Volume 2 Issue 54 | March 28 , 2009 |


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Behind the Scene

From Kushtia

Images Speak of War

Amanur Aman

Abdul Hamid Raihan is a freelance photographer and fighter who joined in on the country's Liberation War with no arms but only a camera. Raihan moved from front to front, camp to camp and snapped a lot of images. About 500 of his photos now tell the story of the Liberation War.

Raihan was born in Takimara village in Kushtia in 1932. He started taking photographs at the age of 14. At the time it was just a hobby. He took snapshots of whatever caught his attention. In 1951 Raihan had to put his passion for photography on hold as he had the responsibility of looking after his family. He got a job in Pakistan Tobacco as a local agent manager. He served at that post until 1971.

Nevertheless, he kept his hobby of photographing alive. He took snaps of the country's ongoing political events that happened from 1954 to 1964. Raihan's devotion to photography really began after he bought a Yashica-635 camera for Tk. 150 in 1965 and made it his fulltime companion. He started taking pictures of various political events during this period. A politically conscious Raihan was one of the warriors who joined in the struggle to make the country free. He started to travel from place to place, particularly between Kushtia and Dhaka and he took pictures of what he saw as politically relevant.

In 1969, Raihan got a little frustrated with his photography and the process of developing his work. He had to keep travelling to Dhaka to develop his images which was expensive not just in terms of money but also time. He needed an enlarger but could not afford one. He bought a lens from Karachi and made a duplicate at a local workshop. He stuck photo paper on to black polythene. To the surprise of his friends, he got good results.

Raihan became the first professional photographer of Kushtia. On March 7, 1971, he moved to Dhaka like other Bengalis who were eagerly waiting for the command of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Raihan took a number many pictures of Bangabandhu's historic speech.

The war started. Raihan moved to India with his family after Pakistani solders occupied Kushtia in the middle of April. Leaving his family members in the Karimpur refugee camp in India he joined the war movement with his camera.

Raihan acted as Assistant-In-Charge of Karimpur recruitment camp which was known as a youth camp. He then joined the volunteer service corps. of the then Mujibnagar Government as a photographer. He was assigned to visually document the freedom fighters preparing for battle, and also take document pictures of the atrocities and violence. Raihan's works are now preserved at his Rupantar Photo Studios in Kushtia town.


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