Does martyrdom depend on which side of the history you have been or whether you have been on the side of the oppressor or the oppressed?
How does our contemporary history treat the millions of dead German soldiers during World War I and II?
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The journey Flight Lieutenant Motiur Rahman started 35 years ago, has just ended. He finally arrived where he ultimately intended to arrive when he hijacked the trainer aircraft from Karachi Airbase of PAF. Motiur Rahman is Bir Shrestho, the highest gallantry award winner of Bangladesh armed forces. He is our national hero; we have an airbase after his name.

And interestingly the man from whom Bir Shrestha Motiur hijacked the aircraft is Rashid Minhas. Rashid Minhas also posthumously won the highest gallantry award of Pakistan, Nishan e Haider. In Pakistan dramas are staged on Rashid Minhas, who is the national hero. And Pakistan also has a airbase named after Rashid Minhas.

In short, senior smarter and stronger officer Motiur Rahman stopped Minhas in the taxiway, chloroformed him, took control of the aircraft and tried to fly to India. Rashid Minhas, later regaining consciousness, tried to stop F L Matiur Rahman, and as a result the aircraft crashed, killing both.

A very very interesting discussion goes on this historical irony in a Pkistan Airforce Blog. This blog shows how divided pakistanis still are about the events of 1971.

One discussant puts it this way,

….Internationally speaking both Rashid Minhas (RM) and Matiur Rahman ( Mati) are equal in decorations, RM got the Nishan e Haider and Mati was given the Bir Shrestha which was introduced as the new country BD’s highest military award. Now technically speaking, RM will always be a hero to us and Mati a traitor and deserter; an enemy. For the other side RM would remain a symbol of tyranny or oppression or whatever and Mati the ultimate hero. Now no matter how we accept the whole thing or how Bangladesh accepts the past, and how we admit blame or deny it, these facts remain facts. Our rethinking or sympathizing, if at all, can not and should not make any difference to the fact that our hero was an enemy to them and their hero a traitor to us. Therefore, with all that accepted, we should move on to the next level of maturity and think in broader terms; In celebration of the spirit of soldiering and as tribute to the profession all armed forces respect the fallen of the enemy and acknowledge their valor when reqd. We’re not sure exactly how RM is regarded in BD but we can assure Bdeshis that Mati is surely NOT DISRESPECTED in Pakistan….

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While the remains of Bir Shrestha Motiur Rahman embarrasses two of our Ministers, who initially vouched for Rashid Minhas, the events proceeding bringing back of Motiur Rahman remains start a new era in Bangladesh politics. The sacred 1971, our liberation war has all along been a monopoly of Awami League to do politics on. Lately a matured BNP has embarked on the same theme. BNP’s venture on 71 based politics was also evident in BNP governments showing of highest honor to General Aurora when he passed away.

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Let me take this opportunity to remind ourselves of the location of other Bir Shresthas. I was told that the ministry of liberation war affairs has taken projects for construction of Smirity Stambah at the grave 7 Bir Shrestha Freedom Fighters and construction of school / college building at there permanent address. I don’t know how far the government project will go. And while we hope this project sees completion, let’s remind us where the other six are buried.

1) Birshrestha Shahid ERA Md. Ruhul Amin: Lakpur Sea food, Rupsha Ghat, Rupsha, Khulna

2) Birshrestha Shahid Lance Nayek Nur Mohammad Sheikh: Kashirpur, Sharsha, Jessore.

3) Birshrestha Shahid Captain Mahuddin Jahangir: Sona Masjid, Chapainababganj.

4) Birshrestha Shahid Lance Nayek Munshi Abdur Rauf: Burirghat, Naniar Char, Rangamati.

5) Birshrestha Shahid Sepay Mostafa Kamal: Mogra, Akhaura, B’baria.

6) Birshrestha Shahid Hamidur Rahman: Daloi, BOP, Kamalganj, Mauluvibazar