The National Mourning Day is being observed today marking the 39th anniversary of the death of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Mujib was assassinated along with all but two of his family on August 15, 1975 at his Dhanmondi residence in Dhaka by a group of army personnel. His daughters – Sheikh Hasina, now the prime minister, and Sheikh Rehana – survived the massacre as they were abroad at that time.
The government, political parties, and different cultural and social organisations are already holding month-long programmes to pay homage to Sheikh Mujib and the members of his family who were killed.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Bhaban on Dhanmondi Road No. 32 this morning by placing floral wreaths marking the National Mourning Day.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received the President as he arrived at Dhanmondi Road No 32. As part of the state programme, the President and the Prime Minister placed wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu at 6:32 am.
After the placing of the wreaths, a smartly turned out contingent of Bangladesh Armed Forces gave a state salute and bugle played the last post.
The President and the Prime Minister, also the elder daughter of the Father of the Nation, stood in solemn silence in front of the portrait for some time.
The disgruntled army personnel killed Mujib, his wife Fazilatunnesa Mujib, sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russell, daughters-in-law Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal, brother Sheikh Naser, brother-in-law Abdur Rab Serniabat, also a farmers’ leader, nephew Sheikh Fazlul Huq Moni, also a youth leader, and his wife Arzu Moni, Baby Serniabat, Sukanta Babu, Arif and Abdul Nayeem Khan Rintu on the fateful night of August 15, 1975.
The Awami League government, during its previous tenure in office, on August 8, 1996, declared August 15 National Mourning Day and a public holiday but its successor, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led coalition government, scrapped the decision on August 2, 2002.
The High Court on July 27, 2008 declared the BNP-led government’s decision illegal and the day is now a public holiday.
Five of Mujib’s 12 killers sentenced to death were hanged in 2010 and six others are hiding overseas.
The prison authorities hanged five of the killers on January 27, 2010, a year after the Awami League-led alliance government had assumed office. The executed convicts were Syed Faruk Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Muhiuddin Ahmed, Bazlul Huda and AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed.
The government has vowed to bring back the fugitive convicts – Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haq Dalim, MA Rashed Chowdhury, SHMB Noor Chowdhury, Abdul Mazed and Moslem Uddin – to face the court verdict. One of the killers, Aziz Pasha, reportedly died abroad.
The Awami League and its front organisations are holding various programmes in August to mark the month of mourning.
The government has also chalked up various programmes to observe the day in a befitting manner.
The national flag will hoist half-mast at government, semi-government and autonomous organisations, educational institutions, private buildings and Bangladesh missions abroad.
The Awami League will hoist national and party flags half-mast and fly black flags at Bangabandhu Bhaban and party offices across the country at sunrise.
The president and the prime minister will place flowers at the portrait of Mujib at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi at 6:45am today. Leaders and activists of Awami League will come to Bangabandhu Museum in silent processions from different city areas and pay tributes to the independence leader. A special prayer session will be held there.
The prime minister will also place wreaths on the graves of the members of her family and other martyrs in the Banani graveyard at 7:30am.
The prime minister Sheikh Hasina accompanied by the speaker, cabinet members and party leaders will visit Tungipara in Gopalganj, the birthplace of Mujib, to place wreaths on his grave at 10:00am and take part in a special prayer there. The Armed Forces will present a guard of honour.
Special prayers will be said in mosques, temples, churches and other places of worships after juma prayers and foods will be served among the destitute.
Mahila Awami League will hold a prayer session on the premises of Bangabandhu Bhaban after asr prayers.
The Awami League will hold a discussion at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital at 4:00pm on August 16. Party president Sheikh Hasina will attend it as chief guest.
AL’s associate bodies and different cultural and social organisations have also chalked up programmes such as discussions, painting exhibitions, book fairs and special prayer sessions to mark the day.
State-run Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television and private television channels and radio stations will air special programmes to highlight the life, struggle and achievements of the slain leader. Newspapers will carry special supplements.
District and upazila administrations will observe the day by holding discussions, prayer sessions and other programmes.
The Awami League general secretary, Syed Ashraful Islam, in a statement urged the party leaders, activists, supporters, well-wishers and leaders of its front organisations to observe the day in a befitting manner.