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A day to remember

  • Published at 11:00 pm February 24th, 2020
Darbar hall feb 25

February 25 deserves its rightful place in the pages of our history

I’ve often found myself wondering what the people of this country think of the month of February. It’s not that hard to figure it out, really. For most people, it’s the month of love.

It’s the month of celebrating the arrival of spring. For some others, it’s the month you take pride in your mother-tongue.

But I also wonder how many people know or think of February 25. I wonder how many people flinch from the remnants of it. Do they even bother?

Here’s what happened.

On the fateful day of February 25, 2009, Bangladesh witnessed the biggest massacre of defense officials in its history. The ruthless annihilation of 74 people, including 57 army officers, had the entire nation jolted for a while.

For the next few years, social media and television channels were flooded with talk shows about what could and couldn’t have been done. But at one point, all of it was of no avail. At one point, nobody cared anymore -- except for the families whose lives turned upside down in a matter of days.

Yet, for us commoners, a generation so apathetic to national events, February 25 seems to be just another day. Eleven years later, we stand as indifferent bystanders, oblivious to the scar left on our very identity.

Let’s take a minute to rewind.

February 25 is the story of a father whispering over the phone from within the Darbar Hall to his 10-year-old son to hold tight to his family -- knowingly handing over the baggage of responsibilities.

February 25 is the story of a daughter going on a walk with her father just the night before, not knowing this would be the last memory they’d ever share.

February 25 is the story of a wife hearing the words “I love you” from her husband for the last time. It shouldn’t have been any different, except there was pain engulfed with fear in his voice. This wasn’t a random confession, but a final goodbye of sorts.

February 25 is the story of a woman who lost her daughter a month after the demise of her

husband. Her little girl simply couldn’t bear the trauma of her father’s death. February 25 is the story of 17 civilians completely unheard of with no idea of what was coming to them.

And lastly, February 25 is the story of 57 officers who went on peace missions to several countries

in the line of duty and came back to their families unscathed, but in the end, what failed them was the very nation they had vowed to protect. They lay mutilated in the hands of cowards who had the audacity to think they’d get away with such barbarity, but they did.

They all did. And we failed our own martyrs.

To a lot of people seeing the military life from a distance, it is one filled with sheer glory and infinite privilege. To a lot of people, a green uniform means nothing -- and I understand that sentiment.

What I do not understand is how we’ve molded ourselves to such indifference that an incident which shook the core of this nation is now deserted somewhere in the pages of history, just like another tragic story -- devoid of acknowledgement, let alone respect.

But February 25 isn’t just a story. It’s a harrowing nightmare made reality … left neglected and forgotten. And now, marred with more than a decade of agony against a system so deeply embedded in venom, we’re yet to have this day declared Shahid Sena Dibosh. But what do I know?

Nafisa Nawal is a freelance contributor.