Profiles of martyred intellectuals

Zahir Raihan
Famous filmmaker and writer, born on 19 August 1935 in a village in Feni district. Zahir Raihan passed his Matriculation in 1950 from Amirabad High School and was the admitted to Dhaka College, from where he passed ISc examination. He obtained BA (Hons) in Bangla from the University of Dhaka.

In his early years, he was attracted by the communist movement. When the Communist Party was banned and the leaders of the party went underground, he worked as a messenger to carry letters and messages. He got the name Raihan from underground leaders and thus his original name Zahirullah was changed to Zahir Raihan.

In his student life, Zahir devoted himself to literature. His first book Surya Grahan, a collection of stories, was published in 1362 BS 1995. Other books written by him are Shesh Bikeler Meye, Hajar Bachhar Dhare, Arek Falgun, Baraf Gala Nadi and Ar Kata Din. He was one of the initiators in publishing the English weekly Express in 1970.

In 1952, Zahir went to Calcutta to learn photography and was admitted to Pramatesh Burua Memorial Photography School. He entered the film world in 1956. Kakhono Asheni, the first film directed by him, was released in 1961. Then came, one after another, Kajal, Kancher Deyal, Behula, Jiban Theke Neya, Anwara, Sangam and Bahana. Jiban Theke Neya depicted the autocratic rule of Pakistan and inspired the people to protest against the Pakistani rulers. He started making an English film Let There Be Light, which he could not finish. After 25 March 1971, he went to Calcutta and produced a documentary film Stop Genocide highlighting the massacre done by the Pakistani Army.

In December 1971, some members of the notorious Al-Badr took away Zahir's elder brother Shahidullah Kaiser, an eminent writer, from his residence at the University of Dhaka. Within days, on 30 December 1971, someone informed Zahir about an address, somewhere at Mirpur, where he might find his brother. Accordingly, Zahir left home to get his brother back. Alas, he never returned.

Shahidullah Kaiser
Journalist and novelist, born on 16 February 1927 in Mazupur village of Feni. His original name was Abu Nayeem Mohammad Shahidullah.

After completing Honours in economics from Presidency College in 1946, Shahidullah Kaiser enrolled for the Master of Arts in economics at Calcutta University, but could not sit for the final examination. As a student, he participated in various social, cultural and political movements. He was a member of the provincial Communist Party of East Pakistan and also played an important role in the Language Movement in 1952. As a consequence, he suffered imprisonment several times.

Shahidullah Kaiser started his career in journalism in 1949 with the weekly Ittefaq in Dhaka. In 1958, he was appointed associate editor of the Sangbad, and continued to work there until his death.

Shahidullah Kaiser was also a novelist of note. He came into the limelight with Sareng Bau (The Captain's Wife, 1962). Later, a film was made based on this book. His other novels include Sangshaptak (The Indomitable Soldiers, 1965), which was later made into a highly acclaimed television serial, Krishnachura Megh (Krishnachura Clouds), Timir Balay (The Circle of Darkness), Digante Phuler Agun (The Flaming Horizon), Samudra O Trisna (Sea and Thirst), Chandrabhaner Kanya (Chandrabhan's Daughter), Sangsaptak and the unfinished novel, Kabe Pohabe Bibhabari (When Will It Dawn). Shahidullah was the recipient of the Adamjee Literary Award (1962) and the Bangla Academy Award (1962). He was picked up by the Al-Badr on 14 December 1971 and never returned.

Santosh Chandra Bhattacharyya
A teacher and a scholar. Born on 30 August, 1915 in Nawabganj upazila of Dhaka district, Santosh Chandra Bhattacharyya graduated from Dhaka University in 1937 with Honours in History and obtained MA degree in 1938 from the same institution occupying first position in the first class in both the examinations.

He started his academic career as a lecturer in Jagannath College in 1939 and worked there until 1949, when he joined the History Department of Dhaka University as a Senior Lecturer. A scholar in Sanskrit literature and ancient history of Bengal and India, Bhattacharyya served Dhaka University as a devoted teacher and a scholar until his tragic death (14 December, 1971) in the hands of the cohorts of the Pakistan army.

Prof. Munier Choudhury
Born in 1925 at Manikganj, Dhaka. Hailed from Noakhali. Joined the department of Bangla as a lecturer in 1955, before that he was a part time teacher in the English department. He was an M.A. in English, but while he was interned at Dhaka Central Jail (1953-54) during the Language Movement he did his M. A. (first in first class) in Bangla.

