The man who fearlessly fought for freedom | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:36 AM, May 19, 2019

The man who fearlessly fought for freedom

Remembering Shaheed Abul Kalam Shamsuddin

Today, May 19, 2019, is the 48th anniversary of the passing of my beloved father, Shaheed Abul Kalam Shamsuddin. Abba was one of the leading organisers of Bangladesh’s independence struggle in 1971. He was a born leader who, despite having everything going for him as a privileged CSP officer and the SDO of Sirajganj, chose to engage in active resistance movement against the Pakistani army and led by example.

At the young age of 28, it was his destiny to stand out amongst his ranks, to dare to go against the establishment and risk everything for a singular reason: freedom. The precious freedom that would bring an end to the socio-economic injustices and would create endless opportunities for a new nation. The message of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s call to arms in the historic March 7 World Heritage Speech resonated in my father’s veins to rise up, organise and lead a resistance movement against the occupation army. He was successful in realising his dream partially but not without paying the ultimate price: giving his own life for his dream of a new nation.

The Pakistani army subjected him to inhuman torture for three days until they took his life in Dhaka Cantonment. He gave his life, yet they could never take away his pride. He believed pride is worth dying for; pride is integrity and establishing your identity. But till this date, in today’s Bangladesh, questions remain whether we have truly realised that dream of socio-economic justice and endless opportunities.

It took the government of Bangladesh 41 years to recognise his ultimate sacrifice for a greater vision, the message of Bangabandhu’s historic March 7 speech. The Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recognised his bravery and extraordinary sacrifices for this nation by awarding him the nation’s highest civilian award, Swadhinata Padak (Independence Award), in 2012 posthumously.

As his only son and a representative of his family, I had the distinguished honour of receiving the award on behalf of my beloved father. It was the proudest and highest moment of my life. I remember that day, March 25, 2012, vividly; pride swelled my heart and tears rolled down my eyes that were hard to control as I received the award on behalf of my father Shaheed Shamsuddin. That great man whom Bangladesh, and especially the people of Sirajganj, will never forget. The great Shamsuddin who dared to fight and go against the establishment. The people of Sirajganj honour and celebrate Shaheed Shamsuddin every day; they have dedicated a beautiful gate in front of the District Commissioner’s Office in Sirajganj. They will forever cherish his memory with a memorial office dedicated to him. The people of Sirajganj hold major sporting events in the Shaheed Shamsuddin Stadium.

Shaheed Shamsuddin was born on August 2, 1943 in Tangail. He completed his matriculation from Nawabpur Government High School and his higher secondary studies from Notre Dame College in Dhaka. For higher education, he was awarded a scholarship that was exclusive to the West Pakistanis and attended the University of Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan where he earned his bachelors and masters degrees in chemistry with distinction in 1963 and 1964, respectively. He declined a scholarship to earn a PhD in Canada and decided to pursue a career in civil service. Prior to joining the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1967, he briefly served as a scientific officer in the Atomic Energy Commission in Dhaka.

Shaheed Shamsuddin was one of the finest and brightest of the civil service cadre of his generation as his distinguished friends and colleagues affectionately and respectfully remember him today. He is among one of a few civilians who have been buried in the Military Cemetery in Banani, Dhaka. People of Bangladesh, especially those of Sirajganj, respectfully remember him and the memories of “Colonel” Shamsuddin for his invaluable contribution to the struggle for freedom. 

The memory of Shaheed Shamsuddin will never fade away as we will always remember him as a young, dedicated officer. His family, including his only son Biplob, daughter-in-law Dipty, his grandson Orko and his wife Shamim, asks their friends and family to pray for his departed soul.


Abul Kalam Salauddin (Biplob) is the only child of Shaheed Shamsuddin. He is an IT professional based in the USA.


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