Desk Report: Tens of thousands of people joined in singing Bangladesh's national anthem 'Amar Sonar Bangla, Ami Tomay Bhalobashi' (My Bengal of Gold, I love you) at the Suhrawardy Udyan where the Bangalees’ charter of freedom was written 42 years ago.
The song, composed by Rabindranath Tagore, had inspired the nation during Bangladesh’s War for Independence from Pakistan in 1971. It was later adopted as the national anthem. The huge mass of gathered people sang the anthem at 4:31pm on Monday in unison at the ‘Bijoy 2013’ celebration at the historic park.
Then they took oath to boycott all war criminals and their collaborators. Deputy Commander-In-Chief of the Mukti Bahini AK Khandker, one of those who witnessed the Instrument of Surrender of Pakistani occupation forces on this day in 1971, was present as they took the oath.
However, this year the mood of celebrations was a little different than usual after the first of the war criminals, Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary General and former Al-Badr leader Abdul Quader Molla was hanged. Explaining, Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman said, "For 40 years, we have been demanding trial of those who betrayed the country during the Liberation War and committed crimes against humanity. At last their trial process has begun and the first of the verdicts has been carried out."
Bijoy 2013 Udjapan Jatiya Committee, Sector Commanders’ Forum, Muktijuddher Chetona Bastabayan Committee, Bijoy 4:31 Mancha and Ganajagaran Mancha co-organised the Victory Day celebrations this year.
Before the singing of the national anthem in the afternoon, since the morning singers of Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra sang songs that had once inspired freedom-loving people to fighting on until freedom was won in 1971.
Suhrawardy Udyan is also the place where the nation’s architect Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had delivered his historic speech on March 7, 1971. He had said: "This time the struggle is for our freedom" - electrifying words that had galvanised the Bangalee nation into a struggle for freedom. On Dec 16, 1971, the military commander of East Pakistan, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, surrendered with 93,000 troops to the joint forces of Mukti Bahini and Mitra Bahini, led by India's eastern army commander General Jagjit Singh Aurora, at the Ramna Race Course Ground (now the Suhrawardy Udyan) in Dhaka. The Instrument of Surrender was signed at 4:31pm on Dec 16, 1971.
Retired Air Vice-Marshal AK Khandker said, “The main theme of today’s ceremony is to have the national anthem sung by millions at that historic moment (4:31pm).”
Ganajagaran Mancha spokesperson Imran H Sarker said, "Our movement had begun on Feb 5 with the demand to capital punishment for all war criminals.
“Many of our six-point charter of demands have been met. The Jamaat's registration has been cancelled and one of the war criminals has been hanged."
"We think the inspiration we will get after singing the national anthem together will motivate us to continue our movement in future and build a Bangladesh based on the moral of the War of Independence."
"There will be no place for communal forces including Jamaat-e-Islami in our plans to build the new Bangladesh."
At 4:31pm, thousands of people starting from Suhrawardy Udyan to Dhaka University's TSC intersection stood up and joined singing the anthem. The anthem was also sung at other places across the country at the same time. Then the oath to boycott all war criminals and their collaborators was administered by AK Khandker, who was given the second highest award Bir Uttam for individual gallantry during the 1971 war. Khandker then raised slogan, 'Joy Bangla' and thousands joined him. Two of the Sector Commanders of Liberation War Abu Osman Chowdhury and KM Shafiullah then handed the national flag to the representatives of the young generation Mahmudul Haque Munsi and Imran H Sarker, respectively. Earlier, around 2:45pm, first part of the ‘Concert for Freedom’ kicked off.
Organisers considered this somewhat akin to the ‘Concert for Bangladesh’, held in 1971 in the US. The 'Concert for Bangladesh' was organised by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar and held on August 1, 1971, at the Madison Square Garden in New York City to raise international awareness and funds for the war in Bangladesh. After the national anthem and oath at Monday's celebrations, second part of the “Concert for Freedom” began where a host of poluar bands played. Earlier at 11:30am, ‘Bijoy 2013’ was inaugurated at the Suhrawardy Udyan with the rendition of the national anthem.
One minute’s silence was observed in the memory of the martyrs of the 1971 Liberation War, 1952 Language Movement and those who fell in the fight for democracy, including the founder of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who was assassinated in a military coup. Discussions, recitals, slogans and cultural events followed. Later, from 3:45pm to 4:10pm, Sector Commanders Forum performed a cultural show. Then Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman addressed the gathering. At 4:15pm, a drama recapped the events of Dec 16, 1971, the historic day when the Pakistani occupation forces signed the Instrument of Surrender.
Local Time : 0504 Hours 17 December 2013