The historic Mujibnagar Day will be observed today marking the oath-taking ceremony of the country’s first government on April 17, 1971.
Senior Awami League leaders led by Tajuddin Ahmed gathered at Baidyanathtala of Meherpur in Kushtia and formed the provisional government of Bangladesh on April 17, 1971, 24 days after the Pakistani army’s crackdown on unarmed Bengalis on the night of March 25, 1971.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was made the founding president of Bangladesh.
In the absence of Mujib, who was taken captive by the Pakistani occupation army at midnight of March 25, 1971, Tajuddin led the War of Independence as the prime minister of the provisional government.
Syed Nazrul Islam was made the acting president.
The seven-member cabinet of provisional government included Khandker Moshtaque Ahmed as the minister for foreign affairs and law, Captain Muhammad Mansur Ali as the finance minister and AHM Quamruzzaman as the minister for home, relief and rehabilitation.
Retired Colonel Muhammad Ataul Ghani Osmani, also a member of the national assembly, later General, was made the commander-in-chief of Mukti Bahini, or the liberation army.
The provisional government appointed retired Colonel Abdur Rob, also a member of the national assembly, later Major General, the chief of staff of Mukti Bahini.
The bordering village of Baiddyanathtala, famous for its mangos, was renamed Mujibnagar after Sheikh Mujib, who earlier placed six-point demand for regional autonomy and in March 7 addressed the nation and inspired all to fight for independence.
The Awami League under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib swept the 1970 general election in the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, winning 160 of the 162 National Assembly seats and 288 of the 300 Provincial Assembly seats.
Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, the day will be observed this year on a limited scale.
The day will begin with the hoisting of the national flag at sunrise at Liberation War Memorial Centre at Mujibnagar in Meherpur district.
Later, wreaths will be laid at the Liberation War Memorial Center in Mujibnagar at 9:30am following the health rules.
AL leaders and activists will place wreaths at the portrait of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Bangabandhu Bhaban premises at Dhanmondi-32 in Dhaka at 9:00am.
A wreath will also be laid at Mujib’s portrait at Bangabandhu Bhaban at 10:00am led by liberation war affairs minister AKM Mozammel Haque.
At Mujibnagar, the national flag would be hoisted at 6:00am. Wreaths would be laid at the Mujibnagar Memorial at 10:00am led by AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif.
President Abdul Hamid and prime minister Sheikh Hasina issued messages on the eve of the day recalling the historic event.
In his message, the president extended his heartiest greetings and congratulations to the country’s citizens and all Bangladeshis staying abroad on the occasion of the historic Mujibnagar Day.
He said that April 17 is a memorable day in the long path of struggle for independence of the Bengali nation.
On this auspicious occasion, he recalled with profound respect the greatest Bengali of all time, architect of the great independence Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, four national leaders — Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain M Mansur Ali and AHM Qamruzzaman, under whose strong leadership the Mujibnagar government was formed and the country’s independence was achieved through the nine-month-long war.
In her message, Sheikh Hasina said April 17, the historic Mujibnagar Day, is a memorable one in the national life of the Bengalis.
On this day in 1971, she said, the first provisional government of the independent Bangladesh had taken oath at a mango orchard at Baidyanathtala in the then Meherpur sub-division.
Meherpur turned into the capital of the provisional government and from that day on the place came to be known as Mujibnagar, she added.
Newspapers will publish special supplements while Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television and private TV channels will air different programmes highlighting the significance of the day.
On this day, various socio-cultural organisations will hold virtual discussions and meetings while similar programmes will be held at district and upazila levels and also at Bangladesh embassies abroad highlighting the significance of the day.
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