SALUTE TO UNSUNG HEROES: Freedom fighter Abdul Mannan, left in the front row, and family members of nine martyrs pose holding crests presented by The Daily Star yesterday in recognition of their sacrifice for the motherland in 1971. Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman, litterateur Selina Hossain and The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam are also present. Photo: Star
While many sacrificed their lives for the motherland, Abdul Mannan accepted the fate of a landless farmer by giving up his only piece of land for burial of the villagers massacred by the Pakistani Army on October 9, 1971.
Yet, Mannan has no regrets, even though he had to fight with poverty every day of the last four decades.
“I could have been one of them. What would I have done with the land if I was killed? I thought the Almighty will take care of me so I gave my land to bury the dead,” says Mannan of Khaghar in Brahmanbaria.
Stories of such unsung heroes of the Liberation War, collected and compiled by researcher Lt Col (retd) Kazi Sazzad Ali Zahir, Bir Pratik, are being published in The Daily Star since 2011.
Yesterday, 10 such heroes, who fought and sacrificed their lives or belongings, were honoured by The Daily Star at its office in the capital's Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue. The 10 are:
Karuna Begum: A female freedom fighter who fought in the guise of a man at Nolchira of Gournadi. She lost a leg in the war.
Shahed Ali: He first took up arms in Rangpur and conducted a guerilla attack against Pak Army's 21 cavalry on March 23, 1971.
Rebati Mahali: The indigenous tea garden labourer in Sylhet, who was tortured to death by the Pakistan Army for saving women and children from a fire, set by the army.
Sofir Uddin Munshi: He was killed along with his family for helping freedom fighters in Mymensingh.
Mahtab Begh: He was killed in Saidpur while trying to rescue the Bangalees caught by non-Bangalees of the city on March 24, 1971.
Hasan Ali: A young freedom fighter who was killed by the Pakistani Army after he was brought to a military camp by a group of razakars. The account of his heroic death came up in the book Witness to Surrender written by Pakistani Major Siddique Salik, who was at the camp at the time.
Salahuddin: He was forced into the cage of hungry tigers by the occupation army to force him leak information about fellow freedom fighters.
Aminul Haque: He was among the 350 who died of exhaustion from forced labour imposed upon them by the Pakistani Army to build the Saidpur Airport in 1971.
Anarbalal: One of the 10 cleaners of Mirin Jilla in Old Dhaka, killed on November 21, 1971, because they had information about the number of people killed by the army.
Abdul Mannan and families of the other war heroes were each honoured with crest, sash and Tk 20,000 at the ceremony chaired by Prof Emeritus Anisuzzaman.
Speaking on the occasion, Anisuzzaman said: "We must try those who were responsible for the killing of the people of this country."
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said: “The Daily Star will not only cherish and uphold the spirit of the Liberation War but also continue to spread it.”