Thousands of people thronged Savar National Mausoleum on Friday, to pay tributes to Liberation War heroes and raised demands for speedy trial into 1971 war crimes.
“Try them, hang them…,” the crowd raised slogans, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the country’s victory in the Liberation War, demanding authorities speed up on-going trial of crimes against humanity. On December 16, 1971, nearly 93,000 Pakistani forces surrendered to the joint forces, led by the Indian Army, in Dhaka, giving birth to a new nation. The Awami League-led coalition government has vowed to wrap up trial of war criminals, before the end of its tenure.
“It is our pledge, on the 40th anniversary of our victory, that the trial of war criminals would be held on this soil and the verdict will also be implemented accordingly,” said Syed Ashraful Islam, a senior minister in Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet.
Atrocities unleashed by Pakistan’s military, which was aided by local collaborators, during the nine-month-long armed struggle, left three million civilians dead, 200,000 women raped, and numerous homes torched and looted.
After Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated in 1975, in a military coup, an earlier trial of war criminals had been called off by the successing regime. In 2009, Sheikh Hasina, Mujib’s daughter, assumed the office and began, afresh, the process of bringing local collaborators of the Pakistani army, to justice.
Last year, the government detained seven suspected war criminals, five of whom are senior leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, while two others belonged to Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
President Muhammad Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia, separately, greeted the people on the occasion, and called for building a prosperous Bangladesh.
The Prime Minister and the leader of opposition also paid tributes to the memories of martyrs at National Mausoleum in Savar, to mark the day that began with a 31-gun salute at National Parade Square at dawn.
People from all walks of life gathered at Savar Mausoleum. Also, various socio, political and cultural organisations turned up to pay homage to the heroes, who sacrificed their lives during the war.
The President could not turn up at the mausoleum, due to illness. However, he later hosted a reception at Bangabhaban.
A group of soldiers, drawn from the three services, Army, Navy and Air Force, presented state salute in honour of the martyrs. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took the salute and inspected the guard at National Parade Ground.
The Liberation War Affairs ministry and the Ninth Infantry Division of the Army organised the parade.
Cabinet members, freedom fighters, senior civil and military officers, politicians, civil society members, and other invitees, also took part in the gala event. The Army, police, coast guard, Ansar, Rapid Action Battalion, Bangladesh National Cadet Corps, fire service, and Civil Defence members, participated in the parade. Air Force personnel displayed spectacular tricks in the sky. Different ministries also showcased their activities to the gathering.
On the occasion of this national holiday, newspapers brought out special supplements, and state-run and private television channels aired special programmes, to highlight the day’s significance.
Various social and cultural organisations brought out victory processions in the city, while fairs were organised at different places outside the capital. The National Flag was hoisted on top of all government and semi-government buildings. Special programmes were arranged at Bangladesh missions abroad.
Courtesy of The Independent