Mohiuddin Jahangir was the eldest son of Maulana Abdul Motalib Hawladar and Safia Khatun. His dad was an influential local figure. His grandfather, Abdur Rahim Hawladar was a zamindar (landowner) and contributed a great deal to the improvement of the area. For this reason the local people honoured him by naming the village after his name – "Rahimganj".
Jahangir’s family struggled to make ends meet. However, unlike his siblings, Jahangir was brought up well under the care of his parents. But his father could foresee that Jahangir’s initial build up would be hampered in Rahimganj since there was no good local educational institution. Thus, at the age of 4 years and 6 months, Jahangir was sent to the house of his mama (maternal uncle) Fazlur Rahman, who was an Engineer working in Muladi Thana.
The son of a Baul from a remote village in Barisal, Jahangir displayed strength of character from an early age. The family never had enough and he had to leave his father’s house and move in with his maternal uncle to attend high school.
A. Qayyum Khan, a muktijuddha (freedom fighter) and Second Lieutenant in Sector 7 fighting alongside Captain Jahangir during 1971
Jahangir began his primary education under the guidance and care of his mama. In 1959 he successfully passed Class V (5) obtaining scholarship in the talentpool from Patarchar Government Primary School. He was then admitted to the Muladi Mahmudjan High School where in 1962 Jahangir passed Class VIII (8) obtaining scholarship again in the talentpool. Two years later he passed his SSC (Secondary School Certificate) in First Division from science group obtaining multiple letter marks in Mathematics from the same school.
He was a good student and was awarded government scholarships for his academic results during his secondary school years. He impressed everyone with his mathematical abilities during a school inspector’s visit.
After passing SSC Jahangir was admitted to B.M College in Barisal where he earned a reputation for being a good sportsman. Jahangir also had a passion for reading. He was an ardent reader of the literature of Lenin, Mao Tse Tung, Che Guavera and other revolutionary writers. Their ideas had shaped Jahangir’s thoughts and helped him grow a consciousness about the right of suppressed people and the proletariats.
In 1966 he passed HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate) in 2nd Division from science group obtaining letter marks in Mathematics. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints Jahangir was unable to take admission in engineering and had to temporarily forego his childhood dream of becoming an engineer.
In 1967 Jahangir earned a place in the prestigious and demanding Dhaka University where he enrolled in Statistics honours degree. He supported himself and also contributed to his family’s needs during his university days by tutoring students in mathematics. However, Jahangir did not stay at the university for long. Within a few months of joining he decided to join the Pakistan Army.
On 5 October 1967 Mohiuddin Jahangir joined the Pakistan Military Academy in the then West Pakistan and enrolled with the War Course – 15. The following year, on 2 June 1968 he was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers and posted to 173 Engineer Battalion in Mellshi Cantonment of Multan. After showing excellent performance in basic course-29 in the school of Military Engineering located in Resalpur, Jahangir attended a bomb disposal course in the same institution.
During the eventful month of March 1971 whilst East Pakistan was preparing itself for an armed struggle against West Pakistani oppression, Captain Jahangir was posted in the Gilgit area, the northernmost territory of West Pakistan (near Azad Kashmir). He was working as a demolition expert in the Karakoram Highway Construction Project. Unknown to him and the general public of West Pakistan, the military junta led by President Yahya Khan had unleashed violent attack on unarmed civilians of East Pakistan in the evening of 25 March 1971 under the military campaign "Operation Searchlight". The first point of attack was the Bengali students and intelligentsia of the Dhaka University.
Captain Jahangir only came to know about these atrocities from fellow Bengali army officers who had returned to the western wing after witnessing the brutality first hand. The news had turned his world upside down. It was only less than 4 years ago that he was studying in Dhaka University. Captain Jahangir’s became imbued with the highest sense of patriotism and decided to join the Swadhinata Juddho (Independence War). He held secret meeting with other fellow young Bengali officers and they began planning ways to escape from Pakistan to their motherland.
Before joining the army, Jahangir was a student of Statistics Department in Dhaka University. He was horrified and outraged to learn about the brutal crackdown of the Pakistan Army on 25 March 1971. Jahangir never understood how a national army could commit genocide on its own population. The Bengalis hadn’t done anything wrong by supporting the Awami League’s election manifesto. They wanted provincial autonomy and they exercised their democratic right through the ballot box. After the postponement of the national assembly session by the Yahya regime, the people of East Pakistan actively supported Bangabandhu’s non-cooperation movement. This may have caused the Pakistan Army hardship but it could under no circumstances be a justification for unleashing the inhuman repression of unarmed Bengali civilians by the army.
The details of the genocide disturbed him a great deal and he anguished about wearing the uniform of the Pakistan Army whom he considered as the butchers of Bengal. He made up his mind to join the Liberation War and stand by his brethren at this time of grave crisis. Jahangir lost interest on everything around him and devoted all his energies in planning his escape from Pakistan. He spoke to some Bengali colleagues about escaping to join the Liberation War but the response was feeble. But he did not give up and kept on trying to find similar minded Bengali military officers. In the meantime, he prepared himself to fight a guerrilla war. He secretly read up on guerrilla warfare studying Mao, Guevara and Giap.
Finally he made contact with Captain Khairul Anam, Captain Salauddin Mumtaz and Captain Sultan Shariar Rashid Khan through one of his friends. He had never met these three officers before. On 8 July 1971 they wore grey ‘Awami’ attire similar to the ones worn by the militia in Punjab and, pretending to visit a religious shrine in Sialkot, headed for the Indo-Pak border. The weather was very rough but thankfully for the four young brave Bengalis this worked to their advantage. They were able to avoid capture by the border rangers and crossed over to neighbouring India without any difficulty.
Captain Jahangir and his companions went straightaway to the nearest Indian Border Security Force (BSF) camp. From there, they were sent to Delhi and onward to Kolkata, the headquarter of the Mujibnagar Shorkar, the Provisional Government of Bangladesh.
The news of their great escape inspired lakhs of freedom fighters. General M. A. G. Osmani, the great leader of our liberation war, went to Calcutta just to welcome these heroes personally.
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