Around midnight of March 25, 1971, horrifying sound of gunshots filled the air around the three-storey residential building near the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka University, where Prof Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta, the-then provost of Jagannath Hall lived with his wife and teenage daughter Meghna Guhathakurta.
Prof Guhathakurta and his family members hid under the bed.
Suddenly, three Pakistani Army soldiers entered the flat on the ground floor, through the back door. One of the soldiers asked, “Where is the professor?” They took him [Prof Guhathakurta] outside and shot him in the neck and waist, leaving him critically injured.
As there was curfew across the city, it took his family two days to take him to the hospital 200 yards away. After two days with hardly any medical attention, Prof Guhathakurta died due to severe loss of blood.
His daughter Meghna Guhathakurta, now a professor at DU following her father's footsteps, narrated the harrowing events of the night yesterday at a Victory Day programme, organised by Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela, at its headquarter in the capital.
“We thought they [soldiers] would take my father to the cantonment. As soon as my father was taken off our sight, we became busy to tend to Prof ANM Maniruzzaman and three members of his family, who were shot in the landing of the stairwell of the same building. At that time, someone informed that my father had been shot outside and we rushed to him,” recalled a visibly-emotional Meghna Guhathakurta, as pin-drop silence fell over the audience of young children and their parents.
“I was 15 at that time, so I remember every moment of that night,” she said.
She urged everybody to uphold the spirit of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for an independent country.
“Freedom has great significance. It glorifies the people; it glorifies a nation. The passport we carry, the pride we feel stand on a sacrifice – the supreme sacrifice by the martyrs. We should never forget that,” she said.
A children's troupe performed a patriotic song at the beginning of the event, where a child Farmiha Ahmed Srestha was the main speaker.
Economist Khondoker Ibrahim Khaled, also president of Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela, spoke at the programme about war criminals and their trial. “We have defeated Pakistani enemies. But there are enemies within home. We have to guard our independence until we can banish those enemies .”
The programme concluded through handing over of prizes among best performers of a quarterly evaluation of the organisation.