It would be misplaced to suggest that the large-scale elimination of our intellectuals on this day 47 years ago was a hurriedly drawn up idea by the Pakistanis when they realised that the end was inevitable. The cold-blooded long-term plan of the marauding Pakistani military machine, to purge the intellectuals from the soil of Bangladesh, finally culminated on December 14, 1971. Some of the brightest sons and daughters of the soil were killed as a part of one of the worst genocidal acts since 1945.
The killings had started right from the night of March 25, 1971 as the main targets of the killers, the students' halls of residence and the teachers' residential complexes, suggest. The best way to cripple a nation is to deprive it of its thinkers, its writers, its philosophers, its journalists, whose works influence the collective psyche of the nation. It is their thoughts that add value to people's life and work as a beacon to the path of fulfillment of their ambition.
The Bengali intellectuals had proved to be a thorn on the Pakistanis' design to subdue Bengali nationalism and the aspirations that the feeling generated, a feeling that was inspired by the Bengali intellectuals starting from the very seminal stages after the creation of Pakistan. Regrettably, they were helped by some Bengali collaborators, without whose active support the Pakistanis would have perhaps survived much less than the nine months that they did.
As we mourn the loss of the intellectuals, we are acutely aware of their absence in these times when the nation could have benefitted from their guidance and contributions to the nation's progress. Our culture is under threat from some obscurantists who want us to shed our binary character and assume a singular form. Their narratives need to be countered with rational arguments and not merely by sentimental outbursts. While we lament the loss of some of the brightest intellectual minds, let us resolve that never shall we allow the fissiparous forces to take root and that the eclectic, inclusive and syncretic nature of the people of this land must never be lost.