Our martyred intellectuals |
Dr. Rashid Askari
Intellectuals are the best brains of a country and the conscience of a nation. They are the friends, philosophers, and guides of the people. They are connected with the ability to think in a logical way and are determined to get at the truth. They keep the torch of idealism alive. So, the powerful vested interests are the antithesis of the intellectuals.
Our great Liberation War was an inevitable outcome of our social, economic, cultural, and political awareness generated by our intellectuals and quickened by the political leaders. The intellectuals' ideals and actions earned them the enmity of the people with vested interest who stood against the Liberation War.
So, while the marauding Pakistan Army along with their accomplices, the Razakar, the Al-Badar and Al-Shams, were on the verge of defeat, they planned to surrender and shot their last bolt at the formidable intellectuals of our country. The distinguished Bengali intellectuals including poets, litterateurs, journalists, artists, physicians, engineers, lawyers, educationists, philosophers were brought from their houses and killed at Rayerbazar badhya-bhumi and Mirpur in Gestapo manner.
The way those famous sons of the soil were killed was extremely barbaric. Their hands were tied back and they were shot in the head. Some were buried alive and some found with their eyes plucked. Many of the distorted corpses were barely recognisable. From the badhya-bhumi, the dead bodies of Professor Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Fazle Rabby, Dr. Alim Chowdhury, Dr. A. Khair, Dr. Kamal Uddin could be identified, while those of Sahidullah Kaiser, Professor Munier Chowdhury, Professor Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury, Professor Giashuddin Ahmed and many others could not be recognised.
We have heard of the blood-curdling story of atrocity of the gas chambers of the Nazis. We could not even think of the recurrence of such a heinous act. So we wondered at the harrowing fact and felt numb with terrible shock. The whole nation became mute and motionless. We suffered too heavy losses!
The paramilitary force Al-Badr, which was formed in September 1971 under the auspices of General Niazi, chief of the Eastern Command of the Pakistan Army, was the instigator of that hideous massacre. Their objective was to strike panic into the people by abduction and killing. It was the military adviser to the so-called Governor, Major General Rao Forman Ali who masterminded the whole conspiracy to extinguish the intellectuals and the higher educated class. Had they had one week time more, they would have killed all the Bengali intellectuals, which was a part of their master plan. The Badr force was in fact a special terrorist faction of the then Jamaat-e-Islami led by Moududi, Golam Azam, and Abdur Rahim.
A careful analysis of the incident of intellectuals killing reveals the fact that the killing occurred in three phases. The first phase includes the random killing of the intellectuals until the first week of April 1971 in different places of the country, including the universities. On the night of 25 March 1971, ten most distinguished intellectuals were killed at Dhaka University. The killing was a part of the genocide launched by the Pakistan Occupation Army. The planned killing had not yet started.
Secondly, Jamaat-e-Islami as part of their party policy had planned to kill all intellectuals except for the orthodox and fanatical ones. Some unscrupulous, greedy, and extremist intellectuals joined hands with Jamaat, who carried on with the killings from April to December 1971.
The third phase included the intellectuals who were killed from the last week of November to the last week of December. Being the victims of a deliberate international conspiracy, they were killed in an operation directly conducted by the Pakistani generals. Among the martyrs of the third phase, some were the targets of only Jamaat, some of international conspiracy, and some of both.
The leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami submitted their intellectuals extermination plan to Rao Forman Ali. The unprincipled and opportunist anti-liberation intellectuals joined that conspiracy and helped the Pakistan Army locate the targeted intellectuals. To execute the plan for abduction of the intellectuals, comparatively young university students and so called journalists were used. Considering the abduction operation unbecoming of regular army, Rao Forman Ali made use of the Badr force in intellectuals killing.
Immediately after submitting the killing plan, Golam Azam, along with the chief of the Razakars, Mohammad Yunus, and the liaison officer of the Peace Committee, Mahbubur Rahman Gurha, went to see the training of the Razakar and Al-Badr at the Physical Training College. From then on the Student Sangha all over the country was transformed into Al-Badr and in the last week of November and first half of December the list of the intellectuals was handed over to them for abduction and persecution.
On December 4 began the imposed curfew and black out to pave the way for abduction. The preparation for abduction of the intellectuals extensively started from December 10. Amid curfew and black out, an Al-Badr bus, stained with mud, picked up the listed intellectuals from their residences. Then they were taken to the Al-Badr headquarter at Mohammadpur Physical Training College for interrogation and persecution. At dead of night they were taken to Rayerbazar brick field and killed. The killing also took place at Mirpur.
The killing of the progressive intellectuals in this soil by the extremist and reactionary forces has not come to a halt even thirty four years after our Independence. This trend of intellectuals killing and persecution is presently on the increase. Many have already been killed by the fundamentalist forces. The pro-liberation intellectuals are being threatened with extinction across the country. They feel a growing sense of alarm. The successors to the defeated anti-liberation reactionary forces seem to have vowed to avenge themselves on the pro-liberation intellectuals. This is a serious cause for concern.
If we are to ensure the promotion of the ideals of our great Liberation War and the furtherance of our national development, we cannot but be enlightened by the ideals of the martyred intellectuals, who were killed a few hours or days or months before the great Victory in the Liberation War.
Dr. Rashid Askari is Professor and Chairman, Dept. of English, Islamic University, Kushtia