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Nation observes Martyred Intellectuals Day

  • Published at 01:16 pm December 14th, 2019
File photo of the memorial erected in memory of the 1971 martyred intellectuals at Rayerbazar in Dhaka's Mohammadpur Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

President Abdul Hamid, and Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina paid tributes to the martyred intellectuals by placing wreaths at the Martyred Intellectuals’ Memorial at Mirpur

The nation observed Martyred Intellectuals Day yesterday with a demand for steps to be taken to preserve the contributions of the martyrs so that future generations can learn about them.

People gathered at the Martyred Intellectuals' Memorial in Dhaka's Rayerbazar and Mirpur area yesterday, paying tributes to the intellectuals who were systematically picked up and killed by the Pakistan occupation army two days before Bangladesh emerged victorious in 1971 in its War of Liberation.

President Abdul Hamid, and Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina paid tributes to the martyred intellectuals by placing wreaths at the Martyred Intellectuals’ Memorial at Mirpur.

A contingent of Bangladesh Armed Forces gave the salute while the bugle played the last post. The president and the prime minister also spoke to freedom fighters present on the occasion.

Members of the cabinet, chiefs of the three services and senior civil and military officials were also present. 

Other political parties and socio-cultural organizations, among others, also paid homage to the martyred intellectuals. Various organizations planned programs for the day.

Meanwhile, common people as well as eminent political, professional, social, cultural and academic personalities paid their tributes at Rayerbazar, along with the families of the martyred intellectuals. 

PM Hasina later went to Dhanmondi to place wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the museum dedicated to the Father of the Nation.

Preserving history 

Family members of the martyrs yesterday demanded a proper preservation of history so that future generations could learn about these illustrious individuals.

Martyred intellectual Dr Alim Chowdhury's daughter, Dr Nuzhat Chowdhury, said: “Children growing up today know very little about these martyrs.”

Echoing her, Shomi Kaiser, daughter of martyr   Shahidullah Kaiser, said: "The youth are less eager to learn about the martyrs, the autobiographies of Bangabandhu or  history. I think we have a lot to do here.”

Demanding that a list of razakars and martyred intellectuals be published, she said many war criminals had disguised themselves as freedom fighters after liberation, taking advantage of the absence of such a list.   

Tahmina Khan, daughter of martyr Muksad Ali, said it was the family members of those killed by the occupation army and its local collaborators who felt the most about losing their dear ones. “We can properly express our grief if we see the criminals facing justice”, she added.

Meanwhile, Farid Ahmed, principal of Firoza Bashar Ideal College, said government initiatives to take students to the memorial on the tragic day helped make students more aware of the lives of the martyrs and the history of the country.

Dadon Miah, a local trader, stressed the importance of compiling the contributions of the martyrs through which future generations could learn about them.

What happened on this day 

On the night of December 14, 1971, over 200 Bangali intellectuals, including professors, journalists, doctors, artistes, engineers and writers, were picked up in Dhaka by the Pakistani occupation forces, aided by their local collaborators.

The intellectuals were taken blindfolded to torture cells in Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Nakhalpara, Rajarbagh and other locations in different parts of the city and most notably Rayerbazar and Mirpur. They were systematically executed and buried in mass graves.

Those exposed to the killers’ wrath on December 14, 1971 included Dr Alim Chowdhury and Dr Fazle Rabbi, journalists Shahidullah Kaisar, Sirajudddin Hossain, Nizamuddin Ahmed, SA Mannan and Selina Parveen and litterateur Munier Choudhury.