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     Volume 8 Issue 63 | March 27, 2009 |

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A Rare Gem Lost

Gul Nahar Bashar (panna)
Captain R A M Khairul Bashar.

As Independence Day draws near we remember the event that will remain forever seared into our hearts for my brother and I for it was the day we were robbed of our beloved father.

The Pakistan Army killed my father Captain R A M Khairul Bashar popularly known as Capt Bashar on May 29 in 1971. He had been the Officer Commanding of Station Supply Depot (SSD), Chittagong Cantonment.

The tragic and premature death of my father was a devastating blow to our family.

Life suddenly changed for my mother. My grief stricken mother kept herself very busy with the task of raising us single handedly. But she could not absorb the shock. My mother died on November 4 in 1992. My brother and I still find it very painful to reminiscence about our parents. It is not easy to look back.

The Pakistan Army killed my father after inflicting inhuman torture on him because of his outright denial to become a state witness against Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Captain Bashar left his one year old daughter and expecting wife.

The then army junta of Pakistan wanted to hang Bangabandhu in a Pakistani jail by bringing treason charges against him. It was between April and May in 1971. Pakistani General Tikka Khan was the military administrator of the then East Pakistan. My father was a captive in the hands of Pakistani forces at a concentration camp at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka. A crack force of Pak army led by Major Sarfaraz gave a proposal to my father to become a state witness against Bangabandhu at a Joint Interrogation Cell. My father straightaway rejected the proposal. It unnerved Major Sarfaraz who informed the matter to the higher authorities of the military administration. At once, the Pakistani military junta decided to kill him after inflicting inhuman torture that lasted for over a month. They brought many charges including treason charges against my father. They also brought another charge of killing a Pakistani Colonel against him.

My father's fellow comrades at the concentration camp did not find him after May 29.

We did not get my father's dead body. We still do not know whether my father received a proper Islamic burial or not. I was only a year old and my brother Iqbal Bashar (Babu) was yet to take birth at the time of this tragic event. My father's tragic fate exposed the brutality and tortures of the Pakistan army, which is unmatched in human history! I cannot wipe out that memory for a moment. I cannot go further, I cannot imagine what happened next, I wish my father could have escaped that inhuman torture.

I am constantly haunted by the brutal death of my father and I cannot be at peace until his killers are punished. Any war crime trial should include, at least a symbolic indictment of the military leadership of then East Pakistan under Lt General Tikka Khan and all other officers working with him in the eastern command of Pakistan armed forces.

Let the process start. It must begin by gathering data on which military unit committed what crime and which one of the officers were in charge of that unit. At least a symbolic trial would put the world focus on these crimes.

Since his commission as an army officer in 1964, my father was disgusted with the treatment of Bangali officers by the Pakistani army, who routinely and deliberately, used the concept of the glass ceiling and kept the Bangali officers in lower ranks.

During the non-cooperation movement which started after March 1, 1971, when the President of Pakistan Yahiya Khan postponed the commencement of the newly elected National Assembly, my father expressed his total solidarity with the freedom-loving Bangalis. As a mark of solidarity he hoisted the new flag of independent Bangladesh atop my pram and moved it round the cantonment. My father also foiled an aggression of the Baluch Regiment to capture the Chittagong Station Supply Depot. His forces dug bunkers, fought back and forced the Pakistani aggressors to retreat.

Pakistani rulers brought troops including heavy arms and ammunition in the then East Pakistan from erstwhile West Pakistan. On receipt of information of arrival of the Pakistani ship 'Swat,' my father hurriedly rushed to Chittagong port. On the way, he led people to create road blockades on various strategic points to resist movement of Pakistani vehicles carrying arms towards the cantonment.

On the fateful night of March 25, my father left his cantonment residence along with myself and my pregnant mother Nurun Nahar Bashar Parul. He took part in the battle of resistance with full might. At Halishahar, he shot down a helicopter of Pakistan army killing or injuring seriously its pilot.

Kalurghat radio station announced that Captain Bashar and other young Bangali army officers had been leading the war. Students and youths were asked to rally round the young officers.

Meanwhile, the occupation forces reinforced their position. At one stage, Bashar got detached from the mainstream. Ultimately, he was arrested and we were sflown to Dhaka by a special plane. At Tejgaon airport, an army officer who escorted us separated me and my mother from my father. I was in my father's lap but the brute army officer of Pakistan snatched me away from him. Although I was crying aloud but it did not melt his heart.

My mother and myself were later kept under house arrest in Dhaka at my grand mother's younger sister Begum Ayesha Jafar's house. It was here where my mother witnessed the atrocities committed by the Pakistani soldiers during the liberation war.

My father's brutal end came to light in late May or early June when a Pakistani captain returned my father's uniform taking back stars of the rank of captain. My younger brother was born on July 7, 1971 after the demise of my father. We grew up without the love and care of our father.

My father, one of the bravest and most enlightened sons of Bangladesh made his supreme sacrifice for the cause of independence. He was the friendliest person who ever lived on the face of this earth. He could make friends with anyone in no time. He did not live to see independent Bangladesh, but he and thousands of Bengalis laid down their lives to become martyrs for us to live in a free country.

These brutal killings and murders by the Pakistan army were never put on trial. They were never punished.

--Gul Nahar Bashar (Panna) is the daughter of Shaheed Capt Bashar

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