Sunday, 5 February, 2023

To Greater Glory of Our Martyred Intellectuals

Pradip Kumar Dutta

14 December is one of the saddest days in the history of Bangladesh. The day is observed with due solemnity in the country as the Martyred Intellectuals Day. On this day many a revered son of the soil who were to lead the country to be freed in days from occupation army of Pakistan were cruelly killed by the Pakistani authorities. They were intellectuals in all fields of excellence. Amongst them were Professors, Doctors, Engineers, Journalists, Writers, Poets, Lawyers, Columnists and all of them belonged to progressive thinking, freedom loving nationalistic, pro-people genre. More than 1,200 (according to some unconfirmed count) of intellectuals were killed during the period from 25 March to 16 December and beyond. Exact numbers in Genocides are almost impossible to ascertain. Extensive research work is necessary to go as close as possible to the number. The intellectuals were picked up according to a very specific plan to devoid the soon would be independent Nation of its top brains so that the country turns out to be a failed state.

This genocidal act was planned by Pakistani General Rao Forman Ali and executed by armed accomplices of the Pakistani army, namely Al Badr and Al Shams militias. A diary with many of the martyrs and could be martyrs names in Rao Forman's hand writing was later reportedly recovered from the debris of his office turned to rubbles by Indian air attack during the final onslaught of the Joint Indo Bangla Forces on Dhaka.

In fact the attack on Bengal's art, culture and civilisation by the Pakistani authorities was evident from the very inception of Pakistan. The dominant ruling class of Pakistan consisting of West Pakistani Punjabis and their Bengali lackeys always were of the opinion that Bengali people of their eastern part were inferior to them in all respects and they were to be kept as subservient.

The first blow came on the Bengalis when their rich language was on the altar of sacrifice. Urdu was declared as the only State and official language of Pakistan. The nascent state saw valiant protest, demonstrations and bloodshed of Bengali students in the hands of Pakistani oppressors before Bangla could be established as one of the state languages of Pakistan.

Though majority of Pakistan's population was from its eastern part and bigger portion of its income was from the east, the west Pakistanis outnumbered their eastern counterparts in all the spheres of state machinery and most of the country's wealth was spent for the development of West Pakistan. The east Pakistani Bengalis were under constant exploitation. They started raising their voice against the injustice. Finally they could rally behind their unique leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, achieve an impartial democratic election in which Awami League, led by Bangabandhu's AL clinched overwhelming victory. This was beyond the wildest dream of the west Pakistani military and civil bureaucracy. They were in no mood to hand over ruling power of Pakistan to Bengalis. To meet their ends the Pak authorities planned a blitzkrieg sort of Genocide codenamed Operation Searchlight which they started on the late evening of 25 March, 1971. To avoid handing over the political power in Pakistan to democratically elected Awami League, the tanks, artillery and infantrymen came out of Dhaka cantonment and attacked students, policemen and military personnel of Bengali origin, Hindu localities and Bengali people in general to subdue them into a captive group of people. The Bengali Genocide of 1971 by Pakistani army, their Bihari accomplices and Bengali collaborators began. In the early hours of 26 March,1971 Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ,who later became the Father of the Nation declared Independence of Bangladesh and Bengalis were locked in their glorious War of Liberation almost empty handed with primitive weapons against the well equipped Pakistanis. During the nine months of untold sufferings and destruction by the Pakistani authorities the Bengali Freedom Fighters assisted by friendly Indian government were at the verge of victory. Powerful foreign governments that sided with Pakistan, could not save them from a humiliating defeat. Last ditch endeavours by US and Chinese  governments aimed at a face saving cease fire to keep Bangladesh in the fold of Pakistan was foiled by strong support to the just cause of Bengalis by USSR. Smelling imminent catastrophe, the Pak authorities took its last possible step of Bengali Genocide. To cripple the Bengali nation, the killing of Bengali intellectuals which started with the merciless annihilation of saintly Prof Gobinda Chandra Dev and other professors of Dhaka University was intensified. The act continued all over the land during the months of the War of Liberation. When victory of the Freedom Fighters was just around the corner and the total surrender of the Pak forces was a matter of days the final inhuman brutal plan chalked out earlier was executed. As mentioned earlier, a list of intellectuals to be killed was prepared. They were picked up by groups of veiled Al Badr and Al Shams killers from their homes or workplaces, blindfolded, tortured and finally killed brutally. Their dead bodies were dumped in Rayerbazar marshy lands of brick fields and other killing fields across the country. Many of such intellectual killings were done on the 14th of December. Victory was just two days away.

Intellectuals help build a nation. They build the backbone of the nation by educating and bringing up worthy citizens. To devoid a nation of its intellectuals, is thus tantamount to taking actions to destroy the Nation. The intent to destroy a group of people belonging to a national identity constitutes a Genocide. Killing of Bengali intellectuals during the penultimate days of the War of Liberation of Bangladesh is one aspect and proof of 1971 Bengali Genocide by Pakistanis.

On 14th of December every year people of Bangladesh observe Martyred Intellectuals Day with due solemnity and pays homage to the intellectuals who were brutally killed by the Pak occupation forces and their allies. The people remember and express their indebtedness to the Martyred intellectuals in particular and all Martyrs in general for the supreme sacrifice they made for the freedom of their motherland. This genocidal act of the Pak army and their collaborators and their overall Genocide of Bengalis in 1971 should be acknowledged by the world community and remedial measures have to be taken to ensure "Never Again" which was vowed by all the Nations after the colossal losses of life, properties and wealth suffered by mankind during WW2.

The intellectuals of Bangladesh and all other martyrs for the country will be remembered by the nation for all times to come.

It will not be out of place to refer to the immortal song here:

John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave

But his soul’s marching on

Glory Hally, Hallelujah.....


The writer is a columnist