Massacre of Bengali intellectuals

On the brink of defeat, on Tuesday 14 December 1971, two days before Bangladesh independence, the Pakistani Army, allegedly, and its local razakar collaborators systematically killed a large number of Bengali doctors, teachers, journalist, engineers, and other intellectuals, as part of their violent programme to curb Bengali culture and identity. Amongst the murdered were Bengali Hindu minorities who constituted the majority of urban educated intellectuals at that time.

They were not killed in one fell swoop. The army and its local henchmen had engaged in methodical killing of several in the initial stages of the liberation war from 25 March 1971 and committed "cerebrogenocide" on the Bengali nation up until the very end.

The intellectuals, because of their higher enlightenment, are regarded as guides of a nation's ethos. Furthermore, they are seen as the custodians of a nation's history and culture. That is why, when they become a part of history by having their lives cut short violently for being ethical guides and custodians of culture and history, that is tantamount to carving out a piece of a nation's soul.

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The goal of the killers was not complicated - by destroying the intelligentsia they believed they could more effectively control dissent against their rule. They rounded off their victim, who had the courage to stand against them, not escape, and remain firm and proud in their new country. The assassins had their victim hands tied behind their backs and eyes blindfolded with cloth. One by one they were pounced upon in a cold, systematic and ruthless way and taken away in an earth-smeared micro-bus. They were taken to torture cells around the city - in Mirpur, Mohamedpur, Rajarburgh, Nakwalpara, and other locations. Most, if not all, were executed and dumped into mass graves, notably at Rayer Bazar and Mirpur, or at nearby rivers for their body to be washed away, unknown, into the sea.

Many of their bodies were found 3 or 4 days later at the Rayer Bazar brick-kiln. Some bodies were never found or identified.

Young men, especially students, who were seen as possible rebels were also targeted. The extent of casualties in East Pakistan is not known - though the number of intellectuals killed are estimated to be around 1,000.

Some of the buddihijibi killed during Mukhtijuddho:

Ordered in typical Bengali fashion - elders first.

