HOMAGE PAID TO GREAT SONS OF THE SOIL
A light mist still hung in the air of Rayerbazar in the capital. A cool breeze was blowing. Yet, people came in their hundreds: some with flowers, some carrying flags and some wearing black badges.
They stood in sombre silence and paid their deepest tribute to the martyred intellectuals yesterday at Rayerbazar Martyred Intellectuals Memorial that echoed with patriotic songs throughout the morning.
Mourners from all strata — children, elderly men and women, housewives, businessmen, children of the martyred intellectuals — laid wreaths in tribute at the altar of the memorial marking the Martyred Intellectuals Day.
While they remembered the contributions of the illustrious citizens and vowed to build the country in the light of their ideologies, they also demanded justice for the systematic massacre in 1971 intended to cripple the nation that was soon to emerge as independent Bangladesh.
Not only the culprits but also the organisations that had links with the pre-planned killings must be brought to book, they said.
Being aware of the imminent defeat in the nine-month-long war, Bangalee collaborators, particularly from Al-Badr force, executed the Pakistan army’s blueprint for elimination of teachers, writers, doctors, lawyers, journalists and other professionals in the then East Pakistan.
Al-Badr was formed by the leaders and activists of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami that fought tooth and nail to thwart the birth of Bangladesh, according to historical documents.
It picked up professionals and eminent personalities in similar fashion from their residences, and tortured and killed them, just days before Bangalees’ victory in the Liberation War on December 16, 1971.
Recalling the fateful day, Nuzhat Chowdhury, daughter of martyred physician Alim Chowdhury, demanded trial of the Jamaat-e-Islami as an organisation for its role during the war.
“Jamaat must be banned.”
“Although we have achieved political victory, our ideological battle is yet to be over…. We have to root out the ideology that drove the killers to kill my father,” Nuzhat said.
Jamaat formed Al-Badr force that was particularly responsible for the killing of intellectuals, said Shomi Kaiser, daughter of martyred journalist Shahidulla Kaiser.
“The philosophy of Jamaat cannot be wiped out with the execution of one [convicted war criminal] Quader Mollah and some others…. We have to fight continuously against the philosophy.
“We have to take the country forward fulfilling the dreams of its great sons,” added Shomi, a prominent actress.
Asked how the government would proceed with the trial of Jamaat, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said the party identified as a party of war criminals should not have the right to continue doing politics.
A bill amending the relevant law to empower the International Crimes Tribunal to try and punish organisations for war crimes will be placed in the next parliamentary session for approval, he said.
“Those who committed crimes in 1971 in the name of religion should be tried. The people of the country also want their trial,” the minister added.
Shekhar Mondal, a teacher and a resident of Rayerbazar, came there with his two children.
“I want my children to know the history of the Liberation War and the sacrifice these citizens made for the victory. That’s why I brought them here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Projonmo’71, a platform of children of Liberation War martyrs, demanded that the government take back the Independence Award given to Sarsina Pir Shah Abu Jafar Muhammad Saleh,
Though Jafar was a leader of collaborators of the Pakistan Army and was arrested immediately after the war for his role, he was given the award in 1980 by Ziaur Rahman’s government, it said holding a human chain at the graveyard.
Earlier in the day, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placed wreaths at Martyred Intellectuals’ Mausoleum in the capital’s Mirpur. They then stood in solemn silence for some time as the bugle played the last post.
Flanked by senior Awami League leaders, Hasina placed another wreath at the mausoleum as the AL chief.
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal President Hasanul Haq Inu and Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon also laid wreaths to pay respects.
Different socio-cultural and political organisations, educational institutions as well as people from all walks of life then paid their tributes.
SECTOR COMMANDERS’ FORUM
The Sector Commanders’ Forum (SCF)-Liberation War ’71 demanded trial of Jamaat as a criminal organisation for its role in the Liberation War at a human chain at Rayerbazar Martyred Intellectuals’ Graveyard in the capital yesterday.
Placing wreaths at the graveyard, it also demanded that the war crimes trial and execution of the convicted war criminals be expedited.
SCF Chairman KM Shafiullah, its Vice-president Abu Osman Chowdhury, around a dozen of its leaders, family members of martyred freedom fighters participated in the human chain.
To mark the Martyred Intellectuals Day, black flags were hoisted atop different buildings on the university campus.
Students, teachers and staff gathered at the base of Aparajaya Bangla and laid wreaths at the memorials in Jagannath Hall and Shahidullah Hall.
At a discussion commemorating the martyred intellectuals, DU Vice-chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said verdicts in the war crimes trial should be executed in the shortest possible time.
DECEMBER 15, 2014