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Bangladesh: Bringing to memory of our fallen intellectual heroes


by Anwar A.Khan





Louis D. Brandeis said, ”Those who sacrificed lives for our independence... valued liberty as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.” Patriotism is an emotional attachment to a nation which an individual recognises as their homeland. This attachment, also known as national feeling or national pride, can be viewed in terms of different features relating to one's own nation, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects. Intellectualism denotes the use, development, and exercise of the intellect; the practice of being an intellectual; and the Life of the Mind. And the fallen great patriotic intellectuals in 1971 are the real life of our minds. In the view of Socrates, intellectualism allows that “one will do what is right or best just as soon as one truly understands what is right orbest”; that virtue is a purely intellectual matter, since virtue and knowledge are familial relatives, which a person accrues and improves with dedication to reason. Our fallen intellectuals could really fathom what was right or best forour people.





We
never enter the time of remembrance without our mind being flooded with our
martyred intellectuals. We cannot forget the heart-wrenching pain of their near
and dear ones as they watched helplessly as the best sons of this soil were so
brutally murdered in the 2nd half of 1971 just before Bangladesh was liberated
from the cruel clutches of the Pakistani Military Junta and their local
henchmen, especially the Jamaat-e-Islami goons. They went through a war of
unsurpassed sacrifices by laying down their lives to the cause of creating the
country, Bangladesh. When we put all the sufferings and deaths of every war
together, these cannot touch the weight, suffering and sacrifice of their
supreme sacrifices. Their battle deserves their own recognition “lest we
forget” and the world forgets. They as it is unconscionable to consider
forgetting the sacrifice and death of our great intellectuals and civilian
lives, it is even more so, a grave travesty and dishonour to their services and
sacrifices, to forget. Today, we are speaking of our great patriots; our great
intellectuals.





Theyare the patriots in the truest sense of the word. Thomas Campbell said, “Thepatriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree.” The bloods of these honourablepatriots’ are still warm in our veins.Let every nation know, whether it wishesus well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet anyhardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and thesupreme sacrifices of these great sons of this sacred soil. Patriotism is akind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched and won. Thisnation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of thebraves like our great intellectuals who embraced their martyrdoms.





Great Bengali heroes have encountered barbaric murders; they will go down in the annals of history as men of immense integrity, intellectual capacity; unrelenting in their determination to follow their own destiny, and on behalf of the voiceless, but always gentlemen of stature.





Great
people have great minds and great thoughts. Majority of the great people not
only achieved their goals but also they have left their precious words and
sayings behind for others to follow and to give them a path of success. If we
read their teachings and words from the depth of our heart, we shall come to
know that they have given us formulas to live a successful and meaningful life.
Our fallen intellectuals are our constant inspirations.December 14 is ‘the
Martyred Intellectuals’ Day in our life. It is an important day for us in
Bangladesh. It is a day to give thanks, to pay tribute and to remember those
who gave their lives during our glorious Liberation War in 1971 to protect our
country. In reality, we should be thankful every single day of the year, but
the December 14 is the official day where we all come together to honour our
fallen patriotic intellectuals.





Their
journey forced us to live in the present - we didn’t want to miss any part of
the beautiful landscape of this land going by out the window. They are on our
mind as we drive through this beautiful land of Bangladesh. We are thankful
that these noble souls gave us the strength and inspiration to take this long
nine months of hardships to liberate the country from cruel Pakistani Army and
their local brutal henchmen especially belonged to the fearsome criminal
outfit, Jamaat-e-Islami.We are honoured to remember the many brave men and
women who have given their lives throughout the history of our great nation –
those who made the ultimate sacrifices to protect us from harm. We salute all
those now alive and we raise our prayers for their safety and blessing.





As
we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifices for the freedoms we
enjoy every day, we think of how they have followed in the footsteps of
patriotism. Please hold our fallen heroes in the strong arms of the Almighty.
Cover them with your sheltering grace and your presence as they stand in the
gap for our protection.  We also remember
the families of our patriots. We ask for your unique blessings to fill their
homes, and we pray your peace, provision, and strength will fill their
lives.  May the members of our patriotic
intellectuals be supplied with courage to face each day and may they trust in
the Lord's mighty power to accomplish each task.