  • # Dhirendranath Datta (1886 – 1971) Lawyer, social worker and politician. First to formally demand Bangla as a state language in Pakistan Constituent Assembly in Karachi on 25 August 1948 during Basha Andolan. Obtained Bachelor of Law degree from Calcutta Ripon College (1970). Inspired by ‘Deshbandhu’ Chitta Ranjan Das to participate in Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement (1920) and Quit India Movement (1942). Took active part in relief works during 1943 famine. Minister of Health and Social Welfare of East Pakistan under Ataur Rahman Khan cabinet (1956 – 1958). Dad Jagabandhu Datta was a serestadar in the Munsif Court. Mother died when he was 9. Born in Ramrail, Brahmanbaria District, Comilla Division. Arrested from home on 29 March 1971, three days after Operation Searchlight, and taken with his son, Dilip Kumar Datta, to Moynamoti Cantonment and tortured to death – he was 85 years old. Given honorary title of "Shaheed" (martyr) as a sign of respect. Road in front of his Comilla house has been named after him.
  • # Ranadaprasad (RP) Saha (1896 – 1971) Entrepreneur, philanthropist and patron of learning – especially for socio-economic emancipation of women. Lost mother Kumudini Saha aged 7 to tetanus. Family very poor so could not get an education. Fled to Kolkata aged 16. Early career with Bengal Ambulance Corps and Bengal Regiment during First World War (1914 – 1918), involving travel to Iraq and Pakistan (Karachi). Joined Indian Railway department post war, but lost it in 1932. Maintained 275 gruel houses to feed the hungry for 8 months during 1943 Bengal famine. Established 750-bed ‘Kumudini Hospital’ – named after his mother – on 27 July 1944 in his native village Mirzapur, and opened by Governor of Bengal, (Baron) Richard Gardiner Casey. Founded multiple educational institution including Bharateshwari Homes (1942, named after grandmother), Kumudini College in Tangail (1943, named after mother), Debendra College in Manikganj (1944, named after father Debendranath, built on 24 acres of land), Mirzapur Pilot Boys' School, Mirzapur Pilot Girls' School, and Mirzapur Degree College. Maternity Wing of the Dhaka Combined Military Hospital established with his financial support. Donated his entire property to Kumudini Welfare Trust (1947) to fulfill his vision of 'Education-Service-Unity-and-Peace'. Given honorary title of "Rai Bahadur" by British Government in recognition of his charitable contribution. Born in mama’s house at Kachhur (Savar), Tangail district. Abducted from his Narayanganj home and killed along with son Bhabani Prasad Saha (Rabi) on 7 May 1971 by Pakistani occupation army.
  • # Dr. Govinda Chandra Dev (1907 - 1971) Philosopher and educationist. Passed entrance examination in first division from Beani Bazar High English School and I.A from Ripon College, Calcutta. Achieved first class first position in both BA (Hons) from Sanskrit College, Kolkata (1927) and MA in Philosophy from Calcutta University (1931). Received Ph.D degree from the same university for thesis on 'Reason, intuition and reality'. Worked initially as teacher in Calcutta and Dinajpur. Joined Dhaka University as a professor of philosophy (1953) and later promoted as chairman of the department of philosophy (1970). Taught in a college in Pennsylvania, USA as a visiting professor. On return to Dhaka he founded the 'Philosophy Bhaban' in 1971. Published over 100 articles and 9 books including Idealism and Progress (1952), Idealism: A New Defence and A New Application (1958), Amar Jibon Darshan (1960), Aspiration of the Common Man (1963), The Philosophy of Vivekananda and the Future of Man (1963), Tattvavidyasar (1966), and Buddha: the Humanist (1969). Two other books - Parables of the East (1984) and My American Experience (1993) - were published posthumously. Inspired by Socrates, he was a secular and humanistic philosopher. Awarded honorary title of 'Darshan Sagar' by the East Pakistan Saraswat Samaj in 1967 for his contribution to philosophy. The same year, 'The Govinda Dev Foundation for World Brotherhood' was established in USA for propagating his humanistic philosophy. "Dev Centre for Philosophical Studies" was established in the Department of Philosophy of DU (1980) which publishes a Bengali journal called 'Darshan O Progati' and an English journal entitled 'Philosophy and Progress'. Awarded Ekushey Padak posthumously (1986). Donated all his property and money to DU to further the cause of human welfare. Born in village of Beani Bazar, Sylhet. Murdered by gunshot to head and chest by Pakistani forces on the night of 25 March 1971 in his campus quarter near Jagannath Hall. His adopted daughter Rokeya Sultana was beaten up and her husband Mohammad Ali was also killed. Dr. Dev died a bachelor. Buried in the mass grave at Jagannath Hall, DU.
  • # Santosh Chandra Bhattacharyya (1915 - 1971) Scholar in Sanskrit literature and ancient history of Bengal and India. Achieved first position in both Matriculation ('Mettik', 1932) from Poguj School, Dhaka, and I.A. (1934) from Dhaka Inter-Medical College. Graduated in History (1937) with highest second class honour from Dhaka University - nobody achieved a first class that year. But achieved first class in MA in History the following year (1938). Started academic career as a lecturer in Jagannath College in 1939 and worked there until 1949, when he joined the History Department of Dhaka University as a Senior Lecturer (now known as Assistant Professor). There was a premium on the number of Professors and Readers (now called Associate Professors) then in every department, and for some reason or the other (e.g. not having a Ph.D.), Senior Lecturer Bhattacharjee did not advance beyond the position. An upper-caste Hindu, born in a Brahmin family. Father Kritish Chandra Bhattacharyya was a lawyer. Sasa (paternal uncle) Sonchidando Bhattacharyya and Sukumar Bhattacharyya were prominent teachers in Calcutta Presidency College and Shantiniketan Vishobharti University respectively. Born in village of Jantrail, Nawabganj upazila in Dhaka district. Abducted blindfolded by Al-Badr Bahini from home in the morning (around 9am) of 14 December 1971. He was doing the puja (prayers) when they entered his home in 31 Isa Khan Road, near DU. When he requested that he have his breakfast, they answered "Don't worry Sir, we've prepared a nice breakfast for you". Found dead 20 days later on 4 January 1972 in Mirpur Shahid Minar among other martyred intellectuals. Left behind wife Binapani and young son Prodip and daughter Shopna.
  • # Dr. Habibur Rahman (1921 - 1971) Professor of Mathematics at Rajshahi University (RU). Around mid April 1971, a huge Pakistani Army force entered Rajshahi and turned university halls, e.g. Shaheed Shamsuzzoha Hall, into concentration camp and repression centre. Students, intellectuals and able-bodied males were tortured and buried at the mass graveyard behind Zoha Hall. Professor Rahman protested and maintained communication with freedom fighters. Refused to leave campus with family even though life was in danger. Born in village of Baliyadar, Chatkill district, Noakhali. Picked up from home by Pakistani army led by Brigadier Aslam and Colonel Taj on 15 April 1971 and taken to RU's guesthouse, Zuberi Bhaban, and never returned. Largest men's hall in RU, "Shahid Habibur Rahman Hall", named after him. A "Bidargho" (worship for wisdom) monument, adorned with his bust and two steel images of a freedom fighter with a gun on his shoulder and an intellectual with a pen installed on a hexagonal basement, was inaugurated on 26 March 2012 - Shadinota Dibosh - in his honour.
  • # Nizamuddin Ahmed (1921 - Unknown) Journalist. Passed B.A (Hons) and M.A in Economics from Dhaka University in 1959. Joined Pakistan Press International, became editor (1969) and promoted to rank of general manager. Ardent supporter of Bangladesh Liberation War - sent news items on Pakistani forces atrocities to various foreign news media. Took New York Times' journalist McBrown to a guerrilla camp to collect authentic news and provided BBC with authentic news under strict censorship. As a result, taken to General Rao Forman Ali's office on two occasions. Born in Munshiganj. Taken by Al-Badr Bahini from home on 12 December 1971. His body was never found.
  • # Munier Chowdhury (1925 - Unknown) Educationist, playwright and literary critic. Considered founding father of modern Bengali drama. Came from big family of 14 kids (8 brothers and 6 sisters). His dad, Khan Bahadur Abdul Halim Chowdhury, was a district magistrate. Munier matriculated from Dhaka Collegiate School (1941) and completed ISc from renowned Aligarh Muslim University, India. Enrolled at Dhaka University and completed Honours (1946) and MA (1947) in English. Completed a second MA degree in Bangla (1954) and obtained an MA in Linguistics from world famous Harvard University (1958), USA. Taught initially at B. L. College in Khulna (1947-1950) and Jagannath College (1950), Dhaka. Later joined Dhaka University (1950-1971), teaching in both English (part-time) and Bangla (1955 onward) departments. Elected Secretary of the 'Pragati Lekhak O Shilpi Sangha' (Progressive Writers and Artists' Association) in 1948. Jailed in Dhaka Central Jail for two years (1952-54) for protesting during Basha Andolan. Sat for MA examination in Bangla whilst in jail and received first in first class. In detention, he wrote his celebrated one-act play 'Kabar' (The Grave, 1953), based on the language movement. Imprisoned also on two other occasions. Literary works include plays Raktakta Prantar (1959), Chithi (1966), compilation Kabar (1966), Dandakaranya (1966), and Palashi Barrack o Annanya (1969), and books Mir Manash (1965), Tulanamulak Samalochana (1969), and Bangla Gadyariti (1970). Devised a Bangla keyboard for typewriters (1965), known as 'Munier Optima'. Became Reader (1962), Professor (1970) and the Dean of the faculty of arts (1971). Awarded the Bangla Academy Prize (1962) and the Daud Prize (1965) for his plays. In 1989, Theatre introduced the Munier Chowdhury Award in his honour. Denounced the title 'Sitar- I- Imtiaz' awarded to him by the Pakistan government (1966) during the non-cooperation movement (1971). Born in Manikganj, Dhaka. Ancestral home in Noakhali. Kidnapped at noon by Al-Badr Bahini from family home in Darul Afia, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, two days (14 December 1971) before Bijoy Dibosh. His body was never found. Left behind wife, Lily Chowdhury, and three sons Ahmed Munier, Ashfaq Munier and Asif Munier. Youngest son a founder member of 'Projonmo Ekattor' (Generation '71), a human rights group in Bangladesh, which initiated the building of the Rayer Bazar Smriti Shoudho (Rayer Bazar Memorial) in Dhaka. Elder brother Kabir Chowdhury was a National Poet of Bangladesh.
