would be mother Sheikh Hasina was in her advance stage, deprived of proper food and care required during the pregnancy and she was eventually allowed to be admitted at a hospital but her mother was debarred from accompanying her.
“When my mother wanted to come with me, the (Pakistani troops) was plainly told her ‘what you will do in the hospital? There are nurses and doctors in hospital. Are you a nurse or a doctor? You can’t go.”
“When my mother told them being the mother I want to stay beside my daughter to give her courage. But her appeal carried no value to them,” Sheikh Hasina later wrote in an article recalling her critical those days in 1971. Sheikh Hasina’s son – Sajib Wajed Joy — was born on July 27, 1971. She named her “Joy” which in Bangla means “victory”, in line with the desire of her father during her early days of pregnancy as the nation was heading towards the Liberation War.
By Anisur Rahman

Gaoler hid Bangabandhu to avoid execution in Pak jail

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman : A jailer hid the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, by whose name the nine-month long War of Liberation was fought, in his personal apartment for two days to avoid Bangabandhu’s execution in Pakistan jail. It was told in a report published in British newspaper ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ titled “Sheikh Mujib flies in and sees Heath, Plea for aid” with a sub-heading “Gaoler ‘Hid Sheikh'” by its diplomatic correspondent Ronald Payne on January 9, 1972.
The report said, “A Bangladeshi official said in London last night that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman avoided execution with the help of a gaoler (jailer). He knew Yahya Khan was about to abdicate, and he hid the Sheikh in his personal quarters for two days.”
A spokesman with the Bangladesh delegation at Claridge’s said a shallow grave was dug in the cement floor next to the Sheikh’s cell in the closing days of the war, according to the report. The Sheikh was told later that Yahya Khan’s execution squad arrived with false documents intended to show that the Sheikh had been hanged at the end of October, the report added. The report quoted Bangabandhu as saying “I was ready to die. The day I went to gaol (jail), I didn’t know whether I was to live or not, but I knew that Bangladesh would be liberated.”
According to the report, Bangabandhu admitted he was not physically harmed in prison but the intense heat and solitary confinement were almost unbearable. Another report titled “Bangladesh: ‘I’m Alive!’ Is Still Big News” published in ‘The New York Times’ on January 23, 1972, by Sydey H. Schanberg, quoted Bangabandhu as saying, “…and how in December his jail superintendant in West Pakistan whisked him out of his cell into hiding less than two hours before the other inmates, all West Pakistanis, who had joined in a government plot, were scheduled to murder him.”
The Pakistan army arrested Bangabandhu from his Dhanmandi residence at 1:10 am and whisked him away to Dhaka cantonment. On 26 March he was flown to Pakistan as a prisoner. The same day, General Yahya Khan, in a broadcast banned the Awami League and called Bangabandhu a traitor. Earlier, between August and September of 1971, the Pakistani junta held a secret trial of Bangabandhu inside Lyallpur jail in Pakistan. He was sentenced to death.
The Pakistan government freed Bangabandhu on 8 January 1972. Bangabandhu was seen off at Rawalpindi by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, by now Pakistani’s President. The same day Bangabandhu left for London en route to Dhaka. In London, British Prime Minister Edward Heath met him. On his way back home from London Bangabandhu had a stop-over in New Delhi, where he was received by Indian President V.V. Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandi.
A memorable reception was accorded to Bangabandhu when the Father of the Nation reached Dhaka on 10 January. From the airport he drove straight to the Race Course ground where he made a tearful address before the nation. On 12 January, Bangabandhu became Bangladesh’s Prime Minister. On 6  February he left for a visit to India at the invitation of the Indian government.
… By Asraful Huq and Mahmudul Hasan Raju …