The nation Monday paid tributes to the country's sharpest minds who were killed en masse by the Pakistani forces during the 1971 Liberation War, renewing the call to establish a non-communal country.
Martyred Intellectuals Day -- just before the golden jubilee of independence – was commemorated on a limited scale due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Maintaining safety protocols, the president, prime minister, political parties, different social and cultural organisations, and individuals placed floral wreaths at the Martyred Intellectuals Memorial in Dhaka in the morning.
Members of the martyrs' families and the freedom fighters will also pay respect to the victims of the massacre.
Gallant Freedom fighter Kabir Mia came to Rayerbazar to pay tributes to the martyrs.
He said, "The dream for which we fought in 1971 is still unfulfilled. We wanted a non-communal Bangladesh where everybody will enjoy the same rights irrespective of religion, class and caste."
Kabir Mia said he turns up at the memorial on this day every year to recall the friends he lost in 1971.
Staring at a crushing defeat in 1971, just two days before their surrender, the Pakistani forces and their local collaborators killed many university teachers, doctors, artists, writers, journalists, and other prominent Bengalis.
In a desperate act of vengeance, the Pakistani military occupants systematically rounded up prominent figures from their homes in the middle of the night, took them to torture cells, and finally assembled them on killing grounds for execution.
The bodies of the slain intellectuals were found with signs of torture in the capital's Mirpur and Rayerbazar where monuments have been built to immortalise them.
Rabiul Alam -- an elderly local who came to pay tributes to the martyred intellectuals – said there is a banyan tree near the memorial, which bears numerous memories of the Independence War.
"People would be hung from the tree, tortured until death and dumped there," he recalled, alleging that encroachers have grabbed some of the areas adjacent to the memorial, including the tree.
In the meantime, many appeared at the Mirpur Martyred Intellectuals' Graveyard to pay homage to the country's brightest minds, lost just before its independence.
Retired government official Abdus Sobahan came to the Mirpur graveyard to pay tributes. He said, "We haven't been able to build the country as we wanted to according to the spirit and ideology of the Liberation War."
"If we talk about true democracy, Bangladesh still does not have it," he commented.
Marking the day, Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader also said that communal forces are still conspiring, even so many years after independence.
"We promise to uproot the poisonous tree of communalism. To do so, we have to be at one with the spirit of the Liberation War," he added.
Earlier in the morning, the president, prime minister and the speaker of the Parliament paid homage to the martyrs.
Several cultural organisations held different events, including plays, songs and poems to mark the day.