  • Dr. Mufazzal Haider Chaudhury Dr. Mufazzal Haider Chaudhury (1926 - 1971) Reputed educationist and essayist. Eldest of 4 brothers & sisters. Lost father Bazlur Rahim Chaudhuri when very young and brought up by mama (maternal uncle) after sasas (paternal uncles) forced family out. Provided private tuition as student to pay for his and 3 siblings educational expenses. Brilliant academic student securing 4th place in Calcutta University entrance exam (1942), 1st in Higher Secondary examination from Dhaka College (1944), and first class first in both BA (Hons) in Bangla Language and Literature from Calcutta University (1946) - the first Muslim student ever to achieve this, that too with record marks and a gold medal - and MA from Bishwabharati University in Shantiniketan/Dhaka University?????? (1953). Nicknamed 'Babbi' by his children and 'Mukhojjol' (loosely translated as 'the one who makes us proud') by friends, including Rabindranath Tagore's son Rathindranath. Began career as a scriptwriter of Dhaka Radio (1948), then joined Jagannath College, Dhaka. Also a part-time faculty at Notre Dame College, Dhaka. Joined Department of Bangla of Dhaka University in 1955. Went to England with wife in 1957 to study for PhD in phonetics from London University's School of Oriental and African Studies, but left uncomplete after couple of years after falling out with his supervisor. Promoted to Reader in Bengali on return. Several academic books to his credit, including Rabi Parikrama (1963), on the life and work of Rabindranath Tagore. Many of his writings focus on Bangla Language and literature: Some Supra-Segmental Phonological Features of Bengali (1959), Bangla Banan O Lipi Sangskar (1962), Colloquial Bengali (1963), Ranin Akhar (1963), Bhasa o Sanskriti, and Sahityer Naba Rupayan (1969). He also wrote poems, stories and plays. In 1971 he was honoured with the Bangla Academy Prize. He was awarded 'Sahitya Bharati' by the Viswa Bharati University, Santiniketan. Born in the village of Khalishpur in Noakhali district. Abducted by Al-Badr forces on 14 December 1971 and killed. Wife Dolly Chaudhury recognised one of the three alleged Al-Badr member Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin - then a journalist with Purbodesh newspaper in Dhaka and a friend of her brother-in-law, who later became Vice-Chairman of East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre in UK - after Dr. Mufazzal pulled down his face cover.
  • # Shahidullah Kaiser (born Abu Nayeem Mohammad Shahidullah) (1927 – 1971) Journalist and novelist. Member of the provincial Communist Party of East Pakistan. Played an important role in 1952 Language Movement. Imprisoned for three-and-half-years in 1952, four years in 1958, and also for some time in 1955. Obtained BSc (Hons) in Economics from Presidency College (1946) but unable to complete final examination in MA in Economics in Calcutta University. Started career in journalism (1949) with the weekly Ittefaq in Dhaka. Appointed associate editor of the Sangbad (1958), and continued to work there until death. Literary credit include Sangshaptak (The Indomitable Soldiers, 1965), Krsnachura Megh (Krishnachura Clouds), Timir Balay (The Circle of Darkness), Digante Phuler Agun (The Flaming Horizon), Samudra O Trsna (Sea and Thirst), Chandrabhaner Kanya (Chandrabhan's Daughter), the unfinished novel, Kabe Pohabe Bibhabari (When Will It Dawn?) and the highly acclaimed Sareng Bau (The Captain's Wife, 1962) which deals with the human fight for existence. This was later turned into a film. Other non-fictitious work include Rajbandir Rojnamacha (The Diary of a Political Prisoner, 1962) which details his life in prison, and Peshwar Theke Tashkhand (From Peshwar to Tashkent, 1966), a political travelogue. Received Adamjee Literary Award (1962) and Bangla Academy Award (1962). Second wife Panna Kaiser also a novelist who served as a member of parliament for Awami League government between 1996-2001. Daughter Shomi Kaiser is a TV actress. Born in village of Mazupur, Feni district. Picked up by occupation forces on the night of 14 December 1971, two days before the independence of Bangladesh, and never returned. 36-year-old younger brother Zahir Raihan, prominent film maker who made ‘Stop Genocide’ documentary during Muktijuddho, also disappeared whilst searching for him.
  • # Dr. AFM Alim Chowdhury (1928 - 1971) Ophthalmologist (eye specialist). Passed Matriculation from Kishoreganj High School (1945), Intermediate from Calcutta Islamia College (1947), MBBS degree from Dhaka Medical College (1955), and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine - a professional doctoral degree for physicians) degree from London (1961). Worked at St James Hospital, London, as a registrar from 1961 to 1963 then returned to East Pakistan and joined Kumudini Hospital in Mirzapur as a chief ophthalmologist. Joined Dhaka Medical College as an Associate Professor in 1968. Active in leftist politics from his student life. Participated in 1952 Bengali Language Movement and taken into custody in 1954 for his political activities. Worked as an associate professor at the Department of Ophthalmology in Sir Salimullah Medical College (1971). Formed the East Pakistan Medical Association (currently Bangladesh Medical Association) and elected general secretary. Served as Secretary General of the Ophthalmological Society of East Pakistan and Secretary General of the Ophthalmological Society of Pakistan. Passionate about photography and creative writing. Edited two monthly magazines - 'Kapchara' and 'Jatrik' - during student life and worked as sub editor for two newspapers, 'Dainik Ittefaq' and 'Dainik Millat'. Help find the London-based Bangla Academy. In his honour the Ophthalmological Society of Bangladesh awards the 'Alim Memorial Gold Medal' - the highest accolade in the field of ophthalmology - to a famous Eye specialist of the country every three yearly. Born in village of Khoyerpur, Kishoreganj. Performed his 'duty' by providing Bengali guerillas with medical care during 1971. Abducted from home at Purana Paltan by Al-Badr Bahini on 15 December 1971. Moulana Abdul Mannan, who was given shelter in family home for 6 months, is alleged to have collaborated with them. Mannan went on to become a cabinet minister and member of the Bangladesh Parliament before his death in 2006. Dead body of Dr. Alim Chowdhury found at Rayerbazar mass grave three days later along with other intellectuals. Blindfolded, hands tied-up beside Dr. Fazle Rabbi and his eyes gouged from his head. Buried in Azimpur graveyard, Dhaka. Left behind wife Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury (a national award winning educationist and former principal of Udayan School) and two daughters Nuzhat Chowdhury Shampa and xxxx, both of whom are physicians. Like her father, Nuzhat became an eye surgeon.
  • # Anwar Pasha (1928 - 1971) Prominent litterateur. Attained MA in Bangla from Calcutta University (1953). Joined Pabna Edward College (1958) and then, in 1966, the Department of Bangla, Dhaka University. Books written include Nadi Nihshesita Hale (1963), Nirupay Harini (1970), Rabindra Chhotagalpa Samiksa (Vol. I 1963, Vol. II 1973), Sahityashilpi Abul Fazal (1968), Samudra Sankhalata Ujjayini (1974), and novels such as Neer Sondhani (Home Seeker, 1968), Nishuti Rater Gantha (Dead of Night Epics, 1968), and Rifle Roti Aorat (Rifles, Bread and Women, 1973, A legendary work ) which was based on the nine-month liberation war. Also edited four ancient and medieval Bangla poems in collaboration with Professor muhammad abdul hai. Born in Dabkai village in Murshidabad, West Bengal. Picked up from his university flat, taken to Mirpur and brutally killed along with other intellectuals. His dead body was recovered and buried in the compound of the Dhaka University mosque. Posthumously honoured with the Bangla Academy Award (1972) for his literary achievements.
  • # M. Abul Khair (1929 - 1971) Associate Professor of History at Dhaka University. Obtained MA in History from Dhaka University (1951) and MSc (1959) and PhD (1962) in International History from the University of California, Berkeley (USA). A part of his PhD thesis published by Asiatic Society of Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1968 under “United States Foreign Policy in the Indo-Pak Subcontinent, 1939-1947”. Published several research articles in reputable journals. Early teaching career at Fazlul Huq College, Chakhar in Barisal and Jagannath College, Dhaka. Lecturer in DU from 1955 till death. Passionate supporter of Bangladesh movement and always vocal about national issues, especially welfare of people. Born in village of Gosantara-Brahmandanga, PS Kawkhali, under the district of Pirojpur. Arrested initially on August 1971 by Pakistani occupation army and taken to a building at the Sangsad Bhaban area for interrogation. Released after 20 days. Picked up again from his home by armed men in the morning of 14 December 1971. Dead body recovered 21 days later from Mirpur slaughter site. He was only 42. Buried beside Dhaka University Mosque.