Noted
educationist Prof. Dr. Rebecca Haque said, “Mourn a cold, dark, bloody day in
distant December. Dawn, dusk, dew, and nightfall.Silent death squads knocking
at the door, targeting noble names on the assassin’s hit-list. Lament the loss.
Weep the tears. Cry for the slaughter of the illustrious sons of the delta.
Wail at the memory of the dead desecrated in the ditch. Feel the agony of
grief. Our teachers and our seers, taken from us to the sequestered pit.
Freedom on the horizon and the marching MuktiBahini carrying the flag of
liberation could not save them from the savage ambush. On the fourteenth of
December, raise your arm to salute, to remember the martyred intellectuals. Murdered
with such diabolical, secret strategy to cripple the new nation. Dare to shout.
Dare to accuse. Dare to punish the craven killers. Your Nation asks this of
thee: do not flinch, seek justice.”The nation observes the Martyred
Intellectuals Day on December 14 as much with a deep sense of loss as with the
rekindling of the spirit that went into the making of Bangladesh.





The
defeated cohorts of the Pakistani military knew very well that the most
effective way of crippling the nation that was about to be born was to
liquidate its best sons. So, some brilliant teachers of Dhaka University– where
almost all the progressive movements in the history of the country had been
initiated – were targeted.“The killers of the infamous Al-Badr belonged to
Jamaat-e-Islami wanted to deprive the nation of the services of the
intellectuals who represented the core values that the emerging nation stood
for. True, the killers succeeded in physically eliminating the top
intellectuals, but their ideas and beliefs still inspire the nation to remain
on the right track. The martyrs of December 14 will ever shine brightly in our
memories.”





The
killers have clearly been defeated. The nation has rejected obscurantism and
religious extremism. It is a very positive development that those who
perpetrated the crimes against humanity are now facing trial, at least some of
them. Justice delayed is not always justice denied! The nation is looking
forward to the day when all the killers of the intellectuals will be tried and
punished.It is a bit disquieting to watch some people questioning the rationale
behind this delayed trial of the war criminals. They must not forget that the
crimes committed in 1971 against the people of this country cannot be condoned.
We cannot forget and forgive the criminals responsible for one of the worst
genocides in recorded history.





The
intellectuals were killed as part of an evil design which was finally foiled by
our victory 48 hours later. The best way to pay homage to the martyrs is to
make sincere efforts to translate their dreams into reality.They had a dream of
a progressive and exploitation-free society where nobody would be discriminated
against. Also they were the torch bearers of the spirit of Bengali nationalism
that set the entire nation on a warpath in 1971 to win our freedom. So, let us
live up to their expectations in perpetuity. Let us not remember on a
particular day only the men and women whose keenness of intellect and the power
of conviction gave them a very special place in society. The day of remembrance
should always be a part of our consciousness and existence.





Our goal is to never let people forget the sacrifices made for our
freedom and to take care of the families of our fallen heroes now and in the
future.A full scale
special tribute for the brave and gallant are to be performed by us on the
Mourning Day for the fallen martyrs; because they marked the most decisive
battles of the entire nine months long journey of Independence War in 1971. In
that period, slowly broke down the Pakistani forces resistance and ultimately
into a full surrender. 





These
fallen soldiers, we honour on this day, made the ultimate sacrifice for the
greater good of mankind. The ruthlessness of the Pakistani Military Junta was
evident throughout the history. These patriots had to unselfishly sacrifice
their lives for the country’s peace and stability. They fought a good battle
and their blood that flows from all the way to the whole Bangladesh territory,
nurtures our democracies and strengthens our nations in fighting oppression and
foreign dominance. History is such as the victory of Bangladesh side
narrows the gap between our nations that may be geographically far apart but
brings us closer in pursuit of democracy, human dignity, peace and security.





And we shall gather on the morning of 14 December, 2015 not merely
to lift up the memories of our fallen comrades, but to read the names inscribed
on these walls and support one another in strength as well as in grief.These
kind-hearted and patriotic intellectuals were truthful and meant what they said
for the cause of our valiant people.For every fallen hero, a life; and a reminder of the grief of
loved ones left behind. The day we received the message of their brutal murder we could
not come to grips with it and even today we cannot digest it. It is a tragedy
for the country and a tragedy to the human fraternity and they have left a big
vacuum.





