A tribute to a Freedom Fighter

| Updated: October 23, 2017 17:58:08

A tribute to a Freedom Fighter
I deeply mourn the death of my youngest paternal uncle (chotto kaka) who breathed his last on  November 21, 2015 (wa inna ilayhi raji'un). He is survived by his wife, two sons, two daughters, grandchildren and a host of friends and relatives. With his death, the nation has lost an illustrious son who dedicated his whole life to the cause of the people. For us, the members of his extended family, the last lamp of my father's generation went out that day. 
Death, especially of freedom fighters, is always unacceptable; it is to them that we owe our existence as a nation.  My uncle Major General (Rtd) M Shamsul Huq (84) was a veteran freedom fighter, a former minister and the first Director General of the Medical Services (DGMS) of the Bangladesh Armed Forces. Born in 1931 in village Sugandhi under Matlabupazila of Chandpur district, he was a meritorious student and studies at his local Sengarchar School, Dhaka College and Dhaka Medical College. After finishing his M.B.B.S. degree, he joined the then Pakistan Army as a doctor in 1957. From the very boyhood, he was imbibed with the spirit of serving humanity, and so he used to stand beside the people in any crisis. As a recruiting medical officer afterwards, he kept a watchful eye to see that Bengalees are properly represented in the recruitment. While in Pakistan Army, he developed informal social networking for the enhancement of welfare of Bengali officers and soldiers. The disparity and discrimination to Bengalis by the Pakistanis always perturbed him.
During the period preceding the war of liberation, he was posted in Dhaka as a recruiting medical officer. I was then 22, studying Economics (Honours) in Dhaka University. My respected teacher Rehman Sobhan's lecture on causes and consequences of two-economy in the class still rings in my ear. About Pakistan economy of that time he used say: 'it is a multi-storied building built on a wooden structure which is not even of teak-wood'.  Outside class room, and attending meetings in Bottola, I used to visit chotto kaka off and on in his office or residence at Nakhal Para during the days of mass upheaval of 1969 and 1970. While exchanging views about the happenings of that time, I noticed a sense of anger in him against the injustice of the then Pakistan Army to the people of this part of the then Pakistan. The dilly-dally in handing power to Bengalis (despite the fact that Awami League under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won the general election with a landslide victory) and the subsequent crackdown on innocent Bengalis by the brutal Pakistan Army were the last nail in the coffin of Pakistan. 
At an opportune moment, my uncle, along with his elder brother late Siddiqur Rahman, my father, left for India to join the liberation forces. He worked there in Bangladesh's Army medical core under the leadership of Mujibnagar government, particularly under late General Osmani. He returned to independent Bangladesh to participate in another war - building a modern medical services for the army. He was the first Director-General of Medical Services.
In the course of his long chequered career, he was minister of health, planning and commerce. He also served as chairman of the Sonali Bank. The world-acclaimed Drug Policy-'82 was implemented during his ministership.  He was an honest, sincere and humble person and for that he rose to the peak of popularity not only in his constituency but also across the country. May Allah rest his soul in peace and give us all the strength to bear the loss of his absence.

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