  • # Selina Parvin (1931 - 1971) Poet and journalist. Primary education in Feni. Father Abidur Rahman was a teacher whose house was seized after World War II so family forced to settle in a village. Wrote poems & stories aged 12. Married aged 14 against her consent. Divorced after 10 years. Came to Dhaka (1958) and got job as matron of Rokeya Hall in the University of Dhaka. Quit after two years after dispute with authority. Re-married a politician. Became an avid reader of Bengali literature. She took a job at weekly 'Lalana.' Then started her own literary magazine 'Shilalipi'. Provided shelter, food and medicine for freedom fighters and help wounded during 1971 Shadinota Juddho. Born in Noakhali. Abducted at noon, eyes covered with towel, from family home at Siddheshwari by Al-Badr Bahini on 13 December 1971 and killed the following day. Dead body discovered four days later in the Rayerbazar Boddhobhumy. She was 40 years old. Left behind 8-year-old son Shumon Zahid. Siddheshwari road has been renamed 'Martyr Journalist Selina Parveen Road' in her honour.
  • Dr. Mohammad Fazle Rabbi (1932 - 1971) Cardiologist of international acclaim. Joint professor of Cardiology and Internal Medicine at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH). Achieved highest mark in MBBS (from Dhaka Medical College, 1955) in whole of Pakistan for which he received a gold medal. Earned an MRCP (post-graduate degree) in cardiology and another one in internal medicine in record time by 1962 and worked in Hammersmith Hospital, London. Upon graduation, worked at Middlesex Hospital with Sir Francis Avery Jones, an eminent British gastroenterologist. Joined DMCH as associate professor of medicine in 1963. His research-based articles published in British Medical Journal and Lancet. A humanitarian who believed in 'Ganamukhi Chikitsha' and provided free medical care to thousands of poor patients. Provided medical care, surgery, money, shelter and transportation cost to refugee camps to families of those who were killed, as well as for survivors of torture and rape during 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Believed in progressive and secular society and mixed with everyone. 'Dr Fazle Rabbi Smriti Porishad' promotes his contribution and 'Dr Fazle Rabbi Foundation' formed in 1995. Born in Pabna. Taken from home by Pakistani forces and collaborators on 15 December 1971 to Mohammedpur /Lalmatia Physical Training Institute and then to Rayer Bazar brickfield along with other intellectuals where they were killed. He was killed at 4pm. His dead body was identified three days later on 18 December 1971. He was only 39 years old.
  • (Sheikh Mohammed Abdur or S. M. A.) Rashidul Hasan (1932 - 1971) Educationalist, Essayist and Poet. Early education at the historic Vabhta Azizia Madrasah in Murshidabad, India. Completed his secondary education ("High Madrasah") from the same Madrasah (1947). Elder brother Toyob Ali was first secretary to British High Commissioner in Dhaka, so Rashidul moved to Dhaka to continue his education under his guardianship. Passed I.A. (Intermediate in Arts) from Dhaka Islamia Intermediate College (1949). Obtained BA (1957) and MA (1958) in English Literature from DU. Taught at various colleges including Narsingdi (1954-55), Pabna Edward College (1956-59) and Krishna Chandra College of Bhirbhum, West Bengal (1959-67). Joined Dhaka University's English Department as a lecturer in 1967 and was promoted to senior lecturer in 1970. A liberal democrat and a life long fighter against fundamentalism and communalism. Wrote many critcal essays on literature, in both English and Bangla, for many newspapers and magazines. DU's Department of English, which is as old as the University itself and opened on 1 July 1921, has two seminar library - the Literature library named after Rashidul Hasan and another martyred teacher, Dr. Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta, and the Language library named after Dr. Abi Md. Nizamul Huq. Born in village of Borshija, Bhirbhum district of West Bengal. A close friend of Anwar Pasha - both men picked up together by Al-Badr Bahini from the same flat within the DU campus on 14 December 1971. Dead body found in Mirpur slaughtering ground. Left behind wife Begum Roquaiya Rashid, son Mahmud Hasan, and two daughters Suraiya Amina Smreeti and Roquaiya Hasina Neely.
  • Altaf Mahmud (aka ANM Altaf Ali) (1933 – 1971) Lyricist, musician, singer, and cultural activist. Composed music for ‘Amar Bhaier Rakte Rangano Ekushe February, Ami ki bhulite pari?’, sang to commemorate Basha Andolan. Educated at Barisal Zila School (1948) and B M College. Learnt painting at Calcutta Arts School, Kolkata. Renowned early on for singing gana sangit (people's songs). Moved to Dhaka in 1950 and joined 'Dhumketu Shilpi Sangha' cultural organisation. Invited to the Vienna Peace Conference in 1956, but passport confiscated by Pakistan Government whilst in Karachi to get visa. Settled in Karachi up to 1963 and took lessons in classical music from Ustad Abdul Kader Khan. Returned to Dhaka in 1965 and worked as music director for as many as 19 films including Tanha, Kaise Kahu and Kar Bau. Composed and sang various shadinotar gaan, broadcasted via Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra during 1971 Muktijuddho, including "Satyer Jai", "Bholo Bir" and "Ami Manusher Bhai Spartacus". Provided food and money to freedom fighters. Turned his residence into a base camp of the members of crack platoon, where they took rest and hide their arms and ammunition. Awarded Ekushey Padak (1977) posthumously. Born in village of Patarchar, Barisal district. Arrested from home on 30 August 1971 and killed. The ‘Shaheed Altaf Mahmud Padak’ is awarded annually by Shaheed Altaf Mahmud Foundation to artiste for outstanding contribution to the musical arena.
  • Ghyasuddin Ahmed (1935 - 1972) History teacher in Dhaka University (DU). Passed MA in History from DU (1957). History lecturer initially in Jagannath College then DU (1958). Went to UK with Commonwealth Scholarship in 1964 and obtained Honours degree in World History from London School of Economics (LSE) in 1967. Nicknamed 'Bachchuda' by family. Born in Narsingdi. Accused of helping freedom fighters and taken to Dhaka Cantonment for questioning. Released after few days. Picked up again on 14 December 1971 from Mohsin Hall by Al Badr killing squad - 20 days later, on 4 January 1972, his clothes and mutilated body were identified in Rayer Bazar slaughter site. Buried beside the Dhaka University central mosque. He was 36 years old.
  • Dr. MAM Faizul Mahi (1939 - 1971) Educationalist. Achieved I.A. (1957), BA (1959) from Feni College, B.Ed. degree (1962) from Dhaka Teachers Training College, and M.A. (1965) and Doctor of Education (1968) from Northern Colorado State University, USA. Headmaster of Feni G.A. Academy School from 1962-1965. Lecturer in the Arts Faculty of Dhaka University's Institute of Education and Research (1968) and promoted to Assistant Professor in the same year. Charming personality who loved literature, music, and sports. Authored many articles published in newspapers and magazines. Financially helped many Freedom Fighters and families who were made destitute by the Pakistani military during Mukitjuddho. Born in Feni. Abducted by Al-Badr Bahini on 14 August 1971 from his university apartment and brutally killed along with many other intellectuals in the slaughtering ground of Mirpur. He was only 32 years old.
  • Syed Nazmul Haque (1941 - Unknown) Intellectual. Passed B.A. (Hons) and M.A. in Political Science from Dhaka University in 1963 and 1964 respectively. Actively participated in anti-martial law movement in 1962. Arested for disrupting the convocation programme on DU campus in 1964 where the then governor of East Pakistan Abdul Monem Khan was present. Became chief reporter of Pakistan Press International and Dhaka correspondent of Columbia Broadcasting Service. Prepared a full report on the proceedings of Agartala Conspiracy Case. Sent news items on the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani forces during the liberation war. Born in Khulna. On 11 December 1971, he was picked up from his Purana Paltan house by members of Al-Badr. His dead body was never found.
  • ANM Golam Mustafa (1941 - )
  • # Khandaker Abu Taleb (- 1971) Journalist, litterateur and lawyer. Secretary general of East Pakistan Journalists' Union. Worked with an advocate firm named BNR. With tension brewing in Mirpur area ahead of the war, the family left the area on 24 March 1971 and moved in with his aunt in Shantinagar in the capital. 'Shaheed Abu Taleb High School' was established in Mirpur, and a separate gallery was set up at the National Museum in his honour. Name mentioned in the nameplate of Jatiya Press Club and Dhaka Bar Association, built to commemmorate martyrs killed.
  • Saidul Hasan () Physician.
  • Shaheed Mohammad Salimullah () Philanthropist. Killed in front of his house
  • Nurul Absar Mohammad Jahangir (13 May 1931 - 30 Mar 1971) Head of 40 field ambulance unit of Comilla cantonment in 1971. Eldest son of Doctor Abdul Qader and Jahanara Begum resident of Pangsha, Rajbari. Passed Matriculation exam from ‘King George high school’, Pangsha (1944) and obtained 1st division. Passed ISc examination (1946) and obtained 1st division. Attended (1947) and graduated (1953) from Dhaka Medical College and joined Armed Forces Medical Corps. Obtained his post graduation degree in clinical pathology from Walter Reed Army Medical institute at Washington DC, USA (1963). Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (1970) and posted as Commandant 40 Field Ambulance in Comilla Cantonment, Comilla. As final year student of Dhaka Medical College he participated vehemently in the 1952 Bhasha Andolon. Disappeared on 30 March 1971. After the liberation War on March 1972, he was exhumed from a mass grave at Comilla and was buried in front of Comilla CMH with military honours.

