The eminent intellectual personalities whom we lost in those days from the outset of the Liberation War till the very end, include Professor Gobinda Chandra Deb, Munier Chowdhury, Jyotirmoy Guhathakuta, Dr Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury, Rashidul Hasan, Dr Anwar Pasha, Sirajuddin Hossain, Shahidullah Kaiser, Nizamuddin Ahmed, Giasuddin Ahmed, Dr Fazle Rabbi, Dr Alim Chowdhury, ANM Golam Mustafa, Selina Parveen, and more.

During the misrule of Pakistan, our writers, journalists, artistes and intellectuals were the voice of our conscience. They protested against wrong. They used their knowledge, wisdom and intellect to guide the nation. That is why the Pakistani forces and their collaborators sought vengeance. Only in World War II is there such an example of so many intellectuals being killed in such a short span of time.

Let the pledge today be to take Bangladesh ahead as an intellectually and economically developed nation as envisaged by the martyred intellectuals

The killing of intellectuals in 1971 was a crime against humanity. After a long wait, some of the top criminals who were involved in the killing of the intellectuals were finally tried and their sentences were carried out. The country managed to shrug off the lack of justice. That was a relief to the nation. However, the Al Badr commanders Chowdhury Moinuddin and Ashrafuzzaman remain in exile and so it has not been possible to carry out the death sentence passed against them by the court. The court verdict indicates that they were instrumental in the killing of the intellectuals.

The deliberation of the International Crimes Tribunal-2 judge, Obaidul Hasan, on the atrocities orchestrated by these two killers, is horrific. Ashrafuzzaman is presently in the US and Moinuddin in the UK. These countries claim to be protectors of human rights and justice, so how can they shelter these despicable killers? The government needs to step up its diplomatic efforts to bring them back to the country.

On this day, on eve of our Victory Day, we pay our deepest respects to these great personalities. But it certainly not enough to display our respect just one day year to these great persons who illuminated the path of the nation with their wisdom, knowledge and intellect. We must understand why they had to sacrifice their lives, what were their thoughts, their ideals. When we read in the newspapers about the sad plight of the families of some of the martyred intellectuals, we feel that the state has failed to do them justice. This is not acceptable.

The commemoration of Martyred Intellectuals Day will only have true significance if we can strengthen the intellectual fabric of our nation. Let the pledge today be to take Bangladesh ahead as an intellectually and economically developed nation as envisaged by the martyred intellectuals.

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