• Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
  • Last Update : 09:46 pm

Martyred intellectuals' list: Govt committee to sit Sunday

  • Published at 09:18 pm December 12th, 2020
The Martyred Intellectuals Memorial built in memory of the intellectuals who were killed on December 14, 1971 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

An 11-member verification and selection committee formed by the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs in November is set to hold its first meeting on Sunday

Nearly half a century has passed since Bangladesh became independent, but the nation is still waiting for a complete and credible list of intellectuals martyred by the Pakistan occupation army and its local collaborators during the War of Liberation in 1971.

An 11-member verification and selection committee formed by the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs in November is set to hold its first meeting on Sunday.

The committee, chaired by LWA Ministry Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh, comprises researchers, freedom fighters and ministry officials.

“Although it has taken many years, preparations are underway for the making of a list of martyred intellectuals that is expected to be concrete, flawless and acceptable to all,” Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque told Dhaka Tribune.

Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said the first meeting, scheduled for Sunday, would decide on the definition of martyred intellectuals and how to prepare a comprehensive list that could be unveiled for the nation.

“We already know the names of many martyred intellectuals as some of them have received state recognition, including the Independence Award and commemorative stamps issued by the Bangladesh Post Office,” he said.

“So far, 152 postal stamps have been issued in the names of martyred intellectuals. The committee will also discuss using research publications, books, newspapers and lists published by Bangla Academy for preparing the list,” he added.

When asked how long it might take to get the final list of martyred intellectuals, the LWA ministry secretary said it would take some time to scrutinize the lists as the killings took place at various locations across the country.

Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee President Shahriar Kabir, who is a member of the committee formed in November, said the committee would include researchers and representatives from Projonmo Ekattor, an organization of people orphaned by the war, to ensure the final list was comprehensive and accurate.

The events of 1971

Martyred Intellectuals Day is a black day in the history of Bangladesh. On the eve of the end of the bloody, nine-month-long War for Independence, the Pakistan occupation army and its local collaborators - al-Badr, al-Shams and razakars - targeted some of the brightest minds of Bangladesh in a plan to destroy the future of the nation.

Intellectuals were abducted from their homes and slaughtered in the killing fields at Rayer Bazar and other parts of the country. Most of the bodies that were found were blindfolded and had handcuff marks, as well as gunshot and bayonet wounds in the chest and head, according to news reports and history texts.

Among the victims of the brutality, only a few were identified as many of the bodies were too decomposed.

During the Liberation War, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman were the operation in-charge and chief executor, respectively, of the para-military force which carried out the killings. Among the victims were teachers, doctors, journalists and writers.

The numbers

Although there is no official list yet, Banglapedia says a total of 1,111 intellectuals were killed in 19 districts during the War of Liberation.

On the other hand, the documentary “Bangladesh” by ASM Shamsul Arefin quoted a 1972 government publication as saying that 1,109 intellectuals were killed during Operation Searchlight, launched by the occupation army on March 25, 1971.

According to the documentary, teachers of 21 universities, 637 primary schools, 270 secondary schools, and 59 colleges, 50 physicians, 41 lawyers, 13 journalists and 16 music composers, filmmakers and cultural personalities were killed in the heinous operation.

List should include intellectuals from all districts

Eminent historian Prof Muntassir Mamoon, a member of the committee, said it was a positive development that the government had formed a committee and included researchers to finalize a list of martyred intellectuals.

“We need a definition and a list first. In the meeting, I will recommend the committee identify the recognized martyred intellectuals first, and then others. Instead of waiting to publish a full list, the committee may publish an initial list of martyred intellectuals with the names of the recognized ones in the first phase, so that people can pay respect to them,” he said.

The list must mention as many names of martyred intellectuals as possible, from all 64 districts, he added.

Appreciating the government move to finalize the martyred intellectuals list, Asif Munier, son of martyred Munier Choudhury, said the list should be neutral and comprehensive even though its preparation had been delayed for years.

“The definition of intellectuals should be done in a way that no question will arise about the process. Also, the list should include all intellectuals who became victims of targeted killings in 1971, not just the ones who were killed just ahead of Victory Day,” he said.

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