Zia’s Independence Award removed from National Museum

Zia’s Independence Award removed from National Museum

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Dhakja – Dhaka – Amid strong criticism from Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the government yesterday removed the Independence Award (Swadhinata Padak) conferred to BNP founder and late President Ziaur Rahman from Bangladesh National Museum.
Senior Assistant Secretary of Cabinet Division Affairs Gulshan Ara went to the national museum in the morning and she has taken away the Independence Award to the cabinet division, said a senior official of the ministry.Talking to reporters, acting director general of Bangladesh National Museum, Ikram Ahmed confirmed that the Independence Award and other accessories were taken away. He however denied to say further.
The BNP that boycotted the January 5 elections in 2014 currently is neither parliament nor in the streets had already expressed its deep concern and surprise over the cabinet decision to remove Zia’s Independence Award.
The then BNP-led four-party government conferred Independence Award (posthumous) to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and on Liberation War Sector Commander Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman in 2003.
The then opposition now ruling Awami League rejected the award as Bangabandhu was conferred it with Ziaur Rahman. Later, the government had decided to duly preserve it at the national museum without handing it over to the successors.
Independence Award is the highest state award given by the government of Bangladesh in recognition of any person’s outstanding contributions any field.
An official at the national museum said there are about 95,000 exhibits kept in the museum. Of these only 4,500 can be exhibited and the rest are kept in the store.
Zia’s Independence Award was in the storage facility of the museum along with other artifacts, he added.
The Cabinet Committee on National Awards on August 28 decided to withdraw the Swadhinata Padak posthumously conferred to Ziaur Rahman.
The committee headed by Finance Minister AMA Muhith also proposed removing the medal and certificate related to the Swadhinata Padak, or Independence Award, from the National Museum.
BNP standing committee member Goyeshwar Chandra Roy termed the removal of Ziaur Rahman’s Independence Award as “heinous chapter in the history.”
“Zia was conferred the Independence Award for his outstanding contribution during the country’s War of Liberation in 1971. His contribution cannot be written off from history by removing it from the museum,” he said.
Mr Roy further said Zia’s contribution cannot be removed from the hearts of the people and his image cannot be tarnished by removing the Award.
Earlier on Friday, BNP secretary general Mirza Falkhrul Islam Alamgir warned that it would be suicidal for the Awami League if the award is revoked – Staff Reporter
UNB adds: The Swadhinata Padak conferred on BNP founder Ziaur Rahman was removed from the National Museum on Wednesday apparently following a decision of the government to revoke it.Talking to UNB, Dr Swapan Kumar Biswas, keeper of History and Classical Art department of the National Museum, said they removed Zia’s medal and citation of the Swadhinata Padak from the Museum following a directive of the Liberation War Affairs Ministry.
A source at the National Museum wishing anonymity said an official of the Cabinet Division took away the Padak from the museum around 12:35pm.The BNP-led government conferred the Swadhinata Padak on both Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman (posthumously) in 2003.Awami League had refused the award and strongly opposed awarding Zia at that time.Zias’ award was then kept at the National Museum along with the citation.Swadhinata Padak (Independence Award) is the country’s highest state award in recognition of contributions to the national independence and other areas.According to media reports, a cabinet committee on national award recently recommended revoking Zia’s Swadhinata Padak. It also proposed that the medal and citation of Zias’ Padakl should be removed from the National Museum.Earlier at a press conference on August 26, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the BNP-led government awarded late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman with the Swadhinata Padak in 2003, and it is a glorious example of political generosity in Bangladesh history.”We have somehow come to know that the Cabinet meeting has decided to withdraw Ziaur Rahman’s Swadhinata Padak. It’s a suicidal and unbecoming decision of the Cabinet,” he added.

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