Martyred intellectuals day: Murderous scheme
It was the morning of November 15, 1971.
After a two-day weekend, Dr Azharul Haque, a surgeon of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, was in a hurry to go to his hospital. As there was a curfew in place, he called up the hospital authorities to send an ambulance to take him to the office.
Moments after he came out of his house on Free School Street in Hatirpool area, a group of Bangalee collaborators -- members of the infamous Al-Badr Bahini -- surrounded him. Dr Humayun Kabir, an intern of the same hospital, was also with Azharul.
After a brief exchange, they hit Azhar with the gun and forced both the doctors to board a microbus.
Azharul and Humayun never returned home. Their bodies were found under the culvert near Notre Dame College the next day. Their hands had been tied behind their backs and there were marks of injury all over their bodies.
"I was eight months pregnant at that time. He did not live to see our baby," Azhar's wife Syeda Salma Haque told The Daily Star.
Even during the toughest times of their lives, both physicians did not walk away from their duties to their patients and to the nation, but tragically they did not live to see the much cherished dream of independence of their motherland come true.
Azhar and Humayun are thought to be the first victims of the diabolical plan orchestrated and executed by Pakistan army and their collaborators Al-Badr to wipe out the Bangalee intelligentsia as they sensed imminent defeat in the war. Starting on November 15, 1971, they continued the killing mission up until the morning of December 16 morning.
The marauding Pakistan army had planned to deprive the soon-to-be born country of the thinkers and scholars to sabotage the new nation's moving forward. They systematically rounded up teachers, writers, doctors, lawyers, journalists and other professionals from their houses in Dhaka, tortured and killed them en masse and dumped the bodies at different killing grounds.
However, the plan for the deliberate execution of Bangalee intellectuals began in August 1971 when two special envoys of Henry Kissinger, the then national security advisor of the US President, paid a visit to Dhaka in the guise of journalists. One of them, named Duwespic, was a CIA official and another, Haight, was an official of US military intelligence.
In Dhaka, they met Major General Rao Farman Ali several times at the Governor's House and returned to America via Bangkok. A plan was put forward to eliminate only the brightest minds of the nation -- its intellectuals.
After their departure, Rao Farman Ali held several meetings at the Governor's House while Pakistani Brigadier Bashir Ahmed led meetings in Dhaka Cantonment to make a foolproof plan to eliminate all Bangalee intellectuals.
After the country's independence, a diary was recovered from Ashrafuzzaman Khan's apartment at 350, Nakhalpara area of the capital. Ashrafuzzaman Khan was the chief executor of Al Badr, mostly comprising the members of Jamaat-e-Islam's student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha.
The diary contained names of 20 intellectuals, all of whom disappeared during the war. Ashrafuzzaman himself shot dead eight of them, according to Mafizuddin, who gave his testimony before the International Crimes Tribunal.
Dhaka University (DU) teachers Munier Choudhury, Dr Abul Khaer, Ghiyasuddin Ahmed and SMA Rashidul Hasan, and Dr Golam Mortuza, resident physician of DU, were among the eight martyred intellectuals.
After the war, a diary written by Rao Farman Ali was recovered from a desk at the Governor's House (now Bangabhaban). The diary contained an elaborate list of 3,000 intellectuals. Many of those names had cross marks beside them while some names had home addresses written along with some comments.
It was also written in that diary that Captain Tahir of the Pakistan Army would arrange vehicles for the Al-Badr members to pick up the intellectuals from their homes. Top leaders of Al-Badr helped Rao Farman Ali make the list of the intellectuals.
After Dr Azharul and Humayun, the next victim of the killing operation was journalist Serajuddin Hossain, news editor of the Daily Ittefaq.
On December 10, the Pakistan army picked him up from his residence at Dhaka's Chamelibagh area at around 3:00am. The next day, Syed Nazmul Haque, chief reporter of Pakistan Press International, was picked up at 4:00am from his residence in the Purana Paltan area. Two hours later the same day, they picked ANM Golam Mostafa, chief reporter of the Daily Purbodesh, from his home at Dhaka's Gopibag.
