Vol. 4 Num 294 Fri. March 26, 2004  

Women freedom fighters and language activists honoured

On March 24, the Bangladesh Women Journalists Forum (BWJF) honoured Forkan Begum, Minara Begum Jhunu (both freedom fighters) and language activists Rowshan Ara Bachchu and Chemon Ara Shahin for their tremendous contribution in the Liberation War and The Language Movement.

The high point of the function at the National Press Club was the presentation of crests to the courageous women by Maleka Begum, chairperson of the function and a prominent women activist.

The freedom fighters and language activists shared their experience of the Language Movement and Liberation War. As Rowshan Ara Bachchu said in her speech: 'We felt that we should fight for our right from the very beginning of the independence of Pakistan in 1948. We were only 35 female students in the entire Dhaka University at that time. We were bound by many restrictions but despite those restrictions, we got involved in the activities like meetings, processions and strikes to demand that Bangla be made the state language of the then East Pakistan.'

Minara Begum Jhunu was an active freedom fighter in 1971 who fought on the frontier as a soldier. Recalling the Liberation War she says: 'It was the night of March 25. I was on the Dhaka University campus and witnessed the brutality of Pakistani army. I saw thousands of dead bodies dumped behind the then Iqbal Hall.' She also talked about her guerilla training near the border of India where she was also the member of the women's volunteer force. The main tasks of that force were to take care of the wounded freedom fighters, train up the women fighters and manage the mobile libraries to inspire the freedom fighters as well as the ordinary people.

Freedom fighter Forkan Begum was also a frontier guerilla fighter. She said, 'In 1971, I was among a small group of women who were being trained to fight the war. On March 23 we, the members of that suicidal squad, gathered in thousands at the outer stadium to hoist the national flag of Bangladesh there. After hoisting the flag we walked all the way to the house of Bangabandhu to give him the flag.' She also said that although women used to lead processions and meetings at that time, they were not given their due recognition by the powers that be.

(Sitting) Rashida Amin , Maleka Begum, Rowshan Ara and Forkan Begum at the event