The nation with due solemnity would observe the Black Night of March 25 today (Friday) in commemoration of the cowardly attack and genocide in Dhaka by the barbarous Pakistani occupation forces in 1971.
On this fateful night in 1971, the Pakistani military junta launched the "Operation Searchlight" and killed thousands of people including teachers, students, police, EPR members and commoners at the dormitories of Dhaka University, Pilkhana, Rajarbagh Police Lines, and Hindu-dominated areas of Old Dhaka.
The Pakistani occupation forces killed people indiscriminately, torched houses, properties and looted shops, business establishments and carried out destruction throughout the then East Pakistan on that night.
Writing about the attack, American journalist Robert Payne said at least 7,000 people were killed and 3,000 others were arrested on the night of the crackdown that started in Dhaka.
Archer Blood, the then consul general of US embassy in Dhaka, wrote in his book "The Cruel Birth of Bangladesh" that fire broke out at Rokeya Hall, girls' dormitory of DU, when the students tried to escape, the military started firing.
Anwar Pasha, a teacher of the university, depicted pictures of that night on Dhaka University campus in his novel "Rifle Roti Awrat". Anwar Pasha himself was also killed later by the occupation forces in association of their local collaborators.
"On the Dhaka University campus, the occupation forces on that night carried out a planned massacre of 200 students, 10 teachers and 12 employees," Pasha narrates.
Armed with heavy weapons including tanks, automatic rifles, rocket launchers, heavy mortar, light machine guns, soldiers encircled Dhaka University and started the Operation Searchlight from Zahrul Hoque Hall as the then Non-cooperation Movement was organised from that dormitory.
The Operation Searchlight was one of very few military operations after World War-II that ultimately had been planned against civilians, just to kill a handsome amount of people to scare the survivors.
In the wake of the Pak army action, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence of Bangladesh through EPR wireless at 00-30 hours on March 26 (the night following March 25) in 1971 from his Road-32 residence at Dhanmondi in Dhaka.
He also called upon the people to build a united resistance against the Pakistani occupation forces.
Later, the military junta, in a bid to stop the legitimate movement of the Bangalees, arrested him on that night following his declaration of the country's independence.
Later, Bangabandhu was taken to the then West Pakistan where he was kept as prisoner during the Liberation War.
Following the declaration, the whole nation, except a few pro-Pakistani elements, joined the War of Liberation and ultimately Bangladesh was freed from the Pakistani occupation forces with their surrender at the Race Course Maidan, later renamed as Suhrawardy Udyan, on December 16 in 1971.
Different political parties and socio-cultural organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes in observance of the Black Night to pay homage to the March 25 martyrs.
A candlelight procession will be brought out from the Central Shaheed Minar at 8:00pm today. Politicians and socio-cultural activists will take part in the procession after a discussion at the Central Shaheed Minar. The procession will end at the Jagannath Hall premises at Dhaka University.
Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, Sammilito Sangskritik Jote, Liberation War Museum, Dhaka University Teachers Association and many other organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes for today in observance of the Black Night to pay deep homage to the martyrs.
Meanwhile, mobile operator Grameenphone arranged a programme tonight (Friday) named 'Alor Jatra' to transform the grief of the fateful night of March 25 of 1971 into strength to move forward.
The event is set to begin on the night of March 25, 2016 at 10:30pm at Manik Mia Avenue. In an attempt to symbolize triumph of light over darkness, hundreds of people including government officials, cultural personalities and the general people are going to participate in the rally with lighted candles on their hands, says a media statement of the company on Thursday.
Eye-witnesses to the unprecedented cruelty of the then Pakistani military forces on unsuspecting Bangladeshis on that dark night will share how the brave Bangladeshis ultimately survived to go beyond despair and fear to earn their freedom after a 9-month long war. All are invited to join programme.
Over the last four and a half decades, Bangladesh has defied all odds to be identified as potentially one of the biggest and most prosperous economies in the world.
To achieve that potential, the Bangladeshi citizens must keep the spirit of Independence alive in their hearts, and utilize the inspiration to enable Bangladesh to go beyond and reach the next level, the statement said.