March 26 marks the commemoration of the Independence day of Bangladesh (Bengali:স্বাধীনতা দিবস Shwadhinata Dibôsh). It commemorates the country's declaration of independence from Pakistan on late hours of 25 March 1971. The day is a memorial to the deaths of thousands of civilians who died in the subsequent Bangladesh Liberation War.

Every year, March 26 brings the most tragic reminiscence of the history’s blackest episode that heralded a nine-month bloody ordeal from the night following March 25, 1971 in achieving the long-cherished independence on December 16 the same year at the cost of a sea of blood. On the night of Mar 25, 1971, the Pakistan Army launched "Operation Searchlight", a brutal and barbaric military assault on an unsuspecting population to crush the Bengali movement for rights and justice that had turned to a fight for freedom in the face of persistent denials. The nation’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was detained that night. Before he was picked up, he had proclaimed independence. Nearly three million people, mostly Bengali civilians, died in these nine months, more than a quarter of a million Bengali women were dishonoured - something that makes Bangladesh's freedom a very hard-earned one.

2017 Celebrations

A grateful nation is set to celebrate the 46th Independence and National Day today, with a fresh vow to uphold the spirit of the Liberation War. On the eve of Independence Day, President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will issue separate messages, calling upon the nation to uphold the spirit of the War of Liberation, and fulfil the dreams of the valiant freedom fighters who embraced martyrdom for the cause of their beloved motherland. The day's programs will begin with a 31-gun salute early in the morning as a mark of respect to the heroic struggle of this nation, which suffered protracted subjugation under foreign rule from time to time till achieving its coveted Independence in 1971.

The nation will also pay glowing tributes to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and valiant sons of the soil whose supreme sacrifices freed the country from the Pakistani bondage.

The National Memorial at Savar will be the main venue of the celebrations of the day. The President and the Prime Minister will place wreaths early in the morning as a mark of respect to the martyrs.

Besides, families of Bir Shreshthas, war wounded freedom fighters, members of the diplomatic corps, leaders of different political parties, social, cultural and professional bodies and people from all walks of life will lay wreaths at the National Memorial in the morning. The day is a public holiday.

The national flag will fly atop all government and private buildings, while all streets and important intersections will be decorated with national and multi-colored flags and festoons. Important buildings, city streets and islands will be illuminated with colorful lights. A children’s rally will be held at the Bangabandhu National Stadium at 9am. Sheikh Hasina is expected to attend the rally as chief guest.

National dailies will bring out special supplements, while Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television, private radio stations and television channels will air special programs highlighting the significance of the day.

The National Press Club will organize a discussion at 10am followed by a cultural function, said NPC general secretary Quamrul Islam Chowdhury.

Special prayers will be offered at mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship seeking divine blessings for the eternal peace of the departed souls of the Father of the Nation, four national leaders, martyrs of the War of Liberation and all other patriotic sons of the soil. Special food will be served at hospitals, jails, old-age homes and other public institutions. Bangladesh Navy Ships will remain open for visitors at Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna and Barisal from 2:00pm to 4:30pm.

The Awami League has chalked out daylong nationwide programs. National and party flags will be hoisted at sunrise at all party offices, said an AL press release yesterday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will start the day by placing a wreath at the National Memorial at Savar in the morning. She will also pay glowing tributes to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, by placing a wreath at the portrait of Bangabandhu at 7:00am.Besides, the party’s central leaders will visit the mazar of Bangabandhu at Tungipara at 11am.

The ruling party will organize a discussion on March 27 at the city’s Krishibid Institute auditorium at 3:00pm. Sheikh Hasina is expected to attend as chief guest, said a press release.