Their
death occasioned the sad loss of intellectual giants who radiated an unfailing
commitment and devotion to the struggle for freedom. They were known as
thinkers who could easily speak in simple language and socialise with ordinary
people. They were true compatriots and pure-blooded democrats. They were an
embodiment of what Bangladesh stands for. These were great intellectuals who
harboured the noble qualities of dedication, sacrifice and discipline. They are
the persons who showed immense empathy to human suffering, and compassion for
the poor and oppressed. They personified humility, dignity and sophistication.





Throughout their lives they continued to inspire all of us with the certainty that wewould triumph in the end.  On 14December, 2017, we shall mourn the passing of our great sons. We salute ourcomrades and friends, and intellectual leaders in the struggle of our movementand fellow members of a generation that has given so much to the shaping of ourcountry.In the memory of our martyred intellectuals, veteran freedom fighterlate Syed Shahidul Haque Mama said, "Our country has been blessed withsome quite outstanding persons. We give thanks to Allah for their quitesubstantial contribution to our struggle and to the transformation that hashappened and is happening in our country.”In all their work, they distinguishedthemselves as scholars, disciplined cadres, builders and teachers. They builtand sustained a tradition of excellent political journalism and theoreticalwriting.





Great Bengali heroes have encountered barbaric murders; they will go down in theannals of history as men of immense integrity, intellectual capacity;unrelenting in their determination to follow their own destiny, and on behalfof the voiceless, but always gentlemen of stature.Their loss is a nationalloss. We are all indebted to them for leading us in a way that is most worthyof emulation. Their lives and times were a celebration of a life lived to thefullest.In the era of democracy, they were a constant reminder of the need tospeed up service delivery to improve the lives of our people.





They
were like shining stars of strength and loving devotion that many of us will
continue to be guided by throughout our lives. Our love is deeper than the
solar system and wider than eternity. Let us never forget that it is "love
that shines brighter than the morning sun.” We can now remember this famous poem
:





“We honour
them by promising them our best
That we will stand for that which is righteous and true
The freedom of mankind and the red, the white, and the blue
A story to be told of that which is not yet
We will begin by promising not to forget
Those who fell on the battlefield and those who came home
Those who gave all and that all gave some
May God make us worthy of the story that’s been told
May our story be that we have made their cause our own.”





There
is no better epitaph we can leave on the tombs of our martyred intellectuals
than the words of Armand Hammer, “A person first starts to live when he can
live outside himself. Life is a gift, and if we agree to accept it, we must
contribute in return. When we fail to contribute, we fail to adequately answer
why we are here.”Noted Historian Prof. Dr. MuntasirMamun has said, ”Bangabandhu
had united the nation. Gen Zia had divided it. It is tough to unite a nation.
But it is easy to divide. Zia did it. We hope the new generation will be able
to be united once again. There will be no anti-liberation element in the
country. The entire nation, imbued with the spirit of Liberation War, will
stand in unison.”He further has said, “Unfortunately the political forces in
Bangladesh are now divided as anti-Liberation and pro-Liberation forces. There
is no nation in the world where anti-Liberation forces exist. But in
Bangladesh, it exists. There will be politics in Bangladesh. But there will be
no anti-Liberation politics. Everybody will have to pro-Liberation. You will
find no country in the world, where any political party upholds the spirit of
defeated forces. They support crimes against humanity. You will not find it
anywhere else. Khaleda Zia questions the genocide. You will not find any such
politician in other countries.”





Ciao.
But before that, we wish to salute our martyred intellectuals on the 47th
anniversary of their brutal slaughtering by the war criminals and their killing
outfits, Al-Badr and Al-Shams in connivance with the brutal Pakistani Military
Junta. We should vow not to stop our fighting till the last butcher is perished
from our sacred land. We must destroy their financial base and confiscate their
properties to compensate the same to the families of war victims. One hundred
ninety five war criminals of the Pakistani Army shall be tried in the
International Crimes’ Tribunal to award due punishment to these perpetrators to
let the whole world know of what magnitude of crimes they committed to our
people during our glorious Liberation War in 1971.The martyred intellectuals
will thus live on through the love in our hearts.





-The
End –





The
writer is a senior citizen of Bangladesh, writes on
politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international
affairs.


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