The Bangladesh government, after taking the powerful army topbrass into total confidence, has cancelled two significant events in December and January – the Victory Day celebrations and the armed forces’ winter exercise, and in view of the extraordinary situation that it expects to unfold across the country in the weeks to come, documents accessed by the Northeast News show.
A September 20 order issued by the Muktijoddha Bishoyok Mantraloy (Liberation War Affairs Ministry) says, “In reference to the above subject (Suspension of Great Bijoy Dibas Combined Defence Forces’ Parade) it is being informed that every year on the occasion of the great victory day (December 16) celebrations, the combined defence forces conduct a parade at the Tejgaon Airport National Parade Square.”
The order was issued three days after Sheikh Hasina reached the US to attend the 78th United Nations General Assembly meet.
Without specifying or assigning any reason for the cancellation, the Liberation War Affairs Ministry order continues that “for some unavoidable reasons, this year’s great Bijoy Dibas 2023…parade will not be held”. The order is signed by Deputy Secretary (Administration-1) Amjad Hossain and the date under his signature is of September 21, 2023.
Well-placed Bangladesh government sources revealed that this was the first time that the Victory Day parade, held every year on December 16 – the day of capitulation of the Pakistani occupation forces in erstwhile East Pakistan – will not be conducted in Dhaka.
This, the sources added, was “directly related” to the government’s apprehension that it might have to depend on army in the conduct of the elections during which it expects electoral disturbances.
The Bangladesh combined armed forces’ winter exercise is routinely held in the second week of January. But this time, sources said, the event, which is usually held over a period of four weeks, stands cancelled.
The last winter exercise was conducted in January 2023 on Swarna Deep island off the coast in Noakhali district. At that time, the 66th Infantry Division arranged the exercise under the overall stewardship of the 33rd Infantry Division. Units of the Bangladesh Air Force and the Navy also took part in the January 2023 exercise.
The sources said that the cancellation of these two “significant events” mean that the army could be deployed for internal security duties ahead of and after the completion of the electoral process.