A tribute to Golok Majumder
In 1971, Golok Bihari Majumder played the key role as a virtual host of the Mujibnagar government from day one. Majumder, the then D.G BSF (Eastern Command), was also the primary conduit for communication with the Indian authority in Delhi. During our war of Independence, Majumder was the main source for information, coordinator in management of the affairs at the ground level operation by our freedom fighters. Hearing the sad news of his demise on July 6, I spoke to his two daughters, Jayanti and Basanti, to convey our condolences. Both the sisters shared their father's love and commitment for Bangladesh and the Liberation War in which their father played an important role as the chief of the Eastern Command of Border Security force of India.
On the fateful night of March 25, 1971, I along with Tajuddin Ahmed took shelter in a house at Lalmatia. On March 27, we crossed the rivers in order to reach Dohar and crossed the Padma to reach Faridpur, Magura, Jhenaidah and Kushtia. Like any other district, the people of Kushtia, my home district, were fully charged with the spirit of liberation and were fully motivated and prepared for an armed struggle. I assured Tajuddin bhai that once we reach Kushtia we would be able to have a strong platform to launch our armed struggle. Being closer to the Indian border it would be easier, I said, to disseminate the cause for liberation to the entire world, having the access to its press and broadcast media.
Having reached Chuadanga, we met Dr. Asabul Huq Joardar MPA, a key figure of the liberation movement, who was the only person I could contact with, on the midnight of March 25, from Dhaka. I passed him the information that we were under siege in Dhaka and asked him to implement our plan 'B'. I did not even disclose my identity over the phone but he understood everything I said.
Shangram Parishad led by Awami League leaders was already in command, leading the struggle for freedom. Local administration, including the police, EPR and Ansar, under the political leadership formed by the local command, asked us to get arms and ammunitions from India, and form a government to conduct our struggle for freedom and to win the war against the Pakistan military. The Jessore cantonment was under siege by thousands of people, surrounding the area with whatever arms they had in their command. At Chuadanga, we received news that three Baloch regiments were totally destroyed when they were fleeing from Kushtia to a place called Garhaganj, falling into a booby trap set out on the bridge.
Against this background, we were proceeding towards the Chengrakhali border outpost (BOP) near Medinipur district in India. After reaching near the border, we stayed at a bushy area and sent two emissaries (Tawfiq Elahi Chowhdhury , the then Sub-Divisional Officer of Meherpur and Mahbub Uddin Ahmed, the then Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Jhenaidah) to the Indian BSF outpost. We decided not to cross the border until we were sure that the Indian authority would receive us with honour and dignity. We repeated the message several times to our emissaries to be delivered ad verbatim. The message was as follows: "Two senior members of the government of independent Bangladesh would like to meet the Prime Minister of India, Shrimati Indira Gandhi. They will cross the border only if received with state protocol."
While our emissaries left us in a no man's land in the midst of a jungle, we reclined on a hot culvert under a shed. It took more than two hours of waiting; soon after sunset, we heard the sound of boots. A nine-member platoon gave us a guard of honour salute, cordially inviting us to their BOP.
After arriving at Changrakhali BOP, we were received cordially by the officer-in-charge. He told us that our message had already been received at the BSF headquarters in Calcutta and the DG of the Eastern command of BSF would arrive soon. Golok Majumder, DG of BSF arrived after about an hour and welcomed us to India. He was not only genuinely warm at heart, but also a true friend with commitment for our cause, as he reassured us that our cause was legally and morally justified and destined to succeed. He had a complete understanding of the situation in Bangladesh.
Majumder told us that he had sent our message to Delhi and assured us that there was huge support for our cause among the people of West Bengal. I immediately replied that we were very grateful for their support in West Bengal but we would like to know the Indian response. He said there was only one person who could give the Indian response, i.e. Indira Gandhi, and told us that he could arrange a meeting with her. He was not only prudent but also very perceptive. Golok Majumder rightly guessed that we would be hungry, so he brought some luchi, vegetables and sweets from Calcutta for us which were a welcome snack for us, having been without food for the entire journey since Magura. Besides the warm and friendly reception, the response was genuinely based on principles of justice and rights of the people to decide their own destiny, including their right to form their own government.
He escorted us to the Dumdum airport. On the way, he shared his excitement about Bangladesh's Liberation War with us. He was a tremendous inspiration for us. He quoted the lines "Banglar Mati, Durjoy Ghati Buje Nik Durbitto" and assured us that we would be victorious in our struggle. He cited various instances from history, including the defeat of Akbar's General Man Singh in East Bengal. He was no longer speaking as a DG BSF but as an analyst of the Bangladesh situation, as someone with a keen interest in history and politics. A large, black ambassador was waiting for us at the spot where a plane from Delhi just landed. The chief of BSF, K F Rustamji, received us, while we were already aboard the ambassador.
