“I am a rebel and freedom is my cause. Many of you are fighting similar struggles. Therefore, you must join our cause.”
by Anwar A. Khan-
( July 3, 2017, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) Syed Shahidul Haque Mama, popularly known as ‘Mama’, is a bold Bengali Freedom Fighter of our glorious Liberation War of 1971. More than a month back, he left Dhaka for Doha en route to his present home in Sweden with serious heart and kidney ailments. But he suddenly suffered a massive cardiac arrest on-board Qatar Airways Flight and he was immediately rushed to Al-Wakara Hospital, Doha, Qatar where he died (Innah Illahi…Rajeun) last Friday night, the 30th June 2017 after struggling life and death for several days. He was the Chief of ‘Mama Bahini’ during our glorious Independence War of 1971 and fought bravely in the frontline to establish Bangladesh. He was also one of the heroes of liberating Mirpur on 31st January 1972. The sad news has come to the nation, particularly for me as bolt from the blue. M-ama and I are close friends and read together in the History Department of Dhaka University during the 1972-76 batch.
Having spent considerable years with him, I want to add our own appreciation and share some memories with his many comrades, colleagues and admirers. Like them, I share my profound sense of loss of this gentleman having no lust or greed, a highly principled man, a valiant freedom fighter, an arduous fighter for re-establishing the true spirits of our 1971 war, establishing social justice, and we hope to encourage a new generation of activists to examine what will be his enduring legacy.
During Liberation War in 1971, Mama’s inspiring words were worthy of merits, “I am a rebel and freedom is my cause. Many of you are fighting similar struggles. Therefore, you must join our cause. Our cause is a dream of freedom of Bangladesh and you must help us making our dream reality. For why should we not dream and hope? Is not revolution making reality of hopes? Let us work together that our dream is fulfilled that we all will return with our people out of exile to live in one democracy in peace in Bangladesh. Is not our dream a noble one and worthy to stand beside freedom struggles everywhere in Bangladesh.”
While commemorating this brave freedom fighter on these very distressing hours, I remember a few lines of Poet Dennis Brutus:
The sounds begin again; the siren in the night; the thunder at the door; and the shriek of nerves in pain.
Then the keening crescendo; of faces split by pain; the wordless, endless wail; and only the unfree know.
Importunate as rain; the wraiths exhale their woe; over the sirens, knuckles, boots; and my sounds begin again.
Shahidul Mama was like a Royal Bengal Tiger and roared like that. During the rat-bag Ershad’s early regime, he picked up a big quarrel with Ershad on the values of our glorious Liberation War for which Bangladesh was established in 1971. He categorically told him that Bangladesh had to be run based on the true inspirits of Bangladesh. But having compelled under inciting attacks by the government spy agencies, he went to Sweden along with his family and settled there permanently leaving his beloved country for which once he fought valorously to attain it.
When the International Crimes Tribunals (ICTs) began trials of the war criminals of 1971, he could not remain silent and stay back in Sweden. Once the trial of the war criminal, Kader Molla, infamously known as “The Butcher of Mirpur” started, he flew back to Dhaka at his own cost to testify against this mass murderer in the court. He appeared in the court-room to give his testimony, but Molla deliberately avoided his presence there sensing Mama’s presence through his lawyers. Mama, in no time, roared like a Royal Bengal Tiger and reused to give witness in the court-room. The next day, Molla was made present by the order of the ICT judges. Mama then gave a big jerk in the court-room and identified him in the dock and unmasked his beastly character and gave horrendous accounts of his grievous crimes that he committed in Mirpur and other areas in 1971 in a pin-drop silence. It was largely because of his true but patriotic testimony and the Ganojagoron Mancha Movement for which this beastly creature who was at large for a very long time, did not escape the hangman’s noose.
He had a good oratory skills and made extensive tours throughout the country along with his compatriots and mobilised support from the people in general to punish the rest of the perpetrators. Shahidul Mama fought with diligence for the freedom of this country like all other great freedom fighters. One of the greatest freedom fighters and a revolutionary, Mama was committed to free Bangladesh by any means from the cruel clutches of the Pakistani military junta and their cruel local henchmen mostly from Jamaat-e-Islami, Al-Badr, Al-Shams…
A few months back, he expressed keened, “Golam Azam, the “Angel of Death,” was hiding in UK. It was the military dictator Zia who brought him back to Bangladesh to further ravage its soil with his evil lieutenants. This Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Golam Azam, the gang-supremo of Al-Badr force died in his late 90s without bearing due punishment which is all the more surprising. He died, but the ghosts are still here.” Like Mama, veteran FF Syed Hafizul Hoque has said, “Al-Badr high-ups, “the architect of the Holocaust” in 1971 in Bangladesh escaped from arresting, remained both hiding and were at large because of willful patronisation of them by the wretched military dictators, Zia and Ershad and then by a charwoman voyeur politician for more than 4 decades before being captured. Some observers believe the documents, now in possession with the ICT Investigation Agency, would shed embarrassing additional light on those thuggish collusions on the “ratlines,” an already proven postwar operation to protect the 1971 war criminals.”
There are many war criminals who are still on the run. But there is also the hope that the mountain of documents may throw up lights on the living fugitives. Md. Mujibur Rahman, a first batch trained guerilla warfare in the world famous Dehradhun Military Academy of India, added: “Each day that passes makes that less and less likely but I do not want people to say in the future that we did not try those perpetrators.” He and his compatriots believe the ICT Investigation Agency may also provide clues to these brutal criminals who sneaked back to the motherland to live out their days undetected.”
Mama lamented, “To our utter shame, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UK, USA… have been safe havens for the 1971 war criminals of Bangladesh for long. Jurisdiction to prosecute more than 20 war criminals, are still living in these countries. It is a dismal failure. So true! Time is running out at a frightful speed to round up the last of the scum. They are dying of old age and other silly reasons, never paying for what they have done. The governments of those countries are at times responsible for some of the worst scum coming over to us and living charmed and affluent lives. That is rather sick. If a lion mauls a kid, it is shot there and then. Not send off to entertain people in a zoo or used for breeding. Shot!”
Mama may rightly be considered to be the most influential revolutionary during the Independence War for Bangladesh in 1971. Because of his bravery, patriotism and love for the country, he merited to receive the state honour like the National Award, the gallantry award…during his lifetime. He loved Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman so dearly and was his true votary. Still the time has not gone out to the full. The government may consider decorating him with any colourful laurels posthumously. His sudden death will prove to be an awakening for the youth of the nation to love Bangladesh so dearly and strive hard to punish the fugitive war criminals. Let us salute him and others Freedom Fighters from the core of our hearts for creating Bangladesh. Let us pray for Syed Shahidul Hoque Mama. May his soul rests in peace in Heaven.