DHAKA: The 40th Homecoming Day of Awami League president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is being observed today as she returned to the country on May 17, 1981, after a long exile.
This year, the day will be observed without any elaborate program due to the ongoing coronavirus situation.
On May 17 in 1981, Sheikh Hasina returned home from India after nearly six years in exile following the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members by a group of disgruntled army officers on August 15, 1975.
Both the daughters of Bangabandhu -- Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana -- survived the carnage as they were in Germany at that time.
The capital turned into a city of procession as people welcomed Hasina braving storms and heavy rainfall. The then Kurmitola International Airport and Sher-e-Bangla Nagar turned into a human sea to welcome her.
Tens of thousands of people with the war time immortal slogan -- Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu -- thronged the capital to have a glimpse of Hasina who was elected AL president in her absence in the party’s national council session held on February 14-16 in 1981.
Returning home, Hasina started her struggle in retaining the people’s rights, lost after the assassination of Bangabandhu.
In doing so, she had to overlook the red-eyes of the military rulers by risking her life. For her pro-people efforts, she became recognised as the daughter of democracy.
In her long political career, she helped the AL assume office in 1996, 21 years after the assignation of Bangabandhu.
The AL again assumed office in 2008 under her dynamic leadership and continued in the office for the third consecutive term through the January 5, 2014 and December 30, 2018 general polls.
Under her prudent leadership, the country elevated to developing country status from the least development status.
The AL president also vowed to turn the country into a middle income one by 2021 and a developed one by 2041.
The ruling party used to observe the day through various programmes, including a discussion, but this time it will be an exception due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader asked the party’s activists and leaders to stay home and pray for Sheikh Hasina.
He also urged the party activists, affiliate bodies and the people to follow the prime minister’s directives in the crisis moment.
BDST: 1212 HRS, MAY 17, 2020