The cabinet on Monday approved a proposal announcing March 7 as the ‘National Historic Day’ to be observed every year to recall the memory of the historic March 7, 1971 speech delivered by the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka.
The cultural affairs ministry placed the proposal in keeping with a High Court directive to issue a gazette notification declaring March 7 as the National Historic Day so that the March 7 speech became ever-memorable among the future generations.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the virtual meeting from her Ganabhaban residence, joined by her cabinet colleagues and secretaries concerned from the Cabinet Division conference room at the Secretariat.
‘The cabinet has approved the proposal announcing March 7 as the National Historic Day in the list of Ka category,’ cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam told a briefing at the Secretariat after the weekly cabinet meeting.
He said that a High Court ruling following a writ petition earlier asked the government to declare March 7 as the ‘National Historic Day’ and publish a gazette notification to this effect.
The ruling also asked the government to set up murals of Sheikh Mujib at the district and upazila headquarters.
Asked whether it would be a public holiday, the cabinet secretary replied in the negative.
The High Court issued the rule on November 20, 2017.
The day will be observed nationally as a ‘Ka category’ occasion to be regarded after Ekushey February, observed as Shaheed Day and International Mother Language Day, on the list of the Cabinet Division, according to the ministry’s proposal.
The government has already undertaken various development programmes under a master plan and under this plan Sheikh Mujib’s murals are being built, he mentioned, adding that no new initiative would be required to set up the murals.
In his historic address, Sheikh Mujib declared, ‘Ebarer Sangram Amader Muktir Sangram, Ebarer Sangram Swadhinatar Sangram’ (The struggle this time is for our emancipation, the struggle this time is for our independence).
He made a clarion call in the speech to turn every home of the land into a fortress of resistance against the Pakistani army.
The Bengalis reacted with an unprecedented rage after then Pakistani military ruler Yahya Khan postponed the National Assembly session scheduled for March 1, 1971.
Stunned by the treachery, Sheikh Mujib immediately launched a countrywide non-cooperation movement dealing a crippling blow to the military rulers.
On March 7, he delivered the historic address at the Suhrawardy Udyan, then Race Course, inspiring the Bengali nation to fight for independence.
The address reduced the governmental authorities in the East Pakistan province of Pakistan to just showpieces as the land ran according to Mujib’s day-to-day edicts.
This situation continued until the Pakistani military junta retaliated with a brutal crackdown on the unarmed Bengalis at the midnight of March 25, followed by a nine-month-long independence war culminating in the emergence of independent Bangladesh.
The historic March 7 speech of Mujib is now included in the memory of the World International Register, a list about the world’s important documentary heritage maintained by UNESCO.
Asked about the directive from the cabinet meeting, the cabinet secretary said that the government officials and employees were asked to stay at their respective stations even during the Eid holidays in the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
‘The three-day public holiday on the occasion of Eid will not be extended further and the government employees are not to leave their respective workplaces or headquarters during the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha,’ he said as two days of the Eid vacation would overlap the weekend if the religious festival falls on July 31 or August 1.
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