All these people were successful and leading professionals in their own fields, the sort of people who would have led the society in post liberation Bangladesh.

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Dr. Alim Choudhury had multiple bullet injuries on his chest, and sharp wounds on the left temple and left lower abdomen, believed to be bayonet wounds. He was still wearing the vest, shirt and lungi he had been taken away in. Mrs Choudhury found that his face had become unnaturally blackened - but his body had been lying face down in a watery pit for two days. The gamchha (cloth towel) used to blindfold him was around his neck.

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Late Jahan Ara Rabbee (Professor Rabbee's wife) talked about his death:

On 15 December the curfew was relaxed for two hours. Despite his wife's objection he had gone to see a non-Bengali patient in the old part of Dhaka. He had bought plenty of vegetables on his way back. Though his wife requested him repeatedly to move out from the house at 75, Shiddeshwari, he did not agree. On that fateful day he took some rest after lunch. In the afternoon, members of Pakistan army, Al Badar and Rajakars circled his house. They came in a microbus and a jeep. About six soldiers took him towards the jeep. As his wife came out running they pointed a gun at her and stopped her from advancing any further. Rabbee walked towards the jeep with his head held high. It was known that on 15 December midnight Rabbee along with some other intellectuals were taken in a truck from the Lalmatia Physical Training Institute to the Rayerbazar brickfield and murdered in a brutal manner. His dead body was identified on 18 December. Born in Pabna district. He was only 39 years old.

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I knew my father is no more .. but I would like to know what was date when my father was killed at least.

Sahwan Mahmud, daughter of Altaf Mahmud

It was August 30, 1971, 5:30 in the morning when our house was raided. Altaf Bhai, who was in the Crack Platoon was with us. We didn't know that he and another Muktijoddha had hidden arms in the ground near our house. That night around 32 Muktijoddhas were caught. The army arrested Samad, Altaf Bhai's friend who was coerced into telling them everything. They brought Samad along with them and demanded to know where Altaf Mahmud was. Altaf Bhai said: 'I am Altaf Mahmud.' They then lined up all my brothers and told him that if he didn't tell them where he had hidden the arms, they would all be shot…They beat him up severely; they hit him with a bayonet and the skin came off from his forehead, blood was pouring down his face. They made him dig out the arms…He was wearing a vest and lungi. Just before he left he turned around and for a few seconds just looked at me. It seemed like an eternity to me. He wanted to say something to me but in the end couldn't. But somehow I knew what he had wanted to say something about looking after his sister, his daughter Shaon, my mother…I felt as if all his energy had been transferred to me with that one look. It is a kind of inner strength that has kept me moving forward. After my father died when I was only four, it was Altaf Bhai I looked upon as a father.

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Shumon applied to the Dhaka City Corporation and knocked for long nine years to name a road after his mother. Accordingly, the Siddheshwari road has been named: Martyr Journalist Selina Parveen Road. Though Shumon struggled a lot to survive after losing his mother, and is still struggling to run his family with a meagre income from a small job, he does not have any demand for his personal gain. He requested the government to set up a mural with the portrait of his mother containing full information about her. It will help the new generation to know about the supreme sacrifice his mother made for the country.

"My sorrows know no bounds but if I see that the war criminals are tried, killers of my mother are punished, the soul of my mother will rest in peace," Shumon expected.

Parvez Babul, Journalist

Growing up, I used to dread this time of the year. December coming around invariably meant some journalist would go for the low-hanging fruit of doing a story on how the families of the martyrs especially the martyred intellectuals of '71 were doing; or even worse come up with the done-to-death idea of dragging a few of the young children of the said individuals in front of a TV camera to try to wring some tear-jerking anecdotes out of them. Even as a child, I vividly remember feeling that the entire ritual was hollow and the self-serving acts of opportunists harsh views to be sure, but then, it is the prerogative of the young to be passionate and self-righteous.

Well, I'm in my very late thirties now, and it's getting on to thirty-five years since my father was abducted by the Al-Badr; thirty-five years since the independence of this beleaguered country. I no longer have the righteous indignation of my younger days, but worry that along with the naïveté, I may have lost some of the idealism, the faith in the essential goodness of human beings and in better days to come. My father was brutally tortured and murdered thirty-five years ago because he was a patriot and a conscientious human being, and the side of the murderers seems to be winning. The vision that he and so many more of his peers had of the kind of country this was supposed to be looks to have been lost, seemingly irretrievably.

Mofazzal Haider Chaudhury was my father. There was a time when most people I would talk to would recognise the name, but I increasingly get the sense that that's not the case anymore; with the passage of time, my father and his peers are slipping out of our collective memory. It falls upon me therefore to introduce him to the younger people out there: my father was one of the country's foremost educationists and a brilliant scholar. He was an Associate Professor of the Bangla department of Dhaka University and an acknowledged expert specially on the works of Rabindranath Tagore. He wrote extensively on Bangla language and literature; for a time, his articles were included in school text books, but I don't think they've survived the censoring efforts of successive right-wing governments. Do you know the walls in front of the central Shaheed Minar where the sayings of luminaries on our language and culture are inscribed each year the night before 21st February? For as long as I can remember, one of my proudest moments each year was when I would make my way there and take my first glimpse of one of my father's quotes on that wall a quite famous one where he compares our language to mother's milk but I notice that for the last 3-4 years, that quote never appears on that wall anymore. Coincidence? Perhaps.

As a man, everyone I've ever spoken to tells me that he was kind, helpful, courteous, generous the very embodiment of the cultured Bengali gentleman. Quite a few people have told me stories about being picked up off the streets in his red Triumph Herald car, this was in the mid sixties when there weren't that many cars around on Dhaka streets, and being dropped at their destinations even when it would take my father out of his way. Everyone tells me that they never saw him lose composure or raise his voice. They tell me he never made an enemy in his life. And yet this gentle soul was doomed to die at the age of 45 not that much older than I am right now just when he was starting to experience some contentment along with his wife and children after a lifetime of unhappiness and strife.

... [On father's incomplet PhD from London University] The fact that he was willing to forsake the labour of two years of his life because of a matter of principle I am told he did not like his supervisor's condescending attitude indicates that there was a glint of steel beneath the gentlemanly exterior. He was to demonstrate this attribute amply over the next years of his life particularly in the fearless advocacy of Bengali culture and heritage in his writings, at a time when this was a decidedly dangerous approach to take.

He had many plans: starting an ideal educational institution named 'Bani Bitan' or 'Anando Kanon' styled after Shantiniketan on a piece of land he owned in Pubail, cultivating flowers there and setting up flower shops in Dhaka.

Tanvir Haider Chaudhury, son of Mufazzal Haider Chaudhury

Sayeda vividly remembers the morning of December 14, 1971 when her beloved husband, a bright history professor, was bundled out of the teachers' quarters blindfolded with the very chador (shawl) he had hurriedly borrowed from her to open the main gate.

