Their final act

Mohammad Abdul Hai
Thursday, December 14th, 2017


A nation sans intellectuals is a nation without its voice to express hopes and aspirations of the people. It becomes a lot easier for a foreign power to subdue and tighten its grip on it when people with fertile thoughts are made non-existent The Pakistani military bosses thought it could exterminate the intelligentsia and then rule our beloved country under threats and intimidation. But they made a blunder in interpreting the sentiment of the people here. Their systematic killing of the common people as well as the intellectuals further strengthened the resistance of the freedom-fighters which ultimately led to the surrender of the Pakistani army to the joint forces of the Indian military and Mukti Bahini. The Pakistani army paid for their barbarism by the shameful act of surrendering which will surely continue to hunt their conscience many days in future.


People with rich thoughts and ideas are an asset for a nation, for they instill values in the minds of the common people, they make them aware of the national interest, they motivate and shape them up as a collective force to resist wrong-doings of the government. People also get together under the influence of the thoughts propagated by the wise people of the society through TVs and newspapers. They exercise their opinions through ballots to accept or reject a party during the elections. In developing all these public feelings, the intellectuals play a pivotal role. Intellectuals are a life-blood of a nation.


The Pakistani occupation forces, virtually began killing the intellectuals as soon as they started their calculated attacks on the unarmed people in Dhaka on the night of 25 March,1971.They continued doing so until the day of their surrender on 16 December,1971. The most damaging role was played by the collaborators who helped the Pakistani soldiers by identifying our intellectuals. The planned killing of educationists, journalists, litterateurs, physicians, scientists, lawyers, artists, philosophers and political thinkers, was done under the direct instruction of Pakistani military rulers. The vicious plan to make our nation devoid of intellectuals was said to be chalked out by Major General Rao Forman Ali, the military adviser to the governor of East Pakistan. The notorious collaborators executed the merciless killing with the arms provided by the Pakistani army. The act of killing was initially undertaken in the city of Dhaka, and gradually it was taken all around the country. As the Pakistani military leadership could smell imminent down-fall, their desperation led them to the extremity of barbarism.


On December14,1971, only a couple of days before the Pakistani soldiers surrendered, they, with close cooperation of the razakars and other collaborators, hauled as many as 200 intellectuals, carried them blind-folded to the torture cells in Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Nakhalpara and Rajarbagh and executed them en masse. Several noted intellectuals who were killed between March and December16,1971 in different parts of the country include Dr.Munir Chowdhury, Altaf Mahmud, Dr. G.C Dev, R.P Shaha, Dr Fazle Rabbi, Shahidullah Kaiser and many others. Even after the formal surrender by the Pakistani forces, sporadic gun fire from some armed Pakistani soldiers and Biharis was reported. In one such incident, our notable film-maker, Zahir Raihan was killed on January 30, 1972 in Mirpur, allegedly by the armed Biharis.


The killers, which included Pakistani soldiers and local collaborators, were well organized. They used to abduct the targeted people from their houses, usually in the darkness of the night, often covering their faces with black cloth. Curfew also offered them an advantage-they could easily find their victims confined in their respective houses and they could do away with their criminal acts without anyone around to resist. The victims were physically tortured and then killed mostly by indiscriminate bayonet charges. The main spots of execution in Dhaka city were the wet land at Rayerbazar, at Mohammadpur and Mirpur. A large number of dead-bodies were found lying scattered in the ditches, plains and inside the heaps of bricks. The dead bodies, with blind-folds, and hands tied, were found floating on water. They bore marks of fatal wounds on their bodies and bullet-shots on chests, heads and backs. The scene will evoke a sense of dismay in the heart of anyone who beholds it. It was estimated that 991 educationists, 49 physicians, 42 lawyers, 13 journalists and 16 others, including litterateurs, artistes and engineers, were killed.


We observe the Martyred Intellectuals Day today with deep respect to our fallen heroes. There is a pain deep in our hearts. We pray for the eternal peace of those who made the supreme sacrifice for the freedom of our motherland, and at the same time wish Allah might give their dear ones, who survive, the strength to bear the loss.


This is a day that reminds us that the liberation of our land had never been easy. A lot of livesĀ  had to be sacrificed. Many mothers lost their beloved sons, many women lost their dear husbands many children lost their parents. The Martyred Intellectuals Day has a clear message for our children. The freedom that they enjoy today has been achieved at a cost of millions of lives. They can repay only by contributing to the building of a prosperous Bangladesh, free from hunger and sufferings. Now that a memorial, designed by architect Mostafa Ali Kuddus, has been built to remember the intellectuals who were killed, we should take our children there and tell them all the truth about their supreme sacrifice for the sake of developing in them a genuine love for the country. The anti-liberation elements are spreading concocted and fabricated stories at the interest of their lords in Pakistan. So, conscious effort must be made to uphold the truth about the entire war of liberation. Let us all be united on this special day and promise to preserve the honest account relating to the struggle for our freedom. Let us work together towards bringing peace and happiness in our beautiful motherland.


Mohammad Abdul Hai is Principal, ABC International School, Narayanganj.

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