POST TIME: 16 December, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 December, 2018 11:30:05 PM
The heroes who took oath to sacrifice their lives in war fronts
16th December is the landmark date in our nation’s life. It is the date on which we saw light after darkness, a new sun-etched flag was raised signalling the birth of the Bengali nation
Musa Sadik

The heroes who took oath to sacrifice their lives in war fronts

Forty-seven years ago, in 1971, I was working in the blood-drenched war fronts as an Information Officer-cum-War Correspondent of Mujibnagar Government. Alongside I discharged my tough responsibilities in the fronts as War Correspondent of Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. I was hovering between life and death among the thousands of bullets being fired and artillery shells whizzing overhead. Defying death I had to rush from one front to another with meteoric speed with the valiant Freedom Fighters and Allied forces. In front of my eyes, I have seen hundreds of the valiant sons of Mother Bengal falling like wilted flowers in the fronts. I saw them breathing their last with their breasts resting on the soil of Mother Bengal and blood gushing out of them. I used to broadcast from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra in my own voice a round-up of the happenings in the fronts twice a week under the title "from the battle-front" and “from the liberated areas". During the Liberation War many of my dispatches were broadcast by BBC, Radio Australia and Akashbani and were also headlined in many of the world's newspapers in their international columns. Apart from performing my duty as a war correspondent, I had to carry many military secrets including spying on Pakistani offence and defense positions at the war fronts in the occupied areas of Bangladesh helped our sector commanders and the Indian Alliance in formulating their strategy. In the war-fronts and occupied areas I often had to run mortal risk and many a time I returned from the jaws of certain death by the grace of Almighty Allah. But at the end of the war on Thursday, 2nd December, 1971, at Chachra, Jessore under sector 9, I was caught by Pakistani Army during performing my secret assignments. I was subjected to atrocity and inhuman torture by Pak troops. They bayoneted me and left me among dead bodies presuming me dead. But as there was sudden heavy Indian artilary sheling, they had to rush and retreat. Advanced Bengali regiment and Freedom Fighters under command of Capt Nazmul Huda (later killed in a coup in 1975. Merciful Allah grants him Jannatul Ferdous) launched attack on Pakistani positions and spotted me in an another unconscious and nearly dead critical state. Capt Huda speedly transferred us to Indian field hospital. Thus, I am alive till today receiving extension of my life crossing the door of myrtierdom. Later on the then Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed in a signed report about the incident and heroism of Capt Nazmul Huda and me written, “the heroism shown by Capt Nazmul Huda and the patriotism of Mr. Musa shall be written on the soil of Bangladesh till the last day of judgment since Bengali nation won’t be able to repay the debt the country owes to them.” (Report of Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed and Mr. M R Akhtar, the then director information and broadcasting at Mujibnagar are enclosed).

Following are some of the tragic stories of those fateful days of 1971.

Does anyone of us know that the beloved wife of Captain Aftabul is still waiting, still searching for her husband along the hilly terrain of Mahalchhari? How many of us have remembered Qadir who was a terror to the Punjabis on different battle fronts? The twenty-eight-year-old Qadir would confront the enemy like an invincible general and blunt all enemy attacks ruthlessly and thoroughly.

Towards the end of March on the battle front of Rangamati, he met a fellow warrior Khan Amir Ali, a magistrate. On April 17 in a face-to-face battle with the occupation troops Khan Amir Ali was wounded and brought to hospital at Agartala. Captain Qadir visited Amir Ali at the hospital and said, “You have made a narrow escape this time but who knows what is in store for me.” Then he heaved a deep sigh and brought out from the left pocket of his trousers a letter in a blue envelope that bore no address, containing a small sum of money and a chit of paper on which was written the name and address of his sweetheart. He handed them to Amir Ali and requested, “I too have been able to escape the worst so many times. If something happens to me and I never return from the front, please reach make these to their destination.”

Lying in bed with a cast in his leg, Amir Ali wanted to lighten the atmosphere saying, “Please keep all these with you. There is no such messenger of death among the Punjabis who can dare touch you." But Amir Ali had to comply with the request after hearing what Captain Qadir said next: “Amir Bhai, within these few days of war many students and common citizens have died in front of our eyes. The students, farmers and others who have taken up arms in this first phase of the war have very little chance of survival. Perhaps those who will take our place next will not survive either. We are fighting an unequal war with the Pakistanis. It was the call from the Bangabandhu that led us into this war alongside yourselves. Who knows how many will have to die.”

Who knew that the Captain who had promised to marry his sweet heart after returning from the war front and stirred great hopes in the young lady’s mind would slowly advance to death belying all hopes?

The day was April 27. At Mahalchhari the Freedom Fighters confronted the Occupation troops. After a three-hour-long fight the Pakistani troops were all but routed. Captain Qadir made a bold advance with his forces and stilled four firing LMGs of the enemies. Resistance of the enemies was breaking down. The Freedom Fighters had almost taken control of the bloody battle of Mahalchhari.

But fate had decreed otherwise. In the meantime four truck- loads of reinforcements joined the Pakistani side. At the same time the Pakistan-backed Mizos also began to attack them. The course of the battle changed. With fourfold strength the Punjabis mounted such- on unbearable pressure that failing to hold out, our young fighters fell one after another like so many dropping flower-petals. Like a seasoned General Captain Qadir kept himself engaged in the encounter with the enemy while allowing his smaller column to retreat. Although he received a bullet wound in his left hand, he did not budge an inch and did not leave his bunker. He aimed his last bullet coolly and unerringly towards the enemy’s chest. A time came when ammunition ran out but his courage did not. He was finally left with six or seven hand grenades with which he came out of the bunker and, defying incessant enemy fire, sprang towards enemy positions with the speed of lightning, unmindful of certain death and hurled the grenades at their right targets blowing up four enemy bunkers.

