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Dhaka Tribune

The great minds we lost

Update : 18 Dec 2015, 01:54 PM

A N M Munier Chowdhury

An academic, playwright, literary critic and political activist, Munier Chowdhury was born on November 27, 1925, and spent his whole life devoted to the pursuit of knowledge. He was a champion of Bengali nationalism and was imprisoned in 1952 for his participation in the Language Movement. He sat for his second Masters degree in Bengali while imprisoned and still came out first in first class. By 1971, he was dean of the Faculty of Arts at Dhaka University. Only 48 hours before independence, he was kidnapped by the notorious Al-Badr forces, never to be seen again. According to a witness who survived, the last thing his killer said to him was - “Write your famous essays on Rabindranath Tagore now.” At 46 years of age, a brilliant mind of Bangladesh was lost, but his legacy lives on in his literary works, such as Raktakta Prantar, Kabar, Dandakaranya, Mir Manash, Palashi Barrack o Annanya, Bangla Gadyariti, etc.

Govinda Chandra Dev

Govinda Chandra Dev was a philosopher and academic who believed in a life-oriented and humanist philosophy. Dev was born on February 1, 1907, and started his career in Ripon College in Kolkata, but transferred to Dinajpur during WWII. In 1953, he joined the Department of Philosophy at Dhaka University, where he eventually became the chairman. During his career there, he set up the Philosophy House that encouraged enlightened thinking and became a hub for cultural and intellectual practices on campus. He was also a visiting professor at the Wilkes-Barre College in Pennsylvania, where his admirers later founded the Govinda Dev Foundation for World Brotherhood in honour of his humanist philosophy. Dev was assassinated on the black night of 25 March. Even when his door was being beaten down by Pakistani soldiers, his first and final response was to kindly ask, “What do you want here, son?” before he was shot.

Dr Mohammed Fazle Rabbee

A renowned cardiologist and medical researcher, Dr Mohammed Fazle Rabbee was an exceptional student. Born on September 21 1932, he received a gold medal for achieving the highest mark in the MBBS examinations from Dhaka Medical College (DMC) in 1955. This was only the beginning, and he went on to earn an MRCP in cardiology and an MRCP in internal medicine in England. He worked at Hammersmith Hospital and Middlesex Hospital before returning to become a Professor of Medicine and Cardiology at DMC when he was only 36 years old. Known to be a progressive man of science, Dr Rabbee and his wife became wholeheartedly involved in the war efforts of 1971. On December 15, Dr Mohammed Fazle Rabbee was picked up by members of Al-Badr and taken to Rayerbazaar and brutally executed. According to his wife Late Jahan Ara Rabbee, right before he was taken away, “Rabbee walked towards them with his head held high.”

Nazmul Haque Sarker

Nazmul Haque Sarker was an attorney and politician, born in 1932 in the Harirampur village of Rajshahi. Sarker became an attorney of the High Court in 1966, and was elected as the general secretary of the Rajshahi Bar twice in a row. He was also the President of Rajshahi Awami League and actively participated in the 1962 education movement and the 1969 mass uprising in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). During the 1970 elections, he was elected as a member of the Pakistan National Assembly and during the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1971, Nazmul Haque Sarker was one of the leading figures in the Rajshahi area. It is because of this leadership that he went missing on the night of March 25, never again to return to the land he loved so much.

Shree Shukharanjan Samadder

Academic Shree Shukharanjan Samadder was born on January 15, 1938 in Barisal. In 1957, he travelled to Kolkata to study for a Bachelor's degree in Sanksrit from the Kolkata University, and went on to receive a Master's degree in Sanskrit from Dhaka University. In 1959, he joined Rajshahi University as a lecturer. However, Sanksrit was not his only passion, and he was also known for being a musician and singer of Rabindranath and Nazrul's songs. During his time as a lecturer, Samadder was also known for spreading his liberal ideals and speaking out for universal values and against sectarianism. On April 14, 1971, Shukharanjan Samadder was picked up from his home by Pakistani soldiers and was never found again.

Sirajuddin Hussain

An outspoken, brave and conscientious journalist and writer, Sirajuddin Hossain was born on March 1, 1929 in the Shorguna village in Magura. He had an illustrious career as a journalist, including being managing editor of the Doinik Ittefaq and Bureau Chief of the news organisation PPI. Hussain worked for the Liberation War efforts and wrote innumerable pieces against the oppression of Bangladesh and in support of a more progressive and non-sectarian brand of politics. During the War, he continued to write editorials against the Pakistani atrocities and regularly supplied information to the Mujibnagar government, as well as supported the freedom fighters in various ways. On December 10, only six days before Liberation, Pakistani soldiers took him away from his home in Chamelibagh. He was never seen again.

Dr Ayesha Bedara Chowdhury

Dr Ayesha Bedara Chowdhury was born on April 6, 1935 in Kolkata, where she earned her MBBS degree from Kolkata National Medical College. A student of great merit from the very beginning, Dr Chowdhury received two gold awards for her good results. She began her professional career in Assam, and shifted to Dhaka Medical College in 1964 as a lecturer. During 1971, she continuously gave medical care to freedom fighters and provided them with shelter. She managed to do this and survive the entire war, yet on December 16 - the day that the Pakistani army surrendered and Bangladesh was liberated - she and her driver Munir Ahmed were both shot dead by Pakistani soldiers.

Ranadaprasad Saha

Known for being a businessman and philanthropist, Ranadaprasad Saha did not have an easy life. Born on November 15, 1896 in Mirzapur, he lost his mother at a very young age and did not get a proper education because of poverty. He served in the First World War as part of the Bengal Ambulance Corps and joined the Indian Railway as a war veteran - a job he subsequently lost. However, he went on to start a small business in salt and coal in Kolkata and eventually made his own way in the world. Once he was fairly wealthy, he began his philanthropic initiatives - he opened a charitable hospital and fully residential school in his native village, maintained 275 gruel houses and fed the hungry for eight months during the 1943 famine, founded two colleges in Tangail and Manikganj and three more schools and later established the Kumudini Welfare Trust. However, even these magnanimous acts did not spare him, and on May 7, 1971, Saha and his 26-year-old son were both picked up by Pakistani soldiers and never seen again.  

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