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16 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM
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Victory is Theirs

By Limana Solaiman Mridha
Victory is Theirs

It took us nine months to become a nation free from the domineering grip of the Pakistanis. It has been 45 years since three million Bangladeshis gave their lives to give us a liberated country, with the hope that the next generation would fulfil their dreams of a prosperous nation, where nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism would reign. 

As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of our Victory Day today, The Weekend Independent presents the stories of the children of some of our martyred freedom fighters, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our victory.

Shohel Rana, 45
I was only six months old when my father Abu Sayeed was killed on December 5 in a battle that took place at Dholapani  in Mymensingh’s Haluaghat. He was a Master’s student.
We have been getting an allowance from the government since 1972 as the family of a martyr and we are grateful for that. 
After my father died, we went to live with my mother’s side of the family in a joint household. Growing up, we had to face many hurdles as we were not very well off. My mother had studied till the 7th grade, and she continued her studies and completed her SSC exams. She then went on to work  as a family welfare assistant for Poribar Porikalpana  (family planning).  It was not an easy task for her to bring up a child without the support of her husband, but she did it well and here I am today, working as a primary school teacher. I completed my graduation from Sadat University College in 1993. 
We waited a long time for war criminals to be brought to justice and seeing them as prominent people of the country was difficult for us. Growing up, I have heard my mother lament about this and she always asked whether the sacrifice of my father and our entire family was in vain. We are now at peace and we believe that the wrongdoers will not go unpunished. We followed every TV show relentlessly to learn about everything that was going on during the war crimes trials in recent years. 
The upcoming generation should be made aware of the Liberation War, not only in textbooks, but the stories of the martyrs should be told and retold again and again for them to realise what we lost to give them this country.

Zahid Reza Noor, 49
I remember some details of that fateful night of March 25. We used to reside near the Chamelibagh Police Line (Dhaka) and we were awoken in the middle of the night to the sound of raging fire and sounds of heavy artillery. Newspaper offices were set on fire and there was chaos everywhere we looked. My father Serajuddin Hossain was an executive and news editor of Daily Ittefaq at that time, and he was working late. He escaped with his life luckily that night and returned to us in the morning at the break of dawn on March 27 and I remember running towards him to embrace him. I remember people saying that he was a strong man, but that day he broke down crying and said, “They have destroyed our country.” I also remember that on March 25, police officers and sentries ran into our house and opened my father’s closet and took out his clothes and started pulling at them. The Pakistani army was running a massacre and almost everyone was running for their lives. A few brave (police) officers went to our rooftop with 303 rifles and took shots, but theirs were answered with heavy automatic gunfire.
Our mother was left to rear eight children and it was no easy task for her. She was not very educated, but she was enlightened and that helped us get through the toughest battles of life. It would have been easy for us to go off the rail, but somehow, knowing about our father’s sacrifice helped to keep us on the right track. I always say that our father fought the first war, but our mother went at it with everything she had at the second, bringing up eight sons all of whom completed their education and did something meaningful with their lives. And that is quite an achievement on her part. 
It took a long time for us to get the justice that was our due. Back in 1993, Jahanara Imam’s efforts to bring to trial those accused of committing war crimes during the Liberation War gave us hope, but that was quashed. We started to give up on the thought, but four years ago when it started all over again _ known war criminals whose human rights violations and atrocities were well known _ they were finally punished for their crimes and we felt that all was not in vain. We need to promote nationalism among the youth through educational curriculum and cultural practices so that they will be able to stay away from anti-Bangladesh sentiments and will be able to differentiate between religious and cultural norms. We have so many great role models to look up to. We should hold up them as examples to our children, instead of talking about our failures. 
Note: On December 10, Pakistani soldiers, accompanied by a group of collaborators, picked up Serajuddin Hossain from his Chamelibagh residence. He never returned home.

Latifa Akhter Jesmin Zaman, 62
My father Mohammad Lutfor Rahman Khan was the Chief Controller of Store of Chittagong Railway. When the situation was getting dire, we moved from our own house to a safe-house in Pahartali Segun Bagan in Chittagong with two other families, as it was considered risky to stay in one place for a long time. On April 5 at 10 in the morning, Biharis with Pakistani soldiers came to that place; my father opened the gate as he knew one of the men leading the charge very well and thought it was alright to let him in. He told my father that they were there to take away the firearms in our possession. They immediately surrounded my father once they were in, the other two uncles were anticipating on whether to fire shots and scaring them into letting my father go, but it was risky as he might have been hurt too. They then rounded up all the men in the household, my father, brother, two of the uncles living with us and one of their sons and took them away, and locked all the women in a room and asked for our jewelleries. My brother was a brilliant student and was studying in Honours Final year, Commerce Bcom. They killed him and we found his body in the living space, drenched in blood and while taking my father to another bungalow, they killed him too. We were rescued by a Punjabi officer of the railway, he was the chief mechanical engineer and was hidden in the homes of drivers who worked for the railway. Later we escaped to Dhaka and lived with my other sister. Years later, we got housing from the railway where we lived for a long time.
My mother’s struggle and pain was unbearable for us to watch. Day after day she had to take sleep medication three times to get over the trauma, you see she was dreaming of sending my brother abroad to study for CA (chartered accountancy) and she lost her husband and son on the same day. We had a hard time growing up without a father and a brother taken from us at such a young age. So finally after all these years when the war criminals were punished, we were overjoyed and we are grateful to everyone who led the protests. Identifying and eliminating anti-Bangladeshi groups and eradicating these sentiments through promoting nationalism is a way to save our country from Razakars and other extremist groups. 

Dilir Lutfe Ali, 47
My mother Lutfunnahar Helen was assassinated on October 5, 1971; she was a teacher at the Magura Government Girls High School. The top war criminals are punished, but it’s too late. By this time, they could propagate their idealism. Bangladesh is now a half-radical country. Fanaticism had never been seen like in the present time. They successfully divided the nation. 
The spirit of independence is defunct already. It has been sold by the politicians since the very beginning and still is, repeatedly. The heroes of liberation are neglected. If you don’t utilise your opportunities, you’ll be defeated. As a result, the morale of Bangladesh has been defeated. We can fight back _ that’s different, but we’re in a difficult transition.
That’s the summary of what I feel about the political and social aspects of Bangladesh at present.

Ruchira Sultana, 48
My father was the acting officer of Lalmonirhat police station. When he heard Bangabandhu’s speech, he was extremely moved and motivated and started to gather the youth of the area and mobilise them towards liberation. On April 2, the Pakistani army attacked Lalmonirhat. My father along with the young men of the area took whatever arms the police station had and took part in the small battle that took place there. He was injured and later was hospitalised in the Lalmonirhaat Railway Hospital. My mother met him last on April 4, and we learned about his death days later. 
Life was a constant fight after that with almost no food and treatment available. I remember the women of the area taking shelter in our house. And my mother used to stay up all night and guard the door with a chopper in hand. 
We did not have any earnings initially and there were seven of us, including our mother. From making paper bags to sewing, we did a variety of work to get food on the table. 
We have participated actively in the movement to bring war criminals to justice and it was lengthy, but worthwhile. We need progressive politics to eliminate anti-Bangladeshi sentiments. We have to come together like we did in 1971 and fight the existing Razakars, and do away with anti-nationalism, which has once again showed its unsightly face in our society. 

Photos: Courtesy

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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