Bangladesh pays tributes to founding father


Dhaka : Bangladesh Wednesday paid rich tributes to its founding father, slain former president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, with Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed calling him “a shining star in the sky of the nation”.

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This is the first time he has been recognised as “father of the nation” by a government other than that of the Awami League that Mujib helped found in 1949 in the then East Pakistan.

Leading the nation in the day of mourning, President Iajuddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor Ahmed and the three chiefs of the armed forces will visit Mujib’s grave at his village home in Tungipara in Gopalganj district.

Mujib was assassinated along with most of his family members, several of his close relations and his security chief by a group of serving and retired army officers, who attacked his home, and those of his close relations in the early hours of Aug 15, 1975.

Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed called upon all, irrespective of party affiliation, to come forward to fulfil Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s “dream of establishing a happy, prosperous, self-reliant and progressive Bangladesh in the greater national interests”.

“Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is an ever-memorable name in the national life of Bangladesh. He is a shining star in the sky of the nation,” the head of the caretaker government said in a message on Mujib’s 32nd death anniversary.

Ahmed said this was the opportunity for the people “to shun the parochial thoughts of personal and party interests and conflict and advance on the path of building meaningful democracy and economic progress with the spirit of patriotism”.

New Age newspaper noted Wednesday: “The chief adviser, by saying so, indicated the radical changes taking place in the interim period against the backdrop of accumulated political problems that culminated in a changeover last January.”

However, Wednesday was not a public holiday.

“The government has yet to recognise Bangabandhu as the father of the nation, but it’s a good sign that heads of the state and government are visiting the great leader’s grave,” acting Awami League president Zillur Rahman was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.

Elections to the ninth National Assembly were called off in January amidst political turmoil and the interim government that took office imposed a national emergency.

The interim government, that has no popular mandate, has said it will hold elections only in December 2008. The president reiterated this in a message Tuesday.

Mujib’s status has been a matter of controversy among the political parties. Seeking to play an even-handed role, the present government has said that it would also honour Ziaur Rahman, the Pakistan Army major who fought in the 1971 struggle that led to Bangladesh’s emergence.

Zia went on to become the president and was slain in another military coup in May 1981.

Mujib’s daughter Sheikh Hasina and Zia’s widow, Khaleda Zia, head the rival political legacies.

The present government, under a drive against corruption, has jailed Hasina on charges of extortion and is pursuing a number of cases against Zia and her family members.

But it has also resumed after a gap of six years the trial of Mujib’s murderers who have been sentenced to death by the high court. The matter is now before the Supreme Court.