Globe, Human Rights, Politics, World

Shumon Zahid: “The freedom fighters are forgotten”

He is the son of the departed journalist Selina Perveen.  “My sorrows know no bounds but if I live to see the war criminals are tried, the killers of my mother are punished, I know the soul of my mother will rest in peace”…


Shanta Sultana


“The war criminals were never punished” utters the sore voice of Zahid remembering watching his mother leaving the house blind folded with the Al-Badar agents at the tender age of 8.

Little did Zahid know this was the last time he would see his mother and she would be brutally tortured and murdered by the extremist party.

Today, the aching voice of Shumon Zahid, the son of the departed journalist, protagonist and feminist of Bangladesh Selina Perveen, tells The Prisma how his mother was murdered by the extreme Islamist groups of Pakistan.

It all started during the partition of Indian Sub-Continent into two states based on religious differences in 1947. Pakistan was formed with two parts, bizarrely connecting Bangladesh, the East Indian province with a cultural heritage of over three thousand years old and 1244 miles away from former Pakistan.

Bangladesh was titled as East Pakistan and the elitist Islamist of West Pakistan immediately looked at the Easterners as the second class citizens.

The Lieutenant-General of the Pakistan Army Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi referred the Eastern region as “ Low lying land of low, lying people’ and ordained the abolition of Bengali language and despite of having only four percent of Urdu speaking people in West Pakistan he enforced it as the national language of Bangladesh. Zahid, a Journalist and a Senior Finance Executive in Vergo media in Dhaka, Bangladesh informs The Prisma about one of the most brutal crimes of the twentieth century.

“Urdu was the elite’s language and supporters of pro-democracy movement were labelled as the bloody Communists by Niazi” says Zahid. Pakistan Army employed systematic violence, rape and the genocide records over 3 million lives.

Genocide scholar and the co-editor of “Genocide studies and prevention” Samuel Totten finds the Pakistani army considered the Bengalis as racially inferior; as ‘subhuman’ and the Hindus as the scum and vermin who are best to be exterminated.

Ian Talbot Professor of Modern History in Southampton University sees the methodical planning of genocide of West Pakistan in parallel to Nazi Holocaust.

Inn 1981 United Nation declaration of Universal Human Rights writes “Among the genocides of human history, the highest number of people killed in lower span of time in Bangladesh in 1971.

An average of six thousand to twelve thousand people were killed every single day….this is the highest daily average in the history of genocides”.

“The war criminals were never punished” utters the sore voice of Zahid remembering watching his mother leaving the house blind folded with the Al-Badar agents at the tender age of 8. Little did Zahid know this was the last time he would see his mother and she would be brutally tortured and murdered by the extremist party.

Parveen’s crime was to be at the forefront of striving to create a Secular democratic country hand in hand with the social reformers of the time and with the founding father of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman astonishingly implementing the concept of democracy in the hearts of the mass.

Zahid explains Al-Badar was created with the extreme Islamist party Al-Shames and the local Islamists the Razakar and from March to December 1971 they investigated the leading Journalists, Academics, Lawyers, Writers, Artists, Engineers, Film Makers, physicians and all other significant professional’s whereabouts and eliminated them to weaken this small nation.

Eliminating Artists and Scholars of the society is the standard strategy of the Islamist ideology as it is still a phenomenon in many totalitarian regimes and in 1971 all foreign journalists were methodically deported from Bangladesh. “The war Criminals are freely roaming and residing in western countries often as the civil heads of their communities” utters contempt Zahid, “Bangladesh has lost too much and has fallen back wards in the international arena”.

Zahid says with remorse “If my mother was alive today, her intelligence and her literally practice would play a significant part in the progression of Bangladesh and in women’s emancipation.

The country is free from Pakistan its true”, says Zahid with regret. “However we are not free yet. Corruption is prevalent in justice system, in the government and police department and freedom of expression is limited. Incompetent people are the totalitarian authority”.

Zahid tells us the story of 16th December, the day the war ended. “Just before surrendering the Pakistan authority decided to eliminate the last drop of strength of this newly created democracy.”

A list was created depicting the most intelligent professionals with people power and on 13th and 14th December the Islamist militia group Al-Badar murdered the intellectuals unrepentantly and left the disfigured bodies in public arena. 16th December is knows as the “Intelligence day” of Bangladesh and a mother of an eight year old boy came on the top of that list on that day.

Zahid talks about his mother fondly and his eyes bleed with pride and tears simultaneously: “My mother was the Founder, Editor and Publisher of the literally magazine Shilalipi (Epigraphy). She was also a full time employee of the women’s magazine Lolona (The Maiden) and worked for the leading magazine of the time Begum (The Lady).

Zahid proudly tells us “As a single mother her life evolved around me, publishing in various periodicals, social reforms and personal struggles against traditions.”

Zahid forgets the soreness of mother’s absence as he talks about her services to humanity. “My mother reflected on the revolt movement of the Bengalis against subjugation to Pakistani elitists and started to help the Freedom Fighters with medicines, financial assistance and food from her own limited income. As a result the suspicious Pakistani authority banned her magazine Shilalipi.

“My mother was kidnapped from her house on the 13th December by the Al-Badar under the authority of Chowdhury Mainuddun who is now residing in Britain and without Mainuddin’s help Pakisatni Military would not have found my mother’s address.

In fact without people like Mainuddin the Al_Badar would not have found out the locations of the intellectuals of the time.” Informs Zahid with a broken heart, “I learnt my mother was never to return in February 1972, that those two dazzling and intelligent eyes are never to gaze at me again, telling me magnificent stories of the world, I won’t wait patiently anymore for her to bring me chocolate to surprise me after another day of revolutionary struggle”.

“What is my regret?” Smiles Zahid mournfully “The Al-Badar and Al-Shams are now established as the social elites and the freedom fighters are forgotten. It hurts me gravely when I see the disrespect of the martyrs’ and the freedom Fighters’ sacrifices and the loss we had to pay to extremists is meaningless now.

The intelligentsia scheme broke the moral backbone of the society and the country that ones aspired for secularism now bowing down to Islamist nationalists, the new generation are oblivious and educated to disbelieve the oppression of the Islamist

My only plea and wish to the world community is to use your acumen to join us to fight for justice against the war criminals and create a secular Bangladesh, never to repeat Islamism in world arena.

“My mother named her magazine ‘Epigraphy’, to stand the test of time and inform the future. Shilalipi is the memorabilia of a new born nation thriving for equality, justice and secularism only to be abolished by demons of fascism. Shilalipi is immortal and forever justice we may aspire for.”

(Photos: Pixabay)

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