Later we came to know how efficiently Golok Majumder arranged the whole affair within such a short time. We were given every protocol, breaking all the routine diplomatic practices. We were then taken to Asam Bhaban, a state guest house in Calcutta. We prepared a full list of all our MPs and party leaders that night and requested Majumder to ask them to be present at the border for a meeting. Golok Majumder mobilised all the concerned officials to attend a midnight meeting at the Asam Bhaban. Telephone lines were connected and trains reached Darshana to facilitate communication.
In the next morning, we were able to talk to our contacts in Chuadanga. Rail connection was restored to Darshana so that we could carry the supplies inside, though that did not last for long. Our initial plan was for the de facto government which was conducting the movement, backed by the legitimacy of the people's representative, giving full authority to Bangabandhu on the meeting of people's representatives at Purbani Hotel on May 1. Initially, we chose Chuadanga for the cabinet to surface for the oath-taking ceremony.
By the time we came back from Delhi after the historic meeting with Indira Gandhi, the situation had changed. The Pak Army had pushed back and started air strafing Chuadanga, wherefore we had to change the plan in order to locate to an alternative safe site. I enquired from Golok Majumder about a Christian missionary in Baddyanathtala. The place was also known as Bhaber Parha, which I visited during party meetings in Meherpur. Golok Majumder sent for a map and confirmed that the enclave was surrounded by Indian territory on three sides. Majumder made a perfect arrangement with security all around the place. He also arranged for a press conference, which was addressed by me and Abdul Mannan on the evening of May 16 and the next morning. Leading Indian and other foreign contingents of international media to Mujibnagar, Golok Majumder also arranged for all our leaders to travel to the spot and they reached there early in the morning.
It was a perfect arrangement, under the supervision and vigilance of Golok Majumder to ensure no security flaw. He commissioned anti-aircraft guns at the Indian side of the border. In May, Majumder wanted to know if I was aware of a party called Al Badr and Al Shams. I had no clue, but Majumder's intelligence machinery was so infallible and all pervasive that we would always get updated information of the mood and environment of enemy lines. In all our encounters with the enemy, the BSF was the best source of information and our freedom fighters received all necessary support, cover information and signs which made each of our encounters successful.
While we, as a nation, acknowledge the support, service and surveillance mobilised by the Indian BSF under the leadership of Golok Majumder during the Liberation War, I would like to pay tribute to the memory of this hero and leader of the BSF for his unequal contribution at the field level in our war.
The commitment, goodwill and friendship of Golok Majumder towards Bangladesh was based on deep-rooted human values. A vegetarian who was deeply religious, Golok Majumder included yoga as part of his daily routine and pursued shadhona in his personal life, thus living a life tilting towards perfection. Golok Bihari Majumder was an idol, who protected the border between two countries, without ever sacrificing the invaluable element we call human dignity. The people of both the countries will, I hope, be able to pave the foundation for peace, cooperation and friendship with love and dignity for the people of both India and Bangladesh. And such a wish may be acknowledged as the foundation of the relationship between people on both sides of the border.
Later, Golok Majumder played a crucial role in setting up our office for the independent government of Bangladesh at 8 Theatre Road in Calcutta and providing us with necessary support. From day one till the end of the war, Golok Majumder played the role of a unique host.
Majumder was born in Hoogly and spent his childhood in Patna. He was a student of English and did his Masters from Calcutta University. Besides, he was well versed in history and strategic affairs. He was a devout Hindu, having a deep commitment for humanity. He was well-versed in Upanishad, Geeta, the Bible and the Holy Quran.
I mourn his death and pray his soul may rest in peace. He had a full life and his two daughters are well-established in their respective profession. When I spoke to them, they said that they would always remember his father's friends from Bangladesh. It is an immortal bond, likely to be passed from one generation to the next, among the people of both countries, if this friendship is cultivated in a proper perspective.
Golok Mojumder was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal for his brilliant service to his nation. He was also given an award as a Friend of Bangladesh. But he did not come to receive that award. He was very shocked, I presume, by the killing of Bangabandhu and four national leaders who were his guests during their stay in Calcutta and thus did not come to Bangladesh. According to him, these murders were antithetic to the spirit of Bangladesh's freedom struggle. He was a great fan of Tajuddin Ahmed. His daughter expressed to me that he told them that he had never met a man like Tajuddin in his life.
I hope the concerned ministry of our country will contact Golok Majumder's family and invite them to Bangladesh to receive an award of honour, on behalf of one of the most outstanding friends of Bangladesh, the late Golok Mojumder. This is the least we can do to honour his memory.
The writer is the author of the proclamation of Independence of Bangladesh and former president of Supreme Court Bar Association and elected head of Bangladesh Bar Council and one of the most senior advocates of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.