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Writer, freedom fighter Begum Mushtari Shafi dies

Writer, freedom fighter Begum Mushtari Shafi dies
Eminent litterateur and freedom fighter Begum Mushtari

Eminent litterateur and freedom fighter Begum Mushtari, also known as ‘Shaheed Jaya’ (wife of Shaheed) Begum Mushtari Shafi, passed away at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Dhaka on Monday. He was 84.

Begum Mushtari was undergoing treatment at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital for various complications, including kidney and blood infections, said her son-in-law Abdullah Zafar.

Zafar said Mushtari suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday afternoon when she was on life support. She then breathed her last at 5 pm.

Mushtari was brought to Dhaka from Chattogram on December 2 for her kidney-related complications and blood infections. She was then put on life support.

Born on January 15, 1936 in West Bengal, Begum Mushtari participated in the 1952 Language Movement. Her ancestral home is in Faridpur district. 

In the 1960s, she founded a women organization called 'Bandhabi Sangha' in Chattogram.  From this organization, she published a regular magazine, 'Bandhabi', and started a printing house called 'Meyeder Press', which were considered as remarkable activities at a time when women activists were rare in society.

On April 7, 1971, when the Liberation War began, her husband doctor Mohammad Shafi and younger brother Ehsanul Haque Ansari were assassinated by the Pakistani Military. 

Holding that grief in her heart, Begum Mushtari worked in Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra till Bangladesh earned its victory on December 16, 1971.

She preserved the memories and her experiences about the Liberation War in some of her notable books, namely 'Women of Chittagong in the War of Liberation,’ 'Letter to Jahanara Imam' and 'Swadhinata Amar Roktojhora Din'. She also wrote essays, novels, travelogues, teen stories and memoirs.

For her contribution to the field of Bengali literature, Bangla Academy awarded Begum Shafi a fellowship in 2016. She also received the state award 'Rokeya Padak' in literature, last year.

She was an active member of the 1971 Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee, and also an avid supporter and activist in the 2013 Shahbag protests at the Gonojagaran Mancha, Shahbag in the capital.