Liberation War


Time International Cover Story

I had several interesting observations while revisiting the Col Taher event.

1. Taher was a very smart, brave, revolutionary leader. However Col Taher is Col Taher today because he was hanged. Look at all his revolutionary comrades;

Maj Jalil: Later became an Islamic leader.

Sirajul Alam Khan Dada: Gone into oblivion, became insignificant.

ASM Rab: National laughing stock, Ershad’s domesticated opposition.

Maj Zia/MR Manna joined AL.

Hasanul Haq Inu, SN ambia, Dr Akhlaqur Rahman have become politicians with no popular support.

2. In his statement, Taher himself took the responsibility of overthrowing Khaled Mosharraf. He mentioned Khaled as villain several times. In the statement he also mentioned of some Army officers who ” begged on his foot for life” .

With this statement it becomes a more and more clear that Taher apparently klled Maj Gen Khaled Mosharraf And Col ATM Haider.

3. Will there ever be a call for justice of Khaled Mosharraf killing?

4. I wonder, all these emotion sorrounding Col Taher, is it out of love for Taher or out of hate for Gen Zia?

5. Zia probably didn’t have any option but to hang Taher. With Taher living, Zia’s control and leadership would have been seriously undermined and his efforts to stabilize Bangladesh armed forces into a disciplined conventional traditional military would have been seriously hampered by Taher who clearly wanted a non conventional people’s red army. ( However I don’t know whether Taher’s dream peole’s army would have been worse or better for Bangladesh)

6. The counter coup, valiant freedome fighters Khaled and Haider did, is probably the least bloody and most misunderstood coup in Bangladesh. When CIA link was surfaced in 15th august killing, these two patriotic freedome fighters could not but take up arms. It should have already been done by then Army chief Maj Gen Shafiullah and then Rakhkhi bahini chief Tofayel Ahmed ( Both AL leaders now).

7. Countering of Khaled’s coups probably saw the strongest and most prudent use of ” India fear”. And Col Taher spearheaded the use of this ‘card ‘, as it is evident from his statement at the martial law court.

8. During the period between 72-75, one reason behind the perceived failure of Bangabandhu governmnet was the activities of the leftists, the so called ” Peking left”. The armed wing, ” Gana bahini” has been implicated in thousands of murders including those of 7 MPs. Has there been any concerted effort to bring those involved in this mass murder to justice?

It was Colonel Taher’s death anniversary today. Like every other year, there were newspaper memoirs, articles/columns along with discussion and protest sessions in Bangladesh.

This years events also included an additional attraction, a key note addresses by American journalist Lawrence Lifschultz.

Lawrence Lifschultz, in his speech today, urged the concerned authorities for ensuring a fair re-trial of
1. Jail killing of four national leaders
2. Taher death sentence
3. All the freedome fighter killing during coups against Zia rule,
4. General Manjur Killing
5. Death sentence and execution of freedome fighter officers convicted of murdering Zia.

I find these demands quite logical and I belive nobody will cringe too much at these demands. However I get curious when I see some ommission in Lifschultz’s list.

Is there any significant killing missing from this list?

Do we remember valiant fredome fighter sector commanders Khaled Mosharraf and ATM Haider?

Khaled Mosharraf was arguably the best of the military leaders during our war of independence in 1971. He almost died in the war with a bullet hitting his forehead.
ATM Haider was also another valiant freedome fighter who represented Bangladesh during Pak surrender on 16th December.

Do anyone clearly know how they were killed?
Exactly who killed these brave souls?
Who ordered the killing?
In what situation they died? Were they executed? Or did they die in gunfight?

Why these two sector Commanders deaths are not mourned every year as it happens in case of Colonel Taher?
Why nobody demand a justice for their killing?
Why Lawrence Lifschultz does not mention Khaled Mosharraf and ATM Haider in his list?

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

CIA factbook on Bangladesh justifies the green color of Bangladesh flag as the representative of the traditional color of Islam in addition to representing the lush green countryside of Bangladesh. As I read all the history of Bangladesh flag , I don’t recall green being the representation of Islam in the flag of proposed secular Bangladesh.

R P Saha

First he started a small business in salt and coal in Calcutta. Did very good in this venture.
Then he bought a ship and named it ‘Bengal River’, ran a very efficient steamer liner.
Became the agents to buy food grains for the Government and famed as a trusted merchant.
He owned and ran 3 powerhouses at Narayanganj, Mymensingh and Comilla.
His ‘George Anderson Company’ used to make jute bales in Narayanganj.
He first saw the potential and started tanery and leather business in this part of the world.

This man was Ranada Prasad saha. R P Saha. Ranadaprasad grew up in extreme poverty and could not have much education. He lost his mother at the age of seven. He fled home to Calcutta at the age of 16. He participated in World War I in the Bengal Ambulance Corps and was stationed in Iraq and Karachi. After war, landed a small job in railway but later lost it.

When he was one of the richest man of Bengal, famine of 1943 struck. During the famine, he maintained 275 gruel houses to feed the hungry for 8 months.

He established a charitable hospital, 750-bed Kumudini Hospital, at his native village Mirzapur on the river Lauhajang. On 27 July 1944 Mr Kessy, the Governor of Bengal, formally opened this hospital.

To spread female education, in 1942, he founded a fully residential girls school at Mirzapur and named it ‘Bharateswari Bidyapith’ after Bharateswari Devi, his grandmother. For many years it remained the only residential girls school in Bengal/Bangladesh. Till today, in any national program or international sporting event, the gallery display and choreography display of Bharateswari homes girls are essential.

He also founded the ‘Kumudini College’ at Tangail in 1943 to commemorate his mother .

The ‘Debendra College’ of Manikganj established in 1944 commemorates his father.

