Syed Badrul Haque
Hatch Barnwell seen talking with H S Suhrawardy(in the front row,middle) at a function in Dhaka. G A Madani, ICS Secretary to the Government of East Pakistan,his wife, and British Deputy High Commissioner are also seen in the rear.
The emergence of Bangladesh as a sovereign nation out of the body of Pakistan on 16 December, 1971 automatically nullifies the date of creating Pakistan on 15 August, 1947 ending Britain's century-old dominion over the Indian sub-continent as the date of our liberation. To recall history, the Partition was executed in the backdrop of communal frenzy and appalling communal disturbances that had virtually overtaken the entire sub-continent. The political actors of the Partition drama were obviously guided throughout by the time at which the material with which the Partition was created and those parameters were part of the political exercise itself. But now, from a little greater distance in time, we can however perceive that with some vision we could possibly skip the second flag and avert the great catastrophe that had befallen on the hapless people of Bangladesh. Historicity aside, it had been a potent reminder to many of the sentences that were said by the District Magistrate and Collector of the ICS clan, Hatch Barnwell on the side-line of the flag ceremony held on the Partition day at the Barisal Zilla School compound. It may be mentioned, Sher-e-Bangla A K Fazlul Huq, the uncrowned king of Bengal, and his father had studied in that school.
On August 15 1947, Barisal, a southern district town, had a sun-filled day. A large crowd from far and near had assembled at the venue to witness the flag ceremony, the defining moment of imperial emancipation. A mood of curiosity and jubilation for the new dawn of independence was discernable in every face. Hatch Barnwell was to represent the Crown at the ceremony. Everybody present was holding their breath for that momentous happening. As Britain's national flag, the Union Jack was being lowered, Hatch Barnwell removed his grey felt hat from his head and stood in silence for some time. There having no ceremonial extravaganza added to the occasion, the crowd as they were leaving the place, Hatch Barnwell's voice was heard, 'We have lost our empire but I have lost my wife.' The suddenness of his voice bewildered the audience momentarily. His voice had a bit of theatre and even wry humour. Hatch Barnwell, A tall, thinly-built Hatch Barnwell had however no difficulty in spotting his wife, a diminutive figure, in the milling crowd. His face lit up with happiness. But what was amazing is that even after a lapse of 63 years the singularity of Hatch Barnwell's words uttered at the flag ceremony became embedded in many minds who happened to be present on that historic occasion. Amanullah, a former BSS chief and presently a newspaper columnist treasures Hatch Barnwell's memorable words to this day.
Reminiscences are the petals of history that should not be lost on the wayside.
Postscript: British ICS officers Hatch Barnwell, H G S Beaver, D K Power and J S Treanor served the government of East Pakistan till retirement.
Photo: zahedul i khan
The other day, I was returning home to Bashundhara residential area from Mohakhali. Well, as it was late at night, all the bus counters were closed (the counters close by 9 pm) and I had to look for a local bus. Local buses to my destination were very much available. But unfortunately, they were packed with passengers.
There were some brave souls who hopped into the bus even before it stopped and travelled merely by hanging onto the bus door, one foot dangling in air and the other stepping on the pedestal. Seeing the horrific display, I didn't even try to get on those buses. Then, a relatively less crowded bus came and stopped. Within the twinkling of an eye, numerous people crowded in front of the bus door and literally started to fight with each other to get on the bus! I was running late and had to get on that bus, so I also joined the 'mob'. Well, being a woman didn't help me either. Regardless of one's gender, one is bound to get hit, pushed, stepped over to get on that bus!
Exhausted and out of breath, I managed to put my thoughts together and ponder over what had happened few minutes ago. It is high time that concerned stakeholders implement a solution to ease our solutions.
A few days ago, I was sitting on a coffee table at my office space. Suddenly, the top of the table broke loose and I hit the floor badly; in fact, my x-ray report showed that my tailbone bent a bit. Though I was going through a severe backache, the incident didn't surprise me. Having these serious accidents due to my lack of observation or carefulness.
When I was young, I stood on a glass trolley to switch off the AC; the trolley broke into pieces and I fell down. Though miraculously I didn't even get a scratch, I wish I were injured because my parents carpeted me with angry remarks for the accident. I still wonder how I could even think of doing something so stupid and risky! Not surprisingly instead being sympathetic, my parents had rebuked me.
Not learning from my mistakes, a few years later I tried fixing a light bulb standing on a revolving chair. As usual, I slipped off, fell on the ground and fractured my pelvic bone. I know this series of events is entirely my fault, but I prefer thinking of it as a jinx just for the sake of having some fun out of it. But I am writing these rather embarrassing incidents of my life so that people become more aware of the careless mistakes we make every now and then which can basically result in serious physical injury.
It was a Friday evening when I was looking for a rickshaw to go to a friend's house but couldn't find one. So, I decided to keep walking until I found the transportation and in the meantime I made a call to my friend to inform him that I would be a little late. While I was talking on the phone, a motorbike was approaching from the other direction. As it drew nearer, one of the two riders suddenly snatched away my cell-phone. The scene must have been reminiscent of a hawk snatching its prey and escaping.
I was just dumbfounded and stood still for some time. There was nothing I could do. However, my friends were of the opinion that this happened because I was a fool for being so unmindful.
Although I have heard about many different techniques of hijacking, this was completely novel to me. I have a hunch that in future, these criminals will discover other novel techniques for achieving their objectives. My advice to the readers is that one should be careful when using mobile phones in the streets.
MD Mazharul Islam
Kasshiful Uloom Madrasa
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