Bangladesh celebrates Independence Day
Dhaka: Bangladesh is observing Independence Day on Saturday, a day which marks the nation's victory in gaining freedom from the hands of Pakistan.
At dawn, country's President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid tributes to those who fell in the Liberation War against Pakistan.
Wreaths were placed at the National Memorial located close to Dhaka.
The day marks the beginning of the fight by Bengalis for freedom from Pakistan.
Bangladesh finally defeated the Pakistani forces on December 16 that year, and a little short of nine months a new nation was born.
The leaders stood in solemn silence for some time at the memorial remembering the martyrs of the Great War of Liberation in 1971.
A smartly turned-out contingent drawn from Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force presented a state salute on the occasion while the bugles played the Last Post.
The leaders also signed the visitors' book at the National Mausoleum. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman's other daughter Sheikh Rehana, Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, senior Awami League (AL) leaders and top civil and military personnel were also present. A number of programmes will mark the National Day as Covid-19 cases have eased.
The celebrations began with a 50-gun salute, as wreaths were laid at the memorial in Savar.
At sunrise, the national flag was hoisted at government, semi-government, autonomous and private buildings to commemorate the occasion.
The main roads of the capital and other cities have been bedecked with red and green colours while important buildings have been lit up with the national colours since Friday evening.
Various social and cultural organisations, including Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bangla Academy, National Museum, Liberation War Museum, Bangladesh Shishu Academy have arranged discussions, cultural programmes and sports competitions to mark the day.
In a message on the occasion, President Abdul Hamid said: "We have achieved enormous success in various areas of socio-economic development including poverty alleviation, education, health, human resources development, women empowerment, reduction of child and maternal mortality rates, elimination of gender discrimination and increase in average life expectancy."
Hasina called for unity to build a self-confident and self-respecting Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty.
“I firmly believe that Bangladesh will soon emerge as a developed and prosperous state on the world map if we continue the pace of development that we have created in the country.”
On Friday night, a one-minute symbolic 'blackout' was observed throughout the country in remembrance of victims of a massacre carried out by the Pakistan Army on unarmed Bangalis on the night of March 25, 1971.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken greeted the country on the occasion.
"On behalf of the Government of the United States, I warmly congratulate the people of Bangladesh on the celebration of the 51st anniversary of your independence," Blinken said in a statement.
"We applaud Bangladesh’s impressive economic and developmental achievements and your commitment to keeping the world safe as the largest contributor to peacekeeping operations. Our defense, developmental, commercial and people-to-people partnership is stronger than ever. We will build upon that foundation for the coming decades," he said.