Indian President Ram Nath Kovind conferred Bangladesh’s valiant freedom fighter and a Liberation War researcher Lt Col (Retd) Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir with Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, in recognition of his contribution to public affairs.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar were, among others, present at the award giving ceremony.
The citation described him as “Bangladesh Liberation War Veteran, and founder of ‘Shudhui Muktijuddho’ providing recognition to indigenous war veterans.”
Sajjad Ali Zahir was born in Daudkandi in Cumilla district on April 11, 1951. He joined the Pakistan Army at the end of 1969 as a cadet.
Since the Bangladesh Liberation war began, he was looking for a chance to leave Pakistan and join the war. Finally he could flee from Pakistan at the end of August and came to India to join the war in September 1971.
Zahir organised the 2nd Artillery Force under Sector 4 in the Sylhet region. For his bravery in the battle of Borolekha, he was awarded gallantry award ‘Bir Protik’.
He is the founder and executive director of ‘Shudhui Muktijuddho’, an organisation that conducts research on war crimes which were committed during the nine-month Liberation War of Bangladesh and also extensively documents information about the missing and disappeared at that period.
He is also the author of 58 books and known for giving lectures on different educational institutions for inspiring new generation in the spirit of the Liberation War.
Zahir was also awarded the ‘Bangladesh Independence Day Award’, the highest civilian award, for his contribution to the Bangladesh’s Great War of Liberation.
India on Monday conferred a career diplomat late Syed Muazzem Ali got Padma Bhushan award and eminent archaeologist Prof Enamul Haque received Padma Sri Award for their exceptional and disguised services in their respective fields.
Eminent Rabindra Sangeet exponent and cultural organiser Sanjida Khatun also nominated for the award for 2021.