He became Reader in 1962 and Professor in 1970 and the Dean of the faculty of arts in 1971.

After the army crackdown in the university area from which he luckily escaped like many, he moved to his parents' house, near Hatirpool. He became a totally dejected and broken man. Many of his student-like well-wishers requested him to come to the liberated areas. But unfortunately Munier Choudhury couldn't mentally adjust to the idea of fleeing from his beloved motherland. He preferred to stay back and surrendered to his 'fate'.

His notable literary works include Raktakta Prantar, Kabar, Dandakaranya, Mir Manash, Palashi Barrack o Annanya, Bangla Gadyariti.

He denounced the title 'Sitar- I- Imtiaz' awarded to him by the Pakistan government (1966) during the non-cooperation movement (1971).

The members of the Al-Badr picked him from his residence at Hatirpul and subsequently killed him at the dawn of our liberation. His dead body could not be identified.

Mofazzal Haidar Chaudhury
Mofazzal Haidar Chaudhury, born in Noakhali in 1926, joined the department of Bangla of Dhaka University in 1955. He studied at London University for a couple of years in linguistics. He was awarded 'Sahitya Bharati' by the Viswa Bharati University, Santiniketan. He became Reader in Bengali in 1970. His famous writings include Bangla Banan o Lipi Sanskar, Rabi Parikrama, Colloquial Bengali, Bhasa o Sanskriti, Sahityer Nava Rupayan etc.

He was picked up and killed by the Al-Badr on December 14, 1971.

Rashidul Hasan
Rashidul Hasan, born in 1932 in Bhirbhum district of West Bengal, migrated to this part of the subcontinent then under Pakistani rule in 1949. He obtained BA(Hons.) and MA in English from DU in 1957 and 1958 respectively. He taught at various colleges including Narsingdi, Pabna Edward College and Krishna Chandra College of Bhirbhum in West Bengal. Finally, he joined the English Department, DU, as a lecturer in 1967.

He was a liberal democrat and a life long fighter against fundamentalism and communalism.

A close friend of Anwar Pasha, Rashidul Hasan was picked up together with his friend Anwar from the same flat within the DU campus. The two families were then living together in a flat in Isa Khan Road area.

Anwar Pasha
Born on 15 April 1928 at Dabkai village in Murshidabad, India. After passing the High Madrassah examination in 1946, Anwar Pasha went on to do his BA and then his MA in Bangla from Calcutta University in 1953. He started his teaching career as superintendent of Manikchak High Madrasah and later on taught at Bhabta Azizia High Madrasah (1954) and Sadikhan Diar Bohumukhi Higher Secondary School (1957). In 1958 he joined Pabna Edward College and then, in 1966, the Department of Bangla, Dhaka University.

Anwar Pasha made his debut as a writer with Hasnahena, a collection of literary essays. During the next two decades, he published novels, essays, poems, and short stories. He also edited four ancient and medieval Bangla poems. His writings were published in many journals, including the quarterly Kabita, published from Kolkata and edited by Buddhadev Bose. His notable writings include Nadi Nihshesita Hale (1963), Nid Sandhani (1968), Nishuti Rater Gatha (1968), Nirupay Harini (1970), Rabindra Chhotagalpa Samiksa (Vol. I 1963, Vol. II 1973), Sahityashilpi Abul Fazal (1968).

Anwar Pasha was picked up from his university flat and brutally killed with other intellectuals. He was posthumously honoured with the Bangla Academy Award for his literary achievements.

Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta
DU teacher, killed by the Pakistani Army on the night of 25 March 1971. He was born in Mymensingh town on 10 July 1920. His father, Kumudchandra Guhathakurta, of Banaripara, Barisal, and his mother, Srimati Sumati, were school teachers. Guhathakurta matriculated from Mymensingh Zila School In 1936. He then studied at Presidency College in Kolkata for a year, but an attack of typhoid prevented him from taking the final examination. Later he took admission in Ananda Mohan College Mymensingh, and in 1939 passed IA. He took admission in Dhaka University and graduated with honours in English in 1942, standing first in the first class. His academic success earned him the Pope Memorial Gold Medal. The following year he completed his MA.

