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Independence Day
Flag of Bangladesh (1971).svg
The first flag of the independent Bangladesh, which was subsequently replaced by the current version.
Official name Independence Day of Bangladesh
Observed by Bangladesh
Type National holiday
Celebrations Flag hoisting, parades, award ceremonies, singing patriotic songs and the national anthem, speeches by the President and Prime Minister, entertainment and cultural programs.
Date 26 March
Next time 26 March 2025 (2025-03-26)
Frequency Annual
National Martyrs’ Memorial 08
National Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar, a tribute to the martyrs of the Bangladesh Independence War

The Independence Day of Bangladesh (Bengali: স্বাধীনতা দিবস Shadhinôta Dibôsh), taking place on 26 March, is a national holiday. It commemorates the country's declaration of independence from Pakistan in the early hours of 26 March 1971.


In the 1970 Pakistani general election under the military government of President Yahya Khan, the largest political party Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won a clear majority in East Pakistan national seats as well as provincial assembly. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto conspired with Yahya Khan and changed their position, refusing to hand over power to Sheikh Mujib. Negotiations began but Sheikh Mujib was not trusted by the ruling West Pakistani leadership, having Agartala conspiracy case in vision. When it became clear that promises given earlier were not going to follow through, the whole nation of Bangla-speaking Muslims and Hindus of East Pakistan began a spirited struggle for independence. On 7 March 1971 Sheikh Mujib gave his famous speech at the Ramna Racecourse where he called for a non-cooperation movement.

Authorities, mostly west Pakistani personnel rounded up Bengali armed forces officers, NCOs, and enlisted personnel. Forced disappearances went rampant. On the evening of 25 March in an interview with David Frost, Sheikh Mujib still called out openly for negotiation and a united Pakistan. That night the Pakistan Army spilled out to the streets killing and started Operation Searchlight. It was official, they were not ready for a peaceful transfer of political power to the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The Independence of Bangladesh was declared on 26 March 1971 at the first watch by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman . Another declaration was read out on 27 March 1971, by Major Ziaur Rahman, on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Major Zia (who was also a BDF Sector Commander of Sector 1 and later of Sector 11) raised an independent Z Force brigade., Chittagong and the guerilla struggle officially began. The people of Bangladesh then took part in a war to get independence from Pakistan. Independence of Bangladesh was gained through a nine-month guerilla war against the Pakistan Army, and their collaborators including paramilitary Razakars which resulted in the death of about 3 million people, as per Awami league and Indian sources, in the Bangladesh War of Independence and Bangladesh Genocide. The BDF, later with military support from India defeated the Pakistani Army ending the war on 16 December 1971 after the Surrender of Pakistan.


National Assembly of Bangladesh on Independence Day 2015 (16761162098)
Bengali parliament building in Dhaka illuminated during celebration

Independence Day is commonly associated with parades, political speeches, fairs, concerts, ceremonies and various other public and private events celebrating the history and traditions of Bangladesh. TV and radio stations broadcast special programs and patriotic songs in honor of the Independence Day. Generally, a thirty-one gun salute is conducted in the morning. The main streets are decorated with national flags. Different political parties and socioeconomic organizations undertake programs to mark the day in a befitting manner, including paying respects at National Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar near Dhaka.

Google displayed a doodle commemorating the Independence Day of Bangladesh on 26 March 2017 on their bd domain. The same year celebrations were organised in Tripura, India, by Bangladesh deputy high commissioner stationed there.

2021 marks the Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan.

Independence Award

The Independence Day Award, which is bestowed upon Bangladesh citizens or organizations on the eve of the Independence Day, it is on March 26th. This annual award, instituted in 1977, is given for substantial contribution in Independence War, the Language Movement, education, literature, journalism, public service, science-technology, medical science, social science, music, games and sports, fine arts, rural development, and other fields.

In 2016, a total of 15 renowned personalities have been honored with the independence award in recognition of their outstanding contributions to their respective fields. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over the awards at a program held at the capital's Osmani Memorial Auditorium. The awardees are- the then Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, former Jute and Textiles Minister M Imazuddin Pramanik, late Moulvi Asmat Ali Khan, Squadron Leader (retd) Badrul Alam, former police super Shaheed Shah Abdul Mazid, M Abdul Ali, AKM Abdur Rouf, KM Shihab Uddin, Syed Hasan Imam, late Rafiqul Islam, Abdus Salam, late Prof Dr Maksudul Alam, Dr Mohammad Rafi Khan, Poet Nirmalendu Goon, Rezwana Chowdhury Banya.

Ten renowned personalities and an organization were awarded the Independence Award-2020. Golam Dastagir Gazi MP, Commander Abdur Rouf (posthumous), Md Anwar Pasha (posthumous), Azizur Rahman, Prof Dr Md Obaidul Kabir Chowdhury, Prof Dr AKMA Muqtadir, SM Raij Uddin Ahmed, Kalipada Das, Ferdousi Mazumder, and Bharateswari Homes received the award.

On the other hand, the government awarded nine individuals and one institution for Independence Award-2021. AKM Bazlur Rahman, Shaheed Ahsanullah Master, Brig Gen (retd) Khurshid Uddin Ahmed, and Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu were the recipients at that time while other awardees are Dr Mrinmoy Guha Neogi, Mohadev Saha, Ataur Rahman, Gazi Mazharul Anwar, and Dr M Amjad Hossain.

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