Tuesday, 27 September, 2022


‘Swadhikar Theka Swadhinata’ by Dr. Dennis Dilip Datta

Sharda Zaman

It was monsoon, the sky was full of black clouds, and strong winds were blowing. The reflection of the black cloud in the lake water (The Dhanmondi Lake in front of their house) was dark like the hair of a beautiful girl, which amazed me. The dripping drop falling from the sky, recalled a song sung by Niaz Mohammad, “Aj ei bristir kanna dhekay mone porlo tomay”. Ornita Afzal, former teacher, pressed the bell, a middle aged, and well-dressed man opened a door without any noise. My attention drew first towards a man sitting on the couch, listening to a song sung by Chitra Singh, “Kotha chilo dehka hobey, dekha holo na hridoyer kotha tar bola holo na”. An old, dark, handsome man wearing a Tagga with trousers. Glasses like our Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Eyes are calm but full of expression, looking for his beloved one. The living room of his library, full of books, vases, paintings (painted by his granddaughter Neomi Afzal), is kept in a very organized way. His life partner departed more than 22 years ago but it seems still she is with him, being his inspiration, as if she has decorated this house on her own. Her touch made this environment more meaningful. The man is Dr. Dennis Dilip Datta who was born in Barishal and moved to Dhaka in 1961. He has done his Masters in Bengali Literature from University of Dhaka, and later on he earned Doctorate Degree in 2006 which is called Doctor of Divinity. In 2010, Finland Friends of the Martyr Church honoured him with an award called Service of Humanity.

Dr. Datta is an author, editor, translator as well as social worker, with 30 books under his belt till date. His latest book is “Swadhikar Theka Swadhinata”. In his latest book, everything is written regarding Jerusalem and Bangladesh. The book is a history of the Indian subcontinent – the language movement to liberation war. All are described here. From the book, we know that Begum Shista Ikram Mullah is the first person who told in Pakistan Parliament that “A feeling is growing among the Eastern Pakistanis that Eastern Pakistan is being neglected and treated merely as a ‘Colony’ of West Pakistan” (page 53). We knew the movement of ‘TWO ECONOMY’ for Pakistan organised by Mr. Nurul Islam and Prof. Rehman Sobhan, June 1961.  It also gives a vivid description of Operation Searchlight, History of a New Flag (a flag of a golden map of Bangladesh implanted on a red circle placed in the middle of a deep green rectangle base). It is also written that Bangabandhu called upon the people of Bangladesh to be independent at 12.30 p.m. 1971. This may be his last message, he added. Eleven sectors are mentioned in this book. There were so many Bahinis like Mujib Bahini, Kaderia Bahini, Latif Bahini, Halim Bahini, Gafoor Bahini and many more. According to the information of this book, (on page 148), about 9,899,385 refugees took shelter in different refugee camps in India on March 25, 1971. All the important events happened from 4th December 1971 to 31st December 1971 were narrated in an organized way. The valuable speech of Indira Gandhi, who was not the Prime Minister of India but an Institution, is attached here. Indira Gandhi greeted Bangabandhu. She said, it was Bangabandhu’s inspiration that helped people of Bangladesh fight so gallantly. The speech of Bangabandhu given on 10th January 1972 is attached here. The cover of the book is justified by the contents of the book.

On March 15, 1971 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took the helm of Bangladesh. A new flag of Bangladesh was born on March 23 1971 at Paltan Maidan in the presence of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was reported on “The People” on March 23 1971. And after that on March 25, 1971 Pakistan started genocide till December 15, 1971 when Bangladesh was created. Instrument of surrender (December 15, 1971, where the Pakistan Eastern Command agreed to surrender) is attached in this book at page 171. A very important announcement related to unconditional surrender is also attached here. This announcement was announced by Indira Gandhi.

His mother studied up to class 4 and his father up to class 8 at the time when no one dared to dream of female education. In 1942, when Dr. Datta was born, Gandhi announced “Quit India”. His mother advised him not to believe the ‘White Rats”. Mother and son both were inspired by Gandhi's lifestyle. In 1958 Dr. Datta was involved in student politics as well as labour politics.

In 1962 he was arrested and sent to jail for 2.5 months. In 1963 sitting in Modhur Canteen while having breakfast, when he was underground, he learned about his father’s demise. In 1969 he was asked to leave the country by the Pakistan Government and he left for The Philippines. In 1971 Liberation War started. He joined the Bangladesh Mission in The Philippines. He returned to Bangladesh in 1971 with his wife Roza Datta and two children. He believes in Liberation Theology (Latin Humanist Concept). As a social worker he was associated with different NGOs such as CCDB, NCCB, Food for the Hungry and KOINONIA. He was involved in agriculture, health, education, relief, rehabilitation, water, sanitation and micro credit.

His concept of life is very clear. He believes in spirituality, morality and ethics. His advice for new writers is to become vocal on human rights, corruption, and justice. His eldest son died at the age of 19. After that his wife died because she couldn't bear the pain.

Former Chief Justice A.T.M. Afzal is known for his dignity, honesty, and farsightedness. He is well known for law and justice. He has justified his post. Mr. Datta and Mr. Afzal are tied up in one knot as in-laws. “Do not judge a judge by his designation”. This means a lot to Mr. A.T.M. Afzal. He is a down to earth person, generous and pious also as he never goes to bed without reciting the “Holy Quran”. His contributions to the nation are remarkable.


The reviewer is an Invigilator, Exam Services, British Council, Dhaka