On August 15, 1947, India attained freedom from the British empire and that’s why the day is celebrated as Independence Day in the country. But while it’s a momentous occasion in India, for our neighbour Bangladesh August 15 is a day for mourning the death of the country’s greatest leaders, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Hence, the country observes its National Mourning Day to mark the death of Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation who was assassinated along with most of his family members 44 days ago on this day.
Rahman is considered not only the Father of the Nation for Bangladesh but also a pioneer for leading the independence movement for East Pakistan (Bangladesh) against West Pakistan. He was also a tall leader of Bangladesh Awami League in East Pakistan, which led the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Though he was arrested by the Pakistan army on 25 March 1971, the Bangladeshi people continued the fight to free themselves for nine months. Rabindranath Tagore Death Anniversary: Remembering Asia’s First Nobel Laureate Who Penned Down National Anthem of India
With continued efforts and fights against the dictatorial administration of West Pakistan from March 26, 1971, Bangladesh gained independence on December 16, 1971. Following this, Rahman formed the national government of Bangladesh changed the name of the party to ‘Awami League’.
In 1974 Bangladesh suffered a famine, where, over 70,000 people died and support for Rahman’s government declined. Following this, in 1975, facing violent leftist insurgents, Mujib declared a state of emergency and later assumed the presidency. With this, he changed his party’s name to Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL), and banned all other parties.
After the politics in the country got increasingly volatile, Rahman was assassinated by a small group of army officers as part of a coup that put the country under military rule from 1975 till 1991. Not only Rehman, but most of his family and some of his other acquaintances were also murdered.
The incident took place at president Rahman’s personal residence on Road 32 in the Dhanmondi neighbourhood of Dhaka. Eighteen people – including two of his wives (one of whom was pregnant), his brother-in-law, his daughters-in-law and his sons- were brutally murdered – along with him. However, his daughters, Hasina and Rehana, escaped only because they were in West Germany at the time.
After five years of the fall of the military rule in 1996, the anniversary of the death of the nation’s beloved Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was finally made a public holiday. On this day, the national flag is flown at half-mast at government, educational and organisational institutes, and other buildings throughout the land.
The President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh on this day pay homage to Rehman by placing wreaths at his portrait at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum on Dhanmondi Road No 32 in Dhaka. On this day, Munajat – prayers – are offered, seeking eternal peace for the departed souls of the August 15 carnage.