Guhathakurta taught in a number of colleges from 1944 to 1949, such as, AM College, Mymensingh, Gurudayal College, Kishoreganj, and Jagannath College, Dhaka. In 1949 he joined Dhaka University as lecturer in English. In 1963 he went to King's College, London University, on a British Council scholarship to do doctoral work on 'Classical Myths in the Plays of Swinburne, Bridges, Sturges, Moore and Eliot'. In 1967, Guhathakurta returned to Dhaka University and was promoted to Reader, a position he held till his death. A highly successful teacher, Guhathakurta instilled in his students a love for good literature and the humanist ideals that he cherished all his life. The Pakistan Army raided the Dhaka University campus on 25 March 1971, Guhathakurta's flat was broken into and he was shot. He succumbed to his wounds at the DMCH on March 30.

Dr. MAM Faizul Mahi
Born in 1939 at Feni, Dr. Faizul Mahi was known to his friends as a progressive personality. He was not vocal compared to many of his colleagues in the university but very much dedicated to the cause of war of liberation that was going on from March to December, helping the freedom fighters from within keeping a low profile, a very difficult job indeed. But he could not keep secret his real identity from the watchful eyes of the collaborators some of whom happend to be his colleagues within IER.

Mahi joined the Institute of Education and Research in 1968 after obtaining Ed. D (doctorate in education) and then soon became Senior Lecturer. He was a dedicated teacher.

The beastly Al Badr group picked him up on 14 December from his home.

Sirajul Haque Khan
Dr. Sirajul Haque Khan was born in 1924 in the district of Noakhali. He graduated in Education in 1949 and then he obtained M. Ed degree from IER, DU, in 1965. Later on he obtained Ed. D from the State College of Colorado, USA in 1967 after which he joined IER, DU as a senior lecturer.

A group of Al -Badr members took him forcibly in a bus in the morning of 14 December, 1971 to an unknown destination from where he never returned to his beloved family. The brutal collaborators killed him.

Ghyasuddin Ahmed
Ghyasuddin Ahmed was born in Narsingdi in 1935. He passed matriculation from St. Gregory High School, Dhaka in 1950 and I.A. from Notre Dame College in 1952. He passed B.A. (Hons) and M.A. in History from Dhaka University in 1957. He joined Jagannath College in the History department as lecturer and later joined Dhaka University in 1958. He went to the UK with Commonwealth Scholarship in 1964 and obtained Honours degree in World History from London School of Economics.

Accused of helping in the liberation war of Bangladesh he was taken to Dhaka Cantonment for questioning. He was released after a few days. Then again on 14 December 1971 he was picked up from Mohsin Hall by the Al Badar forces. On 4 January 1972 his clothes and mutilated body were identified in Mirpur area.

Mohammad Fazle Rabbi
Dr. Mohammad Fazle Rabbi was born in Pabna in 1932. He was a brilliant student from childhood. He passed matriculation from Pabna Zilla School in 1948 and I.Sc from Dhaka College in 1950. He was an activist during the Language Movement in 1952. He passed MBBS from Dhaka Medical College in 1955. He received gold medal for securing top position in MBBS examination. He joined Dhaka Medical College and Hospital as assistant surgeon in 1956. In 1959-60 he was promoted to the post of registrar in medicine. He obtained MRCP in cardiology from Edinborough in England and worked at various hospitals in that country to acquire experience. In 1962 he obtained MRCP in general medicine from England. He came back to the country in 1963 and joined Dhaka Medical College and Hospital as associate professor of medicine. In 1968 he worked as professor of medicine and professor of cardiology at the same time.

He was known as a progressive political personality and social worker. He was first to talk about the concept of people-oriented health care system in 1969. Besides teaching he used to do research also. His research-based articles have been published in British Medical Journal and Lancet. He had started to write a book on medicine but could not finish it.

Dr. Fazle Rabbi married in 1957. He became a proud father of a son and a daughter. Regarding his death his wife Dr. Jahanara Rabbi has to say the following:

On 15 December the curfew was relaxed for two hours. Despite his wife's objection he had gone to see a non-Bengali patient in the old part of Dhaka. He had bought plenty of vegetables on his way back. Though his wife requested him repeatedly to move out from the house at 75, Shiddeshwari, he did not agree. On that fateful day he took some rest after lunch. In the afternoon, members of Pakistan army, Al Badar and Rajakars circled his house. They came in a microbus and a jeep. About six soldiers took him towards the jeep. As his wife came out running they pointed a gun at her and stopped her from advancing any farther. Dr. Rabbi walked towards the jeep with his head held high. It was known that on 15 December midnight Dr. Rabbi along with some other intellectuals were taken in a truck from the Lalmatia Physical Training Institute to the Rayerbazar brickfield and murdered in a brutal manner. His dead body was identified on 18 December.