Subsequently he set up the ‘Mirzapur Pilot Boys’ School,
Mirzapur Pilot Girls’ School, and
‘Mirzapur Degree College’.

Till today, these fine educational institutes cater college education to a large portion of Bangladesh.

The Maternity Wing of the Dhaka Combined Military Hospital was established with his financial support!!! ( BTW, who gets cared there now?)

After the partition of 1947, rather migrating to India, RP Saha stayed back, and donated his entire property in the name of the ‘Kumudini Welfare Trust’ for the realisation of his ideal ‘Education-Service-Unity-and-Peace’. These trust ran and still running the above mentioned establishments.

And on 7 May 1971 he was killed along with his son by the Pakistani occupation army.

R P saha’s Kumudini welfare Trust still serve his dear Bangladesh as a non-profit organization focusing on the needs of women and the poor in Bangladesh. The 750-bed Kumudini Hospital offers free treatment to the poor from all over the country; Kumudini Hospital School trains 250 nurses a year; Bharateswari Homes, a residential school, offers elementary and secondary education to over 1000 girls; and Kumudini Handcrafts helps over 16,000 artisans, mostly women, generate income by providing training and encouraging the development and preservation of traditional handcraft skills. Kumudini operates its own vegetable dyeing plant using leaves, petals, bark, and roots and has also developed a handmade paper line using the pesky water hyacinth plant.

We give Swadhinota padak to Sharshina Pir, we give away all the medals to all with no significant contribution. Hunmndreds of thousand of padaks will not be able to pay back our respect that is due to him.

Mourn this hero. Hope this can wash out our collective guilt of thirty five years.

This daily star article talks about the less known but more significant side of a legend. The legend is Azam khan. Without any reservation I call Azam Khan the father of popular rock culture in Bengal.

Azam Khan

Although Azam Khan started his career in the 60s, he left music in 1971 to take up arms and fight guerilla war at Dhaka.
Soon after our War of Liberation in 1971, Azam Khan, soon to become a legend in the rock scene, with his band, Uchharon and the Akhand Brothers (Lucky and Happy) created the hype in the music industry with their straight-down-the-line magnetic songs around early and late 70’s……Azam Khan the imaginative composer, the inspired musician and lanky bearded lyricist ignited something that caught the attention of plenty of listeners. His songs had a pathos never before heard with such uninhibited emotion. Obhimani, Ashi Ashi, Highcourt er Majare, Ami Jare Chaire, Orey Saleka, Jibone Kichu Pabona Re and many more of his outstanding compositions became instant hits. Even today, these songs are the ones that still keep the audiences on their toes.
Azam Khan is known as a guru amongst the rock ‘n rollers of the country for his contribution to band music in Bangladesh.

However, many of us have little idea about his heroic deeds during our Liberation War in 1971. He is one of the few cultural activists who had taken part in the front line war against the Pakistani Army.

A section Commander of the guerilla troop, Azam Khan led the guerilla fighters in Jatrabari-Gulshan belt. Azam Khan details his operations in the above mentioned daily Star Interview..

Bangladesh rock music history can never be written without Azam Khan occupying the most prominant position. His life in fact characterizes the turbulant evolution of bangla rock.

Mgan

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Let me end this tribute with one question. We speak of distortion of history, we complain against the others of misrepresenting historical events and facts for petty political gain.

Most of the texts of 7th march speech will end as it has ended in this blog. However probably those were not the last words of Bangabandhu in that speech. He went on and spoke something else after these statements, however that text is surprisingly missing from all possible documents I could find today.
Can anyone please give me the full text of 7th march speech and tell me why the last paragraph is missing from most of the available documents?

-Rumi

Writer Anisul Hoque responds to recent blog on his novel Maa

This is Anisul Hoque, writer of Maa. Thanks to everybody associated with this site and to those who have placed comments on this site. I am really inspired. Specially I am overwhelmed to see Dr. Sarojini Sahoo’s comment, who is a major writer in Uriya language.Her comment is valuable because she can judge this book or 71 from a non-concerned perspective. THANKS.

Thanks Anisul Hoque for visiting Drishtipat blog.

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Maa is a novel by Anisul Haq. It is available online. It is based on a true story, in fact editor Shahadat Chowdhury termed it as a docu-fiction.

I heared about this novel of Anisul quite a while ago, but somehow couldn’t find it handy to be able to read it. During this Dhaka trip, Maa was in my list of the must buy books.

Last night, after many years, I cried while reading this book.

This books tells, vividly, the story of a mother who lost her only son during our war of independence. Azad was one of the crack platoon guerillas fighting with the Pakistani armies in 1971. On 30th August, 1971, along with other guerillas like Rumi, Bodi, Jewel, Alam, Chullu; Azad was also arrested from his house at Magbazar.

It was saturday night. I finished the book in one sitting. I cried all along.

Azad’s mother lived fourteen years after Azad was taken away by Pakistani armies. When Azad’s mother went to see Azad at Ramna thana, Azad asked her mother for rice. Azad’s mother returned with cooked rice and curry, but Azad was not there anymore. Azad’s mother never saw Azad again. With this deep pain, Azad’s mother never eat one grain of rice for the rest of her life. She also saw Azad lying on the cement floor of Ramna thana. And she never slept anywhere but on cement floor for the rest of her life.

Don’t know why. A unearthly gloom gripped me all over. I kept on crying.

In Ramna thana, when Azad asked her mother’s advice whether he would divulge his comrades names on the face of torture, she asked Azad to remain strong and not to betray his country and friends.

All these sacrifice, all these agony, all these tears, for all these years, —what else can be a better tribute than a prosperous, progressive and peaceful bangladesh?

-Rumi

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