Martyred Intellectuals’ Day

Martyred Intellectuals’ Day is for the memory of the martyred intellectuals of Bangladesh during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

On December 14, 1971, only two days before surrendering to the Indian military and the Mukhti Bahini forces, the Pakistan army, with the assistance of local Islamist leaders and groups that chose to ally themselves with the Pakistani military and most notably the Al-Badr and Al-Shams, systematically executed well over 200 of East Pakistan’s intellectuals and scholars. Professors, journalists, doctors, artists, engineers, and writers were rounded up in Dhaka, blindfolded, taken to torture cells in Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Nakhalpara, Rajarbagh and other locations in different sections of the city and executed en masse, most notably at Rayerbazar and Mirpur. Several noted intellectuals who were killed between March 25 and December 16, 1971 in different parts of the country include Dr. G. C. Dev (Philosopher, Professor at DU), Dr. Munir Chowdhury (Litterateur, Dramatist, Professor at DU), Dr. Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury (Litterateur, Professor at DU), Dr. Anawar Pasha (Litterateur, Professor at DU), Dr. Fazle Rabbi (cardiologist), Dr. Alim Chowdhury (ophthalmologist), Shahidullah Kaisar (journalist), Nizamuddin Ahmed (Reporter), Selina Parvin (reporter), Altaf Mahmud (lyricist and musician), Dr. Hobibur Rahman (mathematician, Professor at RU), Dhiren Dutt (politician), R. P. Saha (philanthropist), Lt. Col. Moazzem Hossain (ex-soldier), Mamun Mahmood (Police Officer), and many others. They were killed by the Pakistan Army and/or their collaborators. Even after the official ending of the war on December 16 there were reports of firing from the armed Pakistani soldiers or their collaborators. In one such incident, notable film-maker Jahir Raihan was killed on January 30, 1972 in Mirpur, allegedly by the armed Beharis. In memory of the persons killed, December 14 is mourned in Bangladesh as Shaheed Buddhijibi Dibosh (“Day of the Martyred Intellectuals”).

The nation observes Martyred Intellectuals’ Day today even as it stands at a crossroads of history. For the people of Bangladesh, no sacrifice can be greater in dimension and more profound in substance than the dignified manner in which some of our best men and women were huddled to their death on the eve of the liberation of the country in December 1971. Indeed, the three million Bengalis who died at the hands of the Pakistan occupation army and its local collaborators in the nine months of a do or die war of liberation have left behind an uplifting message for those of us who survived, and for our children and their children: that freedom which comes at a huge price is freedom that needs constant sustenance and succour for it to continue playing its due role in the welfare of those who mean to benefit from it.

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