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20 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Three heroes of 1969 mass uprising to get Independence Award

DEEPAK ACHARJEE

After 49 years, the government is going to recognise three heroes of the 1969 Mass Uprising—Sergeant Zahrul Huq, Shaheed Matiur Rahman and Shaheed Asaduzzaman—by giving them the Independence Award posthumously this year. Thirteen others will also get the highest state award, government sources said. They include former Jatiya Sangsad (JS) Speaker Humayun Rasheed Choudhury, former chief of the Air Force Air Vice Marshal Sultan Mahmud, the late Kazi Zakir Hassan, the late Abdur Rahim, the late Manik Chowdhury alias Bhupoti Bhushan Chowdhury, martyred Lt. Md Anwarul Azim.

The Cabinet Committee on National Awards has sent its recommendations to the Prime Minister’s Office, seeking Sheikh Hasina's approval, sources said. “A gazette notification in this regard will be issued after getting the PM’s approval,” a source said.

The 1969 Mass Uprising started with a students’ unrest in 1968 against the tyrannical rule of Aayub Khan, the then president of Pakistan.  On January 4, 1969, leaders of the East Pakistan Students’ Union (Menon Group), East Pakistan Students’ League, East Pakistan Students’ Union (Matia Group) and a section of the National Students’ Federation had formed the Students’ Action Committee (SAC) and declared their 11-point programme.

On January 8, 1969, eight political parties, including the Awami League (AL) and NAP (Muzaffar), joined hands and formed the Democratic Action Committee (DAC). They demanded a federal form of government, election on the basis of universal adult franchise, immediate withdrawal of emergency and release of all political detainees including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Khan Abdul Wali Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. However, some rightist parties in the DAC refused to support the SAC’s 11-point programme. The students held a meeting on the Dhaka University campus to protest against the government’s repression and brought out a procession. The police opened fire at the procession and Asaduzzaman, a leader of the Students’ Union (Menon), was killed.

Asad’s killing shook the entire nation and the students’ movement soon became a mass uprising. The situation in Dhaka went beyond control after Matiur, a student of class IX, died in police firing on January 24. Sergeant Zahrul Huq, an undertrial prisoner in the Agartala Conspiracy Case, died of bullet injuries at the Dhaka Cantonment on February 15, 1969.

After the names of 46 prominent citizens were placed at the Cabinet committee meeting, the committee members recommended 16 persons for the Independence Award for their role in the 1971 Liberation War.

 The award is traditionally presented on the eve of Independence Day.  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will hand over the Independence Award at a function in March this year.

The Independence Award was introduced in 1977 and is given to Bangladeshi citizens or organisations in recognition of their significant contributions in several fields, including the Liberation War, the Language Movement, education, literature, journalism, public service, science and technology, medical science, social science, music, sports, fine arts, rural development and other areas.

 Each awardee receives a gold medal, a certificate of honour and Tk. 100,000. The cash amount was originally Tk. 20,000, which was increased to Tk. 100,000 in 2004.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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