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     Volume 7 Issue 10 | March 7, 2008 |

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Photo Feature

Suhrawardy Uddyan
A Historical Ground Revisited

Photos: Zahedul I. Khan

Suhrawardy Uddyan should hold a special place in the hearts of all Bangladeshis but like many other areas steeped in history it is often forgotten and neglected. A walk through the ground on a busy Friday is all one needs to understand just what has become of the historic field. When a few students were asked about the history of the field they looked back quizzically even questioning if the ground was of any importance at all. Amidst the rubble of the broken, half finished monuments the history of the birth of our nation lies in ruins. For the average youngster it is just another field, and that incompetent sense of history all the more hurtful in the month of March.

The victory monument.

March is commonly known as the month of liberation and in 1971 there was no other place to be but Suhrawardy Uddayan, then known as the Ramna Race Course Ground. On the 7th of March 1971 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave a speech which has gone down in history as the single most important speech leading up to the fight for our independence. In front of hundreds of thousands of people he heroically declared "The struggle now is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle now is the struggle for our independence. Joy Bangla." It was those words which galvanised a nation and set us on the path for liberation. Less then three weeks later the fight had been taken out of Suhrawardy Uddyan and into the paddy fields.

For those old enough to remember or lucky enough to be taught the history of the field and its relation to our independence goes further than simply the 7th of March address. The title of "Bangabandhu" was awarded to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the ground in 1969 after his release from jail. A civic reception was awarded to him upon his release and one might say the seeds of independence were sown at that very ground in 1969. At the same field on the 3rd of January 1971 all the elected members of the National Assembly publicly took an oath not to betray the cause of the Bangali people under any circumstances. The seeds may have been sown in 1969 but by the 16th of December 1971 the beautiful tree of our independence had firmly taken root. With unerring symmetry the instrument of surrender was signed by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora and Lieutenant General Niazi at the same field on the 16th of December 1971.

The foundation stone of the monument and the dilapidated state of the surrounding area.

Since then there have been grand plans to upgrade the area, monuments have been chalked out only for start and then stop. The only thing worth mentioning is the fact that an eternal flame was set up more than a decade ago and even that lies beyond the reach of the average citizen as that area is now off limits. The main structure there still lies incomplete with trees and shrubbery growing on all sides of it, coupled with the dilapidated area in general it seems more akin to a make shift rubbish dump rather than a national heritage site that it should be. Shurawardy Uddayan's current state is symbolic of how it is (not) remembered and as the birthplace of a nation it deserves much more.

The main mural of the monument.

The list of the martyrs.

The trees remain an integral part of the history of the field.


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