Before the very eyes of her children, about half a dozen armed men had entered the ground floor apartment. "I rushed out of the kitchen when I heard some people call out in clear Bangla, 'who is Dr Abul Khair?' says Sayeda sitting at the family's rented Dhanmondi accommodation. "One of the men pointed a gun at me and ordered me to go inside", she says. Two of her sons, Reaz 10 and Kamrul 8, were playing with other children on the third floor apartment. As they looked out of the window they saw their father blindfolded and surrounded by several armed men. He was being led away towards the main gate where a microbus camouflaged with mud waited.

Dr Abul Khair's mutilated body was found gagged and blindfolded with the chador 21 days later at an abandoned brick kiln at Rayer Bazar. It was Sayeda's chador that led to his identity being established. On the same site at Rayer Bazar lay bodies of dozens of other intellectuals brutally slain in the same way.

...Sayeda's sadness for the loss of her husband deepened when sometime in the early nineties, officials from the national museum arrived at her doorstep. The officials convinced the family to hand over all memorabilia of her husband to the museum.

"They said they wanted to display his personal items at the museum and took away his camera, glasses, pens, suits, cufflinks, books and wristwatch, but later when I went to the museum there was nothing on display there that belonged to my husband," Sayeda says.

Kamrul Islam the eldest son of the family also works for an insurance company. He says that his father loved cooking at home and taking long drives in the family's Morris Minor. "He was so keen on cooking that when he returned to Dhaka from the USA after completing his PhD, he brought a pressure cooker with him", Kamrul says.

The indifference of the Dhaka University authorities towards the country's martyred intellectuals is nowhere more evident than the graveyard of the eleven martyrs buried by the mosque on campus. There is no sign of any of the graves of the martyrs. Visitors would never know that the men, who made the supreme sacrifice for our liberation, were buried there. A request by the martyrs' families to mark the graves individually was turned down by the university authorities.

Morshed Ali Khan, Journalist

On 29 March 1971, my father left my aunt's house to get money and the car from our Mirpur house. But later we heard that on the way to his firm [BNR], he met the chief accountant of Daily Ittefaq Abdul Halim, a non-Bengali. Abdul Halim handed my father over to [Jamaat-e-Islami leader] Abdul Quader Mollah at Mirpur and my father was stabbed to death at Jalladkhana in Mirpur-10. Akhter Gunda [a non-Bangalee of Bihar origin] and some other non-Bangalees accompanied Quader Mollah.

...[After his father's death, the family left Dhaka and took shelter in Beura, Pubail, until July 1971] We had none to earn for the family and my mother went mad.

...[In July 1971, Ahsan returned to Dhaka and used to sell tea for a living while the rest of his family went off to their ancestral home in Satkhira] One day, when I was on my way to Chawkbazar [Dhaka], I met Nizam [a non-Bengali], who was our family driver who lives in Mirpur-10, and he told me how my father was killed. On instructions from Quader Mollah, Biharis carried out mass killings in Mirpur. They used to bring Bangalis from Gabtoli Bus Terminal and Technical areas and kill them in Sialbari, Muslim Bazar and Jalladkhana killing fields in Mirpur.

Like other parts of the country, Bangalis in Mirpur area observed 23rd March as Bangladesh Day protesting the killing of Bangalis. Actually 23rd March was Pakistan Day. The Pakistan flag was brought down from the Bangla School in Mirpur and the Bangladesh flag was hoisted at half-mast. Syed Kayum was the headmaster of the school at that time. For this reason, three to four people attacked Syed Kayum at his home on that night and stabbed him indiscriminately. Hearing his screams, a Bangali rescued him and brought him to our home. He was given preliminary treatment there.

My father admitted Kayum to Dhaka Medical College Hospital the next morning and afterwards he [my father] went to the home of Bangabandhu [Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] and apprised him of conditions in the Mirpur area. But my mother became mentally weak after the incident of Kayum Sir and we left our home on 24 March 1971.

Khondaker Abul Ahsan, son of Khandaker Abu Taleb

The most talented teacher of the department of history of Dhaka University Mr. Ghyasuddin Ahmad did not leave the country even after the ferocity of March. He made arrangement for his younger brother neurosurgeon Dr. Rashid to pass across the border, but he himself didn't avail of that opportunity. That was because he had a lot to do inside the country and he silently behind people's eyes continued to perform his duties with dedication. He decided to continue with those works which he took upon himself as his duties during the war of liberation until the day he was killed.

Dr. Rafiqul Islam of Bangla department of Dhaka University

Bachchuda, as he is called in the family, was three years older than me and we both matriculated from St. Gregory's High School. He stood eighth in the matriculation examination in 1950 and tenth in the I.A. examination in 1952. Even though three years in school days is a big difference we had a very special relationship, both as an elder brother as well as a close and good friend. From our school days we used to play many games like chess, bridge (cards), basketball, tennis together. In the University days Ghyas was chess champion and captain of basketball team of S. M. Hall.

Ghyas could have done a PhD with the same Commonwealth scholarship but he did not. The reason was that he considered an Honours of LSE would give a much broader base of learning which would be more suitable for teaching in Honours and M.A classes back at home than a PhD which is really a very focal narrow pointed research work. He had foregone his personal achievement and necessity for the cause of his students' teaching. That was the measure of his dedication to his students' welfare. He had to pay for it later on by losing out in the promotion ladder to his juniors who had PhD. But he did not bother about it at all.

I cannot finish without giving some examples of the impression of his immense character imprinted in the minds of his colleagues, friends and students. These were of encounters of relatively recent years, a long time after he left this world. One was with Mr. M. I. Khan (later a chairman of the Income Tax Tribunal) whom I had to face at an Income tax appeal that I applied for against the Tax Department. When I went to his office, Mr. M.I. Khan (who never saw me before) looked at me for a while and asked me “Are you by any chance a relation of my favourite Sir Mr. Ghyasuddin Ahmad?” when I told him that he was my brother, he said,

{INCOME TAX GUY COMMENT}

Rashiduddin Ahmad, brother of Ghyasuddin Ahmad

In consonance with the flow of my academic life, I selected General History as one of my subsidiary subjects. And Indian History was one of the topics I had to study. Professor Bhattacharjee taught this subject, or, to be exact, taught the sub-continent's ancient history. It was a riveting fifty minutes or so, as the man's erudition came through, delivered in English, and as far as I can remember, without the aid of any lecture notes. The people, society, civilization, dynasties, wars and conquests relating to this old country, many nations were recounted in rich, variegated colours.

There was this one occasion, though, when, with the approaching Ekushey February in mind, one student requested him to deliver his lecture in Bangla. And he did, and, again, if memory serves me right, not one word of English broke the linguistic harmony of the entire lecture. I hope any student reading this does not get the wrong idea, but I had the habit of playing truant in class. But I never failed to attend any of Professor Bhattacharjee's, and not because the sword of punishment for attendance missed beyond a fixed percentage hung over our heads (I had to do a penance of copying some two hundred foolscap pages for missing more than the acceptable number of classes at Notre Dame College).

