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Dhaka: Bangladesh on Sunday celebrated its 41st Victory Day, commemorating its independence from Pakistan, as it honoured 60 more "1971 foreign friends", mostly Indians, for their outstanding contributions to the cause.
Thousands thronged the National Memorial at suburban Savar district while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the crowd in paying homage to officially estimated three million-1971 martyrs offering wraths on the altar as army bugles played the last post.
A 31-gun salute heralded the occasion, with major streets, buildings and structures in the capital illuminated with colourful lights. The victory day revellers took to the streets beating drums and singing liberation war-time songs.
Tight security, however, was in place as a trial, of several high-profile Bangladeshis suspected of "crimes against humanity" who allegedly collaborated with the Pakistani troops in carrying out atrocities, is believed to have reached its fag end at two special tribunals.
"Verdict of at least some of the war crimes accused will also be implemented before the next Victory Day," ruling Awami League general secretary and local government minister Syed Ashraful Islam told reporters after placing wreaths at National Memorial.
Nine of the 11 accused under trial belonged to fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami and the other two are leaders of their crucial ally main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
As part of the celebrations, Bangladesh yesterday honoured 60 more "1971 foreign friends", mostly Indians, for their outstanding contributions to its 1971 independence.
"Your help had accelerated the defeat of the occupational forces in 1971," Sheikh Hasina told the recipients of the honour in a ceremony.
The prominent Indians who were conferred with the "Friends of Liberation War Honour" included politician Jayprakash Narayan, 1971 veteran Major General Gandharv Nagra, anti-British revolutionary Ila Matra, singers Hemanta Mukhapadhay and Manna Dey, scientist Satyendranath Bose, communist leader Nepal Nag, former BSF chief Khasru Rustomjee, filmmakers Ritwik Ghatak and litterateurs Sunil Ganopadhyay and Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay.
Twenty-two recipients received the honour in person while others were represented by their relatives like Indian law minister Ashwani Kumar, who took the award on behalf of his father former minister and author late Prabodh Chandra.
Indian State Minister of Health and Family Welfare Abul Hossain also received the award on behalf of his father former minister and politician Abu Barkat Ataur Ghani Khan Choudhury.
While for the first time a Pakistani, Syed Asif Shahkar, was honoured, for his protests against Pakistani atrocities in 1971 as a student activist when the then junta had sent him to jail calling him a traitor.
This was the fourth phase of awarding foreign friends as the government had earlier honoured 145 foreign nationals and organisations in previous three phases.
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