August 15 marks a solemn occasion for the Bengali people: National Mourning Day. On this date in 1975, the nation endured a profound loss as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, an eminent figure in history, was tragically taken from us.
48 years ago, the unthinkable occurred as Bangabandhu and his family fell victim to a heinous act perpetrated by individuals who would go down in history as authors of one of the most shameful and disgraceful chapters.
Despite the horrendous assassination, Bangabandhu’s memory and legacy continue to reside in the hearts of the people of Bangladesh. As the nation observes this National Mourning Day of sorrow, it does so with profound reverence for the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and his family members who were tragically lost on that fateful August 15.
Amidst the plethora of renowned politicians during the late 1960s, it was Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who rose to the forefront, propelled by his exceptional leadership qualities. Through a tireless struggle grounded in non-communal politics, Bangabandhu emerged as the undisputed leader of Bangladesh’s fight for freedom.
While Bangabandhu aimed to lead the country towards reconstruction and economic liberation after the harrowing liberation war, he and most of his family were brutally slain by misguided members of the Army.
That fateful night claimed not only Bangabandhu’s life at his Dhanmondi residence but also the lives of his wife, Begum Fazilatunnessa Mujeeb, and their three sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal, and Sheikh Russell.
Losses Extended: Family, Allies, and Innocents Perish in Tragedy of this National Mourning Day
Their daughters-in-law, Sultana Kamal and Rosi Jamal, also fell victims. The assassins spared no one, ending the lives of Bangabandhu’s only brother, Sheikh Abu Nasser, Colonel Jamiluddin Ahmed, SB officer Siddiqur Rahman, and army member Syed Mahbubul Haque, who rushed to save his life upon receiving Bangabandhu’s desperate call.
Another group of misguided army personnel attacked the residence of Bangabandhu’s nephew, Jubo League leader Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni, that same night. Tragically, he and his pregnant wife, Arju Moni, lost their lives.
The brutality extended to claim the lives of Bangabandhu’s brother-in-law Abdur Rab Serniabat, his daughter Baby, son Arif Serniabat, grandson Sukant Babu, Serniabat’s elder brother’s son Sajib Serniabat, and a relative, Abdul Naeem Khan.
Bangabandhu’s two surviving daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, escaped the tragedy as they were in Brussels, Belgium, at the time.
Following the events of August 15, an indemnity was put in place to prevent the prosecution of the perpetrators. However, after 21 years, when the Awami League assumed power under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina in 1996, the trial of the culprits commenced. The same year, August 15 was designated National Mourning Day and observed as a public holiday.
On November 8, 1998, the court pronounced the death penalty for 15 individuals in connection with the Bangabandhu assassination case. Subsequently, the High Court upheld the death sentences for 12 of them. To date, six convicts have been executed, one died overseas, and five remain at large.
Various programs are scheduled across the country this Tuesday, National Mourning Day. Bangladesh Television, Radio, private television channels, and newspapers are featuring special broadcasts and reports in commemoration of the occasion.
On this National Mourning Day, both the President, Sahabuddin, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina conveyed separate messages. President Sahabuddin highlighted that the principles and ideals of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman will serve as an enduring source of inspiration for freedom-loving individuals and those advocating for social awakening against oppression and persecution.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s message emphasized that while the assassins ended Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib’s life, they could not extinguish his dreams and ideals. Yet, forces opposed to independence and democratic progress continue to conspire within the nation and abroad.
The Prime Minister called upon the nation’s citizens to stand united against these nefarious efforts, safeguarding the country’s ongoing development and democratic continuity.
In line with this, the Awami League has organized a month-long program starting from the beginning of August, the month of National Mourning.
The National Mourning Day activities include lowering the national and party flags to half-mast and hoisting black flags at all levels of the party offices across the country, including Bangabandhu Bhavan and the Awami League’s central office.
At 6:30 in the morning, wreaths were laid at the portrait of Bangabandhu at the premises of Dhanmondi’s Bangabandhu Bhavan, the historic monument honouring the Father of the Nation.
Tributes will be paid to the martyrs of August 15 at Banani Cemetery at 7:30 a.m. Later, tributes will be offered at the tomb of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Tungipara at 11:00 a.m. Additional events include Milad and Doa Mahfil, as well as a discussion meeting.
The Awami League, its affiliates, and fraternal organizations will distribute food among the underprivileged, orphans, and those facing adversity throughout the country at noon.
Special prayers have been arranged in mosques nationwide, including the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque and Bad Johor. Similar prayers will take place in temples, pagodas, and churches.
The National Mourning Day also sees the Women’s Awami League organize a Doa and Milad Mahfil at Dhanmondi No. 32’s historic Bangabandhu Bhavan. Furthermore, a memorial meeting will be held by the Awami League on the following Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center, where Party President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will deliver a speech.