Simply, I enjoyed Professor Bhattacharjee's lectures. He was a rather short man, with an almost entirely white head of hair brushed back, a quizzical, sardonic glimmer in his eyes, and usually wore a white shirt. He looked unassuming; he was unassuming, but he had at least one amusing idiosyncrasy that I, and many others, was aware of. He was an inveterate smoker. That, in itself, was not amusing, not to say, unusual, in those days (or, these days, either). Neither was the way he inhaled and exhaled. The glowing white stick (filter-tipped cigarettes were both rare and expensive in Dhaka) was puffed down with a reflective air and, no doubt, great pleasure. That is, as one caught him in the inhaling state when he had all the time in the world. Which situation, I suspect, he was in more often than not. But, then, there were those frenetic times, just as the hourly classes were about to begin, when Professor Bhattacharjee's antics would be on splendid display. He would lounge around the front side entrance to the large lecture hall, and wait for the bell announcing the commencement of classes to ring (that is right, ring, not clang an unholy cacophony) before traversing the short distance to his pulpit

Shahid Alam, former student of Santosh Chandra Bhattacharyya

Circumstances did not allow him [Rashidul Hasan] to stay in his birthplace, West Bengal. In order to regain his Indian citizenship, he surrendered his Pakistani passport – which he happened to have because of his stay in East Pakistan after the partition of 1947 – to the government of West Bengal. For a long period of eight years, Rashidul Hasan relentlessly tried to regain his Indian nationality and went from door to door in government offices, but on different excuses West Bengal government delayed and finally rejected his application. Frustrated and utterly betrayed, in 1967 he resolved to come back to Dhaka and his wife complied. Rashidul Hasan’s second spate of sufferings began in 1971; but this time it took a vicious turn and ended his life. He was killed by the Pakistani army during the conflict that gave birth to Bangladesh.

Thus the life of Rashidul Hasan bears the brunt of the two major political upheavals of the region: the partition of 1947 and Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971.

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My father is martyred intellectual SMA Rashidul Hasan. He was a teacher in the English department of Dhaka University. I lost him when I was only 13. Long before I could discover him as the person he was. How he was and who he was, what were his thoughts and ideologies--answers to all these questions would have remained unknown if it weren't for his meticulous diaries which my mother had held on to for so many years with great care. Over the years I have read the diaries many-many times each time and what amazes me is how a person could have led such an organized life and noted down all the works of a day with such diligence? Every event from the important ones to the ones carried out every day found its way into the pages of the diary.

Every morning he would wake up and read the Holy Quran sitting my little sister on his lap. He cared about all our feelings and thoughts and paid attention to them." Roquaiya Hasina Neely, TV artist and daughter of martyred intellectual SMA Rashidul Hasan.

Roquaiya Hasina Neely,

Although he was a teacher of English he greatly respected our mother tongue and our Bengali culture and tradition. So among his clothes we have always noticed more panjabi and payjamas than shirt-pants. He loved music. Tagore songs and poems were his favorite.

On 20 September a few men from the occupation army came and took him away but with the help of a friend of his he returned 12 days later unharmed. But on the morning of 14 December just two days before independence they took my father away. That was the last time we saw him. After 22 days of his disappearance his decomposed body was found in Mirpur killing ground along with the dead bodies of the best sons of this soil. My mother was asked to identify her husband from decomposed bodies. How hard was this for a wife?

My mother sacrificed all kinds of enjoyment and good things in life for her beloved husband. She engaged herself in raising her three children that her husband left behind. Do the citizens of the new generation know of the hardship of the lives of such widows when they lost their only earning member of the family ? Do the citizens of new generation know of the gruesome killings of the intellectuals by the collaborators? Have they been punished for such a heinous act? What you see now in this country? The people who opposed our war of liberation and tinged their hands with blood of our intellectuals are now in power and ride government cars hoisting the flag of Bangladesh!

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History is a fair judge. I believe that history will place everybody in the exact place that they deserve. I believe that in the distant future when all involved persons are gone, there will be no confusion about who was right or wrong. Criminals will be called criminals. We will prevail because we have truth on our side.

My father used to take my mother to the Shaheed Minar every 21st February. He used to say that the martyrs are the lucky ones. All would die someday. How many are lucky enough to have such a glorious death? I feel proud that I am the daughter of such a man. I am proud of the man that my father was, the life he lived, the ideology he believed in and struggled for, the respect he earned in his short life. With his death he became part of the country's history and left us with a legacy of pride and honour.

Dr. Nuzhat Choudhury, daughter of Martyred Intellectual Dr. Abdul Alim Chaudhury and Assistant Professor at Department of Ophthalmology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University

I could never get rid of a thought. What he was thinking, how he was feeling when the Al Badr men blind folded him, tied up his hands and piercing bayonets," said an emotion-choked Nasrin. She is yet to overcome the numbness of pain. She still feels the last- minute agony felt by Dr Alim at Rayerbazar killing field. With tearful eyes, she wants to hear the pains inside Dr Alim's heart when the Al Badr men were taking preparations to kill him.

Nasrin said the face of Dr Alim turned black when the Al Badr force pushing the door to take him away from home. The rear entrance of the house, which was the only way to flee, was shut by Mannan who was staying inside. Failing to flee through the door behind the building, Dr Alim could understand that he has given shelter to a betrayer, liar and fraud.

A former principal of Udayan School and Head Mistress of Uddipan School, Shyamoli Nasrin said the collaborators are still hiding among the people. They are making rooms in society on false identities. They have established themselves politically with the help of the heads of states in post-1975 Bangladesh.

Nasrin said Dr Alim's clinic was on the ground floor at 29/1 Purana Paltan. They used to live on the first floor. The parents of Shyamoli Nasrin lived on the second flood. After March 25, the clinic was closed and the place was used for discussions and medical treatment of the freedom fighters.

At the middle of July, 1971, a neighbour named PDP Matin brought a man and requested Dr Alim for shelter. Though Nasrin had objected first, she agreed to give him shelter with request of all others at home. But much later, they could know that the man in shelter was Maulana Abdul Mannan, who fled from his house in fear of the freedom fighters. "After a few days, we noticed that the Al Badr men are on guard at the gate of Mannan. People come to meet him every day. Army cars also came". When asked about the matter, Mannan said, "I am Maulana Mannan, organiser of Al Badr. I have taken shelter at your place, as the freedom fighters would kill me". By that time, Mannan had become a regular residence of the ground flood and treated to pay rent to the owner of the house. "Therefore, we could not tell him to go away," Nasrin said.

"Since then, we were in panic. But Mannan told Alim not to be afraid." Nasrin said and added that Mannan had pledged to save Alim's life as he had given shelter to him.

"It was 4 o'clock in the afternoon on December 15. Alim, my mother and I were sitting on the balcony. There were sounds of bombings and firing by the allied force all around. They were invading the bases and camps of Pak army and razakars. The whole country was waiting for surrender of the Pakistan force the next day. Suddenly we saw a microbus covered with clay to stand at Mannan's door. We did not take it seriously. A number of armed Al Badr got down. They knocked out door after 35 minutes. I told Alim that they are knocking at the door. Then Alim's face turned black," Nasrin said.

She said she called Mannan though the backdoor through which Mannan used to flee when the freedom fighter visited the house. Mannan advised her not to worry-"You go. I am in the city. Nothing to worry." Dr Alim tried to flee through the backdoor, but he couldn't as Mannan had shut it from inside and staying in his room silently.

"We, the families of martyrs, have been demanding trial of the war criminals since 1972. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has started their trial. For this reason, the killers had assassinated him in 1975."

Shyamoli Nasrin was married to Dr Alim Chowdhury on December 22 in 1965. Joined the Udayan School on February 15 in 1966. She was sacked from the job on July 1 in 2002 during the alliance government. She was sacked following recommendation of a probe committee led by Dhaka University Soil Science Professor Aminur Rahman Majumder. On Friday, police recovered organisational documents of Islami Chhatra Shibir, dummy rifles, pistons and Islamic books from the Elephant Road house of Prof Aminur Rahman.

Criticising the BNP for establishing the war criminals in the country, Nasrin said late President Ziaur Rahman had rehabilitated Maulana Mannan and HM Ershad made him Religion and Relief Affairs Minister.