On April 27 the Pakistani assailants themselves were surprised at the reckless bravery of the Bangalee youths. Captain Qadir tore off with his teeth the pin of the fifth grenade and hurled it towards another enemy bunker. The grenade was poised to hit its target and he was waiting for the right moment to hurl it when an enemy bullet pierced his heart. Laying his body on the soil of Mahalchhari he poured down his gushing stream of warm blood for the freedom of his native land.

Have we preserved the memory of the heroes who took up arms in the first phase of the war? The memory of Qadir, along with the memorabilia of a blue letter and a petty sum of money, are alive only in the ever-sorrowful heart of his beloved. Driven by memory of the beloved she with tearful eyes still looks for along the rocky tracts of Mahalchhari the lost captain with whom she had yearned to unite. Every year the captain’s relatives visit that hill at Mahalchhari on April 27 to pay homage to his memory. No one else has remembered him, perhaps. We are not the British nation that perpetuates the memory of heroes like Nelson.

Who has cared to remember the self-sacrifice of the two darling sons, Salam and Kalam, of a simple rural housewife in the obscure village of Pathardubi? The two brothers Salam and Kalam, aged 17 and 18, were meek and innocent adolescents in the Camp of Bhurungamari. Before the Liberation war they used to help their father in his farm work in the paddy field of the low lands by plucking out weeds. In the winter they used to return home carrying on their heads a harvest of lentils and oil seeds. In the evenings as they sat on the edge of the lonely low lands and played their flute the melody would be wafted across the fields to the villages around.

As the Liberation war began the two brothers held in their hands modern arms with their hard and shining steel exterior instead of the bamboo flute. The hands with which they used to assist their father in the field amid the fragrance of undulating and ripening crops, were now busy firing Three-not-Three rifles. To free their motherland of the invaders they were fighting frontal battle with the Punjabis under the command of the Sub-sector Commander Captain Noazesh. They had to run risk many a time; yet the two brothers Salam and Kalam, sons of a poor farmer of the village Pathordubi, never drew back.

The two brothers were meek but brave. Everyone in the camp would admire them. If someone wanted to hear their flute, they would reply, "When the day liberation arrives, we shall play the flute again".

November 25 arrived in Bhurungamari camp. Morning passed into noon. Alongwith others in the camp they partook of cooked rice and peas in an earthen bowl. In the afternoon they laughed and played. Little did they know, alas, that the last sun of their lives would soon sink past the horizon?

The Pakistanis raided the front line base of Bhurungamari. A bloody battle followed. The Pakistani troops, in the hope of pushing back the Freedom Fighters from their bunkers kept shelling three-inch and six-inch mortars for over two hours. Yet none of our boys left any bunker or retreated an inch. Rather they were returning the fire, everyone of them.

After two hours when the occupation troops stopped firing and withdrew, all the Freedom Fighters came out of their bunkers, one by one, but Salam and Kalam did not. What was wrong? Everyone rushed towards the bunker. The mutilated bodies of the two brothers were found in the two adjacent bunkers. The mortar shelling had hit their bunkers directly. The two brothers would stay together, fought side by side and were also martyred together.

Many of their co-fighters in the camp said if the two brothers were not in adjacent bunkers, at least one of them would have been able to return to his mother. Thus both had to leave for ever the care and affection of their mother.

Even today their mother, in fond delusion, calls their names. Just a few days after the martyrdom of Salam and Kalam came the long-awaited 16 December.

A few days after December 16 the Sub-sector Commander of Bhurungamari Captain Noazesh and Freedom Fighter Commander Mahbub went to the village Pathardubi to hand over a cash of five hundred taka to the mother of Salam and Kalam and to narrate to her the heroism the two martyrs had shown.

As Sub-sector Commander Noazesh and Commander Mahbub reached their cottage made of mud walls and thatched roof, they broke into sobs as the poor farmer’s wife returned the amount saying, “My beloved sons have sacrificed themselves for freedom. Let no one forget them and the other martyrs. With hands raised I am praying to Allah, may Allah bless my country. Let there be no war in future. Let no mother lose her son or daughter in war. Let no mother shed tears like me any more.”

What respect has Bangladesh shown to the tears of these mothers?

This war for freedom has wrested away Salam and Kalam from their mother as it has wrested away the children of hundreds of thousands of other such mothers. They are the mothers of the martyrs. These mothers of the heroes never wanted anything for themselves.

Nor did the freedom fighters want any rewards or fame. All they wanted and loved was their freedom. They had yearned for an independent homeland. Do we cherish the memories of these heroes, of Salam and Kalam? Where has disappeared the Bangladesh won by their sacrifices?

The 16th December is the landmark date in our nation’s life. It is the date on which we saw light after darkness, a new sun-etched flag was raised signalling the birth of the Bengali nation. We must renew our pledge on this day to build Sonar Bangla as dreamt by our Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I appeal to the thirty crore Bengalis of the world to please hoist the flag on every house today and write on it in letters of gold: “Bengalis are a nation of heroes, a nation of three million martyrs. The immortal soul of the Bengali nation is Sheikh Mujibur Rahman”.

The writer is Former Secretary to the Govt. of Bangladesh and

War Correspondent of Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra

Email: [email protected], Web: www.musabd.com)