The 53rd Independence and National Day was celebrated across Bangladesh on Sunday, commemorating the Liberation War heroes whose sacrifices ensured its freedom from Pakistani oppression in 1971.
The government took elaborate programmes marking Independence and National Day.
The day's programmes began by heralding gun salutes early in the morning as a mark of profound respect for the heroic struggle of this nation, which suffered a protracted subjugation under foreign rules from time to time till achieving its independence in 1971.
On the occasion, President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid rich tribute to the Liberation War martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Memorial at Savar this morning.
After placing the wreaths, the president and the prime minister stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect for the memories of the martyrs of the 1971 Liberation War.
A smartly turned-out contingent drawn from Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force presented a state salute at that time while the bugles played the last post.
The president and the prime minister also signed the visitors' book kept on the memorial premises.
Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, senior Awami League leaders and high civil and military officials, among others, were present on the occasion.
Later, the speaker and the chief justice also paid homage to the martyrs by placing wreaths at the National Memorial.
Flanked by her party leaders, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina also paid respect to the Liberation War martyrs by placing another wreath at the National Memorial on behalf of the party.
Awami League Presidium members Begum Matia Chowdhury, Shajahan Khan, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Abdur Rahman and Khairuzzaman Liton, General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Joint General Secretary and Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud, joint general secretaries Mahbubul Alam Hanif and AFM Bahauddin Nasim, Organising Secretary Ahmed Hossain, Publicity and Publication Secretary Abdus Sobhan Golap, Liberation War Affairs Secretary Mrinal Kanti Das, Office Secretary Biplab Barua, Information and Research Secretary Selim Mahmud and Cultural Affairs Secretary Ashim Kumar Ukil were, among others, present.
Later, people from all walks of life, including families of Bir Shreshthas, war-wounded freedom fighters, members of the diplomatic corps, leaders of different political parties, and socio-cultural and professional bodies, placed wreaths at the National Memorial.
Leaders of Jatiya Party, BNP, Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Bangladesher Workers Party and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal placed wreaths at the memorial.
On the day, after returning from the National Memorial, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid glowing tribute to the Father of the Nation by placing a wreath at his portrait in front of the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi-32 in the capital.
After laying the wreath, she stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memory of Bangabandhu, also the great architect of independent Bangladesh and the greatest Bangalee of all times.
Flanked by party leaders, Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, paid rich tribute to Bangabandhu by placing another wreath at his portrait on behalf of the party.
An Awami League delegation placed a wreath at the grave of Bangabandhu in Tungipara of Gopalganj around 11am while doa and milad mahfil were arranged there.
Awami League Presidium members Lt Col (retd) Muhammad Faruque Khan and Shajahan Khan, Central Working Committee member Abul Hasnat Abdullah, Gopalganj Awami League President Mahbub Ali Khan and Tungipara Awami League President Sheikh Abul Bashar were, among others, present.
Marking the day, the national flag was hoisted atop all government, semi-government, autonomous and private buildings in the morning while all streets and important city intersections were decorated with national and multi-coloured miniature flags and festoons.
Important buildings and establishments as well as city streets and islands were illuminated with colourful lights.
The day was a public holiday.
National dailies brought out special supplements while Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television, private radio stations and television channels aired special programmes, highlighting the significance of the day.
Reception was accorded to freedom fighters and the members of martyred freedom fighters at city, zila and upazila levels, while Bangladesh Postal Office released commemorative postage stamps.
Special prayers were offered at all mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship across the country, seeking divine blessings for the eternal peace of the departed souls of Father of the Nation, four national leaders, the martyrs of the Liberation War and all other patriotic sons of the soil.
Doa mahfil (special prayers) were arranged at mosques across the country, including Baitul Mukarram National Mosque.
Christian community members arranged special prayers at churches, Buddhist community members held prayers at International Buddhist Monastery and Hindu community members arranged prayers at Dhakeshwari National Temple in Dhaka.
Improved meals were served to the inmates of hospitals, jails, old homes and orphanage centres to mark the day.
The country's all children's parks and museums remained open to all.
The missions abroad also celebrated the day through similar programmes.
Different political parties, including ruling Awami League, as well as socio-cultural and professional organisations also took various programmes to observe the day in a befitting manner.
The Awami League's programme included hoisting of national and party flags atop Bangabandhu Bhaban along with central and party offices across the country in the morning and paying rich tribute at the National Memorial at Savar.
Awami League leaders and activists also paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing wreaths at his portrait in front of the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi-32.
Every year, March 26 brings the most tragic reminiscence of history's blackest episode that heralded a nine-month sanguinary ordeal from the night of March 25, 1971, achieving the long-cherished independence on December 16 the same year at the cost of a sea of blood.
In the wake of the military crackdown, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who became the undisputed leader of the then Pakistan following the massive victory of his party - Awami League - in the 1970 general elections, declared the independence of Bangladesh through the then EPR (East Pakistan Rifles) wireless at 00-30 hours on March 26 (the night following March 25) in 1971 at his historic Road-32 residence at Dhanmondi.
The great leader also called upon the people to build up strong resistance against the Pakistani barbaric occupation forces.
The Pakistani military junta, in a bid to stop the legitimate movement of the Bangalees, arrested Bangabandhu on that night following his declaration of independence.
Later, Bangabandhu was taken to the then West Pakistan where he had to spend nine months in a dark condemned cell.
Bangabandhu wrote down the declaration of independence soon after the Pakistani army cracked down on the fateful night of March 25, 1971.
The declaration of independence was soon put on air by wireless. The declaration was first broadcast by Awami League leader MA Hannan from Kalurghat Radio Station in the port city of Chattogram on March 26, 1971.
The Pakistani military junta in their monstrous outburst unleashed a holocaust breaking the silence of the night following March 25 in 1971 when they mercilessly killed hundreds of innocent sleeping Bangalees, including teachers, students, police, soldiers, pedestrians and rickshaw pullers in Dhaka.
The nation soon launched the War of Liberation at the call of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the early hours of March 26.
Bangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign country on December 16, 1971, with the surrender of the Pakistani occupation forces, who killed three million innocent civilians, perpetrated atrocities on two lakh Bangalee women and burnt down lakhs of houses across the country during the nine-month war.