The year 2020 might be known as the year of Covid-19 across the globe. However, despite its strong presence in the country, Bangladesh is on the verge of ending the decade with some of the most significant moments in the country's history.
Here is a list of the major happenings centering Bangladesh in 2020:
Bangladesh wins their maiden world cup in any format
The young tigers defeated India by three wickets in a nail-biting finish at the U-19 cricket world cup final in Potchefstroom with the captain, Akbar Ali, leading from the front on 9 February. Fiery bowling from the Bangladesh pacers packed the Indian side at 177 runs and in response, the winning side endured the middle-order collapse and managed to reach the revised target of 170 with 23 Balls to spare.
Country registers first cases and death from Covid-19
On 8 March, a press briefing of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research (IEDCR) revealed that two men and a woman had been diagnosed with Covid-19, the coronavirus disease that is wreaking havoc across the globe to this day. Just 10 days later, Bangladesh reported the first death from the disease on 18 March. The patient was aged over 70 and had other morbidities. With it, the country saw steady climbing of infection numbers and mortality. As of writing this article, the country's death toll from the virus stood at 7,378 with 506,102 infected.
Mujib Year kicks off
March 17 marked the 100th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the beginning of 'Mujib Year 2020-21'. In a limited arrangement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recited poems about Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his birth anniversary. The main event was inaugurated at Suhrawardy Udyan at 8 pm with a firework display titled "The Great Hero of Liberation". Earlier, various programs were outlined throughout the year to celebrate Mujib Year. As part of which, several heads of state, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were scheduled to attend the inaugural function of the Mujib Year. But after the outbreak of coronavirus, various programs were cancelled to avoid public health risks.
Bangladesh goes into 'general holiday'
The government on 23 March announced that a 'general holiday' will go into effect from 26 March to 4 April to curb the spread of coronavirus. All the institutions were shut under this impromptu lockdown. Later, the holidays were extended six times to 30 May. However, from 25 April all the ministries, divisions and their subordinate offices involved in providing emergency services opened on a limited scale during the extended general holidays.
The government closed all educational institutions and shut down rail, road, river and air communications to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus. The schools, colleges and universities across the country are still closed to this day.
Cyclone Amphan hits
Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful cyclone to hit Bangladesh since 1991, claimed at least 20 lives and caused extensive damage to properties amounting to around Tk1,100 crore after it ripped through coastal districts with strong winds, heavy rain and tidal surges on 20 May this year. The cyclone hit the Satkhira, Bagerhat and Patuakhali hardest among the 26 affected districts. The cyclone hit the coast of Bangladesh with a wind speed of 160 to 180 km/h.
Playback legend singer Andrew Kishore passes away
Renowned Bangladeshi playback singer Andrew Kishore passed away on the evening of 6 July this year after fighting cancer for 10 months. He took his last breath in his hometown Rajshahi. Earlier, he had been kept on life support for two days due to his deteriorating health condition. President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed deep shock at his death and mourned him. The artist won the Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer eight times.
Veteran politician and country's first female home minister, Sahara Khatun departs
Sahara Khatun, the first female home minister of the country, breathed her last at 11:25 pm (BDST) on 9 July in Thailand's Bumrungrad International Hospital at the age of 77. She served as the home minister from 2009 to 2012. In a cabinet reshuffle in 2012, she was relieved of her duties as the home minister and made the minister of post & telecommunication of the government.
Policeman murders retired army officer
Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan, a retired Army Major, was killed in police firing at Shamlapur police check-post at Teknaf's Baharchhara union, on Cox's Bazar Marine Drive, on the night of 31 July. The killing rocked the nation and tension grew among both agencies. Sharmin Shahriar Ferdous, Sinha's elder sister, filed a case at the Teknaf Senior Judicial Magistrate's Court on 5 August over the murder. The next day, seven members of police surrendered to the court.
Over the course of a month, RAB arrested 13 people, including 3 members of Armed Police Battalion (APBN), and remanded them for various terms. Of them, 12 accused gave confessional statements before the court. However, Teknaf police station Officer-in-Charge Pradeep Kumar Das, one of the prime accused in the case, has not given any confessional statement yet.
Death of Hefazat chief Ahmad Shafi
Shah Ahmad Shafi, the top leader of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh and long-serving director general of Chattogram Hathazari Madrasa passed away on 18 September evening at the age of 103. He died just a day after stepping down from his post in the wake of student protests over internal conflict in Hathazari Madrasa. Ahmad Shafi, fondly known as 'Boro Hujur' among the madrasa students, had been criticised several times for his controversial statements over women's role in society. After the formation of the Ganajagaran movement in 2013 demanding capital punishment of the war criminals, Ahmed Shafi took to the street with Hefazat-e-Islam demanding the execution of atheist bloggers claiming that they shepherded the Ganajagaran movement.
HSC exam cancelled
On 7 October, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni announced that the HSC and equivalent examinations will not be held this year and the students will be evaluated based on their JSC and SSC results due to the deteriorating pandemic situation in Bangladesh. For the first time in the history of the country, 100% of the students were given pass scores.
More than 13.65 lakh students registered under 11 educational boards to sit for HSC 2020 and equivalent exams, which were scheduled for 1 April. On 22 March, the government cancelled the schedule amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Government approves death penalty for rape
President Abdul Hamid on 13 October promulgated an ordinance increasing the maximum punishment for rape to death from life imprisonment. Earlier, the cabinet approved the draft of the "Women and Children Repression Prevention (Amendment) Ordinance 2020", incorporating the provision of capital punishment for the heinous crime in the face of countrywide protests against violence towards women. The decision came amid the growing protests against recent incidents of rape, sexual harassment and violence against women in the country.
Anti-sculpture Islamists promote vandalism
In November, islamist faction leaders of the country, including Hefazat-e-Islam Ameer Junayed Babunagari, Joint Secretary General Mohammad Mamunul Haque and Senior Naib-e-Ameer of Islami Andolan Bangladesh Syed Faizul Karim in different occasions made statements against the installation of sculptures. It sparked a widespread controversy with people opining for and against their views. In a morbid development, two madrasa students vandalised an under-construction statue of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Kushtia in December.
Celebrated actor Aly Zaker breathes his last
Ekushey Padak-winning stage and TV actor Aly Zaker passed away at the age of 76 while undergoing treatment at United Hospital in the capital on 27 November. He was being treated for Covid-19 and was also battling cancer for the last four years. Aly Zaker was a freedom fighter and an artiste of Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra during the Liberation War of 1971.
The final span of Padma Bridge installed
On 10 December, the country's mega dream project - Padma Multipurpose Bridge – became visible completely as its 41st and final span was installed. It completed the groundwork within 38 months that started with the installation of the first span on 30 September 2017. Although the Bridges Division had chalked out several plans to celebrate the moment of laying the last span, they were cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation. The government decided to build the 6.15 km bridge with its own funds in 2014.