Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday called upon the nation to remain alert against 1975 like killings, coups and conspiracies that could hinder the country's prosperity.
"I urge the nation to be alert against killings (like 1975), coups and conspiracies in Bangladesh that can impede country's progress and also against assassination of children," she said.
The prime minister said this while She formally opened the "Sheikh Russel Day" and distributed "Sheikh Russel Gold Medal" among the winners on the 58th birthday of Sheikh Russel, the youngest son of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, through video conferencing from her official Ganabhaban residence.
Sheikh Russel Jatiya Shishu-Kishore Parishad organized the function under direct supervision of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).
The Prime Minister mentioned that the Father of the Nation had enacted a law in 1974 to ensure security for the children, saying, "How much unfortunate it was that his children had to die by the hand of killers."
Sheikh Hasina, the eldest sister of Sheikh Russel, said with an emotion- charged voice that the killers brutally assassinated Russel on August 15 in 1975 after killing his father, mother, brothers, and uncle (chacha) as he wanted to go to his mother.
She questioned: "Why was the baby killed? What was his guilt? What was the guilt of others? Was it a crime to liberate the country?"
The premier said that her government has been trying to ensure that no such incidents would take place in the future.
Describing children as "future of the coming days" she said, "I want everyone to perform their duties accordingly to give the children security, love and a beautiful and meaningful life."
Sheikh Hasina called upon the children to pay attention to study as nothing is as worthy as education.
"I just want to say to the children that continue your study with attention because education is the most valuable asset which will never be lost, stolen or snatched away," she said.
The prime minister urged the guardians to encourage their children to study and take part in sports, cultural programmes and other extracurricular activities.
She said that the schools, colleges and universities across the country are gradually reopening after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19, urging all concerned to maintain health protocols to remain protected from the deadly virus.
Greeting the winners of various competitions, she said that giving a reward is a recognition which instils fresh spirit among the winners to do better in the future and create love and dutifulness towards the country.
The prime minister distributed "Sheikh Russel Gold Medal" among 10 children in five categories -- education, sports, science and technology, fine arts-literature-culture, and children with special needs --- for their outstanding contribution to the respective fields.
The awards include a medal weighing one tola of gold, a laptop and a certificate while prizes were also distributed among the winners of on-line quiz competition.
Besides, laptops are being distributed among 4000 freelancers out of 40,000 participants under the Learning and earning Development Projects (LEDPP) for their outstanding performance.
The Prime Minister also distributed prizes among the winners of the sports and cultural competitions across the country arranged by Sheikh Russel Jatiya Shishu-Kishore Parishad.
She also handed over prizes among the winners of roller skating competitions organised by Roller Skating Federation.
The Prime Minister also unveiled the cover of two books -- one titled "Sheikh Russell Jhore Jawa Phul (Sheikh Russel, a fallen flower) and another on "Sheikh Russel Deepta Joyullas, Adommo Attabishaws (Sheikh Russel radiant joy, indomitable confidence).
An Audio-visual presentation on the life of Sheikh Russel was screened and the theme song of the "Sheikh Russel Day" was also played at the function.
The nation, for the first time, is observing the day in a befitting manner, as the government had earlier announced October 18, the birthday of Sheikh Russel, as "Sheikh Russel Day" under the category "Ka".
The day is also being observed at Bangladesh missions abroad while different dailies published special supplements today highlighting the significance of the Day.
State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak presided over the function and it's Senior Secretary N M Zeaul Alam, spoke on the occasion.
Sheikh Russel Jatiya Shishu-Kishore Parishad Secretary General KM Shahidullah gave a welcome address and Afsa Zafar Srijeeta expressed her feelings on behalf of the children at the function while a parishad leader Barrister Jahangir Hossain Rani moderated it.
A doa was also held at the function, seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of Sheikh Russel and other martyrs of August 15 in 1975.
The premier later witnessed a colourful cultural programme performed by artists of Sheikh Russel Jatiya Shishu-Kishore Parishad.
Sheikh Russel, the youngest son of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and also the youngest brother of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was born on October 18 in 1964 at the historic Bangabandhu Bhaban at Dhanmondi,Road 32 in the city.
He was brutally assassinated along with most of his family members, including his father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, on August 15, 1975 when he was a student of class four at the University Laboratory School.
To mark the day, government bodies, ruling Awami League and its associate bodies, and different socio-cultural organizations have taken various programmes to observe the day at national and international level.
Recalling the mayhem after October general elections of 2001, Sheikh Hasina, also President of the Awami League (AL), said the BNP-Jamaat alliance committed genocide like the Pakistan occupation forces during the War of Liberation in 1971.
They killed and inhumanly tortured many leaders and activists of her party, even didn't spare children as the Pakistani forces did during that period, she said.
The BNP-Jamaat clique also burnt people including children to death by carrying out arson attacks in the name of so called movement for ousting the government, she added.
The Prime Minister said after Bangabandhu's assassination, around 19 coups had taken place in army and thousands of officers and soldiers of the force were killed (in the name of trial) centering the coups by military dictator Ziaur Rahman.
Many family members of those army officers and soldiers even did not get bodies of their beloved ones, she added.
Other than army officers and soldiers, many AL leaders and workers were also killed and tortured after the 1975 changeover, she said, adding that bodies of many officers had disappeared.
After assuming office, the AL government has been trying relentlessly to give the people an improved life by ensuring every fundamental right, turning Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country as envisioned by the Father of the Nation.
"I only want to ensure that there will be no injustice and repression in the country and people will live a beautiful life," she added.
Sheikh Hasina recalled the birth time of Russel, saying they all, including her sister Sheikh Rehana, her brothers Sheikh Kamal and Sheikh Jamal, were waiting eagerly to hear the cry of new baby and to take him on their laps.
She added Russel always stayed beside Bangabandhu after he got released from the prison in February of 1969 in fear of losing father as Bangabandhu was arrested in May of 1966 following the announcement of the six-point demand.
The Prime Minister said her father was arrested in May of 1966 after announcement of the six-point demand and Russell was born on October 18 in 1964.
"Baba (Bangabandhu) used to love children. He loved to feed Russel with his own hand. He was again sent to jail and Russel was deprived of his love and affection," she said.
The premier, in an emotion- choked voice, said that Sheikh Russell used to cry after meeting their father in jail.
"Russel used to cry on those days when they visited Bangabandhu in jail -- He (Russel) could not say anything as he was too little, but he had suppressed his pain," she also said.
As Russel liked to stay with his father, Bangabandhu took Russel with him to different places after the Liberation War, Sheikh Hasina said, adding that their mother also used to get Russel ready with the dress of prince court as Bangabandhu would wear it.
Noting that Sheikh Russel had a dream to be an army officer, she said, "He (Russel) used to gather all the children together and do a parade whenever we went to our village home."