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Sharif Shahabuddin

December is the month of victory. It has been regarded as the month of unbound joy and happiness for Bangalees all over the world as it brought us victory over the Pakistani military after 9-month long war of liberation. The sight of the red and green flag fluttering against the golden rays of the first dawn of a free Bangladesh in 1971 brought tears in the eyes of Bangalees. Even today we become emotional when we look at the flag flying atop our buildings.
But every victory comes with a price. We also had to pay a very high price for our victory. Throughout the 9-month war period we lost millions of our countrymen. Just 48 hours before victory on 16 December, the nation had lost some of its valiant and brilliant sons and daughters on the 14th of December 1971. The notorious Al-Badr, the militia force of Jamaat-e-Islami, in collaboration with the Pakistan Army picked up our intellectuals and university teachers from their homes and brutally killed them to make Bangladesh an intellectual-less nation. The killing of the intellectuals was a great loss for the country and it was one of the most painful experiences the country has ever gone through.
Teachers are respected everywhere in every society because of their selfless role as the architect of nation building. But it is a matter of great regret that we lost our teachers at the altar of Islamic Fundamentalism. This extremism in the name of protecting Islam has long been pulling the country backwards from its cherished advancement in every step.
And it is most unfortunate that after a long 47 years of the sacrifice made by the intellectuals in 1971 the nation has not got rid of the curse of fundamentalists. In fact, these anti-state elements are even more active now. The killing of a number of free-thinking writers and bloggers in the hand of fundamentalists in recent times has made it obvious that they are now at war against the innocent people and the incumbent regime that is taking the nation forward in line with the Liberation War aspirations.
It is widely known that Islam, initiated by its Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), is the religion of peace. But what the extremists are pursuing is not the real Islam that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) preached. It is an extremist version of Islam which is destroying the real one. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had never advised his disciples to kill the innocent; rather he had called for standing beside the helpless people. Quranic verses are available in every language and everywhere in the world, but during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, the Pakistani Army and their allies (members of Al-Badr Bahini) in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) had forgotten the teachings of Islam and resorted to history’s most infamous killing of the intellectuals.
Even some students, who should have been respectful to their teachers, picked up best teachers of Dhaka University and took them to the Boddhyo Bhumi (field of execution) and killed them mercilessly. What type of doctrine is this to make a country intellectual-less? And you call it an ideology? If it is so, nothing is more unfortunate than this for the civilized world. Killing a teacher is tantamount to killing one’s own father. And if a person can harm a teacher, we refuse to believe him to be a human being. Even animals have love and affection for their fathers.
The members of the Al-Badr, the armed cadre wing of Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami, had no feeling for their teachers. During the War of Liberation of Bangladesh, the members of Al-Badr didn’t hesitate to pick up their teachers from their University residences and take them to the Rayer Bazar Boddhyo Bhumi and brutally kill them to ‘save’ Islam and Pakistan. Neither of the two is safe after 50 years. Pakistan has by now become a failed state and fundamental Islam, which is being pursued by those extremists, has become a religion of violence.
When a son or daughter found that his or her father was brutally killed by his own students the feeling of that son or daughter is easily understandable. These children have been carrying this trauma in their heart every moment. It is a pain that cannot be erased ever, and it cannot be replaced with anything. Perhaps, the Al-Badr, who had carried out that operation, thought that they had been able to kill their main obstacles, but the irony is that even after 50 years of such occurrence the killers of Bangabandhu were brought to book and those days are not far away when the killers of the intellectuals would certainly be brought under justice. Only the rock-solid unity, on the ideals upon which the independent Bangladesh was founded, can ensure a sustainable peace and stability.
We pay our heartfelt tribute to the intellectual martyrs of Bangladesh.