Timesworld desk: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday vowed to build a Bangladesh where there would be no room for militancy and terrorism, and people irrespective of caste and creed would practise their religions peacefully.
She called upon all, including imams, teachers and parents, to put up strong resistance against militancy and terrorism.
Hasina, also the ruling Awami League president, was addressing a mammoth rally at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan, marking the Homecoming Day of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
On January 10, 1972, Bangabandhu returned to an independent Bangladesh via London and New Delhi after 290 days in captivity in Pakistan jail.
Hundreds of thousands of activists and leaders of the party and its front and like-minded organisations joined the rally. They started to gather at the venue since morning although the programme started at 2:30pm.
The participants, who came from different parts of Dhaka and its adjacent districts, swarmed the Suhrawardy Udyan after parading through different city streets in small processions.
Security was tight in and around the venue.
“We will turn Bangladesh into a country free of hunger and poverty as dreamt by Bangabandhu. It’s our pledge on this great day,” the prime minister said in her 38-minute speech.
About militancy in the name of religion, the AL chief said Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. “Islam never teaches killing as Allah is the supreme judge and he would judge humans for good and bad deeds.”
She added, “Suicide is a big sin in Islam. But those who are unleashing terrorism in the name of religion are encouraging suicide as the best way to go to heaven. They would go to hell as Islam never permits suicide.”
The prime minister pledged that Bangladesh would celebrate the golden jubilee of independence in 2021 as a prosperous and developed nation.
“The Father of the Nation is no more among us. But he has given us independence as well as directives on building up a developed and prosperous country.”
Had Bangabandhu been alive, she added, Bangladesh could have been a developed nation 25 to 30 years back.
Blasting BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia for her movement in 2013 and 2014 to resist the 10th parliamentary polls and oust the government in 2015, Hasina said Khaleda is responsible for killing people in arson attacks and BNP leaders are destined to face trial in people’s court.
“The word democracy doesn’t fit on the lips of BNP chief. It [BNP] is a terrorist and militant party,” she said. “People don’t want to take lessons of democracy from a killer.”
Referring to the Zia orphanage graft case, Hasina said the BNP chief has embezzled orphans’ money. “You appear before court one day and then skip it 10 days. What does it mean? It indicates thieves are always afraid of police.”
Hasina also criticised the BNP for its ties with Jamaat-e-Islami and alleged that the party had established a reign of terror, hindering peace, progress and development. “How could that party appoint war criminals as ministers of the country?”
She said as many as 231 innocent people, including 23 members of law enforcement agencies, were killed in arson attacks at the directives of the BNP chairperson while thousands suffered burns.
The PM highlighted her government’s success in different fields — especially reducing poverty, accelerating economic growth and increasing literacy rate and food production.
Recalling the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, Hasina, who is his eldest daughter, said the post-75 rulers tried to destroy the dreams of the Father of the Nation and always looked to Pakistan to stay in power.
“Anti-liberation forces grabbed state power after the killing of Bangabandhu, who had initiated the trial of many war criminals. But Ziaur Rahman freed them after seizing power and made many of them advisors and ministers,” she said.
The rally was also addressed by AL leaders Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Matia Chowdhury, Mohammed Nasim, Obaidul Quader, Bahauddin Nasim, Sujit Roy Nandi and mayors of Dhaka Annisul Huq and Sayeed Khokon, among others.