Martyred Intellectuals Day: Bring back two condemned killers

Today is 14 December, Martyred Intellectuals Day. On this day in 1971, brilliant sons of the country sacrificed their lives valiantly and showed how to sacrifice everything for the liberation of the land. Their sacrifice will remain as an eternal source of inspiration for the nation.

Just before our victory in 1971, when the occupying Pakistan Army sensed their imminent defeat, they made a list of the best minds of the country and instigated their collaborating forces –Al-Badr, Al-Shams - to kill them. From the outset of the liberation war, Pakistani forces were killing the Bangladeshi intellectuals. They made the final assault in December to make the newly-emerged nation bereft of intellect. Those we lost from the very beginning of the liberation war until victory, include professor Govinda Chandra Dev, Munier Chowdhury, Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta, Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury, Rashidul Hasan, Anwar Pasha, Sirajuddin Hossain, Shahidullah Kaiser, Nizamuddin Ahmed, Gias Uddin Ahmed, Fazle Rabbi, Alim Chowdhury, ANM Golam Mustafa, Selina Parvin etc.

Our writers, journalists, artists and intellectuals played the role of the nation’s voice during the days of Pakistani oppression. They protested at the injustices and, with their wisdom, showed the nation the way. That is why they were the victims of the wrath of occupying forces and their local collaborators. Other than the Second World War, there is no example of killing such a huge number of intellectuals in such a short time.

Some of the main perpetrators of the killing of intellectuals were condemned and executed after a long wait. The country could come out of the culture of impunity. This is a relief for the country. But it is unfortunate that we could not bring back condemned killers - Al-Badr commander Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan - from abroad.

The court verdict disclosed that they were the chief perpetrators of the killing of intellectuals. Justice Obaidul Hassan, a judge of the International Crimes Tribunal-2, has written a piece for Prothom Alo about the chilling actions of these two criminals. Currently Ashrafuzzaman is staying in the US and Chowdhury Mueen Uddin in the UK. How could the countries, that consider them as guardians of justice and humanity, shelter them? The government needs to step up its diplomatic efforts to bring those perpetrators back.

We remember the great sons of the soil. But it is not enough to recall them only once in a year. We have to realise why these great people sacrificed their lives. We also have to make an effort to realise their thought and ideal. Whenever we read in newspapers about the shabby conditions the family members of martyred intellectuals are living, we think the state has failed to pay due respect to them. Why it has to be like this?

Observing the Martyred Intellectuals Day commemorating them would be fitting if we work to build a beautiful Bangladesh and inform the new generation of their ideals. Let us pledge on Martyred Intellectuals Day to move forward following the path they dreamt about to build an intellectually and economically developed Bangladesh.