A forgotten hero of 1971

Lt Col (retd) Foyez Bahar

Every December 16, Bangladesh celebrates Victory Day, commemorating the day of its people's liberation from Pakistan after a nine-month long war in 1971. The history of Bangladesh has been made by its brave sons who sacrificed their lives for the independence of their motherland. Today is a day to remember these patriots with gratitude.

Captain R A M Khairul Bashar ASC, is one of the bravest and most enlightened sons of Bangladesh. His gallantry and sacrifices are soul lifting and an undying fount of idealism and patriotic inspiration.

In 1971, Capt Bashar was the officer commanding of Station Supply Depot (SSD) in Chittagong Cantonment.

Shaheed Capt. Bashar

The occupation army of Pakistan killed him after inflicting inhuman torture for about two months. The reason was his dogmatic will power and unflinching loyalty to the founding father of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

During our Liberation War, the army junta of Pakistan brought treason charge against Bangabandhu and wanted to hang him inside a Pakistani jail. General Yahya Khan was the President of Pakistan and General Tikka Khan was the military administrator of the then East Pakistan. It was a period between April and May in 1971. The army junta gave a proposal to Capt Bashar through a crack force led by one Major Sarfaraz to become a state witness against Bangabandhu. The proposal was given to him at a concentration camp at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka. But Bashar straightaway rejected the proposal. It unnerved the military rulers who at once decided to kill him. They brought treason charge and many other charges against him. Another charge of killing Pakistani Colonel Junzua was also brought against him. They started torturing the golden son of Bangladesh at a joint interrogation cell in an inhuman manner. Bashar's groaning during torture still haunts his fellow prisoners at the concentration camp. The torture and cruelty of Pakistan Army lasted for about two months. The brute crack force killed him on May 29. The tragic fate of this patriot exposed the brutality and torture of the Pakistan army which is unmatched in human history! Not only that but they did not hand over the body of this hero to his near and dear ones. Till today, they do not know the place where the great son of the soil is sleeping.

When the non-cooperation movement started at the call of Bangabandhu after March 1 in 1971, Bashar expressed his total solidarity with the movement. As a mark of his solidarity, he hoisted the new flag of independent Bangladesh atop the perambulator of his one-year-old baby daughter on March 7 and moved it round the cantonment.

At that time, the Baluch Regiment took a bid to capture the supply depot and launched a fierce attack on Bashar's forces. But in face of strong resistance put up by his forces, Pakistani aggressors were forced to retreat. Fellow Bengali army officers living at Chittagong Cantonment at that time can still remember his acts of bravery.

When Pakistani rulers were bringing troops and heavy arms and ammunition by the ship, 'Swat,' Bashar, with the help of students, youths and locals, resisted movement of Pakistani vehicles by creating road blockades on various points of the port city.

At Halishahar, he saved many Bengalees from the cruelty of Biharis. He fed some soldiers from his own pocket. He also shot down a helicopter of the occupation army.

The people of Chittagong will never forget this hero.

The writer is an ex-army officer.