Selina Parvin
Selina Parvin was born in Noakhali in 1931. She was a poet and a journalist. She had her primary education in Feni. She became an avid reader of Bengali literature. She took a job at weekly 'Lalana.' Then she started her own literary magazine 'Shilalipi.' She also began to write poems, short stories and essays. On 14 December 1971, she was murdered by Al Badar.

Gobinda Chandra Dev
Gobinda Chandra Dev was born in Sylhet in 1907. He was a philosopher and an educationist. He passed entrance examination in first division from Biani Bazar High English School in 1925 and I.A from Ripon College, Calcutta in 1927. He passed B.A honours and M.A in philosophy from Calcutta University in 1939. He was placed in the first class first position in both the examinations. He received Ph.D degree from the same university for his thesis on 'Reason, intuition and reality.' Later he got involved in research and worked as teacher in Calcutta and Dinajpur.

He joined Dhaka University as a professor of philosophy in 1953 and was later promoted as chairman of the department of philosophy in 1970. He taught in a college in Pensyvania, USA as a visiting professor. It was at this time that his admirers founded “The Gobinda Dev Foundation for World Brotherhood.” On return to Dhaka he founded the Philosophy Bhaban in 1971.

Among his publications are: A new defence and a new application; Aspiration of the common man; The philosophy of Bibekananda and the future of man; Amar Jibon Darshan; Tattabidyashar; Buddha, the humanist.

A life-long bachelor, Dr. G.C. Dev was brutally murdered by the Pakistani forces on the night of 25 March 1971 in his campus quarters.

Nizamuddin Ahmed
Nizamuddin Ahmed was born in Munshiganj in 1929. He was a journalist. He passed B.A (Hons) and M.A in Economics from Dhaka University in 1959. Later he joined Pakistan Press International. He became the editor of PPI in 1969 and was promoted to the rank of general manager.

Nizamuddin Ahmed was an ardent supporter of the liberation war of Bangladesh. He used to send news items on the atrocities of the Pakistani forces to various foreign news media. He had taken New York Times journalist McBrown to a guerrilla camp to collect authentic news. He provided BBC with authentic news under strict censorship. For this reason he was taken to General Rao Forman Ali's office on two occasions.

On 12 December 1971, Nizamuddin was taking his lunch when members of Al Badar picked him up from his residence. His body was never found.

Kaminikumar Ghosh
Kaminikumar Ghosh was born in Chittagong in 1888. In Chittagong he was known as Rai Shaheb Kaminikumar Ghosh. He passed all examinations under the Calcutta University with scholarship. He served Chittagong District Board as member for 28 years and as its vice chairman for seven years. He was also actively involved with the local schools and colleges. He served as chairman of Kanchana Union Board for 25 years. He set up many cooperatives in Satkania. He also set up Satkania College and served as its first principal. He worked as a lawyer for 50 years.

On 25 April 1971, Pakistani soldiers brutally killed him.

Meherunnesa was born in 1946 in West Bengal, India. She migrated to the then East Pakistan with her family as refugee and settled in Mirpur, Dhaka. She worked in various newspapers as proofreader and wrote short stories and poems. Her first poem 'Chashi' was printed on Khelaghor page of the Daily Sangbad in 1952.

On 25 March 1971, she was killed by some non-Bengali people in Mirpur.

Syed Nazmul Haque
Syed Nazmul Haque was born in Khulna in 1941. He was a journalist. He passed B.A. (Hons) and M.A. in Political Science from Dhaka university in 1963 and 1964 respectively. He took active part in the anti-martial law movement in 1962. He was arrested for disrupting the convocation programme on the DU campus in 1964 where the then governor of East Pakistan Abdul Monem Khan was present. He passed the superior service examination in 1967 and was selected for the information service. But because of the police case against him for disrupting the convocation he was not allowed to join the service.

He later took up journalism as a fulltime profession. He became the chief reporter of Pakistan Press International and Dhaka correspondent of Columbia Broadcasting Service. He prepared a full report on the proceedings of Agartala Conspiracy Case. He sent news items on the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani forces during the liberation war of Bangladesh. On 6 August 1971 he was arrested in Dhaka and sent to a prison in West Pakistan. He was given pressure to testify against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a secret trial. On getting release in November 1971 he came back to Dhaka. On 11 December 1971, he was picked up from his Purana Paltan house by the members of Al Badar. His dead body was never found.