"This our tragedy. I had to work under Razakar Mannan, the killer of my husband," Nasrin said.

"If I had no job and I did not marry Hafiz (younger brother of Alim), perhaps I could not groom up my children." Dr Alim left behind two daughters of two year and one year old in 1971. Nasrin expressed satisfaction over the beginning of the trial of war criminals and said the trial process must be completed as soon as possible with the tenure of the present government.

"With completion of their trial, we will be able to build a Sonar Bangla, dreamt by Bangabandhu, as per the sprit of the Liberation War. The 1971 constitution would also be restored," she hoped.

Interview with Shamoli Nasrin Chowdhury, wife of Dr. ALim Chowdhury

On 15th December, at 4:30 pm, they came. They went first to the room of Moulana Mannan.

Some time later, they came to the third floor where our family used to live. They told my father that they were taking him somewhere. My father asked where, and they replied that he was soon to find out. My father was in informal clothes, and he asked for some time to dress properly. To this they replied, that where he was going, he would not need proper clothes. Then they handcuffed him and dragged him away to the microbus in which they had come.

There were three men, their faces were covered, but they were unmistakably Bengalis. My mother ran to Moulana Mannan and asked him for help as he was known to be in good terms with the authorities.

'They are taking him to a doctor, do not worry at all, that is what he told my mother'. He repeatedly assured my mother about my father's safety.

Dr. Nuzhat Chowdhury, daughter of martyred intellectual Dr Alim Chowdhury

Lt. Colonel Dr. Nurul Absar Mohammad Jahangir was the head of 40 field ambulance unit of Comilla cantonment in the year 1971. This hero disappeared on 30 March 1971.

On March 1971, a conference of senior officers was held at the Comilla Cantonment for a discussion to take stern action of killing of those who had been trivializing the Pakistani ideology. Without delay Lt Colonel Jahangir vehemently protested such heinous decision, which later barred his access to any other conferences and he became the reason of their anger for his bold speech.

He was called to the headquarters on 26 March 1971. Some senior officers asked him if he had any connection or relation with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and General Osmani. Like a valiant son of the soil, he undauntedly expressed that he had no personal relation with them but he followed the spirit and philosophy of those Bangalee leaders. It was 27 March 1971. Being a unit head, the higher authority ordered Lt. Col. Dr. Jahangir to return all arms and ammunitions of his unit. He returned a few arms to them, but secretly he hid a large portion of the arms with a thought that these arms would be used by his associate soldiers for the liberation of the country. On that day he summoned the unit members and said, “If death is inevitable, you will use the last arms of your hands against the enemy and accept death, but never defile the country and yourself by surrendering to the Pakistanis”.

On 28 March 1971, Dr. Jahangir could not make any communication with other officers. The next day one Pakistani soldier came to his residence through a difficult path of a hillock beside his house and conveyed a horrible message to his family members. The soldier said that severe action of killing was going to be orchestrated against all Bangalee officials and soldiers. When Lt . Col. Jahangir returned home, his wife delivered the message in a terrified voice. The message made him silent.

He tried to go to his office several times but he was obstructed. He made a phone call to his office but some messages from the other side of the phone made his face stiff, and he told them “If they use machine guns against you, don’t keep silent, whatever arms you have in your hands, use them. Nothing is comparable with the glory to be a martyr doing war for the country”.

Under the hypnotic call of this leader, 47 heroic freedom fighters out of 50 of the 40 Ambulance unit valiantly embraced death in a fight with Pakistani soldiers for two hours. One hundred Pakistani soldiers also died in the fight. The fateful day came as a nightmare to Lt. Col. Dr. Jahangir’s family on 30 March 1971. The day started with an awful event for the family at about 6.45 am. Two Pakistani soldiers came and delivered the order of the higher authority to escort Dr. Jahangir. Sensing the situation, he could realise that his time is coming to an end. Controlling himself, he affectionately took his three loving children - Maruf, Mithu and Mimi on his chest and looked at them in a vacant eye to silently say them goodbye.

After it, he handed over his 0.32 revolver to his beloved wife and assuredly said, “Do not lose heart. Have patience. Use it (revolver) in time of danger”.

Before the very eyes of his three lovely kids and his beloved wife, he went away with the soldiers. The miserable moment started for the family. At 9 in the morning, suddenly the family phone blared out. Mrs Jahangir could hear the last few words of Lt Col Dr Jahangir, “I have been taken to the conference with Pakistani colonel Yakub Malik”. And these last few words became the whole life’s memory for Jebunnesa Jahangir.

After Dr. Jahangir’s departure, his family and other Bangali families were confined to the Ispahani School in Comilla. Those days were horrible for Jahangir’s family. There was no food, no water. Dr. Margub Aref Jahangir, younger son of Lt. Col. Dr. Jahangir, remembered that they prayed to Allah for water. It began to rain and then they started collecting water to quench their thirst. Mrs Jebunnesa Jahangir was desperate to get news of her husband but she could not. While she was overwhelmed by her misery and grief, Pakistani colonel Malik came to visit the incarcerated families. Mrs Jahangir approached the Pakistani colonel to know about her husband. The killer colonel Malik in a cold voice said, “Jahangir was a rebel, he wished the destruction of the Pakistanis. Even standing at the firing squad, he expressed his same thoughts and feelings. Death is the deserved punishment for such rebels”.

The brave, intelligent and patriotic physician Lt Col Dr. Jahangir was disappeared on 30 March 1971. After the liberation war on March 1972, he was exhumed from a mass grave at Comilla and was buried in front of Comilla CMH with military tribute. Four decades have passed by since the independence which cost much pain and grief to freedom fighters and their families. But the alleged masterminds and architects of the war crimes still roam free, holding high positions in society.

Tanzina Hoque Beas recalls the tragic but valiant death of Lt. Colonel Dr. Nurul Absar Mohammad Jahangir, Head of 40 field ambulance unit of Comilla cantonment

When the occupation forces realised that Bangladesh was about to become independent, they killed off the intellectuals who were the greatest minds of the country. These great human beings never got to see the sun rise over the independent Bangladesh.

Gopal Sannyal, president of Pabna Drama Circle and a leading cultural activist in Pabna

"Shei Raater Kotha Bolte Eshechchi" film

In 2001, A Bangladeshi director, Kawsar Chowdhury, recreated the horror of the massacre by the Pakistani Army in Dhaka University in his film "Sei Raater Kotha Bolte Eshechchi" (Tale of the Darkest Night), which was awarded as the second best film in South Asian Film Festival on 28 September 2003. Out of 230 documentary films from 24 countries, 40 films competed in the contest. Kawsar Chowdhury beat every one of them, except one, to win the award and cash prize of $1,000.

  • Kawsar Chowdhury ()

The documentary was first screened on 25 March 2001 - on the 30th anniversary of Operation Searchlight - in the Dhaka University, which still contains the mass grave at Jagannath Hall. The film was also the winner of Bangladesh Documentary Film Festival in 2003.

I was shooting a scene where Pakistani Army was shooting Bengalis and throwing them in a mass grave. So, to shoot that scene, I was requesting the staffs of the Dhaka University to act for the scene. I found a young man to act. When I held is hand to bring him on the spot, his mother started screaming and crying. She yelled, “You dare not take my son. You have killed my husband in 71 and now you want to murder my son? You dare not touch him!” The fact was that, the woman's husband was similarly brought to the very spot and shot dead on March 25, 1971 and the woman could not bear the trauma all over again. That very incident shook me and became an indelible memory.

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