The targeted killing of intellectuals on 14 December 1971 is the most heinous act in the history of human history. The world has seen many wars, but it does not seem to have seen such cold-blooded killing of the victorious civilian intellectuals just ahead of the surrender of the Pakistani army.
The blueprint could be carried out only because their local cohorts — Razakars, Al Badr, Al Shams — actively participated in the killings.
On this day on 1971, when the final victory of the War of Liberation was sure to happen, at that very moment the attacking Pakistani forces and their collaborators abducted the best and most talented intellectuals of the nation – all the academics, researchers, physicians, engineers, journalists, poets and writers were kidnapped, blind folded in the dark of night and then were killed brutally.
It was evident from this killing, the motive of the occupation forces and their collaborators — to cripple the economy and education system of independent Bangladesh.
We were between Makingan and Savar, when on 15 December afternoon the news came that a large number of unarmed teachers were killed by the Pakistani soldiers after abducting them from their residences. We, the BLF members and few members of Sector 2 Freedom Fighters, were taken aback and shocked. In rage we fired empty rifles in the air.
Later it was revealed that in total 1,111 intellectuals and professional were killed by the Pakistan Army and their collaborators Razakars, Al Badr, Al Shams. BanglaPedia, Bdnews reports that out of these intellectuals, Academics – 991, Journalist – 13, Physician – 49, Lawyer – 42 and Others (litterateur, artist and engineer) – 16.
The conspirators killed the cream of our nation.
On 12 December 1971, they made a list of all intellectuals and handed over to their collaborators Razakars, Al Badr, Al Shams to kill the golden sons of Bangladesh. It is reported during War Criminal Trials that Rao Forman Ali had a master plan to kill 20,000 intellectuals of the country. But the massacre was not possible to be carried out according to that master plan. Because the plan of Rao Forman Ali was to kill the intellectuals by inviting them all to the government house.
If anyone wants to damage or destruct any family or nation, first they kill the intellectuals of that family or nation, as this will stop all future development of them. The killing of the intellectuals was a dangerous damage to the nation. The damage was psychological, physical, financial, material and the name and fame of a nation.
Intellectuals’ killings in the 14th December of 1971 was deep-rooted conspiracy against the Bengali nation. The Pakistanis realised that Bangladesh would achieve independence soon in December, but they did not want its rapid development or self-reliance. They made an evil master plan with the collaborators and traitors of Bangladesh to kill as many Bengali intellectuals as possible throughout the nine-month war.
They plotted, listed, identified the persons and implemented their evil plan. They did their utmost to kill our intellectuals. It is mentionable that even in the First World War or in the Second World War; such a number of intellectuals were not killed with such brutality. Our intellectuals were our future, invaluable assets who would lead the new country. We should remember that the intellectuals of Bangladesh are the worthy sons of our soil. An intellectual is an asset who is rich in knowledge, experience and wisdom, who can show the way for socio-economic and cultural development of the nation.
Notable intellectual killed on 14 Decembers are Dr.Alim Chowdhury, Journalist SerajuddunHoassain of Iteffaq, Shahidullah Kaiser, Munir Chowdury, Zahir Raihan and other Dhaka University teachers made huge contributions in different fields. They were pioneers, visionary leaders, inventors, mentors, discoverers, dedicated to their various fields and above all patriotic sons of the soil. They helped the society and nation to progress by their intellectual works. If they lived, they would have shaped the development of Bangladesh in a positive way.’
During the war, engineer Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Abdul Qadir and Lieutenant Colonel MR Chowdhury were brutally killed after being captured by the Pakistani army.
On Nov 3, 2013, a Special Court in Dhaka has sentenced two former leaders of the al-Badr killing squad to death for war crimes against humanity during Bangladesh’s war of liberation. Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, a Muslim leader based in London, and Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, based in the US, were sentenced to death in absentia after the court found that they were involved in the abduction and murders of 18 intellectuals – nine Dhaka University teachers, six journalists and three physicians – in December 1971.
It is incumbent on us to get these two Al-Badar leaders back to Bangladesh to face justice. Currently hydra in the form of fundamentalism is trying to raise their head in secular Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hsian is working to destroy this hydra with a strong hand. We should refrain from appeasement to all these Islamic forces.
My deep respect and salute to all Martyred Intellectuals and may they rest in peace.
Omer Selim Sher is a retired Professor of Economics at Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada, and a researcher on South Asia politics