Journalist Nizamuddin Ahmad, general manager of Pakistan Press International, was picked up from his residence at Koltabazar on December 12.
The next day, Dr Ghyasuddin Ahmed, a teacher of DU and house tutor of Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall, went missing the same way. In the afternoon, Selina Parvin, editor of the Daily Shilalipi, was kidnapped from her residence at Siddheshwari.
On December 14, the intellectuals were picked up one after another. The first victim was Mufazzal Haider Chaudhury, professor of the Bengali Department at DU. He was kidnapped from his home at around noon.
When he was being kidnapped by the masked men, one of the kidnapper's masks dropped from his face and it was Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, the operation-in-charge of the killing mission.
Eminent playwright Munier Choudhury, Shahidullah Kaiser and many other intellectuals disappeared on that day. However, the exact number of intellectuals kidnapped on December 14 could never be confirmed.
On December 15, Dr Mohammad Fazle Rabbee, an eminent physician of Dhaka Medical College, and Dr Abdul Alim Chowdhury, a noted ophthalmologist, were picked up from their homes.
Members of Al-Badr force also picked up Prof Dr Abul Kalam Azad of Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, from his Azimpur residence in the morning of December 16.
After liberation, mutilated dead bodies of only a few of these intellectuals were recovered from the capital's Rayerbazar killing field. Some of the bodies were so severely mutilated and decomposed by that time that their identities had to be confirmed by their clothes and shoes.
Almost all the killing operations that were conducted from December 10 to 15, were commanded by chief executioner of Al-Badr Ashrafuzzaman Khan and operation-in-charge, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin. Both of them were sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal in 2013 for carrying out "unheard of extermination committed in execution of designed murderous scheme".
And the entire operation were supervised by former Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, who was the ex-officio chief of Al-Badr; Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, chief of the infamous force; Emran, head of the Dhaka Medical College branch of Islami Chhatra Shangha, the then Jamaat's student wing; ABM Khaleque Mazumder, office secretary of Dhaka City Jamaat; Mawlana Abdul Mannan, president of East Pakistan Madrasa Teachers Association; and Abdul Quader Molla, who organised the formation of Al-Badr.
Although the Pak army and their collaborators intensified its atrocities in December, intellectuals were killed all over the country throughout the liberation war, right after the war broke out.
Many distinguished teachers of DU were killed on the night of March 25 and in the next morning. They included Prof Anudvaipayan Bhattacharya of physics, Prof AR Khan Khadim Prof Sharafat Ali of mathematics, Prof Abdul Muktadir of geology, Prof Dr Fazlur Rahman Khan of soil science, Dr Govinda Chandra Dev of philosophy and ANM Muniruzzaman, head of the statistics department.
On March 29, leader of the Language Movement and eminent politician Dhirendranath Dutta was picked up along with his son by the Pakistan army and was detained in Mainamati Cantonment. They were brutally tortured and later executed. Advocate Abdul Karim, a collaborator leader in Comilla directed the Pakistan Army to kidnap and kill Dhirendranath Dutta.
DU Prof Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta was seriously injured by the Pakistan army's gunfire and later embraced martyrdom on March 30.
On April 4, Pakistani soldiers bayoneted and shot physician and philanthropist Prof Jogesh Chandra Ghosh, founder of Sadhana Aushadhalaya.
Prof Sukharanjan Samaddar of the Sanskrit department at Rajshahi University was killed by the Pakistan army on April 14. The next day, Prof Habibur Rahman of the mathematics department of the same university, disappeared.
On April 23, Nuton Chandra Sinha, founder of Kundeshwari Aushadhalaya, another renowned ayurvedic medicine company and one of the pioneers of female education, was killed by the order of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a convicted war criminal.
In an editorial titled "Slaughter in East Pakistan" published on June 15, 1971, the Washington Daily News stated, "Naturally, the military regime of President Yahya Khan denies it is committing selective genocide. But evidence mounts that it is cold bloodedly murdering minority Hindus, Bengali separatists, intellectuals, doctors, professors, students -- in short those who could lead a self-governing East Pakistan."
[The story is translated by Md Shahnawaz Khan Chandan]